Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Frostgrave Campaign '17, Game 7: The District of Longreach

     This past Saturday we got together for the 7th game of our 2017 Frostgrave Campaign, just two weeks after our previous session.  While last time we returned to the Core Rulebook for our scenario, doing The Library; this month we returned to the Thaw of the Lich Lord supplement with the 6th scenario, The House of Longreach.   
 (To read the account of last month's game, see: The Library.)
     Because we had 8 of our regular players for this session, we had to modify the scenario a bit, renaming it The District of Longreach.  So instead of one legendary mansion, we declared it to be Frostgrave's lost Banking District.  With magic portals that helped customers move from location to location around the district and the secure treasure vaults located a mile beneath the city.  With 8 players, we multiplied all the scenario requirements times 4; so there were 4 vaults and 24 portals. Also, 8 Frost Wraiths (2 in each vault),  4 Zombie Trolls, and 16 Death Cultists.
        Other than the adjustment of the number of treasure rooms, portals and monsters for the scenario, we played it basically as written.  Anyone who passed through a portal rolled randomly using the chart in the scenario for effects.  For the treasure rooms result, we simply numbered them 17, 18, 19, 20; with those rolls sending you to that particular treasure room.  For theDeath Cultists and their Zombie Troll escorts, we had the four groups of them enter one group from the center of each table edge.
    We placed the portals, and then the remaining non-treasure-room treasures, then chose our starting spots.  I luckily drew the chance to pick the first selection spot, and Quail, my Sigilist, was able to get a corner entry location. Gru the Soothsayer was on Quails' right, but the lucky location of the ruined viaduct  between our two stating zones, meant that she saw no sight of him or his yellow minions; all of whom kept to their side for the length of the game.  Diagonally across from the Sigilist's band was the Summoner Challara (The wizard formally know as Chaffron, aka Saffron), and directly across was Missy the Necromancer and her band of warriors from across time and space.

An overall view of the table.  Quail's entry zone is marked in red in the lower right. 

        Earlier in the morning the Sigilist Quailelyn, the Maga Librarian at her University's Library, and her Apprentice Bailisette,  could be found in the main hall of their tower base, preparing for the day.  Quail sat at the long dining table watching her Apprentice with quiet concern.  The young woman hadn't been the same since her near-fatal injury just a couple weeks before in the ruined underground library they had explored during that expedition. (See last months write-up.) Bailey still carried the two long scars on her face from the Grenade spell, though they were much less angry than they once were. But she also still had emotional scars inside, that were doing less well. Quail knew her Apprentice hadn't been sleeping much the past weeks, and was spending every minute busy in some task or another.   She ignored the rest of the group, and kept to her room for long periods.  The Sigilist wizard felt helpless as all attempts to offer help had been rebuffed.  She desperately hoped that time would heal her Apprentice's inner wounds.
      The two spell-casters had been up late the night before working with the new Celestial Telescope that Quail had purchased with some of the funds from their last foray into the frozen city.  So the Maga Librarian was especially surprised to find her Apprentice already hard at work in the kitchen when she had come down that morning.  "I have already studied the Magical Atlas of Felstad, Ma'am," Bailey said hesitantly, "and located a monument to a great warrior-wizard which has sealed within it a cache of his scrolls. It's actually located in that district where we were planning on going today.  The one with the hidden treasure vaults that Sir Cardidil had heard about in the tavern."  (Bailey successfully cast Reveal Secret after Quail fails her roll.)  The Apprentice pointed to two steaming kettles sitting on the long wooden table, and added "And I have just about finished both the Invisibility Potions that you said we would need today.  Mine is done, you just need to do the finishing incantations and add the final individual elements to yours.  (Bailey successfully cast Brew Potion)
    Quail sat at the table before the kettle,  and as she watched her Apprentice with great concern, she attempted to finish her potion.  "Thank you, Bailey!"  she said encouragingly. "You've done wonderfully."  The Sigilist could see the large dark circles under her Apprentice's eyes, and the white scars on her face still had a sheen on them that reflected the firelight.  Unfortunately, Quail's attention was too focused on her Apprentice, and the Maga Librarian accidentally added twice the amount of the last ingredient as she concluded the incantation.   The potion foamed up and turned black. (Quail fails to cast Brew Potion).  The wizard was horrified, and began to apologize to her Apprentice over and over.  Bailey simple dismissed the apologies as unnecessary, and with a somber demeanor, came over and grabbed the pot's handle with a thick rag and carried it to the nearest window to dump it. 
A look at the four treasure vaults about midway through the game. 
      Now, as they entered the outskirts of the city, Bailey tapped Quail on the shoulder and silently pointed to a statue of two battling figures that was just a little further in the distance.  "Scrolls, there." she said simply. The Sigilist took the opportunity to halt the group and divide everyone up into their respective commands.  With herself she took Sir Cardidil the Knight, Luc Demic the Marksman, and Clol the Barbarian.  To her Apprentice she assigned Kinny the Treasure Hunter, Sallisee the Ranger, and Barc the Man at Arms.  Innis Flynn and Dorchesman the two other Treasure Hunters, and Crivid the Warhound, were instructed to help where needed.  Quail outlined a quick plan; she and her group would search to the right, and Bailey would take hers and move to the left. As everyone began to head off, the Maga Librarian grabbed Barc by the forearm and whispered into his ear, "Watch after her, please." The grizzled Man-at-Arms looked at the wizard and, comprehending the order, nodded.
          Quail immediately attempted to cast Awareness,  but suddenly seeing distant figures appear across the way distracted her, and she stumbled on the final words of the spell.  (Casting attempt fails).  It was the Necromancer Missy's troops.  She had no love for Necromancy, and a particular dislike for Missy; who loved employing lots of crossbowmen and strange men armed with fire-spitting sticks that she had kidnapped from future times.
     The Sigilist's thoughts turned back to the matters at hand, and as she approached the statue of the two battling figures, she saw a part of the base had crumbled away, and inside was a chest; most likely the one Bailey had told her about.  Further ahead of her was a low, ruined, building , and to her right a section of the city's crumbling viaduct.  Quail was pretty sure she heard the maniacal chattering of the Soothsayer Gru's minions from that direction. Then, a green glow appeared in the sky, and the Maga Librarian looked up to see one of Bemis's Draining Word calling cards for Elemental Bolt light up the low clouds much further away in the ruins.
   On the left, Bailey advanced with her group.  The Apprentice noted one of the city's strange watchtowers a little way's off; and part of a large ruined doorway further to the left. "That must be one of the magic portals that were rumored to be in this part of the city," she thought to herself. And, further past the ruined doorway was a strange circle of small black obsidian pyramids; in which lay a promising looking chest.   Just as she was studying it, it lifted itself and began to float towards where Missy's Apprentice stood.  Bailey sighed deeply, in an effort to center and strengthen herself, then quickly she attempted to use her own Telekinesis spell on the chest.   It worked and the chest came floating back towards near where it had started
On the very first turn, despite being well hidden behind a statue,  Kinny is put out of action by a lucky Crossbowman belonging to our resident Necromancer.
       Kinny ran forward to a statue near the watchtower, and as she peaked around it to check on the progress of Missy's group, a crossbow bolt smacked into the statue's pedestal right above her head showering her in stone fragments.  "It pays to be short sometimes," she thought to herself as she tilted her head forward to dust the grit from her hair.  She would later regret that move, for a second bolt hissed through the air, and caught her right on the temple.  Luckily, at the angle it hit the halfling's head, it didn't penetrate her skull, but glanced off after cutting a deep divet in her scalp, knocking her out.  She toppled into the snow like a little tree.
     Meanwhile, Quail, Sir C., and Luc Demic had run over to the low ruin to check it out. They could see a pile of rubble near the center on which lay an old sword and shield.  The Sigilist could not perceive any magical qualities to it, but the Knight standing by her, could tell , even under the layer of dirt and grime, that it was made with such workmanship and skill that would be worth a small fortune once properly cleaned and restored.  As he jogged forward in his armor to retrieve it,  he immediately became aware of the Necromancer's Treasure Hunter entering the ruin from the other side.  Sir Cardidil drew his sword, and prepared to fight for the prize.
Quail and Luc Demic cover Sir Cardidil, as he runs forward to battle the enemy Treasure Hunter in the low ruin.  The Reveal Secret treasure can be seen on the pedestal of the statue in the lower left of the photo.  Quail's short lived fog wall is on the far side of the ruin, and Clol stands ready on the right, by the viaduct, in case any of Gru's minions should decide to wander over.
     Quail suddenly recalled the portents that she and Bailey had foreseen in the stars when they had used the Celestial Telescope the night before; and the wizard knew that what was happing now would be a critical moment in their excursion. She also knew she would have to ask fast, and she called over to Bailey, "Remember the stars!"  (Quail uses Celestial Telescope benefit, and I draw two chips from our initiative bag, getting a 1 and 7. I takes the 1 for first initiative this turn)  Quickly, the Sigilist recited the words of a Fog incantation, and a nice wall of billowy mist appeared on the far side of the ruin, just as a couple of Missy's Marksmen were moving up and preparing to fire in their direction. Quail then shouted over to Innis, as she knew they would need his help.
      Over on the other side of the engagement, Bailey heard Quail's reminder about the stars, and quickly recast Telekinesis again, before Missy's Apprentice could.  Succeeding, the chest rose up and flew over a wall and dropped behind, just out of view of the opposing spell caster.   Dorchesman ran over to get the chest, and Sally the Ranger went with him to offer support; in case any of the Necromancer's troops decided to pursue.  Cirvid galloped directly towards the enemy Apprentice in a hope to distract him for a turn or two.
The scene on the left of the field.  Bailey has used Telekinesis to move the contested chest to within Dorchesman's easy reach. 
      Dorchesman swung around the corner of the ruined wall with the portal, and grabbed the treasure.  Two of the Necromancer's men were pursuing, and Sally quickly fired a shot, but it went wild.  The dapper Treasure Hunter turned and began dragging the chest, only to be suddenly surprised by a strange figure materializing through the portal beside him.  The large Rat-man wizard, dressed in odd robes, looked as shocked at coming face to face with Dorchesman as the Treasure Hunter did in return. Luckily, Quail's man regained himself first, and with a mighty shove pushed the Rat-man back through the portal, and the odd spell-caster disappeared as mysteriously as he had appeared.  Unfortunately, the encounter had slowed the Treasure Hunter down, and Missy's soldiers were gaining.  He called out to Bailey, "Magical Miss! A little help please!"  The Apprentice, frowning, extended her right arm, palm outward and towards Dorchesman, and quickly recited the Push spell.  Fueled with a bit of her own pent-up sadness and anger, the spell had amazing effects, and blasted the Treasure Hunter far away into the ruins, and out of reach of the enemy. (Bailey rolled a 19 on the +10 Push attack,  sending the Treasure Hunter clear off the edge of the table and a lot more!)
    Cirvid, meanwhile, had reached the enemy Apprentice, only to be immediately intercepted by a nearby marksman who slashed at the dog. The poor beast fell to the snow, bleeding from a large wound.
Master Splinter pops through the portal surprising Dorchesman,  and is just as surprised to find himself face-to-face with the Treasure Hunter.
     Back at the low ruin, more troops were heading towards the debris-filled building.  Quail watched in dismay as her beautiful Fog wall suddenly started to loose cohesion, and melt into strands of mist. (Rolled a 19 for my start-of-turn Fog Roll.)   Quickly, the Sigilist cast another; though she set this second one a bit further to her left, to help protect her Apprentice from the Necormancer's missile troops as well.
   By now, one of Missy's Knight's had entered the ruin as well, and the Necromancer herself approached too.  Clol had joined Sir Cardidl, and the Necromancer quickly shot a Bone Dart at him, hitting him in the arm. The big Barbarian winced at the fierce stinging pain, but continued to the aid of Sir C.   With his mighty Club of Battering the Barbarian joined the fray, and, despite his injury, the pair made quick work of the enemy Treasure Hunter.
The battle in the low ruin grows.  You can see the differing placement of Quail's new Fog wall.
     The enemy Knight and Missy suddenly found themselves facing Quail and four of her warband, all by themselves.  Their decision to stay and fight it out, or leave, suddenly became easier for them; as suddenly calls of "Troll!" and "Help!" rang out from their fellow soldiers over on their right.  For appearing through the ruins and mist lumbered a Zombie Troll and 4 Death Cultists.  Quail's entire party, watched wide-eyed, as the cultists and their big beast laid right in to some of the Necromancer's troops, including her Apprentice, who had been caught right in the path of these interlopers.
     Quail took advantage of this sudden lull in the action to try once more to cast Awareness, but her attempt again fell very short, making her aware of nothing more but a sharp pain at the back of her head.  (Failed by rolling a 4; took 1 point damage) She puzzled at what might be clouding her mind.  Innis took the opportunity to grab the finely crafted sword and shield from the ruins, while Sir Cardidil and Clol worked at pulling the bone sliver from the Barbarian's arm, and bandaging the wound.
     Over on the right, Bailey surveying the surrounding area, noticed the nearby watchtower might be a good place to search, and attempted to Teleport up to it. She messed up the spell, and felt her muscles all ache as a sudden jolt went through her body; like when you wake up suddenly with the sensation you're falling, only this was ten times worse from the failed Teleport spell. (Failed by rolling a 1; took 2 points of damage.)
Missy's Apprentice and a Marksman are overtaken by the newly arrived Zombie Troll and Death Cultists. 
     As the ache slowly left Bailisette's muscles, she was shocked to suddenly see one of Bemis' Dwarf Treasure Hunter's appear on the ruined upper wall of the tower.  (He used a Teleport potion.) The sight of one of the other Sigilist's soldiers brought up a well of anger as she flashbacked to the moments of fear and pain in the library.  Quail saw the sudden appearance of the Dwarf as well,  and quickly looked over to her Apprentice to see if she had noticed.  The wizard could see Bailey staring at the tower, and without looking, the young woman reached a hand under her robes to draw her sword.  The Sigilist called to her Apprentice, "Bailey, don't!", but got no answer, or even acknowledgement.   The Maga Librarian realized she couldn't reach the girl in time to stop her, and quickly decided on trying to at least try and help her. So Quail splayed the fingers of her right hand  towards the Dwarf, and recited the words of Blinding Light.  A bright glow appeared around the face of he enemy Treasure Hunter, and he flailed his arms at the sudden inability to see, then stumbled back off the wall and dropped out of sight.  Quail looked over and could see Bailey already saying the words of a Teleport spell.  And before the Sigilist could reprimand her Apprentice again, the young woman disappeared in a flash and re-materialized on the top floor of the tower. 
A vengeful Bailey battles Bemis' Treasure Hunter. in the lower floor of the watchtower. 
          Quail was shocked and dismayed at the blatant disobedience.   It was so unlike Bailisette to behave in such a reckless and disrespectful manner.  The Maga Librarian had had to deal with her share of unruly students, but for some reason, this defiance rattled her much more than anything she faced at the university.   She watched as her Apprentice, sword and dagger both drawn now,  jumped down into the ruined tower, and out of view.
    Quailelyn suddenly became aware of eyes watching her, and looked around to see several nearby members of her group all looking at her.  She wanted desperately to go after Bailey, but she knew she couldn't just leave everyone and go chasing after her Apprentice when they all were depending on her and her leadership.   So the Sigilist said a little prayer, and then began giving orders.  She instructed Barc to get the treasure from the warrior statue,  and Sally to keep an eye on the tower and make sure none of the Necromancer's troops got any ideas.
   The Sigilist then realized she had never had a chance to investigate the magical portals, so to Luc and Sir Cardidl, she said, "Come with me.  We're going to explore these magic doors that I've heard about."  They moved to stand in front of the portal in the low ruin, the two soldiers flanking the wizard.  Quail gave one last look over her shoulder towards the tower, then pulled the small vial of Invisibility potion that Bailey had brewed that morning, and drank it down.  She swung open the door of the portal and stepped through.  The wizard felt a tingling sensation all over her body, and the world around her spun into a swirl of colors. In a second the colors swirled again and began to reform into new surroundings.  Looking around herself in disbelief, the Sigilist was dismayed beyond words.  There she stood in the great hall of her own tower.  The two small kettles Bailey had used to make the potions earlier that day, sat in the center of the table, and the glowing embers of the fire crackling softly in the hearth was the only sound.  Quail took a deep sigh, as she was overcome with emotion.   Pulling a chair from the table, she sat wearily down; and putting her head in her hands, she cried.
Quail, Sir C., and Luc Demic prepare to pass through one of the magic portals.
     As everyone returned to the tower that evening, singly or in pairs, Quail slowly got the story of the rest of the day's events.   Sir Cardidil had been transported to some far corner of the district, where he had almost immediately come face to face with another of the Zombie Trolls.  The Knight had been somewhat disoriented by his trip through the portal, and before he could swing his sword, the beast had clubbed him over the head knocking him out cold.   Luc had found himself in one of the treasure rooms, where he had materialized right near Missy, who herself was fighting another unknown soldier. There was another wizard there dragging one of the chest across the room as well, and Luc decided it might just be best to leave unnoticed.
   Eventually, it came down to just Bailey who had not returned, and everyone could feel the tension in the room build as the minutes passed.  Then at last, the young woman came through the door, bruised and with a deep cut on her arm.  She avoided everyone's gaze, and sheepishly made her way to her room without a word.  It was only later that Quail learned that after a short fight with the Dwarf, the experienced fighter had bested the Apprentice in just a few swings and left her wounded and unconscious in a corner of the tower floor.
    The group was only able to recover three treasures.  The one Dorchesman brought back contained a Grimoire of Furious Quill , which Quail already knew; so that could be sold.  Also in the chest was 80 gold coins (Treasure table result 16).  The finely crafted sword and shield that Innis retrieved were like finding money, and it was Sir C's opinion that they could easily sell for 400 gold coins. (Treasure table result 3: D20 x 25GC, and I rolled 16); and the cache of scrolls that Barc brought back contained only two that hadn't been ruined by the elements: Illusionary Soldier and Push.  There was also 50 gold coins (Treasure table result 7).
Those who were left standing at the end, and their three treasures. 
     Quail suddenly found herself a very wealthy wizard. She would need to buy a 10GC healing salve for Cirvid who had been badly wounded; but luckily no one else had been seriously injured.  The Sigilist said a little prayer of thanks that her Apprentice had come back alive.  She was not pleased at all at her rash behavior, and was not sure how to help the inner demons that seemed to have overcome Bailey.  She could however help her protect herself; and thought it might not be a bad idea to get her a magic sword to help make up for the skills she lacked as a fighter.  In fact, Quail reasoned, it might not be a bad idea for herself to get one as well; as she was no skilled swordswoman either, and the city seemed to be getting more and more dangerous every day. 

Game Epilogue
     This proved to be a rather crazy game with the portals, and was very reminiscent of the The Keep scenario from the main rulebook that we did last year; with folks popping up all over the place.   Unfortunately, (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it) Quail and Co. never really got to try out the portals until almost the end of the game.  And when she did the results were pretty bad.  I know how dismayed I was when I rolled that 16, and sent her back to the tower; I can only imagine how upset she was.  
     In the final analysis, we all agreed that the treasure rooms were a hopeless cause.  No one got any of the treasures out of the rooms (required of the scenario to actually claim the treasure), and we all agreed that within the scope of the game there just wasn't time to defeat the 2 Frost Wraiths and all other visitors to the room to actually get one out.  I wonder if this result is much different in 2 player games, or was it brought on by us having four treasure rooms and 8 players?  Or is it just a universal problem in this scenario.  
     All in all it was a rather average showing for Quail, with only 3 treasures recovered and 9 spells cast.  She did get the 10+ experience for going through the portal too. Treasure recovery was a real problem across the table, as only two of every three treasures were actually on the table and not in the treasure rooms, which made the pickings slim across the board. Lucky for the Reveal Secret treasure or I only would have had two treasures recovered. 

Monday, July 3, 2017

Dollar Tree Sand Mold Frostgrave Pyramid Mausoleum

   A couple weeks ago I posted an article about a Sci-Fi terrain piece I made from a sand mold that I purchased at the local Dollar Tree.   One of my readers, Marc, in the Comments section of that post, said that he was going to use the pyramid from the same "landmarks" mold series to make a Frostgrave mausoleum.  I thought that was a great idea, so picked one up myself to make my own mausoleum.
     I began by cutting a simple doorway piece from some scrap pink insulation foam, and scribed some doors and cut stones on it. I then used hot glue to glue it to one of the sides. I also glued a small decorative bits piece over the doors (Not shown in this photo)
     I pre-painted the doorway piece with black acrylic paint (so it wouldn't melt when sprayed), then sprayed the whole thing with black spray paint.
      I then did a couple layers of grey drybrushed on the pyramid, and then painted the piece over the doors as verdigris bronze.

    I'm really happy how this turned out!   I had originally dismissed the Pyramid sand mold since I have a perfectly good desert-colored pyramid already.  I never thought of doing one for a colder climate (that is, grey stone), so thank Marc for his idea!

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Frostgrave Campaign '17, Game 6: The Library

      This past Saturday we got together for the 6th game of our 2017 Frostgrave campaign.   Since the Thaw of the Lich Lord supplement book only has 10 scenarios, and we are planning a once-a-month campaign lasting 12 months, we knew from the start we would need to supplement with two other scenarios somewhere along the way.  So, we took this month's game to do one of these other scenarios, and after a little discussion landed on doing The Library scenario from the core rulebook again.  We had done The Library once before, as part of last year's campaign, but it had ended up being the last game of our campaign.  We had all regretted that decision last year, as this scenario is designed to reward the players with Grimoires; but since it was the last game of our campaign, any grimoires we won proved to be somewhat useless. So we thought if we did it earlier this year, we might actually be able to benefit from any spell books we recovered.
     (To read an account of last month's game, see: Storm of Undeath)
    Like last year, for the library itself we used almost all Dwarven Forge sets, with the addition of a beautiful Temple, built by David Brawley, as the central piece. We also had the first three random beasts to show up selected as classic geek Library creatures: a Wraith Librarian (Ghostbusters), and two swarms of Vashta Nerada (Dr Who).
     We also decided to try and interweave the scenario into the Thaw of the Lich Lord story line by incorporating elements from the Thaw of the Lich Lord's Battle on the River scenario.  So, at the start of the game we placed in the Library a Mage servant of the Lich Lord for every two players (So for us there were 5).  The Mages would be retrieving certain rare volumes from the library for their Master.  Like Battle on the River they would be trying to exit the table with their prizes.  If a player killed one of the Mages, they got 50 experience, and would roll randomly to recover from the dead Mage one of the five books from the Lich Lord special treasure table.
A view of the whole table.  Quail & Co.'s entry point is marked with the yellow rectangle on the lower right.
     This time, as well as all our regulars attending, we had a new player and his son attend to fill David's place (who moved away to New York), and another of the fellow's brought his daughter to play, so we ended up with a full house of 10 players!  Though things were a bit crowded around the table it made for one wild and crazy battle.
     Quail managed to secure a place at one of the corners of the Library to enter her warband, but was a bit concerned when Bemis the other Sigilist arrived to enter across from her, and Chaffarn the Summoner moved to a position on her right.  Diagonally across from Quail's position was the Enchanter, Basil.

     Earlier in the morning, Baillisette the Apprentice had risen with the sun and come down to the tower's main dining hall, figuring she was the first to wake up.  She was surprised however to find her mistress Quailelyn already sitting at the long central table, with a small pile of books next to her, sipping her usual morning tea while reading a large leather bound volume.  Trying not to disturb the Maga Librarian while she read, Bailey crept as silently as possible over to the fireplace to find the kettle. Without looking up, the Sigilist said to her Apprentice, "Stir that please."
     The words startled Bailey in the quiet tower, and she almost dropped the kettle. But Quail's words did bring to her attention a small pot with a long wooden spoon sticking out of it, hanging above the embers.  There was a clear liquid of some sort bubbling in it, and Bailey's nose told her immediately it wasn't anything she'd want to eat.  The Apprentice was still in a bit of a sleepy stupor, but she was a quick student and it didn't take her but a moment to realize that her Mistress was most likely putting to use some of what she had learned in the Grimoire of Brew Potion that they had recovered from the old witch's temple during their last trip into the ruins.  Bailey knew that Quail had read the tome right away after hey got back as she was recovering from her injures, and had been practicing the magical recipes in it the last two weeks.
     As ordered, Bailey took the spoon and slowly started stirring, doing her best not to bruise the pot's contents.  Behind her, Quail, always the teacher, said simply, "Identify."
     The young woman leaned over the pot as she stirred and breathed in the sour fumes, letting her mind sift through the various odors she detected.  She then raised the spoon, and draining all but a little of its contents off, brought it towards her and gently blew on it to cool it.  She stuck the little finger of her other hand in the clear liquid and then put her finger to her tongue and tasted.  As her mouth sorted through the flavors, she dipped her little finger in the spoon again, and used the wet finger to trace a symbol on the back of the hand holding the spoon.  The Apprentice felt the slightly oily nature of the warm broth, and watched carefully to see how the liquid reacted to he skin and the rate of evaporation.   Finally she turned to Quail and ventured, "Elixer of the Chameleon?  And I think it's done."
     Quail looked up from her reading, and smiling at the Apprentice said, "Very Good, Bailey." The Sigilist wizard set her book down and added,  "I want to start teaching you how to make these potions in the coming weeks, so you can help me with them and make your own as well."     (Quail successfully casts Brew Potion pregame. Bailey fails to cast Brew Potion.)
The party enters the outer foyer and spots the Reveal Secret treasure by the door.
     As the Sigilist moved over to the fireplace to double check her Apprentice's analysis that the potion was finished, she said.  "I had the university send me a copy of a recently published volume that is the journal of an  Elf Illusionist named Kodak.  He spent some time in this city not too long ago.   I've been going over it most of the evening and this morning.  In one of the chapters near the end, he mentions an old underground Library that he and his group explored.   I think he has given enough information for us to be able to find it again.  He also mentions seeing a few things there that were of no interest to him, at the time but I think we might find valuable. I don't think it's that far so I want to head over there this morning.  Please Bottle this up," Quail pointed to the pot of potion, "and then wake the others and tell them to prepare for a trip to the city."  (Quail casts Reveal Secret pregame.)
      Just a couple hours later, and they were standing in the ruined city before a half collapsed stairway leading down into the frozen ground. They could tell it was once a well-made and beautifully decorated entryway. The wizards of old had great respect for their libraries, and Quail studied the carved designs on the crumbled stairwell a minute in appreciation.   They rest of the party peered into the black hole, no one seeming to want to be the first to step down into the unseen dark.  Finally Quail collected herself and set about assigning command groups.  She felt a building excitement at the prospect of exploring a new library.  Despite the dangers it might hold, her Sigilist instincts were powerful, and the slight smell of musty pages rising from the old entrance made her heart race a little.  She looked back, and could see a big ear-to-ear grin on Bailey's face as well.
     Slowly they made their way down the steps and emerged into a small foyer with a single long bookcase in it that had collapsed on one end.   Little remained on the shelves except some moldy books, and shredded pages. They turned into a short corridor on their left that immediately turned right again, and came up upon a large wooden door, shattered and hanging from one remaining hinge.  Before it lay a Grimoire chest that appeared to have been dropped by someone exiting the library in a hurry.  Quail pointed to it, and said to Bailey, "Remember that is there."
    They pushed past the wrecked door, and emerged into a large room containing several massive bookcases in various states of  decay, as well as some dilapidated tables and smashed chairs.  What had once been fine rugs, but were now ice encrusted, rotted and stained, were scattered here and there on the floor.  With a knowledgeable eye the Maga Librarian scanned the shelves. Not much was left that wasn't turned to rotted and decaying heaps of frosty pulp. She felt her excitement slowly turn to dismay as she scanned the destruction of so many precious books.  In the dim light Quail could see Bailey's eyes glistening with building tears.  The Sigilist couldn't help but view it all and not think of her own library back at the university, and it's well kept volumes and  orderly shelves.  The thought of such destruction ever coming to her beloved halls was more than she could bear; so she quickly shook herself from the dark road she was traveling, and turned to the reality of the matters at hand.
    Quailelyn closed her eyes and put a finger on each temple, then slowly started tracing letters with them on the side of her head as she precisely whispered another set of words, casting the spell of Awareness.  She felt the spell faltering as her mind tried to pierce through so many stone walls and earth, so the Maga Librarian concentrated with all her mental power, causing a burning sensation all over the inside of her head.  The pain was intense but still she pushed her mind.  (Pushed spell for 4 HP) Quail gasped, not only from the pain but also as she became aware in her mind that there were nine other wizards stalking the dark labyrinth of the library currently! Also she detected five darker entities in the library that were veiled in shadow.  One by one the Sigilist tried to identify the other wizards, and as she did she also got brief looks at what the possibility of their plans might be; Bemis, of course...and Charffarn...that will mean there might be demons...and over there is Basil.... One by one her mind became aware of the strings of intents that wove through the damp stone corridors.  While Quail did this Bailey tried a Draining Word spell for Bone Dart, but her cast was weak and the spell was not strong enough to penetrate the ceiling of the library and blast back upon her causing her to gasp as a sharp sting drilled down through the top of her head. (Failed roll by 12, took 2 Damage).  The young woman's exclamation snapped Quail out of her trance in time to detect someone else's Drain Word spell for Elemental Bolt go into effect high above them, probably Bemis she surmised.
First maneuvers upon entering.  Quail, Dorechesman, Luc and Sir C. have all entered the secret room, (bottom of the photo) while Bailey's command begins to search the main room.
     Quail now notice on the lefthand wall their was the remains of a magical fountain. In it's day it had hidden the secret entrance to another room, with it's illusionary water; but now that it was no longer enchanted and the empty basin gaped open revealing a low portal.   The Maga Librarian turned to Bailey and instructed her to take her group and search the room they were currently in, while she would take Sir Cardidil the Knight, Luc Demic the Marksman, and Dorchesman the Treasure Hunter with her. Suspecting there might be more than one valuable item in a room hidden by secret door, Quail also called to Kinny, the tiny Halfling Treasure Hunter, to follow after her as well.
     The Sigilist ducked down under the low doorway at the back of the fountain and emerged in a smaller room that had a couple more dilapidated bookcases and a low map table, still standing despite it having only three legs.  There was a chest upon the map table that Quail took note of, as her eyes adjusted to the low light.  She scanned the room, and saw a corridor going off to the right.  She took a moment to cast Heal upon herself as her head still hurt from having to push that last spell, then she bent down and called through the fountain, "Kinny, please get the chest on the map table just inside the door. As wizard stood back up, she could sense another Drain Word spell go into effect, this time for Telekinesis, cast by Bemis' Apprentice, Agarn.
    They pressed further into the room, and moved to a position at the head of the corridor that branched off to the right.  From this spot they saw a tapestry in the far corner, it's golden threads glittered in the torchlight.  Despite it being covered in dirty ice and the decomposed pages and spines of several books Quail could see it showed no sigh of age itself and was therefor probably magical.  She motioned to Dorchesman to go and retrieve it, as she and Sir Cardidil discussed the corridor ahead of them.  The Sigilist knew that Bemis' party was somewhere down that way.  Luc Demic, with his excellent Marksman's eyesight, said he could detect some movement down there in what appeared to be a room a couple dozen yards away, but nothing well enough to shoot at. Sir C, and Quail quickly came to the consensus: that they had already retrieved two treasures in this room alone, and they knew there was probably more in the room Bailey was searching, plus the one they came across as they entered; so there was no need at the moment to take foolhardy risks.  Quail tried to cast some Fog down the corridor to discourage anyone coming up  it, but was not clear in selecting a target spot for the spell to center upon in the dark hallway, and it formed little more than a drizzly mist which merely added a cold dampness to the already damp hall. Also some actually formed in the wizard's head causing a momentary brain freeze to come over her. (Failed by 6, took 1 Damage.)
     The trio waited for Dorchesman to chip the tapestry free of it's icy entrapment.  Once he got it free, he bundled it under his arm, and turned, giving them a thumbs up.  Quail tried once more to cast Fog, doing even more poorly this time. A light rain fell in the hallway, that turned to flurries.  The brain freeze came back to Quail twofold and she had to put a hand up to the wall a moment to steady herself.  (Failed with a roll of 1, taking 2 Damage)  Surprisingly, the flurry in the corridor spread outward into the room until a light snow fell all around them.  Quail was momentarily puzzled at this until she realized that is was just Chaffarn the Summonor up to his old tricks of using a Call Storm spell to foil any bow or crossbow shots.   As Dorchesman joined them, they turned to leave the room.  Quail could see Kinny had retrieved the chest off of the table at the front of the room, and had already departed.
Quail, Luc and Sir C. discuss what may lie down the long corridor, as Dorchesman moves off to the left to recover the tapestry in the corner.
     While Quail was off searching the hidden room, Bailey and her group had been busy in their room as well.  First thing, the Apprentice cast Heal on herself to remove the pain in her head from the failed Drain Word spell.  They saw a chest sitting in the middle of a rug in the center of the near part of the room.  Innis Flyn the Treasure Hunter moved to get it, but Bailey called to him to pass it by as she became aware of another chest in a far corner of the room.  She whistled to Cirvid the War Hound to go stand guard over it, while Innis moved towards it. Meanwhile she herself tried to cast Telekinesis upon it, but had trouble in the shadowy room finding the focus, and Agarn's  Drain Word on Telekinesis didn't help. She blinked away a sharp pain from the failed spell, like being struck by a willow branch between the eyes.  (Failed by 7, took 1 Damage.)
     Bailey was brought back from her pain by the sound of Cirvid growling loudly.  As the Apprentice looked up, a secret door in the far wall, partially obscured from view by a large bookcase,  swung open and another War Hound, this one belonging to Charffarn bounded through.  Then a bark to her left caught her attention and another hound, this one Bemis',  came leaping into the room through a partially collapsed door on the lefthand wall. It landed and bounded out of sight behind the book case at the far end where the secret door was,  At that point the light snow from Chaffarn's Call Storm spell,  began to fall in the room.
The battle in the main room begins as Cirvid moves to meet the Summon's War Hound as he enters through a secret door. Up behind the bookcase on the right of the room, Bemis' dog can be seen approaching as well.
    Chaffarn's dog lunged at Cirvid, and Bailey quickly tried to cast Blinding Light upon it, but in her rush she forgot a line of the spell and so nothing happened. The dog's leap caught Cirvid unprepared, and with a yelp he sprawled backwards across the floor. By this time Innis reached the dog fight, but so did the Summoner's Monk.  She squeezed through the secret door and lunged at Innis with her staff.  He was able to dodge the long pole, it's length making it tough to use properly in the tight space, and he returned with a strong upward thrust catching the Monk in the right side.  The Monk crumpled to the stone floor.  Innis had little time to revel in his triumph however, as Charffarn's dog leaped at him in revenge, catching him off guard and  throwing him backwards into the corner.  His teeth sank deeply into Innis' shoulder at the base of the neck.  (War Hound wins with a 21, reducing  Innis to just 2 HP.) Innis cursed and tried to make his eyes focus through the pain, and with all his remaining strength pushed the heavy dog off him.   Cirvid, having regained his footing, now leaped at the dog as it prepared to pounce again at Innis.  Catching the enemy beast in the side, the mighty War Hound knocked the dog over, and his teeth and claws dug deep into the enemy dog's hide.  There were a few moments of flashing teeth and guttural growls, then with a final yelp the other dog suddenly fell limply to the floor.  Clol, the Barbarian, had reached the fight by this time, and grabbing Cirvid's collar he pulled him from the dead dog's body.  
     Meanwhile, as the snow intensified from another of Chaffarn's Call Storm spells, Bemis' Hound retraced it's steps back around the bookcase and now headed towards Bailey and the Ranger, Sallisee.   Once more the Apprentice, being more careful this time,  cast Blinding Light.  The attempt was successful this time, and a bright glow appeared all around the dog's head.  It stopped a moment and shook itself whimpering. The poor dumb animal tried frantically to paw at it it's head to clear whatever it was annoying it so.   Sally ran up and with a might swing of her sword, laid the poor beast low, (Rolled a 20!) just as one of Bemis' Dwarven Treasure Hunters trotted into the room on short sturdy legs, and headed towards the Ranger.  
In the thick of it.  While part of the party have fended off the Summoner's troops, the rest try to face Bemis' soldiers.
     The Dwarf was quickly followed up by another of his kind, and then Bemis' Captain entered as well.  The storm intensified even further as Chaffarn cast Call Storm for a third time.  Wind whipped the flakes past the shelves, and a layer of fresh white was building up on everything.  The first Dwarf to enter the room was wearing an Eyes of Amoto amulet, the mate for which was worn by Bemis (who skulked just our of view in the hall). Staring into his amulet, the other Sigilist could clearly see through the swirling flakes where Bailey stood back on the far wall of the room.  He grabbed a piece of broken masonry off the floor and spoke the harsh words of a Grenade spell close to the stone as he slowly turned it in his hand. When he was done, he heaved it with all his strength.  The rock flew with magical precision down the hall, through a hole in the half collapsed door, and struck with a sharp report against the wall by Bailey's head. The young woman cried out in pain and surprise as there was a blinding flash and loud concussive explosion. Shattered stone splinters cut deep gashes in her face, and the force of the blast made her stagger backwards. (Bailey's HP reduced to 1) Almost falling, Quail's Apprentice fought to stay conscious and standing.  Her insides felt like she had been kicked all over her body by a hundred angry mules.  Bailey's nose bled and her ears rang, as she stumbled back to the shelter of the nearby bookcase.  She went down hard on her knees, and slumping up against the nearby wall tried to think clearly and recall the simple words of a Heal spell.  Blood was running down her face from the several deep cuts, and dripped from her nose and chin on to the fresh white snow on the floor around her. As the young woman tried to form the words of the spell carefully one by one,  a quiet alarm went off in her head.  Like all wizard students, she had heard the stories told late at night in the student dorms, of wizards so badly hurt they had misspoke the chant of a Heal spell in their pain and distress, ultimately killing themselves with their own words.   Quickly she stopped speaking, hoping beyond hope that she had not gone too far into the spell.  She shut her eyes, anticipating the final darkness; but it did not come.
         Across the room Sallisee had her own worries, and was not able to devote a thought to Bailey.  The Ranger's ears also rung from the confined blast.  Her sword clanged against that of the Dwarf's, and with them locked at the hilt, she lift one leg and kicked the enemy treasure hunter hard in the chest. He staggered backwards a few feet.   Cirvid lumbered over to assist, just in time to meet the rush of the second Dwarven Treasure Hunter. Despite his stature the second Dwarf was agile and out maneuvered the dog, side-stepping his attack and plunged his weapon into the dogs flank. Cirvid yelped, and fell over like a tree, laying on the snowy floor without moving.
     Having just taken out the dog, the second Dwarf now turned on Sally.  Luc Demic, who was first to enter the room from the secret side room, where he had been with Quail, raised his crossbow and aimed as he advanced across the snowy floor.  Planting his feet, the Marksman fired at the advancing enemy Captain, but rushed the shot in the blowing storm, and missed by a wide margin.   The Dwarf had his bloodlust up and went at the Ranger like he was possessed. With a quick stroke he knocked Sally's blade away, and on the return caught her thigh with a deep gash. She went down on one knee, blood flowing down her injured leg.  (Sally reduced to 3 HP)
At the height.  Bemis casts his Grenade.
    Quail had entered the room now, and not seeing her Apprentice anywhere ran to look behind the bookcase.  Horrified at what she saw, the wizard ran over to where Bailey slumped in the snow. The Apprentice's face and robes were covered in blood, and the Maga Librarian feared the worse.  She quickly knelt beside the young woman, and reaching around felt her neck for a pulse.  Reassured, she clasped the girl on the neck with the one hand and the far shoulder with the other, and with desperation quickly chanted the Heal spell.  One of Bailey's eyes, almost sealed with gooey blood, fluttered open.  She painfully raised one arm and with the sleeve of her robe wiped her face. Quail pulled a small cloth from one of her deep pockets and scooping up some fresh snow in it to dampen it, helped Bailey clean herself a little.  The spell had stopped the bleeding for the moment.  Then the Sigilist helped her Apprentice get back up on her feet.
    Maenwhile the battle raged, Innis had hobbled over to the treasure in the corner, and picking it up , began to drag it away.   Seeing him leaving with the treasure, the enemy Treasure Hunter that had been pushed out of combat with Sally, turned and ran towards Innis.   Bemis himself now entered the room, and seeing Luc standing there with his crossbow, quickly threw up a wall of Fog.  That didn't discourage Sir Cardidil, who raced as fast as his heavy armor wold allow towards the opposing Sigilist.
    Sally now sparred with the second Dwarf Treasure Hunter as Bemis' Captain charged at her to join the fray.  Knowing she couldn't stand much longer against two foes, Sallisee turned toward the new foe and made a desperate upswing with her weapon using all her remaining strength.  The sudden maneuver was enough to catch the Captain off guard, and before he could properly defend, the Ranger's blade had hit right under his arm and gone up under his armored chest piece. The thrust knocked him sideways where he spun and hit his head on the shelf of the nearby bookcase then fell to the ground old cold.  Unfortunately, it gave the enemy Treasure Hunter an opening and he took the opportunity to jab his sword into Sally's side.  The thrust knocked the Ranger  backwards, she stumbled, fell,  and lay there motionless on the snowy floor.
   Seeing Sally fall, Clol charged up to the Dwarf, but the little Treasure Hunter had his battle lust up, and another mighty thrust from his weapon fell the big Barbarian.   Sir Cardidil burst through the fog wall at that point and made a beeline toward Bemis.  Acting quickly Bemis spat out the words of a Transpose spell, and Sir C suddenly found himself, sword raised to strike, standing next to Innis as he dragged away the treasure.  Likewise,  Bemis' Treasure Hunter suddenly found himself face to face with own wizard, with his weapon raised and ready to strike.  
   The enemy wizard realized there was no point in pressing further, and an unspoken truce suddenly fell over the room.  Bemis and his followers began to withdraw.  The survivors of Quails party rushed to check on the fallen.
Near the end.  Sir Cardidil, on the left, charges towards Bemis' fog wall.
     Back at their tower base later that evening, the party gathered in the main dining hall.  There was a noticeable difference in those who had spent most of the time in the room behind the secret fountain or left early with treasure, and those who had been in the thick of the fighting in the main room.   So it fell upon Kinny, Barc, Luc, Sir C, Dorchesman, and Quail herself, to tend to the injured and weary that had taken part in the fierce battle in the main room.  Luckily, once again, only poor Cirvid had come away with a really Bad Wound.  Both Sally and Clol bounced back quickly after an application of a Healing spell from Quail.  Quail figured in the next day or two she could head into the village and get an inexpensive 10 GC healing salve for the loyal War Hound.
      The party now sat around in small groups here and there, drinking and talking in low voices about the day's events.  Quailelyn sat at the big main table, the treasure they had recovered that day laid out before her.  (The group recovered 5 treasures) There were three battered but salvageable grimoires (Elemental Hammer, Bind Demon, and Banish), as well as several small decorative objects of value (an ornate inkwell, statuette, and bejeweled paperweight) that could be turned into money  One of the chests was piled high with nothing but gold coins, and the tapestry they had found turned out to be a Banner of Courage.  All in all a very profitable trip.
     None of the bounty particularly interested the Maga Librarian at the moment though; for as she sat there with the wealth all spread our before her, and absentmindedly flipped through the pages of the Banish Grimoire, her attention was elsewhere.   Her gaze and thoughts were across the hall, as she looked at the back of her young Apprentice, who sat alone and silent before the warm glow of the large fireplace.  Bailey's knees were drawn up tightly to her chest, with her arms wrapped around them as she stared fixedly at the flickering light, lost in thought.  As Quail watched her, the young woman reached one hand up and gingerly touched the white scar along her right cheek, then moved to the one on running across her forehead.
     Quail reflected on the fact that, while a Heal spell (which she had had to perform 2 more times on Bailisette to get her feeling human again) was good at relieving pain and magically stitching together skin, or knitting broken bone, even healing the bruising of internal organs; it was next to useless on the mind and mental trauma.  Also, it did little to restore the constitution and the pure systemic drain that brutal injuries can inflict on a body.   The Sigilist fretted about what she had let happen to her Apprentice and whether she had been selfish and foolhardy to drag the poor girl away from the safety and security of the university's halls.  Her face, full of youthful beauty, would now carry the permanent scars of a magical attack.  A Heal spell could mend the skin, but it wouldn't erase the magical damage done to the cells that composed it; and Bailey would wear the scares for the rest of her life.
     Quail realized that slowly, over the months, it had all turned from being a grand adventure to suddenly being much more serious.  Once again she had felt the growing evil in the city on this expedition; and, beyond the other wizards who probed the library as she did, her Awareness spell had made her conscious of the presence of evil entities that had roamed the library's halls that day as well, with foul purpose.  She couldn't just leave now, as there was a growing feeling that something important was coming in the distance; and it was vital for her to be here to face it.

Game Epilogue
     The library game has been a tense one both times, and very different in feel to all the other scenarios.  In the tight confines, most of your spells become next to useless. as you seldom see other   figures or treasures except for those that are immediately in the same room with you.
     It was a banner day for treasure (recovering 5), but spell-wise it was a big disaster.  Not only was I severely hampered by what choices I had in the tight terrain, I also (as is typical) rolled atrociously; successfully casting only 7 spells in 8 turns of play, plus pregame.  And many of my failures came with HP loss.
     The 10 player game was an interesting experience.   Due to the limited sight lines in the Library, and the large spread of players, the game actually moved pretty quickly, as there were seldom times when sequential numbers were anywhere near each other causing players to have to wait extended amounts of time for their turn.   It was however loud and chaotic, and you had no sense of what was going on in other parts of the table.  Hopefully this overflow of players won't happen too often.
     Quail and Co. ended up with a boatload of money this time.  They got the d20 x 25 GC coin results on one of their treasure rolls (and rolled a 16 for the amount!), and along with the GC that came with the Grimoire rolls, and selling the Banner of Courage (which seems rather useless)  it was a nice haul.  So Sally got a new magic bow; and now Quail is debating a Celestial Telescope, or perhaps a Sarcophagus of Healing.   It might also be worth her time to peruse the Catalog of Grimiores and see if there are any spells she might benefit from purchasing outright.
   She'll need to decide fast, as the next expedition is already only two weeks away.
For Bemis' account of the battle, see: Into The Library

For the next game in the campaign, Game 7, see: The District of Longreach

Monday, June 12, 2017

"One More Gaming Project" Hits 200,000th View!

   I'm happy to announce today that over the weekend "One More Gaming Project" received its 200,000 view!   I just wanted to thank all my readers for their continued support!  
      It's been just over 7 years since I started this blog and it's been an enjoyable journey.  Here's to the next seven years!

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Dollar Tree Sand Mold Sci-Fi Terrain

   When scouting the local Dollar Tree this past week, I saw this sand mold of the Sydney Opera House.  It's part of a collection they have along with other world landmarks like the Eiffel Tower, Pyramid, and Leaning Tower of Pisa.

     I thought is looked like it might be useful as some sort of Sci-Fi industrial structure, like a large generator, pumping station, or engine of some sort.   So I glued a couple stick-on gems to it and a simple plastic cap off of something, to give it a little texture.  In retrospect, you could apply even more cool add-ons to it, like access panels or make shift repairs covered in rivets.  The possibilities are endless, but I was in a hurry to get going with the painting, so I kept it kind of simple.
          I thought this piece would be another perfect chance to practice my salt and hairspray chipped paint technique, that I have ever only done once before.  So, I began by spraying it with a flat dark brown camouflage spray paint, and then splotched on some light brown and orange to give a rusty look to some areas.
      I then applied the hairspray, and while still wet, sprinkled kosher salt on it; mainly on the lower areas.  I let it dry for a short time, and then sprayed it with some medium blue satin-finish spray paint I happened to have.   I let the spray paint dry the minimum manufacturer recommended time, and then ran the piece under some warm water, and with a soft toothbrush gently brushed at the areas of salt.   I then let the piece throughly dry, and after that I painted the very bottom base layer with some medium gray paint to make it look a little like a concrete slab.
      When that was dry, I applied an allover wash of Citadel "Nuln Oil" wash using a wet brush.  Then, when the wash was dry, I gave the piece a light blue dry brushing .  Lastly, I applied some decals, and then applied a little paint to make the decals look aged and chipped up.  I let it sit over night and the next day my final step was to spray it with some Testor's Dullcote.
Shown with Reaper 28mm figures for scale.

    I'm really pleased with how this project turned out.  And considering it was only a dollar, I think it's pretty great!

Monday, May 29, 2017

Another Fun War Horse Con Gaming Day

    This past Saturday a group of the HAWKs and I went up to Sam Fuson's War Horse farm in PA for another fun day of games and good food. A couple times a year, Sam and his wife Kathy invite a  the HAWKs and a bunch of their friends over for a fun day of gaming known as War-Horse-Con.
  We took the timing of this year's event as an opportunity to playtest a quartet of games the HAWKs are planning on running at Historicon in July.
   In the morning Buck Surdu ran a 28mm early war WWII game using his innovative Combat Patrol rules. The scenario featured a German force trying to clear a village of it's French defenders.  I was lucky to play in this game and had a blast commanding a Czech 38t tank,  a squad of infantry, and a machine gun team.  In the end we had the French on the ropes, but they were still holding on aided by a sharpshooting 75mm gun.

      While we were busy fighting our WWII battle, on the other side of the basement, Kurt Schlegel was running a 10mm Napoleonic game using his fast play Home Rules.

    After a lunch break for some fabulous local fried chicken, beans, and potato salad; we reconvened for our afternoon session.  This time I played in Zeb Cook's Wild West game using modified Combat Patrol rules.  This was fun every-man-for-himself game, with us all taking the role of bounty hunters bringing various villains to justice.  A fun additional aspect was that we all had prices on our heads as well, so were legitimate targets for the other players as well.  And the price on our heads went up if we committed any crimes while playing such as killing citizens or looting stores.
   I had a blast even though my team was eventually shot full of holes, especially my gang leader who picked a fight with a desperado in the local cantina, unawares that he had two buddies hidden in the back rooms!

      And, while we were fast drawing in our game, on the other side of the basement, Eric Schlegel was running another early war WWII Combat Patrol game featuring Italians vs French in the south of France.

     It was a great day, and we always appreciate the effort Sam and Kathy put in to making these events a success.  We're all already looking forward to the next time!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Some Old Skull Pass Dwarf Miners

  A long while back I purchased a cheap secondhand Games Workshop "Skull Pass" set off of eBay.  I painted up a few of the units, but then other projects were pushed ahead of it, and the remainder of the figures were relegated to a shelf.  A few years passed, then recently I saw some photos of someone who had painted a few of the units, and I was reminded how much I had liked the Dwarves from this set.  It had always seemed to me that there was just a lot of character crammed into these simple imaginative single-piece sculpts.
     So, in a bit of a nostalgic frame of mind, I pulled out a unit of the Miners, and prepped them for painting.   These figures are beautifully designed for block painting, (ideal for beginners), with lots of deep crevices to separate parts and colors, so I tried to do a mix of block painting style and  more detailed washes and highlights around the face and hair and a few other places.
     I also had an extra Miner figure, off whom I had borrowed the axe to make my Yukon Cornelius conversion, to which I added a spare Ogre weapon to make it look like some kind of special hero figure.
    I really enjoyed painting these guys, and I just might pull a few more figures from the box to work on this Summer.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Frostgrave Campaign '17, Game 5: The Storm of Undeath

     This past Saturday we got together to play the fifth game of our 2017 Frostgrave Campaign. As mentioned before, our goal this year is to play a game each month and work our way through the "Thaw of the Lich Lord" supplement book.   Last month we played the book's fifth scenario, (To read the account of last month's game see: Borough of the Beastmen), and this month we did the 4th scenario: The Storm of Undeath.   We had skipped over the fourth scenario last time, as one of the players had designed a scenario that interleaved nicely with the fifth one, and couldn't be here this Saturday; so we flipped the order of scenario 4 and 5.
        The Storm of Undeath involves a terrain-free square in the center of the board that is filled with unanimated Armored Skeletons, and two out of every three treasures.  Then, on turn 3 there is a chance the Skeleton's will animate when lighting from a storm of magical energy, brought about by the Lich Lord, strike the pillars surrounding the square.
A view of the table at the game's start.  Quails entry zone is marked with the yellow rectangle.  You can see the old warehouse by the brown coffee cup just below where the yellow rectangle is, then the ruined hut a little further along up from that, and the Witches' Temple  beneath the yellow word "Start"
 We only had 5 of our 8 regular players available for Saturday's game; so we used an 8' x 3' table set-up.  Given the number of players, we modified the scenario in a few ways.  First, we multiplied the number of open squares by 3, and the skeletons by 3 as well; so there were 3 squares with 6 Armored Skeletons each.  We placed 4 treasures in each of the end squares, and only 2 in the center square.   The other 5 treasures were placed normally.
    We then established our initial set-up positions and first turn order using our usual numbered-poker-chips-in-a-paper-bag method.  My Sigilist, Quailelyn, and her Apprentice, Bailisette, with their party, started in the center of the side with three players.  I hoped the players to my right and left would be occupied by the 2 players across the way, and I would have free reign to pillage the center. To my warband's left was the other Sigilist, Bemis; and to the left front, across the table, was the Summoner, Chaffarn.  To the right front, across the table was the Elementalist called Alfred the Unready and his strange warband of Duckmen warriors;  directly on my right was a Necromancer, called Missy.
The warband's opening positions.
     The Maga Librarian Quailelyn had awoken that morning with a throbbing headache.   She now sat at the big table in the tower's main room, her head bowed over a cup of steaming tea, trying to let the vapor clear her head.
     Nearby, her Apprentice, Bailisette, stood leaning on the wall looking out one of the tower's slit windows, lost in thought.  She too did not feel all that well.   "There is some sort of storm brewing over the city." the young woman said matter of factly.
     "I can feel it," Quail said hoarsely. "There's something not normal about it."
    "Should we not go?" asked Bailey, timidly. "The storm...and Clol still recovering from the Wraith Knight attack...," her voice trialled off.
    "No, it will be fine," Quail looked up at the girl. "I'm sure strange weather like this is not uncommon in Felstad. And, the group has been eager to go back exploring after being cooped up here for so many weeks.  The fresh air might do us good."
    With effort, the Sigilist reached over with stiff muscles to the magical atlas that was open beside where she sat at the table, and tapped a finger on the nearest page.  She continued, "Besides, I located a small temple where an order of Witches once housed a collection of their Grimoires.  I think it might be worth investigating."  (Quail makes Reveal Secret pre-game roll.)

     As they approached the outskirts of the city, the sky had grown much darker, and flakes were beginning to swirl down around them.   As they penetrated deeper into the ruins, the clouds above had darkened to a dark iron grey, and the flakes fell harder, cutting down on their visibility.  A stiff wind whipped through the old ruins as well, making all sorts of strange moans and wails.   They heard a dull boom like thunder and a bit of green light flashed through the clouds.  The hairs on Quail's neck stood up on end, and she saw Bailey give her a worried glance.  A dull throb continued in the Sigilist's head.
     The party had only gone a little ways further when they reached the old Witches Temple.  It looked like the door had been smashed at one time, and soggy decaying manuscripts and books lay about in the snow and ice.  Quail frowned; it was not a good sign, but she hoped they might still find something of value.   The Sigilist didn't dwell on the temple for long though, as her attention was drawn to an even stranger sight.    Before them, about a hundred yards away, there stood a clearing in the city with four badly worn pillars at each corner.  Within the square were the skeletons of long dead warriors, spread haphazardly throughout the ice and snow. Casualties of the Great Cataclysm that destroyed the city, she surmised.  It was not uncommon to find a frozen decayed corpse or skeleton here and there throughout the ruins;  poor townspeople who had fallen victim to the ice and snow that swallowed the city a thousand years ago.  But Quail had not seen so many in one place before.   Then her eyes were caught by movement further off.  She couldn't make out who exactly, but she suspected it was another wizard's party treasure hunting in the ruins.
Quail, in the central foreground, watches helplessly as the Summoner's Barbarian and Monk run through the fog and take on Dorchesman and Sir Cardidil. 
   She quickly looked around at the surrounding ruins for other possibilities for treasure; and saw what looked like a crumbling warehouse on their right, and a small hut directly in front of them between the warehouse and the Witches Temple, which was on their left.  Quail directed Kinny, the Treasure Hunter to go check the warehouse, and she told Luc Demic, the Marksman, to check and see if there was anything salvageable in the Temple on his way to finding a good firing position.  She herself walked forward and peered into the roofless hut, seeing more of the torn and rotting manuscripts and books from the Temple. They had apparently been carried by someone long ago into the hut.  The Maga Librarian made a mental note to check back in there on her way back to the tower, but to be sure she said to Bailey, "Remind me to search in here on our way home."
      Quail's gaze then returned to the fallen soldiers in the square.  There was something about this open patch of the city that drew Quail to it, and she slowly approached one of the tall stone pillars, carved with well worn ancient runes.  As she neared, she saw that there was a pair of chests laying in the square as well, and she called to the rest of her party to come with her.  The Sigilist attempted to draw one of the chests nearer to them with Telekinesis, but the throbbing in her head seemed to muddle her words, and the spell failed to budge anything.  
   She could now see the distant figures growing closer, and she could make out that it was some of Chaffarn's gang along with the Summoner's apprentice.  They too seemed to be heading for the square as well.   Quail turned to Bailey, and said, "Fog", and pointed to the far end of the square.  She hoped that would delay them a bit. However, she watched with disappointment as Bailey tried to cast the spell only to have little more than a fine mist appear around her hands.   The Sigilist looked up at he dark steel clouds above and wondered...the blowing snow stung her face as more greenish light seemed to crackle through the clouds.  Suddenly there was more than just the greenish light, as the words of a Draining Word spell against Telekinesis appeared from over where Bemis was located. Quail said a curse under her breath at her fellow Sigilist.  His timing couldn't have been worse. 
     Quail turned back to the matters at hand; with Bailey's failing to cast Fog, she undertook it herself, almost failing as well. She strained with all her mental energy to make the spell work.  Finally a bank of thick white fog appeared at the far end of the square, as did a searing pain in her head, just as Charffarn's group arrived.  (Pushed spell for -2 HP.) Sir Cardidil, the Knight, and Dorchesman, the Treasure Hunter, rushed past her in an attempt to get to the leftmost treasure first. Barc, the Man-at-Arms, moved to the treasure on the right, as Sallisee followed and took up position by a small outcropping nearby.
A Demon joins the battle by the fog wall as Bailey uses Telekinesis to draw the disputed chest closer to her position.  On the right center Barc can be seen recovering the other chest.
    The fog was little help though, as Chaffarn's Barbarain and Monk burst straight through it and charged at Dorchesman.  Both sides faced off practically on top of the chest.   Bailey saw an opportunity, and on her own initiative cast Telekinesis on the chest, and it sailed past the enemy Barbarian, and landed with a thump about midway though the square.  But, the Summoner's apprentice had not been idle either, and now a Demon burst through the mist and charged at Sir Cardidil.
      Meanwhile, Kinny over at the warehouse, had crawled up the wall and through one of the high windows.  She emerged upon a pile of old moldering crates and was happy to find a promising rusted old chest there among the other debris. However, before she could grab it, one of  the Necromancer Missy's Crossbowmen came through a far window, and seeing the diminutive Treasure Hunter, he sprang at her.  Try as she did to defend the chest, the crossbowman's dagger, caught her on the side of the head.  She cried out in pain, and he brought his crossbow around with his other hand and struck her hard on the arm, sending her tumbling down a pile of ruined boxes.  Her injured head hit the floor hard and darkness overcame her.
     Back in the square,  Quail tried to help the odds a bit, and extending her hand she attempted to Push the Barbarian back through the Fog.  Again the ache in her head caused her a bit of difficulty, and she really had to strain for the spell to work.  She felt a stab like a knife at the base of her neck and for a moment she felt light headed, but she willed herself through it, and watched as the Barbarian shot back through the wall of mist. (Pushed spell for -5 HP.) It wasn't enough though; and Quail let out a gasp of dismay, as not moments later, the big ugly brute came charging right back through the mist.  The power of his charge took him directly into Dorchesman, who was parrying with the Summoner's Monk, and Quail's Treasure Hunter was bowled over with shear force.  Dorchesman tried desperately to regain himself, but before he could, the Barbarian had sliced down with his large sword, putting a large gash across his chest. Dorchesman toppled backwards and lay motionless in the snow.
     Sir Cardidil now faced the Demon, Barbarian, and Monk alone.    Bailey grabbed a quill from her pack and frantically chanted the words of Furious Quill.  The feather shot out through the storm and danced for a few seconds around the Barbarian's head before he reached up with a bear's paw sized hand and swatted the annoyance from the air.  (Barbarian passed Will roll vs the spell's casting number.)
A Rangifer and his Small Construct companion wander into the area.  
     Suddenly, there was a loud echoing series of booms overhead, and Quail swore she heard strange whispers on the wind.  All eyes turned upward as large amounts of green lightning now crackled across the sky.  Suddenly four jagged green electric spikes shot from the clouds and hit each of the four stone pillars that cornered the square where Quail stood.    The Sigilist, standing near the center of the square, felt a strange surge of dark magic flow through her.  It wasn't a pleasant sensation at all, and bile rose up in the back of her throat.  The Maga Librarian watched in horror and astonishment as the six skeletal soldiers lying in the square slowly began to rise up as if coming to life.
    Quailelyn knew she would need all her wits about her now, and through a throbbing head, and nausea, she attempted to cast Awareness.  She couldn't muster the concentration to complete the spell, but her attempt did suddenly bring an image to her of Kinny's limp body in the warehouse, and the Necromancer's crossbowman carrying away the chest.    She turned to Bailey, and shouted through the storm, "Come with me!" and the pair fell back towards the ruined hut and the warehouse.    Before following her mistress, Bailey quickly cast another wall of Fog behind her and Quail to block them from the skeletons' view.  Quail hated leaving Sir C to his own devises, but knew he was a capable fighter.  She was happy though to see Barc pass them near the hut,  hauling the second chest from the square under his arm.
    What Quail wasn't happy to see was a Rangifer and a Small Construct, in the form of a child's doll, approach from around the rear of the warehouse. The Rangifer held a crude sword, the doll had a large butcher's knife.  She called to Innis Flin, the Treasure Hunter, and Cirvid, the Warhound.  Where have those two been, she thought to herself.  The pair appeared from the far side of the hut, and Quail noticed Innis limping and his left pants leg stained with blood. There was no time for questions though, as the Sigilist pointed out to the Treasure Hunter and dog the new threat that approached.
Having dispatched the Demon, Sir Cardidil  slices through a couple skeletons before dealing with Chaffarn's Zombie.    The Summoner's troops have some of their own undead to deal with as well. 
     Meanwhile, back in the square,  Chaffarn's Monk, seeing Quail and Bailey leave the square, and having the Demon to occupy Sir Cardidil,  bounded forwarded and grabbed the unattended treasure chest.  Sir C thrust at the Demon and the blade bit deep into the creature's side.  It reeled backwards, growling in pain; and before it could recover Luc Demic placed a well aimed crossbow bolt a few inches below it neck.  The Demon fell to the ground dead.  Sir C barely had time to take a breath before he spun around to see two of the of the now-animated Armored Skeletons closing with him.  With his magic Ring of Life (+1 Fight, +1 Armor vs undead) pulsing with energy on his finger, he made short work of these undead soldiers. Distracted by the skeletons, the Knight didn't see the Summoner's Zombie approach him until the last minute; nevertheless, he was able to turn and dispatch this new undead foe as well.
     From her position on the raised landing that ran around the ruined hut, Quail could see movement in the warehouse, and drawing a quill from a pocket of her robe, hurriedly chanted the Furious Quill spell before the enemy crossbow man could move out of view.  She rushed too much though, and the quill fell lifeless to the ground, as once again, Quail felt a small spike of pain in the back of her head. She let out a gasp of pain, and leaned up against the wall of the hut for support.  Bailey was close enough that she could see, even in the storm's darkness, that the Sigilist looked ashen grey.  She reached out a hand, and tracing the proper symbols on Quails shoulder spoke the words of a Heal spell.
  "Thank you", Quail said gratefully.  She hated to show weakness, but was glad of the girl's help.  Her head still ached, though she felt a bit more energy return to her sore muscles.
    Nearby they could see Innis and Cirvid charge at the Rangifer and his little Construct companion. An arrow from Sallisee's bow sliced the air and went clean through the doll's little age-stained and rotting tunic, going in one side of it's torso, and out the other.  Even with a hole through it, the little toy didn't stop though, and onward it trotted towards Innis.  The Treasure Hunter reached down with his sword and sliced hard at the Construct, cutting its cloth head half off.  It staggered backwards on its little stumpy feet.   The Rangifer meanwhile launched at Cirvid, and gouged the poor dog wth its mighty horns.  The hound fell to the snow motionless with a large gash in its hind quarters.
Cirvid falls to the Rangifers antlers, as the Warhound and Innis battle the Rangifer and Small Construct; while in the background Sallisee provides supporting fire from her position by one of the square's corner pillars. Nearby, Bailey tries to discourage Quail from making a desperate move. 
     With only one treasure in their possession, and several of their group either down or wounded, Quail began to worry.  She tried to think clearly, but the pain made it hard.  The image of Kinny laying in the warehouse, that she had seen with the failed Awareness spell attempt, stuck with her for some reason, and she turned to Bailey, and said, "Wait here.  There's a treasure I need to go get."
     Bailey looked shocked. "You're in no condition..." the Apprentice began, but Quail silenced her with a look, and began to recite the Teleport spell.  She felt it failing and she gritted her teeth and willed it to succeed; her mind lost all focus, but the spell took, and she landed right outside the backdoor of the warehouse with a blinding pain in her head (Pushed for -3 more HP) , staggering to stay standing.
    Bailey was deeply concerned for Quail.  She could tell she was not herself and was feeling unwell, but the Apprentice wasn't sure what she should do.  And Quail had told her to wait.  As she pondered her next move, Innis called to her for help.  She looked up to see the man now facing both the Small Construct and the Rangifer alone. The young Apprentice pulled a quill from her pouch, and saying the chant of Furious Quill, she launched it at the Rangifer.  The long feather bobbed and pecked at the beast's head.  Sally took the opportunity to fire an arrow at the Rangifer, deeply piecing its side.  The antlered beast and it's little companion now charged at Innis, the toy's head flopping loosely to one side.  The Treasure Hunter kicked the doll back with his bad leg, wincing with pain, and then regained his balance in time to thrust his sword deeply into the Rangifer's chest.  The large beast collapsed to the snow.  Sally launched another arrow that tore the head the rest of the way off the little Construct and it flew a short way through the air and landed pinned to a mound of icy snow on the street.  The little limp body crumpled to the ground.
Quail confronts the Necromancer's crossbowman as he tries to depart with Kinny's treasure.
  Over at the warehouse, Quail braced herself at the foot of the steps outside the back door of the old stone building as best she could, and pulled her yet-to-be-used sword from its scabbard.  Seconds later the old rotted rear door splintered open and the Necromancer's man burst out, clutching a chest under one arm, and drawing his weapon with the other.  Seeing the Sigilist standing there, he yelled in anger and jumped down the steps at her, dagger raised. The weight of the man pushed Quail backwards, and her sword went flying from her hand as she lost her footing.  The Sigilist felt the dagger plunge into her left shoulder as she fell backwards. All the breath went out of her, and she almost blacked out with the pain as the pair landed, one atop the other, and her head and body hit the rubble strewn cobblestones of the street.   The Maga Librarian could feel the weight of the man crushing down on top of her as she lost focus and tried to stay conscious.   The man moved off her and stood up, grabbing his dropped treasure chest.  The sole of an iron-studded boot came down hard on the Sigilist's wounded shoulder, and her world went black.
The end result of a hard-fought day. Those who had not fallen during the battle with their treasure.
     Back in the square, Chaffarn's Apprentice, Barbarian, and Monk were now withdrawing with their prize,  and Sir Cardidil had dispatched two more skeleton warriors before heading back towards the hut.   Bailey wasn't sure what to do, and Quail was no where to be seen.  The young Apprentice was happy to see the Knight approach, and remembering Quail's reminder to her earlier in the day, asked Sir C. if he would check the ruined hut for anything of value.
   "And please tell Luc to check the Temple as well." she added as the Knight jogged away. "I'm going to go see if I can find Quailelyn.
    Bailey hadn't gone far around the dilapidated warehouse, when she reached the back exit, and saw the Sigilist laying motionless on the icy cobblestones.  The young woman gasped, and tears welled up in her eyes.  Quickly she ran to Quail, and dropping to the snow, gabbed one of the Sigilist's hands tightly in both of hers.  With a wave of relief she could feel the hand still had warmth.   Bailey's eyes widened when she saw the blood soaked shoulder of her mistress' robes.
  She spoke Quail's name hesitantly, and the Maga Librarian's eyes fluttered half open.   She carefully helped get the Wizard to her feet, and half carrying her, half supporting her, slowly they headed back to the Tower.

     Quail awoke the next morning with her body aching and her head pounding.  She quickly became aware of her bandaged shoulder and, moving it, felt a searing pain run up the side of her neck and down her arm.  The Sigilist tried to remember.  Only fractured images came to her.
     It wasn't long before there was a knock on her door, and she heard a faint, "It's Me." from Bailey.
    She croaked out a, "Come in." through a dry throat. And, as Bailey entered, she said weakly, "What...happened?"

    For the next hour or so, Bailey recounted the previous day's events, and Quail, asking a question here or there,  began to assemble the disjointed puzzle pieces of memory in her head.   Once again, through a miracle, no one, including herself this time, had died.  Dorchesman and Cirvid  were both Badly Wounded; but it was Bailey's opinion that the right healing salves could be bought for a little less than 100 GC in the nearby village. (Purchase "replacement" Treasure Hunter -80 GC & Warhound -10 GC).
     They had managed to recover three treasures.  The Temple and nearby hut had each produced a salvageable Witch-school Grimoire; one of Fog (which Quail already knew, and so could be sold), and one of Brew Potion (which Quail was eager to learn.) Along with the Grimoires, each locale had also had 40 GC  (Rolled 14 twice on the standard treasure table, and then by coincidence got two Witch spells.)  Barc had recovered a chest containing a pair of Boots of Leaping from the square. (Roll of 7 on the Lich Lord Treasure Table).
     Quail tried to make sense of the day.  But at the back of her mind something troublesome began to gnaw at her.  The Maga Librarian now realized that the storm had been no chance magical weather event. And, in the following recuperative days, tales came to her of undead having risen all over the city during the storm. She recalled the supply train they had raided a couple months ago, and now this large force of undead being raised.  There was some evil growing in power in Frostgrave, and she was determined to figure out what or who it was.

Game Epilogue
      I wanted to subtitle this post, "In which a gamer and his alter-ego both have a really bad day."  I started out with high hopes as I once again got the central starting position on the 3-player side of the table; meaning that there was no player directly opposite me.  I hoped that the players on either side of me would be directly occupied by the players across from them; leaving me to freely raid the center of the table.  (And my plan would have worked too, if it weren't for those meddling other wizards! :)
    When I started, Quail had 5 treasures within easy grasp (the 2 in the square, the Reveal Secret one by the Temple, the one in the hut, and the one just inside the warehouse window).  Two more were within a little effort's reach: Bemis's Reveal Secret one which he left unattended in a graveyard near the table edge (Where Innis, trying for a quick snatch and run with Cirvid, was hit by a Grenade spell from Agarn. Curse that boy!), and another in a hut a little further away on the right, near Alfred the Unready's area.   But all that quickly fell apart as I started to loose combat roll after combat roll, and failed spell roll after spell roll.  In the seven turns we played, I only managed 5 successful spells without needing to push them; 3 more were successful only after Quail pushed them, for a total of -10 HP (out of a game-starting total of 18).  Also, 5 spells were total failures, including a couple that were so bad they did damage to both Bailey and Quail.   When Bailey healed her, Quail had dropped to only 9 HP remaining.
   One by one, Quail and I saw the chances at treasure slip away, until it became a serious risk that we might loose the three that were "sure things".  All our warband ended up either KO'ed or wounded during the game except three:  Luc, Sallisee,  Barc.  The reality soon became that I might not even have the figures to carry off the 3 "sure" treasures if some new threat should appear and disable one or two of my remaining soldiers.   And, as I became more desperate to save a failing situation, so did Quail, which led us to take bigger risks.
    It was a very interesting scenario too, as setting out those big open squares with treasure in them, was like setting deadly traps filled with honey.  All along the table the carnage was high as the warbands fought it out in the open.  Luckily for me my fight was Chaffarn's forces was all but over by the time the skeletons awoke.  They proved to be an annoying problem in the other two squares on the table.
    The scenario also showed me how hard it is for a non offensive spell based wizard, i.e. Sigilist,  to deal with a scenario that is clearly geared towards combat.  With little more than a Furious Quill to strike back with, my Wizard and Apprentice found themselves lacking on more than one occasion.
    In the end, I think Quail and I both learned valuable lessons about her indestructibleness, or lack thereof.   Hopefully the stars will align better for the next game.

For Bemis' report of the battle see: Rise of the Undead

To continue following the campaign with Game 6, see: The Library