Saturday, 3 September 2016

Felstad down below



Magi Bayaz and his company are on the trail of a band of Cultists and a Minor Demon last seen near the Wizard’s Tower, calling out for the Frost Giant, Svanfus. When the Cultists discover the aftermath of the recent battle that took place there, they quickly withdraw into the ruins of Felstad. The Cultists are easily tracked though, their trail poorly disguised in their haste to get away. It leads to the entrance of a cavern on the side of a wooded hill…

Frostgrave mini-campaign, The Diabolist's Scheme, scenario 3

Naturally for us wargamers, the cavern isn’t one of those expensive grottos advertised at some holiday destinations. You know the ones – queue up in the heat to eventually get to walk around a couple of dank ‘rooms’ via metal walkways with health and safety validated handrails, illuminated with colourful lighting to make the ‘experience’ seem all more mysterious, and in short-order exit back via the gift shop hopelessly reviewing digital photos that all appear like blurred screenshots from Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Oh no. Felstad's cavern is much more interesting. 

The setup

A cavern, with multiple passages, dead ends and chambers – one of which will contain a locked trap-door which will lead to the next scenario. Treasure tokens are placed as usual in random chambers. Oh, and of course it’s dark down there. No tourist lighting and walkways in sight. No glowing, naturally occurring ‘Exit’ signs. So visibility for shooting and spells is 12”.

The warbands know there are Cultists lurking in the caverns, possibly preparing an ambush. But they go anyway. Maybe there are other fell cavern dwellers too - giant rats, ice spiders, worms, government officials, imps, demons – that sort of thing. Actually, come to think about it, these warbands must be completely nuts to go down there. An Encounter Roll is made whenever the warbands enters a chamber. 
Magi Bayaz and disgruntled company head into the dark cavern

A Cultist Barbarian is in possession of the ‘golden’ key to the trap door. Where he's hiding it on his person is better not considered. If a warband manages to depart key from said Barbarian, and locates the chamber with the trap door, they can unlock it and end the scenario. The remaining player collects all the loot. What could go wrong?!

How it went

With Cornelius the Enchanter having nabbed the most treasure from the Wizard’s Tower, his warband arrive at the cavern first. They decide to split into two groups led by Cornelius and his Apprentice Angus. But with his warband elbow-to-elbow in the close confines and darkness, confusion soon reins.

Almost immediately some of them bumble into a large chamber and are quickly ambushed by three Cultists and the Cultist Barbarian. Who is walking suspiciously uncomfortably. Whist his soldiers are starting to think it would have been a good idea to light torches before heading into the cavern, Cornelius and Apprentice Angus hastily start to cast Enchant Armour on the newly recruited knight. It doesn't go well. With lots of griping, Cornelius’ soldiers prepare for some good old-fashioned hand-to-hand.
Cornelius the Enchanter and crew investigate the deep, dark Cavern

Elsewhere, Magi Bayaz’s crew are in quite a buoyant mood, considering they are all skint and Black Dow is still laid up recovering from ‘a few scratches’ as a result of the shenanigans back at the Wizard’s Tower. They move through the cavern not encountering any trouble at all. At least, not until they hear distant sounds of fighting echoing down the dripping passages. Bayaz halts his warband whilst he whips up a quick Elemental Shield, just as a precaution. He fails to cast. His apprentice Lancrix the Tall does though, engaging smug-mode whilst he's at it. The warband continue their exploration.
Magi Bayaz and company also head into the Cavern

Back in the Cultist infested chamber, Cornelius decides he’d be most useful in a classical leadership role. Behind his soldiers. So another attempt at armour echanting. It fails again. Cornelius mutters something about the cavern’s geology interfering with the magical frequencies, or something. Luckily, Apprentice Angus has better luck with the same spell on Infantryman Lennox.

Whilst the soldiers are busy trading blows with the maniacal Cultists and the Barbarian, the archer risks a speculative shot. The arrow silently disappears off into the gloom totally missing any of the enemy. Although there is a surprised squeak from some poor unseen creature. Meanwhile, the remaining soldiers have discovered a second chamber, and in it is not only a big, gleaming pile of treasure there is also some sort of trap-door. Unfortunately, there are also couple of mad Cultists between it and them.
Hard fighting for Cornelius' men in the first chamber.

Bayaz orders Ferro the Ranger to scout ahead, who soon reports back that Cornelius and his men are also in the caverns and are engaged in a tough little rumble with some of the Cultists. Similarly, Curnden Craw investigates the sounds of fighting emanating from a side passage. It is the same, more of Cornelius’ men having harsh words with Cultists. A fine opportunity for Bayaz’s warband to quickly search the rest of the caverns whilst Cornelius and his men are distracted. It isn't long before they've marked the location of treasures in the contested chambers and also in two others. Unfortunately, yet more of the cultist are lurking in these newly discovered halls.
Curnden Craw discovers a chamber with a trap door, treasure and more Cultists, who where luckily distracted by Cornelius' men

It becomes a contest of two battles in the deep cavern. Whilst neither warband, luckily, encounter anything else down there, the warbands end up fighting hordes of mad Cultists for every chamber. Cornelius’ warband has the hardest job by far. His soldiers take four casualties before they can finally overcome their enemy after a fierce, protracted fight. In the tight confines, even the thief ends up on the front line. Cornelius and Apprentice Angus finally get their spellcasting mojo together with a flurry of enchanted weapons, armour and Heal spells. Which is timley considering the tough fighting.

Unfortunately for them, Lancrix the Tall had a cunning plan. No, really. He casts a Wall spell in the second chamber, blocking off both Cornelius’ soldiers and the Cultist from the trap door and loot! The spell naturally dissipates after a while, only for Lancrix to cast it all over again! Elite Smug Mode is now fully engaged!

Lancrix the Tall's cunning Wall spell in chamber two.

It's more workaday for Bayaz’s men. Nicomo Cosca fends off twelve Cultists all on his own. It might have been three. He’ll be excruciating back at the Yellow Shovel Inn. Logen Ninefingers, Caul Shivers and the Dogman handle the rest. With Cornelius bogged down, Red Hat – having downed a Potion of Invisibility (he threw up later, and then slipped on the cloaked discharge) – Ferro and Curnden Craw all make off laden with treasures, two of them managing to get their loot away before general retreat is called.

The trap door remained locked. Cornelius had the golden key but he and his men were buggered if they were going back down there again! It was made of gold. No doubt it'll be soon down at Felstad’s finest pawnbrokers. Bayaz’s warband, on the other hand, with two fine hauls and no injuries, were starting to feel things were looking up. It’ll be drinks all round back at the tavern. They all agreed Nicomo will be paying.