Saturday, 23 January 2016

The Mausoleum's secrets



Another week, another treasure hunting expedition in the icy ruins of Felstad

The Necromancer is feeling rather ebullient after the recent defeat of his Elementalist rival. He's now confidently leading his apprentice and followers into one of his ancestor's ancient mausoleums, reputed to be hoarding all sorts of treasures. And quite possibly, the Undead.


This is the Mausoleum scenario from the Frostgrave rule book, where four 'special' treasure tokens are placed around a central mausoleum. The players then each place one additional treasure token anywhere on the board - suitably advantageous, of course!

Two Skeleton warriors are then placed by the players. At the end of every turn, after the 'Creature phase', another skeleton will appear randomly through one of the two doorways on either side of the mausoleum. The Wizardy crew with the biggest haul after two hours wins.

Once again, I've used the same Elementalist wizard (Bayaz), Apprentice (Jezal) and mercenaries all inspired by the characters from Joe Abercrombie's excellent First Law Books. I've also used this crew for the last Songs of Blades campaign.

My opponent, the Wee Bloke himself, Sam Pate, also continued to use his experimental warband, led by the Necromancer. As we were down at Samshed II again, all terrain sourced from Sam's vast collection. The Necromancer's story can be found here.

After these two wizards last clashed over the ruins of Felstad, Bayaz has decided it's probably wise to use a full crew of eight soldiers. Although that's pushing it a bit. Mostly thugs really. But expendable. Poor things. Although he has reluctantly extended the contracts for the Ranger, Archer and Infantryman.


Into the Mausoleum

"Hmm, all looks suitably quiet young Jezal. I'll take Dow, Craw and that muscle-bound infantryman...what's his name? Oh yes, Caul Shivers. Peculiar name. Anyway, I'll head to the mausoleum and you follow on with the rest."
"Yes Magi. I'll send that Ferro Maljinn off to scout about. I must say, she gives me the willies a bit."
"Indeed young Jezal. But there are far darker things in this world than a moody ranger. But not today I think! Onwards then, young Jezal!"

Turn one

The Elementalist Fire wizard, Bayaz, and three of his soldiers confidently head through a gap in the mausoleum's boundary wall, with Black Dow, Curden Craw and Red Hat heading straight for the large wooden door on the side of the mausoleum. 

Just as they reach it there's a soft rattling sound and scrape of worn metal. The soldier's turn towards the alleyway between the mausoleum and the wall, wrinkling their noses as a rotten stench permeates the frigid air. Then, a skeletal form emerges from the gloom, replete with tattered shreds of leather armour and brandishing a rusty metal sword.

But the skeletal warrior is not alone. Bayaz spots another of the creatures guarding the mausoleum roof. He concentrates, harnessing magical forces and casts an Elemental Bolt. With a crackle, the force discharges harmlessly near the skeleton. It stops its awkward pacing and searches for the cause of the disturbance with it's dark, bone cavernous eyes 

With the sharp smell of ozone now eclipsing the foetid air, Jezal the Apprentice brings up the rest of the soldiers except the hooded ranger, Ferro Maljinn, who slinks off skirting the wall.

Unknown to Bayaz, his nemesis the Necromancer and his warband have also arrived with similar designs on the mausoleum's treasures. Alerted by the discharge of Bayaz's Elemental Bolt, the Necromancer orders his crew to spread out and start searching the periphery of the mausoleum. 

The Necromancer's apprentice helpfully tries to cast Enchant Shield on their Treasure Hunter, but all he gets for his trouble is a couple of painful burns.  

The Necromancer's archer quickly moves into the cover of a gravestone and soon spots the enemy infantryman, Caul Shivers, standing at the ready with his ridiculously over-sized broadsword seemingly threatening something nearby. The archer shifts his gaze. And chuckles evilly as he comprehends the situation. 

Some sort of skeletal creature is advancing on the Infantryman. What a perfect opportunity to cause a little mayhem. The archer knocks an arrow and draws on his bow. Aiming at Caul Shivers, he fires. But the arrow passes inches above the soldier and thwacks into a grave.

However the shot does momentarily distract the infantryman, enough to let the skeletal creature suddenly charge with unnatural speed, viciously swinging its battered sword. Caul only manages to partially parry the blade, not enough to stop it causing four slicing wounds.

There is suddenly a loud sound of grinding wood and metal on stone as the door on the Necromancer's side of the mausoleum slams open. Out of the doorway's dark maul shuffles yet another skeletal warrior.

Turn two

With the mausoleum seemingly infested with undead skeletons, Bayaz considers his options. A spot of casual afternoon grave robbing was quickly turning into yet another tricky situation. It was obvious there was another treasure-hunting outfit nearby. The archer taking pot shots at Caul is unlikely to be alone.

As if Sodlaw himself, one of the Magical Realms' Guardians, is following the wizards thoughts, Bayaz hears scattered calls and the crunch of footprints on gravel somewhere beyond the mausoleum. He quickly moves around the corner to investigate. Suddenly, he stops in his tracks. Approaching from the far side is the unmistakable profile of his nemesis, the Necromancer.  

Bayaz quickly realises he needs to stall his rival's approach whilst his men deal with the skeletons and archer on the other side of the mausoleum. There is a nearby tumbledown two-storey building facing the approach of the necromancer.

Bayaz once again concentrates tendrils of magical power, casting Wizard's Eye. With a blinding flash, a vortex of swirling magical energy appears high on the building's wall, quickly forming into an image of an oversized human eye. It blinks unnervingly.

Not to be outdone and with a sneer of derision the Necromancer attempts to cast the same spell. But his arrogance is soon replaced with frustration as the spell backfires causing the necromancer to yelp and stagger backwards. Bayaz laughs, making sure his nemesis could hear it.

Whilst the wizards' are engaged in magical egofare, the Necromancer's apprentice peers across the graveyard on the other side of the mausoleum. Through the railings atop the crumbling boundary wall he spots his counterpart, Jezal the Apprentice. He cannot resist the opportunity of a magical strike on the unsuspecting trainee. Striking his opposite number down would almost seal his magical attainment in the eyes of the necromancer.

Summoning more magical force than he'd ever tried before he quickly enchants a powerful Poison Dart spell. He winces in pain as he boosts the spell to his physical limit. A sickly green dart of magical energy erupts from his fingertips and darts towards its' target.

Jezal is in the midst of giving orders to Logen Ninefingers and the moody ranger when the Poison Dart strikes. He instantly goes rigid, his words cut-off as his body is assaulted by the tainted energy. As the magical sickness starts to infiltrate his limbs, Jezal hastily summons all his magical energy and return-casts with an Elemental Bolt.

As Jezal falls to his knees, the magical poison causing severe weakness in his limbs and mind. The Elemental Bolt hits the necromancer's apprentice square in the chest. Without a sound, he crumples to the floor and moves no more.

Not far away, the skeletal creature from the mausoleum roof finally descends the moss-slicken stone steps and challenges the necromancer's favoured mercenary. Crom the Barbarian

As it raises its head in a silent scream, it charges the veteran warrior. Crom easily parries the skeleton's sword with his scimitar and with a powerful backhand the skeleton's head spins off and smashes with a hollow crack onto a nearby gravestone. The skeleton's body collapses in a heap at Crom's feet.

On the opposite side of the mausoleum the infantryman Caul Shivers is desperately trading sword blows with a skeleton warrior. The creatures seem be unnaturally fast with their blades, in contrast to their shuffling gait.

Black Dow supports Caul, trying to work around the creature but it still manages to keep the soldiers at bay. Caul feints at the skeleton. Whilst it turns to parry the attack, Black Dow lunges. His blade jars along the creature's dry ribs and then is suddenly thrust forward meeting nothing but air. Black Dow stumbles backwards as he snatches his sword free of the undead horror.

With the creature's attention now back on Black Dow, Caul raised his two-handed sword and makes to delver a powerful blow at the creature's head. But at the last instant the skeleton spins around with it's long rusted sword extended. There is a wet thunk as Caul is impaled on the blade.

Seeing his comrade fall, Red Hat screams in rage and rushes the skeleton, deftly side-stepping the creature's desperate sword swings and shoulders it to the floor. He follows up with a couple of hacks and soon relieves the skeleton of it's head.

Ferro looses an arrow aimed at the enemy archer but it misses as the archer inadvertently ducks at the last instant. The arrow lodges with a loud thwack in a nearby tree. With the skeleton finally down, the Dogman can now put his bow to work. He glances over to Ferro. When he catches her eye he gives her a cheeky wink and draws on his bow. 

The Dogman aims at the archer, crouching hesitantly behind a gravestone. The arrow strikes the top of the headstone, ricocheting up into to disappear somewhere behind the archer, who hunches even lower behind his cover. Crestfallen, the Dogman hears Ferro's mocking laugh.

Whilst Crom the Barbarian is admiring his handiwork with the headless skeleton, yet another clatters out of the mausoleum.

Turn Three

The Necromancer decides he's going to need reinforcements if his warband are having to deal with the mausoleum's undead custodians and Bayaz's interfering gang, let alone collect any valuable there may be in the vicinity.

He thinks momentarily and then with a click of his bony fingers he starts to cast a spell. Soon there is a blurring in the space nearby followed by a loud pop. The shape of a pitch black doorway instantly materialises in the space. The necromancer's followers nearby all unconsciously back away as a long, drawn out moan escapes from the magical construction.

A bulky shape appears as the magical forces quickly start to collapse out of existence. A tall humanoid clutching a huge hammer and completely wrapped in what appeared to be swathes of torn linen shuffles forward.
"Blast! That should have been a zombie! Oh well, needs must. A Mummy will have to do," commented the puzzled looking Necromancer.

"Hells Bells! A Mummy!" cries Bayaz. He quickly turns towards the Eye on the wall and summons a spell. The magical Eye blinks rapidly followed by a loud boom as an Elemental Bolt surges from it. In a blink, dancing shards of energy are fizzling around the Mummy. But it appears to have no effect on the creature.

Bayaz calls over for support from his young apprentice but Jezal is still in some distress and can only manage to stumble away from the mausoleum.

Meanwhile the Dogman, drawing another arrow, takes careful aim at the enemy archer. The arrow twangs away on an almost flat trajectory and smacks into the shoulder of the archer. The archer cries out and collapses to the floor. The Dogman raises his bow in celebration, daring Ferro to make a sarcastic comment.

Ferro quickly draws her bow and beads on an enemy treasure hunter starting to slink away with a small soil-stained bag of clinking metallic objects. The arrow goes wide as the treasure hunter ducks behind the corner of the mausoleum. The ranger curses, much to the delight of the Dogman.

Whilst the Ferro and the Dogman compete in their archery competition, another skeletal warrior is clanking out from the nearby mausoleum door. Red Hat immediately springs into action but this time the skeleton is much faster with it's blade than the soldier was expecting, slicing into Red Hat's sword arm.

Black Dow jumps in to try and rescue his comrade but is also caught by the creature's brutal backhand. Both of the soldiers back away warily, bleeding heavily from their wounds .

The skeleton then lurches at black Dow, who instinctively and rather clumsily swipes his blade to try and parry the creature's attack. The blades connect with a metallic scrape, the skeleton momentarily knocked off balance. In an instant Black Dow swings his blade again, it's razor edge finding little resistance as it slices through the skeleton's bony neck. The creature crumples to the floor. The two soldier stand panting and clutching their wounds. Then there are more clattering sounds as another skeleton exits the mausoleum doorway.

Turn four

Bayaz concentrates, using the power of the Eye to observe the movements of his adversaries. Its clear some of the Necromancer's men have managed to find some loot and are preparing to leave. The Necromancer is also ordering the Mummy and Crom the Barbarian in Bayaz's direction.

Bayaz breaks his concentration to confirm that his men are doing something similar. Curden Craw and Nicomo Cosca both have managed to snatch some of the scattered treasures around the mausoleum. Bayaz gestures for them to start to head out. He calls over to the Dogman, pointing out in intact grave nearby. The archer reluctantly lowers his bow to do his employer's bidding.

Satisfied Curden Craw is making away from the mausoleum with some treasures, Bayax turns towards Nicomo Cosca. The mercenary has an irritating penchant for dawdling, though the Wizard. Bayaz quickly enchants a Fast Action spell on the unsuspecting Nicomo.

Whilst Bayaz is distracted, there is another shimmer in the air nearby. Splashes of colourful light blink and dance around a magical vortex. With a sound pop another black doorway appears. Almost instantly a large orange Imp Monster with long, sinewy arms and a large flat head growls into existence. The portal blinks away with another loud pop.

Ferro reacts first. She sprints back and looses an arching long range shot over the gravestones. The arrow seems to momentarily hang in the air before it plunges towards the Imp monster. The arrow's iron tip embeds into the creatures flat head but all it does is enrage the horror.

Red Hat, mesmerised by the appearance if the Imp, is broken from his reverie by the unmistakable sound of skeletal scraping nearby. With his blood up after witnessing the fall of his comrade, he spins around and lashes wickedly with his sword at a skeleton warrior emerging from the mausoleum. The creature had no chance, its head bounding back down the dark mausoleum stair with a hollow thud, thud.

Seeing Red Hat dealing with the latest skeleton, Black Dow bravely charges the Imp monster. Swinging his large scimitar blade making to chop at the creature's spindly arms. The creature parries the blade, seemingly immune or unaware of the chunks Dow's blade was removing from it's' appendages. However crucially, the Imp was delayed by Dow's intervention.

Final turn

It was clear that both warbands were now concentrating on recovering what spoils they had managed to find so far. Time was of the essence. The raid on the mausoleum abandoned.

With the Fast Act spell now in full possession of Nicomo's mind the mercenary quickly follows Curden Craw directly towards the broken gate of the mausoleums boundary wall. Just short of the exit he stumbles on a broken piece of grave stone, spilling the contents of his loot bag. Gold and solver trinkets scatter amongst the graves. The spell is broken.

The Necromancer, emboldened by the attack of the Imp and escorted by Crom the Barbarian, rounds the corner of the mausoleum. He spies the Dogman huddled over a broken grave evidently searching for valuables. With a cruel grin he conjurers up a Bone Dart spell.

A long femur bone, sharpened to a point at one end snaps into existence. It hangs in the air momentarily and then darts towards the archer. The Dogman looks up, hearing a sudden buzzing sound just as the bone dart is about to hit him. Instead, the dart smashes into the thick yew of the Dogman's bow. The bow snaps in two as the bone dart blinks out of existence as quickly as it arrived.

There is a shout of celebration in the distance as Curden Craw exits the grounds. But the soldier's cheer falls on deaf ears as his comrades are still in perilous danger. Ferro Maljinn draws on her bow once more, hoping to get a shot at the Necromancer. But Crom the Barbarian steps in front just as she releases. The arrow glances off the barbarian's thick leather armour and falls harmlessly away.

Red Hat reacts swiftly. With no sign of any more skeletons approaching from the mausoleum's depths, he turns and charges Crom. The two fighters clash with a flurry of swords, sparks flying and both grunting with effort.

With Crom now engaged by Red Hat, Black Dow renews his efforts on the Imp monster. He feints and thrusts with his sword, the backhand cutting deep into the creature. Bright green ooze drips from it's leathery orange hide.

Red Hat and Crom both step back, panting heavily from their exertions. Red Hat's look of grim determination is then replaced by dismay as he sees both the Mummy and another of the Necromancer's thugs joining Crom. The beleaguered mercenary is now heavily outnumbered, badly wounded and rapidly tiring. Summoning the last vestiges of his diminishing energy he screams a challenge and throws himself at Crom, slashing wildly with his sword in a forlorn attempt to keep his trio of adversaries at bay.

There is a shout nearby, suddenly cut off followed by a clatter of metal. Red Hat ducking back, eyes darting between multiple challenges, manges to steel a glance towards his embattled comrade, hoping that Black Dow had managed to defeat the Imp and could now provide some support.

Instead, he sees the prone body of Black Dow lying in a heap. The soldier's armour full of dents as the Imp Monster stands astride the prone mercenary and continues to batter his lifeless body. Red Hat snatches his attention back to his own fight. But its too late. As he parries a sword thrust from the Mummy, Crom angles in low, lunging with his sword. Red Hat eyes bulge, and his body sags as he's skewered on the barbarian's sword.

Result:

The Necromancer (Win): two treasure tokens, loss of archer and apprentice wizard.

Bayaz the Fire Elementalist; one treasure token loss of three soldiers.

The spells and warbands:
  • Necromancer: Bone Dart, Raise Zombie, Steal Health, Fast Act, Enchant Armour, Imp, Wizard Eye, Poison Dart. Barbarian, Treasure Hunter, one archer and three thugs to keep company with the Necromancer and his apprentice.
  • Bayaz the Fire Elementalist: Scatter Shot, Telekinesis, Plane Walk, Elemental Shield, Wizard's Eye, Banish, Fast Act, Elemental Bolt. Ranger, Archer, Infantryman and five thugs escorting Bayaz and his young apprentice, Jezal.