As I have promised, this is the first "game report" of our remote Frostgrave campaign "Perilous Dark". We did some rule changes to the warband creation, which I will illustrate next time.
This time, we will follow our "heroes" into the salt marshes, where the try to find out, what has happened to missing villagers...
More, as always, after the jump.
The night had carried the promise of dullness through the streets. Even the tavern "Shelf23" appeared to be quiet. No roused voices, no heated discussions, no bragging... the few guests seemed to have agreed in all secrecy not to mind anyone else business than their own. So, some were clinging to the bar, some ducked away into the shadows, but all hung to their glasses and their thoughts.
This mind-numbing atmosphere of grey smoke from pipes and the odors for beer, sweat and something indistinguishable was suddenly torn to shreds, when the front door of the tavern flew open and gush of wind didn't not just spill coldness and a few snowflakes into the room, but also a person. The figure took a couple of more steps into the middle of the room and then collapsed, like a marionette which has been cut loose from all it strings at the same time.
Quickly a few customers sprang forward to help the person , or better check her for valuable items, but the figure already rose back to her feet. The countless candles, that illuminated the room, shone their light on pretty, but without question not noble features, of a young woman. When she spoke up, she the attention of the whole room. She pleaded for the gathered "heroes" to help her village rid of some unspeakable horror lurking in the swamps. She begged for someone to bring back her husband. But as soon as the gathered cutthroats realized, that, aside from a pig or two, there was not much to gain, they turned their shoulders on her. She was about to give up, already turning to find salvation elsewhere, when a tall, dark haired figure gestured her to come over. Within the half shadows of the alcove, not one but two figures were lurking at a table. The tall one began to speak with a dry, crackling voice: „may I introduce myself, I am Nuriel Xanthosis Grandier and this is my colleague Giacomo Bartolo. We could not avoid hearing your begging. And we heard, that dead bodies have returned to your village to come for the living. Surely the number you have talked about has been exaggerated." "N-no, sire. It has been at least 7 o-or 8!" "Listen, we have some experience with the undead ourselves, you must have seen more, than there could have possibly been." "Sire, I swear by mothers grave! It has been that many!" The two figures exchanged some meaningful glances. "Well then, if you speak bot the truth, my colleague here will surely have some interesting ideas of how you could pay for our spoiled time. But if you speak the truth, we will investigate this. Take us to that swamp..."
It was almost dark, when the two warbands arrived at their destination. In preparation for the horrors, the marshes might be housing, Magister Bartolo and Serbaz Grandier had already called upon their dark sorcery and enforced their henchmen with each an additional minion. Bartolo had bound an orcish creature, that had been lurking nearby the abandoned library, he had chosen as his residence, to his will (he successfully cast "Raise Zombie" OoG). Grandier had found the resources to call his former apprentice Yzabel to his side.
Magister Giacomo Bartolo, Salvatore, Accursio, Flavio and Plundino at the borders of the marshes
The wizards knew immediately, that the tall pillars, covered in light glimming runes, marked somewhat of a border. But having seen quite a few horrors themselves, the warbands did not hesitate to cross the unseen line.
The treasures to be claimed. If you get the middle one, you may add Fight +6, since you are wielding a massive piece of tree. You also have to add -6 to your fight attribute, since you are wielding a massive tree.
The young woman had told them, that this wasn’t the first time, the things from the marshes had come for her village. But before, only cattle or an occasional drunk nightstalker had disappeared. The villagers had tried to make their piece with the unknown things and had carried valuable goods as far into the marshes as they had dared. When this did not help, brave men, armed up to the teeth had set out to hunt whatever was hiding in the dark. Needless to say, none of them had returned. To the two wizards, this meant the following: should, whatever lurked in the marshes be too dangerous or should they not be able to find the villagers, at least they could look out for something of value.
The creatures housing in the saltmarshes.
The warbands had barely crossed the border of the pillars, when sounds, as if something was dragged along the wet ground, reached their ears. These sounds where quickly followed by an almost unbearable stench. Grandeur had just enough time to form a battle line with his henchmen, when the first vile creature came into view and upon them. Though having been to different planes of existence than this, Grandier had never come across such beings.
While Grandier and his warband get the second wave of the large “vapoursnakes”, Bartolo appears to have chosen the easier path.
Quickly the creatures attack and with a couple of blows take down, the being called Namtur and Yzabel. Although Grandier had sacrificed quite some resources to gain the help of these two, he grimly realized that the damage had not been of substance. Both would be replaceable. It was just, that this thought had formed in his mind, that Berthold screamed loudly. But the scream did not stop. It got higher and higher and through the fight, Grandier could see, that one of the creatures had overwhelmed him and had rammed its hideous fingers into the large man’s sides. Being busy with his victim, the creature did not see Krimhylds axe, which cut the beast in two. Both, creature and Berthold, fell to the floor, both not moving anymore. “At least the screaming has stopped” Krimhyld muttered, as she spat on the unmoving wormlike body.
What Krimhyld did not know and needed to be unaware of, was, that it had not been Berthold, how had screamed. And it had not been screams of anguish, but of frustration. Shortly before they had crossed the boarder of the marshes, Grandier had used Berthold as a vessel. Namtur, a being of such potency, was able to be squeeze into this reality in more than one form. So, Berthold, or better is essence, or his soul, as some more naive would say, had been replaced by a good portion of Namtur’s essence. The body Berthold was now way more resilient and stronger, but it had been Namtur’s Essence, that had been attacked by the creature.
And that part of the entity realized in that moment, that there would be no mortal to feast upon and screamed its frustration in to the creatures face, before it used the gate, to pull back to the dimension it had come from, leaving the body behind, now little more than a meat bag full of organs, blood and bones.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the small ruin, Magister Bartolo and his men saw what had happened to the villagers. A skeleton, still covered in pieces for flesh, but also in what only could be part of the swamp itself, in which they had been lying, had approached them. The skull face had a pleading, almost begging, expression to it, but when the armed men set to relief it of its unlife, it proved to be more resilient, than a walking corpse should be. Although four of Bartolo’s men hacked at the thing, no damage was dealt to either side at first. It was finally Flavio’s big blade, that decapitated the thing.
After the melee was over, Bartolo and Grandier discussed quickly what to do. So far, they had only in one place found something of value, way too little to compensate for their expanses so far. And they had not found the source of the roaming undead. Every necromancer new, that behind a horde of undead creature, there was always a dark mind, controlling them. And looking at the numbers of undead still staggering through the marshes, this source was of great power and knowledge. The wizards quickly agreed on the fact, that they could either overwhelm this source and come back victoriously in hope of some reward, or they could negotiate with it, maybe even gain deeper knowledge of its power. Whatever it might be, they both agreed, that they needed to push further into the marshes.
As they cautiously crept onward, Magister Bartolo covered their approach with Fog at every corner (in the end we had 4 smoke templates on the table), while Serbaz Grandier was trying to recover from the heavy price, his magick had costs him (he was approaching the end of the game with health 2).
Finally, the end of their journey came into view. From afar, the two wizards could make out a grim tree, that partly illuminated by witch fires. The two massive monsters infront of the tree were clearly just bodyguards, not the source they had been looking for. It was apparent, that they would not find a living being here, they would be able to persuade or negotiate with, since the tree was a thing created by magic of the darkest sort. The skeletons, hanging from the tree, constantly whispered curses and muttered words in a language unknow to the wizards. These sounds though seemed to have a physical presence, drenching the earth around the tree, turning it black. Bartolo and Grandier had no time to think of weather to attack or with draw, since, Accursio and Krimhyld simultaneously stormed at the swamp creatures, guarding the cursed tree. As the decision was made, both warband engaged the swamp beasts, when suddenly...
... another nightmarish worm appears in their middle. Without hesitation Yzabel and the orcish creature attack the worm, binding it, where I had erupted from the soil.
The force of the two warbands make pretty work of the guarding monsters and it is within seconds, that everyone who is carrying a blade is hacking at the dammed tree, accompanied by the wails and screams from the hanging skeletons.
With blades, muscles and a long robe, the warriors finally manage to fell the tree, tearing it from the ground, unearthing the black, stinking roots. It was Plundinos sharp eyes that spotted the two faintly glowing stones among the tangling roots. It was immediately obvious, that these had been placed there and had something to do with the evil power that had been lurking in this area of the swamp. On their way back to civilization, the wizards examined the stones with utmost care. The stones were still radiating a faint light and were covered in runes. Bartolo, having had once the chance to read parts of the Necronomicon, recognized the runes, but was unable to read them. And since Felstadt was probably a place, where you could find the book in question, but would have to make a quest on its on to find it, both wizards agreed, that they needed help with the translation.
After they had returned to their home bases, Grandier had occupied an abandoned laboratory, Bartolo had found in a pretty battered library a home, both wizards first tended to the wounded. The wounds of Bartolo’s men were quickly dealt with and of no grave consequences.
Berthold was another topic. It took Grandier quite some efforts to communicate with the being called Namtur, to find out, that Berthold’s essence was still with him. The demon had not swallowed the soul, but kept it as an basis for negotiations.
“I don’t care w-what We feassst upon-n...” the black smoke wallowing from the bowl announced “as looong as We feassst...”
“So, you would be willing to trade Berthold for someone else.” Grandier asked carefully. It was one thing to open a portal and let whatever screaming madness left it, rush into your enemies. But to actually talk or negotiate with a entity from a mother dimension was something else.
“Yesss... give usss something young... something innocsssent. This one is o-old and dirty and tastelesss...”.
“Well, when you don’t harm Berthold, I will bring you an appropriate exchange.” Grandier knew someone, who just had lost husband and village and would probably die in the next winter anyway...
First off, the remotely played scenario worked perfectly. Of cause some tweaks and bucks can get better next time or will have to be accepted (corona is not making me buy a better upload rate or a better camera), but it worked so well, that we will stick to this for the foreseeable future, as getting little kids on both ends plus other family needs in line, to meet at least somewhat regularly, is neigh to impossible. And this is the perfect alternative.
The scenario itself has been tough as a nail. In all honesty, we only survived this, because we made a crucial mistake... the scenario rules state, that after a certain game turn has been reached, the monsters stop wandering around mindlessly but press for the final point, which is in the original scenario a door.
We had our dear problems fending off the creatures that crossed our path. If all of them had attacked us at the same time, we would not have stood a chance.
Another thing we noticed are that XP are way harder to be earned in Perilous Dark. During our Lich Lord Campaign, we had used the XP Rules from the "Maze of Malcor" supplement, were to focus was on casting different spells, getting the treasure tokens home and killing random monsters, next to scenario specific XP.
We ended every scenario with atleast 300 XP (which is a) the max available and b) an up of 3 Level for the wizard). Now we both reached barely the 200 mark after the game (I only did, because my wizard had been successfull toyed arounf with some chemicals in his lab).
A side from this, the post-game-sequence is, at least to us, almost as important as the game itself and the results we rolled were worked into the story of the game itself afterwards.
The injured of Magister Bartolo’s crew recovered fully. I did not have that much luck... Berthold was rolled a 1... which is dead as dead. Therefore, I had to come up with an explanation, why he would make an reappearance in the next game (see above). The other surprising thing that happened was, that both of use rolled the same number on the treasure chart (some magical stone, which were of no use for us... so we sold them...). These stones are the perfect peg to hang on the next scenario (stay tuned...).
So, all in all, I am really looking forward to the next game (hopefully in the next couple of days), check out my Instagramm Account for the creeps we have to fight in the next scenario.
I hoped, you enjoyed this. If you do, it would be awesome, if you could let me know.
See you next time in "The Eyes of the Sleeper"