Tuesday, 19 December 2017

Escape to Victory?

‘twas the week before Christmas, and all through the tomb, sinister creatures stirred in the gloom…

Oh go on then, one more post before the turkey and tinsel-fest – another crack at Alone in the Crypt.
This time I re-tweaked our hero’s stats a little, swapping his +1 fight for +1 shoot, in the hope that he could keep the evil dead at arm’s length.

Our brave hero awoke to find himself in a familiar position – why had the Gods done this to him? This time he was near the entrance to a side chamber, within which he found no doorway to freedom. With a growing sense of déjà vu he exited the chamber to find an armoured skeleton advancing on him.

After wasting a magic arrow with a missed shot, our hero braced himself. He parried the creature’s lunge, pushing it back but not destroying it. Having earned some breathing space, he pulled back and fired an arrow of crumbling at the chamber entrance, blocking it off. Hopefully that would even the odds a little.

The armoured skeleton attacked once more, but this time our hero was more prepared and quickly gained the upper hand. However he could not sit on his laurels for long, for something else was shuffling towards him.

Another armoured skeleton! This one was easily dispatched, giving our hero time to search another chamber. Alas once again, no exit presented itself.

Whoooooooo… The air grew cold as a frost wraith appeared from a side chamber. Our hero notched a magic +1 arrow and fired. The icy spectre crumpled into a pile of frozen sheets!

Another armoured skeleton appeared and walked straight into the pile of rubble that blocked the side chamber. That plan to use the arrow of crumbling was working!

There followed more fruitless searching by our hero, who wisely ignored the treasures in favour of getting the hell out of there. Across the main hall, two skeletons arose from the debris.

They advanced towards our hero, who took one out with another +1 magical arrow. So far he had searched four side chambers but could still not escape.

As the surviving skeleton advanced, two more appeared in a side chamber. Our hero would have to be quick, lest he be swamped with undead!

One skeleton down, but the newly arrived pair was on its way. Maybe there was time to check out just one treasure…? No! Focus on the job in hand!

Our hero selected an explosive arrow from his magical quiver. Could he kill two skeletons with one arrow? Er, no – the projectile shot off at an angle and exploded harmlessly in a dark corner. Thankfully one skeleton was quickly destroyed in combat.

However more undead were arriving. Another frost wraith floated from a side chamber as our hero battled the remaining skeleton. For such a fragile creature it was proving tough to beat.

But eventually out hero prevailed. The he could feel the frost wraith’s icy presence bearing down upon him. Desperate, he raced into another side chamber and clawed at the walls…

Click! His fingers caught a loose stone, which moved under his grip causing a door to swing open! Daylight flooded into the chamber as, finally, our hero fulfilled his destiny and escaped the tomb.

Phew! It was touch and go for a while, but I managed to keep the numbers of undead fairly low and more importantly rolled well enough to keep them at bay. Now the question is, can I replicate the same result, but snag some treasure into the bargain..?

Happy Christmas chums - see you in 2018!

Monday, 18 December 2017

Walls & Toys

Just a quick post in amongst the seasonal madness that is JP Towers.

You've probably already heard that dragons have come to Frostgrave! The latest issue of Spellcaster is now out, and contains rules for fielding these fearsome beasts, including a challenging co-op scenario.

I haven't got a dragon model in my collection, but here's a quick snap of a Papo dragon that lurks in my daughters' toy box, which will do at a pinch.

Also, my pal Giles very kindly made me some walls (cheers mate!), to act as wall spell markers. He's done a great job and these will replace my current wall spell markers, which are chunks of plain grey foam.

That's it for now. I've got a few things on the painting table, but whether they'll be done before the Xmas hols remains to be seen. Have a good 'un folks if I don't see you before!

Thursday, 7 December 2017

Groundhog Slay

“They say we're young and we don't know; won't find out until we grow…”

The lyrics of a strange and alien song died away in his head, along with memories of an icy death.

As he opened his eyes he focussed on the worn stone floor stretching out into the gloom before him. Unsteadily he got to his feet as in the distance the sound of clattering bones could be heard…

Time for another crack at Alone in the Crypt! I didn’t have my copy of the Frostgrave Folio with me, so I used the same captain stats as I did in my previous, and very unsuccessful, venture. This time our hero started on far left of the crypt. Learning his lesson from last time, he fired an arrow at the nearest armoured skeleton, but missed.

Maybe getting out fast was the key. With this in mind he moved into the nearest chamber, but no exit could be found. Thwarted, the hero re-entered the main crypt and ran smack bang into the armoured skeleton.

Luckily he easily dispatched his foe, but another armoured skeleton was approaching. Could he shoot the creature down? No – the shot missed once more, so he readied himself for another attack. The skeleton lunged but was defeated at a stroke.

With the crypt temporarily free of terrors, our hero had time to investigate the nearest treasure. It was a nice bag of gold – now why did that sound familiar? After fruitlessly searching another side chamber on the opposite side of the crypt, the sound of moaning alerted him to a new danger – a frost wraith! The strange sense of deja-vu grew stronger…

He fired his bow, but missed again! With disturbing memories fleeting through his head, our hero defended himself against the wraith’s attack and parried, thankfully shattering the fiend into shards of ice. Once again the place was empty, so he searched another chamber for doors with no success.

As he left the chamber and headed back into the main crypt, a zombie began shambling towards him. Once again arrows failed to make their mark and so the zombie closed in, clawing at our hero. He fought back, reducing the zombie to 1 health before pushing it back and making a run for it, preferring to get out as quickly as possible whilst avoiding the slow creature.

With this in mind he crossed the main crypt to begin his search in the remaining chambers. Once again he found nothing, and abandoned his search after a guttural growl emanated from the shadows. Suddenly a ghoul loped across the flagstones towards him.

Our hero found himself hemmed in a chamber, with the ghoul and zombie blocking his path. Taking no chances and in an attempt to even the odds, he notched his bow with a magical +3 arrow. He fired, and hit home! Squealing, the ghoul went down.

He raced out of the side chamber, easily avoiding the zombie. There was a glint to his right – more treasure! Should he investigate? Well the zombie was down to 1 health – what harm could it do? He rummaged through the debris and found a valuable fate stone. If need be he now had a re-roll to get him out of a sticky situation.

The clattering of bones alerted him to the arrival of a skeleton. Distracted, he did not notice the zombie until it was too late. As they fought, the Dice Gods picked up their D20s and rolled… The zombie got a 20! And thus our hero went down in a spray of blood and innards as the zombie enjoyed it’s lunch.

Argh! I stopped to get treasure again! Will I ever learn? Still, I did better than in the last playthrough. Shooting was an issue, so next time I’ll re-do the stats to improve the shooting modifier. The crypt hasn’t finished with me yet…

Monday, 4 December 2017

Alone (Very Alone) in the Crypt

With December suddenly upon us, ‘tis the season for wargaming dads across the world to put aside their toys, cancel their gaming engagements and embark on the festive litany of (deep breath) Xmas shopping trips, school fayres, visits to Santa, nativity plays, works parties, spouses works parties and a plethora of other Christmassy things (yes, that includes decorating and putting up the tree - you try saying "it's too early" to two excited children and an even more excited wife!).

But us wargaming dads who play Frostgrave don’t give up that easily, oh dear me no. Step forward the first issue of Spellcaster, the Frostgrave magazine! Within the hallowed pages of said periodical, there is a little solo scenario called “Alone in the Crypt” – which takes a single captain (or a beefed up ranger if you don’t have the Sellsword or Frostgrave Folio publications), gives him a magic quiver and chucks him into an undead-infested crypt.

This scenario is just the job if you want to snatch a quick game in between festive dad duties, as you only need a handful of figures and no scenery except a floorplan that you can print out using the dungeon tiles available from the downloadable resources section of Osprey’s website.

And so the floor collapses under our hero and he finds himself in a cavernous and spooky crypt. In the half-light he can make out several entrances to other chambers. Will one of them lead to the way out? He’d better find out soon, because in the gloom, the undead are stirring…

The glint of treasure catches his eye. He moves along the crypt wall to investigate… gold! He pockets the chinking coins as an armoured skeleton jerks towards him from out of the darkness. Thankfully a sweep of his magical weapon is enough to dispose of the menace.

He heads off to explore the nearest side-chamber, but the far wall is blank – no exit here. Disappointed, he emerges back into the main crypt, only to be beset not only by another armoured skeleton, but also a terrifying frost wraith!

Despite being outnumbered, our hero turns the skeleton into a heap of bones and armour, but the frost wraith is upon him! It’s chilling touch saps the life out of our hero’s rapidly freezing body and he collapses to the floor, dead. All that’s left is the clinking sound of those coins, rolling along the flagstones…

Wow, that was a quick game! Lessons learned though – don’t mess about looting treasure and poking for exits when there are undead closing in on you. I also made no use whatsoever of the magical arrows that the scenario gives you – better maybe to shoot your way out of trouble, especially against more powerful undead like frost wraiths.

Still a fun solo rattle-through however and worth another try soon! I recommend Spellcaster (issue 2 is out soon I believe) as it contains not only this great scenario, but also optional rules for things like black powder weapons, horses and such - check it out!

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Thaddeus Stirs the Cauldron

"Ah! Teehee! Gerroff!"

Thaddeus looked at his giggling apprentice’s new pet and scowled. The boy had conjured up his familiar with relative ease, whereas his master had nothing to show for his efforts other than a slightly greasy patch on the floor of his chambers.

The boy was certainly learning his craft well, he mused, as the small lizard skittered under Oddleigh’s hood, causing him to laugh. The Summoner sighed, turning to the little imp that peered up at him from inside the summoning circle.

“You’re losing your touch old man,” he muttered to himself. “Just as the Lich Lord grows ever more powerful…”

“My lord, I have news!

Halfinch the thief’s shrill voice pierced through the fug in his head.

“Y-yes?” stammered the wizard, hurriedly marshalling his thoughts.

“We’ve discovered some followers of… that thing…” Halfinch was loathe to mention the Lich Lord in case it brought forth the evil creature. “They’re dragging along some sort of cauldron. Smells like magic my lord.”

Thaddeus sighed wearily – the Hobbit had a knack of sniffing out enchanted items. “Very well then, let us give chase.”

The Hobbit watched as the Summoner climbed stiffly down the stairs with and wearily began to organise the expedition.

“Well, when I say ‘smells’, I mean more like 'stinks'…”

After battling the Ghoul King, Giles and I had enough time to play the next scenario – the Dark Cauldron. Giles set up the table with the cauldron, guarded by five death cultists, in the centre, while I took the lunchtime pizzas out of the oven.

Thaddeus and his warband entered the scene. After summoning a huge major demon last time, all the Summoner could manage now was a lowly imp. Still, it was better than nothing and so the little creature sped forward towards the centre.

Opposite, Toddlebrew the Sigilist and his band of ne’er-do-wells skulked behind the ruins, shielded by the mist (which we managed to remember cut down line of sight a mere two turns in). Wary of Thaddeus’ bone darts, a draining word spell was quickly cast.

First blood went to the Sigilist early on. On my right flank, Halfinch the thief and my warhound moved up the flank in search of treasure, only for the enemy apprentice to blast the Hobbit with an elemental bolt.

Attracted to the concentration of living souls, a frost wraith materialised on the edge of the battlefield, right behind my own lines.

This meant dethatching my barbarian and treasure hunter from the main advance to deal with the creature – it’s icy grip nearly freezing the hunter’s nether regions.

Guarding a nice bit of treasure near the centre of the table, my imp clawed a death cultist to, er, death. Toddlebrew’s men were also edging into the centre and engaging these fanatics.

Two of the cultists attacked Giles’ warhound, sending it to doggy heaven. Meanwhile the dark cauldron began to bubble ominously. An unholy figure began to drag itself out of the receptacle…

At my rear, the frost wraith was dealt with, although the treasure hunter had fared rather badly and was only down to one point of health. He limped towards Thaddeus' position in the ruins for some healing magic.

The cauldron-born zombie joined it’s cultist friends and attacked my centre. Oddleigh raised a zombie to meet this threat as an infantryman moved up in support.

My zombie was destroyed, leaving the infantryman alone to halt the oncoming tide and cover the treasure hunters from doing their job of hunting treasure.

Across the table on my left, enemy forces were approaching. Thaddeus, keeping out of harm’s way in a ruined building, cast an imp spell, causing a toad-shaped creature to appear in front of them.

Atop another ruin overlooking the central square on the right, the marksman took aim at the advancing cultists below and dropped one with a well-aimed shot. The infantryman would now face odds of only two to one.

The imp despatched another cultist as another infantryman hauled away the treasure it was guarding. Meanwhile the cauldron continued to bubble…

On the ruin on my left, the ranger and archer fired at the enemy opposite and managed to hit one of the thugs. Note the treasure next to them; safely hidden away to be collected later.

The enemy knight slew the imp, but with Thaddeus, the ranger and archer facing them, would he or his thug colleague brave an advance out into the open?

In the centre the beleaguered infantryman went down, but the mighty barbarian stepped into the breach to face the unholy foe.

Another zombie climbed out of the cauldron and joined the cultist on the opposite side of the square, where Toddlebrew’s captain and archer were moving in. To make their life more difficult, Oddleigh cast an imp spell in their general direction.

The imp under Thaddeus’ control reached the evil-smelling cauldron and tipped it over, ensuring that no more zombies would be spawned. (I must confess to a mistake here. The scenario states that a figure must ‘fight’ the cauldron in order to tip it over. I missed this, assuming that you only needed to spend an action – oops!)

In the centre, the barbarian is killed by one of the zombies, but another raised zombie steps into the breach. Meanwhile yet another imp is summoned on the right flank in a brazen attempt to get around the enemy and snatch some of it’s treasure.

Alas this imp cannot defeat the ranger who claimed said treasure as his own. Meanwhile, zombie and cultist are still fighting with captain and archer as the rogue imp looked on.

The cultist hacked at Toddlebrew’s captain, causing a critical hit! Luckily the captain was a tough, experienced fighter who is armoured enough to survive the attack. Round two ensued and… well no-one can possibly survive two crits in a row…

While the fighting in the centre square continued, Fluffy the warhound had worked her way around the right flank and clambered up the ruins to face the enemy apprentice. Would she gain revenge for poor Halfinch? No – a treasure hunter came to the rescue.

In the centre, Toddlebrew’s advance has been whittled down to a lowly archer. He managed to slay the imp but was still in combat with a cultist.

His cauldron-tipping work done *cough*, the loyal imp waddles over to join the fight in the centre, slaying a cultist.

As the remaining cultist battled the lone archer, Thaddeus’ marksman took aim and fires into the brawl. The cultist dropped to the ground, leaving the last zombie for the warband to mop up.

Which they did… eventually! However the question remained: who would be left with the field and thus possession of the cauldron? At the beginning of the game, Giles had stated his determination to deny me the prize, assuming that I'd use it as an aid to raising zombies. 

The remainder of Toddlebrew’s warband decided to withdraw with whatever treasure they had found – a state of affairs Thaddeus was all too willing to encourage by sending another imp to hurry them along.

A minor demon was also summoned for good measure. The Sigilist attempted to block it’s path with a wall spell, but the demon simply climbed up it and dropped down the other side.

Still, his apprentice killed the imp, but that mattered little. Thaddeus had seen off both the cultists and the Sigilist, and claimed the cauldron for himself. Would it be used as a zombie factory? In truth I was more interested in gaining XP for destroying it, for I had new spells to learn...

Yet another really good game (read Giles' account here)! The Dice Gods were kinder this time, at one point deigning to allow two 20s in a row. Both wizards took three treasures apiece, but with Thaddeus’ men killing all five cultists and gaining the cauldron, I took the win – so honours even at the end of the day!

“Now that’s more like it!”

Thaddeus Daemoncall cackled as the filthy cauldron exploded in a mess of twisted metal and other, less savoury things.

Oddleigh peered out from behind a barrel as noxious ingredients dripped off the wall behind him.

“Um, should we have perhaps kept that master? It would’ve come in very handy for raising zombies.”

“Pah! For too long we’ve been relying on necromancy,” the wizard spat. “We’re not going to beat the Lich Lord at his own game my boy – we’re Summoners are we not?

“Well, yes…” Oddleigh watched as Thaddeus pulled a pair of battered books from his sack – the results of their post-battle spending spree.

“Well with these two grimoires we now have the complete collection of summoning spells. Soon the time will come to do some proper magic, and then my boy, the world had better watch out!”