Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Drake's Perch: First Game of Fur-grave

A Silver Drake perches atop the ruins hiding one of the central treasures in our first game of Frostgrave: Ghost Archipelago
When I first floated out the idea of running Frostgrave: Ghost Archipelago for my friends on our Sunday evening game night, quite a few seemed interested. I wanted to use my collection of Splintered Light Miniatures animals as crews, so I merrily began painting away. You've possibly seen me charting my progress on this blog, to include creating additional terrain beyond what I'd already made for my SE Asian Pulp games. Last night, though, was the big night -- our first game of "Fur-grave!" I had 8 players show up and compete, so I did not play and ran it as GM, instead. I split my host's 8'x4' table into two 4'x4' boards, with four players each.
All eight of my players gathered around the two boards - from left, Joel (Squirrels), Mike W (Pine Martens), Brett (Satyrs), Keith (Raccoons), Andy (Badgers), Mike S (Mice), Allen (Jungle Rats), Brian (Weasels)
One player needed to be done a bit early for work Monday morning, so I had an "early" starting group at 6pm and the other four at our normal 7:30pm start time. The rules explanation seemed to go easily enough, and by and large all the players picked up the mechanics quickly. I am sure we made some mistakes here and there, but everything seemed to flow very well. Since my jungle-pattern battle mat I'd recently purchased is only about seven feet wide, I had a river section on the end of the one board. I placed some hill pieces each side of the river material rectangle to create a winding river, with little islands and bridges across it.
Brett's Satyrs hurry towards a treasure they've spotted nestled behind a row of ancient statues
I used the "four corners" style deployment suggested in the rules for 4 players, with two central treasures in the middle of the each 4'x4' board. Eight ordinary treasures were spaced out relatively evenly between the central treasures and the board edges. I want to simplify the setup and have everything ready for my players when they arrived. Most treasure locations were semi-ruined temple sections or piles of rubble. Thankfully, I'd painted so many treasure tokens up that I had more than enough for two games simultaneously!
Andy's Badgers split up to grab multiple treasures -- with one crewman about to search a semi-ruined temple
In the first game, I had Andy's Badger crew vying against Keith Raccoons, Brett's Satyrs, and the Mice belonging to Mike S (who had painted his own crew). I think initially the players thought they would be nice and not attack each other. However, that cooperation soon went by the wayside as players deployed creatures generated from random encounters to attack their opponents and began snatching up treasures others coveted. Andy's Badgers, in particular, took it on the chin as he tried to quietly slip off the board with treasures in hand. I have asked each player to send me an account so I can give more details in each game. The big winner on the first board seemed to be Brett's Satyrs, who snagged a central treasure and three minor ones with no losses.
The Jungle Rats' Heritor in combat with a Large Snake -- one of the many random encounters that plagued this crew
The second game saw Joel's Squirrel Crew (painted for him by Keith), Brian's Weasels, Allen's Jungle Rats, and the Pine Marten Crew of Mike W. I actually "spaced it" and swapped the Weasel and Pine Marten figures, so I may have to rectify that in the second game! In the second game, random encounters quickly began to fill up the table. What was very interesting was that Mike W won most of the rolls to place them, which he did to thwart the advance of the Jungle Rats across the table. First, Allen's rats came under attack by a Large Snake, which the Heritor eventually dispatched with one mighty swing. Next, a pair of Rat Tribal Warriors caught sight of their Jungle rivals and charged. The rats knocked out the Heritor and grievously wounded the crew's Warden (one health point left!). Allen was given some unintentional help when the Weasel Warden slung a magical projectile into combat and accidentally took out one of the tribal warriors. Allen's crew was able to rally and kill off the final warrior, and escape with one treasure, dragging their unconscious leader with them.
Soon after the snake was slain, a pair of Rat Warriors (my "Dricheans" in Fur-grave) spot their Jungle rivals an charge
Meanwhile, by the river, Joel's squirrels crossed the bridges to snag a treasure on the island. They tried to block the Weasels' Heritor from crossing another bridge to grab a treasure on a nearby island. However, the Weasel leader, and a crewmen who had looted the other central treasure, both surmounted the obstacle and escaped off-board. The Pine Martens, meanwhile, took their time and grabbed both a central treasure and a nearby minor one. All the while, Mike W dispatched random encounters (Drakes, Gargoyles, Baboons) to hem in the Jungle Rats and keep them from contesting the center of the table with his Pine Marten crew.
The Weasel Crew (alas, I gave Brian the Pine Marten figs!) advances to contest the riverside treasures with the Squirrels
When most of the treasures had been seized, the players on the second table decided to call it a halt. The looming showdown between the Pine Marten Heritor and the Squirrel Warden was not to be, as darkness falls suddenly in the tropics (apparently). Interestingly, my Southeast Asian location was felt in person as a violent rainstorm actually knocked out the power at my host's house for about five minutes. The players watched wide-eyed as winds hurled his rattan deck furniture around, outside. More than one cocked their head and wondered if they'd left the windows of their cars open...ha, ha! Life in the summer tropics of Columbus, Ohio!

A Pine Marten crewman (Alas, I gave Mike the Weasel figs!) escapes with a treasure found on a ruined staircase
Stay tuned for the accounts of the players, which will follow this entry. I've received accounts already from the Mice, Badgers, and Squirrels, and will hopefully receive the others, as well! I was gratified that all eight took the time to say they enjoyed the game and thank me for all the work that went into getting this campaign ready for the tabletop. I expect we will run Fur-grave sequels every 3-4 weeks, depending on player availability. So, stay tuned for more...!

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