Daily Archives: March 14, 2019

Ghost Archipelago ’19, Game 3: Isle of Dragons

Chris Palmer       This past Saturday we played the third game of our 2019 Ghost Archipelago Campaign.  We had 8 of our 9 regular players in attendance; which meant we had 4 Central Treasures in play, spaced evenly down the center of the 9’x3’ table.
     We did a dragon attack scenario of our own devising, based on a Frostgrave game we did a couple years ago (Frostgrave Game 6.16),  where picking up treasures had a chance to activate a dragon which will fly in over the city, with random entrance and exit points determined by dice roll.  We changed it this time to having a chance for the dragon to enter every turn based on a roll each turn of 12+.  The dragon would fly in a straight path along this line and attack the first figure it reaches that falls within 3" of its flight path.  We used the stats for the Giant Worm from the Frostgrave rule book, increasing the Move and the Armor slightly, and assigned a 20 experience point reward for killing one of the dragons.   Each dragon would stay on the table until it ate somebody and satisfied its hunger, then it would fly off at the end of the next creature phase; or until it was itself killed.
    Since we had also incorporated a second scenario in the original Frostgrave game we were taking the Dragon scenario from, we decided to do it with this game too.  So, beside the Dragons, we also did a version of the treasure system from Cigar Box Battles’ “The Diabolist’s Scheme”, replacing all the treasure tokens with a corpse marker.  Then, when the corpse marker is first touched, the player rolls a d20 with the results being: 1-5 nothing, it’s just a dead body; 6-10 it’s a Skeleton that attacks the figure; 11-15 it’s a Swamp Zombie, 15-18 a Ghoul, and 19-20 a Spirit Warrior.   Once the player has killed the undead guarding the treasure, it reverted into its normal treasure form, and the player could pick it up and haul it away.  They also would then make a regular wandering monster roll when they picked up the actual treasure.

View of the whole table with my start zone indicated.

    I did okay with my set-up zone this time, drawing chip #4, and deciding to pick a spot with a known opponent, already seated opposite me; rather than pick one opposite a zone that hadn’t been claimed yet.  Treasure wise, I was happy with the opportunities in front of my zone; especially with the newly acquired Divining Rods I had found last time.
      The opponent I seated myself across from was Barl of the Library, and his Storm Warden, Lorria.  To my immediate left was the Heritor, Ragnam Eichenherz; and his Beast Warden, Bengel; and to my immediate right was the Gnome Heritor, Gnomeo, and his Beast Warden, Juliet.  That put Safar the Seafarer, and his Storm Warden, Willow of the Water, to my front left; and Cassilda Blackmane, and her Earth Warden, Quartz, to my front right.

The Report

     The Halfling Heritor, Barley Gimblehill, had never seen her big bear of a Warden so excited.  During a recent supply stop they had heard a rumor of an isle in the Archipelago where Dragons lived; and Tork, her Beast Warden, had been chomping at the bit ever since to go see them.  It was something of a lifelong dream of his to see a real Dragon, and Barley hardly felt she should be the one to deny him this chance.  The little Heritor was skeptical herself, as Dragons were a rarity to the point some thought they were merely fables and tall-tales.   But still, the thought of a new island to explore still made her happy, and to be honest she wouldn’t mind seeing a real Dragon, if there were any, as well.  The Warden’s excitement was bit contagious, so why not give the big Human what he wanted.  The fact that the rumors of the Isle had also come with tales of no one ever getting off the island alive, were easily forgotten in the excitement to see real Dragons.
     It was late in the day when they landed on the hot sandy beach of the island; so Barley told Tork straight out that they couldn’t stay long.  Just a few hours to see a Dragon and then back to the ship.  No one wanted to get caught on one of the islands of the Archipelago for very long after sun set. 
     They headed inland for a short distance when they began to notice various idols dotting the landscape; all with frightening faces of one kind or another.    She could hear her Crew begin to exchange hushed whisper with each other; and Barley realized he scary totems were’t doing the Crews’ nerves any good.   It was time to take matters under control,  so the Heritor stopped the group and divided them up into smaller commands.   She also had Tork take out one of the Diving Rods they had found on their last expedition, and had him show her how it worked.   The big Warden held it carefully in his hand extending it outward and perpendicular with the ground, and closed his eyes as if sensing the jungle around them.  As Barley watched, she saw the rod slowly begin to vibrate and the Warden’s arm moved as if being guided by the stick.  It gradually swung to the left where it stopped, and rod seemed to glow a bit.  Tork opened his eyes, and said “Something made with magic. That way”, and gestured with the rod in his hand. Barley noticed the rod looked blackened now and was smoking slightly, the runes burned off it. Tork dropped it to the ground; it was nothing but a stick now.  (I use one of my Divining Rods to move a treasure [corpse marker for this scenario], located in a pond on my left, 3" inches closer; bringing it out of the water and onto the shore.)

Initial deployment.

     As they passed out of the jungle into a large clearing the first thing that came into view was a huge skeleton laying n the ground  They couldn’t tell if it was from some sort of Dragon, or huge Saurian.  Even Tork, the Beast Warden was stumped.  To their right was a large wooden idol, it’s fierce visage staring skyward; and to their left the jungle jutted out into a wide arm that narrowed at the end, and just past that a large pond.  Barley told Tork to take is group over towards the pond, and she had Crew-woman Sallie and Crewman Habby head towards the idol to check it out.  The rest of crew were to fan out and keep their eyes and ears open, while the Heritor took her Scout, Perkin, with her and they headed towards the huge mysterious skeleton.
    Before Tork headed it out with his group, he took the time to cast his Summon Animal spell, and in just a minute they heard a loud screaming in the jungle behind them.  Apparently, a Screamer Monkey had answered his call.   As he was casting, Sallie and Habby wandered towards the wooden Idol, where another scream was heard; this time from Habby who nearly tripped over a body laying beneath the fronds of a large fern.   Though the corpse had begun to decay,  they could see that it appeared to have been badly mauled by some creature.  The unfortunate fellow still grasped a finely carved staff in his one hand, and the two Halflings could see a bulging leather pouch tied to his belt.
     While the two Crew investigated their find, Barley and Perkin made their way to the skeleton of the huge beast lying to their front.  They approached the big skull, and cautiously peered into the ribcage where, among the shadow lines of the ribcage, they could see a human skeleton sprawled out on the ground, one arm wrapped a round a large chest (Central Treasure).   It was then that the pair heard voices in the distance, and looking out the far side of the ribcage they could see a Human Crew approaching from the far side of the clearing.

Barley and her Scout, Perkin, check out the huge Saurus skeleton (and the Central Treasure inside), while over by the wooden idol, (lower right corner) Sallie and Habby make a gruesome discovery in the brush.

     Nearby in a patch of dense brush, the Half-Halfling Archer, Jikam Wizzit, had spotted the interlopers too, as they picked their way through the fallen remains of a stone circle.  He noticed one tall black-haired man who was well dressed and seemed to be barking orders at the others; so the Archer carefully drew his arrow and let it fly.  The shaft sliced the air and struck the big man as his right arm was raised pointing, hitting in the joint below his shoulder armor and sinking deep into his upper chest.  (I roll 20! and do 10 HP damage)  The Heritor, Barl of the Library, for that’s who it was, staggered backwards, grasping at his wound.
     Behind Jikam, and to his right, Crew-woman Ginsink ran past the patch of brush where the Archer stood, and came up short as she saw a leg sticking out from under a broad-leafed bush.  Pushing the leaves back, she discovered a dead body laying in the brush.  The Crew-woman noticed the man’s well-laden pack, and reached out to take it.  (I roll 4 on the Corpse table, so no Undead), and ended up having to cut the straps to get it free from the rigid corpse. 
     As Ginny was recovering the dead man’s pack,  Crewmen Corel and Link were approaching the pond.  In the distance, past the pond, they could see two more Crews battling among a large temple made of stange looking adjoined idols.  The  Humans seemed to take no notice of the two Halflings, so they continued on their way.  Like their fellow Crew had, however, as they approached the pond they stumbled upon the remains of an ill-fated adventurer.  In one hand he clutched a two-handed sword, and though the decomposing body showed the signs of time passing, the sword looked newly polished.  The pair of Halflings guessed this must be the magic item that Tork had sensed with his Divining Rod.
     Back by the wooden Idol, Habby attempted to liberate the decomposing body if it’s staff and pouch, only to find it wasn’t exactly completely dead. (I roll 13 on the Undead Table: Swamp Zombie)  The corpse was very much still alive, and a decomposing hand grabbed a firm hold of the staff before Habby could get a grip on it.

Jikam the Archer gets a lucky shot against the opposing Heritor, Barl of the Library.

     Back by the huge Saurus skeleton, Barley hesitated.  The chest the skeleton grasped looked very inviting, but the Humans were so close.  Turning to look back, she saw the Crewman, Fernando, approaching, and she beckoned to him.  He trotted forward, and she motioned silently to the chest.  Cautiously, the Crewman snuck forward between two tree-like ribs and reached out to grab the treasure box, keeping a wary watch on the Human crew.  As he pulled at the nearest handle of the chest, he became aware of the sound of clattering bones very close by, and turning to look back at the chest, was shocked to see the skeleton that had been holding it was now grasping firmly at the handle on the other end and was standing up!  (I roll a 7 on the Undead table: Skeleton.)  Instinctively, Fernando yelled, “Help!”.  But Barley and Perkin were already there, having seen what was happening.  Perkin reached his fellow Halfling first and thrust with his sword, but the blade went harmlessly through the creature’s ribs (Hit but did no damage).  Barley then arrived, and a wide swing of her sword, cut the Skeleton in two, severing it just above the hips.  It clattered to the ground merely a pile of bones now.
     The commotion however had alerted Barl the Heritor, and before the Halflings could react, an arrow from one of the Human Archers flew by, dangerously close to Barley’s ear.   Tork seeing the Human’s attention drawn to his shipmates within the giant ribcage, attempted to Envenom another of Jikam’s arrows, but failed the spell in his haste.  Jikam couldn’t wait any longer for the Warden to try again, and shot at the closest Human Crewman, dropping him.   A Human Crew-woman now charged into the huge ribcage brandishing her sword .   Fernando sliced at her, but she parried, and brought her blade back to slice the Halfling across the arm, making a deep gash (-6 HP).  Perkin leaped into help, stabbing while the Human was recovering from her thrust at Fernando, his sword slicing through her tunic, but somehow managing to miss her body completely. (I hit but do no damage.)  Barley took a swing too, but somehow the enemy Crew-woman swung her sword back to block and then the tip of the blade caught the little  Halfling Heritor across the ear, cheek and chin.  (-5 HP).  Barley tasted the blood in her mouth.

The fight in the huge ribcage begins as one of Barl’s Crew runs in to challenge the treasure.

     Seeing his little friend was in trouble, Tork rushed forward saying his Water of Life spell as he went.  Quickly he realized running and casting were hard to do at the same time, and he felt the magic energy of the spell slipping.  He concentrated with all his might to regain the spell (Push for -7HP!) causing a searing pain to go through his brain.  The big Beast Warden stumbled and went down on both knees, but the spell worked.   Barley felt immediate relief from the exquisite pain on the side of her face.
     By now another of Barl’s Crew had joined the fight.  The little Halfling Heritor felt her blood begin to heat up, and her temper grew.  The enemy Crew-woman swung at her directly now, but Barley ducked under the strike and thrust her sword up into her assailant’s gut.  The Woman stumbled backwards and fell to the ground, unmoving. (I roll a 20!)  Calling on her birth gift, Barley now let out a fierce cry, and brought her sword round in a powerful Backswing against the newly arrived Human Crew, giving him a slice across both thighs, (-6 HP).  The man staggered backwards.
     Meanwhile, over by the pond, Corel and Habby had recovered the Magical 2-Handed Sword from the dead body (I roll a 4 on the Undead table, so just a dead body) and were making their way as best they could with the big weapon back towards safety.   Suddenly, an arrow whizzed by the pair from back behind the section of jungle that jutted out towards the pond.  Looking back over their shoulders, the two Crewman could see one of the Archers from the Heritor Ragnam Eichenherz’ Crew had noticed them.  Likewise, the Screamer Money that  Tork had summoned when they first reached the clearing had noticed one of his own kind, another Screamer Monkey, lurking suspiciously in the arm of jungle that jutted out (Summoned by  Ragnam Eichenherz’s Warden, no less.),  and moved to keep an eye on him.
     By now, Sallie and Habbie had killed the Samp Zombie back by the wooden idol.  The pair now started heading back to the rendezvous point with Habby shouldering the well-made Staff with the pouch of, what felt like, gold coins hanging from it.

Over  on the lower left, the Screamer Monkey’s have a face-off, while some of Ragnam Eichenherz’ crew begin to move towards the gap between the jungle and pond.  In the lower right Tork can be seen where he has run forward to attempt Water of Life on Barley in the ribcage, and just behind the small totem in the lower center Corel can be seen hauling away his treasure.

          As Tork, worked at standing his big frame back up, his head splitting in pain, he didn’t notice one of Barl’s Archers had snuck around to the tail end of the huge skeleton.  He did, however, notice the pain when the enemy’s arrow struck him in the arm.  (-4 HP,  Current total -11 HP).  He looked up to see the source of the shot, but the Human had already ducked inside the ribcage, joining Barl himself who had also just entered the enclosed space.   Upon entering, the big Heritor came upon Perkin first, and swung the hammer side of his axe down at the Halfling with all his might (Crushing Blow).  Luckily  the Scout dodged the blow last minute, as the big head of the weapon only glanced against his skull, giving him a good crack (-7HP) but not crushing his head completely.  Fernando charged at the Crewman that Barley had wounded, and stabbed at him in the side; putting him permanently out of action.  Barley stood with her sword ready for the next attack, when her eye fell upon the treasure chest, just laying there by the bones of the defeated Skeleton.  She called to Perkin and Fernando, “I need you to hold them! I’ll get you help!” Perkin, his head spinning from Barl’s blow, couldn’t even nod in reply, as he tried to stay standing and guard against Barl’s next blow; dodging and weaving to confuse the big Human Heritor (Refuses combat on his activation).  Quickly, Barley grabbed one of the the chest handles, and began dragging it from the Saurian ribcage as best she could.  As the Halfling Heritor passed between two of the the tall ribs, she saw Sallie, not too far away, helping Habby with his treasure. Barley called to the Crew-woman, and leaving Habby to manage on his own, Sallie came running.

As the battle still rages in the ribcage, Barley grabs the treasure and runs.

      Tork pulled the shaft from his arm, and once more tired to stand.   Slowly and painfully he reached his full height, then paused as in the distance he heard an unfamiliar shriek in the sky,  Looking up, he spotted a dark, winged, shape in the in the distance.  A Dragon! Oh, how wondrous and graceful its flight was.  It circled a section of far jungle for just a minute, and then passed out of sight. He had seen a Dragon!  What he had not seen, however, was another one of Barl’s Archer’s still lurking in the ruins of the standing stone circle, nor the arrow that flew at him without him knowing. It hit him in the beefy leg, causing him to topple like a tree, his big head hitting the ground hard.  As the blackness overtook him, and he passed into unconsciousness, for just a moment he was on the back of the dragon, flying free among the clouds.
     Back in the huge ribcage another of Barl’s Crewmen came up to join in the fray. While Perkin had his attention on the Human Heritor, the Crewman came up behind him and crowned him across the skull with the hilt of his sword.  The Halfling Scout blacked out and collapsed.  Crew-woman Sallie arrived jus in time to see him fall, and joined Fernando in facing the three Humans within the tree-like ribs.

Tork is taken down by one of Barl’s Archers

     Back by the pond,  the Dwarven Heritor, Ragnam Eichenherz, was sending more of his troops through the gap between the pond and the jungle to chase down the two Halflings with the treasure.  One of the Dwarf’s Archers, got a bead on Corel and dropped him as he jogged along with his load.  Link stopped to pick up the Magic Sword, and bravely continued on.   Ragnam’s Screamer Monkey made a move, and Tork’s Summoned Monkey attacked and brought him down.  Tork’s Monkey then went to help plug the gap, but didn’t last long against trained Crew.  Jikam also ran over to attempt to stem the tide of enemy Crew with his bow.
    Back within the ribcage, Barl’s Archer quickly notched an arrow, and shot Fernando point blank.  Luckily for his short stature, the arrow only grazed his scalp, but sent him stumbling backwards where he fell against one of the massive ribs, and smacking his head, blacked out.  Barl made quick work of Sallie; using the hammer side of his axe again.  He delivered a massive blow to the side of her head; her jaw unhinged and the poor Halfling Crew-woman actually turned a full 360 degrees before dropping to the floor of the cavernous ribcage. The Humans now focused on Barley fleeing with the chest, and an arrow whizzed by her head.
   It was late now, and the shadows were getting long on the island as the sun was dropping low in the sky.  Barley continued on as best she could but the chest was slowing her down.  She heard the sharp twang of a bowstring behind her, and then there was a sudden pain in her back as an arrow found its mark.   She stumbled and fell into a patch of large ferns.  The Halfling Heritor was on fire with pain, but she used all her energy to lie perfectly still, and tried as best she could to curl herself around the chest,  burrowing down  to let the large fronds cover her.    She could hear Human voices approach, but they seemed to have lost her in the shadows.  Over in the direction of the pond, she heard the sound of a Dwarven Horn as Ragnam sounded the recall for his crew.  Patiently she waited for the Human voices to withdraw, then carefully, and painfully, made her way to the beach.

Over on the left, one of Ragnam’s Archers has moved up, and shot Corel; and Tork has already fallen to Barl’s Archer. In the gap, the Screamer Monkey has taken damage and is about to go down.  Jikam the Archer (red & grey shield) has come over to help, but it’s up to Link now to get the treasure safely away.

     Later that evening aboard the Jolly Scallop,  Barley and her Warden Tork sat in their cabin feeling sore and achy.  One appeared more bandaged  than the other.    They had survived, and that was most important.  In fact the whole crew had made it back in relatively one piece; though Sallie had a broken jaw as well as a bad concussion and would need to rest for a month or so.
    At least the trip had been profitable, and Barley studied the day’s rewards on her desk; while Tork just sat there, smiling inwardly to himself as he replayed  in his head over and over the image of the Dragon in flight he had seen on the island.   The chest that Barley had managed to retrieve (Central Treasure) had held 100 gold coins!  (Sadly, I only rolled 5 +2 for Central Treasure=7 on the Treasure Table.)  Habby had brought back a Superior Staff (+1 Dam) that was three times as tall as the little Crewman himself was! Slung on the staff he had also brought a purse with 30 gold coins. (16 on the Treasure Table) Link had brought the Magic 2-Handed Sword (+1 F) from the pond (13 on the Treasure Table), and the pack that Ginsink found had a bunch of useless dirty clothing and a small wood box with 30 gold coins (2 on the Treasure Table). 

The ending tally.

   
Epilogue:

     Once more my speed earned me the central treasure, though I almost lost it this time.  I was very fortunate when the game ended, as both Barl and Ragnam were a die roll or two from denying me the Central Treasure and the Pond Treasure. Luckily, another crew at the far end of the table exited their last man before either treasure was lost.  By our house rules, the game ends immediately when any Crew has no more figures on the table, and whoever controls a treasure when that happens gets to keep it, even if they are in contact with an enemy.
     The Dragons proved to be less than eventful down our end of the table.  Two did land at the other end, and caused some consternation for the crews there.  Also, I was lucky in that of the 4 treasures I touched, only two were actually guarded by Undead.
     I don’t know how long Barley’s luck will hold.  But, I’m happy to report she already reached Level 5 this time, and gained a new ability:  Mystic Energy.   Tork is lagging behind at level 2.  He just isn’t casting enough spells.
      I keep waiting to lose a Specialist to have an excuse to make a run back to a port to sell my growing collection of 2-handed weapons, but they all seem to be surviving; which I guess is a good thing. It seems wasteful to sail back just to sell stuff; though I’m sorely tempted.   Since, in reality I may not even go to port to replace a Specialist, as the Heritor Ragnam was operating with a Native Guide this game, which seemed mighty nice to have; but I hate to just fire a Specialist so I can hire a Guide for myself.  Decisions, decisions.
    Well, we now sadly, have a 7 week wait for our next game. 😦   But that gives me plenty of time to debate my crew options…

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