Friday, December 29, 2017

Frostgrave RPG Campaign: The Summoners' Tale - Chapter II: Like a Bad Penny

On its way to the River Maragille, the party crosses through what had once been a densely settled region of the city.

The newcomers to the party are surprised when An'var summons an animal companion, a large brown bear that he calls "Greg" to join them.

Ril soon realizes that they are being followed

A band of Gudlub tribesmen lead by an Elementalist shaman are seeking vengence. Realizing they have been spotted by the party, two barbarian archers open fire while several of their companions charge the party. 

Ril holds off the attackers while Bozydar forms a firing line with the rest of warriors.  The barbarian archers are eliminated. Fierce hand-to-hand fighting ensues.

An'var causes Greg the Bear to be possessed by a demon and the now-horrific creature charges to the attack.

 This gives Dame Roswith the chance to attack from the flank, killing the shaman with one ferocious blow.

The shaman's death comes at an opportune time since he had just summoned a demon behind An'var which, however, is quickly dispatched.

The sole surviving barbarian is taken captive.  An'var frees him in order for the tribesman to take an offer of peace to his chieftain.  Given that this is the third Gudlub band that has been bested by An'var, the captive is happy to take the offer back to his tribe.

The party soon arrives at the shore of the frozen river.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Frostgrave RPG Campaign: The Summoners' Tale - Chapter I: The Two Kings

Our group has been playing Frostgrave for a while now.  We recently starting something a little different; using Frostgrave for an RPG campaign, both as the setting and as the rules.   All of the players  are part of a single warband, albeit not a standard one per the rules. 

I've decided to set it in the world of Minaria, a great fantasy setting from TSR's classic boardgame Divine Right (I never understood why they never made it into an official DandD setting)

I took an existing warband that we had been playing regular Frostgrave games and gave more detailed backgrounds.  Two of the players had already been playing as the Summoner and his apprentice.  I added another player who had previously run an Illusionist warband as a third magic user, with a background about the destruction of his warband that set up the adventure.  The other players took up as new, non-magic user members of the Summoner's warband.  I initially gave them some of the skills from the Captain rules but shortly after the first game session, I picked up Ghost Archipelago and decided to give all the none magic-users Heritor skills.  This put them more on par with the magic-users in terms of special abilities to play with.  I used the justification that their time in the magic-laden atmosphere of Felstad had awoken these latent powers.

All this makes the warband powerful and obviously couldn't be used in a regular Frostgrave/Ghost Archipelago game but I've tried to balance this by giving them harder opposition in the encounters.  I used Thaw of the Lich Lord as the basis for the campaign.

Here are the Player characters:

Rt Hon. Lord An'var Rhellig, Grof Aquillon of Lashuhag: As a younger son in one of the oldest noble families in the Empire of Meutar, he was raised to be a magic user.  Attending the Invisible School of Thaumaturgy, he became a summoner and was soon raised to the ranks of the magical researchers.  However, ambitious and somewhat arrogant, he was expelled from the school for failing to follow proper daemonological safe-guards and researching into areas of forbidden lore.  As word of the discovery of the great magical treasures in the ancient ruined Lloroi city of Felstad spread, he decided that this was the best way to pursue his work and so set off with his apprentice, Atlantia.  Gather a small band of treasure hunters, rangers, and thugs, he has exploring the ruins, quite successfully for some weeks now.   Dissatisfied with some of his minions, he has sent out word that he is willing to pay well for experienced warriors.

Atlantia: The daughter of wealthy Mivioran shipping merchant, she was disowned by her family for refusing to marry a much older associate of her father as part of financial deal.  She attempted to gain entry to the Invisible School but was refused because she had no sponsor.  She was taken on as an apprentice by An'var Rhellig after his expulsion.  A few weeks ago, she traveled with him to explore the dangerous ruins of Felstad.   

Redmaine the Magnificent: A fairly shady character, something of a con man, whose origins and background he keeps intentionally obscure.  Where he learned his Illusionist skills, no one is certain but it definitely was not the Invisible School.  He has been in Felstad for some time with varying amounts of success.  Recently, he met disaster while explore the ancient treasure galleons on the frozen River Maragille.  Here, his warband was wiped out and his apprentice, Thisbe, taken captive by a large force of gnoll tribesmen.   He has returned to the explorers' settlement at The Two Kings and hopes to gain aid in rescuing his apprentice.

Captain Bozydar Stemada - A mercenary from the eastern border kingdom of Pon, he has served many masters in many wars.  He now is an agent of the Emperor of Meutar, and has been sent into Frostgrave to investigate the doings of expatriate Meutarian nobleman/wizard Lord An'var Rhellig, who is said to be dabbling in dark magic. 

"Ril" Rilian Daebanise the Neuth (Elf):  An agent for the Elven King of the Neuth, Ril will try to learn what dark magics may be found in Frostgrave that can be used to start, and this time win, the war against the Humans.

Dame Roswith Widow-maker - Only child of an Immerian border lord, she was taught to be a warrior by her father and has gone to Frostgrave to seek treasure to save the family castle and estate which is heavily mortgaged to Lord Herviot of Nithmere

Sir Emerick the Relentless of Herstings HoldYounger son of a minor Hothior nobleman, his youth was misspent in pursuing wine, women, and duels of honor.  Forced to leave home due to his troubles with the law, he has spent the last few years as a sellsword, hoping to gain enough to buy some land to settle on, preferably with a winery or brewery.  

Rounding out the party are NPC rangers, Urkmaas (helmet) and Midgon(hood) with treasure hunter, Garamond (center).

Chapter I: The Promise of Riches

The Two Kings, one of the many boom town settlements on the outskirts of Feldstad, where vast amounts of trade is undertaken in the magics recovered from the ruined city as well as in providing services of all sorts to the adventurers.  The name comes from a pair of large statues of some unknown Lloroi dignitaries found in a ruined palace that has been converted into a tavern.

The settlement is well defended by local Conodra tribesmen, adept in surviving in this frozen environment, who had been hired by the mysterious proprietor of the Two Kings, known only as Sweetflower.

On the road into Two Kings, would-be adventurers gather seeking employment in the entourge of the exploring wizards.  Bozydar, Ril, Roswith, and Emerick are adventurers new to Felstad, seeking to join the warband of some reknown magic uses.  Bozydar suggests they seek out An'var Rhellig, who is said to be one of the more successful.

The new arrivals are approached by a rather tattered looking Illusionist who is seeking help after his warband has been wiped out search the ancient treasure ships on the frozen River Maragille

They meet the high-rolling yet arrogant An'varr Rhellig, a Summoner, with his apprentice Atlantia.  An'varr has had a number of successes, most recently against Gudlub tribe of barbarians.  Redmaine regales them with tales of the great riches to be found in the ships, including a navigational device that allows one to travel to different planes of existence.  After some rest and preparation, the party sets off into heart of the ruined city the next day.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Frostgrave: Frozen and Some Big Rats

We had another game of Frostgrave, got to use my new Roman warband, which I decided to make an Enchanter.  We also got to finally field the warband based on Disney's Frozen.  This may only make sense if you are familiar with the movie: Ilsa was an Ice Elementalist, of course, with sister Anna as the apprentice; Olaf the snowman was a small construct, Anna's boyfriend Kristoff was a Ranger; for Sven the reindeer I used the rangifer stats and Oaken the shopkeeper was a pack mule.  I rounded out the band with a few somewhat Nordic-looking thugs.

 This is the table set-up.  We had five players divided into two teams.  One team was the "Dark Magic" forces, a Summoner, a Necromancer, and the Frozen Elementalist team
 My Enchanter was joined by another Elementalist as the forces of "Light Magic."  To even things a little, we had our two warbands start at level 2.
 We played a straight up treasure hunt but each player had an individual Ulterior Motive card.  We also gave the random monsters a 50% chance of showing up each time a treasure was captured.
The Necromancer and Elementalist fought each other on one side of the board, with the Elementalist coming off much the worse.  It think it was the pizza-bearing skeleton that was the problem.

The  Frozen warband didn't have a great day, with Ilsa failing most of her spell rolls.
Sven the reindeer was far more effectice.
I had placed an intact tower in the middle of the board and it became magnet for the players, resulting in pretty claustrophobic killing zone.
My Romans faced off against the Summoner warband, which was run by my son Nick.  Early on I launched my stone golem construct on what I thought would be a suicide attack I meant as a distraction.  I nearly killed his wizard with one blow.  In exchange for one of his treasures, I agreed to a truce.  This also allowed me to achieve  my Ulterior Motive goal, obtaining a magic dagger embedded in a statute.

I was just about to go to the aid on my Elementalist ally when the random monsters started to become more than a nuisance.  First there was a demon, then a polar bear.  By far the worst was a small pack of giant rats that proved nearly impossible to kill and nearly did in my Ranger and Thief. These distractions to me certainly didn't help my ally who suffered about four of his warband as KIAs.
Playing with multiple players as part of a campaign certainly changes the dynamic of the game. We reached a point where we had all gotten treasures or had achieved or used our Ulterior Motive cards.  Rather than risking these gains, we disengaged and headed off the board  I did manage to get my band off the board without losing anyone and four other treasures in addition to the magic dagger.  Interestingly, it was my apprentice who was far more successful in spell casting this game, killing the demon and polar bear almost by herself.  Another fun game of Frostgrave.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Historicon 2017: Ben Franklin's War

The other game we ran at Historicon was Ben Franklin's War: The War Moves South.  This is a weird science/clockwork punk/whatever take on the American Revolution.  I had done a similar game a few years ago, based roughly on the Battle of Saratoga.  This was sort of a sequel, based even more roughly on the Siege of Yorktown.  I had a couple of reasons for this, it allowed using French forces and could be a combined land and sea battle.

This was by far the physically biggest game we've ever run, using a table about 20' b 6'.

My concept for these games is that the Scientific Revolution began with Leonardo da Vinci and Sir Isaac Newton did not reject alchemy.  Coupled with the earlier introduction of steam power in Britain, these elements led to late 18th century warfare containing a lot of weird science elements.

The British have steam-based technology refined by James Watt while the Americans use electricity and harmonics invented by Ben Franklin.  The French have a technology based on chemical/alchemical principles developed by Antoine Lavoisier.  These later included chemically induced genetic mutations as well as poison gas.  The former was represented by the impressive-looking char d'escargot and the latter by the empoisonneur mecanique, a poison gas-spewing automaton fueled by the decomposing bodies of French peasants. 

The scenario was this: in 1781, Benedict Arnold led a British-Hessian force to raid the Virginia Tidewater region.  He was corneredand besieged at fictitious Port Albemarle on the Virginia coast by a combined French and American army and fleet commanded by the vengeful George Washington himself. Lord Cornwallis leading an elite force of steam-powered gun carriages and aeromobile troops rushes from the Carolinas to save the hard-pressed Arnold.

The Franco-American assault force battered their way into the town against the British defenders with the poison gas and favorable wind doing much of the heavy-lifting, wiping out two British regiments and several gun batteries.  The last remaining British regiment, under Captain Blackadder decided that discretion was the better part of valor, especially when Hawkeye and some American riflemen appeared within the fortifications using a mechanical drilling mole to tunnel under the fortifications.  Blackadder worked out a safe passage in exchange for turning over the Munro sisters that Hawkeye was after. Seeing half his garrison destroyed or surrendered, Arnold chose to flee the town, making in a boat for the British fleet.  The Hessian commander, seeing this, promptly asked, "Who's going to pay us now?" and promptly sought honors of war for a quick withdrawal.  This was promptly granted by the rifleman who achieved complete victory without ever having fired a shot.

Popular hero and darling of Broadway, Alexander Hamilton lead the American assault forces

A British extra-heavy steam gun

Meanwhile, out on the Bay, the British Ship of the Line and Steam Ram had some early successes, quickly sinking the small American mine-layer and fending off a couple of sorties by the American wooden submersibles.  However, the French Ship of the Line L’Insouciance traded broadsides and achieved a lucky hit on the powder store of HMS Vindictive, blowing her out of the water.

By this point, the British naval commander was granted passage out of the harbor after surrendering the turncoat Arnold to French Admiral de Grasse.

On the other end of the board, Cornwallis forces pounded the defense line of American militia under Patriot Benjamin Martin and the Legion of Prince Leopold of Ruritania.  Washington and Franklin lent support from the American reserves including the great electrical discharge weapon, causing substantial British casualties particularly among the aeromobile troops.  Nonetheless, the American defenses were almost completely wiped out. However, hearing that the port had surrendered and Arnold was taken, Cornwallis concluded that there was little to be gained by continuing the attack and withdrew.  The end result was a major Franco-American victory but not the deciding battle of the war.  Cornwallis was retreating back into the Carolinas pursued by Washington and Rochambeau.  One more battle would be fought.... at another convetion

We also played in a couple of other games.  The pictures below are from Seal Team 6 vs the Giant Bugs.  A fun little game using the 7TV rules.  The players ran four fire teams of special forces troops investigating a town that had been over run by Starship Troopers giant bugs.  We did surprisingly well against an ever increasing horde of bugs and a disastrous helicopter mishap.

We also played in a introductory game of Warlords of Olympus put on by Crocodile games.  A fun set of rules with some interesting tactical choices.

Here are some other games that caught my eye.  There were some really impressive tables on display.