The Lair of the Beast



Upon entering the gates of Rîmagrad, we soon discovered what had befallen the advance party under Seven Mountain. Butchered to a man, their remains cast across the earth like the aftermath of some frenzied beast's gluttony, there were no survivors. Of the sorcerer-shaman Seven Mountain there was no sign, but the strange youth the old man had taken on as apprentice - One Jackal Laughing Slaughter, in their tongue - insisted his master still lived...


After a long hiatus, the Black Order enters Rîmagrad once again, to hunt down and destroy the beast responsible for so many of the Order's casualties in the Frozen City.

To date, the Order has done quite well in the Lich Lord campaign - fighting against a Summoner, a Thaumaturge and a Necromancer throughout the course of the campaign, the Order hasn't come away with the most treasures, but it has put a staggering number of the living dead back in the ground so far. The Black Order leader, Knight-Captain Tyr, has tallied a fearsome number of kills; I had the idea to build a non-magic character (heresy in Frostgrave!) and my group allowed me to use the Heritor rules to represent a non-magical hero character. The Heritor is an interesting archetype; limited by not being able to use magic, there's still a lot he can do - and in Tyr's case all his abilities are physical or willpower-based ones, meaning he's been able to take on the worst the Frozen City can throw at him and usually come out the other side.*

Most of our games thus far have been played with the Speedgrave rules (5 characters, 1 of whom must be your Wizard, no Apprentices). This is largely because we've been playing 4-player games, and limiting warband size has kept the games just about playable in an evening.

This week, the Order's hunters scour Rîmagrad in search of the Demon of the Tor, a horrifying creature of legend rumoured to live at the fallen city's black heart.

*just don't mention the bears




Scenario Seven - Lair of the Ghoul King - kicks off with the Order finding the Demon's lair just as the other warbands arrive. Two brother-knights accompany Tyr into the beast's lair, along with a pair of loyal warhounds tracking the monster's scent.




To the Knight-Captain's great surprise, an opposing warband led by a Summoner is accompanied by a mysterious figure in the ancient colours of the Order...



A traitor to the Order? An impostor? Something altogether more sinister? Further to the west, a Necromancer's warband enters the fray:



And in the north, a Thaumaturge and her warriors take to the field - although they appear grey and indistinct, as if cloaked in shadow:



Knight-Captain Tyr leads his brother-knights Casimir and Vendred forward, seeing the Demon's lair ahead - a looming structure carved out of solid rock, surely far more ancient than the ruined city around it, almost throne-like.



But where is the Demon? There is no sign of the monster. The Necromancer and Summoner's forces clash around the beast's lair, searching for valuables and trinkets lying among the corpse-wreckage surrounding the beast's territory.



The first of the warbands draw close to the throne, seeking to uncover whatever treasures may be found in the beast's lair.

As Tyr draws closer, a shadow near the rocks detaches itself and streaks toward him, soundlessly. One of the warhounds flanking Tyr leaps forward to intercept the beast, but the shadow moves fast, faster than anything should, and with a flicker of light and a horrible ripping noise the hound falls to the earth, disembowelled, mewling weakly.

The Demon stops for a split second, observing its fresh kill - before cocking its head at Tyr, wordlessly gazing at its next victim.



Without a second thought, Tyr rushes the beast, knowing to hesitate is certain death.



Time seems to slow, as the Demon leaps forward to meet Tyr - and lightning arcs from the knight's blade, striking the Demon in its tracks. The beast freezes as if wracked by pain - and it is all the time Tyr needs to slam into the beast, ripping the blade upward through its torso in an explosion of black gore and viscera.

With a spine-chilling noise halfway between laughter and the wordless howl of the wind, the Demon simply vanishes.



Elsewhere, the living dead have arisen to face the warbands seeking to plunder the beast's lair. The Summoner's warband is accompanied by spirits and imp-like creatures, gleefully chuckling to themselves as they survey the carnage erupting around the throne.



Having despatched the Demon, Tyr rises shakily to his feet, aided by Casimir. There are still foes to slay, and a mystery to resolve - who is the figure bearing the Order's ancient colours?



Both Tyr and Casimir fight through the Summoner's warband, piling the bodies around the foot of the throne before coming within striking distance of the mystery knight - but before the killing blow can be struck, the Summoner's warband retreats from the field, dragging a mighty haul of treasures with them.

As Tyr looks around him, he realises that the other warbands have managed to plunder the Demon's lair, successfully uncovering whatever secrets might have lain hidden. Although the Demon has been slain - or banished? - it is a hollow victory, and as he signals the retreat, Tyr knows that they have come no closer to discovering the fate of Seven Mountain, or to ending the plague of undeath befalling the city.




Another shockingly bloody game, and a hard one to write a report for. We had ghouls dropping from the rafters every single turn, and I don't think a single warband made it to the end of the scenario unscathed (although no fatalities, ultimately). Both Tyr's warhounds and brother-knight Vendred were taken out of action during the scenario, and things could have gone very badly wrong if the game had lasted another turn - Tyr was on 3HP by the final turn! Admittedly, he'd killed the Ghoul King (in a single hit, no less - Heritors can be powerful), a pair of ghouls, and two warriors from an opposing warband by that point.

Indeed, Tyr was so fixated on hacking his way through the enemy that the Order didn't come away with a single treasure to its name in this scenario. Not necessarily a bad thing - the Order is in a good spot, ahead of the campaign's last missions - but now's not the time to lose sight of the prize.

The other warbands took on a lot of supplies and treasures after this game, so our next foray into Rîmagrad will be very challenging indeed.

Roll on the Bone Wheel...