Wednesday, 21 December 2016
Fr. Niklaus the warrior monk and his faithful mule Rudolfo have travelled to Frostgrave to join me in sending festive greetings.
Thanks for taking the time to view this humble blog and for all your kind comments - compliments of the season to one and all!
Friday, 2 December 2016
For centuries the Spotted Ones tribe had lived in fear of the stronger Greyskins, the more savage Black Pack or the cleverer Rat Tails, but this all changed when Snaarl Blackmane became chief. For this he always attributed his success as tribal chieftain to one thing: he never turned anyone away.
The tribe’s fortunes first began to turn when they discovered the strange striped nose whelp, left abandoned in a sewer pipe. On Snaarl’s orders they took him in and raised him as their own, for even as a pup Snaarl could see potential in the small mewling thing. It was not long before ‘Mewl’ had surpassed the old shaman in all matters spiritual. Their enemies soon learned to fear his skills and knowledge of all things poisonous.
Then there were the half-breed barbarians of the upper levels. While strong and ferocious in battle, they were slow and dim-witted when it came to tactics and were being hunted to extinction by the cunning Gnoll tribes. Snaarl changed all that, offering a paw of friendship that ultimately saw them become his shock troops.
He also spared no attention to his rank-and-file tribesmen – be they lowly thugs or favoured Templars – all got their share of the spoils. Even the Hyenas could expect a decent feed after the many wars of expansion that Snaarl launched against his former oppressors.
Soon the Spotted Ones had expanded their territory from the Great Canal to the Skull Gate Fighting Pits, even reaching down into the old laboratories and workshops that had lain undisturbed and forbidden since the time of the Makers. Here they had discovered strange treasures, which they jealously guarded despite being ignorant of their function.
But now a new threat had emerged. Hairless ones, smooth skins and fangless warriors from the Great Above with strange magic and alien smells. Incursions into Snaarl’s territory became more and more frequent. Deep down Snaarl regretted ever delving into the Maker’s secrets, for now these others came in search of such things, and the great chief knew that fighting them would be the only option.
Let his warriors gibber and squeal in anticipation then. The Gnolls of the Spotted Ones tribe are on the hunt once more…
The last bunch of minis for my Gnolls then: a chieftain (Reaper Bones Gnoll warrior) and some ‘Gnoll’ barbarians. I decided to use Reaper Bones Bugbears as to my mind there were no suitable barbarian torsos in the Northstar box set and I wanted a change from painting Gnolls (I’m also tempted to use these as barbarian berserkers if there’s nothing I fancy in the Forgotten Pacts barbarian box set).
Wednesday, 30 November 2016
The witch hacked a cough as another smattering of ash showered her small band. She had wandered lost among the bowels of the slowly collapsing factory for an age, but finally her instincts were telling her that they were heading upwards.
Her soot-stained face was split with a bright, if toothless grin as she pointed to the ceiling.
“Stars! Thank the Goddess!” She turned to her companions: the ranger, the tracker and the thief. “I only hope the others have found their way out too…”
Suddenly the walls shook and the ground rumbled as below them some ancient vat of chemicals exploded. They ducked as chunks of flaming masonry crashed to the floor around them.
“Let’s not outstay our welcome then!”
She raced forward, clambering nimbly over twisted storage tanks and bent pipes.
“We need to be quick, but keep an eye out for anything worth taking too, as-“
She stopped. In the gloom before them, half-lit shapes clanked and stomped past and through patches of burning debris. A figure ceased it’s patrolling and turned towards them. It raised an arm, glowing increasingly red hot, and fired…
With the last game’s debacle well and truly out of the way, the evening was upon me and I had the dining room to myself. Time then to revisit Mother Goosegog and finish off the Dark Alchemy solo campaign!
Treasure was placed as per scenario instructions and fire flingers distributed randomly around them – mainly on the left hand side of the table. Goosegog’s band began by skirting to the right to avoid the Fire Flingers, also being careful of the three fire markers that dotted the area. On the bottom right, a statue marked out the number of turns. Anyone left on the table on turn 10 would be consumed as the whole place went up in flames.
An extra pair of hands was needed, so a zombie was raised. My aim was to get as much treasure as fast as possible, but a slow zombie would suffice for anything nearby.
The semi-warband spread out through the burning ruins, careful to remain out of sight of the fire flingers. Treasure was found and nabbed.
However all of a sudden the flames moved! (Yes, I’d rolled my umpteenth 1 of the day). One flame marker landed annoyingly on one of the treasures – better bypass that one…
The flame flingers clanked about in random directions, keeping mostly out of the way. However it was only a matter of time before one of them spotted someone. The thief was in the firing line and got badly burnt.
The ranger also attracted unwelcome attention and got a good frazzling for his trouble. There was more treasure to be had, so it was inevitable that the fire flingers would take objection.
Undeterred by a few burnt edges, the thief decided to test his tormentor in close combat. The result was another loss, causing the poor chap to be pushed back, wounded.
The ranger also lost in melee and was pushed back by a fire flinger. The clock was ticking and Goosegog (lurking on the fringes of the board) couldn’t afford any more wounded.
Another fire flinger found itself drawing line of sight, this time on the tracker. It fired, injuring the elf despite the protection afforded by the terrain.
The ranger had to be saved, so Goosegog summoned another zombie (his predecessor already having lumbered off with treasure). It shambled into combat, allowing the ranger to make his excuses and leave.
Dodging his nemesis, the thief went after another treasure (the one recently covered by flames but now ripe for the picking after the conflagration spread elsewhere – yes, another 1…) Greed was his downfall however, as the fire flinger rounded a corner and, well, flung flame at him.
The zombie was returned to the grave, slightly crispier than he was before. Most of the warband had by now made it off the board with four out of six treasures.
Turn 6 and the survivors had escaped the flames. Treasure rolls went reasonably well, although the greedy thief did not survive his injuries. That brought the overall death toll to an inexpensive two thieves. Mother Goosegog is now more experienced and has gold and some useful potions to try out.
All in all a most enjoyable game, and indeed mini-campaign. Dark Alchemy is well worth a go if you have a low level warband that you want to boost up a little!
Tuesday, 29 November 2016
“I don’t think the gods are very happy with us…”
Halfinch watched as the bodies of his former comrades were consigned to the flames.
“That much is obvious…”
Oddleigh sighed, looking up at the weird light flickering behind the shuttered window of his master’s room, where Thaddeus had shut himself in with his grimoires.
The mood in the Cloven Hoof had been sour ever since the disastrous expedition to the library. Captain Red Sandra had clashed angrily with Thaddeus after he had refused to pay her fee, causing her to storm out of the inn. She later returned, having reached some sort of rapprochement with the wizard, but there was still tension between them.
Nothing seemed to have gone right since that fateful day – potions had turned to sludge, corpses stubbornly remained inanimate and the summoning circle brought forth nothing more than a noxious smell.
“Oh dear, looks like I’m next in line for a scalding…”
He raced out of the yard and up the old stairway to the sleeping quarters. He peered nervously around the door to Thaddeus’ chambers.
“Well come in then boy!”
His master coughed and sunk down into a large wooden-backed chair. His face was pale and hair lank.”
“Are you alright master?”
“Hmm? Oh… Nothing I won’t recover from… I’m led to believe That Woman is making for an old temple to the East. Now she may be an underhanded wench but she does have a nose for treasure. We must follow…”
He stopped, wheezing from the effort of talking.
“Now come in, I have learned a new spell that will deal with her perishing walls. It takes a bit of effort to get to grips with, and – well I won’t lie to you boy, this is going to hurt…”
Time for the second game of the day, and the last one from the main rulebook: the Complex Temple.
My run of rubbish dice rolls continued in the pre-game phase, with my out-of-game spells all failing dismally. Thus I entered the field with not a little trepidation, splitting the warband into three sections, each going for the nearest treasure-bearing pillar.
Giles’ enchantress had made full use of her reveal secret and fool’s gold spells, so there was extra treasure to be tempted by. However, after the previous bruising, I was having none of it – this was to be a straight in and out mission.
On my left, captain, thief and warhound came upon a magical pillar. Halfinch hacked at the inanimate object. I rolled, and so did my opponent (for the pillar).
He rolled a 20.
Down went the thief.
Undeterred I tried again with Red Sandra.
He rolled. ..
This day was just getting better and better…
I’m afraid to say I may have glowered at this point.
Rapidly losing interest, I sent the rest of the warband to their respective pillars. Thankfully no-one else managed to die in combat with completely stationary stone columns and treasure was taken.
At this point I didn’t even trust myself to put Thaddeus into combat with a pillar (thus gaining extra experience) and let the barbarian do the necessary.
No messing them – as soon as treasure was nabbed it was hauled towards the board edge as quickly as possible.
‘Lady’ Catherine however had other plans, and was pressing her warband forward – scooping up treasure effortlessly.
As she came into view of my wizard, she cast a wall spell, cutting Thaddeus and his treasure-carrying barbarian off from the rest of his men. However Thaddeus had an ace up his sleeve…
Digging deep he cast the newly-mastered spell eater spell, causing the offending wall to melt away, thus allowing him and the barbarian to make their escape!
To slow down any pursuit, imps were sent flying at the enemy captain. He slew them with ease, thus building on his already considerable experience (and hence cost - my cunning plan being to bankrupt ‘Lady’ Catherine into defeat).
My crossbowman dealt with the enemy warhound that had been sniffing around my right flank, but the score was evened out after another crossbowman was isolated by a wall and shot.
Sacrificial lamb Fluffy IV was similarly cut off as the poor beast was sent forward to delay the opposition some more.
But at least she bought time for the others to make their escape with three treasures – not too bad a result for such a half-hearted effort on my part.
Giles version of events is considerably more enthusiastic than mine, and can be read here.
It had been some hours since the warband had returned to the Cloven Hoof. They had expected their employer to erupt with rage, especially Red Sandra and Halfinch, but from the summoner there was nothing but a cold glare and a brooding silence for the hapless pair.
Once again he had shut himself in his chambers, before calling for his apprentice a brooding eternity afterwards.
“Have the supplies have arrived boy?” His voice was calm and measured.
“Er, yes master.”
“Good.” There was a pause, then: “I have been thinking about our erstwhile opponent. She is most dangerous.”
“Um, yes, she is…”
To Oddleigh’s surprise, his master chuckled.
“The gods may have forsworn us, but at least they have deigned to give us this…” From out of the shadows he hauled one of the chests discovered in the temple ruins, it’s bulk scraping loudly along the floorboards.
With thin, dextrous fingers he flipped the catch and opened the lid.
“I believe this may be the solution to our problems…"
His tired and careworn features lifted into a triumphant grin, thrown into sharp relief by the eerie light spilling from the carved wooden box.
Monday, 28 November 2016
Oddleigh shivered as the driving rain bounced of the demon’s huge wings. It stopped and pointed at a nondescript wooden door, half obscured by rubble.
It’s thick voice echoed greasily through the ruins, deep, dark and completely in tune with the thunder that rumbled in the black clouds above them.
“Good, very good.”
Between the folds of his tightened hood, Oddleigh studied his master: he was staring at the demon, oblivious to the downpour, with a mix of reverence and almost paternal pride. Thaddeus turned to the warband and beamed.
“Here we are – one of Felstad’s greatest libraries. Let us enter!”
The summoner practically skipped behind the demon as it moved forward and wrenched the door open. Oddleigh jumped as a peal of thunder, much louder than before, boomed and rattled the stonework. He shuddered, failing to understand his master’s optimism.
As Halfinch the Hobbit thief scampered through the aperture, he caught hold of his cloak.
“Is it me, or doesn’t this bode well…?”
Got a few more games in with Giles over the weekend. First off The Library.
I got off to an encouraging start – using the new summoning rules from Forgotten Pacts Thaddeus managed to summon a major demon pre-game, as well as brewing some choice potions.
Opposite, the Enchantress Lady Catherine led her band into the fray. With her reveal secret spell successfully cast, there was treasure aplenty, including a couple of choice pieces in the centre of the table.
As Thaddeus’ team split up. Leaving the easier pickings on the flanks to the underlings, my big-hitters, led by the demon and my captain, delved further into the musty depths. Would Red Sandra prove her worth this time?
As the central thrust closed in, their way was blocked by some conjured up walls. In order to free up someone from treasure carrying duty, Thaddeus tried to raise a zombie, but alas failed the roll.
Oddleigh did however manage to conjure up another wall to similarly impede the enemy and tried to lead his group around the obstacles.
On the far right flank, Halfinch ran forward to claim an easy treasure. All he had to do was lug it back – no problem.
Thaddeus was keen for his heavy hitters to get at the enemy. Knowing full well how his opponent liked to cower behind walls, he had brought a dispel scroll, looted during a previous game, and cast it, opening up the way a little.
But something was amiss… All this treasure hunting had attracted the attention of a hungry bear, which wandered into the library through the door Thaddeus had just used! Gog the barbarian was duly dispatched to send it packing – a bare behind vs. a bear behind!
Things heated up in the centre – peering around the magic walls, Thaddeus lost bosh infantrymen to enemy bowmen. Oddleigh bone-darted their warhound in reply.
Time to even the score. Thaddeus aimed a bone dart at the enemy captain – an easy target in all that orange – he hit, but buffed up with a massive 15 armour, no damage was done. Meanwhile the barbarian squared up to the bear, only to roll low on the attack and fall beneath it’s claws! Turning about face, one of my crossbowmen attempted to shoot down the bear, but also failed dismally!
I didn’t want to lose another soldier to the bear, so said crossbowman was leapt out of the beast’s line of sight. Suddenly, all magical walls shimmered out of existence – the way was open! Time to take out that OP captain. Luckily Thaddeus had recently learned the blinding light spell and cast it at his target (draining a lot of health to get it to work – another poor dice roll).
The spell struck, leaving the enemy captain floundering. Red Sandra, my own captain, piled in, while by my knight and warhound headed for a supporting archer.
Another crappy roll – warhound went down to the archer’s dagger! Red Sandra struck Orangey, but, now recovered from the blinding light, he countered, wounding her.
The demon clawed an enemy archer into ribbons, allowing it to move on the stricken captain. Could the knight follow suit?
Um, no… Yet another low combat roll saw Sir Pierre bite the dust. I was forced to pull the wounded captain back for some healing spells and rely on my demon.
I was definitely losing heart by now – there’s nothing you can do when you’re rolling low but get the hell out. What treasures I have gained are slowly being dragged to the nearest viable exit.
But what’s this? Suddenly a wall sprang up, barring the exit to my left. A low blow from ‘Lady’ Catherine. (N.B. we both forgot that there’s a 6” limit on casting the wall spell, so technically this shouldn’t have happened).
Another crappy roll and the demon was slain. I was rolling more and more 1’s and resisting the urge to fling my dice out of the window.
Red Sandra went in for another go and… well it’s all getting rather predictable now isn’t it? Another wall blocks another exit – kick a wizard while he's down why don't you? (N.B. by now Giles had cast so many walls that we had to use bits of scenery from unoccupied sections of the board!)
Nothing positive would come of this day, so Thaddeus and Oddleigh led the retreat, trying to discourage pursuit with a wall spell.
As a delaying tactic the warband had managed to evade the bear, which spotted Orangey and went for him instead. However the creature didn’t delay for long.
So, as the rest of the band tried to find an unblocked exit, Orangey’s attention was held by slashing through a couple of conjured up imps. Eventually the survivors managed to make their way out of the library. Four treasures had been taken, but at the cost of several members of the warband – most of which failed their survival rolls – of course.
So what promised to be a fun game quickly degenerated into a crap-fest for me. Blocking the exits was a sneaky, and it turned out, ‘illegal’ move, but it served only to prolong the game as my worst enemy was by far the dice.
Use of captains was also an experience – I’ve only fielded Red Sandra once before, and she didn’t do much, whereas Giles’ captain has several games under his belt, and turned out to be a real tank – someone to be avoided I think. By the way, Giles' less depressing version of events is on his blog (part 1 and part 2)
Luckily any pain felt was tempered somewhat by the treasure rolls, and I earned enough experience to learn a spell that, though harmful to the caster, would hopefully deal with those irritating walls in the future…