Monday, January 15, 2018

Ghost Archipelago Campaign '18, Game 1: First Foray onto Fantastic Shores

    This past Saturday we got together for the first game of this year's Ghost Archipelago (GA) campaign.  We had only 5 of our regular players able to make it to the game.  Since this was our first game of the campaign, and the first GA for a couple of the players, we decided just to do a straight up simple encounter and not a scenario.
     I had set the board up the night before, expecting all 7 players, but found out that morning that one couldn't make it.  So we quickly readjusted the board, with 3 central treasures and 6 start zones.  We ended  up waiting a while for the last player to arrive, so we went ahead and set our regular treasures, and chose our entry zones.  Eventually, the 6th player turned out to be a no show, so we make a quick decision to keep all 3 Central Treasures in play, but after the game roll randomly to determine that one was actually a regular treasure since there was only 5 of us.   This also left a big gap in our set up, and one player with no one directly across from them.
      I drew the first choice of entry zones, so picked a corner spot that had three promising treasures within what I felt was an easy reach.   It turned out the empty space from the no show player was on my right, so I had a pretty secure flank.   The Heritor, Gregorius, and his Storm Warden, Missy, was directly across from me.   Diagonally to my front and off to the right was the Heritor, Herndon, and his Wave Warden, Arwhine.  And, of course, Herndon was in the spot with no one directly across from him.  Way off to my right was, Skorri Drakenberg, and his Wave Warden, Anemone; and across from him was the strange duckman Heritor, Robin Duck, and his duckman Vine Warden, Friar Duck.
   For an introduction and character descriptions for all my crew, including my Heritors abilities, and my Warden's spells, see: My Crew
The table at the start of the game.

The Report
   
     Hyterial Fortrywn, Lord of the 5 Western Realms, Knight of the King's Circle, Prince of Lorleilund, and Governor of Ringdone, was happy to once again have his feet on firm land.  It had been many years since retired Elf general had set his boots on hostile foreign shores;  and the thrill of once again being on campaign made him feel energized.  He was also a Heritor, and could feel the burning tingle of his ancestors' blood coursing in his veins.  These islands called to it, and Lord Fortrywn could tell by the heat under his skin that it was reacting to being so close to the source of his birthright gift.
      He was an imposing Elf; standing near 7 feet tall, with a sharp angular face. His white hair, was a testament to the fact he was not a young man, but anyone that thought he had lost an once of his energy or strength with age, was a fool.
     One of the advantages of having lived the life of an officer in the King's armies, is he had marched through many lands, near and far.  And, in all these campaigns, he had always kept his ears and eyes open for clues and stories of the ghost islands; knowing in his heart that one day the Archipelago would return, and he would be able to seek out the source of his family's dwindling power. A chance to reforge the strength of the bloodline.  So, as the years had passed, he had gathered a large collections of maps, charts, diaries, and trinkets; all clues to finding the Crystal Pool once again.  He held one such map in his hand now, as he and his party stood on the white-sand beach.  It showed a river, and along the river were marked the site of a number of regularly spaced large wooden idols; magical markers of some ancient boundary. The legend of the map said that these idols were given their protective power by having special carved stones placed inside their pedestals; Map Stones to be specific.  Lord Fortrywn knew he would need to gather such clues to the Pool's location if he was ever to find it.
   The tall Elf, folded the map back up, and placed it carefully in his pouch.  He gave a last piercing gaze back at the group assembled at a respectable distance on the hot sand behind him, and then pointed towards the dense jungle a few yards up the beach.
   "Let us begin!" He called to the party.  Then, before leading them into the jungle, he turned to his niece, and Vine Warden, Marnilyne Dewdrisane, and said gruffly, "Try to make yourself useful, but stay out of trouble. And don't die, or your mother will never let me hear the end of it."
   The young elf was flustered by being singled out, but obediently replied, "Yes, Uncle...Yes, Uncle...I won't Uncle", both nodding and then shaking her head at almost the same time. As her Uncle turned away she exhaled and tired to gather herself again.  Looking at the lush green darkness ahead a big smile came back to her face. What wondrous sights and experiences awaited her!
Lord Fortrywn deploys his troops.
     It wasn't long before the came to the first small stream which fed the river.  They followed its path a short distance, and then suddenly, one of the tall idols came into view; it's massive head just visible above the tree line.  Lord Fortrywn stopped and turned and pointed to his Hunter, Gwynwater Lighteye; the Archer, Quinlere Silvervine; and the Crewman, Arbyn. "You three come with me.", he ordered; and the Hunter, Archer, Crewman  and Heritor splashed across the creek to get a better look at the idol.
 He turned and looked back at Marnilyne, and barked, "Niece! You go with Salin, the Pearl Diver; The Archer, Radilas Windway; and Crewman, Bry; and work your way a little further up this creek.  Check out a large fallen tree at the "Y" where the creek joins the river...there may be treasure buried there at the base of the tree as well."  Lastly, to the two Crewmen, Vilkse and Lurlin; the Heritor ordered, "Stay at hand and help out where needed if I or my Niece should call you." 
              Lord Fortrywn then moved out to a clearing on the left; he could see the tumbled cut stones of a ruined structure to the left of the clearing, a temple?, and moved towards it with his small group.  The old Elf general ordered the Archer, Quinlere, to take a covering position in a nearby patch of jungle, while he, Gwynwater, and Arbyn made their way into the ruins.  The Heritor suddenly stopped short reflexively, as his hearing picked up a soft twang sound in the air; and as he did so, a crossbow bolt struck one of the fallen rocks right in front of him, and bounced off harmlessly in another direction. So, they weren't alone.  He gave a knowing glance back at Gwynwater, who was also a veteran of numerous wars, and she nodded.  The Hunter scanned the far bank of the river, beyond the idol, and sure enough, Gwyn could make out movement of another party. "I count 5 or 6, she whispered, "..there could be more." Lord Fortrywn could now see some of them too.  They would need to exercise more caution...they were no alone.
     Meanwhile, Marnilyne moved with her group up the creek. She stopped to look off towards where the idol was to see if she could catch sight of her Uncle, and was shocked when she too saw movement on the far bank of the river.  Thinking quickly, and knowing the prize her uncle sought, she extended her fingertips towards the riverbank directly behind the idol and began to chant the ancient words of a Bramble spell.  At first, slowly, green shoots popped from the fertile riverbank; but as the Vine Warden's chanting continued, and grew faster, the shoots grew at an ever increasing rate.  The vine-like plants began to turn brown, and sharp dagger-like thorns grew on the branches; some thorns 2 or 3 inches long.  The twisted brown branches intertwined and became hard and gnarled as more and more thorns developed all up and down their tangled length.  Finally, the wall of brambles reached a height of about 5 feet, and several yards long, and stopped growing as Marny's chant came to a conclusion.
Opening moves.
          As the Warden was chanting her spell, Salin, the Pearl Diver, moved past her, along with Bry, the Crewman.  Salin jumped into the slow moving waters of the creek and easily moved across the water to the far side.  As he climbed up onto the far bank he stopped suddenly as he heard a short cry from Bry.  The Pearl Diver turned in time to see the sailor dropping to the ground on the other bank, her hands holding her right side where the long shaft an arrow protruded. She hit the bank with a hard thud, and lay there motionless.  (Shot by the Heritor, Herndon).    The Pearl Diver knew he had to act quickly, and turned back towards the large fallen tree.  He could just make out the sealed lids to some old stone storage jars protruding up from the dirt at the trunk; either pushed to the surface by the roots, or revealed from erosion of the covering soil over time. He had the prize in sight, when suddenly he felt a sharp pain in right below where his arm met his shoulder. Looking down he could see the black shaft of an arrow.  (Shot by one of Herndon's Archers) He cursed as the pain and blackness overtook him.  His muscular body dropped to the river bank.
     Marny, seeing her two friends fall from arrows, momentarily froze.  Instinctually she shrunk a bit back into the cover of the trees and bushes where she was standing.  In  a panic, she called out, "Help! Somebody!" The Warden was instantly embarrassed at her panic. How was her Uncle ever going to respect her if she acted like a frightened little schoolgirl all the time.  The young Elf was relieved though, when the Crewman, Vilkse answered her call, and came running up to her.  The nearby Archer, Randilas, also turned and called to her to see if she was okay.  Before he got a reply though, he was distracted by the appearance of a Giant Lizard from behind where they were, coming up the trail they had advanced up only a short while ago. (Treasure generated Random Encounter.) Quickly the archer notched an arrow and shot.  The missile hit true, and the huge reptile slid to a halt in mid stride.  But it wasn't dead; and limping along on three working legs, it still moved on towards the Archer.  The Elf pulled his dagger, and as the half dead beast approached, he finished it off with a quick thrust to the side of its head.   Immediately he remembered the Warden's call for help, and turning towards her, he relaxed when he saw Vilkse was there already, talking to her. 
    Marny told the Crewman what had happened by the fallen tree, and the necessity to recover the treasure there.  Tightening the grip on his spear, the Sailor went to check it out for himself.   The Warden turned back to look towards the idol and check on her Uncle's progress.  However, seeing more of the other Heritor's crew approaching the far riverbank from the idol, and working their way around her bramble wall, she renewed her chanting, casting Brambles once again. This extended the brambles further along the bank.  She knew she must protect the idol until her Uncle could get here.  Nervously, the young Elf glanced as the sky as dark clouds began to boil in out of nowhere covering the sun and and then the island in a grey dimness.  ( Gregorius's Storm Warden casts Cloud Cover.)
Bry and Salin are brought down by Herdon and his Archer, as they near the fallen tree.  Marnilyne is in the clump of jungle at the bottom of the photo, and Randilas can be seen at the edge of the jungle to the left of the photo.
     Lord Fortrywn was having troubles of his own. He was aware the clouds above were slowly thickening and darkening.  Making it increasing harder to see into the distance.  But his sharp eyes could see that the number of enemy crew approaching the idol from on the left was growing.     He called Crewman Lurlin forward to help out.   The Heritor advanced along with Arbyn, leaving Gwyn the Hunter in the ruins to offer covering fire.   As he advanced, an enemy crewman came charging towards him.  The old Elf knew he didn't have time for this, he needed to get to the idol first.  And, knowing that Arbyn and Gwyn could surely handle an simple Crewman, the Heritor called on his inner power.  As he felt his blood tingle like many little needles, and heat up under his skin, he thrust his sword out as the enemy crewman approached, blocking the opposing thrust from his opponent.  As the blades met, the Heritor knelt down, and with a powerful force he sprung up, and using his shield on top of the enemy's head as a pivot point he leapt over him and landed gracefully behind.  Before the poor crewman knew what had happened, and why his head hurt, Lord Fortryn had landed as gracefully as a cat, and he was already 3 paces off towards the idol. (Uses his Heritor ability: Evade)  Lurlin soon joined him there, and as the pair prepared to meet the enemy Tomb Robber who approached from behind the idol.  A crossbow bolt came from the left, striking Lurlin hard in the side.  The crewman fell forward, cracking his head on the idol's pedestal, and lay there like an offering at it's feet.  Lord Fortrywn cursed.  He called out the enemy crossbowman as a target to Gwyn.
       Meanwhile, Lord Fortrywn's Neice and Warden, had moved around to her right to look for her Uncle, just in time to see his acrobatics over the enemy soldier.  Worried about the man just left there behind her uncle, she cast Warp Weapon upon the man's sword.  Suddenly, thick vines shot from the ground on each side of where the dazed man stood, and quickly grew up and wrapped themselves around the blade tightly. As the man tried to extract his sword,  the vines pulled quickly back down into the earth again pulling the metal in two directions.  The force torqued the metal slightly (Spell Effect -1 Damage to weapon) before the tension of the vines was too much, and they snapped.  Then as quickly as they had sprouted and grew, they wilted back and fell upon the earth.
Lurlin falls at the idol, as Lord Fortrywn prepares to meet the enemy Tomb Robber coming up behind it.  The poor Crewman with the warped weapon, stands there in the clearing to the bottom right of the idol.
     Off to the Warden's right, Vilkse had reached the buried jars but paused a moment as he noticed that directly above his head the clouds were turning much angrier, and flashes of lightning could be seen glowing within them.  (Missy casts Lightening Strike on him)  The hair on his neck stood up and tingled.  His mind was distracted from the brewing clouds though, as two of Gregorious's crew approached from across the far side of the river's "Y".  Just as they reached him, and he dodged the first blow, the lightning hit, and missed where he stood by inches.  He could feel the electric charge momentarily numb his body, but he was unharmed from the strike.  Unfortunately, the two enemy crew saw their opportunity, and attacked, easily bringing the lone Crewman down.
     Marnilyne watched in horror as yet another soldier near her was laid low.  She fretted over what to do next, when her mind was immediately focused by a sharp pain in her thigh.  Looking down she saw a crossbow bolt sticking from her leg, and blood slowly running down her pants.  (Hit for -7 HP by one of Gregorious' Crossbows)) Realization hit the Warden; she'd been shot.  Her first though was that she had been killed and now her Uncle would be so disappointed in her disobeying his command.  Though, the young Elf quickly realized she wasn't going to die; it was just a wound.  But the girl had learned enough first aid from the ship's surgeon on the long journey, that she knew she would need to pull the bolt and bandage it if she was going to stay conscious for long.  Quickly, looking up to where her Uncle was, she tried to chant the spell of Brambles to help keep the approaching enemies away from him, but her mind was too clouded by this new level of pain she was experiencing, and the young Warden mixed some words and forgot others (Fails casting Brambles) .  Marnilyne knew she needed to attend to the wound now, so slowly, bracing herself from tree to tree,  the young Elf fell back into the depth of the nearby jungle patch.
Vilkse faces two enemies, and becomes yet another casualty of the fallen tree treasure.
  Back near the idol, the poor confused crewman that Lord Fortrywyn had leapt over, and Marny had cast Warp Weapon on,  stood there in disbelief looking at his sword, and rubbing his sore head and neck.  He didn't notice until too late as Arbyn came lunging up to hm and drove her blade home into his chest.  He crumpled to the ground.  Nearby, the Elf Heritor fought the enemy's Tomb Robber, cutting a nasty gash in him, and then shoving him out of combat.  Just then Arbyn charged up fresh from taking out the Crewman, and ran right into the wounded Tomb Robber.  Bringing her sword down with a mighty chop, she dispatched this second man.  Lord Fortryn looked at her admiringly as she spun around looking for another target.  "Are you sure you don't have a little of Blood Gift in you?" he said amusedly.
     The Heritor was brought back to business though,  as he heard Gwyn cry out.   Looking over to the ruins, he could see her clutching a crossbow bolt in her arm, and gritting her teeth as she pulled it out.  (-6 HP).  She threw a quick bandage around it, pulled it tight, then picked her bow back up and moved off to the left to try and get a better position from which to offer support fire on the crew on the far side of the river, as the dark clouds thickened (The Cloud Cover spell reached it's maximum effect of 12" Line of Sight).
On the right, Arbyn kills the first Crewman, as Lord Fortrywn battles the enemy Tomb Robber at the idol.  On the left, a Soldier Crab approaches Gregorius'  Warden; the first of mounting troubles for the enemy Heritor.
     Lord Fortrywn called upon a minor gift of his; the ability to become aware of his force's current strength.  It had helped him many times on the battlefield, to have such situational awareness; and now as his mind wandered over the members of his party, he became aware of his growing losses.  The Heritor knew it was time to settle for the main goal of their expedition and retire back to the ship.  Reaching down, he gave a mighty blow with the pommel of his sword to  the pedestal of the idol, bashing a hole in the ancient wood.
    As the Elf leaned over to reach into the pedestal, he caught sight of the Heritor Gregorius for the first time, emerging from a patch of jungle on his left.  The other Heritor clutched a grime-covered urn to his chest, and as he turned he likewise caught sight of Lord Fortrywn.   Gregorius' eyes narrowed as he quickly apprised what Lord Fortrywn was doing.  The old Elf could see the turmoil in his opponent's eyes as greed flashed across them.  The human Heritor looked at his urn then back at the newly smashed hole in the idol's pedestal, his mind calculating.
   Just then a cry went up from Gregorius' crew further back behind the river.  A party of Dricheans had appeared in their rear, (Treasure generated random encounter: 3 Dricheans), and the sound of sword upon sword rang out further away on the right as some of Herndon's men pushed their way towards Gregorius' left flank.
     A sad smile came across the grizzled Human Heritor's face, and he gave a respectful tilt of his head at Lord Fortrywn.   Lord Fortrywn lowered his head as a salute in return.  Today would not be the day; but they both knew they would meet again. With that, Gregorious turned, clutching his prize, and moved to support his crew.
      Lord Fortrywn turned too, breathing a sigh of relief.  As much as he would have relished the combat, he knew that his warband was in no condition to go up against another one right now.  The old Elf shoved his long arm into the hole.  His fingers touched a smooth glass-like stone, the size of a dinner plate, and he heaved it up out of the darkness.  The Heritor gazed at the mirror like surface and ran his figures for just moment over the intricate carvings on his surface.  Instinct told him to check the hole a little further, so he reached in and his fingers wrapped around a small leather bag.  He smiled as heard the jungle of coins within.
Arbyn rushes up and claims her second victim.
  An uneasy truce fell then, and the Elf Heritor knew well enough to take advantage of the opportunity.  He pushed with all his energy (Uses Heritor ability: Surge.), and in one series of fluid motions, secured the stone and leather bag, turned, and hurried back towards the jungle behind him. He called to Arbyn and Gwyn to come too.
     Meanwhile, Marny leaned up against a thicker tree trunk, and tightened a belt with a wad of cloth wedged under it around her thigh.  Tears ran down her face as she pulled one notch tighter, making sure there was good pressure on the wound.  Through the tears, she raised one hand towards the nearby creek and softly whispered the spell of Waters of Life; reaching out to the gurgling stream with her mind, calling  it towards her. But no water came, and no healing came, only tears, from frustration and pain.  (Failed to cast Waters of Life.) She was not a Wave Warden, but thought she had grasped the intricacies of this other school's spell.  She loved the water, and it certainly was key to her precious plants, but it failed her now; or she failed it...
    A loud shout in the distance, grabbed the Vine Warden's attention, from her turmoil.  It was Qunlere the Archer calling for help.   She heard Randilas moving off in that direction.  He called to her, to let her know he was going to assist his fellow archer. 
     Behind where Quin had held his position throughout the day, two figures had emerged from the jungle; first a ghostly Spirit Warrior had appeared, then shortly after it a Tribal Warrior followed, as if drawn to the etherial spirit.  (A coincidental pair of treasure generated Random Encounters, both appearing near my entry point).  They both seemed drawn to the Elf Archer.  Were they protectors of the nearby ruined structure?
   Lord Fortrywn heard the Archer's call for help too; and mustering his energy again, he called to Arbyn, as he set the stone and leather pouch on the ground, and quickly crossed the distance to where the Archer stood, as his blood pulsed hot beneath his skin.  (Uses Heritor ability Surge again.) Arbyn obediently moved over and picked up the treasure. 
    The Heritor arrived just in time.  The Spirit Warrior advanced towards Quin; and as he did, Randilas quickly ran up, planted his feet, and raising his bow, released his arrow. It hit the ghostly being, spinning it to a stop.  Quinlere had his bow raised too, and fired an arrow at the glowing fighter as well.  His arrow hit squarely in the back of the creature. It let out an unearthly moan, and slowly turned to a soft blue fog which drifted away in the breeze. 
     Meanwhile, the Tribal Warrior let out a harsh battle cry, and ran directly at the Heritor.  With one mighty blow of his sword the powerful Elf cut the warrior down.  He watched unemotionally, as the native fell to the ground, let out a last rasping breath, and went to join his spirit brethren on some other plane.
The Spirit Warrior and Tribal Warrior attack. 
     Back in her small patch of jungle, Marnilyne, once more tried to focus her concentration, and chanted the spell of Waters of Life.   This time she felt a connection to the river, and watched as a small trickle of water made its way up the bank towards her as if defying gravity.  Slowly, it pooled at her feet.  Reaching down, the young Elf cupped some in her hand, and carefully raising it, so as not to spill any of the river's precious gift, she let the small trickle from her hand pour on to the cloth covering the wound.  Almost instantly she could feel a marked reduction of the deep pain.  She signed in relief.
   Her relief didn't last long, however, as she soon heard her Uncle's booming voice, calling out to everyone to return to the landing boats.  Carefully she put weight on her hurt leg, and was surprised at the improvement.  Slowly, she made her way towards the beach where the others would gather.
The end results: one treasure, and four fallen during the battle.
     Back on The Silver Sword, Lord Fortrywn sat in his cabin and studied the carvings on the rock. He had a book open nearby that he was using to help translate.  On his desk set the coins that had been in the leather bag; neatly stacked into five piles of 10 each.  The Elf looked up as there was a knock on the door.   It was Gwynwater Lighteye, his Hunter.  The Heritor said "Enter."
   She came with the casualty report from the day.  Their Pearl Diver, Salin, would recover quickly.  The wound had hit nothing vital.  "He seems to perhaps be hardier than we suspected," she offered; and the old Elf looked up at her one eyebrow raised as he considered her analysis.  She continued on;  the sailors, Bry, and Vilkse, would also quickly recover,  but Lurlin would take a while.  He was experiencing a bit of numbness in his on leg, either from the sword wound or head injury; and the ships' surgeon said it would take a while for him to regain the full use of it... if he did.
   The pair discussed a few more details of the day's events, and the Hunter took her leave.  Lord Fortrywn went back to his analysis of the Map Stone.  He had determined it was the one that was called Indruline; that much he knew.  But just what it could tell him about the location of the Crystal Pool would take further study.
    There was another knock at his door.  It was his Niece this time.  Sheepishly, she entered.  "You sent for me, Uncle?"
    For a long time he just looked at her with his steel blue eyes.  Finally he spoke.  "I see you got yourself hurt. You accomplished that."
    She nodded, then quickly added, "It's nothing, Uncle. A scratch."
   He grunted.   "So, where did you disappear to halfway through the fight? I could have used your help more."
  Her mouth opened, but no words would come.  She couldn't blame the wound, now that she had said it was just a scratch.
    Lord Fortwyn went ahead and filled the silence. "Well, never mind.  Try to be more useful next time." He looked her up and down, frowned, then turned his attention back to the Map Stone.   "You're dismissed."   And with that the young girl turned, trying not to shake, or worse, cry, and left the cabin. 
   The Heritor resumed his studies.

The roll that helped make my game.
Epilogue:

     What a game!  It started out as a near disaster, with two figures down by the second turn... one of them a Specialist.  This certainly wasn't Frostgrave...how I longed for my nice Fog walls.  Things seemed to continue to go downhill, so I decided to concentrate all my effort on just getting the Central Treasure.  I may have almost lost that too, if it hadn't been for Gregorius having some bad luck of his own, causing him to back down from a fight for the Central Treasure.  That, plus some really good rolls in the second half of the game, saved the day;  particularly Arbyn's single shot kill of the Crewman, and assist kill of the Tomb Robber.  The two hit kill on the Spirit Warrior, and single hit kill by Lord Fortrywn on the Tribal Warrior helped too.
    However, I still was only walking away with one treasure.  Luckily it proved to be a true Central Treasure (Remember we had decided to  roll at the end of the game to determine which of the three was a "fake" Central Treasure, since there was just 5 of us.)  The best roll however came at the very end, when I rolled a 20 on the treasure table... plus the 2 for it being a Central Treasure gave me the ""top prize", plus the added experience for a Map Stone and a Central Treasure.  That turned the whole  battle results into a positive for my Heritor and I, and kept me on a relatively level playing field with the other players. 
   Can't wait to try to do better next time!

Friday, January 12, 2018

My New Crew for Our 2018 Ghost Archipelago Campaign

    These past few weeks I've been busy assembling my crew for this year's Ghost Archipelago campaign. The first game is Saturday!  I decided to go with an Elf crew for this first warband.
HeritorLord Hytieral Fortrywn-   Retired from a lengthy military career to enjoy his wealth and his laurels. Powerful. Landholder. Doesn’t tolerate fools.  Not happy that his younger step-sister has out-maneuvered him into taking her daughter,  his niece, along with him to act as his Warden.  She says it will be good for the girl to have experience in the world; he finds the young magic-user barely tolerable, and the fact she isn’t a true wizard is an embarrassment.

Daze- 3
Evade-5
Stand Firm- 5
Surge- 5
Disarm-5

So I think the Daze is going to be interesting as the main ability.  Apparently this guy is so formidable looking as he twirls his sword around acrobatically, that enemies just kind of freeze up when they see him. The other abilities I think fall in nicely with someone who was a professional soldier.


Warden: Marnilyne Dewdrisane-  Young. Impetuous. Curious. Argumentative. Na├»ve. In awe of her uncle, and a little scared of him; but also terribly excited to be a part of the adventure ahead.

Brambles
Plant Walk
Warp Weapon
Water of Life

I chose Water of Life as my out-of-school spell, after the test game we played revealed that being able to patch up your Heritor during the game would be a big asset in this early phase of the campaign.

Hunter: Gwynwater Lighteye-  Elf.  At the peak of her abilities.  Served as a Captain of Archers under Lord Fortrywn for many years; now she manages the game on his main estate.  Competent and Loyal.  Prefers the out of doors and the company of animals to that of others of her kind.  An introvert that is often mistaken for arrogant.   She dreads the thought of weeks at sea, but eagerly awaits the chance to match her skills against beasts she has only heard about in legends.

Pearl Diver:  Salin-  Elf.   From the Southern Island Kingdoms.  Found by Lord Fortrywn’s ship on their voyage south; half dead after he spent weeks adrift at sea, alone in a small wooden canoe.  Apparently, the simple pearl hunter was the only survivor of a small island village wiped out in a raid.  His wife and children presumed dead or taken, he vows vengance. The Southern Elf agrees to sign on for the journey as payment for saving his life, and with the understanding that he will receive expert training in combat.  Lord Fortrywn can see no weakling could survive the harsh seas here alone for weeks without some skill in the water and an extreme will to live. And someone with swimming skills, who won’t give up easily, might be useful to the Lord’s purpose in the Archipelago.

Archer: Randilas Windway- Elf.  First on the short list of Archers that Gwynwater Lighteye sent for when Lord Fortrywn requested two to join his quest to the Archipelago. Once a member of Lighteye’s Company, the young archer had always been a disciplinary problem, but Captain Lighteye had always known he was the most skilled among the troop.  Since the company disbanded, he has roamed from one mercenary band to another, never lasting long.  Restless.  Egotistical.  He looks forward to the great adventure ahead and the chance to once again serve with the Captain, for whom he always carried a small flame.

Archer: Quinlere Silvervine- Elf.  Another expert Archer that Gwynwater sent for when Lord Fortwyn instructed her to hire two archers for the expedition.  He is vain and arrogant; often aggravating other because he actually has the talent to back it up.   Knows others have trouble getting along with him, and considers it part of the burden someone of his abilities must bear.  However, he’s a good soldier, level headed, follows orders, and can be counted on when the going gets hard.

 Standard Crewmen: Here are the four Standard Crewmen that are part of my crew: Arbyn, Vilkse, Lurlin, and Bry.

And here's the whole crew together.  Ready to set sail aboard The Silver Sword to high adventure on Saturday.   Stay tuned!

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Quick and Easy Vine Warden "Bramble" Spell Effects

   We are starting our new Ghost Archipelago campaign this month, and I have chosen a Vine Warden to be in my crew. One of her spells is going to be Brambles, which creates a thorny hedge-like barrier, 6 inches long, 1 inch high, and 1 inch wide.  To make such a terrain piece to use for the spell effect, I borrowed an old technique I learned back when I was actively playing The Sword and the Flame Colonial era rules several decades ago: Colonial players would make models of Zariba, a real-life thorny barricade that soldiers and natives used in the Sudan as a makeshift defensive works, from luffa scrubbing sponges.
     So I ordered a set of 6" luffa scubbers off of EBay for just a couple bucks.
     Most of these have three central spines in them, and these were what I was going to use to make my Brambles markers from. I took one, and using my hobby knife, carefully cut out one of the central spine sections, leaving a base about an inch wide.
    This is what you get when you cut out the section.  The first one is hard to do, and often comes out a bit uneven.  The other two are a lot easier since you already have the luffa opened up.
     The part I intended to use as the bottom of the Brambles marker has a natural curve to it from the outside of the luffa, so the next thing I did was to use my hobby knife to cut a layer of the curve off, so the spine would sit flat.
     I then glued that flat base to two black-primed 1" x 3" steel bases, set end to end, to make a 1" x 6" base.
     I then gave the Brambles markers a good heavy coat of flat camo dark brown spray paint.   After the spray paint base coat was dry, I drybrushed some lighter brown and tan highlights.  When the painting was dry, I glued a a brown and green flock mix along the bottom to blend the edges in with the table top, and help the illusion that these were bursting up out of the ground. After that, I brushed some Elmer's glue along the length of the brambles and sprinkled them with some coarse foliage to make patches of leaves on them along the "vines".
     I'm really please with how these turned out!  And I'm looking forward to using them to thwart my opponents in our campaign! :)

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

HAWK's Annual New Year's Eve Gaming Party

   On New Year's Eve, HAWK's member, Buck Surdu and his wife, Candy, hosted their annual gaming event/New Year's Eve party for the club.     This year we were treated to two really fun games, as well as wonderful food, and great company, to usher in the New Year.
   First up was a Star Wars game, using Combat Patrol's excellent Star Wars supplement.  The scenario had Rebels defending an installation, while the forces of the Empire were attacking them from two directions.  Besides, several squads of infantry, the Imperial force also had with them a couple AT-STs and a lone AT-AT.  The Alliance had several turret emplacements, some rocket launchers and other heavy weapons; and, besides regular infantry, a squad of Wookies, and a hidden squad of Sand People, who had volunteered to help the Rebels. Luke, Leia, and Han Solo were also there.
A view of the Star Wars table at the start of the game.
     The AT-AT was run by the gamemaster on a pre-plotted path that only he knew.  It was ordered to move directly to the walled village about midway down the table, where it would land a squad of commando type troops, and then it would fire on a large pallet of equipment in the center of the village in an attempt to destroy it.   The Empire got points for destroying the turrets, moisture vaporators, and other structures on the table. The catch was, that the Imperial troops only got points if they destroyed these by hand, using thermal detonators; they couldn't just stand along the edge of the table and shoot them from a distance.   The Rebels got points for protecting these.  Both sides got points for eliminating the opposing side's heroes. 
With a lucky shot from one of their heavy weapons, the smaller Imperial force takes out the gun turret on the bunker in the very first turn, momentarily demoralizing the defenders.
     It was a tough battle, with the Rebels squeezed between two forces, but the "Good Guys" were able to badly hurt and and then halt the smaller diversionary attacking force,  while the bigger Imperial force, with the armored support,  made some slow headway, but just wasn't able to get the points it needed. 
    In the end, it was a Rebel Victory.  The Rebels had protected more of the structures (7) than the Empire was able to destroy (5); and had killed two of the Imperial Heroes and had lost only 1 (Han Solo).  All in all a fun battle!
As the attackers approach the bunker, a squad of rampaging Wookies bursts out the bunker's door and charges them.  Though most of the walking carpets are quickly cut down by laser fire, a few manage to pull a limb or two off a couple poor storm troopers.

Hearing the howls of the Wookie charge, the Sand People come out of their hiding places, and begin sniping at the Imperial troops from a tall cliff in their rear. 

As the battle rages on the AT-AT gets closer and closer. It takes several hits, but none penetrate.

With many of their compatriots dead or wounded, some troopers slowly approach one of the vaporators to blow it up.

With time running out, Princess Leia rushes from cover and plants a thermal detonator on the leg of the AT-AT.  It explodes with a Penetrating Hit, causing the large machine to topple over.

Despite the destructing of the AT-AT, the special commando squad it was carrying survives, and exits the wreckage, laser blasting. They critically wound the Leia (Reduced from 9 Endurance Points to 1), and move in for the kill,;as rebel troops from all around rush out of their cover and towards the Princess to save her.  Then, having spent most of the game  hiding, Luke runs out to her aid, helping her get to safety.  At that point the game was all but over.  We played a few more turns, but with the loss of their AT-AT the writing was on the wall for the Empire.

After the Star Wars game, we reset the table for some Pulp action featuring Nazis trying to commandeer Santa's Zeppelin on Christmas Eve.  The rules we used where Blood and Swash skirmish rules, with some slight modifications to make them more Pulp flavored.
     Along with Santa and his daughter Nicole, there were a variety of defenders which started on the Zeppelin; including Toy Soldiers, Teddy Bears, Elf Militia,  Else, Anna, Kristof and Sven from Frozen, Hermie and Rudolph from Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer,  perennial HAWKS action hero Duke Morrison and his buddies, including "Wrench" Webb with some infantry, and "Boats Morgan" with some Sailors.     The Nazis brought along the Wicked Witch and her mechanical flying monkeys, as well as some Evil Snowmen.
A long view of the zeppelin game
     To win, the Santa and his friends needed to load six special A Christmas Story themed tokens (Leg Lamp, Red Ryder BB Gun, Fra-Gee-Lay Crate, Pink Bunny Slippers, Blue Bowling Ball and Can of Simonize, and a Almost Cooked Turkey, that were spread around the Zeppelin, and load them on to his sleigh before the actual time hit 11:55PM.  At that point Santa's Sleigh would have to launch out the loading bay doors and on to deliver the presents.  If something happened to Santa, then his Daughter Nicole, Elsa, Anna, or Hermie the Elf were also qualified to be able to drive the sleigh.   The Nazis had to prevent the sleigh from launching by either stealing the special tokens, delaying the good guys from retrieving the tokens, or killing all the eligible drivers.
Evil Snowmen and Nazis fight "Boats" Morgan and his sailors out on the mooring dock, while some of the bad guys head up the ramp and into the ship.
     It was a fun game with the Good Guys worrying at first that their animated toys were no match for the enemies' automatic weapons; but eventually the Nazi's isolated entry points (some came up the front ramp, and some entered at the left and right nacelle access hatches) allowed Santa and his friends to isolate them and slowly eliminate them.  What did hamper the Good Guys was locating the last present and getting it into the sleigh on time With less than a minute left, an Elf Militiaman was able to toss the leg lamp into the sleigh, and it safely took off, guaranteeing a Merry Christmas for all the good little boys and girls.
A closer view of the action inside.

Marshmallow, the evil snow monster, takes on some soldiers inside the zeppelin.

A Teddy Bear officer battles two Nazis.

As the clock ticks down (just visible above the zeppelin's tail fin on the left) players rush to achieve their objectives.

In the final seconds, one of the Elf Militia tosses the Leg Lamp into the sleigh, as Elsa prepares to take off, along with Kristof.  Santa had been taken out earlier by one of the Wicked Witch's Flying Monkey Leaders.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Ghost Archipelago Test Game

     After the final game of our 2017 Frostgrave Campaign, which we played back on December 9th, (See report here: The Final Expedition), we ran a test game of Ghost Archipelago to get a feel for how those rules play.   Out plan is to base our 2018 Campaign on Ghost Archipelago.
     We had 4 players take part in the test game, and we used a 6' x 3' table.  For our Heritors  we rolled their abilities randomly, but we picked our Wardens and which spells they had.
A view of the table.  My set up position was on the lower left, beteen the large stump and the big skull rock. 
     I used the warband I plan to use for the actual campaign.  My Heritor had Daze as his primary ability, and then Evade, Stand Firm, Surge, and Disarm.   I chose a Vine Warden, and gave her Brambles, Plant Walk, Warp Weapon, and Summon Animal. The Specialists on my crew consisted of: a Hunter, Pearl Diver, and 2 Archers.  The 4 regular crew had one with a hand weapon, and three with a 2-handed weapon.
My initial deployment.  On the left is my Warden,  Pearl Diver, Archer and Crewman.  On the right is my Heritor, Hunter, Archer, and Crewman.  In the center is the two remaining Crewmen 
     On the first turn, everybody basically advanced.   My Hunter along with an Archer and a Crewman headed off to gather a treasure by a gargoyle statue, just passed a large stump on my left; while most of the rest of the team forged ahead to cross a shallow water river to our front.  On the far side was an ancient temple that had the central treasure on the near corner of it's second tier.  My Warden moved to the edge of the river and cast Brambles to block the way of an enemy soldier  from easily getting to a treasure located under a ruined archway off to my left.
My opening moves.  Near the upper left corner can be see the Hunter, Archer, and Crewman going for the treasure by the gargoyle statue.  The central treasure  can be seen on the second level of the temple near the right edge of the photo.
         On turn two, 2 Giant Bees emerged near my rear area, from the giant stump, as a result of someone picking up a treasure and making the roll for a random encounter.  Their loud buzzing alerted my Hunter and Archer, who fell back from helping recover the treasure to shoot at them.  My Hunter killed one of them with a single shot, but in the Creature Phase, the second attacked my Hunter and did damage, causing the Hunter to become poisoned.  This meant she would only get one activation per turn for the rest of the game.  The Crewman recovered the treasure.  My Warden cast Summon Animal, and attracted a Snapping Turtle on the far side of the river along the right table edge.
Giant Bee attack! 
     The rest of the crew reached the far side of the river, while the Pearl Diver who crossed fastest due to his Amphibious trait, headed down the bank on the right to a treasure near a frog statue.
Midway through the battle.
     On turn 3 I just started contacting the enemy on the temple, and both sides jockeyed for position.  My Warden on the far bank cast Warp Weapon on one of the enemy figures.  My Hunter and the Archer dispatched the last bee.   The Pearl Diver reached the treasure, but was in danger of being overtaken by an enemy soldier.  Luckily, the Snapping Turtle my Warden had summoned, moved in and was able to engage the opponent.
My Warden keeps in the shadows while offering her support.
On Turn 4, My Heritor tried to Daze an opponent who had moved into contact during the enemy's activation, but the enemy passed his Will roll.  That didn't deter my Heritor though as he then dispatched the enemy anyway by rolling a 20.  Feeling momentum from the kill, he used his Surge ability to charge against the nearby enemy Tomb Raider; but the Tomb Raider won the attack, damaging my Heritor.   My Warden tried to Warp Weapon on the Tomb Raider, but failed.
The Pearl Diver swam back over the river, while the Turtle munched on the enemy soldier.  My second Archer provided covering fire from the friendly side of the river.
The Pearl Diver falls back with his treasure. In the background on the right, the Snapping Turtle (proxied by an Ice Toad!) attacks an enemy.
    Turn 5 was the height of the battle, with 3 of my crew and Heritor on the ancient temple.  Unfortunately, I was outnumbered, and quickly started loosing folks, especially from the enemy Heritor.  My Warden tried to cast Brambles to hinder enemy movement on the temple, but she failed.
The fight on the temple.
  By Turn 6, all three of the crew on the temple had fallen, and my Heritor realized his chances at the main treasure were gone, so, badly wounded, he extracted himself from the fight using his Evade ability, and headed back over the river under cover of his archers.   The Warden cast Warp Weapon, one last time, on another enemy.
End results.
     In the end I had two of the basic treasures,  and three of my basic crew had fallen.  My Warden had successful cast 4 spells.  My Heritor had killed one opponent.  
     We all really enjoyed the game.  It definitely has a distinctly different feel from Frostgrave, being much more combat centered.  Using your Heritor effectively is going to take a bit of a learning curve, as I can see that just tossing him into battle isn't going to work.  You really need to think about how you use his abilities.   After the game we decided that for the actual campaign we will allow the players to select one Heritor ability f their choosing, but they will have to roll randomly for the rest.  
     I think I'm going to keep my warband as it is.  The only change I'm going to make is to replace my Warden's non-branch spell of Summoning Animal to Water of Life.  While the ability to call that Snapping Turtle definitely helped me secure the second treasure;  I saw the enemy's Warden constantly healing their Heritor; and while mine had to limp off the table at less than half health, by game's end my opponent had healed theirs back to full health.    I think  that ability will be more useful early on in the campaign, and she can always learn Summon Animal later.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Frostgrave Campaign '17, Game 12: Red Sled Down, or, The Last Excursion

   On Saturday December 9th, we got together for our Frostgrave Christmas Party and the last game of this past year's campaign.    Sadly, only 5 our our regulars could make it; but a grand time was had by those who were there!   As we did last year, everyone brought Christmas cookies and other treats, and three small gaming-related presents, of approximately $5 value, to correspond with the three treasure tokens they would place on the table.
A view of the table at the start of the game.
   The scenario we did we called Red Sled Down, and featured Santa's Sleigh crashing over Frostgrave on Christmas Eve, scattering present across the city.  Also, Santa and Mrs Claus had survived the crash, and are stranded on two towers in the city.  To add a little more challenge to the mix, we also added two teams of 6 goblins (we used Thug stats) who were trying to gather up the presents/treasures for themselves.  They were ruled to move towards the closest unclaimed treasures first, and if there were no unclaimed ones, then they would try to get claimed ones.  At game's end, however many treasures a player recovered (not counting Reveal Secret treasures,) was the number of gifts that player could select from the gift pile.
Loot!  The present pile for the treasure-based gift exchange.
    Just for fun, I also created a half dozen special treasure tokens based on iconic props from the classic Christmas movie, "A Christmas Story".  You can see most of them here: Christmas Story Treasure. I also did a pair of pink bunny slippers and a cooked turkey.  In addition to these, I made a small piece of scatter terrain that was a zombie with his tongue stuck to a frozen flag pole, just like in the famous Ttriple-Dog-Dare scene from the movie.
      I got first choice on set up position, so I took a corner by a large square ruin, and a large bronze statue of a female warrior.  In the distance was a ruined tower complex, and a large monument to a vampire lord.  Across from me was Alfred the Unready, an Elementalist,  and his odd Duckmen; and to my left was Gru the Soothsayer and his strange yellow minion creatures.  Diagonally across from me, on the left, was Bemis with whom I didn't really deal with during the game, (though he did help out with a much needed Fog Wall at one point!)
   For an account of last month's game see: The Final Battle
A Christmas Story based terrain piece: a poor zombie who was triple-dog-dared to put his tongue on a Frozen flagpole! :) 
 
The Report

     Quail sat at the big table in the main hall sipping her tea.  She looked around at the walls and ceiling of the old tower, musing over who had built it and originally occupied it.  It had been a good home to them this past year.   So many memories...  She would be sad to move out of it.  But the fact was, her year of leave from the University was over, and they would soon be starting the long trip back.  Already many of her belongings and artifacts from the trip, as well as those of her Apprentice Bailisette, and the old Knight, Sir Cardidil, who had acted as their escort for the trip, were piled in cases and trunks along one wall inside the tower's entryway; waiting for Sir Cardidil to come back from town with the horse and wagon they had hired.  In fact he was due any minute.
  The Sigilist didn't have to wonder about the Knight's whereabouts for long, for only minutes later he came bursting through the door of the main hall.  He had been such a good and loyal companion this past year; where would they have been without his combat knowledge and field skills to help them through the first few months.
     Seeing the wizard sitting at the table, Sir C. stopped short, and  exclaimed, "My Lady; there's news!";  and he proceeded to relate the tale he had heard at the inn while he had been in town fetching the horse and wagon.  Apparently, some folks had spotted a strange sight in the sky the night before: a large red sleigh pulled by strange deer-like creatures, flying through the air.  It appeared to be in some distress, as it's flight was very irregular; up and down and side to side; nearly tipping over at some points.  It was last seen heading into the old city, where there were reports that it crashed; sending its odd cargo of fancily wrapped boxes all over a mile or more of the ruins.  "So, some of the wizards are preparing to go see what's what, and I thought you might want to be a part of that." the old Knight concluded.
     Quail thought about the situation for a moment; surely they could delay their departure for a few hours.  Everyone was still here in the tower, it wouldn't take too long to get the group together.  The wizard couldn't resist one more chance to venture into Frostgrave. "Go get the party ready." the Sigilist said to the Knight, "I'll go tell Bailey to prepare".  Quail realized there would be no time to prepare potions; and their potion making equipment was already packed up anyway. (Both casters fail their pre-game Brew Potion rolls.)
The disposition of treasure in the area where Quail entered the table.
   As the group moved through the outskirts of Feldstad, towards the location the mysterious flying sled had last been seen, Quail remarked, "I think I know this area." Bailey, her Apprentice, looked at her questioningly, and the Sigilist continued, "Yes, I've been reading more of the Magical Atlas of Feldstad this past week, seeing what magical wonders we may have missed in our time here, and it seems to me there was a power Enchanter that lived near this area...see that ruined tower over there, and that statue of the warrior there... and he kept his cache of grimoires hidden in a niche in a stone wall near his house.  In case of thieves breaking into his dwelling. We'll have to check it out."  (Quail casts Reveal Secret pre-game.)
     They had not gone much further when a few strange sights caught there eye.  First on a high part of a tower not far away, directly to their front, there was a distressed looking woman, all dressed in red, huddled and looking quite cold and scared.    Also, to their left, they heard the chattering of a group of Snow Goblins, who appeared to be putting a large package on to a sledge. Quail realized it must be one of the scattered boxes Sir Cardidil had told her about.   The group also noticed a few other large boxes scattered about, all wrapped up in shiny metallic paper.  They all pondered what could be in them.  
     Quail quickly divided up the party; this would be easy she thought.   She moved off to the left with Luc Demic the Marksman, Sir Cardidil, and Dorchesman the Treasure Hunter.  She instructed Bailey to go investigate the right with Sallisee the Ranger, and Innis Flynn and Kinny the other Treasure Hunters.  And the Sigilist pointed out a sturdy cut-stone wall a short ways off that might hold the Enchanter's horde of Grimoires.  Barc the Man-at-Arms, Clol the Barbarian, and Cirvid the Warhound were kept nearby, and told to help out where ever they could be most useful
Quail's starting position.  Quail with Sir Cardidil, Luc Demic, and Dorchesman.  Bailey with Salisee, Innis Flin, and Kinny.  Clol, Barc, and Cirvid in reserve.  
         Quail quickly became aware of the nearby gibbering of those fiendish yellow creatures belonging to the Soothsayer Gru; and in the distance she caught the echo of the odd quacking language of Alfred the Unready's Duckmen.  Her immediate concern was the Goblins though.  "I'll be having that," she said under her breath as she focused a Telekinesis spell on the box sitting on the Goblin sledge.  It immediately raised up in the air, much to the shock of the Goblins, and came drifting towards the Sigilist.   With at least two other wizards in the area, she had to be carefully which direction she moved the package, so it wouldn't be seen by anyone else; and making a hasty decision, she moved it off to her left behind two walls, rather than bring it directly towards her.
     Bailey, spotted another package in an archway of the distant ruined tower, and she too cast Telekinesis, moving the package directly towards the warband.  Quail noticed, and smiled to herself, thinking how her Apprentice had learned to use so much of her own initiative since they had been in the city; the Sigilist no longer needed her to tell her everything to do on these excursions.  
A trio of Ghouls enters between Quail's and Gru's warbands, near the square ruined building, on the first turn. 
      The rest of the party advanced.  Kinny was instructed to go over to check for the Grimoires in the wall, and Innis noticed something shiny in a nearby well and moved up to investigate.  Barc observed some movement behind the group, and called out a warning as three ghouls came shambling up near the ruined square building they had just passed. (Random treasure-activated Bestiary appearance.)   The Man-at-Arms tightened his grip on his spear and went running in their direction, trying to stay out of their view in hopes that they might just wander off.  Back at the sledge, the Goblins were quick to recover from the shock of seeing their prize fly away, and two of them went running after it.  The other two, taking notice of the package Bailey had moved, went running after this new target.
     Once again Quail mustered up a Telekinesis spell and move the box a little further away from the pursuing Goblins.  Unfortunately now, the Goblins weren't her only problem, as members of Gru's warband approached the square ruin from the far side.  She noticed that there appeared to be a treasure also hidden within it's ruined rooms as well.   Bailey duplicated her mistresses' efforts, and she continued using Telekinesis on the same package she had done so on earlier, even with the two Goblins in hot pursuit. 
Opening moves.  The party enters, and the Spell Casters use Telekinesis on the two treasures.  The Goblins chase after them. Gru's warband can be seen forming up along the wall on Quails left, at the top left of the photo.  Alfred the Unready's warband can bee seen entering the ruined tower in the upper right of the photo.  They were the ones to rescue Mrs Claus off the tower by using a Leap spell on her.
      Sir Cardidil ran forward to deal with the pesky Goblins chasing Bailey's box, and Quail directed Clol to run forward and grab the newly discovered package in the square ruins.  Luc Demic helped clear a Goblin away from the package Quail was moving with a well aimed shot from his crossbow.  The Sigilist also had noticed members of Alfred the Unready's warband getting nearer, including his large bear companion, and send Cirvid the Warhound to stand guard in a narrow gap between part of a ruined tower and a low wall.
       And then, suddenly, several of Gru's soldiers were upon them.  Clol found himself battling two of them before he had a chance to pick up the treasure in the ruin.  Likewise, the Goblin pursuing the treasure Quail had been moving was soon a victim to the Soothsayer's minions as well.
Clol goes to get the treasure in the square ruin, as Sir Cardidil goes after two of the Goblins, and Cirvid the Warhound moves up to guard the gap leading to Alfred the Unready's warband.  Barc moves back to keep an eye on the Ghouls. (center left of photo).  In the lower right, Innis is getting the treasure in the ruined well. 
      The Siglist was quickly finding herself flanked on two sides.  Memories of the distaster at the river, shortly after she had arrived in the Frostgrave, flashed in the back of her mind.   There too, she had found herself squeezed between two warbands, and the results had not been good.  She quickly tried to cast Awareness, but  rushed the spell and was rewarded with a stab of pain behind her eyes (-1 HP).  Bailey, meanwhile, saw what was going on in the square ruin, and used Telekinesis to move the package out of the middle of the battle between Gru's troops and Clol.  Dorchesman, the Treasure Hunter, was now next to the package Bailey had been moving earlier, so he picked it up and turned to head back to the tower.  Likewise, Kinny had found one surviving Grimoire from the Enchanter's cache in the wall, as well as some gold coins; and Innis had retrieved a package from the well.  Both had secured their treasures and were heading away from the area.  The Goblins seeing all the packages slipping out of their grasps, pursued the one yet unclaimed one; which was the one Bailey had just moved out of the square ruin.  This sent the Goblins right into the middle of Quails' warband.
  Back behind the group, Barc easily dealt with one of the marauding Ghouls, and Sally put an arrow through a second.  The third had apparently wandered off towards Gru's area. Cirvid braced himself and prepared to battle the Elementalist's Bear, but was shocked to see a rogue Rangifer come lumbering up and charge the big beast. (Random treasure-activated Bestiary appearance.)
     Quail then became aware of members of Gru's force moving to the left of the square ruin trying to cut her party off from behind.    Quickly, she ran back to see what she could do, and cast a wall of Fog by the back of the ruin to block any missile troops. Bailey also became aware of what was happening, and realized that getting the treasure they had recovered back to base quickly was becoming a high priority.  She turned and tried to use a Push spell on Innis to help get him back to the tower faster, but the spell fizzled and the Treasure Hunter felt nothing more than a strong breeze blow by him.
Quail is brought down by a crossbow, as the present-chasing Goblins are encircled. Behind the group, Bailey faces the Elementalist's  Bear (being proxied by a gorilla figure).
    Clol had moved out of the ruin and after the treasure Bailey had moved, and he, Sir Cardidil, and Barc, now moved into deal with the Goblins who threatened to take the last unclaimed prize.   Quail felt confident that they could handle the Goblins, so turned to give her fog wall a quick glance to make sure no one was coming through.  She was horrified to see it suddenly vaporizing into misty tendrils while she looked at it. (Gru's Apprentice uses Dispel Magic).  As the last wisps of vapor drifted in the cold air, the Siglist suddenly realized she was looking directly at a Marksman with a crossbow a short distance past where the Fog wall had been. She then heard the distinctive sharp sound of the weapon being fired, and was immediately aware of piercing pain in her side.  Then the ruins around her spun into a whirl of grey and white, and her world went black.
      Bailey saw Quail go down, and let out a loud cry of dismay.   Her exclamation was cut short though by an even louder sound; a growl that was very close by, and the Apprentice turned to see Alfred the Unready's bear just feet away.  Bailey had only seconds to raise her weapon to defend herself from the beast's giant claw-studded paws.   Then there was once again the distinctive twang of a crossbow, and  Barc was brought down by one of  Gru's Marksmen.
     Behind her, Bailey heard a strange soft sizzle sound like water on a hot stove, and before her mind could register what it was, there was a large eruption just a few yards away.  The Apprentice turned from fighting the bear and watched in horror as the ground erupted in a flash of blue electric light, right in the middle of the battle between the Goblins, Barc, and Clol. She and the bear were covered in icy particles, dirt, and masonry.  As she spat grit from her mouth she looked in horror to see Sir Cardidil was down, and unmoving; his tabard smoked a little as if charred by unseen flame.   Clol and Barc, however seemed to be unharmed, as did the Goblins; though they all stood there blinking and dazed, covered in snow and dust.  (Alfred the Unready cast Elemental Ball.)
Barc is already down from a crossbow bolt, as the first Elemental Ball explodes.
     No one had any time to recover though before there was another slight sound of sizzling, and the ground erupted once again in blue electric light, in almost the exact same spot (The Elementalist's Apprentice also casts Elemental Ball). This time Barc,  one of the Goblins, and Luc Demic, who was standing just a bit too close,  were all done and unmoving on the ground.  Bailey froze at the sight of all the bodies in the snow; one piled on top of another. Her mind went numb, and then she caught movement out of the corner of her eye, and a split second too late, remembered the Bear.  As the Apprentice turned, she had a glance of a paw twice as big as her head inches form her face, and felt the hard impact, and the claws scrape painfully along the side of her head. She felt the ground heave her body spin as if floating in air, and the grey daylight turned to night.
    Sally suddenly found herself all alone in the ruins.  She fired at the Elementalist, but missed. Turning, she was faced with two of Gru's soldiers. Sensing the inevitable, she bravely tried to defend herself, but was quickly sent to join the rest of the warband lying in the blood-soaked snow.
Carnage everywhere.  Gru's minions move in as Sally is the last soldier standing...though not for long.  At the very top of the photo, just right of center, the Elementalist's Apprentice, and one of his Duckmen can be seen.
     Back in  the tower, the three Treasure Hunters, and Cirvid, waited, and paced, and glanced nervously at each other; and as the hour grew later and no one else had returned, they came to the conclusion that they needed to return to the city to find out what happened before darkness set in.   They were shocked at the scene of destruction they discovered.  Clol, battered and bloody knelt by Barc, tending the crossbow bolt wound above his right hip.  Bailey, blood covering the side of her head where the bear's claws had slashed her,  was casting a Heal spell as she stood over Sally.  The Ranger sat leaned up against a low wall; a makeshift bandage around her shoulder.   Luc was sitting propped against the wall of the square ruin, trying to figure out how to stand with one bloody leg splinted with a bit of scrounged timber and some torn cloth.   In the middle of them all was Quail, crying soft tears as she sat next to Sir Cardidil, who still lay unmoving in the snow.   She held his lifeless hand in hers, as she rocked back and forth, and spoke silent words to him.
   One by one they helped each other back to the tower.  Quail was the last to leave the city.  The Maga Librarian sat with her brave knight until her legs were frozen and she could hardly stand.   Clol came, and with more care than you would expect from the big Barbarian, gently lifted the Knight  as carefully as a newborn baby, and carried him back to the tower.  Bailey came for Quail, and helping her up, the pair leaned on each other as they walked out of city.  Quail stopped them on the outskirts, and as the last rays of the setting sun painted the the sky orange and purple, she  turned to look back at the crumbling towers and  leaning spires of the ancient city.  She felt suddenly very old. The Sigilist sighed deeply, and wiping the last few frozen tears from her face, turned and headed with her Apprentice back to the tower.
The survivors and their three treasure.
     They slowly healed.  And one by one the soldiers left to seek new adventurers.   Quail had Sir Cardidil buried by the garden in the back of the tower.  A stone monument was placed to mark his final resting spot. The Knight had been a good friend and a faithful companion this past year.  Quail would never forget their time together.
     And Bemis dropped in for a visit a couple days after the last excursion.  Hearing that Quail had been injured in the day's events he wanted to check on his fellow Sigilsit's well-being.   He too was leaving the city.   And as Siglist's always do, they promised to write letters to each other in the years ahead.
     When the time came to head back to the University Library, Quail was filled with a whirl of emotions.  It would be a sad journey without her old friend, Sir Cardidil.  He had made the journey with them to Feldstad a year ago, and it didn't seem right not to have his wise advice and good company on their trip home.  She would miss the excitement of discovery and the companionship of fellow adventurers.   The stuffy meetings of academia would pale in comparison to nights of stories and laughter in the tower.  But she also looked forward to sharing her new-found knowledge, and the familiarity of her old Library.    And, they had defeated a Great Evil while they had been there.  The world would provably never know what might have been if the few brave wizards who had stayed to face the Lich Lord, hadn't had the courage to do so.  But the had stayed, and the world was safer because of it.
     And who knew'; maybe one day in the future she would come visit Sir Cardidil again, and maybe seek a new adventure in the old city.
The seven who fell during the battle: Quail, Bailey, Sir Cariddil, Clol,  Luc Demic, Barc,  Sallisee.

Game Epilogue

   Wow, what a game!  Almost a Total Party Kill, but not quite.  It was brutal to have lived though.  But the good company and festive atmosphere more than made up for the poor game outcome.  All in all a great campaign!
  The final haul for the game was 3 treasures (one of which was the Reveal Secret Treasure) totaling 230 GC, a Grimoire of Enchant Weapon, and Ring of Power +1.   Of the seven members of the warband that fell during the battle: Quail, Bailey, and Clol were all fine; Luc Demic, Barc, and Salllisee were Badly Wounded; and Sir Cardidil was dead.  Interestingly this was the first death the party suffered in the campaign.  How unlike Kodak's campaign where he lost somebody almost every game.
   Bemis was the winner of this years' campaign.  I forget what level he reached, but I'm sure he will report it soon in his write-up.   Quail reached Level 35, and took home a treasury of  1030 Gold Coins.  Not a bat retirement for a professor! :)   She also learned 7 new spells during her time in the city,  beyond her beginning 8 spells she knew when she arrived.
Selecting our "treasure" from the pile!
     After the game we traded in our treasure for gifts form the Present Exchange pile, had some cookies, and celebrated a very fun campaign.  We then set up for a test game of Ghost Archipelago, which will be the rules we will use for next year's campaign.  I will be posting a report from this test game as well, hopefully in the next week or so.  So look for that link here.
    And before signing off for this year, I wanted to say a special thank you to my readers!  I really appreciate the feedback and comments you all have given my through the year.  I hope you enjoyed following Quail and her adventures, as much as I did writing them.  I also hope to see you all for our trip to the Ghost Archipelago next year.  Stay tuned!