Thursday 29 June 2023

Last Days Seasons campaign: June

Last weekend was pretty hot, so I figured what better to do than play the special Summer scenario from the Seasons book!

This is the board I laid out (yeah, I know, I should really crack on and build some more city terrain, but hey a wildfire in the forest is thematic right?)

I’ve been mulling over what to do about zombies currently. Now that people in the group have gained a couple of levels, I should be starting with 24 zombies on the board, which is so many that after two turns when they reach the middle there’s not a lot you can do, and while you can lure some away (RIP Umlaut, this is what you used to do) it’s slightly more hopeless than I want my leisure time to be. So for this scenario, I just laid out the zombies specified by the scenario, and figured that the oncoming wall of fire would probably do well enough to add a sense of peril to proceedings!

Supplies were randomly placed using an old scatter die, with 2d6 providing distance - and if that spot was an ‘illegal’ placement for the token, I’d roll to scatter from there again. This ensured some more interesting placement than just putting them all in a line halfway across the board.

As ever, the survivors divided themselves into groups to support each other as they advanced up the board - Devon with Cece and Dionne on the left, heading for the truck, while Kevin and Jess (who was mostly just glad to be out of bed and getting some fresh air) heading for the scattered supplies over to the right.

Then I rolled to see what direction the fire would be entering play, and unfortunately it was from right to left, where most of the supplies were!

Almost able to smell the oncoming fire, Kevin bundles forward to engage the nearest zombie, leaving Jess free to sprint ahead and grab the first stash of supplies:

No time for a stealthy advance here with a wall of flame on it’s way! 

Devon’s group however advanced more cautiously, very aware of how noisy things are about to get. Devon levels his pistol, and thanks to his Sniper skill coolly plugs the nearest zombie. On the second try, admittedly.

Cece on the other hand needs a 2+ to hit her target, and so of course rolls a 1. At this point I wondered if I was remembering to give survivors the +1 bonus to hit for shooting at a zombie in previous games? It feels like Cece should have been hitting s lot more than she had if I did… Then again, when I do remember she still misses, so I’m not sure how much it would help…

Desperate to open a path, Dionne let’s loose with her surplus assault rifle - despite her double tap skill, she can’t seem to land a single headshot. On the one hand, that zombie won’t be able to do much other than pick themselves up off h to e ground next turn; but at the same time, it will take a lot of luck for that much noise to go unnoticed by other zombies!

Hearing this through the trees, Jess decides not to fit her assault rifle this turn, as she figures she’s already made enough noise with her sprinting…

Just behind her, Kev fumbles his cricket bat - but luckily the zombie he’s fighting doesn’t fare much better, and Kev turns his fumble into an impressive upswing that caves it’s skull in!

Then came the fire…

(Fire markers from Mantic’s Hellboy the board game)

In an unusual turn of luck, despite there only being a 1 in 6 chance of Dionne getting away without calling another zombie onto the board with how much noise she made last turn, the dice decide to cut me a break and it goes unnoticed.

Devon, however, despite having made nowhere near as much noise is not as lucky, and a zombie shambles up behind the group:

Cece manages to snap off a shot at it (as the only survivor that has really been going Locked & Loaded recently, Last Days’ version of overwatch for those that don’t own the game) but being taken by surprise isn’t able to land a fatal shot, and unfortunately the mild knockback of her hunting rifle isn’t powerful enough to stop the zombie from reaching her. She briefly considers trying to break free of its grasp in order to backpedal enough to shoot it in the face, but then remembers the knife that she was given a month or two back, and an evil gleam enters her eye…

While all this is going on, Dionne sprints up to grab some supplies, while Devon calmly walks up to try to shoot the zombie between him and some supplies at point blank range.

On the right, Jess secures the supplies and starts heading for the next stash (her sturdy farmer body making her best suited for lugging multiple heavy things around), as Kevin runs past her to engage a zombie that is sneaking up on her around a ruined wall.

Devon manages to take out the remaining zombie on his side of the field (again on the second shot), when I realised that the way things were going it was going to be too easy for the group, so I added 2D3 zombies to the board (rolling 3) to add a little pressure.

Brief diversion to muse some more - at this point, 20 odd zombies bearing down on them would have been too much to handle, but the 5 starting on the board from the scenario was definitely too few. Hmmmm, something to think about to try and find a happy medium. I’ve asked over on the Facebook group and gotten some suggestions, so I might have a play in future months - probably a mix of deploying them spread across the board as well as along their board edge (to avoid them ending up as a clumped up horde) and my adapted rules used on a smaller board where you allocate the correct number of zombies to come into play, and make it easier for them to get called on by noise until you’ve put on the number of zombies you allocated at the start, at which point you’d return to the usual ‘appears on a 7+’.

Jess cautiously opens fire with her assault rifle (is that possible?) and manages to take out a zombie with her first shot. ‘That’s technically more stealthy than going full auto I guess’ she mutters to herself…

Cece manages to win her fight with the zombie that snuck up on her, but isn’t able to get her shiv into it’s eye socket.  Kevin on the other hand lives up to the name of his headhunter skill and caves in another skull. 

In the end phase the fire continues it’s inexorable advance, and Kev and Jess find themselves on the wrong side of the fire line, engulfed in smoke and flames!

Even more unfortunately, in this scenario any unclaimed supply tokens caught on the wrong side of the fire line are destroyed each turn on a roll of 1, and… well, they say a picture speaks a thousand words:

That’s annoyingly statistically unlikely isn’t it! To add insult to injury, I then rolled a result on the event table that caused a body to stand up and start dragging along one of the (now very few!) remaining supply tokens. 

In the next turn, it seemed that Dionne’s luck had run out. Firing full auto and probably whooping too? Fine, no one notices that. Running briefly for about 6 seconds? That’s far too much noise, definitely enough to draw the attention of another biter onto the board…

Jess, slowed by her wounds received in an earlier month and laden with supplies, decides discretion is the better part of valour and runs off the board while she still can.

Kevin, however, despite choking on the acrid smoke, sprints ahead of the fire line to bull rush the zombie bearing down on Dionne.

Figuring that Kev (and his current kill streak) probably had things handled with the zombie carrying the last set of supplies, Devon ran back to where Cece was outnumbered, and promptly dispatched one of them.

Emboldened by Devon’s sudden appearance, Cece follows suit, and the pair find themselves briefly alone…

Over in the middle of the board, Kevin gets overconfident and fails to take out his opponent, as the fire creeps ever closer behind him, and the truck next to him’s alarm starts blaring, drawing even more zombies to the area…

At this point, Dionne agonised over whether to leap in and help Kevin or to make a run for it with the supplies tucked under her arm. ‘Go, I’ve got this, I’ll be right behind you!’ Shouts Kevin, deciding for her.

Devon and Cece cautiously reposition to stay ahead of the oncoming wall of flame and ash, whilst trying to stay near enough to Kevin to run in and assist if needed.

There’s no shooting at all this turn, as the air is so thick with ash at this point that no one has a clear shot, so it’s over to Kevin and his cricket bat - and while he wins the fight, he fails to land a killing blow, as the flames overtake him once more, setting ablaze the zombie he’s currently fighting and destroying the remaining supplies:

Yes, that’s 3 for 3 on rolling a 1 to see if supplies are destroyed by the flames…
And obviously, at this point the truck’s alarm goes off a second time.

Luckily this turn Kev is able to hold his breath (aka I roll high enough for him not to get hurt by the fire) in order to try and make his escape - he successfully manages to push the zombie back, and runs like hell! 

Seeing that Kev is almost to safety, Dionne sprints off the board with her supplies, while Devon and Cece make a fighting retreat, but their snapped shots (me hoping for some bonus XP, mostly) unfortunately not amounting to anything, and that was the end of the game.

Post game:

Devon hit level 5, and spends some extra XP to ensure he gets the skill fire & manoeuvre, which should make him a little more nippy! I was tempted to take the gunfighter skill (for aesthetics as much as anything else) but not having a spare pistol in the group’s stash to give him it seemed like a bit of a waste…

Jess levels up easily (being a little behind the group having missed several games!) and gains the scavenger skill, hoping to be able to find medicine more easily at some point (and also bringing her one step closer to being able to learn the master skill that would just let her grow it on the farm!)

Dionne learns the skill sniper (presumably from having watched Devon shoot a fair amount over the last couple of months) which will make her bonkers good with a gun - I just need to find her something quieter than that noisy old surplus assault rifle!

Kevin and Cece alas didn’t level up this month. Which makes sense for Cece, given that she didn’t actually achieve anything this game…

Sorting through their supplies (only two, as everything else caught fire), the group gained 12 scavenge, 1 fuel, and thanks to Jess’s scavenger skill a hunting crossbow! It’s quiet, it’s extra good at killing zombies - do I stash it for if I gain a new survivor in the future, or do I give it to Dionne, limiting her to killing only a single zombie a turn, but on the other hand almost definitely killing it as opposed to now where killing multiple zombies a turn seems to be more theory than practice…

As a lot of the group are still a little sick (and Lynn is already bedridden), I’m torn between working and resting. On the other hand, winter is coming, so I set most of the group to gather food and water (with someone else working to can any excess food for future months), except Devon who takes a nap (as I figure that it would suck for him to be bedridden if I want him to try and recruit a new member of the group at some point). He doesn’t manage to shake the lurgy though, nor does Lynn’s condition show any signs of improvement. Everyone gets enough to eat and drink, and there is even an excess amount of food that gets turned into preserved meals for the future.

Unfortunately Kevin becomes sick from being in close proximity with everyone else that is already sniffly. One thing about Osprey rulebooks: the layout and organisation is sometimes a little funky - this rule (testing at the end of the game to see if survivors have become sick by fighting alongside someone that is already sick) is slightly buried at the start of the book in the description of the conditions that the Seasons book adds to the game, rather than appearing in the post-game sequence.

So, that could have gone a lot worse I guess, although Lynn is unfortunately still bedridden. Which is a shame, as I was hoping she’d be able to build us a heating system on the farm before winter comes…

Most importantly, I think this is the first game in which I managed to remember every rule. He says, having had to grab the book the morning after as I realised that I hadn’t rolled for the post game zombie attack as I forgot to do that, but luckily avoided rolling a double 1!

Monday 26 June 2023

The adventures of Tim the necromancer: the well of Sorrow and Dreams

On Father’s Day, one child fell asleep early and the other wanted mummy for bed, so I quickly pulled together the bits I needed for a sneaky game!

I decided to play on a 2.5 x 2.5 table rather than 3 foot square, mostly because it fits on my dining room table without overhanging:

I did set the pool 1.5 feet away from my starting edge rather than central though, so it’s still as far away as it would be if I were playing on a 3 foot table (plus, it’s not like there’s anyone coming from the other edge to race me to it).

Like the Tabletop Engineer in his solo campaign, I rolled for monsters for the three edges other than the one my band was starting on. I like the Tabletop Engineer, I didn’t limit it to a specific column of the table, and so ended up staring down a wraith and three ghouls.

And so begins the adventure of Tim the necromancer deciding to stop off at a magic drinking fountain to power up as he’s been having issues getting his spells off.

(Although before we start - after the last game, Tim added an apothecary and a man at arms to his group, losing a thug and a thief to do so)

The ghouls shouldn’t be too much of a problem, but the wraith is a bit of a worry - the only way Tim has to deal with that is a Grenade spell, bonking it with his staff of power, or the Captain (potentially using up an irreplaceable magic arrow if she doesn’t want to risk getting close enough to fight it with her magic sword). 

Before the game, both Tim and his apprentice attempt to brew a potion (to stock up on healing potions), but both fail (coincidentally both only rolling a 9 on the dice).

As the game begins proper, the thief runs ahead, and Tim attempts to cast Leap on her to give her a good head start on grabbing some treasure… and fails the casting roll by 8. Some things never change, eh?

As they bundle up the centre, the apprentice’s group (nicknamed team non-magical murder, and thus deployed far away from the scary wraith) start their assault on the ghouls to the right - the tracker shoots an arrow and scores a hit, but not tellingly enough to tell one of them.

The Apprentice briefly considers casting Strength on the barbarian (which would turn them into even more of a wrecking ball), then changes his mind when he realised that he could just about manage a cheeky Grenade spell on the ghouls. Using his gloves of casting, he’d need to roll an 11 on the dice to succeed - which he makes exactly!

The unwounded ghoul of the pair unfortunately rolls a 20 when seeing if they’re harmed, but the previously wounded one suffers a blast powerful enough that it would have taken it out of action even if it had been at full health!

In the Creature phase, the ghoul that survived the explosion heads towards the tracker, only to change their mind as he comes round the corner and finds himself face to face with an angry barbarian:

The furthest away ghoul (on the opposite edge of the board to the one the band started on), unable to see anyone, takes a random move that doesn’t really take him anywhere (I think he really just wanted to go home). The wraith, however, drifts menacingly towards my Bullywug thug…

Seeing this, the Captain claims a vantage point and looses one of her precious magic arrows - and hits, thanks to the +1 magic of the arrow, and kills the wraith in one shot! That wasn’t so scary after all…

At the end of the first turn, I realised that I hadn’t actually decided what I was going to do about additional monsters coming on during the game, so I quickly watched a tabletop engineer video in fast forward on YouTube to see what he did! I rolled for it, and rolled an 11, which caused a skeleton to wander on where the wraith had previously been.

Turn 2, I realised that I’d made a tactical mistake, as the barbarian was too far away from the apprentice to activate in his phase before the ghoul would get a chance to attack - ahh well, she’s pretty tough (and also in hindsight, it doesn’t matter, as she was planning on fighting anyway, so it doesn’t make a difference who’s activation they do it in!)

As the thief and man at arms move forwards to attempt to secure some treasure, Tim moves up to the well…

Figuring it will still be there next turn, Tim decides to use his second action to attempt a spell (and potentially reap some more XP too), and tried to cast Leap. Which he fails by 4 points. Dammit Tim! He uses his staff of power and 3 points of health to turn it into a successful casting instead (for the extra XP as much as anything else) and sends the treasure laden man at arms flying off towards the edge of the board.

The apprentice, meanwhile, casts Strength on the barbarian, and although he fails by one point, cuts to turn it into a success. That ghoul isn’t looking quite so scary now!

In the creature phase, the ghoul swings at the barbarian but fumbles! Due to their own low roll, the barbarian only manages to do 4 points of damage to the ghoul, most of the work in this combat being done by their two handed weapon. The knight then bundles in to support the barbarian, and wipes the ghoul off of the map, much to the barbarian’s annoyance.

The Tracker attempts to snap a shot off at the skeleton that is now bearing down on the Captain, but misses in his haste.

The Bullywug thug is torn - does he bundle the skeleton to support the Captain, or should he move up and try to lure away the ghoul just ahead of him to give the thief a clear path to some treasure?

Seeing the Captain brandishing their magic sword, he opts for the latter… which is fair enough, as the Captain almost effortlessly smashed the skeleton to splinters.

At the end of turn 2, a spider scuttles onto the board, directly between the treasure laden man at arms and the exit…

Turn 3, Tim takes a handful of water and sups it. It tastes… slightly chlorinated? Bemused, he summons a zombie to help carry treasure.

The apprentice then tried cunning rather than brute force, and casts Slow on the spider, hoping that will buy enough time for the knight to intercept it and let the man at arms escape with the loot.

The remaining ghoul takes the bait, and stumbles towards the Bullywug thug, while the slowed spider scuttles into contact with the knight. Finally, my plans seem to be coming together! 

As the Captain strips the wraith’s corpse of wraith dust (as I figured I’d use the rules from Spellcaster magazine for harvesting body parts - the downside to which is using those XP tables meant I got a bunch less XP than I would have done using the generic amount from the scenario, but that wouldn’t have made a huge difference truth be told) I suddenly realised that Tim could have cast Control Undead on it instead of fighting it, and had a near invincible soldier on his side. Ah well, you live and learn…

Over on the other side of the board, the tracker bundles over to support the knight fighting the spider, and since they draw gets bitten and poisoned by it even as he smashes it with his staff.

The thief considers leaping in to gang up on the ghoul with the Bullywug thug, but seeing the barbarian rushing up behind her decides to stick to the original plan and focus on grabbing the furthermost treasure token. The Bullywug thug then managed to land a glancing blow on the ghoul he was fighting, dealing 3 damage to it, but not able to put it down. 

At the end of the turn, 4 giant rats scrabble onto the board near the Captain:

Tim casts Strength on the Bullywug thug, keen to get that fight to finish as quickly as possible, and then moves into position ready to blast the rats if they swarm around the corner, the apothecary still clinging onto his cloak (my plan being to have the apothecary hang around Tim until he needed a health potion, then to run out to be an extra pair of hands to grab treasure, human shield etc as needed). 

The Apprentice then drinks from the well, and is equally disappointed that there is no Highlander style bolt of lightning from the sky. He then attempts to Leap the thief and their treasure towards the edge of the board, but fails by 6 points, taking 1 point of damage.

The ghoul flubs his attack against the Bullywug thug, and is struck down for his temerity.

Rolling randomly to see which rat was the pack leader, as there were two options as to what they would do depending on which end of the group the leader was - left round the wall if the leader was at the Bullywug end, or right for the Captain end. And it was the Captain end.

The man at arms manages to get off the board with his treasure token, while the zombie picks up another and begins the slow march to the edge of the board, while the knight and tracker move to intercept him, potentially to hand off the treasure and run it off the board, potentially just to shield him from any future encroaching monsters.

While the thief likewise attempts to make their escape, the Bullywug thug and barbarian rush to the aid of the outnumbered Captain, who uses her Furious Attack skill to counteract the weight of numbers she’s facing and jacks a rat apart.

For the first time all game, I roll low enough at the end of the turn that no new monsters appear on the board.

Tim repositions to launch a Grenade spell over the Captain’s head to catch 3 rats in it’s blast. He fails his casting roll by 1, so cuts to turn it into a success, and the apothecary feeds him a potion to take him back up to full health. Despite some spectacularly poor rolls on my part, due to rats having terrible armour (who knew?) Tim still manages to blast two of them apart.

The Apprentice tries using the old faithful spell Bone Dart  to snipe the last rat, but fails badly enough that he hurts himself. The rat, incensed at this affront, attacks the Captain - but rolls a 1, and is promptly dispatched.

The zombie hands off his treasure token to the tracker, who promptly sprints it off the board, as does the thief with hers. 

At this point, it’s all over, as everyone is now one move away from getting off the board except Tim, who would then be able to leave the turn after. I rolled to see where the next wandering monster would enter, and whether that would be a position to stop him freely leaving, but they would have appeared on the opposite side of the board to the one he was heading off so I called time on the game.

In the post game, the Captain gained a chunk of XP, but not enough to gain another level. Tim, however, gained 355 XP - rounded down to 300, as the maxim you can gain from a single game. He gained a point of health (he needs that for spellcasting, it seems!), improved his ability to cast the spell Brew Potion (as he never seems to get it off, and I’d feel more comfortable with a stash of free health potions rattling around in his belt pouches). I then had to bank the third 100XP, as I didn’t have any grimoires to learn new spells from!

The three treasure tokens turned out to be some money, a magic item (a ring of transference), and a Grimoire - featuring the Leap spell, which Tim already knows, so he sold that off. After this Captain takes her cut, that leaves Tim with an additional 340 gold for his coffers! At which point I remembered that his home base is a treasury, so I rolled to see what they found - no magic items, alas, but they did find another 15 gold in a previously thought emptied vault.

And so, Tim and the gang return to their base in suitable style:

What next for Tim? I might roll on the black market to see what items are on offer (as I could really use a grumpier or two, and maybe some magic weapons so that any future wraiths aren’t quite so scary). That, or maybe some upgrades for his base - maybe a doghouse?

[edit- I rolled on the black market tables to see what I could buy immediately after publishing this post, and it was a pair of useless scrolls, a grimoire of combat awareness (which seems to be functionally similar to strength, which Tim already knows) and a rather tasty looking magic cloak… which I can’t afford]

Well of Sorrow and Dreams

So, happy to divert myself from what I was supposed to be doing for any number of other projects, inset about building myself a pool to use for Frostgrave.

And here it is.

I started out rooting around in my boxes of useful bits (which I really need to reduce, as there’s an almost comical amount of old polystyrene and bits of plastic packaging down in the basement now) and found a bit of plastic pipe that I’m fairly certain I scavenged from work when we had a plumber in. It was cut fairly unevenly, so I measured it round and corrected that with a mix of clipping and sanding:

Just like all my terrain, it got a base from the mystery board that I rescued from a skip at work (starting to sense a pattern here):

And then began the process of adding bricks!

I’ve still got a load left over from when I overestimated how many I’d need to gussy up some modern ruins. They’re fairly roughly cut, but I think this variation just adds to the effect. I used tweezers to dip each brick individually in a bowl of glue before applying it to the pipe:

And here it is partway done, checking scale with the nearest mini:

I guess if it was a pool designed for people to drink from it would probably be a lot lower, but I also wanted it to be a piece of blocking terrain, so it’s a bit taller than would perhaps be ‘realistic’ (he says, discussing the logistics of a magic pool in an imaginary magic city). 

Once the outside was done, I considered how to finish the inside. I could have thrown some plaster in there and painted it up like dirt/mud, but in the end decided to brick it that side too:

Et voila:

To hide the remaining visible bits of the pipe, I cut some rough capstones to make a lip:

And that was building complete. When using cork, if you don’t protect it in some way it can easily rip and dent during painting if you drybrush a bit roughly, so I dug out my old faithful cheap superglue from Poundland.

A tube of this did only a tiny proportion of the piece though (usually I’m only using it on single rocks or bricks on bases) so I dig out some mod podge to give it a good coating of to toughen it up.

Then it was into painting, which apparently I didn’t take any WIP pics of. The stones for the same treatment as all of my ruins, while the pool got a dark blue base. I tried flicking white paint onto it from a brushes bristles to try and create the illusion of reflected stars, but that didn’t go well at all so I got a bit more creative (there was some finger painting involved):

For the water, I decided I wanted to try some water effect for the first time. My wife has a resin kit she’s been planning on trying out, but we haven’t yet found any time where the children wouldn’t poke their fingers into it to try it. Then I remembered that I have a pot of yacht varnish (which I’m fairly sure my wife bought during one of the lockdowns as the ship didn’t have what I was actually after) and I figured I’d give that a go, as if it didn’t end up looking like realistic water, that was probably still fine, as I could handwave it as magic! So I poured in a thin layer, and waited:

Now it turns out that my idea of what constitutes a thin layer and what the universe does varies somewhat, and I’d poured it too thick. The top cured fine, but it was still very squishy underneath. Oh well, I though, I’ll wait a little longer. And then I accidentally left it on a surface with a very slight slope:

The wrinkly set in it, but underneath was still very squishy. Turning to google, it turns out that varnish doesn’t just cure with time, but with contact with oxygen. Not a problem, I thought, I’ll pop some pinholes in the surface layer to let some oxygen in, cure the bottom, then cover up anything that looks a bit wonky with further layers of varnish - and with a bit of luck, any pin pricks will just look like bubbles! 

Obviously this didn’t work, and as soon as I put the holes in the surface layer it started ballooning up, and I decided to peel the whole thing out:

Having removed the surface layer and scraped any odd chunks out of the edges, I then left the thin layer that remained to cure:

And it did! Over the course of a couple of weeks I then applied very, very thin layers, until it built up to a level that I was happy with (lower than I’d originally planned, but at this point I didn’t want it to go wrong again) and it looked like this:


So, what did I learn? Thin layers, mostly. The varnish dried slightly yellow, but I think if I’m painting on thin layers that would probably be fine when making a pool or a river rather than necessarily going out and getting a ‘proper’ water effect…