Paper and Pixels a Boss Monster Mini-Expansion

Name: Boss Monster- Paper and Pixels Mini-Expansion
Type: Card Game Expansion
Publisher: Brotherwise Games
No of Players: 2-4
Age: 13+
Price:  Free with Boss Monster 2
Rating: 4.0 Stars (4.0 / 5) 

Boss Monster, Paper and Pixels, front of packet

Paper and Pixels is a 14 card booster style mini expansion for the Boss Monster and/or Boss Monster 2 card game. It was available in Q4 of 2015 in limited quantities and was given away with copies of Boss Monster 2. The basis for the expansion comes from cards that are in the PC and mobile app version of the game.

This expansion is the sole reason I bought Boss Monster 2 now, rather than waiting. I like getting limited edition releases and cards and so the inclusion of this gave me an excuse to pick the game up. As with all of the cards in Boss Monster the art on the cards is just excellent, portrayed in fantastic 8-Bit style and with little nods to classic console and tabletop gaming.

Boss Monster, Paper and Pixels, contents

The pack consists of 14 cards for the game and a rules card detailing the new rules in the pack. They come packaged in a booster style pack but unlike boosters for games like Magic The Gathering, every Paper and Pixels pack contains exactly the same cards. The art on the pack is pretty cool and very representative of the game. Inside the pack you get-

  •  1 x Rules Card
  • 1 x Epic Hero
  • 2 x Spells (Both the same)
  • 3 x Boss Monsters
  • 8 x Rooms (2 x each or 4 rooms)

The new rules are quite interesting and mean you need another couple of components for the game, specifically a D6 and a few tokens or glass beads. The Die is because the spell does variable damage and the tokens are because the rooms increase in power when certain conditions are met.

Boss Monster, Paper and Pixels, BossesJPG

You get 3 new Bosses in the set, Greg, Chase and Explodo. Explodo I like, he kind of reminds me of the Kool Aid mascot combined with a Bob-omb. The level up abilities of all 3 utilise the new rules in this set.

Boss Monster, Paper and Pixels, Spell Card

You get 2 copies of the Fireball spell in the set. Fireball does variable damage which is a nice touch and I think that feels like another nod towards D&D, especially as variable damage is the a D6. Combined with another spell card for discarding there is a good chance that Fireball could win someone the game if played at the right time as it’s pretty power.

Boss Monster, paper and Pixels, Epic Hero

You get a single new Epic Hero, the Princess. Like the Fool the Princess isn’t lured by any particular type of treasure. Her bait is the player with the most cards in their hand. She is tough though, with 16 health and so will prove to be quite the challenge. It’s a shame she doesn’t look a little more like Princess Peach though.

Boss Monster, Paper and Pixels, Rooms Cards

You get 8 rooms in the set, which is 2 copies each of 4 rooms. There are 2 Monster rooms and 2 Trap rooms, with no Advanced rooms. The rooms are-

 

  • Elder Portal (Trap)
  • Clock Tower (Trap)
  • Spellslime Incubator (Monster)
  • Hydra’s Mire (Monster)

All of the cards utilise the new rules in the set as well. The effects vary between the rooms with the Clock Tower getting weaker each round and the Spellslime Incubator getting stronger as you cast spells. All in all they are a nice, fun addition to the game. On first examination I thought that the Clocktower had the time from Back to the Future on it but I was disappointed to find that it doesn’t.

Paper and Pixels is a fun little set and if you have the opportunity to get hold of it then you should. I’m very pleased that I managed to get a copy and I think it’s a nice step from Brotherwise to give it away as a seasonal promotion though I hope some existing players can also get hold of copies. The downside of these kind of promotions is that it’s very hard for existing players to get their hands on it, meaning that they can’t have a complete collection. It tends to lead to an expensive secondary market on Ebay and so I hope Brotherwise do some kind of other release for these cards so everyone can get in on the fun, not just new players.

It’s a good set but I think that a couple of little tricks have been missed, like the time on the Clock Tower clock, things that would have elevated the set a little bit more. If the set sees a general release for existing players I’ll up the review score to a 4 since the set itself is good but the difficulty that existing players will have getting it detracts from it’s overall appeal to me.

UPDATE- Brotherwise Games have confirmed that Paper and Pixels will see a general release in 2016 and so I’ve updated the score to 4.

X-Wing Tournament 18/10/15

X-Wing Miniatures game logo

 

On 18th October I took part in a casual X-Wing Tournament at LVL Up in Bournemouth. This wasn’t part of the standard organised play supported by FFG, there wasn’t a winter kit on the line and it wasn’t Store Championship (since they won’t restart until next year). However, prize support on the day was still pretty awesome-

  • 1st Place-  £30.00 Store Vouchers
  • 2nd Place- £20.00 Store Vouchers
  • 3rd Place- £10 Store Vouchers
  • Last Place- Wooden Spoon and £5.00 Vouchers
  • Quickest Win- Set of Acrylic Movement Templates.

I wasn’t originally going to be playing as I was busy but a last minute cancellation meant that I was free. As I wasn’t going to be playing and owing to a pretty full on few months i’ve only managed to play 2 games since the release of Wave 7, one with Tri-Advanced and the other with TLT BTL Y-Wings. Owing to my lack of confidence with the Tri-Advanced I decided that the Y-Wings were the safer choice.

My List was this-

  • Gold Squadron Pilot, BTL-A4, R2 Astromech, Twin Laser Turrets- 25 points
  • Gold Squadron Pilot, BTL-A4, R2 Astromech, Twin Laser Turrets- 25 points
  • Gold Squadron Pilot, BTL-A4, R2 Astromech, Twin Laser Turrets- 25 points
  • Gold Squadron Pilot, BTL-A4, R2 Astromech, Twin Laser Turrets- 25 points

This came in at an even 100 points. I know that it’s s strong list in the meta and most importantly it’s nice and easy to use and since i’m out of practice thats something that I appreciate. I went back and forth over whether to take the BTL Title, I like the fact that it gives an extra shot with the primary weapon but being restricted to the primary arc limits the general effectiveness of the TLT. In the end I went with it just because I really like the fact that I can, if all goes well, roll 32 attack dice in one turn.

The tournament had a reasonable showing, with 12 players showing up to play. There was a good split of Rebels and Imperials, although just the 1 Scum list that I saw. There was also a nice variety of list types, from the exceptionally strong BBBBZ to the more varied Whisper, Carnor Jax and 2 Academy TIEs. I knew that I was ‘that guy’ because of the list I was fielding but I also know that TLT isn’t as scary as many people think and that the BTL variant at least requires a reasonable level of skill to fly and can be arc dodged. The set up was 5 standard rounds of swiss with no cut.

LVL Up Tournament, Game 1

First up was Bossk and Cobra Talonbane with the only Scum list fielded. This wasn’t too bad a match up for me, assuming I could hold up against Cobra for the initial couple of range 1, Expose, 6 Dice attacks. I set up split across the middle and left and my opponent, predictably, set up on the right to avoid TLT focussing too early. I figured Talonbane would be my first priority and so went straight after him trying to focus fire him down with 3 in arc shots. I got a round of shooting before Talonbane managed to get into range 1 and score 5 hits against my first Y-Wing, dropping me to half hull straight away.

The next couple of rounds saw me lose a Y-Wing but manage to get rid of Cobra Talonbane and start working on Bossk. Bossk managed to put his ability, plus his Merc Co-Pilot to good use causing some damage to a 2nd Y-Wing before a risky move while stressed saw Bossk with no option but to pull a hard two which sent him off the edge of the board. This put me 1-0.

LVL Up Tournament, Game 2

Game 2 was against a bit of an oddball Rebel list, 2 B-Wings with Advanced Sensors, a Z95 and Miranda Doni in a K-Wing with TLT. I wasn’t overly concerned about this one, I figured I could focus the B-Wings down quickly and then take out Miranda. I starter split in 2 groups in the middle and took one pair towards a B-Wing and Z95 and another towards Miranda and the other B. It started off well enough with one B-Wing focussed down in a couple of turns and Miranda down to 2 Hull but it started going a little south after that.

2 Y-Wings followed Miranda down the right side of the board, just out of range for a few turns while taking return fire. This also gave Miranda time to regen a few shields, which made her more of a problem. In the meantime I lost a Y-Wing against the Z95 an B-Wing on the left. Miranda finally turned in front of me to avoid heading off the board and that allowed me to get a couple of good shots, enough to get rid of her shields, but I lost another Y-Wing in the process. Meanwhile i managed to get rid of the Z95 and work the B-Wing down to hull.

In the closing turns I rid the board of the final B-Wing and lost another Y-Wing before chasing down Miranda, who was again sporting a full complement of shields. As the last couple of turns unfolded I managed to strip her of that protection, loosing my own in return and the game ended with her on 2 hull, me on 3, with her facing the edge of the board as time was called. If the game had gone another turn I’d have had all 3 of my shots at her and couldn’t have been killed in return, all but guaranteeing me the win, but in the end it was a loss due to points- 62-75. At the end of game 2 I was 1-1.

LVL Up Tournament, Game 3

Game 3 gave me simultaneously my best and worst match up, Fel and Chiraneau. My list loves Decimators, especially nice 65 point Decimators but it absolutely hates arc dodgers an Fel is one of the best.

As normal I split myself across the middle, 2 groups of two, and figured i’d chase down the Decimator and focus it into oblivion as quickly as possible. To this end I ignored Fel for the first few turns and looked to focus all fire on the Decimator. I managed to cause some damage in the 1st few turns, until the inevitable range 1 confrontation and in return I lost a Y-Wing when my opponent used Vader to cause the last point of damage. This was a fair trade, the Decimator was down to 6 Hull and I was just down by 1 Y-Wing.

The next couple of rounds saw Fel cause some peripheral damage to a Y-Wing as they were chasing down a Decimator that was proving to be particularly resilient, especially after managed to arc dodge after pulling a surprise 4 forward through an asteroid. In the end I managed to run the Decimator down in the bottom left corner and focus it out of the game, leaving me with Fel.

At this point the timer was running down and so my opponent couldn’t be as cautious with Fel as he would have liked, which was an advantage to me as it meant he had to play a little reckless and couldn’t dodge as much as he’d like. This caused him to take a change and fly into range and arc of all 3 remaining Y-Wings, albeit within range 1 of 1 of them, preventing the TLT. His initial shots hurt, but the Y-Wing returned fire at range 1 and caused 2 points of damage.

It’s worth pointing out that we discovered after the game that my opponent made a mistake. He took Fel off as destroyed when he had a single hull left. Chances are the other Y-Wings would have finished the job, but it was a shame that the game ended as it did, especially when i was so elated that i’d one shotted the illustrious Baron Soontir Fel.

Game 3 was a win, putting me at 2-1.

LVL Up Tournament, Game 4

Game 4 was another Imperial List, Krassis Trelix with a Mangler Cannon and a pair of PTL Imperial Guard TIE Interceptors. The Interceptors in particular worries me here, although at least it wasn’t Fel again.

Standard set up again from me again against Trelix set up on the far right and the TIEs on the left. My plan here was to take out the Firespray as quickly as possible and then try to focus on the Interceptors. Fortunately this one for me went to plan, I managed to focus Trelix down in two rounds of shooting, taking little damage in return as my agility dice seemed to be blessed and meant I was flying the galaxies most agile Y-Wings.

After taking down the Firespray I turned my attention to the paired Interceptors and managed to cause a little damage as they turtled up (focus and evade) against the onslaught. I was fortunate enough to block one a couple of turns later and this caused the other to fly into the back of them, denying both actions. Unfortunately for my opponent this was in range and arc of all 3 other Y-Wings and both Interceptors went down in short order handing me my quickest win of the day at 30 minutes.

Game 4 put me at 3-1 for the day and saw me elevated to the top table for game 5.

LVL Up Tournament, Game 5

Game 5 was against a solid list, the top tier BBBBZ. I fancied my chances here, figuring that my weight of shots would be sufficient to drag the B-Wings down. I worked out that if I was really lucky I could focus 2 down per turn (0 evades vs all hits) but that i’d likely take down 1 per turn and that would be enough.

We arranged asteroids and then both set up directly opposite one another, on the right of the board with no asteroids between us. My opponent won the roll off for initiative, letting ne set up and move first, which I think was to my advantage since I could hopefully focus down a B-Wing before it could return fire.

The game started slowly, both of us making 1 forward moves to feel each other out and this continued for the first couple of turns as we began to exchange fire. It was around then that my dice betrayed me for the first time on the day and I didn’t manage to cause enough damage to take down a B-Wing but I took a fair amount of damage in return. The next turn is the one that I think was most pivotal to the game. I had a choice, continue the 1 forward, move into what was likely range 1 and lose my TLT shots, assuming my opponent did the same, or make a 4K Turn and assume the B-Wings would make a 2K, putting me at range 2 and giving me my full range of shots.

I went with the K-Turn and my opponent didn’t go with his, so I was left with 2 Y-Wings, facing the wrong way, with stress, directly in front of the full BBBBZ list. Now I managed to block a couple, but that just meant they couldn’t take actions, they were still left with shots and this put me in a bad predicament. My other 2 Y-Wings were coming in from the left, having split off from the group, and they were able to take shots wearing down the Z95. On my opponents shooting phase he managed to drop the 1st Y-Wing and I was pretty sure at this point that I was going to lose.

The next round saw me loose the 2nd Y-Wing before it could turn around again but I finally managed to drop a B-Wing in return. There was a little repositioning over the next couple of turns with less shooting but enough to start stripping the shields from the 3rd Y-Wing while I wasn’t able to do much in return and soon after I lost my 3rd Y. In the last couple of turns I managed to claw back a few points by destroying the Z95 but there was little I could do to delay the inevitable and the final 3 B-Wings, 2 of which were undamaged, destroyed my final ship giving my opponent the game and 1st place in the tournament with an impressive 5-0 score. After game 5 I was 3-2 for the day.

That score, along with the damage I caused in my losses managed to net me 3rd on the day, which I’m more than happy with. I turn up at a tournament hoping to end with a winning record and so placing 3rd is a pretty good win for me. It got me a £10 Voucher for LvL Up, which will get used on more X-Wing, probably the Gozanti Cruiser or Wave 8. I didn’t get the fastest win as someone managed to finish a game within 26 minutes, which is astounding.

It was a really good day with a lot of fun games and some interesting lists. I like tournaments because I get to play against lists that my regular opponents wouldn’t play. I look forward to the next tournament and trying to play high enough to get a Vader Alt Art card.

Horror On the Orient Express Deluxe Campaign Review, Part 1

Horror on the Orient Express, front of box

Regular readers are probably aware that I backed the Call of Cthulhu 7th Edition Kickstarter and that I tend to rant about how badly it has been conducted. Fortunately this isn’t another one of those posts and today I’m actually going to sound pretty positive about Chaosium for a change.

As part of the CoC 7th Ed Kickstarter I purchased the Horror on the Orient Express campaign as an add on. Horror on the Orient Express (HotOE) was ran as a separate Kickstarter by Chaosium prior to the 7th Ed Kickstarter and I missed out on that one so this seemed a good time to pick up the boxed set at a significant discount. As many of you know, I have a bit of an obsession with trying to own and run the ‘great’ campaigns, more or less regardless of system and for Cthulhu HotOE represents the last omission from my collection.

HotOE was first released as a boxed campaign by Chaosium back in 1991. Original sets can still be found on EBay fairly frequently and tend to command fairly high prices if they are complete. I’ve long considered picking one of the original copies up but it never quite made it to the top of my list and so when it was offered at half price ($60) as part of the 7th Ed Kickstarter I jumped at the chance to grab it. The version that was Kickstarted is far more than just the original game Chaosium really went all out in their production of a deluxe campaign set.

This edition is designed for use with the, as yet unreleased, 7th edition rules for the game but includes stats for 6th edition so you can run it with existing material. Also included are basic conversion rules for 7th edition if you want to try and run it using that system.

Horror on the Orient Express, books

Horror on the Orient Express, props

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, what do you actually get for your £75 at retail? In the box there is-

6 Campaign books

  • A Tour Guide to the Orient Express and it’s stops
  • 6 A3 maps detailing the various carriages of the Orient Express
  • An A3 Handout of the Scroll of the Head (plus instructions on how to cut it up and age it to make a more convincing prop)
  • A Map of Europe detailing the various Orient Express Routes over the years
  • A cardboard Simulacrum that breaks down into 6 parts for the players to find and assemble during the campaign
  • A cardboard Dagger (what is the dagger for)
  • A Matchbox (with toothpicks in, matches are incendiary devices and can’t be posted)
  • An Orient Express stamped envelope containing 4 Period Accurate US Passports, 4 luggage stickers, a bumper sticker, and 2 period postcards.

It’s a mighty set. The box is X inches deep and it weighs in at 4.5kg, which means it is the heaviest boxed set for any game I own and rivals the WFRP 3rd ed box in size but the difference is that HotOE is jam packed with books, as opposed to innumerable tokens. So packed is the HotOE box that the lid doesn’t actually close properly and it literally bulges.

Before I go into some detail about the individual components I thought I’d take a moment to look at the production values of the set. The box is large and sturdy, despite not being overly thick. The artwork is bright and eye catching, with the box art from the original set being reproduced and used again. The books are all softcover and black and white with good quality paper used throughout. For the props, all of the card ones are made from a thick card and are clean cut and well printed. The matchbox is sturdy enough to have survived shipping without being damaged and the envelope seems to have similarly protected the props it contains.

So let’s take a look at the books. As this only arrived last week I’ve not come close to having properly read it and so I won’t be reviewing the adventure so much as looking at what each book covers and the production values used on them. That means that there will be very few spoilers in the article although if you do intend on playing through this campaign then I’d suggest you stop reading now, just to be safe.

Horror on the Orient Express, Campaign Book

Book I is the Campaign. Book 1 is 74 pages long and provides a general synopsis of the entire campaign. Given the size of the set as a whole it’s not great surprise that the campaign overview needs a book all to itself. This book follows the main plot of the campaign, given the Keeper a good idea of how the game should flow and a timeline for the events. The last is especially important because the adventure runs on a fairly specific timeline which corresponds with the time it takes to take the Orient Express from Paris to Constantinople in 1923.

Horror on the Orient Express, Book 2, Through the Alps

Book II is Through The Alps. This book is 264 pages long and covers the first part of the journey. It begins in London and covers two periods, being 1923, the year the adventure is set, and 1893 for an optional prequel scenario. After London it moves to Paris for the PC’s to actually board the Orient Express and then shifts to the Dreamlands for another optional adventure while the train is on route to Lausanne, the next stop. The final section of book 2 sees the players travel through the Alps to Milan.

Horror on the Orient Express, Book 3, Italy & Beyond

Book III is Italy & Beyond. This book is 272 pages long and covers the middle of the journey. This books takes the players from Venice to Trieste and onto Vinkovci. It has a couple of optional sections, one in a Dreamlands type sequence and two others, both in Constantinople in different eras, 330AD and 1204AD. The background sections provide an awful lot of perspective for what is going on in the present and, while optional, seem to be worthwhile building into your game.

Horror on the Orient Express, Book 4, Constantinople & Consequences

Book IV is Constantinople & Consequences. This book is 192 pages and brings the campaign as a whole to 728 pages, which makes it a full 290 pages longer than the entire of Beyond the Mountains of Madness, which is a colossal beast in it’s own right. This is the final book of the campaign proper and takes the PCs from Sofia to Constantinople before they cross back across Europe in the exciting conclusion before the campaign comes full circle to end in London. There is also one final optional encounter which takes place in Istanbul, 2013.

Horror on the Orient Express, Book 5, Strangers on the Train

Book V is Strangers on a Train. This book is X pages long and contains X NPCs for use during the campaign. While the main campaign books contain all of the important NPCs as they are encountered Strangers on a Train provides the DM with a series of NPCs to fill the gaps when the PC’s decide to question people in the restaurant car, or members of the trains staff. It’s designed to fill the gap when the players talk to someone that isn’t intrinsic to the adventure proper but who may still be able to provide them with a clue that gets them back on the right track (no pun intended). Each NPC has the generic stats and also a page on which you can make notes, in case the PCs speak to that person again.

This book makes another excellent addition to the set and allows the Keeper to introduce people on the fly without having to worry about remember specific details about the person later. It also deals with the minor issue of players knowing that an NPC isn’t important because the Keeper doesn’t reference them from the book. Using NPC’s from Strangers on a Train means that every single NPC will be viewed as important and the players won’t be able to make assumptions about an NPCs importance and take any information they supply for granted.

Horror on the Orient Express, Book 6, For the Investigators

Book VI is For The Investigators. This book is 196 pages long and contains all of the handouts that the players may find during the course of the campaign, reprinted from each of the separate campaign books. They are all printed neatly on white paper and are not double sided allowing you to cut them out if your wanted. Fortunately, as this is the digital age you don’t need to deface your book, wither by actually cutting out the handouts or by bending it trying to photocopy them, instead you can go to the Chaosium website and download a PDF of the handouts for free, which you can then cut up. The handouts can be found here. I have to admit, I think that this is a brilliant step by Chaosium and one I applaud. This will make my life much easier and make me significantly less nervous about trying to age and weather the various bits of paper.

So thats it for part 1 of the review, in Part 2 i’ll be taking a closer look at the handouts, props and maps included in the set.

Kickstarter Pickups.

Kickstarter Logo

Despite having very little time to game or write over the last couple of weeks it’s still been a pretty good time for building the collection with 3 Kickstarters delivering something in the last 10 days or so. I’ll be coving all of these in a little more detail soon but I thought it’d be fun to take a quick look at what I’ve received.

Tiny Epic Galaxies, Kickstarter Deluxe, front of box

So first up to deliver was Tiny Epic Galaxies, Kickstarter Deluxe. This is the one I was most excited about, since I played the Print and Play back while the campaign was still live. Tiny Epic Galaxies is a great game and the production value of the contents is very high.

Tiny Epic Galaxies, Kickstarter Deluxe, Contents

Next up came an add on to a Kickstarter (though it was funded via Kickstarter in its own campaign that I wasn’t part of)- Horror on the Orient Express of Call of Cthulhu 6th/7th edition.

Horror on the Orient Express, front of box

Horror on the Orient Express is that last of the great Cthulhu adventures that I needed for my collection. I’d looked at trying to get a copy of the original 1991 version a number of times but I’d never managed to pull the trigger on it, either through price or condition. Now, don’t get me wrong, it’s been a long wait for this, I paid over 2 years ago and I still don’t have a single hard copy from the actual campaign I backed, but damn this is a stunning set.

Now, as I said above, I’ll do a whole unboxing article on this one, but I’ll run through a little bit of what you get inside-

Horror on the Orient Express, books

You get a whole load of books in the set, 6 (7 including the Orient Express Guide Book for the players) to be exact running to over pages in total. One of the books is 200 pages long and is just player hand outs. On top of that you get the Simulacrum pieces, a cardboard knife, a poster sized Scroll of the Head handout (plus instructions on how to cut it up to make the scroll), a bunch of posters detailing each of the train carriages as well as a map of Europe and several prop handouts.

Horror on the Orient Express, props

This is such an exceptional set, probably the very best boxed set, of any game I own. The production values are amazing, and the value for money, especially at the price I paid, is very, very good. I’m so pleased that this set was reprinted and given a complete makeover from start to finish. This goes to prove that when Kickstarter works, it can produce something outstanding.

The last thing I received was Epic Card Game with it’s Year One promos.

Epic Card Game, box and promos

I bought into this one purely on the basis that it’s made by White Wizard Games, who made the outstanding Star Realms. For all intents and purposes the game is Magic The Gathering, but in a Living Card Game format, making it significantly cheaper to play. From just the starter box for Epic you can play up to 4 player draft tournaments, something basically impossible with standard Magic boxes. I also got the Year One Promos, extra tokens and God and Demi-God Deck cards, which add just a little bit extra to the game.

I haven’t had a chance to play it yet but it look like good fun and the artwork on the cards is exceptional, it’s clear that a lot of hard work went into commissioning and selecting the art for the game.

So that’s my week in Kickstarter. It was a pretty awesome week to get everything delivered at the same time, even more so because I hadn’t just paid for and ordered it, so it felt a little bit like I was getting presents and I do love getting presents.

Dragonlance: The Prologue

Dragonlance Logo

The campaign starts in the Autumn, in 343AC, in the village of Digfel in Abanasinia. The would be heroes are all children living in the village and this prologue tells the story of their first adventure together.

At this point in the story Aldorin has only been in town for a few weeks, hit mother staying here as it is one of the few places that the young elf has been able to make friends. Thorin is you but apprenticed to the village blacksmith and is learning his trade there. The group of children are all of like physical and mental age and play together when their chores are done, either in their tree-house of Solace, in an old abandoned water mill or in some nearby caves reported to be haunted.

The day started like many others, with the children meeting on the edge of town, just after midday. However something about that day was a little different, their friend Talimarious didn’t show up and so they went to call on him. When they arrived at his house they were alarmed to find out that Tally (as they affectionately called him) wasn’t there and, more alarmingly, that his mother didn’t remember him and that his bedroom was being used as a pantry. The asked around town to try and understand what was going on and were met with accusations of tall tales regarding their friend, no-one, except for them, could remember him.

Unsure as to what to do the group decided to search their most common play spots, to see if they could find any clues as to what had happened to Tally. They first checked their Tree-House, but found nothing there and so just picked up with wooden swords and shields and made their way to the Abandoned Mill. Here they found tracks of some kind of humanoid leading into the attached house. Closely looking at the tracks they determined that they were recent and look like they were made by some kind of goblinoid.

Taking great care they managed to sneak into the house and up the stairs without alerting the creature and they ambushed it as it was in it’s makeshift lair. Now, being around 10 years old, a single goblin posed quite a challenge for the diminutive heroes and what followed was a frantic 30 seconds of trying to beat the knife wielding goblin around the head with a rusty skillet what the wannabe wizard through handfuls of flour at it hoping that some of the random gibberish would turn out to be the words to a spell.

Eventually the goblin was defeated after the dwarf, Thorin, managed to leap on it’s back, grapping it to the ground while it was blinded from the flour and Remus knocked it out with the skillet, now dubbed the Skillet of Justice. Feeling rather proud of themselves the group wrapped the goblin up in as much rope as they could find and paraded him through the village before receiving a 2 steel piece rewards, spending it on sweetcakes and then running around hyperactive on sugar for the rest of the day. Of their missing friend, Talimarious, there was still no sign.

The last place to search was the haunted caves. No one knew why they were haunted and the group just recall that it was the older children that passed down this secret knowledge to them. REMUSXX did all that he could to perpetuate this myth and had previously put a scarecrow in the caves to provide a suitably ominous presence for anyone sneaking inside. As always the group approached the caves cautiously, entering through the narrower northern entrance. No-one had ever actually seen a ghost hear but that didn’t stop them creeping forward with fear in their hearts. As they approached the first cavern they heard a noise, something scuttling in the darkness before a wolf pounced on Bastion, who was leading the party. The wolf sank it’s teeth deep into the child’s arm and, in that one act, gave Bastion a lifelong distrust on all wild animals. For it’s effort the wolf earned a solid smack to the face with a wooden sword and ran away whimpering.

While Bastion nursed his wounded arm under the care of Aldoran, Thorin and Remus searched the complex of caves and found that a recent cave in had caused a hole to appear in the floor of the second cavern and that the pit seemed to descend into some form of dwarf made complex that was previously unknown. Remus returned to town to acquire rope but, being particularly intrigued by the idea of dwarven ruins Thorin obtained himself a suitable branch to use as a makeshift ladder and descended into the complex below to find that he was in a corridor, blocked at one end by a cave in and with a door in the other. While the complex certainly appeared to be of dwarven craftsmanship it was human sized in all other proportions.

Thorin proceeded to search alone, creeping cautiously forward through the first stone door and into a room containing the plinths of 5 statues, long since damaged beyond recognition. Another door lead to an north/south corridor and wide hallway with a large set of double doors, made of stone and brass and bearing the image of a fiery gate. Feeling that this last door would indeed lead to treasure Thorin put caution and thoughts of his lost friend to one side and approached eagerly, in doing so setting off a trap and falling into a pit.

When Thorin hadn’t returned the rest of the party set out to look for him, now using RemusS’s newly liberated rope. They found him quickly and managed to pull him free of the pit and after he dusted himself off he was a bit worse for wear but able to stumble along behind the rest of the party. At this point Hett, another of their friends who has been stuck doing chores, turned up and advised Bastion that his mum wanted him and it looked like he might be grounded for getting into a fight with a goblin.

The rest of the group, now with Hett appraised of their missing friend, made their way through the corridor heading north and after it turned west found 2 locked doors, one in each of the north and south wall. Hett and Remus worked together and managed to pick the lock on the southern door with their rudimentary equipment, revealing a room that may once have been a bedchamber for a number of human sized occupants, judging by the rotten remains of beds and mattresses. The northern door revealed little more, with just some smashed pottery, glass and a stone alter in the room.

Further around the corridor, that had taken a southern turn, they found 2 more doors, locked but leading to larger rooms. The eastern door appeared to lead to another bedroom, but with just a single bed inside. The western door was more curious after a glance through the door revealed another stone alter, but once it was unlocked (with Remus setting off another trap, which would have poisoned him had the poison not long since dried up) the room was shown to be clean, tidy and sparsely furnished as a bedroom. Aldorin surmised that the room must have a powerful illusion cast upon it but after trying hard to disbelieve concluded that Thorin had simply made a mistake and the group moved on.

The corridor took another turn, this time east and another two doors were found. Aldorin followed the corridor round a further turn to the north to discover that it liked back up with the original corridor to form a square. Of the two new doors, one couldn’t be opened and the other seemed to lead to some form of a library. The walls were covered, floor to ceiling with bookcases containing all manner of books and scrolls that Aldorin surmised must be magical from the runic writing on their spines. Summoning all of his power he cast a mighty spell of Detect Magic and found that all of the books and scrolls were protected by a powerful spell, all except one, a scroll buried beneath some detritus on the floor, a scroll bearing the necromantic spell of Animate Dead.

While Aldorin was “playing with boring books” as Remus put it, Remus and Hett made their way back to the mighty double doors, convincing each other of the magnificent treasures that must be held within. They knew the door was locked but with the open pit could find no reasonable way to reach the door to try and pick it and hit upon the plan of taking the bed from the neat and tidy room and using it as a ladder/stepping stone. Between the two of them they managed to manoeuvre the bed to the door but, try as they might, they couldn’t get it out of the door, either one would slip, or it would get jammed in the door or, in one instance, it simply vanished from sight as it crossed the threshold. This convinced them that magic may indeed be responsible but, again, they were unable to see through whatever illusion may have existed.

It was around this time that the children decided that they may need to go home for supper and vowed to return the next day to discover the secrets of the big room.

On day 2 they completed their chores as normal and discovered Bastion was still not allowed out to play so they went onto the caves without him. Descending down into the dwarven halls once more they approached the pit in front of the double doors. Thorin had hit upon a reasonable idea and had brought along a hammer and nails and went about constructing a platform to bridge the two sides of the pit and allow Remus and Hett to try and pick the lock. Despite REMUS’s reservations as to the sturdiness of a platform built by an apprentice blacksmith he risked using it anyway and consequently fell down the pit when it broke, twisting his ankle.

Aldorin noticed that there were large stone carvings above the door, and hit upon the idea of throwing a rope over them to suspend Hett in front of the door so he could open it. While the plan seemed dubious, it worked and the doors were unlocked causing the party to scurry to safety behind a nearby wall in case some huge creature swooped out and tried to eat them. Using a branch gathered earlier Thorin carefully pushed the door open from a distance so as to avoid any potential traps or protective wards that may have been set to guard the room. No such defensive measures were forthcoming but the group were met with an unholy screaming and flickering prismatic lights as the door edged open.

Hett, the first to enter, found himself in a large room with an arcane looking circle dominating it’s middle. Floating above the circle, surrounded by a bubble of roiling prismatic smoke was the source of the screaming, their missing friend Talimarious. The bubble was being bombarded with bolts of crackling energy emanating from 3 vases set upon ornate marble stands, in 3 of the corners of the room. A 4th vase lay broken on the floor in the north west corner. A quick search found a reset switch for the pit trap which allowed the others easy entry into the room and they instantly set upon throwing stones at the remaining vases to break them, under the belief that this would help their friend.

It was at this time that Bastion, having managed to sneak out of his house joined the group once more just in time to see one of the vases break., Aldorin was the first to strike true, shattering the south east vase with a ray of frost that left him exausted and this set of a chain of events that they would remember for a long long time and that would leave permanent scars on the children.

The room erupted with an almighty explosion, blinding all inside and bolts of light rebounded off the walls, striking both Aldorin and Thorin. Thorin began to run, heading out of the door and back to the entrance as a thick green acid fog began to rapidly fill the room, seeping out of all 4 vases. Of Talimarious there was no sign.

The group tried to run but the smoke got to Remus before he could plant a step, forcing Hett to run back and rescue him, carry his friend on his shoulders. Aldorin, exhausted from his spell, staggered after Hett and Remus, forcing his wearing feet to carry him forward faster than should have been possible. Bastion, struck with the terrible awe of the moment, was the last to leave, barely escaping as the acid fog descended on him, horribly burning the right side of his face.The group escaped with their lives, but without their missing friend. They returned to town changed by their experience, brought closer as a group and, although they didn’t know it, with a destiny mapped out for them.

Also, they were all pretty much grounded for the rest of their childhood and none of them could sit down for a week.