We ran another game of Frostgrave over the weekend and concluded our first four game campaign arc. A lot of this is retconning a bit to fit how we will likely move forward but this last game really solidified how I envision our campaigns run.
In the beginning, we had planned to run four games (not including our intro game) in a cycle so that people didn’t have to commit to too much and could bow out after a small campaign. While initially I thought we’d string scenarios together and just arbitrarily end it at session four, a narrative started building in my mind about where everything was going and with this last custom scenario I decided to rename this opening arc to The Dark Prophecy (that and the fact that our “winter campaign” took us well past winter so keeping that name seemed less than ideal).
The beginning of the Dark Prophecy started in our second session, the Library with both the concept of a maze-like library and the ability to search for more than just treasures. In that game, positioning and the wraiths were critical and one player without any magic weapons and a harsh starting zone bore the downside of the asymmetrical map.
Thinking about ways to improve this so a player isn’t stuck with bad options, we brainstormed about being about to search the book cases and potentially find things. I took this concept to heart and developed a method to search the bookcases in the library.
The search would be a new action that you could perform when base-to-base with a bookcase. Any soldier that could carry treasure could perform the action. I secretly stickered 75 of the 100 bookcases with little dots to indicate that something was found.
The dots were color-coded yellow, orange, red and yielded better results the darker you went with red being the best and most rare.
In keeping with the d20 concept of the game, after a figure searched a bookcase, you would roll on the d20 to see what was found. Gold Crowns (gc) would count as a non-item and just immediately go to the warbands funds (since tracking that would be really annoying). Items gained in multiple would be considered one item for game purposes and followed the normal game item carrying restriction. If a soldier found more, they could drop (permanently lose) the previous item for the new one.
None of this was tested and was all created on the fly the day of so I wasn’t sure how it would play out but thought it would at least give players something to do while down in the labyrinth if they couldn’t handle the main quest.
Since this was to be a finale of sorts for the campaign, I didn’t want it to be your standard smash-n-grab scenario. During the week leading up to the scenario, I started thinking of a reason to have the split level map beyond just a more complex journey to get “stuff.”
I knew we would be combining elements of the Library/Haunted House scenario we ran in the second session with elements of the Silent Tower scenario so I wanted to have interaction between the two levels. With the Silent Tower’s want of having a wizard at the top, I thought that would be the perfect goal: the first wizard to get to the top would “win” and end the scenario.
Since I knew that players would need to go to the crypt library below first and then end on the top level, I needed a hook to get them down there. The first thing was to limit the treasures at the top to one per player, placed using the normal rules. While treasures are nice, the real prize would be below with the “prophecy.”
The Dark Prophecy would be a random selection of three phrase pieces to form the overall goal of your wizard to end the scenario. The scenario would only end when a wizard completes the prophecy or if all wizards gave up and left the battle field.
To get the pieces of your prophecy, the first time any of your warband searched a book case, you would find the first phrase of your prophecy. With the searching of a second book case, you would find the second piece and then at the end, your wizard needed to search the central chamber and choose a treasure to gain the last piece of your prophecy.
A wizard could only choose once and these treasures were immune to any other manipulation (no telekinesis!). The goal here was to make sure you didn’t just send some hapless soldier down to the bottom and do all your bidding while your wizard safely waited near the tower.
Since I would have an advantage knowing the prophecies and the goal, I let the players know that the end would involve climbing the tower and the phrases would be secretly randomized. The prophecy was cut into three simple parts: gathering a specific item, going to a specific place, and committing a specific act.
- Fill your cup with the blood of a spawn demon
- Fill your cup with the essence of a portal
- Fill your cup with water of a holy font
- Fill your cup with brew from a witch’s cauldron
- Ascend the Silent Spire and face East
- Ascend the Silent Spire and face West
- Ascend the Silent Spire and face North
- Ascend the Silent Spire and face South
- Drink from your cup and Cast your most difficult spell.
- Spill your cup on the ground and create a glyph of summoning.
- Smear the contents of your cup and leap from off the spire.
- Cut off your hand, placing it in the cup and offer it up to the heavens.
Each piece would be random and while the Journey portion was pretty generic to get people to go to the same place, the rest was highly specific. We had “Spawn Demons” placed around the upper level and would respawn if killed until that part of the prophecy was fulfilled. These Spawn Demons were just 1 life Imps that would stay still unless someone approached within 1 inch, and then they’d attack.
The other items (portal, font, and cauldron) were placed randomly around the upper level battlefield as well. These items would require a figure to search that terrain piece to fulfill the prophecy.
Lastly, the wizard would have to get the cup from the figure (if the wizard didn’t get it themselves), ascend the tower (shrouded in an anti-magic null) and use an action to complete their “sacrifice” piece. The game would immediately end as soon as a wizard performed the action, with the resolution of the action and the Dark Prophecy fulfillment.
So that I don’t give away the results of the report, I’ll leave the Dark Prophecy elements there.
As mentioned above, like the Silent Tower scenario, the central tower had a 6 inch null field surrounding it where magic would fail or stop working. We allowed previously summoned creatures to be able to enter the void, they just couldn’t be summoned in it or at a point that crossed the field.
Four wells dotted the field and would lead directly to the library below (requiring an action to go up or down the well point). A portal was also set up on the map as well and would instantly take you to any random library entry point as well.
And so, with all of that, The Dark Prophecy epic battle was ready.
Four prophecies were given,
Four Wizards foretold,
Only one can reap true,
For the Wizard most bold