Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Thaddeus and the Well

“I think we are here… or hereabouts…”

Thaddeus Daemoncall fished the mouldering scroll from beneath his robes and squinted at the faded hieroglyphs.

“Yes, the Well of Dreams and Sorrows lies just ahead…”

His apprentice Oddleigh clambered over some fallen masonry to join his master and surveyed the view before them. The ruined residential buildings they had been exploring had given way to some sort of religious centre. Bare columns poked at the pale sky whilst icy winds howled through jagged blocks of stone – the collapsed remnants of huge roof beams. What remained of the walls were held up by large piles of frozen detritus, which also lay in tumps on the ground.

“There seems to be some sort of avenue ahead my lord.”

“Indeed, and I’ll wager that the well lies along it. I hope it is not dry, for it is written that whoever drinks from it can see the future… That is why we are here…”

Beside the pair another figure appeared, seemingly emerging from a cracked statue. Oddleigh jumped.

“By the Lords, why don’t you make a noise or something?”

“Then I would be an extremely poor ranger my lord,” said Hakim. “I have taken a look and the well indeed lies ahead. But Toddlebrew and his band are also here.”

“Hmph!” grunted the wizard, “I thought he had taken his leave of this place… Never mind, we have bested him before, we can do it again. Forward!”

Time for another game! This time we rolled the Well of Dreams and Sorrows scenario, where the eponymous well is placed at the centre of the board. Any wizard who spends an action drinking from it will receive a whopping 100 XP.

This would prove interesting, for it would mean bringing Thaddeus into the centre of the action, instead of lurking behind cover at the rear like he usually does. Time to practice that wall spell…

Both sides deployed and advanced towards the well. Thaddeus took the centre, guarded by Sir Pierre the knight and Gog, the newly-hired barbarian. Oddleigh took most of the warband with him on the left, whilst Hakim the ranger, with a view to climbing up onto a higher vantage point, went with an archer and a thug to the right.

Toddlebrew had also split his band into three groups and moved forward toward the well. As Thaddeus’ band spread out, Toddlebrew sent his men, with warhound as vanguard, straight at the centre. There was a danger that they would bar all access to the well before I could arrange my band to my liking.

Time then to slow them down with an imp spell, landing a small yet vicious creature in their midst. Toddlebrew used a push spell to keep it at arm’s length, allowing one of his thugs to finish it off. The delay was enough however to allow Thaddeus to leap his knight forward and contest ownership of the middle ground.

On the left, Oddleigh’s group split up, some to grab some treasure, others to move up to flank the well. With Toddlebrew’s archers lurking up ahead, a timely wall spell was cast to screen this manoeuvre.

Sir Pierre the knight squared up to the enemy warhound as Thaddeus and his barbarian bodyguard headed towards the well. However Toddlebrew’s men were also moving forward.

Thaddeus reached the well first! While Sir Pierre felled a treasure hunter, the wizard leant forward to drink. However in his haste he had forgotten to cast the protective wall spell he had planned, leaving him vulnerable…

Weak from spellcasting, reeling from the surge of foresight endowed by the well and exposed to Toddlebrew’s archers, Thaddeus was in trouble. To aid him, the barbarian charged into the fray alongside the knight.

With Fluffy the warhound coming in from the flank, these two warriors finished off the enemy threat. They are aided by an explosive cocktail thrown by Hakim from his elevated position, which winged Toddlebrew.

Still low on health, Thaddeus leaped back behind cover to heal himself whilst a thug dragged some treasure back from the right flank.

With Oddleigh and an archer covering the centre on one side, and Hakim and an archer on the other, Sir Pierre and Gog the barbarian secured the well. Toddlebrew, deciding that he wasn't so thirsty after all, began pulling back his followers.

Attracted by the noise, a demonic serpent (minor demon) appeared on the right flank. It headed for the nearest possible meal; a pair of Toddlebrew’s men, which hastened their departure.

Hidden in shadow, Toddlebrew and his remaining men left the field with two pieces of treasure, leaving the remaining four pieces in Thaddeus’ possession.

Thaddeus’ eye shone with rapture as he stumbled almost drunkenly into his apprentice.

“Oh the things I have seen!”

“Er, it’s getting dark my lord, perhaps we had better get back to-“

“No, we must press on! The well has told me that an item of immense value is nearby – onwards I say!”

Reluctantly the band followed the staggering wizard, coming to a halt in a strangely familiar place…

“What trickery is this?” growled Sir Pierre. “Have we not just left this place?”

“No, there is no well here – see…” Hakim pointed to the empty centre. “Though everything else is indeed the same…”

“Well I don’t like it… It’s getting too dark…”

Suddenly torchlight flickered through the ruins opposite them.

“I don’t think Toddlebrew and his men agree with you…”

If we left the scenery as it was, but simply shifted the entry sides, maybe we could squeeze in the Genie scenario…

Both sides moved up once more. Hoping to dominate the battlefield from above, Thaddeus and the two archers climbed up onto the first floor of a ruin, but found their line of sight largely blocked by the high pillars in front of them. Oddleigh and the bulk of the warband took to the right, hoping to outflank the enemy and take the lion’s share of the treasure. Meanwhile two thugs covered the left flank.

Both sides exchanged fire, but Toddlebrew’s men had the better shooting and soon downed Hakim the ranger. On the left, a thug had acquired a treasure and was dragging it away. However his comrade had to deal with the enemy warhound and treasure hunter. Outnumbered and wounded, it did not look good. Could he delay them long enough for his mate to escape?

Yes! The gods smiled upon him that day, for he managed to down the treasure hunter and push back the warhound, putting the beast in line of sight for one of the archers to finish off.

Using the leap spell and again behind a protective wall, Oddleigh sent the heavy hitters forward along the right flank.

However by now Toddlebrew’s band had grabbed three pieces of treasure and, with night drawing in and strange noises echoing through the darkness, were content to withdraw, leaving the field and the remaining treasure for Thaddeus.

Back at the inn, Thaddeus inspected the haul. Drinking from the well had increased his experience considerably, whilst also netting him a goodly amount of gold and some useful scrolls. His hurried search for the fabled lamp had not yielded the artefact, but had resulted in more gold and three new spells to learn.

“I think,” he mused, looking at the pile of gold before him, “we can afford to hire some more expensive fighters…”

Two great games (one albeit very quick). The Well of Dreams and Sorrows went very well for me, despite forgetting to protect my wizard with a wall spell before he drank from it. The dice gods were extremely kind (and very nasty to Giles!)

The next game failed to conjure up the Genie, and was over very quickly (appointments had to be kept). Swapping dice, Giles rolled a lot better - I think I was lucky that we ran out of time on that one!

Thaddeus Daemoncall is now at level 17 and, in addition to beefing up his warband, has invested in a summoning circle and an arcane candle for the inn – perhaps next time he will live up to his name…