Monday, 14 December 2015

The Mini Game

The Mini Game came about on a long driving trip with my daughters in the car. Although not strictly a game I would ordinarily cover on this blog, I thought I would mention it as it is something we have played now for several months.

This is a game pretty much on a theme that I played years ago when I was a kid - Syd Bishop, Norbert Dentressangle or Eddie Stobart were the theme back then.

The game basically involves spotting a car of the said model, shouting "Mini" and pointing it out to the rest of the car passengers before anyone else spots it. One point is scored per car spotted and two points for spotting the older model. No points are granted for car show rooms, but cheeky sons have managed to increase their score by several when a car transporter drives past - grr!

The game ends either whenever you get bored of it or a certain tally is reached - we usually score first up to 10 for a short journey and first to twenty on a longer journey.

What made me mention this game is that it was invented by my 10 year old but she has not played this type of game before. It was a stroke of genius to choose the Mini as not only is it a classic British marque but also there are just enough on the road to make the game a challenge without getting bored. I cannot think of another car that is as distinctive as the Mini and with enough numbers to justify a fun game for the family on British roads. Do any of you play a similar game with your family on a long car journey, and which car do you choose as your target?

Monday, 30 November 2015

Long time no post

A bit of an update and a promise to be more with it after Christmas. However, I have been updating the sister site The Taplow Horn. This is a blog to chart my journeys into the land of pubs and real ale; another hobby of mine shared by many more of my friends and family than gaming.

Things have been rather busy at chez Odo. My current contract role has been extended on several occasions and as a result I have not had much time to get any gaming stuff done. All the available spare time has been taken up by the kids who have been busy getting up to what kids get up to; changing to new schools, taking exams, being involved in after school and weekend clubs and activities.

All of this has meant that gaming has had to go on the back burner. That said, I have still been purchasing Lord of the Rings minis when I see them at knockdown prices on Ebay, so I have plenty to paint when I can finally get back to it. I also have to explore Frostgrave and I would also like to play Saga and Lion (Dragon) Rampant (I have yet to pick up these rulesets). I just need someone to play against!

When my curent work role finishes (any time soon), I am hoping to sort out lots more stuff in the man cave and get all my LotR and Frostgrave miniatures glued and undercoated. I am also part-way through making an Anglo-Danish warband - I am sure I can get thiat finished relatively quickly if I put my mind to it.

Anyway, until next time...

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Diamond Sky - Session 5 (02/09/15)

There has been a bit of disruption to the campaign over the last few weeks due to holidays, illness, work and what-not. Last week the players of Skins and Zook played an explore the city style session. However, this week saw four players turn up for a recap session in order to catch up with Skins and Zook.

Karik (Half-elf) - Sorceror
Rhogar (Dragonborn) - Warlock
Salderban (Human) - Paladin (absent)
Skins (Kobold) - Barbarian
Torric (Human) - Bard
Zook (Gnome) - Ranger (absent)

Karik wandered down to the pool and watched the lepers whilst they bathed. On closer inspection he noticed that they were not actual lepers but were malnourished and covered in sores which they tried to wash away in the waters by the Forbidden Gate. One particular member of the band of outcasts took a shine to Karik and spoke to him at length. He invited him into the healing waters, and became the first person to see the albino half-elf without his all covering outfits. Karik asked whether anyone ever passed through the gates and he was told that only criminals took the one-way trip beyond. However, with special permission from the council others occasionally passed through the portals. A recent investigation by the Templars found out something very important; an internal job. Karik thanked the leper, got dressed and left a small pile of coins for the information.

Rhogar, in the meantime, made his way to the magicians' guild where he met with a tiefling wizard. Torric visited the bards' college to gather more information and then wandered around the markets where he picked up some clothing for the ex-slaves back on the ship. When Karik began his conversation with the lepers, Salderban left the Forbidden Gate in search of the temple of the Ancients.

Whilst everyone was about their investigations, a golden sphere visited them all no matter where they were and requested their presence at Arya's Hope in the Hall of Triumph.

It took a while, but all the party eventually turned up where the golden domes requested. As the party arrived they sat at the same table with a high born noble named Daowin, a Shadow Guard of Methredel (a high-ranking Templar), who asked them to partake in a mission for the city. They were to find three missing mages last seen headed towards Magnaroc. The party admitted that they had already met with and subsequently dispatched Orsini and Veross, so only one needed to be found. Daowin suggested that the renowned pirate queen Pascha Kale, recently released from the dungeons, may hold some information. She was the captain of an unruly ship currently docked in Wasters Bay, and used to be a pit fighter, so she was very handy with a knife and good in a fight. Daowin stood up after passing on the information and request, but as he bid Torric adieu he cast a small rune on the back of his hand that would show him to be on official business.

The party retired to a local tavern that Skins had visited previously and called in on her local snoop Sticks. He greeted her warmly but was reticent with what he said until the gold began to flow. The party found out that Pascha Kale was a very dangerous individual but was indeed down at the docks. She had a good trade going in illegal drugs from Oslo with Severus Dune's eldest son.

After the final encounter of the day, the party returned to the skyship via the market and mage's guild (where Karik got the rings he had taken from Veross's fingers identified and realised that one in particular was worth a small fortune). They found that Arathea had tidied the place up and made it more habitable for humanoids and Okzar had made the working areas spotless. The ex-slaves wanted to leave but, after being told the fate of slaves and ex-slaves in this city, they decided they would stay on board until the characters had finished their quest and would then be dropped off wherever they wished.

The following morning the tax collector arrived at the docks with many men-at-arms and suggested that their presence was required by the High Council. He led the party and Arathea on a circuitous route and stopped halfway down an alleyway where the party was confronted by five dwarfs who demanded to see the owner of the skyship. Vedrick, the leader of the dwarfs and king of Greymount was taken aback when the party say that they owned it under the auspices of Okzar of Magnaroc. The rest of the dwarfs postrated themselves upon the ground.

As an honour the party invited the dwarfs on board to meet with Okzar whom they revered almost as a god - Magnaroc is a dwarf legend. The rest of the afternnon was taken up with feasting and drinking from magically refilling horns and mugs, but after a while the dwarfs had outstayed their welcome and were hustled off the ship with a promise that they could come back soon.

The party secured the skyship and headed to Wasters' Bay where they found the ship that they were looking for. They espied a woman covered in piercings with a hook for a hand giving the orders. Skins approached her to make friends but she was turned away in no uncertain terms. Seeing that the friendly approach had not worked, Rhogar moved in with a menacing air but this time the pirate queen was moved to listen, but decided she would only listen to them if Torric could sing her a song of the party's renown. He did so with flair and enthusiasm.

Pascha was so impressed that she was forthcoming with much information including the names of the noble houses that Dune was dealing with:
Regan (tied to the academy of warriors)
Serath (accused of witching and dark magic, but none of the charges stuck)
Varso (a long line of defectors to the elves)
Dune (reside outside Methredel as diplomats to the elves)
Malthor, Veross and Orsini (triumvirate of missing mages who know most about ancient history and the Diamond Sky. They are all keepers of knowledge but they disappeard about a year ago on a mission for the council).
There is a need for the drug Snuff Dust for the God of the Open Hand.

The party left Pascha with the promise that they could return the following day before dawn.

Karik returned to see his leper friends where he found out that they were worshippers of the Truth of Open Hand. The member of this sect accept The One Truth; they do not lie and tell no false truths. Karik, intrigued, became an initiate of the cult.

Torric, meanwhile, managed to get an audition at the Bards' Guild as a precursor to being able to perform at the Aer Dominicum. However, he needed to get everyone in on the act so that all could be admitted to the high council. The rest of the party decided to join in and gave a great performance but Arathea, troubled by a bunch of hecklers spoiled the show by attacking them. A bar-room brawl erupted and fists and bar stools flew everywhere. Skins loved being in the thick of it until the eldritch wizardry of Rhogar brought it to an end with the death of one of the crowd. Karik swiftly made an exit with Arathea, and Torric grabbed Skins and drew her aside whilst the guard arrived and arrested Rhogar.

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Diamond Sky - Session 4 (12/08/15)

This week saw the return of the original paladin player, bringing the party back to its full original strength.

Karik (?) - Sorceror
Rhogar (Dragonborn) - Warlock
Salderban (Human) - Paladin
Skins (Kobold) - Barbarian
Torric (Human) - Bard
Zook (Gnome) - Ranger

Skins and Salderban led the way back into the main chamber and made straight for the walkway and exit to the skyship. Whilst Torric and Karik rounded up the remainder of the old elf's now ex-slaves the two giant constructs carried Okzar's body and guarded the party's retreat. The paladin and barbarian worked out how to operate the elevation device and so the party came face-to-face with the skyship that would get them off the Magnaroc.

The huge hangar opened out before them and the natural rock shelf led the adventurers to a ramp and onto the flying machine. The party rapidly advanced into the hold wherein they met with captain Harlott, his last remaining crewman and the rest of the ex-slaves from the Caraway. After a brief reunion and introductions the party went their separate ways throughout the ship.

Whilst Zook stayed within the forge and Skins made herself busy in the armoury the rest of the party either hunkered down for a rest or made their way to the bridge. The shaking from the erupting volcano spurred those making their way to the bridge into more haste and so they followed the plan that Karik had secured previously to ease their way.

Whilst they passed what turned out to be the power plant room they spotted behind thick glass, through a small port-hole, a solid flame being fed by blocks of jet. Karik read up on this and how it was used to propel the ship. He was dragged up to the bridge and when there he made his way straight to the only seat available. He sat in the command chair and realised through a trick of design that he had an almost 360 degree view around the ship. He realised he could control many other things from the command chair and so pulled the lever to close the loading bay ramp. He fired up the engines and more through luck than judgement glided the powerful skyship out of its birth and into the open sky.

During the next few hours, whilst the others explored the ship and rested, Karik got to learn how to pilot the advanced skyship. A few of his manoeuvres, however, did not go down well as he only very narrowly avoided some of the floating rocks and made rather too many tight turns for his companions' liking.

Salderban and Torric were able to work out that the ship was surrounded by some kind of magical force shield that stopped the crew from being battered by the elements and also allowed the ship to glide smoothly through the air. This smooth running, along with the powerful engine, meant that the skyship could travel at least three or four times faster than the fastest of sky frigates.

Whilst the party travelled through the air at unbelievable speeds, the tasks that everyone set themselves slowly came to fuition. Everybody healed from their encounters on Magnaroc, Zook began work on forging his own weaponry and Skins, messing around with the forge fire and Okzar, managed to bring the construct to halting life; but he could only sport a small beard and short crop of flame hair. The look on his face as he entered the bridge conveyed pride in his ship and happiness that the party had figured out how to pilot the flying machine.

After many hours of travel, the lookout spotted a small floating island settlement. It turned out to be a small trading settlement with many strange ships docked. The ships were identified as water gatherers; this trading settlement gathered cloud water to barter for trade goods and victuals.

The great skyship docked beside the water gatherers and the ramp was lowered. The party strode down the ramp, leaving Zook, the two fire giants and ex-slaves as guards, to be met by Elissa, an elf ranger, and her militia. The welcome party was overawed by the appearance of the adventurers, their ship and the fire giants in the hold, but held their nerve enough to escort the party to the local tavern, The Broken Drum.

The vista from the veranda of the inn was breathtaking. A grand man-made lake shone with light from the setting sun. The party put themselves at ease and caroused the night away, telling their tales of derring do to a captive audience.

The following morning, the adventurers went to the various traders and re-supplied the ship with food, drink and sleeping materials; the ship was not designed for a humanoid crew, only constructs. Elissa put her case forward for joining up with the crew on their onward journey, but the adventurers did not trust her fully and decided to go their own way. Much to her chagrin, Elissa bade the strange crew goodbye and waved them off on their journey.

After a three day flight, the skyship crew finally espied their original destination - Methredhel. The grand capital city of spires, towers and elegant stone buildings glowed in the sunlight; a truly magnificent sight. Karik steered the skyship towards the main docks. On the way in, the great ship was guided past a great carved statue of a Platinum Dragon and the Aerodrome (an outlying rock where aerosports appeared to be played). Skins saw the young people dive from a platform, plunge helter-skelter towards the clouds below and then float back to their starting point with a tail of fire. She thought this was some kind of magic so plunged over the side to see what would happen. She did not realise that each person was equipped with a jet pack on their backs and plunged ot the abyss below. Luckily she was spotted by a flier, Ace Cloud Diver, who caught her and returned her safely back on board the skyship.

After the ship had docked and the ramp lowered, the party disembarked only to be greeted by an official and his well-drilled men-at-arms. They were quickly intimidated by Zook, the fire giants and the size of the ship. What should have been a tax-taking exercise and a laying down of the law turned out to be a nervous welcome and an invite to explore the grand city.

The party split to explore the various areas of the city that interested them, and the reason they were headed to Methredhel in the forst place. Arathea, the rescued half-elf, explained that she was taken as a slave as a young girl and kept in the Aer Dominicum where the High Council abide.

Zook headed to The Burrows to look for his loved one. Skins went down to Hang Town, the seedy downtown area of Methredhel, where she was mobbed by kobolds upon her arrival. Torric, Rhoghar and Arathea made their way to the main town where they managed to sell some of the loot found in Magnaroc to buy some decent weaponry, armour and clothing for all. Karik and Salderban descended to the Forbidden Gate where they met with two suits of magical armour that guarded the way in. Hidden in the shadows, following their every move, they spotted Ace Cloud Diver.

Friday, 7 August 2015

LotR Battle Report : Rohan vs Orcs

The two boys were at a loose end yesterday evening and they asked me if I would referee "the board game" as they put it. I said that I would but as time was getting on we would run the game a little differently to the usual line 'em up and charge, with the winner being the one who broke last, type of scenario. This time I decided to drop a few of the advanced rules I had introduced in the last couple of games (regarding leaders and break points) but introduce the concept of victory by objective. So, I set up a little scenario for them to play out.

Barn Busters - an orcs versus Rohan mini scenario:

A small band of Rohan warriors found out from a local shepherd that there was a very important, but sickly Orc chieftain holed up in a small barn by the local river. They were told that he only had a small body guard with him, so they decided if numbers were fairly equal then they would trust to chance and try to eliminate the chieftain thus making a telling blow agianst their enemy.

Rohan objective - get two warriors into the barn to kill the orc chieftain
Orc objective - stop the Rohan warriors from entering the barn and/or reduce the Rohan force by 50% (4 troops)

The orcs were to set up around the barn and Rohan would set up on the left side of the board. To kill the chieftain the Rohan warriors (at least two of them) had to get to the barn, stay there one turn (to open the door) and then enter the barn (thus killing the bed-bound orc chieftain).

Turn 1 - Rohan Priority
A small band of Rohan warriors advanced from the west towards their objective in a small huddle; each man nervous and wondering what might greet them at the riverside barn. Meanwhile, a small warband of orcs crouched lazily outside the barn whilst their chieftain suffered from a fever within. Once he was better, he would lead them on a path of destruction throughout the Westfold.

Turn 2 - Rohan Priority
As the goodly warriors advanced upon the barn the sharp ears of the orc lookout picked up on their steady progress and yelped the alarm. The orcs grabbed their weapons and advanced upon the Rohan stalwarts. One of the orc scouts managed to get a shot off with his bow but the shaft failed to find its mark. The rest of the orcs clashed with their hated adversaries.

Turn 3 - Orc Priority
Now that combat was joined, the orc numbers told and they began to encircle their foes. The Rohan troops put up a brave fight in the hope of breaking through their ranks and putting their chieftain to the sword. Unfortunately the two-handed axes and support of their spearmen caused grave injuries to two of the brave Rohan warriors.

Turn 4 - Rohan Priority
The broken ranks of the Rohan shield wall allowed the two archers to peel off and advance towards the barn entrance supported by a solitary swordsman. The orcs redoubled their efforts to defeat their foes but the wily Rohan captain managed to split his forces in such a way that they diverted the main force of the orc attack away from the two archers tasked with killing the orc chieftain.

With a little support on the flanks, the Rohan troops were able to keep the orcs away from their assassins. Unfortunately the heavy two-handed axes of the orcs took their toll and another Rohan warrior fell to the ground. The remnants of the shield wall put up a grim defence and were rewarded with dispatching two lowly orc warriors. The remaining orc archers attempted to stop the two Rohan scouts from breaking into the barn, but their shafts either bounced off their armour or stuck in the wooden door frame.

Turn 5 - Rohan Priority
The two Rohan archers finally broke the door down and entered the barn. It took a few moments for their eyes to adjust to the gloom within, but as soon as they saw the cot on which the orc captain lay they loosed their arrows with deadly precision and killed him where he lay.

Meanwhile, outside, the Rohan troops whooped in joy at the death screech of the orc captain and attempted to make their get away. They ran as fast as they could, dodging the deadly arrows from the orc bows, but one poor fellow could not escape the deadly kiss of a two-handed axe. He fell before he could join his comrades in the woods to the south.

Summary - a Draw
A few things could be taken from this rather short game (it lasted about 30 minutes). The boys still saw it as a kill 'em all type scenario - I had to keep reminding them of their objectives.

Nick got his two men into the barn and dispatched the (imaginary) orc chieftain; this gained him his victory point. Alex managed to slay half of Nick's force, and thus gained his victory point that way.

The orc teaming up of a two-handed weapon supported by a spearman proved to be a deadly combination. This is definitely something to think about if I play with them in the future due to their generally being inferior troops. The Rohan shields proved pretty useless as they do not provide anything extra to the troops' defence at this level (I haven't introduced the 'shielding' rules yet).

We did not use any leaders in this game, so there were to be no break points. The game was designed to have ended after 10 turns as I supected the boys would play a bit of cat and mouse whilst they attempted to manoeuvre their troops to achieve their victory conditions. It only took 5 turns of direct combat in the end, but it was a very tense 5 turns.

Monday, 3 August 2015

Diamond Sky - Session 3 (29/07/15)

We had a new player join us this week. He has taken on the role of Salderban until his usual player returns. The party has grown to a very handy six characters now...

Karik (?) - Sorceror
Rhogar (Dragonborn) - Warlock
Salderban (Human) - Paladin
Skins (Kobold) - Barbarian
Torric (Human) - Bard
Zook (Gnome) - Ranger

Okzar - the flame-headed brass construct

Arathea, the half-elf, backed off from the party after she had stabbed the old elf and threatened to kill herself. Rhogar, being an ex-slave himself, calmed her with his soothing words, but no sooner had she stopped trembling than the old elf began to live again. The blood stopped flowing from his wounds and he tried to rise again despite being bound.

Skins, her barbarian instincts prickling, battered him to the ground again with her axes and Zook pinned his hand to the ground with his own eldritch dagger to prevent him from rising again. Despite his pain the old elf attempted to cast a spell, but Torric put a stop to his movements and suggested that all his clothing and trappings be removed lest they contained the source of his power. He was stripped to his loincloth with Karik taking his rings and Torric his strange black robe with a sash of eyes.

Okzar iterated the fact that they needed to get moving if they were to save his brothers and escape the Magnaroc, but his words fell on deaf ears as Salderban went off to investigate the lift apparatus, Karik went to look at the book on the elf's lectern and Zook made his way to look at a bubbling cauldron nearby. Nothing new was learned about the lift device, but Karik got a swift peak at the book and saw that it was about airships before Okzar growled a warning and slammed it shut. The bubbling cauldron turned out to contain a vile concoction of demi-human body parts in a broth that was undoubtedly for consumption by the bullywugs.

Torric cast a Detect Magic cantrip which highlighted the book, the eye-sashed robe, the rings in Karik's possession, the chain around the necks of the three remaining elf's slaves, and a chest off to one side of the room. Torric persuaded the old elf to give up the secrets of the locks and got the chest opened, which revealed an amulet, four scrolls and some good food.

Arathea, once again scared now that the elf was back alive begged for the party to kill him to finally free her from his thrall but Torric and Rhogar continued to question him. This led to the old elf attempting to cast some diversionary magic before Rhogar Eldritch Blasted the wizard, taking away half of his head, thus killing him once and for all.

Torric revived Arathea from her faint with a small sip from the last remaining Potion of Healing and gave her some of the good food from the chest, which revived her no end. He then did the same for the other three slaves still standing upon the dais. It was at this point that Okzar finally lost his patience and ordered the party to get going with Zook leading the way over the bridge.

Their path took them through a series of large caverns and small, twisting crevices and ended in a large cavern beneath the main caldera of the volcano. In the centre of the room they espied a large magma chamber with a narrow stone bridge spanning it. Flying around the upper reaches of the caldera, close to the open air, they spotted one of the smaller red dragons but the central magma chamber was surrounded by a score of bullywugs praising three figures that stood upon the narrow bridge. Every so often one of the bullywugs would be directed to jump into the magma.

The three figures on the stone bridge did not spot the adventurers as they crept into the chamber due to the concentration they had upon the ritual that they were performing. Okzar pointed to the far end of the chamber where there were two huge glass cabinets that each contained a huge construct not unlike himself. He handed a key each to Zook and Skins and ordered them to open the cabinets and thus free his brothers.

Skins and Zook took to their tasks and rapidly advanced upon the cabinets whilst the rest of the party took up supporting positions. Unfortunately, as the two sneaking party members approached their goal, they were spotted by the three figures on the bridge who ordered their bullywug minions to attack them. It was at this point that the party realised that one of the figures was the old maester from the sky-ship they had crash landed on the Magnaroc. The other two were a red-skinned bullywug type and a large devil. When any member of the party looked at the red amphibian they found that they felt nauseous and were ill.

Now that they had been spotted, the band of adventurers charged into battle to support their two sneaking comrades. Many bullywugs were pushed directly in to the lava but soon their numbers began to tell and they became less of an easy target. However, the superior skills-at-arms of the party told through and the bullywugs began to fall faster and faster, especially with Torric's magical chanting and ballads belittling their prowess. Okzar made straight for the bridge to bring battle to the three beings there.

The red being saw the advance of Okzar and that the fight was going against his sect, so he made himself disappear and a sphere of bright white light appeared in his place. This sphere slowly dropped into the magma chamber where it caused great wafts of steam to rise into the room above.

The maester, fearing what might happen, dropped to his knees and grabbed the hem of the skirts of the devil. This caused the devil too to disappear from sight as the magma rose in the chamber beneath. Knowing that he now had nothing to lose, the maester squared up to Okzar who had just reached the centre of the bridge. Okzar roared his battle-cry but it was cut short by a Cone of Cold that shot from the fingers of the magic user. He fell to the ground, the flames of his hair went out.

Rhogar cast an Eldritch Blast at the maester and Torric's bardic lore caused the old wizard to clutch at his head and fall to his death into the rapidly rising magma. Karik just had time to grab the magical book from Okzar before they realised that they had to leave the caldera as soon as possible.

They shouted to Skins, Zook and Salderban to hurry up and release the giants. The three warriors rapidly finished off the last of their bullywug adversaries before they put the keys into the locks on the cabinets. A quick turn of the keys released a magical energy that turned the locks and the doors began to open. The giants within, their eyes full of fire, emerged from their slumber.

Skins commanded the first giant to return her to her companions. The giant obliged by picking up the small kobold and threw her the length of the room. Zook chose his words more carefully and ordered the giant constructs to collect Okzar then follow the party and aid in restoring the Magnaroc to order.

The small band of adventurers made their way to the exit from the magma chamber, but not before the small red dragon managed a single swoop down on Rhogar before it too made its escape.

It was only a matter of a few minutes before they had regained the chamber with the sky-ship and the three remaining slaves. The sounds of the volcanic eruption rang in their ears.

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Diamond Sky - Session 2 (22/07/15)

This week saw one of the players (Salderban) leave us temporarily whilst he goes on holiday, but we were joined by another new player to replace him, so party numbers remained at five.

Bullywugs go to war - courtesy of WotC

The Party:

Karik (?) - Sorceror
Rhogar (Dragonborn) - Warlock
Skins (Kobold) - Barbarian
Torric (Human) - Bard
Zook (Gnome) - Ranger

Whilst the four companions watched what was happening at the cave and discussed what they were going to do with the captain when they got back from investigating the distant combat, one of the former slaves edged away from the rest of his companions and rooted around on the now broken and deserted sky-ship for a few items that may come in handy at a later time and place.

Skins and Zook were the first into the fray, their axes and swords carved crimson swathes through the
amphibious and insectoid enemy; their chosen enemy was no longer the warband of towering 5' tall frog men but also their attendant fire beetles. Torric began to sing a ballad to magically aid his companions whilst Karik hung back with his loaded crossbow at the ready.

The beings, now recognised as bullywugs, had encircled the fire-headed bronze dwarf and began to strike at him in earnest, but upon contacting the warrior their heads burst into flame. This great loss of batrachian life caused the rest of their companions to turn tail and flee, but the party managed to overcome and dispatch the remainder before they made it back inside the cavern. Skins and Zook cut the firestones from the beetles for later use.

The dwarf took up position before the cavern in front of the party. He introduced himself as Krokdahk Oxar; the prenom being his rank of chief mason as translated by Karik and Zook. Skins stepped forward to shake hands with the now recognisable metallic construct but burned his hands before he could pull them away from Oxar's purposefully light grip.

At the same moment, there was a great roar from the distant volcano and it began to erupt with fire and brimstone. Oxar suggested that the party followed him if they wanted to leave the magnarock alive. The adventurers unanimously agreed and Torric ran swiftly back to the captain to tell him that they were going to aid Oxar and then come rescue him and his remaining crew and passengers. As the party entered the cavern, they failed to spot a sixth shadow slip silently in behind them.

Oxar led the small band of explorers into the mountainside through a great pair of brass valves. The gigantic chamber beyond seemed to resemble a huge workshop or factory with great walkways and tunnels leading off all over the place. However all the finery of the machinery was off-set by the air of disuse.

The party passed through a second, smaller door into a further chamber full of caskets that contained many brass body parts. Oxar introduced them in his gruff language as "Father". Many further doors led off from this chamber into what looked like living quarters; enough rooms for a whole settlement. Oxar did not stop and led them further into the mountainside settlement but the air was laden with the doom of many deaths. Scattered about the chambers were the bodies of many of Oxar's kin as well as many half snake-half man creatures that were recognised as salamanders.

The flame-headed dwarf finally came to a halt at a fourth chamber that contained two large conveyer belts that ended above two deep holes. A great door between them blocked any further progress. Oxar moved towards the hatch wheel that locked the great door but halted, as did the rest of the party as they heard in the distance the sound of many flopping feet approaching. Oxar growled at the party to hide whilst he took up a defensive stance in front of the final door. Skins and Zook made ready next to him but Torric and Karik found the darkest of corners. Nobody noticed in the kerfuffle the trailing shadow take up position in the darkness beside one of the entrance doors.

A large patrol of bullywugs marched past the entrance without looking into the room, obviously bent on going somewhere in a hurry and would not have stopped until Zook launched an arrow at them. This caused the amphibians and their large fire snake companion to turn into the chamber and attack the party. As the first few enemy warriors passed over the threshold into the room Skins threw his hand axes at the following rank felling one of them whilst Zook carried on shooting arrows into the midst of the front rank. Torric chanted to spur on is companions and sewed confusion into the ranks of the enemy whilst Karik looked for a way out at the great hatch door end of the chamber.

As the second wave began to enter the room the shadowy shape emerged from behind the door and a great wave of fire was launched at the incoming bullywugs. This surprised not only the bullywugs but also the party. However, the greatest surprise was on the bullywugs as the great fiery breath dealt death and destruction amongst their number. Seeing that the dragonborn seemed to be a friend, the rest of the party concentrated on the bullywugs and their snake companion rather than worry about who the reptilian was, but Zook recognised him as one of the ex-slaves from the sky ship.

Whilst the combat erupted around the chamber, Karik tried the great door to see if he could escape. He did not have the strength to turn the great hatch wheel so he jumped up onto one of the stationary conveyor belts and wriggled through the chain curtain into the room beyond. The room was full of various wonders but what grabbed his attention most was the vast amount of potions and precious stones. He stuffed a couple of handfuls of the processed stones into his pockets and went about testing some of the small vials. One particular group of the potions contained within a box upon a side table seemed quite familiar to him so he grabbed a few and made his way to the back of the door to see if it could be opened from that direction. He had just as much luck on that side of the valve so, after pulling 3 levers beside the door, he decided to return to the fight.

Inside the conveyer belt chamber the fight was not going well for the party; Oxar had fought the fire snake to a standstill whilst the party slowly mopped up the bullywugs with their combined magical and martial prowess. Unfortunately, numbers began to tell and the party slowly succumbed to their wounds. When they heard the whine of turbines come from beyond the door they were fighting to protect, Oxar swore an oath and redoubled his efforts against the snake.

Looking over his shoulder, Karik saw that a great cauldron in the centre of the room had begun to bubble with clear liquid whilst great fans in the ceiling began to blow cool air into the room. At the same time, the conveyor upon which he was standing began to move him back into the room he had just left.

Skins was very badly injured and extricated himself from the melee he was in in order to try to lick his wounds and rejoin the combat at a distance whilst the fresher Rhogar, the dragonborn, covered his retreat. Torric and Zook held their own and dealt out more damage from a distance whilst the combat between Oxar and the snake remained in deadlock.

Just as Skins thought all was lost, Karik came through from the far room, stood upon the moving conveyer belt. He caught the small vial that was thrown at him, pulled the stopper and drank the contents at the signal from Karik. He felt better very quickly as the magical Healing properties of the liquid coursed through his veins. Following his lead, the others who had been thrown a vial followed suit.

Karik rode to the end of the conveyer belt, leapt off and then removed one of his gloves which revealed a pallid, thin white hand. From this hand shot a Ray of Frost, which struck the fire snake and turned the combat in favour of Oxar. It was with a renewed vigour that the rest of the party rejoined the combat and swiftly put paid to the remnants of the bullywug patrol and their fire snake compatriot.

Torric quickly leapt onto the serpent and removed its poisoned fangs whilst the rest of the party collected their spent arrows and axes, and tended to their wounds. Oxar opened the door to the chamber beyond and led them into the now cold interior. He pulled the levers back into the opposite position to which Karik had pulled them.

With a grunt, he led the party back through the chamber where the combat had just taken place and headed off in the direction that the bullywugs were taking before they were ambushed by the party. He led them through a mine where more dead dwarfs and snake-men lay. Scattered around the huge chamber were huge piles of unrefined jet - a small sample of which was now sitting in Karik's pockets.

Finally, the last corridor opened into a huge chamber that held over one hundred bullywugs that appeared to be worshipping a tall, skinny, old elf with a ring around its neck that held four beings at the end of chains attached to it. The bullywugs were in awe of the elf and as a result failed to spot the party arrive.

There were two exits from the large chamber; to the right was a stone path and bridge that led towards the volcano and opposite was a brass lift with the insignia Azroc (ship) inscribed above it. The party decided to split at this stage but just as they began to move, the elf's speech reached a crescendo and the bullywugs began to rapidly leave the chamber via the bridge exit.

With only the old, skinny elf and his four attendants left, the party advanced amongst the shadows towards the raised dais upon which he was stood. Rhogar created a diversion with a Noise cantrip, but one of the beings attached to the elf via a chain was not fooled. The old elf undid his collar, left the small band on the dais, and moved off towards a table and began to read a book laying thereupon; he began giggling to himself.

The female half-elf that had previously spotted the party began to work on her chains whilst the party advanced upon the elderly elf. Torric crept up behind him and grabbed him firmly by the throat. Skins unpacked his rope and tied the villain up with it. Meanwhile, the female half-elf had been able to free herself from the chain and had found a dagger from somewhere. She walked over to the elderly elf with menace in her eyes. Torric asked if this was what she really wanted and without saying a word, plunged the dagger into the old elf's neck, killing him instantly.

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Diamond Sky - Session 1 (15/07/15)

Well, here I go on a whirlwind of adventure into the realms of D&D Fifth Edition. I attended the RP Haven for the first time in 10 months on Wednesday last week to start playing in a new campaign. Along with the DM, there were three other permanent players and one player who may or may not come back after his holiday (I hope he does as he was also an occasional player at the table during my long stint as DM of the Doggerland campaign).

The first session of almost every RPG game I play in involves the task of rolling up a new character and fleshing it out. This time round was certainly no different and the diverse nature of the characters is fantastic; plenty of scope for inter-character banter and hopefully they will make for some funny, memorable moments (there certainly have been so far although I tend to write my summaries a bit more seriously than they actually played out).

The Party:
(with thanks to Rod for his character summaries below)
Salderban (Human) - Paladin of Doom. Currently sunk in a fugue when the end of the world failed to materialise as the party crashed landed onto the slope of an enormous magmarock instead of plunging directly into the active caldera
Zook (Gnome) - Ranger and explorer
Karik (?) - Taciturn, hooded and slightly odiferous man? of mystery
Skins (Kobold) - Eggbearer Barbarian, not currently bearing any eggs as far as we can tell
Torric (Human) - Singer, Dancer, Juggler, Entertainer. Bookings available. Hen nights a specialty

Although there was a palpable split of loyalties between the rag-tag band under the command of Captain Harlott and the well-heeled crewmen who seemed to show allegiance to the maester, things were calm between the two crew factions for several days after the passengers were picked up.

On the lower, passenger, deck of the sky caravel Caraway, the talkative, and fidgety Kobold, Skins chittered to those who would listen, in constant competition with Torric who was ever telling the small band of his colourful and self-satisfied life. Salderban usually kept himself separate on occasion and prayed to his god in order to save him from the oncoming doom of the world, but Karik was very reluctant to join in with the conversations going on and always sat alone on his bunk with his hood permanently obscuring his face and his gloves hiding his hands.

It was all going so well on the lower deck of the Caraway until the peace was shattered by an almighty explosion that emenated from the upper deck. The passengers were flung from their comfortable positions and looked around nervously. Shouts suddenly erupted from the crew above and the sound of steel clashed upon steel; a sure sign that combat had broken out. Several men from each faction stumbled down the stairs fighting for their lives.

Salderban, Torric and Skins took to the fight, supporting the brigand captain's crew over the better dressed soldier-like cohorts of the maester. Karik, true to form, began to extinguish the lanterns, which plunged the passenger deck into semi-darkness. This did not affect Zook the Gnome with his darkvision, and he made his way to the hold in order to see if he could find out what was down there.

The fight was not going well for the captain when Salderban arrived up top. Through the steam and smoke of a rapidly approaching magmarock (a floating volcano), he could just make out that he was backed up against the figure-head battling for his life against two adversaries, whilst the maester held sway on the deck. The maester shot off some Magic Missiles at the last remaining brigand crew member on the deck but was not prepared for the paladin, who cut him down with his great sword; his body toppled over the side rails of the floating sky ship.

Skins leapt onto the deck, over the shoulder of the paladin and began to lay about him with his axes. The mutineer's crew slowly backed away from the two fighters as the captain's crew slowly hauled themselves back onto the deck after being blown over the sides by the blast of magic that was the source of the big explosion.

Meanwhile, down below, Zook had broken into the hold and saw that there was maybe a score of slaves held within. It was at this point that Karik looked out of one of the port holes and saw something he hoped never to see. A full-grown red dragon and three younglings, one with the maester's body on its back, circled the sky boat and swooped in for the kill. He yelled to the others what he had seen and sprinted for the upper deck to warn all of the danger, but his yell was lost in the sound of carnage which was caused by the red dragon that ripped out the rear mast, which just narrowly missed him in his retreat from the safety of his dark hidey-hole.

When he reached the top of the stairs there was one of the measter's men positioned with his back to him but blocked his way. Karik let loose his crossbow bolt and stepped past the falling corpse. Skins nodded to his mysterious companion and sprinted for the front of the ship to aid the captain.

Torric, in the meantime, had spotted that one of the maester's crewmen had hacked away at the postern where the ship's wheel was attached. He struck down the crewman with a Magic Missile of his own and tried to bring the ship under control. The mess made by the crewman coupled with the residual damage caused by the dragon meant that the wheel could no longer turn the rudder. He called for aid, and saw that the nearest comrade was Karik; Salderban had dropped to his knees in a revelry of self-doubt and the obvious prospect of the end of the world.

Whilst Karik tied off a rope for Torric to use to descend over the side to investigate the damage done to the rudder, a couple of the captain's crewmen had managed to scramble aboard again and load up one of the ballistae that dotted the deck. They let fly and their bolt flew true, which seriously hurt the adult dragon and caused it to fly off in pain and anger.

Skins let fly with one of his throwing axes, which brought down the last of the captain's adversaries and returned the ship to his control. This gave time for Torric to free the rudder, which enabled Karik to turn the wheel, and thus the ship away from an imminent collision with the magmarock.

However, this was not enough and the ship ploughed into the side of the floating volcano just as Zook and the slaves made their way onto deck. Everyone was knocked off their feet until the ship slowly ground to a halt on the floating volcano. Torric, still attached to his rope that was dangled over the side did not fare well and he too ground to a halt face-first in the coarse pumice and lava stone.

As the remaining ship's crew and passengers regained their feet they saw that the wreck was only one of their current worries. The dragons could be seen circling the vent of the volcano and over the deck a few hundred yards in the distance they could see a bronze-skinned, flame-headed dwarf fighting a horde of frog-like beings.

The adventurers, after they had berated the captain for being a slave carrier, leapt over board to aid their companion. After a quick show of willingness, they decided to approach the fight that was going on before what they could now see was a cave mouth. The Abyssal symbol the frog-beings hung around their necks was a sure sign of whose side they should fight on.

Saturday, 18 July 2015

Frostgrave - What's in the Box?

This took a little longer to get round to than I first thought. Wednesday saw my first gaming session back at the RP Haven (more on that tomorrow hopefully), and Thursday evening was taken up with my usual hill running stint with a couple of my running friends. Last night was just a relaxing night after a long week at work.

Anyway, onto the main point of this post - Frostgrave. When I heard a few months back about the Nickstarter that was happening in July I was immediately intrigued. Fantasy is probably my favourite genre for gaming as I cut my teeth on Dungeons and Dragons from way back in 1979, and have pretty much played or read it since. I have played a wee bit of historical gaming lately too, but fantasy does keep rising to the fore... Songs of Blades and Heroes, D&D, Dragon Warriors, Lord of the Rings:SBG, Savage Worlds and so on.

So, around April time I had my eyes open for a couple of tabletop skirmishing rules for fantasy that were due out soonish - Frostgrave (July) and Dragon Rampant (out December I think?). As mentioned in the previously post I have never succumbed to a Kickstarter but as this one for Frostgrave was only for a relatively small amount of outlay (depending on the level you enter the scheme) I took a good look. Rules and figures in a complete set for a reasonable price. I ummed and aahed and then jumped in right at the top level after a little encouragement from my wife.

So, what did I get for my £111.00 Level 5 Wizard pledge?

Here is what the whole pile looks like, sorted into a little order...

I received a grand total of one hardbacked rulebook, one softback book of Frostgrave short stories, a box of 20 plastic warriors to be used as henchmen, 6 resin basic treaure markers, 3 resin advanced treasure markers, 10 metal wizard miniatures, 10 metal apprentice miniatures, 4 sets of metal henchmen miniatures, a couple of extra metal miniatures as pledge goals, a badge and 3 small sheets of paper with download details.

Here is a better picture of the main components of the order; the good quality hard back from Osprey (better known for their range of military guide books) is the main rulebook and the softback to the left of the picture is a collection of short stories set in the world of Frostgrave (there is also a download available on one of the sheets mentioned above). The badge was a nice little surprise but the plastic soldiers were one of my main draws - so I can compare them to the plastic miniatures from other manufacturers that I have previously bought.

This is a picture of what was inside the figures box. There were 4 identical sprues each containing 5 warrior bodies and a great variety of weapons and accoutrements. I will have some fun putting these together. Also, each warrior comes with a separate plastic round base. The 9 items at the front of the picture show the 6 basic treasure markers and 3 advanced treaure markers made of a good quality resin.

Now onto the metal miniatures. Each bag contained a wizard and his/her apprentice. These represent the 10 classes of magic available. I am looking forward to seeing what these are and how they function.

Next up are the four sets of henchmen. The first set certainly nods towards the two Fritz Lieber characters Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser. The other three sets include a variety of heavies and supporting cast.

The remainder of the box included the stretch goals. For my level of pledge I received an extra knight miniature, a representation of the Lich Lord (linked to the next set due out apparently) and a small metal treaure chest. The other knight miniature was a consolation figure for the Nickstarter falling short of the next stretch goal by only a few quid. Nick (owner of Northstar who commissioned the figures for this game) has come across as a great guy here and compensated those of us who had supported his venture by supplying a Crusader Miniatures knight with two handed weapon as a sweetener.
The final couple of items were two small sheets of paper that detail downloads for three screen savers for my computer and another book called Hunt for the Golem, which I am assuming is either another set of short stories or maybe a set of scenarios for the game. Hopefully, my next post will see me putting the minis together and prepping them for painting. I will also try to comment on the rules after a brief skim through and then after a proper read and first game.

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Frostgrave Arrives

I recently indulged in my first pre-order game. I have not participated in any crowd funding schemes before but this new Nickstarter by North Star caught my attention. It was more of a pre-order system than a Kickstarter, but I thought I would give it a go.

 Frostgrave by Osprey Games
The new game book is written by Joseph A. McCullough and looked really interesting, so I jumped on board. The main reasons were that you got a ton of miniatures, a couple of books, some in-game markers; the beginnings of a tabletop fantasy skirmish system. The setting seemed quite interesting, so all this added together made me go for it whilst I was on a high for new gaming challenges (D&D was last month's purchase that will be played tomorrow night).

I opened the box yesterday but I did not get a real chance to go through its contents. I shall endeavour to do so tonight whenI get home fro work and give my thoughts on the product as well as the process.

Sunday, 5 July 2015

Lullingstone Roman Villa

The weather was terrible this morning; it rained constantly from the moment we left the house for the kids' weekly Junior Park Run until the early afternoon. I have been doing the Saturday morning adult Park Run for just over two years and just recently they started up one for the under 14s, so it was a natural progression to take my two youngest along for a weekly dose of fresh air and exercise.

After returning home and getting showered etc. I decided I fancied going out and doing something with the family for the day that did not cost too much. My wife agreed and, as we are English Heritage members that narrowed down our choices and the weather did the rest. We wanted something that was indoors and not too far away. As we hadn't been to Lullingstone Villa for a few years, we decided to go there as it ticked all the boxes (inside, not too far away etc.).

The last time we went to this villa my youngest was just three years old, so this was like a new experience for him. As (bad?) luck would have it, the rain stopped just as we arrived and the sun came out. The air conditioned hangar the villa is situated in made for a different kind of refuge; rather than an escape from the rain, it proved to be an escape from the now hot and humid weather. Anyway, we had a great time looking at the ruins and running through the quiz sheets the youngest kids were handed, and then we watched the film about the site.

Basically, the first stage of the villa was built circa AD 100. A bath house complex and an extra north wing were added between AD 150 and 275, but the wing was then superceded by a heated room and kitchen complex in around AD 275 to 350. With the coming of Christianity, the villa went through one final phase around AD 360 where the latest version of the wing was converted to a house-church and a half-round apse was added to create an extensive audience chamber/dining room. The villa fell into disuse probably as the result of a fire.

We had a great time at the villa and I hope the kids learned something long lasting.

We have decided to try to get to a few more archaeological/historical sites over the coming summer holidays.

Saturday, 4 July 2015

Dungeons and Dragons 5e - New Campaign

After a 10 month hiatus, I signed up for a new game at the RP Haven. As I had bought the D&D Starter Set when it came out, I thought I would put my scanty knowledge of the game to the test. I signed up for a brand new campaign that should be starting in a couple of weeks' time.

Diamond Sky - D&D 5th Edition

A long time ago all the races of the sky lived on the ground - not on nomadic floating islands called "Rocks". Everyone was a slave, bred from a mix of stock over the millenia, under the control of a powerful reptilian race known as the Old Ones. With each dynasty their Empires grew ever more powerful and with their mastery of magic they grew too confident. One day, the sun went black and darkness fell across the land. In this darkness a mighty evil came forth to claim the surface of our world. The Old Ones, reliant on the power of our sun, fled up the tallest mountains and took shelter from the wastes below whilst our slaves armies fought and died in an increasingly toxic atmosphere.

The Old Ones died out during the great eclipse. The warm-blooded stock races survived. All the remaining peoples - Dwarves, bred for construction - Elves, bred for pleasure - Beastmen, bred for war - discovered their own unique way of survival against the rising threat of the world below.

Now, with the power to maintain flight, the races have reestablished a civilization above the clouds. Entire cities are built on the biggest Rocks, whilst a single oasis might exist on another. Most Rocks float about on the winds without any external influence - called Nomad Rocks - whilst others are curated and guided by their inhabitants to become something of a gliding metropolis. 

Lost magic, swashbuckling jet-pack pirates, wind-based navigation, powerful gems and abominable monsters are what life has become in the world of the Diamond Sky.

As mentioned previously, this will be played using the new D&D 5e rules. So, as a diligent player I popped onto the interweb and purchased the new Player's Handbook. Rather than go to Amazon (who expected me to wait 3-6 weeks!) I found a new independent book company called Wordery who got it to me in 2 days with free postage (anywhere in the world). I suggest everyone maybe look them up for future purchases as they are also as economical as Amazon - in fact they are cheaper today (by £4!) than they were when I bought the PHB two days ago - aw, nuts!

Sunday, 17 May 2015

LotR Battle Report : Gondor vs Orcs

Nick had been badgering me for a while for some new Gondor figures as he had none with spears. I finally succumbed last weekend and ran to EBay to grab him a dozen second hand miniatures that included the four spearmen he wanted (EBay is great for picking up cheap, semi-painted figures).

I then rather rashly promised him that I would play him this weekend, and today he held me to my word. We retired to the man-cave, added a couple of new bits of removable scenery that are almost finished painting (a long wooden fence and a pile of barrels were implemented to try out some advanced rules - defending barriers) and let battle commence...

The last skirmish at the Fords of Cray led to the orcs and elves both retreating to lick their wounds after a close run battle. The orcs returned with a fresh force this time under the more experienced leader Snafu. As the fords are at an important crossing point of the river Cray, the Steward of Gondor decided to send a heavily armed force, under the command of sergeant Dave (Nick's name for his leader!) to take it and hold it against future incursions from Mordor.

The orcs were spotted from the top of the aptly names Shooter's Hill by the three Gondorian archers, who shouted down to their colleagues stationed at the bottom of the hill.

Turn 1 - Gondor Priority
The warriors from Minas Tirith advanced upon their unsuspecting foes who crossed the ford as the sun dipped below the horizon.

Turn 2 - Gondor priority
The orcs crossed the river and Snafu deployed his forces to take the small hamlet. Sergeant Dave, meanwhile, ordered his men forward to defend the pre-prepared barrier of barrels to halt the invaders' advance.

Turn 3 - Orc Priority
The orcs continued their advance, splitting their forces to meet the oncoming men. Several advanced directly towards the hated man-things who had taken up refuge behind the pile of barrels, Snafu and a couple of his strongest warrior prepared to outflank their adversaries and his two archers ran towards the nearby hill that overlooked the hamlet to provide covering fire.

It was at this point that the Gondorian archers on the hill took advantage of their strategic position and laid down some covering fire to aid their comrades before they joined battle; unfortunately all of their shafts missed their targets. Hopefully they would have another clear shot at the orc leader again soon.

Turn 4 - Orc Priority
The orc archers make it to the top of the hill whilst the rest of their warband took the fight to the hated man-things. In their haste they shot into the combat at the barrel barrier but luckily their shafts passed way overhead.

The Gondorians had the worst of the fight, and gave ground almost straight away, but the one combat they did win led to the demise of one of the orcs - first blood to Gondor!

Turn 5 - Gondor Priority
The Gondorian archers on the hill saw that their comrades were being sorely pressed so moved around to try to get better shots at any orc stragglers. The orc archers had no such compulsion and just kept firing into the melee. Their shots hit, but the thick armour of the Gondorian warriors turned the points of the arrows.

The melee, however, went slightly better for the Gondorians. They managed to push back the bulk of the orc warriors attempting to cross the barrier but both sides lost a man in the process.

Turn 6 - Orc Priority
Whilst the archers moved off the hill to aid their brothers in arms, they saw that the tide of battle turned against the men again, with the orcs winning all of the combats that had separated off. Sergeant Dave managed to just avoid the slashing blades of the orcs (the Fates smiled on him this day), but one of his men was not so lucky.

Turn 7 - Gondor Priority
The Gondorian archers looked for a way to help their embattled comrades and realised that the orcs sniping from the hill on the other side of the valley would make better targets rather than running the risk of hitting their own men defending the barrier. Their first volley against the orcs resulted in one of the orc archers taking a shaft to his gizzard. He fell to his death from the steep edge of the hill.

The melee continued to swirl around with no-one taking any advantage despite the Gondorians being outnumbered by two to one.

Turn 8 - Orc Priority
The orcs continued to press their advantage in the melee, whilst the Gondorian warriors gradually gave ground. One more of the stout defenders of freedom fell to the ground pierced by an orc blade, but the Gondorian archers again found their mark leading to the last of the orc archers falling to his death from the hill.

Turn 9 - Gondor Priority
Sergeant Dave looked over his shoulder to see that his rapidly diminishing force had now been joined by the three archers from his flank after they had dispatched their opposite numbers. He ordered his men to retreat to the relative safety of the small copse to his rear in the hope of recreating his battle line with three more stout warriors.

The orcs followed, scenting a rapid victory now, but failed to notice the arrival of the three Gondorian archers from within the woods, who killed one of their number and almost had the eye out of Snafu; the Fates worked for those of good or evil disposition.

 Final Turn - Orc Priority
All of the hated Gondorians could now be reached and Snafu ordered his warband to destroy their hated enemy and hold the ford for the Great Eye.

Unfortunately for Snafu, Sergeant Dave's plan worked and the archers in the woods took down the slower axe armed orc.

Feeling that retreat was the best form of valour today, Snafu legged it with one of his warriors whilst he ordered the other two to hold off the hated men to make good his escape.

Summary - Gondor Victory
I decided to run this battle for just ten turns like last time, and again it wound up with a determining event on that turn. The orcs took the casualty that took them over the 50% loss value and therefore they had to take Courage checks. The leader and one orc fled but two made their saves (very well in fact!).

Sergeant Dave saved the day and can now look at digging in and holding the ford against future incursions from Mordor.

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Mordor vs Rohan picture by Nick

Apologies for there not being much in the way of an update recently. Real life has got in the way, in a good way. I am back working on a temporary basis and that has taken up a lot of my time recently, so my scenery project has taken a bit of a back seat role. However, I have had lots of chats about future projects with Alex and Nick. These chats resulted in a picture drawn by Nick (aged 6) as to what he wants to do in our next game.

He has drawn a great battle scene where Mordor and Rohan are at war. For some reason he has chosen Normans to be on Rohan's side (probably because he has seen my painted Norman Knights from a year or two back that are displayed on a shelf in my new man cave). Anyway, here is his picture and my rough interpretation, which is undoubtedly wrong as kids' imaginations are far better than adults'...

Mordor has a small stronghold at the top of the picture towards which many warg riders are pouring. To the right of the Norman and Rohan castle in the centre are hordes of orcs backed up by a couple of catapults and a line of Mumaks to their fore.

The Rohan cavalry have charged the Mumaks but many have been swept from their steeds by the spiked tusks of the Mumaks. Meanwhile, in the largest stronghold, a large troll has managed to break in and start terrorising the Norman troops stationed there.

Nick asked me when we were going to play another game on our new board, so I will need to arrange that for the boys very soon. His interest in gaming is the keenest at the moment and he has spurred me out of my temporary apathy to pick up my brushes again. My next task this weekend is to peruse Ebay looking for some Gondor (he means Minas Tirith) warriors with spears.

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Battle Report: Elves vs Orcs

Now that the Easter holidays have arrived I have been able to get the boys together for another Battle Companies skirmish in the new den. Alex chose to be Elves, and used his own painted figures, whilst Nick used some of the orcs that I got for him cheaply off Ebay.

After the Easterlings were defeated at the ford a few weeks previously, news spread amongst the forces of evil of the reduced garrison of Rohan troops in the area. A local orc chieftain took it upon himself to investigate in the hope of eating some man-flesh. Unfortunately he was rather shocked upon arrival at the ford, as the humans had moved out to be replaced by a warband of hated Elves.

Turn 1 - Elf Priority
The elves had got wind of the advance of a small party of orcs and raced to the ford to defend the important river crossing. However, with a sneaky move on behalf of the orc leader, a couple of archers had hidden themselves amongst the trees of the small copse by the barn.

This was Nick being a bit naughty. We had set up the board a few hours earlier in anticipation of playing the game later, but Nick had snuck into the games room whilst we weren't looking and moved a couple of his orcs.

The elves and orcs advanced upon the barn, neither aware of the other's presence.

Turn 2 - Elf Priority
The elf commander ordered his two archers to take the hill and lay down suppressing fire if needed whilst the rest of his warband advanced through the copse in the hope of ambushing the advancing orc warparty.

Meanwhile, the orcs had crossed the ford and were headed to their rendezvous with the advance guard archers when they heard the twang of the orc bows. The skill of the orc archers was not up to much and the two shafts alerted the elf wariors to the presence of their hated enemy.
Turn 3 - Elf Priority
The elven warriors advanced towards the orc ambushers with the intent of killing the archers as quickly as possible. The two elven bowmen made it to the top of the hill in time to see the orc archers loose two more ineffective shafts at their leader.

The orc main party advanced around and over the fallen idol, set there to spiritually guard the ford, towards their kin in order to aid them against the elven threat. The two archers shot at the elves again but still failed to find their marks; the trees were obviously protecting them.
Turn 4 - Elf Priority
The elven warriors moved rapidly towards their foe and began to flush the orcs out of cover. The elven sharpshooters on the hill saw their opportunity and were able to bring down one of the orc archers - first blood to the elves.

Swan-feather fletched shafts alerted the orc leader of the counter-attack and he sped up his advance towards his archers, who now retreated from the oncoming elven force. The last remaining archer let loose his arrow but even though it hit, it failed to penetrate the thick elven armour.
Turn 5 - Elf Priority
Sensing a swift victory, the elven warriors rushed into the clearing beyond the glade and formed up to take on the orc threat. The elven archers spotted the orc leader advancing through the woodland but their shafts were to miss him.

The sight of the hated elves spurred the orc leader to advance his wariors into combat with them - they had numbers on their side to overcome the natural fear of their foes. Spurred on by the arrival of his fellows, the lone orc archer tried to pick off an elf at the edge of the encroaching combat - although the dart flew true, the thick elven armour saved the warrior.
Turn 6 - Elf Priority
Now that the elven archers had a bearing on their enemy, they loosed more shafts into the small copse. Their aim was true, but the orc armour turned their points.

A fearsome melee erupted by the river, with each side trading blows, but the superior numbers of the orcs began to tell. One of the heavily armoured elven spearmen was cut-off from his brethren and surrounded by four orcs; he was cut down in his tracks.

Turn 7 - Elf priority
The two warband leaders faced off in the ensuing fearsome melee but neither managed to land a telling blow. Their troops fared better as an elf and an orc fell to the others' blades.
Turn 8 - Elf Priority
Elven superiorty in hand-to-hand combat began to tell, as another orc warrior was cut down in the raging fight. The orc archer, after seeing one of his nearby comrades being chopped down, decided to shoot into the melee to incapacitate one of the elf warriors and thus save his own stinking hide. Fortunately for his fellow warrior orc armour can be quite effective at stopping shafts.
Turn 9 - Elf Priority
Sensing victory, the elven commander hurled himself back into the combat and was able to land a killing blow upon the orc leader. Luckily for the orc commander the Fates smiled upon him this day and the blow that would ordinarily have felled an ox glanced from his armour causing nothing more than a few bruises.

Turn 10 - Orc Priority
The wild toing and froing of the melee meant that blades flashed in upon the two remaining elf warriors. The orc leader managed to land a killing blow upon the elf leader, but the Fates were also on his side today as the blow glanced harmlessly from his shield. The two elven archers on the hill watched in dismay as their leader rocked upon his heels under the force of the last blow, but their groans turned to cheers as their leader's spear gutted the orc leader whilst he gloated over his stumbling adversary.

As the point of the spear exited from the orc leader's back, the rest of the orc warband turned tail and fled the scene.

Summary - A Draw

The elves lost two warriors to the orcs' leader and three warriors. Neither side was broken, so a result could not be called.

This was initially going to be a battle to the bitter end. However, as the orcs were beginning to fall quite rapidly to the elves towards the end and Alex was beginning to get a little frustrated as I was helping Nick a little, I decided to cut it short at turn 10 (when we were at Turn 7). This turned out to be quite fortuitous as the results of the melee in that particular round gave a natural break-point to the game - the death of the orc leader.

Even though the elves probably won the moral victory (killed the orc leader and killed more points worth of enemy), the next turn would most likely have seen the elves swamped again and Nick's rolls could have been better - he had had atrocious runs of low numbers (especially with Priority - only winning one roll in nine) but the combats were due to end with the elves surrounded and therefore classed as Trapped. I decided to call this game a draw due to the tears on one side and the spectre of teenage grumpiness on the other.

After the game had been cleared away, both boys cheered up a little and said they wanted to play again soon, but Nick wants to be elves next time.