Saturday 20 January 2024

Frostgrave Campaign (2023-24) - Game Four, Felstad.

Despite an enforced break over the Christmas period the warbands had only to pass through the gate at the edge of the last table to find themselves in the city square of Felstad, with all its attendant mystery and danger. [In the photo below you can see the stone gate on the right of the picture, with the graves at the bottom of the picture nearest you on the Northern edge of the city].

Having been the first through, the Chronomancers (Orange Team) were able to deploy in the furthest (Eastern) half of the table, whereas the Elementalists (Green Team) were slowed by having to roll 5+ (D20) to enter.

This hindrance worked well to set the warbands up to fight each other (as opposed to staying out of each other’s way as per the beginning of other games) because the Elementalists saw it as an attack/defend situation and launched an aggressive thrust South out of the gate.

The Chronomancers, having deployed as two groups to cover the maximum ‘discovery’ area, adopted a more of a foraging strategy and quickly discovered three of the seven ‘Shards’, five of which had to be brought together to imbue a magic user with ‘The Knowledge’ to exit the table, winning the game and beginning the long trek back to their magic order. Magic users were able to sense shards within 6”, whereas mortals had to have line of sight, which ended up with a ranger walking right past one as he saw it through a doorway!

Things were going well for both sides until they both ran into unique problems: for the Elementalists, they were striding forth attacking one of the groups of the Elementantalists in the South. Their weapon of choice was Conan, their barbarian (I know, I know. It had to be done.)

Having a magic weapon and all sorts of useful buffs he was designed as a one man killing machine, pairing with the Wizard to lead the attack on anything in their path. Poor Conan (centre - with axe - on picture above) must’ve overdone the steroids though, because though he had the muscles of a god, he had the mind of a jelly-baby. Just before the Chronomancer’s own barbarian could step up to challenge him, a quick thinking apprentice cast mind-control on him and made him one of their own. [This was done on a roll of 20, making it virtually impossible for the Elementalists to regain control of him in later turns.]

Disaster! Immediately Conan turned on his own Wizard and started swinging his axe. The
next few turns saw the Wizard reduced to just one point of health, desperately running from his own accomplice and eventually having to ‘Leap’ himself to safety (if he’d failed that spell he’d have died, having just one health at the time). It just went to show that a well timed strategical magical spell can disrupt the most dire of circumstances.

The Chronomancers weren’t faring much better at this point either. Having collected three shards [picking up a shard ‘activated’ it and caused the figure to be flung in a random direction, as well as running the risk of activating a demon] they activated their first demon.

These hideous protectors of the shards had rules that made them ‘recycle’ until all shards were activated, and all four of them were guaranteed to appear by the time the seventh shard had been activated.

First impressions obviously count, because one Major Demon was sufficient to cause the Chronomancers to change their strategy. Instead of picking up the shards and carrying them, which attracted the attention of demons, they opted to find them all first, leaving them in-situ and intended to scoop them up at the end using distraction to divert the demons’ attention. 

Meanwhile, the Elementalists were gathering on the old library near to both the demon and the other warband. Within it lay one of the entrances to the dungeon (a separate ‘table’ set up adjacent to the main play mat), the other being found underneath the planar tear (Quartz geode) in the other building. 

Bravely, the Elementalist apprentice ventured down the steps with a few of his comrades, discovering a small group of armoured skeletons shambling aimlessly in the centre of the first room. With a combination of ranged attacks and shooting they soon despatched them, but instead of venturing further into the dark void they elected to return to the surface.

Why? Because the conglomeration of just about every other model on the table around the dungeon entrance had turned the game into a huge bun-fight (finally I’d managed to get them to confront each other. Yay!) mostly forced by an aggressive Elementalist contingent who’s strategy seemed to be to remove the competition before looking for the shards.

Rejecting the suggestion of temporary collaboration, the two warbands slapped each other with handbags for a number of turns, reducing the model count on both sides. In fact the Elementalists got quite a kicking, striving for a pyrrhic victory that never came. Both of their magic users were slain at this point, so like Madonna they decided to reinvent themselves once more, adopting the strategy of ‘stopping the other team from winning’. Down to just two figures, the main ploy seemed to be to stay alive and let the Demons kill the remaining Chronomancers!

Duly so, one of the demons chased the remaining Chronomancers down the dungeon steps with her imposing presence, but remaining above for now as no shards were in danger.

Reaching the bottom in a jumble of confusion, the canny wizard decided to still use thelmind-controlled Conan as the pointy-end of their advance.

Further horrors awaited them, and the gang came upon four ethereal ghosts guarding a door to the furthest cavern Just as he was getting stuck in, Conan remembered who he was and was able to turn back on his tormentors.

With all the activity down in the dungeon the demons had been obliged to protect the shards down there and were entering on both staircases, forming a pincer movement on the already engaged warbands underneath.

The trapped Chronomancers turned back to fight new threat from behind, and with a coordinated combination of magical, ranged and meleē attacks they soon discover that demons, despite their fearsome appearance, bleed just like everyone else.

At this point though, unlike everyone else, the slain demon simply respawned back above in Felstad.

Seizing the opportunity for revenge, Conan checked his pockets and discovered a whole load of useful potions which he could use against his former captors. Throwing a magical grenade on the otherwise distracted Chronomancers he killed one and wounded another. This was to be his last victory however, as one of the ghosts he had turned his own back upon sucked the last remaining drops of life force from his majestically chiselled body and caused him to fall to the floor like a felled statue.

Meanwhile, the last remaining Elementalist, hiding in the South tower above, put down his tea and decided to chase down a lone Chronomancer archer and steal his shard. This was sensed by the demons on the other side of the dungeon and they turned to ascend once again in defence of a shard.

The exciting swinging back and forth of the pendulum of fortune had led to a situation where the Chronomancers had struggled through every stick between the legs given to them by their bitter opponents and emerged daylight side with a huge demon between them and the previously discovered shards. However, the demons were now mortal as all seven shards had been activated, and this particular demon was down to just one health.

A final crossbow bolt from one of the soldiers rolled a 12 for a combat score. The demon also rolled 12.

It looked like the demon might survive, until the shooting bonus of the crossbowman (+2) was added to their combat roll. This won the attack, causing 2 damage against the demon, sufficient to see it erupt into a cloud of fiery dust and return to the other plane whence it came.

With this final foe slain, it became clear that the Chronomancers would win by scooping up the remaining shards and killing the last two demons with ranged attacks, and so they were declared the winners of the campaign. Well done Orange Team!

This final game was played in great spirit, with much laughter, tension and cunning use of magic (some of which not detailed here) and made for a fantastic finish to a really enjoyable set of linked games. Thank you to all those who played across the games, and to JJ our club history monitor who seems, despite public facing protestations to the contrary, to be quietly succumbing to the heresy that is fantasy wargaming at Devon Wargames club. 

Mike Robinson (Jan 2024)

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