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Resolution 2020: Tainted Grail The Fall of Avalon play through

Resolution 2020: Tainted Grail The Fall of Avalon play through

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Project Blog by danlee

Recommendations: 31

About the Project

I will be playing through the full campaign of Tainted Grail The Fall of Avalon. I will aim to do a chapter a week, writing each one up and reporting it on this blog. Warning: spoilers (probably)!

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Chapter 4A, Take Two

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Chapter 4A, Take Two

Beor took the opportunity while in Bundorca to craft himself a shield. Since the trail of Neante had gone cold in the Tombs of the Order Beor had decided to try and help Bundorca and Falfuar resolve their dispute over their shared Menhir. Before Beor could investigate in Bundorca though the Fore-Dweller arrived, forcing Beor to flee to Falfuar.

In Falfuar Beor conducted a thorough investigation for a couple of days until he could no longer afford to buy more food. He felt that he almost understood what was going on in both villages enough to help them resolve his differences, but first he would have to go hunting for food.

Beor travelled East (re-igniting the Menhir in Bundorca as he travelled past), intending to loop round to the south to hunt in Tangleroot, but as he reached the Broch Cruach he realised the Forest of Whispers was closer. After a couple of hunts Beor was once again well stocked with food. While here Beor decided to explore the woods further. Several hikes into the wood later Beor stumbled across a small hut inhabited by none-other than Neante!

Neante has retreated into isolation here because she is disgusted with something that she saw in the Tombs of the Order. Before coming here she threw the Grail over the cliffs, into the Sea of Ferns.

Beor wondered what could have driven Neante to such an act, but at least he now knew where he needed to go.

 

Much like chapter 2 I managed to stumble on the end of the chapter while thinking I was exploring somewhere completely unrelated to the quest – I only went to the Forest of Whispers for some food!

The game played much better using the Fore-Dweller as a normal guardian creature. It still got in my way and forced me to avoid it for the first three or four days, then it mysteriously disappeared. Despite it frustrating Beor’s plans I was still able to explore the villages of Bundorca and Falfuar, and the Forest of Whispers. I shall be continuing to play the Fore-Dweller in this way for the time being.

Overall this was a nice one-and-a-half hour game session. I wasn’t challenged too much, but I was very lucky with most of my encounters (calm before the storm and merchants). In fact I only had one combat and with my new shield and the armour I crafted previously raw damage isn’t that big a threat anymore.

 

 

Chapter 4A, Take Two

Chapter 4A

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Chapter 4A

Beor took the opportunity while in Kamelot to prepare a smoke bomb. As he was running low on food he then travelled west to some hunting grounds, using the smoke bomb to avoid his first encounter with the Fore-Dweller.

In the hunting grounds he encountered a hammerbeak which he was proud to defeat in combat.

Beor then travelled east, up the coast to Broch Cruach where he searched the Brochs for treasure.

Beor was then able to travel west and activate Bundorca’s menhir. The elder of the village asked him to help resolve a dispute with neighbouring Falfuar over their shared menhir, but Beor could not afford to linger with the Fore-Dweller chasing him.

The next day Beor reached the Tombs of the Order where he handed Excalibur’s Scabbard over to the Knights that were camped there. They were ungrateful as it seemed had the scabbard arrived earlier recent events at the Tombs might have played out differently. Still, they rewarded Beor handsomely for his trouble.

Beor looked around, but could find no information regarding Neante…

 

If this weeks write up appears brief it is for two reasons which are interlinked. The addition of the Fore-Dweller mechanic, which chases you every day and triggers a very hard combat encounter when it reaches you, left me frustrated by the end of the game session and also meant that I could never afford the time to explore and therefore stripped most of the story out of the game.

 

After reviewing the game rules I realised Beor can escape the encounters with the Fore-Dweller at the cost of an action point and by suffering an opportunity attack (which is an insanity point for the Fore-Dweller). This meant Beor lost an extra action point and gained an insanity almost every day. This very quickly became debilitating.

 

I actually attempted this scenario twice – in the first attempt I engaged the Fore-Dweller in an attempt to kill it early, but I lost the fight and realised the Beor was not strong enough yet to stand a chance of winning. I therefore reset the chapter back to the beginning and tried again, this time avoiding the Fore-Dweller as best I could. This is virtually impossible given how small the revealed areas of the map are at any given time.

 

Gathering the resources to activate the menhir was a challenge but I was able to do so by deliberately seeking purple encounters to get magic rewards and searching the Broch’s for wealth.

 

Arriving at the Tomb’s added a final nail in the coffin for tonight’s game. In order to progress with my main plot and find Neante I must have 2+ caution. Beor currently only has 1, which means I am locked out from progressing until I find and then spend more experience to boost that stat.

 

The day after I arrived at the tomb the Fore-Dweller caught up with me again. I was now insane, dieing, had only one day’s food left and a bad weather event caused another point of damage. I lost the dial toss and Beor died.

 

I’m not sure how to restart the mission next week. I am tempted to restart from my current location at full health, no insanity and go from there. The Fore-Dweller I will change to move like a normal guardian – it will be a threat but not constantly harassing me so I can take the time to explore more. The game is challenging enough without being attacked almost every day.

Beor died... again.Beor died... again.

Chapter 3A

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Chapter 3A

Beor knew that there were only two people who could tell him what to do with the Tainted Grail. The closest was the Lady of the Lake, who was only a short journey west from his current location. Travelling to the lake and calling for the Lady to show herself, Beor was shocked by her alien appearance when she surfaced. She had two pairs of arms, each with two elbows and her skin had a sickly blue tint. The Lady was sad to see the Grail, as it meant her favoured Knight must be dead. The Tainted Grail dissolved into seaweed and moss in Beor’s hand as the Lade explained it was one of two decoys she created. As she sank back beneath the water the Lady suggested that Beor’s former master had travelled to the First Farmhold with either the decoy or the real Tainted Grail.

Beor knew he had to head back to the First Farmhold, and conveniently Whitening was on the way so he could deliver Fael’s letter to his widow on the way. Fael’s widow was understandably upset at the news Beor delivered. So much so that she led Beor into a secret room in her hut which was hidden the Knightly gear of Galahad! For some unknown reason he had abandoned the life of a Knight and taken up residence with his wife in Whitening under the alias of Fael. Beor considered his options. The law stated that on a Knights death his posessions be returned to Kamelot along with an explanation of his death, but this equipment would prove useful in Beor’s quest. Eventually Beor decided to obey the law, primarily because he felt it would cause too many awkward situations having to explain wearing Galahad’s armour and weapons.

Beor travelled east to the First Farmhold. First he combed through the remains of the farmhold, but found only a vagabond looking for handouts. Then he visited a nearby watermill, but found nothing more than an odd mill keeper. Now Beor’s food supplies were dwindling so he had to journey back to the west to find hunting grounds and re-supply.

Returning the the First Farmhold a few days later Beor tried to climb the wall of the fort. Reaching the summit Beor could see within many damaged tents, one tent still in good condition, a slimy pile and a large hole in the centre of the fort. Assuming the tent to be his masters, Beor checked that first. However it was in fact from an expedition of masons who had come here to try and put the fort back into use. Obviously something evil had befell them. This led Beor to believe he should check the hole. Finding a blood trail leading down the hole, Beor was saddened to find his master’s knife discarded on the floor. Beor knew Erfyr would not have been parted from his knife, so he must be dead. Seeing boot prints from after the massacre gave Beor hope that his master might be alive after all, so he cautiously followed the tunnel further.

Within the tunnel Beor found a Wyrm, but thankfully it was still sleeping. He turned to leave and then saw the pile of bodies, among them was Erfyr’s corpse. Sneaking over Beor found a note. Erfyr had one of the decoys, but had given it to Morgaine as a trick. Neante and Lancelot had the true Grail. Beor needed to get to Kamelot.

Beor travelled north to the Titan’s Steps where he found a besieged temple. Seeing the besiegers were a rabble showing signs of the Red Death Beor tried to keep his distance and talk them down. That didn’t work so Beor lost patience and fought them off. Only a few hours later Beor had to cover up the red lesions starting to form on his forearms. Within the shrine Beor found an injured Sir Gawain. He tasked Beor with bearing Excalibur’s Scabbard to the Tombs of the Order, as he was too injured to make the journey. Beor solemnly accepted the quest. Beor lit the Menhir here, then continued on his way.

Beor knew Kamelot lay further to the east, but it was beyond the range of the Menhir at the Titan’s Steps. Unable to see any other Menhir to light, Beor headed east regardless. Perhaps there was a way to reach Kamelot via the plagued borough.

Beor continued east towards Kamelot. In the suburbs outside Kamelot Beor found the settlement in chaos, with bands of rabble and Knights with men-at-arms in open warfare. Needing to press on to the east, Beor entered the settlement and helped the Knights for a while as he passed through. Beor was forced to stop as the Wyrdness blocked his path further east.

Beor was forced to travel all the way back to the First Farmhold and then travel east again. In the Dark Morass he know found another Menhir that he could activate, banishing the wyrdness from Kamelot. But the extra travelling had drained Beor’s food reserves, and as he had passed the First Farmhold he had been forced to battle a Wyrdchild. Badly beaten and with his wits shredded, Beor travelled to Tangleroot to hunt for food. While there he was woken from his sleep by non other than a Fore-Dweller! Beor’s quest had attracted some terrible attention. Beor was too poorly to travel fast, so he used his magic scroll to teleport to the Plagued Borough.

Beor stumbled further east to the gates of Kamelot, only to be turned back. The gates would not be opened until the troubles in the Borough were resolved. Dejected, Beor returned to the Knights there to aid them once more, helping them to gain the strength to quell all the rabble.

Now able to enter Kamelot, Beor requested an audience with Sir Lancelot to ask about Neante. Lancelot was reluctant to help, but eventually Beor was able to persuade him to talk. Lancelot has sent Neante with the true Grail north to the Tombs of the Order with a retinue of Knights. There she is to perform a ceremony with the Grail, but Lancelot has not heard from them in some time.

 

This chapter turned into a marathon session, running for nearly four hours. It was great fun but towards the end got frustrating. I encountered a couple of situations (wyrdness blocking my path to Kamelot, then not being allowed in because of the riots) that forced me to backtrack. The gates being closed I understood, but the map design and menhir locations seems to be deliberately designed to frustrate your journey to Kamelot. You are forced to travel through several locations that trigger encounters repeatedly, slowing down the story and wearing down your character.

 

Managing food supply seems to be an important element of this game and this repeated travel back and forth almost finished me off.

 

Also I have noticed that you may win a fight but if you are too badly injured your ability to do anything with your character is significantly impaired as your action points are capped by your current health. You suddenly require two or three days to perform actions you could do in one day when at full health, and that is when you start to burn through your food supplies.

 

In the end, given it was now 12:30 at night and I wanted to finish the chapter, I had to cheat for my last few days to push on to Kamelot and assume I passed the diplomacy check with Lancelot. By that point I only had one health, so could only perform one action per day. I was insane, so had a 50% chance of not doing anything when I tried to use that single action point, and the Fore-Dweller was chasing me across the map!

 

There is an optional rule where your action points are not capped by your health and you do not panic if you insanity exceeds your health. I think I will use these rules from now on, just so I can continue to control what I do in combat and diplomacy and so I don’t get into this situations where I’m alive but effectively crippled.

 

The other change I’m going to make is that I will always start new chapters on full health, action points and with no insanity. Otherwise I would have to start the next chapter on one health with only one unit of food and no means of hunting for more. In other words I will simply die in a matter of days when the menhirs all run out and there’s nothing I can do about it.

 

To end on a positive, I spotted my first Easter Egg. When I visited the water mill the exchange with the mill keeper was exactly what happens in the Heroes of Might and Magic games. In those turn-based strategy games you heroes can wonder the map and when they visit water mills the mill keeper gives you 1000 gold pieces once per week, but if the gold has already been taken they ask you to come back later.

Chapter 3A

Chapter Two, Take Two

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Chapter Two, Take Two

Beor woke suddenly and grasped his stomach. He was so hungry… No wait, it was a just a dream. But why was his nose bleeding?

Beor exited the hut that the people of Whitening had permitted to sleep in. He may have relit their menhir, but they were an unfriendly bunch regardless. Many had been willing to kick him out of town despite his help.

Beor couldn’t help but feel the need to prepare well for his journey to Kamelot, and there was a bitter cold outside that would surely bring him to harm if he strayed from the vilage. So Beor spent the day crafting in the settlements forge and made himself a Battle Horn. No doubt it would prove useful.

The next day Beor travelled west to hunt for food. He encountered a squire who he bested and also had a successful hunt. With Whiteneings menhir lit it was now safe for Beor to travel north to the Mirror Lake. He did so and rested there in the evening to recuperate from his fights.

The following day Beor rested a little more before deciding to swim to the island in the middle of the lake. The swim was difficult, and something in the water seemed to follow him. But on the island Beor found the shadow-soaked scroll which could allow him to teleport anywhere on the island in the future – a very powerful item indeed. Returning to the shore Beor tried to converse with the Lady of the Lake, but she ignored him. Shunned, Beor headed east while the weather was so good.

In Tangleroot Beor decided bravery served him well so he dove headlong into the gorge. There he found and followed some very large footprints which lead to the dead body of one of the original adventurers, Tracker Fael. Scribbled on the wall of the gorge in Fael’s blood were directions to a hiding place in a nearby log. Within Beor found the Tainted Grail! A note within the grail from Fael explained how the party had split up to try end evade their pursuer. It also asked Beor to return to Whiteneing and inform Feal’s wife of his death.

Beor looked at the Tainted Grail in his hand. He had never even dreamt that he would see such a thing.

 

This play through of chapter two went much better. Through blind luck (and roleplaying Beor being brave and reckless in the wilds) I was able to complete the chapter in less than three days. I had been intending to travel to Kamelot but got distracted by the Mirror Lake and ended up finding the Tainted Grail while travelling east to Kamelot.

The chapter played out in only 40 minutes which in a way disappointed me a little as I love the exploration and discovering the story. But I will try and play chapter 3A this weekend.

Chapter Two, Take Two

Chapter 2

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This chapter did not end well...This chapter did not end well...

With the menhir lit Beor had to decide what to do next. Either head west to follow the first band of adventurer’s, head east to Kamelot, or explore the island. Since Beor had already found a lead as to the previous adventuring party’s fate, he chose to follow that up. He just had to gather enough wealth to bribe the old man in the Warrior’s Fair.

Beor travelled west to Farshire and was immediately confronted by a  swindler out to trick Beor out of his wealth. Luckily Beor came out on top. Exploring Farshire’s market Beor stocked up on food and then an old hag offered to sell him useful trinkets. Intrigued, Beor followed her to her hovel where he found she had hammer and chisels made of the same mysterious substance that the smith at the Forlorn Swords had had. Beor had to buy them, but was now broke.

Beor wasn’t too concerned, he could just search the Fore-dweller Mounds again to amass more wealth, so back to the East he travelled. With enough wealth to bribe the old man in hand, Beor thought it best to relight Caumacht’s menhir while he passed by. But when Beor tried, he found he required yet more wealth.

So Beor back-tracked again, doing some hunting in the Hunter’s Grove and raiding the Fore-dweller Mounds for yet more wealth. The hunt didn’t go too well and Beor was slightly injured. After relighting Caumacht’s menhir he had to spend a day their recuperating. 

Finally Beor reached the Warrior’s Fair and bribed the old man. Disappointingly all Beor learned was that one of the adventurer’s had died and that the others could be found to the west, being pursued by the spirit of a Fore-dweller. Beor travelled west, but was attacked by a wild animal that severely injured him and broke his hunter’s spear to boot.

Beor once again retreated to Caumacht to try and recuperate, but once there found he was running low on food. As he travelled north to the Hunter’s Grove the menhir at the Fore-dweller’s mound went out, and the lands to the west were cut off from Beor once more.

Misfortune left Beor trapped in the Hunter’s Grove gravely wounded, without the food to recover his health from resting and without the energy to go hunting. Beor laid there for two days slowly starving, until the menhir in Caumacht also went out.

Beor was consumed by the wyrdness…

 

Yikes that proved a lot harder than I was expecting for chapter two!

I got off to a good start early on coming out on top with my first blue encounter (not Beor’s strong point) and then finding the magic hammer and chisels that allows me to relight Caumacht’s menhir.

I soon started to get a sinking feeling though when I realised I was caught in a loop of seeking wealth and hunting for food, all the while slowly loosing health due to combats, violent storms, and Beor’s special rule where he loses one health if he exhausts himself. I also seemed to suffer from bad weather hampering movement whenever I needed to travel far in a turn.

The game has a mechanic whereby if you fail a chapter the All-mother bends time to allow you to restart the chapter with pre-defined resources, but at the cost of any unspent xp and that events already passed in the chapter remain in effect (so the time wasted running in circles will still count against me when I try again).

For attempt two I will start with the menhir in Whitening lit and try to head East to Kamelot. I also noticed the Whitening is an easier place to gain wealth than the Fore-dweller Mounds (hunt for food in the Hunter’s Grove then exchange on a 1:1 basis for wealth in Whitening).

Even with the game going so badly I really enjoyed it. The depth of the game is immense.

This is how chapter two take two will start.This is how chapter two take two will start.

Chapter One

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Chapter One

Caumacht’s menhir is failing and it falls to Beor to find a way to renew it. The completion of this quest is paramount so Beor had no qualms about spending the first day asking the villagers for help. He is given food supplies and a hunters spear – a useful weapon.

The next day a wave of refugees arrive and Beor uses much of his food helping them. Beor didn’t particularly care for their plight, but he expected to be rewarded for his generosity. Now running low on food, Beor decided it would be best to head North to the Hunter’s Grove. Upon arrival he found a wounded bowmaiden. As uncaring as Beor is he couldn’t leave someone to die, so after hunting for food he began the long journey south to bring the injured bowmaiden to the Island Asylum where he believed she could be healed.

Alas, the bowmaiden bled out at the Charred Conclave. To have arrived in time Beor would have had to push himself to exhaustion, or perhaps not taken the time to hunt for food and risked starvation. Beor just didn’t care enough about this stranger to take those risks. Since he was here, he took the time to pillage the remains of the burned druids, finding a Wych’s brew amongst the burned corpses. With the bowmaiden dead, Beor found no reason to continue south to the Island Asylum where he would risk catching the Red Death.

Beor travelled west to the Warrior Fair. There he asked around about the adventuring party that had left Caumacht before him. He learned that they had travelled west in search of an artefact. He found someone that he suspected knew more, but Beor lacked the wealth to bribe him or the conversation skills to tease the knowledge out of him. He would have to return later when he had more money. Beor spent a day doing combat training, then decided to head south.

In the Grubwood Beor was disgusted to find how haunted the place was. But surely such a haunting might indicate the presence of some power that could relight a menhir? Beor ploughed into the wood, sure the rewards would be worth the risk. He was assailed by a magical creature and was forced to use the Wych’s brew to defeat it. Undaunted, Beor tried to penetrate the wood again and succeeded in reaching its core. Beor knew he had found something significant, but he lacked the wits to understand it. Disappointed that he had wasted so much effort and gained nothing, he decided to head east to the Forlorn Swords. A blacksmith’s apprentice would surely understand any hidden meaning in giant metal swords.

At the swords Beor found an old friend of his master at work on a forge. Beor observed for a while and the old man told him how special his hammer was. Intrigued, Beor tried and failed to steal it. He came to blows with the old smith, and ended up beating him senseless.  Beor decided to get away from people for a while, and so climbed one of the giant swords. It was difficult, and Beor injured himself during the climb, but worth it. At the top Beor could see for miles and found gold in the sword hilt that he was able to prise loose. Beor was now rich and reasonably well travelled, but to the north he could see Caunacht and its fading menhir. Beor was frustrated that he was still no closer to finding the rites to relight a menhir. Perhaps the Fore-Dweller mounds, visible from the top of the sword far to the north-west, would hold the answer.

The next day Beor headed north, all the way back to the Hunter’s Grove, then went west to the Fore-Dweller mounds. With time against him, he ploughed straight into the mounds well off the safe path. His bravery paid off as he soon found himself in front of the gates of the central mound. Directness seemed to be working so Beor battered on the gates until he broke in. Within he found ancient artefacts and secrets that confused him, but by the time he stumbled back out he knew how to relight a menhir. Unfortunately Beor also knew that Caunacht’s menhir was beyond saving.

A dormant menhir stood near the Fore-Dweller mounds, so Beor strode over to it and performed the rites. Caunacht was close enough to this menhir that the Wyrdness could still be held at bay and the village saved.

 

Chapter one took two hours and five minutes to play through, which included set up and pack up time. That’s great as it means I should have no problem fitting games in the evenings once the kids are in bed.

The world and story continues to be interesting, and the timed element of the story kept the session tense.

Even in this one chapter I can see lots of replayability. I could roleplay as one of the other characters and go about everything differently. For now I will stick to soloing with Beor. Perhaps when I get more proficient with the game I’ll start using two characters to balance out Beor’s lack of diplomatic skills. In this scenario I was lucky that diplomacy was never required, but I was cut off from several avenues by his lack of mental attributes.

 

Prologue

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Prologue

Beor, the smith’s apprentice, is sent to the nearby settlement of Whitening to purchase a fallen star ingot in the possession of the local tanner. Upon arrival Beor learns that the tanner left the village several months ago. Frustrated, tired, and wounded, Beor returns to Caumacht to find the whole errand was a trick. While he was away his master and the other heroes of the village left on a quest to Kamelot. Beor was deliberately left behind.

 

The tutorial prologue plays out in about one hour and is completely scripted. A pre-built deck is used to ensure cards are drawn in the correct order to match the tutorial instructions. I found it to be a good way of teaching the game sequence as well as the combat and diplomacy mechanics.

 

Although the tutorial is short I have already got the feeling that the world of Avalon is cursed. Beor’s cold treatment by the people of the neighbouring village shows how untrusting everyone must be and the crucial dependence on the Menhirs is clear.

Reading the rules

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First step – read the rules. Done.

 

I hope to play the introduction chapter later this week.

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