Monday, 26 June 2017

Massacre at Longreach

Thaddeus Daemoncall stared hard at the Grimoire of Lichdom. “Damn you…” he muttered.
Nothing had gone right since that evil tome had been discovered; potions turned to sludge in the cauldron, scraps of paper failed to give up their secrets and demons frolicked mockingly in the summoning circle before fading out of existence. Even the roaring fire in his room had taken an age to light.
It was clear that the book must be destroyed...

Suddenly the door to his chambers crashed open to reveal his apprentice Oddleigh, red-faced and panting from exertion.
“My lord, I have news!”

The Summoner hurriedly threw the black cloth covering over the book. “Well spit it out then boy.”
“I heard it at the trading post – the Lich Lord has discovered the fabled House of Longreach and has dispatched his minions! What's more, that Sigilist is also on his way there right now!”

Thaddeus frowned, instinctively clutching his damaged arm. “Then we must also go. Assemble the men, quickly!”

Oddleigh nodded and thumped down the stairs as Thaddeus reached for the forbidden grimoire. “And as for you…”

He tossed the book into the flames before stalking out of the room.

Events had conspired against me ‘n’ Giles, so we only had time for one game of Frostgrave this time around, namely the next scenario in the Lich Lord campaign: the House of Longreach.

After fluffing practically every out of game spell (with the exception of raising a skeleton), I set up the table – the usual 3’x3’ mat with six magical archways and a 1’x1’ treasure room, complete with treasures and Frost Wraiths to guard them.

Thaddeus deployed on one side of the board, demon-less and, after a string of failed out of game spells, was not exactly brimming with confidence. At least he had an extra soldier in the shape of a skeleton to hopefully nip forward and grab a treasure.

Holbron the Sigilist arrived opposite with his warband, including the infamous Green Knight and a very capable captain. Thaddeus’ first act was to cast beauty on himself, having to spend precious health to get it off. Holbron replied by casting draining word on the bonedart spell. Oddleigh the apprentice managed to conjure up an elemental ball and sent it in the midst of the Green Knight and captain, but it failed to do any damage.

One of the Sigilist’s archers made for a magic archway and straight away found himself on the threshold of the treasure room. Thaddeus also stepped through an archway, but simply lost 2 health points and went nowhere.

Holbron tried his luck with a magic archway and found himself manifesting right in front of a startled Thaddeus! Recovering his wits, the Summoner managed to cast bonedart despite the draining word. He sent it flying into his target, severely wounding the Sigilist.

Things were looking up as a grabbed treasure attracted the attention of a ghoul, right behind Holbron’s lines. Meanwhile Thaddeus’ warband cautiously advanced. On the left, Oddleigh commanded a treasure hunter, barbarian and knight. On the right, the rest of the band moved up. The appearance of the Sigilist gave them a nice target to gang up on.

However they were to be denied their prize. Hurrying to the rescue with a pair of rangers, the enemy apprentice cast a wall spell to cut them off from their quarry. My marksman and archer were also now screened off from any targets.

On the left flank, the treasure hunter was wounded by the enemy knight, supported by a warhound. My own knight raced to the rescue and slayed the dog, but could see the enemy captain bearing down on him. Any extra support from the barbarian was not forthcoming as he was busy dragging treasure away.

Halfinch the Hobbit thief, having downed an invisibility potion, now tried his luck with an archway and made it to the treasure room! Standing at the threshold he waited for his moment to sneak in as the enemy archer braved the wrath of the frost wraiths.

Thaddeus cackled and prepared to cast another bone dart at the stricken Sigilist, but Holbron had a trick up his sleeve – in the shape of a grenade! The projectile landed at the Summoner’s feet and exploded! The smoke cleared to reveal Thaddeus’ crumpled form on the cold ground…

(Note that I had forgotten to ask Giles to make a will test against my beauty score – d’oh!)

Deciding not to push his luck any more, the wounded Sigilist stepped back through the arch and found himself at the treasure room. He joined Halfinch at the threshold, deciding his next move.

On the right flank, my warband was trying to force their way through a narrow gap between the magical wall and the terrain, but the rangers beat them back, downing a treasure hunter.

An enemy archer also had better success than mine by shooting my skeleton and leaving one more treasure ripe for the picking. My dice rolls were pathetically low for most of these combats.

This run of bad luck continued on the left, where Sir Pierre the Knight fell under the captain’s blows. The wounded treasure hunter did not last much longer.

It was only turn 3 and yet most of my warband were out of action! Would the arrival of the Lich Lord’s cultists and their pet zombie troll change the balance? These fanatics quickly made for the nearest archway.

The nearest two went straight into the treasure room, thanks to the Lich Lord’s evil magic. Halfinch and Holborn watched as they advanced on the hapless archer. While they were occupied, the Sigilist nipped in and then out of the room (we’d forgotten that he was wounded and could thus take only one action) in order to gain some experience.

Giles rolled to see where he which archway he’d reappear at, causing him to teleport to the one next to the remainder of the Lich Lord’s gang! He was in no condition to face the zombie troll and so beat a hasty retreat.

Meanwhile the remainder of my band on the right finally got around the wall and attacked the rangers, with my warhound managing to savage one of them.

It was then however a depressing return to form as my infantrymen failed to tackle the other ranger, with one of them falling in combat.

Meanwhile the Sigilist’s archer and captain scooped up the treasure dropped by my skeleton. Oddleigh just about managed to summon an imp in a vain attempt to stop them, but it was too late.

Warhound and infantryman ganged up on the remaining ranger as the hungry ghoul, after a few turns of wandering about aimlessly, caught scent of the battle and moved in to see what the fuss was all about.

Back in the treasure room, Halfinch was still prevaricating, but with the defeat of the enemy archer by the combined might of the frost wraiths and cultists, decided that it wasn’t worth venturing into the chamber.

By now we were running out of our limited gaming time. With my wizard out of action and most of my warband following him there was no chance of me getting the special treasure in the treasure room – indeed any more treasure at all. Thus I threw in the towel, conceding the rest of the treasure on the main board to Giles. Holbron also decided to withdraw, being menaced by a zombie troll whilst wounded no doubt making up his mind.

Pretty much a complete failure for me – mostly due to the Dice Gods deciding that the day was not to be my day (I can’t complain really, considering how kind they’ve been in recent games). The Sigilist’s grenade spell, cast when his back was against the wall, was just the thing to alter swing the game in his favour, and the wall spell did a great job of shielding him – bravo.

Whilst I can’t take the blame for my poor dice rolls, I did make the mistake of not getting into the treasure room sooner. The invisibility potion would have kept Halfinch free from the attentions of the frost wraiths, at least until he picked up the special treasure, and the creatures could have been kept busy if I attempted to spam the room with other soldiers ASAP. Ah well – the game was still good fun and at least I kept smiling!

Giles' triumphant version of events can be read on his blog, starting at part 1 here.

By the time Thaddeus staggered out of the Sarcophagus of Healing, his burns and scars had faded, but the burning sense of shame had not. He swept past his subdued warband and locked himself in his chambers.

There he sat, watching gloomily as the chimney draught whipped up the ashes in the barren fireplace.
"That damned book… It’s all my fault… I should have burned the accursed thing straight away… The Gods were punishing me alright – I shouldn’t have started reading it…”

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