Sunday, 4 February 2018

Thaddeus’ Journey Ends


The ground shook and lightning speared through the broiling clouds as Thaddeus Daemoncall and his apprentice Johaness Oddleigh tumbled out of the Cloven Hoof inn.

The rest of the warband followed suit before falling back through the ancient coaching arch to escape the huge shadow that enveloped them.

Not just them in fact, but the whole quarter and, indeed, the whole city.

“What in the name of the Gods is that?” screamed Halfinch the Hobbit thief.

Thaddeus gazed through the tortured sky at the gargantuan mass that blotted out what remained of the feeble daylight. “Something big… floating upwards yet chained to the ground… I see buildings… Ye Gods! It is a castle of some kind – a floating castle!”

He turned to his apprentice, thrusting into his hands the ancient grimoire that he had been feverishly studying for the last few days.

“Quick, put this somewhere safe. I believe I have the spell but it’s no use to us until-“

“ALL BOW BEFORE THE LICH LORD!”

The guttural voice boomed from horizon to horizon.


Avoiding the fleeing warbands and hordes of undead that swarmed throughout the frozen city, it took what seemed like an eternity to reach one of the massive chains that tethered the floating mass.

Thaddeus had recovered his wits with remarkable speed and ordered his followers onwards. Now they stood under the behemoth.

“This is it boys. It seems like we’re the only ones brave enough to put a stop to this madness. Well, so be it! Let’s-“

“Oh don’t be so melodramatic you old fool!”

The Summoner span to confront the pricker of his pompous balloon. The Sigilist Toddlbrew smirked.

“I somehow doubt you could defeat the Lich Lord without my help.”

“Hmm, an alliance then? Very well.” Thaddeus stepped back with a mocking bow and pointed to the chain. “After you…”


And so Giles and I came to finale of the Lich Lord campaign – the Final Battle! The table was set up as per instructions – a treasure-laden wall along one edge, against which the evil Liche Lord himself stood in readiness, flanked by deadly Wraith Knights. Before him in the centre, a gang of cultists prostrated themselves while on the opposite side a dozen armoured skeletons were placed, waiting to pounce on the allied warbands as they climbed up onto the nearest corners and deployed.


Thaddeus had managed to summon a minor demon, and had also spent a large portion of his hard-earned gold on magical bows and, after seeing the floating ruins, a ring of slow fall for both him and Oddleigh. As a starting gambit he ordered the demon to support his men in attacking the skeletons.


Toddlebrew had also beefed up his warband with magic weapons and similarly advanced on the skeletal horde. Would both warbands be able to shelve their differences?


A rough plan had been agreed – reduce the skeletons to manageable numbers and then take on the cultists. Once they had been defeated it would be time to regroup and advance on the Lich Lord and his knights.


Thaddeus’ band took on the vanguard of the creaking tide, losing an infantryman in the process. The demon clawed a skeleton into dust, but they kept on coming.


Toddlebrew’s captain and knight also attacked the skeletons, reducing their numbers while the archers moved up to whittle down the cultists. Thaddeus’ missile troops also took up positions to shoot.


The combined warbands took on the skeletal foe from either side, battering their way through crumbling bone and rusting armour. Even Halfinch the thief found himself getting stuck in!


At long last most of the skeletons were defeated, but this was only a temporary reprieve, for the Lich Lord began to raise another skeleton in a bid to replace his minions.


As the warriors cautiously moved forward, taking cover wherever they could to avoid the Lich Lord’s elemental bolts, the cultists in the centre began to scatter. With no victims in sight they moved randomly, but ended up converging on Toddlebrew’s band on the right flank.


This allowed Thaddeus’ men to move along the left flank, shooting at the backs of the cultists whilst being protected from the Lich Lord’s wrath with a wall spell. A draining word spell courtesy of the Sigilist also helped by nerfing the evil one's bolts.


A summoned zombie joined the fray in time to assist Thaddeus’ band in finishing off the final two skeletons. Now they could move forward towards the centre of the table.


Treasure hunter, warhound and a summoned imp took on a pair of fanatics. The imp was slain but soon were both cultists. Healed from injuries sustained in fighting the skeletons, the second treasure hunter was also moving up, as was the archer, who took up position to snipe at the Lich Lord with his magic bow.


Meanwhile Toddlebrew was busy buffing up his men, enabling them to defeat the last of the cultists. With most of his minions taken care of, it was time to focus on the Lich Lord’s bodyguards.


Both warbands were now in a general advance, with Thaddeus’ archer and keeping the Lich Lord occupied by dodging his elemental bolts and firing back in return. The Wraith Knights and newly raised skeleton were lured away from the wall and into battle.


On the right, the skeleton was easily shot down by Toddlebrew’s men, as their newly-hired minstrel kept up morale, lest the Lich Lord start playing mind games.


On the left, one of Thaddeus’ treasure hunters, ably assisted by Fluffy, hefted his magic sword and swung at a Wraith Knight.


Meanwhile the Sigilist’s band had engaged the other Wraith Knight. Tooled up with magic weapons they made short work of the fiend.


As did the treasure hunter, who sent his undead attacker back to the veil of shadows. Bereft of his underlings, the Lich Lord dodged ineffective magical arrow fire from Thaddeus’ men, but also failed to hit back.


Thaddeus himself had spent most of the battle keeping out of harm’s way, healing and summoning as necessary. But, with everyone else now battling the Lich Lord, it was time to stride purposely forward to hit the evil creature squarely between the eyes with an elemental ball.


Both wizards knew that the key to victory was to keep the Lich Lord busy to prevent him casting any spells. To this end Fluffy was sent forward to attack. The demonic warhound scored a critical hit! But alas her attacks were not magical and so the Lich Lord stood, but it was enough to keep him occupied.


Soon the combined might of both warbands converged on the Lich Lord. Those with magic weapons attacked, whilst those without stood in support. The Lich Lord screeched and raged, but was close to being overwhelmed.


But who would claim the honour of the kill? Thaddeus had already landed a couple of blows via elemental ball (one delivered by his treasure hunter, thanks to a pair of Eyes of Amoto), but in the end, it was Toddlebrew’s captain that landed the coup de gras.


As the Lich Lord crumbled into dust and rags, it was clear that his evil magic had died with him. The dark storm that raged ahead gave way to bright wintry sunshine. Chill winds abated, grey skies turned blue and birds sang. Oh, and the floating ruins began to plummet back to earth. Time to make a run for it!


Halfinch the thief and Goldtooth the treasure hunter couldn’t resist taking what treasure lay nearby, but Thaddeus graciously allowed Toddlebrew to lay claim to the rest. Instead the Summoner ferried his warband back down the great chains, leaving the demon and zombie to cover his retreat, just in case. Then, when he was satisfied, he and his apprentice walked calmly to the edge, turned to salute their erstwhile opponent and stepped over the rim…

Another great game! Giles could claim the win for this one, having killed the Lich Lord nd escapeing with the lion’s share of treasure, but I was also happy. We were fortunate that both spellcasters were at a very high level (having already gone through the main rulebook scenarios) and could afford to kit their warbands out in some serious magic gear. We both agreed that the scenario, and indeed the entire campaign, would have been a lot more challenging if we had started with low level wizards.


Things would have been even more complicated if we had decided to ditch the co-op and fight over the treasure once the Lich Lord was defeated. But as it was, Giles knew that this was to be the last time that I intended for Thaddeus to take to the field and that I cared little for treasure, experience and such…

Read Giles' take on the proceedings here.

“Ah, there’s nothing like leaving in style!”

Thaddeus and Oddleigh were still floating gently down as the Lich Lord’s lair crashed back into the crater it had left, sending out clouds of dust and debris. The Summoner and his apprentice watched as their comrades emerged from the mess, dusting themselves off as people clambered from the ruins to congratulate them.

Other survivors of the undead reign of terror were crowding around Toddlebrew and his band, cheering and marvelling at the huge haul of treasure they dragged along with them.

Thaddeus noted his apprentice’s frown and chuckled. “Ah my boy, let ‘em have their baubles! We’ve defeated the Lich Lord! Time for us to leave this madness behind and return in triumph to Ulfenhalle.”

“Um, will they be pleased to see us do you think?”

“Oh yes – in time at least. With the Lich Lord gone, I can now learn the ultimate secret.”

“You don’t mean-?”

“Oh yes – the spell to end all spells...”

He looked past the crowds, past the heaps of former undead mouldering in the sunlight, past the ships frozen on the Meregril river and the entrance to the now-dead Ghoul King’s lair, to the Cloven Hoof inn and the book hidden inside and laughed.