Chapter 5 – Arachnid Ambush
As soon as they entered under the canopy of the woods the light and power of the sun were almost instantly wiped out. Gloom and darkness were all that awaited those who entered into Mirkwood Forest. Though fortunately for the Goblin party that is exactly what they were used to.
The party stuck near the Old Forest Road so they wouldn’t get lost. Constantly they heard noises in the woods as they went. The snapping and creaking of branches, rustling in the leaves, calls that sounded both animal or worse. The morale of the party was low and everyone was on edge. Pikhard had the sense they were being followed, though he was unsure of whom it was, or what…
“Look, in that clearing,” yelled Whez-lei as he pointed at a large pile of bags sitting near a rock. “It looks like some other runts lost their bags.”
“Shut up Whez-lei,” Pikhard said as he gave him a punch to the back of the head. “You have no idea what might be listening to us around here. Everyone with me, lets go check this out.”
Their rations had been running low since their encounters at the farmstead and they could do with any supplies they could find. Though truthfully this felt like a trap as far as Pikhard was concerned. As they approached the pile of old backpacks they quickly realised they were all empty, and also had a scattering of webs all over them. Whez-lei picked one up and shook it around hoping something to eat would fall out. As soon as he did so they heard the rustling in the trees again, stronger than before and now all around them.
“It never fails to work,” hissed a venomous voice from the trees. “Dinner time.”
“Make ready,” bellowed Pikhard. “Watch all around us!”
The party formed into a circle as one by one spiders began to appear all around them and hurled themselves right into the party…
Narrative mission 2 and one of the most brutal for our group playing through this full campaign. So far only 1 other had made it out, and just barely (playing Rohan).
Dan was controlling the spiders this game and would do his utmost to bring me down!
I was both eager and afraid to see how I would do. I knew the cave troll Na’tasha’yar would be my best hope here to hold until the end of the 9th turn. This game came down to the very final turn and very final action and finished in spectacular glory. Read on to find out how!
The lovely board was provided, as always, by Simon!
The Battle company start in the centre of the board. The spiders come on randomly from 1 of 6 pieces of terrain scattered around the edge of the map. There must always be 4 spiders on the board (but no more).
The objective is simple: 25% of your BC must survive until the end of the 9th turn. Every time spiders are killed they are brought back on their following turn.
Crawling with rapid unnatural movement on 8 legs the first spider charged headlong into Na’tasha’yar. Before it could reach the her however, Na’tasha’yar stooped to pick up a large rock the size of a grown mans chest and lobbed it right into the oncoming spider. It hit the spider square in the thorax and sent it crashing to the side hissing in pain. The troll wasted no time in following up on its action and charged into the downed spider to quickly put it out of its misery with a heavy swing of its club, seeing the spider curl up on the ground before it.
As the troll was finishing off the first spider however the rest of the party was quickly engaged on all sides by the spindly creatures. The goblins landed blows in return for taking hits from sharp and sticky legs as the spiders tried to pin them down. Oh’-bryhan let fly with arrow after arrow but could not pierce their thick skin.
Finally, after Gheordhi managed to get a spear thrust into the eye of one of the great beasts, Whorf capitalised on its distracted screaming agony and stabbed his rusted blade into its head, twisting it free again as it dropped and curled up, moving no more. As he raised his sword in truimph and let our a shrill cry of elation, he heard the panicked screams of Bhark-lei as he was knocked to the ground by another spider and did not get back up again…
The action began quickly as I attempted to fire arrows at the incoming spiders but having little luck in hurting them. Na’tasha’yar did manage to toss a large rock into one of them however causing an early wound, but then they were upon me!
The same spider that was wounded by the troll was then clubbed to death after charging it. While happy to get one down quickly it would not stay gone for long… The rest of the spiders charged into my battle company without much damage being done by either sides. Whorf and Gheordhi picked up the second kill bringing down another spider not long after, but in turn the newbie Bhark-lei was knocked out of commission.
Quickly after another spider snuck up behind Dhatta, who was busy trying to help Na’tasha’yar get revenge for Bhark-lei, and dragged him to the ground knocking him out with a swipe across his head from its large leg.
The battle was becoming frantic with every member just trying to survive. Everytime they killed a spider it felt like two more would appear in their place, striking from the flanks and hitting their confused whirlwind of combat. As Pikhard smashed down another spider, Spot was sent sprawling across the ground with a yelp and lay where he landed. Whez-lei, with a jumping blow from his halberd cleaved another almost clean in half just as a web went flying over his head and struck right into Oh’-bryhan, pinning him to the rocks he stood on.
The spiders hissed and screamed with delight with each goblin they brought down and managed to web knowing that soon they would have a feast on their hands. While the goblins would prove little better than a bitter snack, the real prize was the troll. Plump and full of juices it would last them days. Another spider ensnared Whez-lei, though he managed to get a grip on a knife in his boot at the last second, and Gheordhi was tackled from behind and brought down in a scream of hatred. With most of the party now neutralised the spiders could focus on the prize and began spinning their webs around the troll, tighter and tighter until it stood as still as a totem. For a few seconds it groaned as it tried to wiggle free and then slowly toppled over and crashed to the ground. Only Pikhard and Whorf now stood, back to back, against the remaining spiders…
Na’tasha’yar and Dhatta tried to team up to take out one spider but were ambushed from behind by a new arrival who quickly brought down Dhatta while his attention was diverted. At the same time another new spider charged into Spot and brought me down yet another party member!
Now the webbing’s began! Spiders have a shooting attack that can pin an enemy down making them unable to do anything. They can break free on a 6 on their turn but if a spider decides to finish you off it’s not going to take them much effort. First Whez-lei was pinned down, then Oh’-bryhan. Gheordhi was also taken out by a spider at the same time while Whorf and Pikhard managed to inflict yet more wounds into the beasts. Then the situation I was dreading, Na’tasha’yar was webbed too! This left only Pikhard and Whorf on their feet to try and fight on for a couple more turns!
As the two largest goblins and best fighters stood back to back, they blocked blow after blow with their shields, dodged blasts of web thrown at them and hit back with a riposte when they could trying to keep the spiders at bay.
Whez-lei, who had managed to grab hold of his knife, was slowly cutting the webs that held him to the floor. It felt like hours but he was finally able to roll free and charge back into the fray to help Pikhard. He wounded another spider but after he did so it spun and smashed him back again, sending him flying back into a pile of rocks and knocking him out cold.
But in the distraction his mad screaming dash created, Na’tasha’yar was also able to break free of her bonds. The webs not as tight as they needed to be in order to keep such a hulking monster down. As she struggled to her feet Whorf was finally knocked and and quickly webbed in place and the final 4 spiders turned their attention onto Pikhard, not noticing the troll coming up behind them.
Before they could get to Pikhard, Na’tasha’yar reached down and picked one of the spiders up by three of its own legs, slammed it into the ground once for good measure, leaned back and sent it hurling right into the mass of spiders right in front of her. Whether or not she knew Pikhard was also in the middle of this is up for debate. It smashed right into the group, knocking dead one other spider and bowling the other two down onto their backs in pain. Pikhard raised his shield to try and stop the incoming blow as best he could and felt his arm shatter for the effort, giving out a large scream of pain as he too was knocked to the ground. Na’tasha’yar gave off a large bestial roar that sent the two living spiders fleeing back into the woods they had come from.
Finally, after what only lasted for about five minutes, the battle was over. Silence once again surrounded the wounded and battered party. The troll helped rip the webs off the few remaining party members still pinned down and they began waking up those were knocked out during the fight. Luckily nobody was lost, but Pikhard’s arm was badly wounded. He wrapped it in a makeshift sling and threw the shield onto his back.
“There’s no time to waste,” Pikhard said threw clenched teeth. “We must leave these cursed woods immediately or those spiders will be back in greater number.”
There was no argument from the rest. They set off again quickly back down the Old Forest Road and towards the Misty Mountains…
Whez-lei somehow managed to scrape his way out of the webbing and rushed to help out Pikhard, only to see himself thrown aside and out of action. Whorf was then dragged down too at the top of bottom of turn 8 and covered in webs. It should have ended. But Na’tasha’yar, bless her stubborn heart, rolled that BIG 6 to break free from the web!! This was now top of turn 9, my LAST chance to do anything and just hold on. All I had to do was keep Pikhard and her up. However Pikhard had 4 spiders on him and would stand NO chance of surviving, that much I knew. So Na’tasha’yar stepped up to the plate! She grabbed the closest spider and went for an epic toss that send it barrelling through all 3 other spiders and Pikhard himself, killing 2 spiders and downing everyone else. The game ended there with me still having the 25% I needed for victory! It was probably the coolest ending to a game I ever had.
The Wrap Up:
Through the skin of their ugly yellow teeth the goblin party defied the odds and came through Mirkwood alive! Beat up, but alive! I was lucky to take no serious injuries. The win gave me a fair amount of rewards as well for upgrades and some new party members! Oh’-bryhan even came out of it with a shiny Elven bow he found on the ground.
Dhatta was upgraded to a Gundabad Goblin as well which is a nice stat boost and Whez-lei was promoted to Sgt!
Pikhard took an arm injury that would make his shield unusable so in turn I mounted him on a warg! I added 2 more members to the party: Bev’erh’ley (bow) and Poh’laskhi (shield)! See them below!