Chris Palmer Last Saturday we got together for the ninth game in our Ghost Archipelago campaign. We had 6 of our regular 8 players in attendance. We set up a home-grown scenario called “The Abandoned Mine”. The scenario featured an old mine in which a colony of Vampires (Imported from the Frostgrave Bestiary) had set up housekeeping. We made up a simple Random Encounter Table that was heavy on undead types. Situated between every pair of players was a central room in which was located a coffin. When the first figure enters the room, the Vampire arises from the coffin, and will move to fight whoever is closest. (They could pursue figures out of the room once woken, as long as they moved towards the closest figure. Players would get 50 Experience Points if their crew killed the Vampire, and they could get 10 Experience Points if they destroyed the Coffin by beating a Fight roll of 14. When the Coffin was destroyed the central treasure was placed in it’s spot. The players’ other treasures were placed normally around the mine. We used a 7’x3’ table, set up with the mine constructed from tiles from the recent Secret Weapon “Terrainscape Dungeons: Mines” Kickstarter. We used five of the Core Sets and a bunch of the Add-Ons from my and one of the other player’s collections.
Instead of entry zones like we usually do, the table was set up with 6 mine entrances evenly spaced in pairs down each side of the table. Players started with their figures just outside these entryways, and would need to move their figures in through the entry tunnel beginning on the first turn. I got the 5th choice of placement and was left with the choice of a spot across from Skorri, or one with hardly any treasures in easy reach. Being an optimist, I picked the one across from my old nemesis Skorri Drakenburg; which put me in the lefthand corner of one side. To my immediate right was the Heritor Robin Duck, his Warden Friar Duck, and his strange band of Duckmen. Diagonally across to my front right was the Heritor Griffin, and his Warden, Ashalla. At the far end of the table was the Heritor Gregorious on my side, and across from him was the Heritor, Kragmar of the True Blood.
|Overview of the table, showing entry points. For purposes of the narrative, West is towards the top, North is to the right, East is to the bottom, and South is on the left.|
The Heritor, Lord Fortrywn, and his crew had stopped on the island to refill their fresh water and barter for some food with the local villagers; who were known to be friendly towards outsiders. As always, the Elf Lord took the time to wander the bazaar to see if he could spy any trinket that might offer a clue to the location of the Crystal Pool. While he stood at the stall of a Scroll Seller, his Niece and Warden, Marnilyne, came rushing up to him, breathless. “Uncle! We need to leave!” she shouted to him, and then deeply breathed for air. “Now!”
Lord Fortrywn turned to the girl, unflustered, and a little puzzled. Taking her by the shoulders, he said sternly, “Calm yourself, girl. What is this about leaving? What is going on?
‘Vampires, uncle!” Marny exclaimed. “In the old mine!”, and her hand shot out with the finger extended, and pointed towards the distance rocky ridge. “I heard it from the Potion Seller.”
Vampires were a personal bane to Lord Fortrywn. He had encountered one on campaign two decades before, and it had preyed on his officers and men, until panic had nearly overcome his entire army. It had taken all the Heritor’s skill and perseverance to root the monster out and kill it for good. The thought of another such beast so close, made his blood burn just thinking about it. “We need to find the Village Elder”, he said through gritted teeth. “Come with me.”
An hour later Lord Fortrywn and his shore party were scaling the ridge to the westernmost mine entrance on this side of the ridge. Sure enough, the Elder had confirmed that the village had been plagued by Vampire attacks the past few months. The Elf Heritor gave his promise that he would eradicate the problem. In turn, the Village Elder was grateful, but not overly optimistic. This was not the first party of brave souls to promise to clear the mines of it’s monstrous residents.
|Lord Fortrywn and crew move down the main entry tunnel.|
Outside the mine entrance, Lord Fortrywn set the order that they would proceed into the tunnels. Bindidell the Hunter and Tannin the Archer would take the point position, with him following up in the second rank. Behind him would come Arbyn the Crew-woman and his Niece Marnilyne. After them would be Salin the Pearl Diver, and Crew-woman Lilisea; and bringing up the rear would be the Crew-women Bry and Meriwyn.
They proceed down the dark damp twisted corridor, following the path of rusted rails once used to move mine carts of ore. Almost immediately, the party noticed there was a dense mist rising in the tunnels, cutting down on their limited sight. (Gregorious’ Warden cast Cloud Cover.) They soon came to a Y in the corridor. To the right, the rails continued straight east, disappearing in the darkness. To the left, the path passed through a narrow gap in the rock, where it again split into two paths; the righthand one leading north to a solid looking door, and left leading west into the gloom.
Marny took a few steps down the rails and peered into the mists. She thought she saw a spot where the rails forked, one going to the north, and the other line continuing east. Quickly she chanted her Bramble spell, and thick ropey coils of lichen began to climb up from the rocky floor, blocking the tunnel on the far side of the split.
|The Vampire is awoken by Skorri’s Fox entering the far doorway.|
Lord Fortrywn moved forward and put his hand on the wooded door, followed by his right ear. He heard stone sliding on stone and what sounded like a high pitched yapping, as if from a small dog. (Skorri had sent his Warhound, [being played by a fox figure], into the Vampire’s room to trigger it.) The Elf Heritor motioned for his crew to be silent, and indicated that the room was occupied, most likely by the Vampire. He sent Arbyn down to scout and guard the corridor to the west, and sent Marny, Salin, and Songlyne down to investigate the rails to the east.
It was then in the torch glow, that Bindidell the Hunter’s keen eyes noticed footholds carved into the wall a short way to the left of the door. Looking up she saw there was an old wooden gangway. The Hunter signaled to Lord Fortrywn to get his attention, and pointed out her discovery. The Elf Lord analyzed the location of the gangway, and wondered if it might be another way to enter the Vampire’s lair. Quickly, he formulated a plan, and instructed Bindidell and Tannin to scale the wall to the gangway, and seek a path into the room. and Bry and Lilisea would force the door to the Vampire’s lair. The old Heritor puzzled for a moment that he no longer heard any sound from the room.
In a flash Bindidell was up the wall, and she could see the gangway pass through a low arch near the ceiling, a few feet away; in a bound she was to the arch, as Tannin came up behind her. She peered down into a large room. In the far corner a brazier burned, lighting the scene. In the center there lie a stone coffin it’s lid ajar; but there was no sign of a Vampire. (It had exited out the far door in pursuit of Skorri’s crew.) The Hunter turned to Tannin, and whispered, “Tell the Lord. We’re in.”
|The party splits up in the main intersection. You can see the hand and foot holds carved in the rock leading up to the gangway, right behind Tannin (yellow cape) and Bindidell on the left.|
With word the Vampire was missing, Lord Fortrywn climbed to the gangway to see the situation for himself. Before the Heritor went up, he instructed the Crew-women Bry and Lilisea to try the door, and if it was unlocked, to enter the room that way.
The Elf Lord could see the gangway extended all the way along the western side of the room, and exited out a similar low arch near the ceiling on the far side of the room. He instructed Tannin to move forward and provide covering fire. Meanwhile, Bindidell noticed a set of stone steps on her right leading down from the gangway, and started to climb down them, her bow at the ready. On the floor below, the two Crew-women moved up on her right, having found the door unlocked and cautiously entering the room.
There was a sudden hiss in the air, and Bindidell felt a sudden pain in her arm as an arrow sliced by tearing her shirt, and putting a long cut below the shoulder. (-1 HP) Instinctively, she, and Lord Fortrywn on the walkway above, looked for the source of the shot, and just caught sight of the Human Heritor, Skorri Drakenburg, ducking back out of view from the partially open door on the far side of the room. For the love of all the Gods, Lord Fortrywn thought; what is he doing here?! The Elf Heritor did not dwell on the thought long, for through the open door he spied something else more important; the Vampire could be seen slumped up agains the wall just outside the door, dead. Well, at least Skorri had saved him the effort, Lord Fortrywn thought.
Once again, the Elf Heritor, was distracted from his thoughts by the slice of an arrow, this time from his own Archer, Tannin; and as the old Elf looked up, he saw two of Skorri’s Crewmen moving along the gangway. One, in a red shirt, was moving toward them, but ducked behind an arch of rock the jutted out into the room about halfway along the gangway; while the other Crewman, in a blue shirt, was hauling a chest back down the gangway. The arrow whistled by both harmlessly.
|Lord Fortrywn and crew enter the Vampire’s room.|
Meriwyn now joined the two Crew-women in the room, and Bindidell made her way the rest of the way down to the floor to join them. She spotted a door under the gangway on the west wall of the room and pointed it out to Lord Fortrywn. Knowing Skorri and his crew were about, Lord Fortrywn knew they had to act fast. Quickly he handed out orders; telling Meriwyn to check out the newly discovered door, and Lilisea and Bindidell to destroy the coffin and finish the job Drakenburg had started, while Bry should stand guard and keep a watchful eye for trouble.
Meanwhile, further to the east, Marnilyne the Warden, Salin the Pearl Diver, and Songlyne the Archer had made their way down the rail line to where it split. Marny’s Brambles still stood as a formidable obstacle to any attempt to push further down the line, so they decided to investigate the spur leading of to the north on their left.
They noticed the rails start to slope upwards, and they made their way up unto a low flat area. An old rusty mine cart stood upon the tracks about in the middle of the raised flat space. Cautiously they made their way to the cart; Salin moved to the far side to guard from anything approaching, while Songlyne looked at the old rusted hopper. She let out a little gasp, as she noticed a skeletal arm laying on top of the ore in the cart, and wondered where in the world it had come from. Then her Elven eyes noticed a metallic glint; and looked closer, the Archer spotted a golden ring upon the skeletal hand. It seemed to glow of it’s own accord. Turning to Marny, she said “Miss, come and see." And Songlyne proceeded to reach into the cart to remove the ring. It was then that she noticed the hand was clutching a leather pouch, almost invisible under it’s covering layer of dust. Taking it in her hand to feel the contents, she felt the distinctive disk shape of coins inside.
No sooner had Marny came up and instructed the Archer to take the items, when Salin whispered back, "Someone’s coming! As they all turned to see as the Human Heritor Griffin came into view, ascending the slope on the far side, followed by one of his crew.
|Songlyne recovers the treasure from the Mine Cart as Marny looks on, and Salin spots the Heritor Griffin, and his Archer, coming up the far slope.|
Back in the Vampire’s room, everyone had moved into action. Lilisea was the first to reach the coffin, and grasping the lid, heaved at it mightily, and it slid across the top and landed with a loud bang on the floor, breaking about a third of the way up from the far end. The Crew-woman was at a loss though as to what to do with the main body of the stone coffin. Just then Bindidell reached her, and the two grasped a small lip running along the top rim at the narrow end towards the foot of the evil object. Heaving with all their might the two women were able to raise the end of the coffin about 18 inches off the ground. As their strength was about to give out, Bindi, called, "Now!” and simultaneously releasing their fingers from the rim, the pair stepped back quickly as the heavy stone came crashing to the hard floor under it’s own weight. At first it looked like nothing happened, and the two Elves looked at each other and frowned.
"Wait,“ Bindidell said; and she moved forward, and kneeling at the side of the coffin, reached in and pulled aside the long red velvet cushion running the length of the bottom. Sure enough there was a crack running across the floor of the coffin, a couple feet from the end. (Bindidell destroys coffin, +10 EXP.) Before standing up, Bindidell noticed a small yellow silk pouch that had been hidden under the cushion. (Central Treasure) Grabbing it, the Hunter quickly handed it off to Lilisea. "Get this to safety.” she ordered, and then stood up.
As the two had worked at the coffin, Meriwyn ran to the door on the side wall as ordered, and pushing it open, stepped through. There she found Skorri’s Fox hiding in a short passageway containing a small rusty chest, and she sliced at the beast with her sword, putting a gash in it and sending it flying a few feet across the hall.
|Lilisea and Bindidell smash the Coffin, revealing the Central Treasure.|
Meriwyn then prepared to finish the Fox for good, when both opponents were startled by a huge Cave Spider lumbering through the archway at the far end of the corridor and charging at the Elf. Meriwyn was prepared, and before the Spider could reach her, she dodged to the side, and sank her sword deep into the creature’s back, killing it instantly. (Rolls a 19) The Crew-woman barely had tome to withdraw her gore-covered sword from the Spider’s carcass, before Skorri’s Pearl Diver rushed into the room as well, and catching sight of her, rushed at the Elf. Reflexively, Meriwyn brought her sword around and blocked the man’s thrust. Then with a feint, she brought the blade up, and put a neat cut running up the Pearl Diver’s chest and just clipping his chin. (Rolls 17) The Human staggered back, and Meriwyn braced herself for the man to come again. In that instant of combat, she didn’t notice the Fox slink up in the shadow of the wall, and leaping at her it sank it’s teeth into her leg. The Crew-woman staggered back in pain, and her head hit hard against the ajar oaken door she had just come through. (Fox hits for -18 HP) Meriwyn saw flashes of light for an instant, and it felt as if her brain hit the front of her skull. She tried to stay conscious and standing. ‘Help!“ she cried out.
Luckily for the Crew-woman, Lord Fortrywn had been moving along the gangway as she fought her desperate battle, and reaching the location of the door, he jumped down to the floor below. The Heritor heard her call for help, and quickly pushed through the door, his crossbow at the ready. Releasing a bolt, he hit the Fox before it could strike again, dropping it to the floor. Then, quickly shouldering his crossbow, he drew his sword and shield and rushed at the Pearl Diver. Meriwyn regained her senses enough to join him, but her wounds had taken her toll, and the Pearl Diver was able to simply shove her against the wall with his free hand as he brought his weapon up to defend against Lord Fortrywn. The Crew-woman hit the rough stone hard and the wind was knocked out of her, as the pain of putting weight on her Fox-chewed leg brought firework explosions in her head. The flashes faded as a blackness overtook her and she slid to the floor unconscious.
Lord Fortrywn prepared to finish the Pearl Diver for good, but before he could thrust with his blade, his eye caught movement in the archway as Skorri Drakenburg himself burst into the room, with, oddly, a large Snapping Turtle following close behind.
|As Tannin the Archer covers the gangway, Lord Fortrywn jump down and heads for the small side corridor to assist Meriwyn. Meanwhile, By the Coffin, Lilisea prepares to claim the Central Treasure and depart.|
Meanwhile, back on the track by the mine cart, Griffin had reached the top of the level space in just a few short strides. Bending over and picking up a loose rock the size of a human head, in one continuous motion, the Heritor hurled it at Songlyne as she stood behind the cart. Quickly she ducked as the Rock clipped the edge of the cart with a loud metallic clang, and ricocheted off to the side. The Archer was showered in bits of broken rock and flakes of rust. That had been too close… (Griffin hits with 22 total, Songlyne rolls 18 + 2 F + 2 Cover = Tie!)
The Griffin was joined by his Archer, and the man let an arrow fly at Salin as the Pearl Diver stood at the front of the cart. The shaft struck home in the Elf’s right chest, sinking deeply into the muscle. Salin gasped in pain and his knees wobbled, but he remained standing, and as best he could made his way to the back of the cart.
In an instant Marnilyne was chanting her spell of Bramble, and like before, thick ropey curls of lichen sprouted from the floor right in front of the Human Heritor, nearly catching him in the rapidly growing branches. Turning, Griffin frantically looked for another large rock, as the trio of Elves; Songlyne, Marny, and Salin, turned and raced down the slope toward the intersection of the track. As they went, Songlyne made sure the Ring and coin pouch were tucked securely in her pack. Before they reached the corner at the bottom of the slope, another large stone came sailing through the air and hit Salin square in the back. The Pearl Diver pitched forward from the force of the impact, and his head came down hard on one of the rusty rails, cutting a deep furrow across his forehead. The two Elf women continued forward and turned the corner, passing out of the Heritor’s view. Marny turned her head and looked back worriedly, hoping that Salin might get up and follow. But he lie there unmoving in the growing shadows.
|Marny uses Bramble to block the Heritor Griffin and his Archer from pursuit, before the trio head down the hill.|
Back in the small corridor outside the Vampire room, Skorri wasted no time and lunged at Lord Fortrywn. The Elf Lord was ready for him, and blocked his strike. He counter thrust, and his Elven sword pierced the enemy’s armor, cutting deeply into the Human’s side. Surprised, Drakenburg staggered back, his free hand clutching his bleeding wound. (I roll 19 and Skorri rolls 2! I do 13 HP damage!)
While the Human recovered himself, Lord Fortrywn brought his sword back around and struck the Snapping Turtle, cleanly removing one of it’s legs. (I hit with a 22 total.) The Elf raised his foot and kicked the beast back across the room.
By now Skorri had recovered his wits, and for a second he closed his eyes, and he could see the room in his head and he forced his brain to visualize the coming combat. (Uses his Intuition trait, gaining him automatic first activation.) Opening his eyes, again he was on Lord Fortrywn in a flash, along with his Pearl Diver, the limping Snapping Turtle, and his own Hunter who now burst through the archway, being drawn by the sound of combat. The Elf Lord’s attempts at defense were useless as it seemed Skorri knew his every move. In a flash, the Human Heritor’s blade had found it’s mark and he too cut a deep gash in his enemy’s side. (Skorri rolls 18+12F [for his F skill and 3 helpers]; I roll 1.) Lord Fortrywn concentrated on the wound, and forced it to heal quickly using his Blood Gift of Mitigation. As if by magic, the skin began knitting itself together again, though his blood burned fiercely.
While he had the upper hand, Skorri took advantage, and bringing his blade quickly back round with inhuman quickness (Backswing), he struck the Elf Lord hard in the arm. Not only did the Human’s steel cut deeply, but the sheer force of the impact unbalanced the Elf, and he fell sideways, coming down hard on the floor. The air was knocked out of him, and his blood boiled like fire beneath his skin. Once more, Lord Fortrywn tried to heal himself, this time unsuccessfully (Fail roll for Mitigation.). The Snapping Turtle now struck, taking advantage of Lord Fortrywn being on the ground, and as the mighty jaws clamped down on his leg, the combined pain and Blood Burn passed his endurance and darkness closed in around the Elf’s brain.
|Lord Fortrywn finds himself in a desperate battle against four opponents in the small side corridor.|
While Lord Fortrywn fought in the corridor, over in the Vampire room, Bindidell had moved across the room to the far door, as Tannin had kept pace with her along the gangway above. The two now engaged in a dual with two shooters from Skorri’s crew. Bindidell hit her target, while Tannin and the other enemy Archer exchanged shots that both went wide in the gloom. Quickly, Bindidell notched another arrow and hit the opposing Archer once more. The wounded Archer ducked out of view of the Elf Hunter and the pair of enemy shooters now targeted Tannin up on the walkway; one hit the Elf Archer in his thigh, and nearly caused him to fall off of his perch. The Elf gritted his teeth and fired his shot at the Human Bindidell had wounded, finally dropping the man. The remaining Human Archer notched another arrow, and let it fly at Tannin, hitting him again, just inches from his previous shot. This time the Elf’s leg did give way, and Tannin tumbled off the walkway onto the stone floor below and lay there unmoving.
|Tannin and Bindidell engage in an Archers’ dual with two of Skorri’s shooters.|
Bindidell saw Tannin fall, but she maintained her post at the door guarding against any possible pursuers, while Lilisea and Bry made their escape with the loot from the coffin. So intent were her senses attuned to the gloom in the hallway beyond the Vampire’s room, that it wasn’t until the last second that she became aware of Skorri just a few paces behind her. The Human Heritor had crept cautiously across the room, and grabbing a sturdy wooden chair as he neared the Elf, was prepared to attack. Quickly, the Hunter turned to face this new adversary, but in a blink he was upon her. Sidestepping her attack, he brought the chair crashing down upon her head. Bindidell collapsed to the floor, knocked out, under a pile of splintered chair pieces.
The rest of the party had now made it to the intersection at the main hall through which they had entered the mine. Lilisea and Bry made it there first, and saw Marny and Songlyne coming up the rails from the east. The two Crew-woman paused to let the Warden and Archer catch up to them, and as they waited, Arbyn came jogging up from her post in the side corridor, her shirt spattered with brownish gore. When Marny asked her about it, Arbyn said simply, "Killed a Ghoul,” and smiled at the young Warden. (Random Encounter)
They all waited a minute more, hoping more of the crew would join them; but no one else came. Knowing the main priority was always to get their treasures back safely to the ship, they turned their backs on the darkness and headed for the light of the tunnel entrance.
|The survivors make it down the main tunnel on their way out of the Mine.|
They waited by the landing boats down in the village, while Lilisea and Bry reported to the Village Eldar that the Vampire had been killed. As they stood on the small dock of the village, one by one, the rest of the crew returned from the mines. It seemed everyone was able to make it out, except for Salin the Pearl Diver. They waited as long as they could, but as the sun was setting, Lord Fortrywn knew the wounded must get to the ship’s doctor, himself included. So they set sail for the Silver Sword, a short way out in the harbor. It seemed all of them who made it back would make a full recovery.
Late in the night, Lord Fortrywn sat in is cabin looking over their prizes from the day. There was the ring that had come from the mine cart, that he was able to identify as a Ring of Protection; and with it in the sack were 30 gold coins. The pouch from the coffin had contained 30 more gold coins, and a strange jade carving of a Mountain Goat (Jade Figurine). The Heritor could tell it held magic from the slight tingle in his fingertips as he turned it over and over in his hands, but he would need his Niece’s skill in magic to discern it’s true nature.
As if on cue, as he thought of his Niece, there was a light rapping on his cabin door, and a familiar lilting voice called out, “Uncle! Uncle! Come quick! It’s Salin!”
Sure enough it was the hearty Pearl Diver; soaking wet with quite the tale to tell. He had woken up in the mine after dark, and been able to trace his way back down the rails to find the entrance. Weak and stumbling, he had made his way back down the ridge only to collapse again upon reaching the village. He had been taken to a Healer there in the village, and the woman had fixed him up as best her skill allowed. It was good enough that, despite his many injuries, the Pearl Diver was able to make the swim back to the ship. Thank the gods for his swimming skills. He now rested in the ship’s surgery. The doctor said he was Badly Injured with a concussion and a couple broken ribs where the rock had hit him…not to mention the arrow wound in his chest. It would be a few months before he was back in action a again.
Lord Fortrwyn thought of when they had first pulled the poor half-dead Pearl Diver from the ocean almost a year ago. He had continually shown such a will to live and stamina, time and again on their expeditions. He knew revenge drove the man, and a memory for lost loved ones; but there was something more that the Heritor could see; an inner strength that he had only seen in a few soldiers over the years. Gwynwater had had it too… he stopped on the painful path of those thoughts, sighed, and focused again on the Peal Diver. For such a brave and strong crew member, Lord Fortrywn didn’t mind waiting.
|The end results. Five fallen, and two treasures.|
Well, that went about as good as could be expected when going up against Skorri. And I’m rather pleased to have actually managed to get the Central Treasure. I think this is only my second time (or possibly third) retrieving the Central prize. And I didn’t do too badly with casualties, getting half my crew out alive.
The scenario was a lot of fun. There’s a very different feel to the game when it’s all confined to tunnels. In retrospect, I think we should have started with a limited sight distance already in play since we were underground, but none of us thought of that before the game started, as we’re just not used to it being an issue. And, with the Cloud Cover in play from turn one, the situation was quickly corrected anyway.
Next time we return to the rulebook scenarios; skipping over “Swampland" in October and doing "Saurian Breakfast” instead. We will return to “Swampland” in November, and then our big Christmas Extravaganza in December. It’s hard to believe there are only 3 more months of this campaign!
via One More Gaming Project http://onemoregamingproject.blogspot.com/2018/09/ghost-archipelago-campaign-18-game-9.html
from Tumblr http://tumblr.hawks-club.org/post/178324298263