Friday, February 22, 2019

Frostgrave RPG Campaign: The Bursar's Tale, Chapter III

The Bursar's Tale
Chapter III
In which Our Friends Acquire a New Friend and Anvarr Acquires a New Name 

In the aftermath of the battle in the Great Hall, Redmane finds two ladies of the kitchen staff.  They inform him that the feast had suddenly appeared in the hall and that the glass spiders had come to life without human direction.  Realizing that the delicious feast was illusionary, Redmane hastened to stop the rest of the party from gorging themselves.  Only Bozydar and Braanx were unable to resist.  Redman soon realized the illusions hid horribly ancient and decaying offal.  Braanx received the news with aplomb, rangifers often scavenging on dead carcasses in the worst seasons.  Bozydar, who had to be dragged from the table did not take the matter lightly but began vomiting prodigiously.  To spare everyone else, Redmane teleported the captain into the middle of the dormatory quad.  There, Bozydar completed his deposit into the lap of a young apprentice who was practicing a folk ballad on her mandolin.  

The rest of the party decided to set up their camp in the abandoned Echodrome to take stock of their situation.

Meanwhile, back in the library, Anvarr, who had been deep in study, realized he taken on an ethereal form.  He could see his inert body still present in the physical realm of the library but his spirit was on a different plane.  He suddenly was aware of another form nearby.  The dark and faceless entity introduced itself as the dread Malcor, former Chancellor of the Pentangle and executed leader of the rebellion against the School's administration some 70 years earlier.  He said he had been watching Anvarr since his arrival, recognized that he shared Malcor's disdain for the School's present leaders, and called upon the Summoner to join him.  As Anvarr debated the terms of that service, he became aware of several other spectres were hovering about him.  Suddenly a great whirring sound emanated from the ceiling and a sudden tear in the fabric of reality appeared.

A strange figure dressed in archaic clothing and bearing a large blunderbuss dropped unceremoniously to the floor.  Landing on his feet, he cursed Malcor as a traitor and fired his weapon at Malcor's cowled form.  The blast flatted the empty hood and staggered the wraith. The residual of the blast from the gun, which using the substance mage powder, operated on the ethereal plane, struck Anvarr and nearly dropped him.  As the Summoner fell to his knees, he saw Malcor, clearly in great distress dematerialize.  Before Anvarr could work out the meaning of this, one of the spectres fell upon him and as pain shot through his leg, he lost consciousness.

When he returned to consciousness, he was back on the material plane, the spectres were gone, and   Greg the Bear was nuzzling him.  The ursine dropped something into Anvarr's lap.  It turned out to be a human toe the strange and the sudden pain from his foot made Anvarr realize with horror that the toe was his.  Then he was aware that the intruder was peering at him, more studiously than compassionately, "So Nine-toes, where am I and what year is it?"

The stranger was Professor Reichfield, the sub-chancellor of Distortionism of the now-defunct Pentangle. He was from the time of Malcor's Rebellion and had inadvertantly time-traveled when he used his Planar Tear spell to try to get rid of an unwanted table from his office.  Not being a Chronomancer, the Professor had been unable to return and had endured strange travels on the ethereal plane.  Seeing his old enemy, Malcor, he instinctively attacked the wraith.

Anvarr realized that the Professor's story did not match the official history of Malcor's Rebellion, which told a story of the Inner Circle versus the Pentangle.  According to Reichfield, the situation was much more confused, with many of the Pentangle fighting against Malcor and many of the Inner Circle serving him.  Anvarr said the party's investigation could use his assistance.

"Oh good," responded the professor, "but could I get some hot chocolate first?"

Redmane left the Great Hall and sought out his former mentor, Neulien, sub-chancellor of Illusionism.  He expressed his concerns about the possibility that one of the Great Council might be aiding Malcor's attacks.  Neulien was less than forth coming but said she would meet him later this night in the Echodrome, which was the only location on campus that was not under the Scribes' observation.

In the meanwhile, Bozydar confronted the Arch-chancellor in his office, finding him panic-stricken and guarded by his two nephews who also served as his apprentices.   Bozydar rashly proposed raiding the Bursar's Offices and striking against the Scribes. A greatly disturbed Arch-chancellor dissuaded the captain from this course and said he would come to the party that night in the Echodrome where he could speak more freely.

The party gathered in the Echodrome, a feeling of great depression settling upon them, caused by the mornfull songs that seemed to permeate the structure.  Anvarr Nine-toe introduced Professor Reichwald to the rest of the party. 

Reichfield was able to relate the sad tale of Florisa Undine, former sub-chancellor of Sonomancy and how she had led the fight against a horde of  demons that had attacked the School.  In the fight, she lost the use of her hands and, having lost the ability to play music, she killed herself.  Her spirit still haunts the Echodrome. Describing one of the wraiths they fought in the Great Hall, Reichfield was able to confirm that one was the spirit of Florissa, who now had somehow fallen under Malcor's control.

About midnight, a large enchanted Porter approached the party's camp.  It soon disgorged the Arch-chancellor and his nephews.  Seeing Reichfield, the shocked Arch-chancellor confirmed that the true story of the Malcor's rebellion was different from the official version.  In order to defeat Malcor, the Grand Council had had to agree to the suppression of the Pentangle.  The school was too unpredictable, its powers too erratic.  Before he could reveal with whom the agreement had been made, a sudden screeching signaled an attack.

Bozydar had posted several members of the party in the upper levels of the Echodrome, anticipating such an attack.  Unfortunately he had not expected that three flying Major Demons would lead the assault.  Sir Emerick and Dame Roswith were struck down and fell from the top of the 'drome.

A great hole opened in the floor and another Major Demon appeared from the tunnel below and seized the Arch-chancellor.  Before he could be dragged below, Bozydar and Reichfield combined a devastating attacking on the creature.

The other demons entered the fray on the 'drome's floor.  A horde of imps appeared out the original tunnel and two more that were broken open nearby.  A fierce battle of spell and magic weapons ensued. With great difficulty, the party was able to wrest the shrieking Arch-chancellor from the hands of the demons.

Braanx strikes down the last of the imps.

As the battle subsided, Neulien appeared at the head of a group of mages and proctors.  Was she here to help or hinder?

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Frostgrave RPG Campaign: The Bursar's Tale, Chapter II

The Bursar's Tale
Chapter II
Wherein Our Friends are Given Room and Board

While Anvarr is investigating the Pentangle works in the Library, the rest of the party goes to their lodging in the student domitories.
They find that the proctors are unceremoniously kicking a number of students from their residence so that that party can have their rooms.
Of course, this operation is being watched over by the ubiquitous Scribes.
Bozydar, who has returned from his fruitless visit to the Bursar's Offices, argues with the Chief Proctor, an officious Dwarf named Ingol Frossmounder. 
Braanx the Rangifer, having lived his whole life in the outdoors of Frostgrave, decides to set up camp in the quadrangle between the two dormitories.  He then begins feeding on the leaves and nuts of trees in the quad.  As these trees provide many of the components of magical spells, mixing them in the rangifer's stomach would have an interesting effect. 

Ultimately, Bozydar is able to convince the Chief Proctor that the party does not need to inconvenience the students and, being use to the rigors of Frostgrave, came easily camp in the unoccupied Echodrome.

Suddenly a great dark cloud brimming with arcane energy forms over the dormitories. 

 Eight fearsome specters emerge from the cloud and descend onto the dormatories.  They begin attacking anyone in their reach.
The proctors decide that their time would be better spent completing paperwork in their headquarters on the far side of the university.

Many of the students rise to the challenge and begin to fight back.  Unfortunately, their courage is greater than their skill and errant spell effects are flung about the quad.  Bozydar is struck accidentally by a Monstrous From spell and takes on the appearance of an ogre.

The party is more effective at fighting back against the specters.  They are led by Braanx whose rangifer aversion to the undead proves a great benefit.

The specters are soon driven off.  The menacing cloud roils on and moves above nearby Thephior Hall, a building containing many classrooms and laboratories but, on the ground floor, the Great Hall where faculty and students dine. Trails of ectoplasmic energy emerge from the cloud and appear to penetrate the Hall.

Braanx, the mix of magical leaves and nuts having acted like a potion of teleportation, moves to the roof of Thephior Hall.  He is followed by Redmane and Redmane's apprentice Thisby.

Atlantia and the rest of the party charge into the Great Hall.  There they find four large glass spiders, enchanted automatons used to serve wine and cut meat during meals, out of control and wreaking havoc.  They immediately move to the attack.  Much to the party's chagrin, they find that the spider's glass bellies carry acid rather than wine.

Meanwhile above, Redmane, Thisby, and Braanx begin casting spells upon the cloud, hoping to dissipate it.  While Redmane's Banish spell has some effect, the rangiger Pyre spell appears to be more effective.  With great effort, the trio manages to disperse the cloud, presumably driving off or destroying any of the entities that remained within.  They then rush to the ground floor to aid the rest of the party.

As the party battles the glass spiders, four great wraiths appear on the faculty dais, waited upon by four specters.
Dame Roswith, armed with her magic sword, Starshatterer, and assisted by Braanx and Ril, fight back against the specters.
The wraiths, all of whom are long dead followers of Malcor and all proficient in the various magics of the Pentangle, begin hurling spells at the party.  An Astromancer wraith launches a Meteor Strike spell that "knocks the ugly off of Bozydar," returning him to his normal form but severely wounding him.
The meteor continues on and strikes Atlantia a devastating blow.  Redmane, Thisby, and Urkmaas rush to protect her.  They quickly begin to cast Heal spells to try to revive her near lifeless body.

A Distortionist wraith casts a spell that brings down one of the support columns behind which Ril was taking cover.  The elf manages to avoid the Collapse with uncharacteristic agility.

With Atlantia revived, the wizards in the party can devote all their attention to counter-attacking the wraiths with a volley of Grenade spells.

Sir Emerick gets close enough to the Astromancer to use the Horn of Hellfire, causing the wraith to dissipate completely.  The remaining three wraiths flee through the walls of the Great Hall.

The Great Hall falls quiet.  The party now begins to ponder this sudden attack.  How did the cloud that was the source of these spectral entities appear so suddenly and without notice in the midst of a school of wizards?  Who had filled the bodies of the glass spiders with acid and how were the spells controlling the automatons negated?  The party was able to discern that the four wraiths against whom they battled represented schools of the Pentangle - Astromancer, Distortionist, Fatecaster, and Sononancer.  Where was the representative of the fifth school of the Pentangle, the Spiritualist? 

The party will have to delve further into these mysteries if Malcor is to be defeated....

Friday, February 1, 2019

Frostgrave RPG Campaign: The Bursar's Tale

We started a new campaign for our Frostgrave RPG, picking up where we left off at the end of The Summoner's Tale.   In addition to using the rules from Frostgrave and Ghost Archipelago, I incorporated much from Rangers of Shadow Deep, a new set of non-Osprey rules by Frostgrave author Joseph McCullough that uses the same Frostgrave mechanics and designed for solo/cooperative play.  It's a great addition for role-playing the Frostgrave universe.

As noted previously, the campaign is set in the world of Minaria, from the old TSR game Divine Right.

The party of PCs is moving out of the frozen city in the far north to more temperate climes, the magical principality of Lered, home to the Invisible School of Thaumaturgy.

The party's magic users are, from the left, Redmane the Magnificent, Illusionist, Atlantia Wraith-Slayer, renown heroine of the battles against the Lich Lord and former apprentice to Anvarr Rhellig, Summoner. (Redmane and Anvarr both attended the Invisible School.  Redmane graduated while Anvarr was expelled for delving into forbidden matters.  Atlantia, not having the aristocratic connections of the other two, had never been admitted, relying instead on tutoring from Anvarr.  She was recognized as a full wizard after single-handedly destroying two wraith knights in one encounter.)

The party's "muscle" consists of Bozidar Stemada, a mercenary Ponese Captain on loan from the service of the Emperor of Meutar, Ril a reclusive Elf assassin, Sir Emerick the Relentless, and Dame Roswith Widow-maker, both impoverished knight-errants.

The party includes a number of NPCs such as Urkmaas, a former Tracker now serving as Atlantia's apprentice, Thisby, apprentice to Redmane, and Garamond, a Treasure Hunter.

Rounding out the party are the more hirsute members, Braanx, a Rangifer warrior, and Greg the Bear. 

So without further ado, here is:

The Bursar's Tale
Chapter I
A Courteous Solicitation to the Alumni

After the defeat of the Lich Lord, the Wraith-Slayer's party is famous throughout northern Minaria.  They are summoned by the Grand Council of the Invisible School of Thaumaturgy, Magic, Necromancy, and Demonology, the most celebrated institution of magical learning in the world.  The Council has even sent the Airboat of Armera, a relic of the lost Lloroi civilization, to fetch them.

They arrive at the sprawling campus of the Invisible School.

The Airboat docks at the Sky Tower, high atop the School's Acropolis.

They are guided through the bustling Quadrangle of the Moon Tower.

The tower of the School's great bell, Old Solm.  It chimes the hours with no sound but rather a spell of silence.

The party is taken to the Administratium to meet with the Grand Council.

The council room is well guarded by Proctors, large unpleasant men recruited from criminals to keep order on campus.

As with all School activities, everything is being recorded by the Scribes.

Mirror are ubiquitous throughout the entire campus.

After a wait of only a half-hour, the height of efficiency at the School, the Grand Council begins the meeting. There are seven seats on the Grand Council but only five Councilors are present.

The Council is chaired by Vistrum Rhedel, an Elementalist, who is Archchancellor of the School as well as Chancellor of the Pentangle. He is a verbose and often confused man.

Second in seniority is Parvia Dinoras, a Sigilist, Chancellor of the Inner Circle.  She tends to be unpleasant and officious.

Chigrim Fester, a Necromancer, is Headmaster of Students, charged with looking after the welfare of the School's scholars.  His personal habits and appearance are less than appealing.

Grelog Broadchest, Enchanter, Subchancellor of Theoreticals.  The only Dwarf on the Council, his contributions often go quite literally unseen.

Neulien Ules, an Ercii (half-Elf) Illusionist, is Subchancellor of Practical Studies.  She is adept at the various Beauty spells.  She had her own line of magical cosmetics.

Missing is Tornas Thikalis, the Bursar, charged with all the fiscal and administrative functions of the School. 

The meeting begins with a long, digressive recitation by the Archchancellor.  There are of course two magical curriculum: the Inner Circle that consists of the ten schools of favored magic, and the Pentangle, the five schools of disfavored magic.  He describes the situation of thirty years ago, at the height of the Elven King Beowan's Great War against the other races.  In the midst of these chaotic struggles, the Spiritualist Chancellor of the Pentangle, Malcor, led an uprising at the School to subordinate the Inner Circle to his authority.  The uprising was put down with great bloodshed, a fact that Parvia and Vistum recall with inordinate glee.  The Pentangle was suppressed, its study limited to the theoretical and the Chancellor's seat being combined with that of the Chancellor to insure proper supervision.  

Recently, however, there have been "manifestations" about the School that suggest that somehow Malcor's spirit and those of his followers have returned.  Several student and non-magical staff have been killed.  Effort to exorcism these manifestations by the School's magical staff have failed.  Given the party's success against the Lich Lord, they are tasked with ridding the School of this new undead Mage.

In the end, the Councilors seemed far more interested in the faculty wine and cheese reception which is scheduled to begin after the meeting. As a result, the meeting is abruptly ended.

The Archchancellor meets privately with the party.  He believes that one or more of the members of the Grand Council is out to kill him and is at the heart of Malcor's return.  He tells the party that if they can uncover the Councilor responsible, it will go far to ending the troubles with Malcor.

The unassuming Office of the Bursar

While the Redmane and Atlantia attend the wine and cheese party, Bozidar seeks the Scribes' records of the manifestations.  He soon discovers that the entire School is under observation by the Scribes, who utilize magic mirror to monitor everything.  The Scribes all work for the mysterious Bursar.  Bozidar attempts to see the Bursar but is rebuffed.  No one has ever seen the Bursar in generations.  

While the Scribes assist Bozidar in his searches regarding the rest of the School, each inquiry about the Bursar is met with polite refusal and subtle threat.  Bozidar leaves with a feeling of paranoia.

The Library, like all building of the School, it is much bigger inside than out.

In the meantime, Anvarr has gone to the Library to seek information about the Pentangle, particularly with the type of spells that the Spiritualist school may utilize.

Ril and Greg are there to protect him.

While reading about the Spiritualist spell that can transform the terrestrial into the ethereal, Anvarr realizes that the desk at which he is working has been insubstantial.  His hand passes through the desktop and he begins hearing a high-pitched roar coming from behind him ...(To be continued).