Aeon rushed through the snow to the stricken figure. There was no mistaking it – the apprentice whose corpse she had just sent off to be buried was lying prone before her, breath shallow but still alive.
“Y-you didn’t have to l-leave me mistress…” the girl muttered.
“B-but I saw you fall! You die-“
Aeon’s words froze. Snowflakes shifted sideways as time rearranged itself.
The Chronomancer frowned, her senses slowly adjusting to the time shift. Surely Brunhilde was dead? And yet…
“Hmm, I suppose the Sisterhood of the Pendulum have received my payment then…” she murmured, before the new reality snapped into position and all thoughts of death were forgotten.
With the latest royal wedding due, it was time to do what all right-minded men do – play with toy soldiers and try to ignore the whole malarkey.*
Therefore I invited Giles round to finish off the Breeding Pits scenarios, starting with ‘The Rats in the Walls’.
I set up the table with passageways surrounding a central chamber. In addition to hiring
the same a new apprentice, I had also
splashed out on a captain – one Grey Leopard – armed with a sword, dagger and
bow and clad in leather armour.
Aeon’s warband entered the scene through one of the entrance doors (me doing it right this time) and immediately espied a treasure in front of them. However they knew they had to be careful, for all around them tiny malevolent eyes watched and small but sharp claws scrabbled on the stones.
Diagonally opposite Aeon’s band, Shazzam! the Illusionist and his crew were also in search of treasure. With his fool’s gold spell successfully cast, there were seven treasure tokens on the table, but only six to collect.
A treasure token was grabbed and a giant rat appeared. No random creature rolls in this scenario, just a giant rat spawned whenever a token was claimed and also at the end of each turn. I was hoping that I had enough model rats…
As one of Aeon’s thieves moved up to claim a treasure, the Chronomancer cast wizard eye into the central chamber, where another treasure lay waiting to be grabbed.
Another rat scuttled onto the table, heading for Shazzam’s captain as he escorted a treasure-carrying thug. Now was a good time for me to roll a 20… Nope – the captain was victorious.
Another rat was cornered by the Illusionist’s apprentice and his thug bodyguard and another round of splat the rat ensued. There would no doubt be many more!
Aeon’s captain, accompanied by a thug, reached the central chamber and claimed the treasure, causing the rodent sleeping under it much annoyance. Needless to say it expressed it's displeasure by attacking the pair.
While in a nearby cul-de-sac, a thug and an archer disturbed yet another rat while they rooted around for loot. However it was soon put out of it’s undoubtedly miserable existence.
One of the thieves also got her hands on some loot, which brought forth yet another rodent. Aeon’s warhound came sniffing along to help out.
Most of the rat infestation was being efficiently dealt with, but not in the central chamber, where the luckless infantryman was being chewed by the little terror, despite having the captain and thug in support.
On the opposite side of the table, an enemy thief was also having a hard time dealing with rats, but managed to prevail in the end.
Shazzam shouted out encouragement as his captain and chums dispatched another rat. The Illusionist was busy enchanting his soldiers’ weapons while my Chronomancers were casting fleet feet on anyone they could.
Behind Aeon’s lines, another rat was clawing it’s way out of the stonework. The Chronomancer’s band had some treasure in their possession, but could they get it out without the rats converging on them?
Things were hotting up in the central chamber. In addition to the stubborn rat, our heroes also had to deal with the opposing warband, who were pouring into the room, with their warhound and treasure hunter as vanguard.
Meanwhile the newly
hired resurrected apprentice Brunhilde
blasted the lurking rat with an elemental bolt, keeping the line of retreat
clear - for now at least.
To my left, an archer and apothecary moved up to grab another treasure token, but POP! It disappeared. Yet again they had fallen foul of the fool’s gold spell.
Thieves and warhound killed the rat that was menacing them, ensuring that another treasure was secure. So far I was rolling reasonably well and had managed not to get anyone killed.
In the central chamber the troublesome rat was killed. Just in time too, for the enemy was charging in! Should they stay and fight, or withdraw to protect the hard-won treasure?
I opted for the latter, leaving the wounded infantryman to slow down pursuit as the thug dragged away the loot, covered by the captain. To one side, Aeon stood ready to work her magic.
ZAP! The Chronomancer casts elemental bolt through her wizard’s eye. Sound’s painful – and it was - for the enemy captain at least. That evened up the balance of power in the central chamber.
The rest of the opposing warband was faring a little better, splatting rats wherever they popped up. This kept their lines of withdrawal clear of rodents.
With the enemy captain down and the treasure safe, Aeon’s sellsword charged back into the fray to aid the embattled infantryman. The hammer-wielding soldier went down, but not before the enemy warhound was wounded.
More rats were scrabbling through the ruins to attack both sides. We had to be careful that they didn’t get together and start outnumbering us…
A rat landed at the feet of the Illusionist as he directed his treasure-laden soldiers off the board. Luckily we are both rolling well enough to fend the critters off, despite the odd wound here and there. (Oops, looks like I've got a little repair work to do on that wall.)
In the central chamber the opposing treasure hunter was zapped by Aeon. Both she and her apprentice were Spellcasting like experts this time!
This left Grey Leopard the captain to deal with the wounded warhound and any other reinforcements that risked getting in the way. Happily (and contrary to my usual experience with captains) the sellsword dispatched them with aplomb.
Feeling perhaps rather overconfident, the sellsword raced on unsupported, pursuing the opposition as they withdrew with their treasures.
Grey Leopard paid the price for his hubris, being downed by a lowly thug. This gave some breathing space, while Aeon had to deal with more rats cutting off her escape route.
The Illusionist, free from the presence of Aeon’s soldiers, was able to take out any rodents in his way. By now the placement of the end-of-turn rats was rather predictable, with both of us dropping them out of sight at the rear of the other’s warband.
Both warbands began to withdraw, with rats being fought, or in Aeon’s case, blasted into deep-fried rat nuggets, as they went.
And a good job too, for the ever-increasing sound of angrily squeaking rodents was filling the chambers and passageways as the furry tide began to grow. You can only prevail against them for so long!
A very fun game (Giles' report can be read at https://thelostcityofcarcosa.com/2018/05/21/fg-the-rats-in-the-walls/), with honour pretty much even at three treasures apiece. Aeon and Brunhilde did themselves proud with the spellcasting, even if it was a rather unimaginative sequence of elemental bolt when a target presented itself, and fleet feet if not. Regardless, the rats would have to find something else to gnaw on this day.
“Ugh! Horrible nasty things!”
Brunhilde grumbled as she frantically brushed the rat droppings off her robes.
“Y’know, I’ve never been adverse to small furry creatures until recently.”
Her mistress looked up from the ancient parchment she had been engrossed in.
“Hmm? Maybe you had a nasty encounter with them in a past life…” She grinned. “Alas that won’t be the last time we go down into the depths, for I think I’ve found what I’m looking for.”
“Indeed my dearie – if I’m reading this correctly, I know where to find the fabled Breeding Pits…”
*Of course that’s not at all correct. We wished the happy couple all the very best, and celebrated their nuptials in the classiest way possible.