Oddleigh shuddered as guttural laughter echoed through the blackness. The door behind them clanged shut, causing Halfinch the Hobbit thief to cling on to his robe.
“I knew we shouldn’t have listened to that weird old man!” he squealed. “Great treasures my hairy foot!”
The apprentice sighed. “Indeed, but I suspect the master knew all along, which is why he brought our new friend...”
He nodded towards the hulking shape that loomed behind Thaddeus the Summoner. It’s eyes blazing with fire as it scanned the shadows ahead, the major demon muttered something.
Thaddeus strode forward, his expression grim. “It smells ghouls; lots of ‘em” he said, gripping his staff. “But there is a way out if we can find the mechanism. We’ve a fight on our hands gentlemen, make no mistake.”
Far out in the dark, something large stirred…
Yes dear reader, it’s time for the latest instalment in our Thaw of the Lich Lord campaign, where our hero Thaddeus Daemoncall is lured into the Lair of the evil Ghoul King. The pre-game spells were a hit and miss affair, rolling high enough to summon a major demon with the vampirism attribute (a la Forgotten Pacts) and brew a couple of potions, but failing to raise a zombie or gain a familiar for Thaddeus (Oddleigh having managed to get one a few games ago).
The table was duly set up to represent a ruined underground complex with the Ghoul King lurking by his throne on a dais in the centre, wearing a rare amulet that gave him mastery over his fellows. Four trapdoors were placed randomly, from which his ghoulish minions would spring. Two ghouls were set aside to drop down from the ceiling on their unsuspecting prey.
On my right flank I deployed Thaddeus with an infantryman bodyguard. Covering him was an archer and marksman, alongside Halfinch the thief, who had orders to grab the nearest treasure and then down his invisibility potion, so that he could escape with ease when the exits were revealed.
On my left flank, Oddleigh nervously took charge of the major demon, protected by another infantryman, barbarian and treasure hunter. In the centre, screened off by a large wall, another treasure hunter and a warhound made ready to respond as the situation dictated.
Opposite Thaddeus, and equally as trapped by the Ghoul King, Toddlebrew the Sigilist deployed with his warband. With my major demon I had the numerical advantage, but Toddlebrew had employed the services of a tough and experienced captain.
Halfinch duly raced forward and grabbed the nearest treasure. Alas this brought forth a terrifying Frost Wraith on the table edge to my right. Thankfully my warband was out of sight, so it spent most of the game wandering around aimlessly.
Both bands duly advanced into the darkness. The gloom was such that neither band could see to shoot very far, but enough to catch the glint of treasure. Suddenly a trapdoor near the Sigilist creaked open and a hungry ghoul crawled out!
With a treasure hunter in support, my major demon roared forward, catching the eye of the Ghoul King. This foul fiend leaped off it’s dais and engaged the demon in combat. Behind them, the barbarian jumped onto a trapdoor, preventing any ghouls from using it.
A giant, and rather out of focus, rat wandered into the complex, looking for something tasty to gnaw on – ghoul droppings losing their appeal after a while. Like the frost wraith, this critter spent most of the game wandering randomly along the board edge to my right.
The ghoul crawled snarling towards Giles’ apprentice, but he managed to slay the beast with the aid of a thug. I must add that by this point it was my own apprentice that was having the most success at spellcasting, with Thaddeus fluffing most of his spells.
The opposing warband formed a firing line of rangers and archers, who fired into the titanic combat between Ghould King and demon. Although the targets were randomised, each shot thudded into the Ghoul King, which crashed to the floor, dead.
This allowed one of my treasure hunters to purloin the fabled amulet from the king’s lifeless hulk. Behind my lines, a ghoul (one of the pair kept aside by Giles) dropped from above. In response, Thaddeus hastily raised a zombie which was sent to deal with the creature.
In the centre, another ghoul crawled up from a trapdoor and launched itself at Toddlebrew’s firing line. The major demon also attacked the rangers before they could aim their bows once again.
Meanwhile the Sigilist’s captain, accompanied by a warhound, reached the dais and pulled a lever. Somewhere nearby there a grinding of gears could be heard and a doorway was revealed… right behind my warband! The way out was secure – or was it?
More ghouls poured forth as Thaddeus’ men, reinforced by a summoned imp, advanced. A ghoul slavered at my marksman as the warhound raced to assist, while the imp pressed onward to keep the enemy at bay.
An overall shot of the game so far. Thaddeus’ men now had an exit point and thus began to drag the treasure away. In the centre the major demon led the attack on the opposition while on my right the zombie was still battling a menacing ghoul. On my left, a newly-hired ranger (a replacement for the wounded knight Sir Pierre) was advancing along the flank.
To protect the line of retreat, Oddleigh cast a wall spell to screen off the treasure hunters as the rest of the warband pressed onwards, keeping a wary eye out for any more ghouls.
Toddlebrew’s captain pulled another lever to activate another door, this time behind his lines! Both warbands now had a clear escape route.
The melee swirled around the now vacant throne as rival warriors fought with each other and ghoul alike. My imp went down under the snarling jaws of a warhound as the marksman struggled to fight off a grey-skinned fiend.
As the major demon slashed at the rangers, another ghoul dropped from the ceiling (one of my pair) and chewed up an enemy archer, causing the captain to pull back to keep the beast from attacking his master. Meanwhile the opposing warhound was speared by one of Thaddeus’ infantrymen.
Behind the Summoner’s lines, the zombie was still fighting the ghoul, but was eventually defeated, causing Fluffy the warhound to lope into the fray.
When one ghoul was slain, another quickly took it’s place, preventing the marksman and archer from doing any worthwhile shooting. Thaddeus was still messing up his spells, although his apprentice had more success.
Poor fluffy was also chewed by the ghoul behind the lines and to make matters worse another one dropped from the ceiling directly in front of the exit! Thankfully the treasure hunter was en-route to make off with the amulet, and so was on hand to dispatch it.
I repaid the compliment by dropping a ghoul in front of Gile’s exit. The creature ran screaming towards a loot-laden thug.
Oddleigh continued to successfully cast spells, summoning a minor demon to replace the slain imp. The demon roared forward to cover the retreat of the treasure carriers.
A wall spell cut off the advance of my ranger, who was gearing up to attack the enemy apprentice and maybe steal the treasure off his friend. With no other targets presenting themselves, he contented himself with standing on a trapdoor to keep out the ghouls.
With Toddlebrew’s rangers being torn to ribbons by the major demon, his captain was left to face the ghoulish tide alone. His discomfort increased when the frost wraith eventually made it’s way into the battle.
Toddlebrew and his remaining band decided to make their escape, with the green knight leading the way by slaying the ghoul that was blocking their retreat.
Meanwhile the fighting in the centre continued unabated. The mighty captain fell under the undead onslaught but managed to take the frost wraith with him. Around the dais, Thaddeus’ demon-reinforced warriors battled against more ghouls.
Eventually the major demon slew the final ranger and was able to turn it’s attentions to the ghouls, which were beginning to gain the upper hand against my warband, defeating my archer, minor demon and infantryman in quick succession.
But enough was enough. The remaining members of Thaddeus’ warband made their escape by allowing the demon to hold off the onslaught. Both sides had gained three treasures but, whilst Thaddeus had got hold of the famed amulet, it was Toddlebrew’s band who had cast the most spells and actually been responsible for killing the Ghoul King, and thus could claim the win.
A great, and very bloody, game which was great fun (checkout Giles’ report here)! With Thaddeus seemingly unable to cast spells, I had to rely on demon spamming to keep myself in the game, but hey, what’s the use of being a Summoner if you can’t summon?
Back at the Cloven Hoof inn, Thaddeus and Oddleigh both gasped as they unwrapped the shining amulet from it’s filthy covering.
“Do you know what this is boy?” whispered the Summoner. “This is the key to controlling the ghouls that infest this city. With it we could raise an army of such creatures and turn them against the Lich Lord!”
Oddleigh grimaced. “Er, is that wise my lord? I mean, it’s bad enough having zombies around the place, but at least they’re slow and pliant to our will. But ghouls? Fast, slavering ghouls? Do we really want to be sharing the inn with one?”
Thaddeus glared. He was unused to his apprentice challenging him in such a manner, but he had to grudgingly admit that the boy had earned the right to question him, following his recent performance on the battlefield.
“Hmm… perhaps, in this instance, you are correct,” he conceded. “This thing is extremely rare and very valuable you know… and we do have one or two gaps in our bookshelves…”