We have started playing a Frostgrave campaign. I hope to have pictures posted soon. In the meantime, here is some fiction I wrote using my first Frostgrave game as a guide.
A first encounter
A chill wind whistled over the the bluff, disturbing the few blades of grass growing through ruined flagstones and the remnants of outbuildings arranged loosely around a pair of grey crypts and a lonely square tower. Asce pulled her hood close and rubbed her hands together before grasping her crook staff in preparation. One could never tell what beings lurked in the towers of Frostgrave.
Her mentor marched rapidly up the several stone steps leading to the tower door, inspecting it for arcane marks. Asce couldn't see any, but she wasn't at all versed in Sigilism. It didn't seem to be a strong point in Tirani's studies either, but Asce would never make that observation aloud. Only a fool chanced the wrath of a wizard.
Tirani disappeared through the strong wood door for a few moments and Asce stomped her feet to increase the blood flow. The wizard soon stepped back down the stone approach towards her apprentice, who stood a little straighter in response.
"There's nothing in there," she bemoaned, gesturing behind her at the building, "but my sources pointed us to this tower."
She pondered for a moment, pursing her lips and stroking her chin.
"Demons can be so perverse in their advice... I'm sure he was bound, so he couldn't outright lie to me... The grimoire must be nearby. Let's look near those crypts."
Asce jumped in surprise as a low voice spoke from behind her.
"I'll get the band organized, then."
It was Glori, the ranger captain they had hired. She was a good tracker and seemed to command her men well. At her command, the archers and the lone swordswoman that accompanied them moved to the left flank, and she climbed the rocky hill to the right. Tirani brought three of her demon dogs up next to her, and gave Asce command of the last. It snapped its sharklike jaws and pawed at the ground with its powerful hind legs.
"Fssssst!" Glori hissed from her viewpoint on the hill. When the two mages looked up to her, she nodded her head to the west and pressed her finger to her lips.
Tirani looked pointed at Asce and then around the left side of the tower, then gathered her pets and moved quickly around to the right. The beast at Asce's side started to stir anxiously and sniffed the air. Practicing her talent for control, she brought it to heel and peered around her designated corner.
Just barely visible over the ruined walls and between the two mausoleums, Asce could see a portly man dashing forward through the ruins. Tirani shouted a sharp command and her dogs set off running between ruined walls towards the man. Asce couldn't see anyone else, but suddenly the two archers and the swordswoman dashed off to the left, ducking low between a pair of rocky hills.
The devil dog at her heel started whimpering and pawing, sniffing after the soldiers.
"Oh, go on then," the apprentice said, gesturing vaguely in their direction.
With a howl, the beast shot after the humans, overtaking them with ease and snarling at something beyond the rocky hills Asce couldn't see.
Her attention was drawn back to her master as she heard the words of power she spoke. A circle of green-tipped flames appeard on the frozen earth, and the frost evaporated as a hulking winged brute materialized, flexing his muscles and struggling against the magical bonds controling him. After seeing the futility of his struggle, he marched westward towards the approaching enemy.
Asce stared awestruck at the power of the wizard for a moment. This was why she followed Tirani. Someday, she would have the talent to bind such demons to her will as well. A rapid snapping of fingers brought her back to attention.
"Stare later! The dogs are hunting. Give 'em some help!"
Knowing what was expected of her, the apprentice began weaving a summoning spell of her own. Rather than conjuring both the body and spirit of an extra-planar ally, she strained to call forth only the incorporeal portion, directing it to cohabitate with the soul of one of the three canines let loose by Tirani. A mist of fluorescent red formed a summoning circle that hovered before her face, framing the view of her target.
With a final hand motion, her spell was complete. A glowing sphere burst from the opposite side of her glyph and shot out at the dog. Without pausing for a moment, the beast continued its charge through the ruins. Asce could see its flesh begin to swell and harden before it disappeared, chasing after an enemy she couldn't see.
"Good!" Tirani master shouted, successfully completing a possession spell of her own. Asce breathed in relief and treasured this rare boon.
Beyond the hills and ruins, the metal and wooden sounds of combat echoed through the chill air. From her more forward position, she could still see the Tirani's demon making its way around the south side of the central mausoleum. Just beyond it, she could see several rough-looking men with hand axes preparing to meet their dread foe.
As the demon reached the southmost corner of the mausoleum, Asce felt an unfamiliar static pull in its direction. With an electric snap, the wall next to the demon began glowing a bright blue. The apprentice didn't recognize the spell, but it was obvious there was another wizard nearby.
For just a moment, Asce pondered the strange and serendipitous timing that frequently occurred in the frozen city. Was it the work of some supreme chronomancer? Was it the perversity of demonic advisors? What was it that caused wizards and their devotees to approach places of power at the same time? No expedition through the ruins went uncontested.
"Oy! Where's yours!?" Tirani was glaring at her now.
Asce framed her summoning circle in the dust at her feet with the butt of her staff, inscribing sigils and the required geometry with practiced speed. She gathered her vital essence and began to fill the design. She spoke several power words as the circle began to glow. As her spell reached completion, she could barely hold the form in place. The summoning threatened to fall out of order and her power dissipate.
"No..." she moaned, forcing more of herself into the proscribed forms. Sweat beaded across her forehead, and she panted with the effort. With a final held breath, time seemed to slow. The dust that had been blowing swiftly on the cold breeze now seemed to roll slowly across the turf. The space above her summoning circle began to warm. A sudden explosion of heat, a small form materialized, hovering in the air.
It was a small thing. Chitinous plates over an insectile body, like a wasp the size of a cat. It buzzed its green wings angrily, pulling against the force binding it to its new master. Asce breathed several times and then tested her control.
"Go," she croaked, pointing at the much larger demon menacing the thugs to the southwest. Her voice was weak enough she was worried that alone would allow the thing to break free. Fortune was with her, though, and it started drifting off in the direction indicated.
"And bring back some treasure!" she shouted after it. Steam rose from her shoulders and head in the bitter air.
There was no word of affirmation from Tirani this time. Not that Asce was expecting one. At least the demon hadn't turned on her. She had read from Melnor's Codex an account of when one of his apprentices failed in binding a demon after it was summoned. The details were gruesome, and Asce did not want to experience such a brutal end.
A bright light flashed from the hilltop visible on the other side of the graveyard. A slender woman in a dark flowing garment appeared, her eyes squinting at the base of the rocky hill. Her survey complete, she wove a spellform Asce recognized. She hadn't mastered any, but had read accounts of spells allowing demonic power to increase a person's physical capabilities without taking full control of the subject's mind. Like a limited possession. She moved a few steps forward to try and see the spell's target.
Sure enough, the portly man she had glimpsed at the start of the skirmish suddenly lept ten feet in the air, over the mage, landing behind her on the hill. His legs were bulky and distended when he landed, but they quickly reverted to a more standard human arrangement and form. He was also carrying a large book under an arm, and Asce hoped it wasn't the tome Tirani was here for. She didn't fancy wresting the prize from the man.
An arrow landed at her feet, bouncing off an old cobble stone with a steely "ping" sound. She looked for its source, bringing her staff up as though to protect herself from another missile.
Around the south end of the central mausoleum, she could see three men dancing back and forth in mortal combat with Tirani's demon. The were taking great pains to dart in and out of its reach, but it was clear who the victor would be. Her wasp had plucked up a promising looking chest and was trying to hoist it back towards her.
Just beyond the wasp was her assailant. A mercenary. She darted forward to take cover at the wall of the mausoleum, looking for support from her master. Tirani was nowhere to be found. She had probably moved into the ruined buildings to pursue the magus on the hill.
With a few quick breaths, she gathered her wits. She knew a spell that would help. Asce stepped around the edge of the crypt. She drew a symbol in the air with her fingertip, leaving a trail of bright orange hanging in space. Satisfied with the mark, she punched through it.
A burst of hot sparks exploded from her knuckles as ball of fire streaked through the space that separated her from the mercenary. Maybe he was unprepared for such a direct attack, or maybe he overestimated his armor, or maybe he was just stupid. Whatever the cause of his deficiency, the consequence was finite. Only his smoking shoes were left on the heath.
The howling and snapping of dogs brought her attention to the northwest. She crept around to the other side of her sheltering mausoleum. Peering around the corner, she watched as three devil dogs tore at the mage on the hill. She watched with a certain amount of pity as their demon-enhanced bodies tore at the physically weaker human. She hardly stood a chance against the onslaught, and soon fell out of sight. The dogs immediately loped down off the hill and towards another target.
A green energy bolt lit the ruins at the base of the hill. The dogs had been pushed back by another mage. Moving closer, Asce could see through the ruins a balding older man dressed in a dark robe and wielding a staff. He was already casting more pushing spells to keep his assailants at bay.
Hoping to aid whatever friendly forces were left, Asce began an incantation. She summoned a bright yellow ball of light and hurled it at the dark sorcerer, framing him in fairy fire and highlighting his position. Tirani's demon charged at the man, swinging wildly with deadly claws.
Surprisingly nimble for an old man, he ducked below the assault, again pushing his foes back with blasts of arcane force. Back and forth, left and right he dodged, giving his companions time to retreat. Asce could see them now, hustling away toward the horizon, loaded with books and scrolls and other treasures.
Every one of his movements was highlighted by Asce's spell. She could see he was well experienced and powerful. It must have been his apprentice up on the hill. This was a true master. He even stood before the demon, scowling and unfazed by its presence.
It was an arrow.
Not a demon-possessed dog. Not a beast summoned from Other Realms. Not a firey bolt from another wizard.
A simple arrow.
Guided by Asce's glowing aura, a single arrow arced above all the myriad combatants and found its mark.
The wizard fell.