Monday, August 27, 2018

Ghost Archipelago Campaign '18, Game 8: The Eritherean Graveyards

    Two Saturday's ago, on the 18th, we got together for the eighth game in our Ghost Archipelago campaign.  We unfortunately only had 4 of our regular 8 players in attendance.  We continued to work on the scenarios in the rulebook, moving on to the sixth one: The Eritherean Graveyard.    Because of so few players, we only used a 5'x3' table, with two players on each side.  As per the scenario instructions, the 2 Central Treasures were placed within the graveyard temples; along with one of the regular treasures from each player.   The players' second treasures were placed normally.
    Because there were just four of us, we used dice rolling instead of our usual chips-in-a-bag method for determining player order.  I got second placement, and chose the spot opposite my old nemesis Skorri, who had first choice, rather than risk ending up across from Herndon and his wall of Archers.  With Skorri and his Beast Warden, Agger, opposite me; Herndon and his Wave Warden, Ashalla, did end up on my right, and Molly Malone and her Storm Warden, Niskaru, diagonally across from  me, facing Herndon.

To see my account of the previous game, see The Stone Circles

A view of the table, showing starting zones.
    The Report

        The Elf Heritor, Lord Fortrywn, had first heard the tales of the Eritherean Graveyards from the sailors on his ship, The Silver Sword.   About half of the sailors believed the stories of the ornate temples and surrounding burial halls of the Archipelago's large elephant men were false, while the rest believed in their truth, and that they contained piles of gold and other treasures not to mention valuable Eritherean Tusks; all just laying around for the taking.    Over the months the stories the Heritor had heard on his travels around the Archipelago continued, and he began to think there may be some kernel of truth to them.  However it wasn't until the Elf Lord had found the old scrimshaw map in the bazaar on their last supply stop, that he knew where to look for such a graveyard; to see for himself if the tales were true.
     The seller had thought it was just a novelty piece, with various symbols and swirling lines carved on it; but to the eyes of an old military campaigner like Lord Fortrywn,  it was easy to see it was a map of sorts.
     They arrived at the island a little after dawn, and made their way ashore.   It was easy going, as there were clear paths leading to the island's interior.  Marked trails worn by centuries of large flat feet, made by Eritherean pilgrims heading to their final rest.    They passed a number of stone markers, crude symbols carved on them, marking the way for the old and very sick Eritherians who made this one-way journey. 
     It wasn't long before the walls of a tall temple came into view.  They were crumbling and vine covered with age.  Moving closer, they spied one of the graveyard halls. Lord Fortrywn halted his crew to survey the area.  He could see the hall was also in a state of disrepair like the tall temple, it's walls all crumbled with sections missing in spots.  The roof, if there had been one, was long since collapsed and probably blown away.  The air hung hot and heavy with the smell of death and decay mixed in with the usual stink of the humid rotting vegetation of the jungle.
     Lord Fortrywn crouched down and turned to the crew, and assigned the commands.   With himself he took the Hunter, Bindidell; and the dependable Crew-woman, Arbyn; as well as the Pearl Diver, Salin.    He assigned to his Niece, Marnilyne, (she was also his Vine Warden); the Archer, Tannin; and the Crew-women, Bry and Lilisea.   Crewmen Finil  and Crew-woman, Meriwyn were with Marnilyne, but were instructed to help where needed.
Starting positions.  On the Left; Lord Fortrywn, Bindidell, Arby, and Salin.  On the Right; Marnilyne, Tannin, Bry, Lilisea, Meriywn, and Finil.
              Lord Fortrywn had not even risen to move forward, when he heard loud voices on the other side of the graveyard hall.  From a small area of jungle on the far side, men appeared, and the Heritor quickly recognized the riff-raff that sailed with Skorri Drakenburg, the accursed human Heritor who always seemed to show up and plague the Elf Lord.   Lord Fortrywn couldn't even begin to fathom how Skorri had found this place and managed to arrive at the same time that he had.  Was there a spy in their midst?
    The Elf Heritor didn't have long to ponder that thought, before a strange bellow rent the dank air, and a living Eritherean appeared directly in the path of Skorri's men.  Lord Fortrywn wasn't sure if it was a temple guard, or some poor soul who had been disturbed from his deathbed.  But, whatever it was, Lord Fortrywn was overwhelmed with joy at his good fortune; knowing that this interloper would buy him precious time, while Skorri and his crew had to deal with it.  Quickly, he gave the signal to advance, and under his breath he hissed, "Hurry!"
     Lord Fortrywn, Bindidell, Arbyn and Salin all rushed for the Graveyard.  Knowing time was critical, the Heritor Surged, and ignoring the rising heat in his blood, he unshouldered his bow, and took a quick shot at one of Skorri's Archers who was in turn aiming at the Eritherean.  Unfortunately, the Elf Lord's shot went wide. 
     Meanwhile, Marny and her group headed towards the tall temple to investigate what treasure it may contain.  Stopping at the corner of the graveyard, the Warden cast Ladder on the nearest corner of the temple, and thick ropey vines quickly grew up the side of the ruins to the very top; forming a sturdy natural ladder.  Marny turned to Bry and Meriwyn, and said, "You two climb up there and let me know what you see."
   Tannin, the Archer, took up a position to offer covering fire, but knew his job would be limited as clouds quickly began to boil up in the sky signifying somewhere a Storm Warden had cast Cloud Cover. (Molly Malone's Warden, Niskaru.)
Lord Fortrywn and the rest of his command rushes to the edge of the Graveyard, the Heritor Surging to fire his bow.  The Central Treasure can be seen on the wall in the middle of the Graveyard, near the top of the photo.
    Lord Fortrywn hadn't even taken a step into the graveyard, when his keen Elven ears detected the whisper of an arrow nearby, and turning, he saw Bindidell the Hunter cry out in pain as she was struck in the hip. (-7 HP) With the arrow, still in her leg, she quickly ducked behind a nearby pillar and returned fire, ineffectively though. The Heritor looked back to the far side of the graveyard, and saw Skorri himself, with his bow in hand.  So, not everyone was dealing with the rogue Eritherean that had appeared in the midst of the Human's warband, the Elf thought.
     Lord Fortrywn quickly turned back to the task at hand and rushed into the graveyard, with Arbyn the crew-woman close behind.  The remains of deceased Erithereans  were piled everywhere, in various states of decomposition; but for the most part the floor was littered with several inches of bones, some shattered and jagged.  Turning his head back, he gave a hushed warning to the others behind him to use caution when they crossed the floor, as he instinctively knew that some of the bone shards could most likely have the cutting potential of a sword.   
   On Lord Fortrywn's right was the remains of a high wall running down the center of the graveyard, standing a good foot over the Heritor's head; and sitting along the wall were various tokens and trinkets left by the Erithereans who had come to die. There were bunches of dead flowers, crudely carved figurines, a couple rusty weapons, plus other offerings and mementos.  What caught the Heritor's eye though, was an ornate chest with delicate gold inlay.  (The Central Treasure)  He gave a quick signal to Arbyn and then he began to climb the wall.  Arbyn veered to her right, and hopping up on a crumbled part of the wall, raced along the flat top, sending a couple small statues and a bowl of decayed fruit flying.  She was just a couple feet from the treasure when another arrow sliced the air, this one striking the Elf Crew-woman in the upper right chest. (-8 HP) Arbyn's feet went out from under her and she fell back hard on the wall.  The wind was knocked out of her and a surge of pain went through her body as she fought to stay atop the wall.   Arbyn righted herself, and ignoring the searing pain,  remained kneeling and crawled towards the treasure.  With her hand extended to pick up the chest, a second shaft sliced the air, and struck the Crew-woman in her thigh.  The leg gave way, and Arbyn toppled to the far side of the wall and lay unmoving among the shattered bones. 
    Quickly, Lord Fortrywn scaled the rest of the way up the wall, and Surging, he picked up the chest; as his blood burned he let his momentum carry him forward, and he dropped down on the far side of the barrier next to where Arbyn lie.   Form around the end of the wall, he could see that Skorri's band now had a Crocodile in their midst, who seemed to be obeying commands.  More importantly the Eritherean they had been fighting was laying in the jungle grass, dead. (One of Skorri's crew had used a Crocodile Jade Idol to help fight the Eritherean.) Lord Fortrywn knew their time was up.
Arbyn gets tantalizing close to the Central Treasure on the wall before Skorri brings her down.  Lord Fortrywn is climbing up to assist.  Over on the left, Salin moves towards the chest by the pillar.  
          While Lord Fortrywn and Arbyn had dealt with the chest on the wall, Salin had spotted a another small chest over on the far right of the graveyard, near a pillar along the wall.  It lay half buried in a pile of bones, and more mementoes left by the dying.  Quickly the Pearl Diver raced to it, but could see a pair of Skorri's crew heading the same way.  The Pearl Diver drew his sword and prepared to defend the prize.  The first human came wildly at Salin, and he easily cut the man down (Rolled a 20!) The other man was a better swordsman than his fellow crewman, but Salin was able to defeat him as well.
         Meanwhile, at the nearby tall temple, Bry and Meriwyn climbed higher up Marny's vine later.  The Warden herself, however, raced back along the graveyard wall where she could see Bindidell trying to bandage her wound.  She could tell from the Hunter's shaking hands that she was badly hurting, so quickly chanted the spell for Waters of Life, and healing water began to form like dew on the Hunters skin.  Bindidell was shocked at first, but looking up, she spotted Marnilyne, and nodded at the Warden in appreciation for the relief.
     The moment of distraction cost the Hunter though, and from around one of the nearby pillars, appeared Skorri's Pearl Diver.  The man sliced at the Elf, and put a gash across her stomach. (-7 HP)  The Hunter stumbled backwards, clutching the new wound, and trying her best to defend herself wielding her 2-handed sword with one hand.  As Bindidell tried to stay conscious, and keep the Human at bay, she became aware of a chittering above her, and as she glanced up a Screamer Monkey (Summoned by Skorri's Warden)  dropped down on her head, and sank it's fangs into the side of her neck.  The Hunter's whole body seemed to burn with pain from her many wounds, and quickly a darkness flooded into her head, and with the manic chittering of the monkey in her ears, Bindidell passed out and fell to the grassy ground.
     While the others fought desperately around the graveyard, Tannin the Archer had been distracted by a distant buzz that had gradually grown louder.  Turning from covering the tall temple, he spotted a large winged creature  flying over the trees in the distance; behind and to the left of where the group and entered. (Giant Wasp, treasure generated beast.)  As it got closer to the graveyard, he repositioned himself to get a clearer shot, and notching an arrow, fired at the creature.  The arrow hit the insect in the side, and it dropped to the ground like stone.  Bt it wasn't dead.  (1 HP remaining) It buzzed and twitched it's wings, and staggered around the ground for a minute.  Then to Tannin's amazement, with the arrow still sticking from it, the Wasp took off again, though in more of extended hops now than in true flight; and it headed directly for the Archer.
Lord Fortrywn hands off the Treasure to Finil, and Salin takes on two enemy Crewman and bests them both. 
     Over in the Graveyard, Salin now saw that the Crocodile was heading his way, along with others of  Skorri's Crew.  Marnilyn from the other side of the graveyard saw the enemies approaching him too, and she quickly cast Brambles near to where the Pearl Diver stood.  With the Brambles keeping him safe for the moment. Salin, knew it was time to grab the small chest.   As he picked it up with one hand, he noticed a beautiful pearly white tusk laying next to it, and grabbing the valuable ivory object with his other hand, shoved it into his belt. Quickly he turned and ran to get out of the graveyard.
     By this time, the Crew-woman Meriwyn had reached the top of the tall temple to survey the area and see if she could spy anything of value.  She could see two other crews fighting in another graveyard on the far side of the temple.  On the vines several feet beneath, Bry called up to her, "Well?"
    Meriwyn turned to answer, and as she looked down, noticed a bit of shiny metal in the moss and weeds growing on top of the crumbling temple.    Reaching down, the Crew-woman grabbed hold of whatever it was and pulled.  The Elf was surprised when a crossbow emerged from the tangle of vegetation.  She couldn't fathom how a crossbow had gotten up on the temple.  Well, yes, she could; as she looked around at the excellent field of fire below her.  However, this weapon was far from being usable, caked in dirt grime and decaying plant-life as it was; but the fact that the metal fittings still gleamed and had not rusted over, told Meriwyn that this was no ordinary weapon.  "Found something!"  she called to Bry.
   And as she brushed off what detrius she could from the crossbow, she called back to Bry, "Who's at the bottom?"
    Bry glaced down, and saw the other Crew-woman, Lilisea, standing guard at the base of the vines. "Lilisea," she answered.  At the sound of her name, Lilisea looked up, and Bry directed her attention to Meriwyn at the top.  Meriwyn indicated she was going to drop the weapon down, and then did so.  The Crew-woman on the ground caught it deftly.  With that, Meriwyn began to climb down, and to Bry said, "I didn't see anything else important. Let's get back to the others."
     Back in the temple, Lord Fortrywn could see, like Salin had, that the enemy was now closing in on them.  Looking back he saw the Crewman, Finil, coming up and motioned for him to hurry.  Quickly the Heritor handed off the chest to the Crewman, and then prepared to hold off Skorri's crew. 
     Lord Fortrywn didn't realize just how many enemy crew that meant; but with Salin walled off by Marny's Brambles,  the Heritor had become the easiest target to reach.  With in moments, Skorri's Hunter, Archer, a Crewman, and the Crocodile (who had subsequently had Beast Strength cast on him by Skorri's Warden), had all converged on Lord Fortrywn.  (Skorri's men had a +11 Fight bonus for the first combat!)  Even with his Heritor's ability, it was too many opponents, and the first wave of fighting left the Elf Lord, bloodied and battered, but still standing. (Skorri's men roll 17+ 11F= 28; Lord Fortrywn reduced to 5 HP).  Lord Fortrywn knew it was a hopeless fight, but he could at least try to buy his crew time to escape.  If he could just bring one of the enemy down...  But fate wasn't on the Elf's side.  Lord Fortrywn lunged at the group, but the many blades, and teeth, were too much, and he fell to the ground, with multiple wounds covering  his tall frame.
Lord Fortrywn is attacked by 4 of the enemy and overwhelmed.
          While Lord Fortrywn was unsuccessfully trying to hold back his four attackers, just a short distance behind him, his niece, Marnilyne, found herself in a similar predicament.   As she had been distracted casting the Brambles to protect Salin and his treasure, Skorri's Pearl Diver and the summoned Screamer Monkey, had moved on from defeating Bindidell, and now charged at the Vine Warden.  Marnilyne tried desperately to defend herself;  but she was no match for two opponents, and the Pearl Diver's blade sliced her across her shoulder as the Monkey yanked her hair and took bites at her head and neck.  It's claws gouged into her.  (Hit with an 18, leaving Marny with 6 HP.  The Elf flailed her arms, and tried desperately to dislodge the Monkey as she lurched back and forth.  The Monkey was flung off, and the Pearl Diver stood there, shocked by the spectacle of the frenzied Warden. (Marny denies to fight on her activation, trying to buy time.)  However, it did not take her opponents long to regroup, and they had now been joined by Skorri's Hunter.  In seconds the Warden's three opponents were back at her, and a final attack dropped her, bleeding from multiple bites and cuts, to the ground where she lay in a contorted heap in the tall grass.
   A dozen yards away, the Giant Wasp had made it's way to Tannin, and the Archer found his dagger little use against the giant insect.  It's wings were as much of a hazard as it's stinger, and as it came at him, he stumbled backwards, and the stinger caught hm in the leg.  He cried out in pain, as his thigh was pierced, and the Wasp's venom entered his system.  (Wasp hits with an 18 total, and Envenoms.) Tannin's insides felt like they were all being turned inside out.  Bile rose in his throat.  Desperately, he lashed out with his dagger, and though it scraped along the insect's chitinous body, it did not pierce it  The Wasp buzzed backwards as best it could.  (Tannin hits, but does no Damage; pushes the Wasp back.)  The Wounded beast came at him one more time, and once again it nearly knocked him down.  The Archer's eyes caught the shaft of the arrow he had shot earlier still sticking from the insect's side, and without thinking, before he fell, he grabbed onto it and pushed with all his might, sinking the metal tip deeper into the Wasp's body.  The creature seemed to convulse, and its legs contracted violently, as it's momentum brought it's full weight into the Archer, knocking him over again.  But this time the creature was dead.
Marny is attacked, as Finil makes it out of the graveyard.
          Back in the Graveyard, Finil picked his way through the bones and other debris, as he tried to get the Chest away as quickly as possible  A sudden piercing pain in his back sent him stumbling forward.  The Crewman knew he had been hit by an arrow (From Skorri; 3 HP remaining), but despite the pain he had to keep going.  Regaining his feet, he continued forward; hoping to distance himself in the gloom of the Cloud Cover
   By that time the two Crew-woman had come down off the vine ladder.  Bry, who was first, ran to protect Salin's back.  Meriwyn hit the ground just second later, and she ran to cover Finil's escape.  The Crewman had cleared the graveyard, his back searing with pain with each step, and was trying to make it to the cover of a patch of nearby jungle.  Another arrow whizzed by him; too close for comfort.  He was so glad to have help, as he was growing weaker, and he knew Meriwyn could carry the chest if something happened to him.  As if his thoughts mirrored reality, another arrow from Skorri found it's mark, and Finil went flying in mid stride, dropping the chest as he tumbled to the ground. (Skorri's Hit total: 20.)   Meriwyn gasped in shock.  She must get the chest!  Skorri however, using his Heritor's skill, had already notched another arrow, and he had the range.  Before the Elf Crew-woman even took a step towards the the prize, an arrow found her as well; and with one clean shot to the lower back, sent her sprawling to the ground, where she lay motionless next to Finil.  (Skorri's second shot total is a 24!)
     A couple dozen yards away,  Tannin had managed to push the dead Wasp off him, and he struggled to stand up despite the overwhelming poison-induced nausea.  The Archer turned to find himself almost face to face with Skorri's Hunter, and before he could even raise his dagger the enemy had stuck his sword in his gut.  Tannin fell to ground, bleeding severely, and vomited before passing out. 
    Salin and Bry continued to flee with their chest, and likewise, just a dozen yards further on, Lilisea ran with her Crossbow.  Skorri's men pursued for a short distance, but in the dark gloom they decided not to get too strung out, and halted; content to have claimed three treasures for the day.   
Help arrives as Meriwyn moves to cover Finil's back (to the left), and Bry cover's Salin's (near top center of photo).  In the lower right, Lilisea makes it to the cover of a patch of jungle.
      Later that night, Lord Fortrywn lay in his bed, bandaged nearly from head to toe, and pondered the day.   The Heritor wasn't sure how he had recovered enough strength to get back to his ship, much less carry the limp form of his Niece to the landing boat.  Thank heaven for his Heritor's blood.  Marny was not much better off, but at least she would recover as well.  She too looked like a walking mummy; particularly with her head all swathed in bandages from the damage the Monkey had done.  The surgeon had assured the Warden the tip of her ear would grow back.
     Lord Fortrywn didn't even want to consider what the day had cost him.  His Hunter, Bindidell, was badly wounded from her encounter with the Pearl Diver and the Screamer Monkey, and might not make it.  Likewise, The Archer, Tannin, was not doing well, between the poison from the Giant Wasp, and deep stomach wound, the ship's surgeon was not sure he would survive the night either.  And, lastly, the Crewman Finil was looking like he might not live as well.  Skorri's first arrow, had hit a lung, and he lost a lot of blood from the wound.  It's amazing he had got as far as he had.    Lord Fortrywn was not a praying man, but he said one now to the Elvish Gods.  It has not been easy decision for the Heritor, but the surgeon had been insistent; if he wanted these people to live, they needed to get serious medical help... the kind only available at a major port.  And so they were headed for the mainland.  A trip they could ill afford.
     There was little on the bright side for Lord Fortrywn to look upon.  Yes, they had recovered two treasures, but that little made up for the injuries to his crew, and the expenses they now had to pay.  The chest that Salin had brought back from the graveyard had contained two bottles of Potion of  Regeneration  (I rolled 12 on the Herb & Potion table twice!) And at least he could sell one or both of them to help pay their way to port.  And the clever Pearl Diver had had the quickness of mind to grab a tusk in the midst of the chaos.  That would bring a very good price in the port as well.  Also, the Crossbow Lilisea brought back was a beauty of Superior quality.  The Elf Lord considered he may just have to keep that for himself.   And, luckily, if you could call it that, the rest of those who had fallen that day would make relatively quick recoveries... well, at lest they didn't require expensive medical care he thought.  And with that, he closed his eyes and tried to find the rest he desperately needed.
The ending body count.
     Arrg, what a fiasco! 
     I was so happy when on the first turn my initiative roll, last place as it was, triggered the appearance of an Eritherean that I got to place anywhere out of LOS.  Skorri's crew had not moved that far onto the table, and I was able to place it directly in his path behind a patch of jungle.  How was I to know his crew was carrying a Jade Idol of a Crocodile!
     And I made the cardinal mistake of dividing my crew.  The thought of the treasure on the temple, and the ease at which I could get to it using my Ladder spell clouded my judgement to the overall battle.
    And as usual, my dice luck was running at it's usual low level, with my crew getting last or next to last initiative every turn.    Compounded by Skorri's dice luck running at its peak height.
     Of interest in the game was that once again we had the channelling of the crews so that the encounter quickly devolved into two 2-player games.  A number of factors contributed to this I think.  One was that the majority of the treasures on both sides (3 out of 5) were located within the graveyard.  The other was that, with these rules, you just can't afford to let folks wander around; you need all your power in the same area, or the enemy will quickly overwhelm you.

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