Frostgrave Campaign: Game 9

Chris Palmer      Yesterday (Sunday) we got together for out monthly Frostgrave Campaign game.  We had 6 of our 8 participants; so with only 6 wizards in play, though I had set up the big 12’ x 3’ table (because we were expecting 7, but one couldn’t make it that morning), we used only 9’  of the table.    We were doing another one of the book scenarios this time: The Complex Temple; and one of our own devising: The Menagerie.
   For The Complex Temple the only slight change we made, was having each player place one column, for a total of 6 column.
   The Menagerie scenario was created around he idea of an ancient wizard who had assembled a collection of exotic animals from across the globe and kept them caged in an underground lair, where they were protected in some sort of suspended animation for the last 1000 years.  They had now been revived for some reason or another, and were breaking free from their enclosures and making their way to the surface where they were wandering about freely.  Each player placed 3 animals to start. Then, there were two buildings designated the menagerie headquarters where 1-3 animals would spawn from each turn.    The animals were worth Experience Points if you killed them (on a sliding scale based on your level: more XP the lower your level, less XP the higher you were)  Also, if you searched the body after killing the animal, you could roll a d20 with  a result of 15-20 resulting in your having found some part of the animal that was valuable (horn, heart, pelt, etc) and would act as a treasure.  At the end of the game you could roll for this treasure on the treasure table and receive what ever Gold Coin result you got but not any other part of the treasure roll (no magic items, scrolls, potions, or grimoires.)   You also got the standard 50 XP for recovering a treasure.
     We also each placed one normal treasure.
     For a report on the previous game, see: Game 8
     For the tale of how Sister Zandkara came to join Kodak’s warband, see: The Templar’s Tale

A look at the table at the start.  Kodak and his band entered in the middle on the left, just on the far side of the viaduct.

     We tried a new seating arrangement this time; putting the two highest wizards in the center and surrounding them with the other four players.   With this seating arrangement, my Illusionist, Kodak once again found himself across from his old nemesis Knabe the Druid, and next to the Enchanter on his left, and the Sigilist on his right.  
     Kodak paused amidst the ruins, and divided his party into three groups.  With him he took the new Templar, Sister Zandkara,  Danlin the Marksman, and Weiss the Archer .  Kodak assigned to his Apprentice, Leighlyndana: Edel the Archer, Bash the Man-at-Arms, and the Treasure Hunter Mellily Ising     That left the Treasure Hunter Connisyn Marcus, the Thieves Linesse and Cadwalleter, and Odullorf the new War Hound to act under their own initiative.  The Illusionist took a moment to cast the spell Illusionary Soldier; and before their eyes, a figure materialized before them wearing the gear of a Thief.

A shot of the warband before they entered the ruins. L to R; Kodak, Leighlyndana, Danlin, Sister Zandkara, Cadwalleter, Melilly Ising, Bash, Connisyn Marcus, Linesse, Edel, Illusionary Soldier, Weiss, Odullorf.

   Kodak had chosen this section of town to investigate for two reasons; first he had heard tales of strange columns that contained both treasure and knowledge, but were deadly if approached; secondly there were rumors of strange animals that roamed this section of town, some that hadn’t been seen on this continent in centuries.  The old Illusionist was not disappointed because he did not have to search far before he found a column standing just a short distance away. He approached it with his staff at the ready, and when he got close to the column it let out an electric charge towards the wizard like a miniature lighting bolt.  Kodak was able to dodge it, and gave the column a good sound thwack with his staff which seemed to quiet the column down. Not only that, but the column opened to reveal a small treasure chest.   The wizard called back to Linesse the Thief, who ran over to fetch the treasure.
     Weiss, had climbed some steps leading to an elevated hut, where she though she had heard some sounds, and sure enough when she got level with the door, she could see a large gorilla inside.  She drew her bow, but her footing wasn’t good on the crumbling stairway, and her shot went wide.  It did however alert the beast to her presence, and it charged out of the hut at her, and she braced herself and drew her dagger.  She swung bravely at the gorilla, but the beast clubbed her aside the head, and she dropped to the steps unconscious.
     Meanwhile, Leighlyndana, Kodak’s apprentice, moved forward where she saw a large snake coiled up in another hut.  She attempted a Mind Control spell, but she had never done one on a reptile before, and she did not do it correctly. The Apprentice was repaid for her failure with a sharp stab of pain in her head.  (-2 health for a casting roll miss greater than 10).  She called out to Edel, who stood nearby; and the Archer ran forward with his bow, stopped, drew the string, and let fly an arrow which hit the snake squarely between the eyes.  It died instantly.

The start is a mixed bag…Kodak attacks the column successfully, and though Leigh’s Mind Control spell fails,  Edel kills the snake in the hut with one shot. Weiss, however, is put out of action with but a single blow from the gorilla coming down the steps.  

     Over on Kodak’s right, Melilly Ising the Treasure Hunter, Cadwalleter the Thief, Bash the Man-at-Arms, and the Illusionary Soldier, moved to recover a treasure that sat upon a nearby viaduct, and a second treasure atop a nearby tower.  Melilly started climbing the side of one of the viaduct’s supports, when out of nowhere a crossbow bolt whistled through the air and hit her square between the shoulders. Her grip immediately released from the side of the viaduct, and she fell.  The Treasure Hunter was dead before she hit the snow below.  Bash and Cadwalleter looked to see where the shot had come from, and could tell it was where Knabe the Druid had entered the city; so it must have been from  his Dwarf Marksman. The two survivors ducked for cover under one of the viaduct’s spans, but not before seeing the very treasure that Melilly had been climbing for, sail off under the power of a Teleportation spell towards the nearby tower.
     Over on Kodak’s left, Sister Zandkara the Templar, Connisyn Marcus the Treasure Hunter, and Danlin the Marksman moved off to the left to investigate a tall tower that seemed to be one of the sources of  the strange animals. They did not get far when a Rhinoceros charged from behind a ruin towards the Treasure Hunter, stopping just in front of her, it snorted and pawed the ground. Zandkara moved up to help, but the beast charged at her instead. Before the Templar knew what was happening the beast rammed into her and knocked her to the ground, where the world spun and slowly went black.  The new War-hound, Odullorf ran towards the rampaging beast to attack it as well.

The Rhino charges Connisyn, but Zandkara the Templar and Odullorf the War-hound rush to help.

      Kodak then noticed one of Knabe’s men across the way, and attempted a Mind Control spell but failed to concentrate correctly and it failed. He pulled his Fate Stone forth to attempt to change the outcome, but the Fates were not with him, and there was no difference in the outcome the second time.   Likewise, Leighlyndana attempted to Mind Control the Gorilla that had taken Weiss out, and she too failed and once again got the stab of pain in her head. (Another -1 damage for failed casting roll greater than 5) Seeing the beast was getting close to Kodak, she rushed towards it to block it’s path.  She held her new Magic Staff (+1 Fight) at the ready, but it was no help as the animal swung a mighty arm at her and bashed her hard where her should and neck met.  Her knees suddenly felt wobbly and the ruins spun a little around her, but she shook her still throbbing head, and stood ready for the gorilla’s next attack. (She was down to only 2 Health)  Then the Apprentice suddenly saw an opening and swung mightily at the gorilla, striking it squarely in the center of it’s chest.  The beast staggered back, and Kodak shouted, “Run, Leigh!”.  Barely able to stand, much less run, the Apprentice made her way as best she could to put as much distance as she could between her and the animal.
   Kodak tried to Mind Control the gorilla but failed to correctly execute the spell once again.  So the Illusionist advanced to make contact with the gorilla and keep it from following his wounded Apprentice. The gorilla leaped at the Illusionist and pounded on him with both hairy fists before Kodak could properly defend himself  (-10 Health).  Kodak dropped to one knee with his breath knocked out of him, but rolled with Elven agility to stand again and face the creature.

Leigh rushes to engage the gorilla, before it can go after Kodak.

     Meanwhile, Connisyn and Odullorf had killed the Rhino, but upon searching it for any valuable parts, were unsuccessful.  They now rushed to aid Kodak, as did Danlin.  Leigh quickly did a Heal spell on herself, and she too rushed back to aid Kodak.  But before any of the help could arrive, the beast swung at Kodak again, catching him on the side of the head and making it twist backwards.  The wizard winced in pain (Another -4 Health).  Then Kodak mustered what strength he had left and took a mighty swing of his staff and caught the gorilla square on the head and killed it.  A quick search of the body revealed noting of worth.

Kodak kills the gorilla, as many of his warband rushes to help.  Edel on the right can be seen carrying off the venom sacs from the dead snake.

         Edel had recovered valuable venom sacs from the snake and was making his way through the ruins back towards the Inn, as Kodak and Leigh regrouped and cast Heal spells on each other.  The old illusionist was feeling very dejected; three of his party already laid low, and only two treasures to show for it.  Leigh tried to cheer him, when off in the distance she saw one of the new Necromancer’s men running along a gangway between two ruins clutching a bundle of obvious value.  As she watched, a missile hit the man and he crumpled in a pile on the gangway.  There the precious bundle sat unattended on the gangway, with, as far a Leigh could see, no one guarding it.  "Don’t despair" she said to Kodak, “I may be able to get us another treasure.”  And she spoke the words of the Teleportation spell as she ran in the direction of the distant prize, disappearing in mid-stride.

Leigh’s ill-considered Teleport to the gangway. Almost out of view in the distance, near the table edge near the center, Vogel the Druid’s Apprentice tries to hit her with a Bone Dart.

     No sooner had she landed at her destination, and shook her head to clear the wooziness she always felt with teleportation, when a Bone Dart from Knabe’s far-off apprentice, Vogel, whizzed past her ear.  She thumbed her nose at the fellow Apprentice, and moved forward and picked up the bundle.  Unfortunately, Leigh had misjudged how “unguarded” the package was, as a shot from the Necromancer’s Ranger hit her in the thigh; and before she could cry out in pain, another shot, this one from the Necromancer’s Marksman, hit her in the shoulder. She collapsed to the gangway dropping the package.
     Kodak waited for as long as he could;  but with no sign of Leigh’s return, and the shadows growing longer, with a lump in his throat, he gave the word to head back to the Inn.
   
     Back at the Inn the mood was somber to say the least.  Word of Melilly’s death spread fast.  Cadwalleter told the tale; and also related how the Illusionary Soldier had distracted another gorilla long enough for him to climb the nearby tower; but no sooner had he gotten to the top then the nearby Sigilist’s Apprentice had Teleported the treasure off it again. He had become trapped on the tower’s top as the Sigilist’s and Elementalist’s troops had battled each other and various animals right beneath him.
   Zandkara had limped back not long after the others and sat alone in one corner of the great room, her head bowed in prayer, ashamed of her dismal showing the first time she had fought with this new troop.  Likewise, Weiss had come back with a gash in her head and a self-made bandage upon it, and had made her way to the Inn’s old counter where she poured herself a large mug of ale and sat at one of the other tables sipping slowly and tending to her bow, lost in thought.
   It was a few nervous hour for Kodak later that Leighlyndana finally made her way back to the Inn.  The girl was Badly Wounded and hardly conscious, as she was still feeling the effects of the fight with the gorilla as well as the loss of blood and muscle damage from the arrow and crossbow bolt that hit her.  It had been a miracle at all that she had made it back, Kodak felt. and he and Bash carried her up to her room and laid her on her bed where Kodak began to tend to her wounds.  "This will need a curing potion beyond my means", he thought to himself. (-100 GC to cure Badly Wounded).
    Later that night, he stared out his room’s open window at the stars, wondering what ill alignment had caused such a total breakdown of his and Leigh’s magical ability.  He and his Apprentice had failed to cast 5 spells; and not hard ones, but Mind Control which the pair had practiced until they could practically recite it in their sleeps.  The only thing they could manage was simple Heal spells which any school-aged wizard could do. Between the Heal and Leigh’s Teleportation, they had only cast five spells successfully. He would need to reflect.
     Kodak was also deeply saddened by the death of Melilly Ising, the Treasure Hunter.  He had sensed that she had lost respect and trust for him after the last trip into the ruins, and he had hoped that he would have been able to heal their relationship.  Now that rift would never be resolved.
   When Kodak came down the next morning, two paltry treasures still sat on the table where they had been set the night before.  There was a Magic Dagger (+1 Damage) in the chest from the column, which he would give to Linesse, as well as 40 Gold Coins.  He inspected the venom sacs, and figured he would be able to get 60 Gold Coins for those.  A very unprofitable foray.
     Once again he thought about whether he was cut out for this life.  The ruins were becoming more dangerous, and more full of powerful enemies.   But he knew there were wonders yet to be discovered, and the call of these possibilities kept him going.  "I will think about leaving Frostgrave another day", he said to himself, and peered out one of the Inn’s dusty windows as the sun rose into view.
   

  Epilogue:  This had to have been one of the worse cases of Cold Dice I have ever experienced.  I rolled less than 10 on the dice more times than I could count.  It also did not help that for the first time in a while, I was set up with players on each side of me as well as across the table from me, and not safely down at one end of the table with only an opponent on one side and across from me as I have been the past several times.
    I mentioned early in the campaign that we as a group had decided to end the campaign when the level total for all the wizards reached 150; well, that time is approaching.  Kodak is now at level 28, and is neck and neck with the Druid, Knabe, for highest level wizard (Actually, after Kodak’s dismal outing this game, Knabe may well have passed him in levels).  As a group we were over 100 total going into this game.  However, with the end of the year approaching, we have decided to alter our plan, and now our goal is to make our December game our last, regardless of when we hit 150 (which very well might be the November game) .  That way we will start fresh in the New Year with new wizards and warbands.
   So, Kodak, may be deciding to retire sooner than he (or I) would like.

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