“Come on boy! We cannot hide like frightened rabbits!”
Thaddeus Daemoncall strode onwards with, Oddleigh thought, an exaggerated air of bravado. They had both experienced strange dreams the night before – half remembered but somehow all the more terrifying for that. It was as if some malicious entity was lurking just out of sight…
Still, the Summoner insisted that they carry on with their explorations, his thirst for knowledge overriding his misgivings. That was, of course, before the sky started to go dark…
“Um, perhaps master we’d better pause for a moment? Maybe try another day?”
Thaddeus looked up at the blackened sky, shielding his eyes to watch the sun slowly being eaten away.
“An eclipse? That’s strange… There’s nothing in the almanac…”
A shout from across the ruins interrupted his musings as Halfinch the Hobbit thief returned from his scouting and scampered towards them.
“I’ve just taken a look ahead my lord. It’s Toddlebrew and his men!”
The Summoner grunted.
“Well, whatever’s happening, I’m not letting that old fool get the better of me – onwards I say!”
It’s gaming time with Giles again as we kick off the Thaw of the Lich Lord campaign! At present everyone is blissfully unaware of the horror that’s awakening, but the eclipse forebodes something unpleasant.
Pre-game Thaddeus managed to brew a couple of potions and raise a zombie. He also raised a minor demon with the power of invisibility, but failed to bind it. Filled with unease he approaches the ruins with his heavy hitters in the centre. As the sun begins to be blotted out it’s difficult to see ahead.
Oddleigh takes the left flank with the infantrymen and a crossbowman. The crossbowman takes a default position up in the higher levels, but cannot see very far.
The quicker members of the band are on the right flank, covered by the marksman, who is also finding it difficult to spot any targets in the gathering gloom.
Toddlebrew and his minions appear opposite. Do they share the same sense of unease as Thaddeus and his brave explorers? Only time will tell.
Toddlebrew takes an early lead as his men race forward to claim the nearest treasure tokens. One such action attracts a skeleton, which clatters onto the board behind the sigilist.
The skeleton is joined by a hungry ghoul. Thaddeus is having difficulty casting his spells and his crossbowmen are unable to see anyone to shoot, so perhaps this is the break he needs.
The undead pair advances toward Toddlebrew’s band. A quick couple of dice rolls to see who they attack has the skeleton targeting an archer, whilst the ghoul attacks Toddlebrew himself!
With the sky darkening and my crossbowmen unable to see anyone, they climb down from their respective vantage points to get in closer. Meanwhile Toddlebrew dispatches the ghoul in hand-to-hand combat.
Thaddeus’ men continue forward as the summoner manages to successfully cast a spell and summon a minor demon. Opposite, Toddlebrew’s archer sees off the skeleton. Giles is rolling well and me… not so well.
On the left flank I finally snag some treasure. The pilfering infantryman is screened off from the opposition by way of a trusty wall spell. In the centre, Red Sandra the captain, having done very little in previous games, is determined to take down at least one enemy soldier and leads the charge.
Grabbing another treasure attracts the attention of a strange animal/human hybrid known as a Rangifer (using a Gnoll as a stand-in). It wanders on, sniffing out the nearest prey, which happens to be Thaddeus and Oddleigh!
As the enemy grabs treasure in the centre, Red Sandra tries to reach them. Close by, Toddlebrew’s knight engages my demon and zombie. The zombie is slain and the demon wounded whilst I’m frantically going through my dice in an attempt to find one that rolls high.
After my marksman fails to put it down, Sir Pierre the knight is leapt back to head off the Rangifer. I must admit I don’t like the look of the official Rangifer figures (sorry Northstar!) so I’ll be using my Gnolls as proxies during this campaign.
Thankfully I roll decently for a change and Sir Pierre runs his magic sword through the creature. As it gets darker, Red Sandra is determined to prove her worth and, with demon and barbarian in support, launches a furious charge at the enemy knight.
Who rolls a 20! Once again my captain is defeated spectacularly. To be honest, I had to laugh at this point. You know when you have a figure that you’re sure is unlucky? Well poor Sandra is that figure for me, so it makes sense that she’d go down to a critical hit.
Giles’ terminator knight continues to cut a swathe through my warband, sending my wounded demon back to whence it came.
By way of an encore he then defeats my barbarian, cheered on by his comrades. Meanwhile my treasure hunter and thief are making their way along the right flank towards some treasure. Toddlebrew sends some minions to head them off.
Acting as vanguard, Fluffy the warhound bounds forward and slows them down, but pays for this delaying tactic with her life.
My warband is rapidly depleting as the sun continues to disappear. Thaddeus orders an infantryman and crossbowman to outflank Toddlebrew’s band on the sigilist's right. Meanwhile Sir Pierre races forward to get back into the fray. On my right, thief and treasure hunter are trying to reach the treasure before the enemy.
As Toddlebrew’s ranger and warhound approach, they are stopped in their tracks with a wall spell. This buys Halfinch and Goldtooth enough time to make a run for it with their treasures.
On the left, my crossbowman finally sees a target and knocks out a thug. The sun is now completely covered and the eclipse is total. What strange sorcery is this? The spellcaster’s hands suddenly crackle with raw magic as arcane power surges through them!
Using his new-found power, Thaddeus summons a major demon. The creature lumbers forward – will it reach the opposing warband? No. Judicious use of the push spell keeps the fell beast away.
In the centre, my infantryman is confronted by the invincible knight and an equally tough captain. Oddleigh can just about see the knight through a hole in the ruins. Surging with energy he casts a mind control spell, causing the warrior to suddenly turn on his comrade.
However, even with this surprising turn of events, the captain still manages to down the infantryman. The caprices of the Dice Gods are bewildering and numerous.
Toddlebrew dispels the mind control, allowing the knight to re-join his comrades as Sir Pierre and a newly-summoned demon enters the fray. Sir Pierre follows his colleagues’ example and is defeated.
As is the minor demon. Luckily for me, Toddlebrew is content with the three treasure tokens he had collected and decides that the time is ripe for him to withdraw. As the sky begins to brighten, Thaddeus gathers the remainder of his band, and carries his three treasures back to base. So honours even treasure-wise, but I have lost far more men than Giles, so a win for him.
Despite me bitching about my dice rolls in this report, it was actually a really fun game. It was amazing to watch Giles’ knight slash his way through his opponents, despite being outnumbered 3:1 at one stage (of course the minute I had control of him he fumbled every strike!)
I really had to laugh when my captain went down, if only out of relief – she had cost a lot of gold, despite stubbornly remaining at level 0, but I had invested too much in her just to sack her from the band. It should come as no surprise that I rolled a 1 for her survival roll – bye bye Sandra.
Thaddeus Daemoncall was surprisingly upbeat after they returned wearily to the Cloven Hoof Inn. Despite the bloodshed suffered, the treasure haul was rather meagre, but there were one or two useful trinkets to sell. Even the death of one of the infantrymen cast little gloom – while his fellows mourned him as warriors do for their comrades, there were plenty of tribesmen willing to fill his boots.
Oddleigh watched as one of the soldiers cast a torch onto the funeral pyre of the captain Red Sandra. Uluk the marksman clapped him on the shoulder. “She promised much eh boy? Then cost us even more before leaving us with nothing.”
He gurgled a rough tribal laugh. “Such is the way of women!”