Monday, 15 May 2017

Thaddeus Braves the Storm of Undeath



“Well? What do you think?”

Thaddeus Daemoncall tossed the scarf over his shoulder. It’s bright colours, contrasting sharply with the Summoner’s dark robes, seemed to shift and pulse, making Johannes Oddleigh’s eyes water.

“Er, it’s certainly very vibrant master. Very, um…” the apprentice trailed off, waving his hand vaguely.

“Indeed,” chuckled the wizard, “but I’d like to see anyone get an arrow into me whilst I’m wearing it!” He stopped and looked to the clouds. “Hmm, another storm brewing? How many’s that this week? We’d better hurry up!”

As he urged his band forward, Oddleigh followed. His master seemed more determined than ever to explore the frozen metropolis, despite the almost constant snowstorm that whipped around the ruins these days. Each trip to buy supplies brought back more rumours of the mysterious necromancer that supposedly stalked the accursed city – tales of undead hordes and strange rituals abounded in the taverns and trading posts. A powerful magician was no doubt abroad, and Oddleigh knew only too well that his master could not abide rivals…

“Ah, now, look!” Thaddeus held up his hand, peering through the snowstorm. “There, isn’t that a clearing? Can I see… yes! Treasure! Lying out there in the open!”

“Um, I can see bodies too my lord…” Oddleigh’s heart sank, knowing that this would do little to temper the Summoner’s ardour for knowledge.

“Indeed…” nodded Thaddeus. “We shall have to be caref-“

Suddenly a fork of eerie green lightning flashed ahead of them, sending strange tongues of light flickering around the blasted masonry. Somewhere, either deep in the bowels of the frozen earth or high up in the storm-ridden sky; it was hard to tell; a voice as dark and cold as the grave boomed out an incantation.

“M-master?”

“Very strange, yet not unexpected…” Thaddeus frowned, his head cocked to catch the words on the howling wind. “The language is familiar, yet unknown…” He turned to his apprentice, smiling almost apologetically. “I think this necromancer fellow is rather more powerful than we first thought…”

Time for another bout of Thaw of the Lich Lord! This time, the evil one finally makes himself known by summoning the Storm of Undeath…

Thaddeus and co. discover an open square, bordered with pillars, within which lie treasure and corpses. His band splits up, with the Summoner leading some of his men in the centre. His marksman starts off atop a ruined building, hoping for some decent shooting despite the snowstorm (-4 to any shooting attacks).

On the left, Oddleigh takes command of the remainder of the band, with the exception of a minor demon, summoned pre-game. This foul fiend not only had vampiric tendencies, but also had the ‘backstabber’ trait, which meant it could throw off it’s control at any moment. As such the demon was tasked with covering the far right flank, out of harm’s way should it go rogue.

Hobron Toddlbrew, Sigilist and general nuisance, appears on the opposite side with his apprentice and warband, intent on stealing Thaddeus’ rightful loot. Once again he begins to spoil the party with a draining word spell.

Using telekinesis Thaddeus drags some treasure towards the waiting arms of Halfinch the thief. Meanwhile Toddlbrew’s men move forward into the square, warily avoiding the prone bodies in favour of the tempting treasure.

However his warhound advances a little too much, affording my marksman some excellent sport. The crossbow bolt flies true through the magical maelstrom and hits home, putting down the dog.

Oddleigh orders his crew forward and summons a skeleton to fetch another treasure chest – the Book of Bones discovered in the last game is already coming in handy.

The bony minion closes in on the treasure, but a wall spell blocks it off! Another wall spell screens off Hobron’s men, unfortunately cutting off one of his archers in the process.

Without support from his fellows, said archer is quickly dispatched by Thaddeus’ infantryman and treasure hunter. Meanwhile, summoned skeleton and comrades fight over treasure with an opposing knight.

However the score is evened out when the dodgy demon is shot by an enemy ranger while it attempts to sneak down the right flank. At least Thaddeus doesn’t have to worry about rogue demons anymore!

Or does he? All this treasure snatching attracts the attention of another minor demon on the left flank, perilously close to Oddleigh. The apprentice, already thoroughly exhausted from a series of fluffed spells, is in no condition to face off with the creature.

Things are worse for the opposing apprentice however. In order to do some supporting spell casting, he gets a little too close to Thaddeus’ treasure hunter Goldtooth, who duly dispatches the poor chap, despite him being supported by a ranger.

As the opposing soldiers tussle for treasure, Thaddeus somehow knows that he must also enter the square. Hidden under an invisibility spell he breaks cover, but before he can get there a massive bolt of green lightning hits the pillars! A pulse of eldritch magic rips across the square and suddenly the corpses begin to rise…

One armoured skeleton heads for Hobron, but his treasure huntress bashes it back into the dirt. This enables the Sigilist to enter the square unmolested and, like Thaddeus, gain some experience from the dark magic.

As the armoured skeletons join the fray, Thaddeus’ men gang up on the enemy knight and down him, though he manages to wound Franck the treasure hunter in the process. This allows the skeleton to finally pick up the treasure.

Gog the barbarian and an infantryman see off a skeleton. Meanwhile Thaddeus retreats back into cover whilst his apprentice fails to cast more spells as he tries to hide from the demon, which is wandering around aimlessly on the left flank.

Fluffy the demonic warhound lopes forward to run interference, but is splatted by the enemy captain. In the central square, fighting continues with several soldiers becoming wounded.

Another armoured skeleton heads for a wounded Franck, unable to see the invisible Thaddeus – a more juicy target otherwise! Thankfully Franck dispatches the bag of bones.

Unwittingly supported by two armoured skeletons, a similarly wounded Goldtooth defeats a ranger. However his undead helpers now turn on him…

The melee in the central square is beginning to thin out as the armoured skeletons are defeated one by one. Both warbands have three treasures in their possession.

Gog and his infantryman chum defeat another skeleton, but one more lumbers into the fray. On the left flank, Oddleigh is still hiding from the demon, but manages to leap the marksman over to cover him.

Gog, Sir Pierre the knight and an infantryman gang up on the last skeleton. They high-five, celebrating victory, but then something whistles through the air and lands in the middle of them…

Boom! A grenade, courtesy of the Sigilist, explodes in their midst! When the dust settles, Gog the barbarian is down.

With this final parting shot, Hobron and his band bids adieu and departs from the battlefield. Thaddeus and Oddleigh, covered by the two wounded treasure hunters, also prepare to depart while the surviving members of the warband pick their way back over the bones of the fallen skeletons.

This was a fun, and very quick, game! Oddleigh couldn’t cast spells for toffee but the soldiers all pretty much held their own. Both wizards snagged three treasures and got experience from the square (being too late to be there when the lightning struck). As Thaddeus’ crew killed four skeletons to Hobron’s two, I just about won on points, but with rolling 1’s on the treasure table, I suspect calling it a draw is more accurate!

Check out Giles’ blog for his view of events (part 1 and part 2).

Back at the Cloven Hoof Inn, Thaddeus sat gloomily over his haul, picking up the paltry amount of gold crowns before allowing them to fall through his fingers, landing back into a treasure chest with a hollow ‘clunk’.

Oddleigh coughed. “Master?”

“Hmm? Oh…” the Summoner looked up from the meagre pile. “It’s not the prize that bothers me – any and all gold is welcome – didn’t your father ever teach you that boy? No, not the gold…”

He stood up, wincing. “That lightning, did you feel it? Those corpses just stood up as if they were puppets pulled on strings… In effect they were I suppose…” He looked around the dark chamber at his men, tending their wounds and counting their wages. “The necromancer is indeed more powerful than we ever imagined. Oddleigh my boy, we are going to have a lot of work on our hands…”