Friday, 6 May 2016

The Diabolist's Scheme



 
Frostgrave has been inconspicuously worming its way into my gaming schedule over the last few months with a series of one-off games so it was time to stop mucking about and get on with a mini-campaign. After all, that's what Frostyfodder is all about.

Yesterday's Battleshed session saw two rival companies venturing into Felstad's ruined Merchant Quarter, upon rumours of unusual Imp and minor demon activity and reports of strange blue lights emanating from an ancient tower... 



The Diabolist's Scheme is a free, four-part mini campaign by Cory Ring and Chris Ward from Cigar Box Battle, purveyors of high quality gaming mats and other gaming delights. I recommend having a nosey around their webstore.

Back in Felstad, our two rival companies set out - one new, one familiar to my readers. For me, Magi Bayaz and his apprentice Lancrix the Tall led their mercenaries, the company unchanged since the foray into the Complex Temple.

Sam, though, is definitely employing psychological tactics by introducing a new wizard and retinue. Gone is the Necromancer, his faceless apprentice and drag-knuckle, Crom the Barbarian. Instead we have Cornelius "Tim" McDonald - represented by a miniature which is a remarkable dead-ringer for the eccentric Tim the Enchanter from Monty Python's Holy Grail. In fact, Sam has been obliquely referencing Mr. Enchanter for a few games now. Really! I'm nothing like the wizard, surely...?
  
By way of introduction to this short campaign, here's the background story reproduced from The Diabolist's Scheme:
Imps, and minor demons have been seen roaming through parts of the city in the old merchants quarter. These types of demonic creatures don't normally venture out so brazenly and they have been creating havoc, killing adventurers and seeking magical treasure. There have been strange blue lights spotted coming from an old tower near the old Merchants Quarter, and this has been the area of highest Imp and demon concentration. This is a perfect opportunity for a brave party of adventurers to seek out and slay the demons, investigate what is happening, and claim treasure and magic items beyond belief...

Well, who could argue with that? Time to get some magic on! The first scenario - The Discovery - is set up as a standard Frostgrave terrain board. Four treasure markers and two 'wounded Captain' markers are placed randomly amongst the ruins by the players. 

Whenever a miniature is within 2" of  a mortally wounded Captain he will 'describe a horrible demon attack that killed all of his wizard's party and left him for dead'. Lovely. Before expiring in a suitably theatrical fashion, the Captain will say 'that their party was searching for the ruins of an ancient Wizard's tower, rumoured to contain vast treasure and Tomes of Knowledge'.  

Any figure in contact with a wounded or dead Captain may search his belongings. A D20 roll on a table may provide Treasure, an Imp that attacks immediately, a human-sized minor demon or a 'runic parchment map, in an etched dragon tooth case, depicting the location of the Wizard's tower'. Sounds very Antiques Roadshow. Weirdly, this description of the map conjured an image of a frustrated wizard with one of those huge OS maps that, once unfolded, would never fold back into shape and instead end up with a crinkly lump. But I digress.

So off our merry bands went, foraging amongst the icy ruins once more. I'm not going to do my usual here an give a detailed account of all the shenanigans in the Merchant Quarter (Yay! I hear you cry!). A brief summary will suffice. 

How it went

From the outset, each warband performed the customary rush to reach the scattered treasures first - the Initiative rolls as decisive as ever. Wizard Cornelius managed to successful invoke five spells all in all, giving him 50 XP. The spell Fog had the most influence on the game, with makeshift bits of 6" long paper deployed to act as the areas of the settled fog. Figures could move through the fog but naturally it blocked line of sight. Two patches of the stuff remained throughout the game after failing 'dissipation' D20 rolls at the start of each new turn.

"Hmm, strange runes written in the air - what can they mean?"
As it happened, Magi Bayaz was planning to do something similar with his Wall spell, but his rival got the drop on him. Instead, he secured himself with a fancy Elemental Shield. This was the only successful spell he managed before he was inadvertently ambushed by one of wizard Cornelius' thugs looming from the swirling fog. 

From then on, it was the inexperienced apprentice Lancrix left to do all the magical toil. Even with support from the Infantryman, Caul Shivers, and the tacit protection of his Elemental Shield, Bayaz failed to defend himself and, shockingly, was put out of the game half-way through! With Lancrix smarting and looking for vengeance he impulsively ordered the rest of Bayaz's soldiers to aggressively chase down their opposite numbers. The eventual outcome being two of Bayaz's soldiers downed and one for wizard Cornelius.

"I'm going to complain about that Elemental Shield...useless bloody spell..."
Both of the warbands had located a mortally wounded captain; Bayaz's man, Logen Ninefingers, found treasure soon after his Captain croaked, whilst a couple of wizard Cornelius' thug's reward for a rather pitiless interrogation of their wounded charge was to inadvertently summon an Imp. It was one of these two thugs, after quickly and efficiently despatching the said demon in the guise of a Night Goblin, who was to go brazenly on and mug Magi Bayaz.

After a bit of cagey manoeuvring and the occasional chance shot from the archers on both sides, the mission ended with both warbands managing to spirit away a single treasure hoard each. Neither side had discovered the runic parchment map by the end of play and here the scenario rules were unclear as the wizard's party that discovers the map gets to pick the their edge of the table in the next scenario. Although, this won't be an issue for Sam and I as its Battleshed Law that I get to sit in the alleged invisible dice-manipulating sweet-spot anyway!

"Treasure! My precious...!"
Post game it was a slightly nervy roll on the Casualty Tables, although they proved to be rather more forgiving than other systems with all the casualties on both sides making a full recovery. Next was a roll on the Treasure Table each. Bayaz's crew ended up with 150 gold crowns and 60 XP for Magi Bayaz. 

Wizard Cornelius' gang were rewarded with 60 gold crowns and a random Grimoire. This proved to be a rather useful Invisibility spell from the Illusionist school. With his 50 XP for the five successful spells, another 50 XP for the single claimed treasure and a further 20 XP for a wizard surviving the Discovery scenario, wizard Cornelius had progressed up the wizardly career ladder to a leve1 mage!

An entertaining start to our mini campaign. The warband rosters can be found over on the campaign page, for anyone interested. It's now up to the wizards to spend their gold, establish a base - I was instinctively drawn to the Brewery for some reason - and, in wizard Cornelius' case, improve a stat of his choice with his promotion. The rivals will meet again for scenario two - The Wizard's Tower...