+++ALERT! ALERT! CONTAINMENT FIELD BREACHED!+++
The laboratory shook, fluorescent lights flickering as somewhere deep within the research complex, something went ‘CRUMP!’ Aeon Flixx threw down her clipboard as a door was flung open by a terrified man in a white lab coat.
“It’s time!” he squealed.
“But I’m not ready!” she replied. “My research isn’t-“
“It’ll have to do! I’ve seen you zap lightning from your fingertips, so-“
“in laboratory conditions!”
“Never the less,” he continued, waving her objection aside, “there’s no more time – they’re breaking through! The capsule is ready. You’re the only one who can do the old magic – you have to go back and put a stop to this.”
“But the paradoxes haven’t been-“
“I said there’s no time! You need to go Aeon! Now! Aeon!”
A large and calloused hand was roughly shaking her shoulder. She sat up, rubbing her eyes, focussing on the wide face before her.
Ah, Brunhilde: the best acolyte the Sisters of the Pendulum had to offer, for the price at least – damn that weight limit. A decent enough student for the time period, but, bless her, somewhat lacking in finesse.
“You were dreaming again ma’am.”
“Mmm?” Aeon sat up gingerly. “Argh, what was I drinking last night?”
“More than enough ma’am…” the apprentice said reproachfully.
“Huh, when I come from, the beer is a little less… robust...” she sighed ay Brunhilde puzzled frown. “Never mind – have the men found the entrance to the complex?”
“Yes ma’am, though they report that other wizards are also exploring the ruins.”
“Heh, ‘wizard’ – such an archaic term… Oh well, let’s hope that they’re friendly…”
Time then for a new campaign, headed by a new wizard! Step forward Aeon Flixx, Chronomancer, and her big-boned apprentice Brunhilde.
Aeon is something of an experiment. Not only is she a Chronomancer – a school I’m unfamiliar with, but I also deliberately chose spells that I’ve never used before. Considering that most Chronomancer spells have pretty high casting values, this is going to be interesting…
Anyway, let’s follow her on her first adventure as she delves into the Breeding Pits to face the Moving Maze!
The table was laid, with small pieces of terrain as per the scenario – all the better to move about, which was done the fungus that grew on the walls (okay, actually by whoever rolls the lowest initiative each round).
Aeon, Brunhilde and their band of entry-level soldiers (a brace each of thieves, thugs, archers and infantryman) emerged from a dark doorway and into the chamber. The outside chill gave way to a moist warmth, with the air stuffy with an earthy, fungal smell.
But there were other intruders… The Illusionist Shazam! (I must fight the urge to spell that with an exclamation mark) and his equally low-level warband have emerged on the opposite side.
Giles beat me to the first initiative roll (yes, it was going to be one of those games), which at least allowed me to move a piece of terrain, blocking off a piece of treasure (Shazam(!) having cast reveal secret).
Undeterred, the Illusionist quickly grabbed two pieces of treasure, which allowed me to place two Violent Fungi. Using the creature placement rule mod in ‘Into the Breeding Pits’, I placed one next to Shazam’s doorway, and another out of sight close by.
Aeon’s men also moved forward and grabbed a treasure, allowing Giles to return the compliment and plonk a Violent Fungus next to her door. Thankfully the two infantrymen were on hand to splat it. Aeon cast her first spell, giving a thief fleet feet. Make a note of this, as you won’t see many more spell from her this game!
Brunhilde also tried to cast fleet feet, it being the easiest spell to cast at present, but fails, taking damage. Yes, like I said, this was going to be one of those games where the Dice Gods decided to turn their backs on me…
Shazam(!)’s men picked up another treasure, allowing me to place another Violent Fungi. While spurning Aeon, the Dice Gods smiled kindly upon her erstwhile opponent, allowing the Illusionist to cast most of his spells and win the initiative for the most part.
The infantrymen easily defeated the Violent Fungus, but as it fell it released a cloud of deadly spores. Both warrior inhaled the cloud (both failing to beat a 10 on a will roll), thus becoming wounded. Guess who, as part of the experiment, didn’t pick the heal spell…
Still at least some of the opposing warband were also getting spored. Although they had an apothecary and the heal spell, so it wasn’t such an issue.
Another treasure for Aeon, and another mushroom man shambling around the nearest exit. Happily, though wounded, the infantrymen were able to defeat it, safe in the knowledge that they couldn’t get infected twice.
Giles was still getting the better of the dice, while I was decidedly not. Shazam’s warhound slew a fungus and avoided the spores as more treasure was nabbed by him.
The upside of losing the initiative was being able to move around terrain. This gave me a couple of chances to open up lines of sight, albeit reduced to 20” as per the expansion rules. Alas this didn’t give me much of an edge, s spellcasting and shooting rolls continued to disappoint.
Another Violent Fungus sprouted up near the doorway, over which Aeon’s infantrymen stood guard. Shazam’s warband were also treated to a similar fungal treat.
The infantrymen dispatched the overgrown toadstool before Brunhilde could wade in to assist (thus potentially earning extra experience). On the opposite side, both wizard and apprentice would gain said experience by squaring up to the fungus.
Before the game, Giles had asked for two extra treasures – the results of a reveal secret and a fool’s gold spell. One of Aeon’s thugs approached a treasure chest with a sinking sense of inevitability.
Yep… Poof! Away goes the illusiory treasure. That left the revealed secret treasure, sitting squarely within Shazam’s grasp.
At the away end, the illusionist’s men suffered a large bout of fungal infection after slaying a mushroom man, but there was little I could do to capitalise on this, as they were pretty much home and dry by now.
Still, at least Giles got to move one piece of terrain, after I uncharacteristically won the initiative, blocking Aeon's line of sight. Aeon, despairing of ever casting a spell successfully again, moved up along the flank with a couple of her men in a vain attempt to bother the opposition.
Amazingly she moved closer and managed to cast a wizard eye, thus getting around that pesky scenery. This left her exposed to the attentions of the enemy warhound. Luckily my roll was high enough to force a push-back, allowing my thug to jump to the rescue. Yes, he was defeated.
But at least one of my archers managed to redress the balance, turning Rover into a pincushion. I had one last chance – win the initiative and, drawing upon Aeon’s remaining health, blast the illusionist with an elemental bolt… But the Illusionist warband won the roll again, and promptly buggered off.
An interesting, but, for me, frustrating game. I can’t really blame the high casting value of my spell choices as I couldn’t even roll the ‘easier’ ones, such as fleet feet. I guess it just wasn’t meant to be. The Violent Fungus were a very tricky foe to face, for defeating them was no guarantee of staying unscathed.
I got three treasures to Giles’ four, which, adding the XP he gained by having his spellcasters fight the Violent Fungus, earned him the win. His batrep can be read here. Will I have to play the long game as Chronomancer, or will this leave me open to being outclassed? Time will tell.
“Hmm, well that could have gone better…” Aeon muttered as she wiped the green mould off her robes. She sat down and winced as various the parts of her body that ached and twinged competed for attention with those bits still awash with youthful adrenaline.
She began to rummage through the meagre pile of treasure as Brunhilde lumbered into the room. The apprentice knelt before the Chronomancer, offering up her twin wands as if they were some kind of supplicatory offering.
“I have failed you ma’am! I hereby resign from-“
“Oh, stop that you!” Aeon tapped her on the shoulder with her feebly fizzing wand. “I was hardly Zangarium the Mighty myself back there.”
“Eh, after your time perhaps. Listen dear, today wasn’t entirely a washout…” She fished out a small battered book from the pile beside her.
Brunhilde’s eyes widened as she read the just-legible title. “By the Great Pendulum - a reaction spell! They’re incredibly rare!”
“Even more so in my day – that’s why we’re poking around those old tunnels – there are things hidden in them that will aid me in my mission considerably. So, y'know, it could be much worse.”
She cast her mind back (or should that be forward?) to the time the containment field was breached.
"Much, much worse..."