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The Enemy Within (Göteborg, Sweden)


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#1 herrquisling

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Posted 04 October 2013 - 02:21 AM

The enemy within, act 1, as it came to pass.

 

We've finished act 1 (the bells are tolling in the temples, war is here) in about 15 4-hour sessions, us being four players and I, the gm. 

 

The pc:s are:

 

Wulfgang von Stangel, a third son of a noble family in Avernland. They used to support the von Alptraums, but after the eldest brother was slighted in asking for the beautiful countess in marriage, their allegiance shifted to the Leitdorfs. The family has had a lot of business with von Kaufman, their now deceased father having invested half of the family fortune in the southlands expeditions two years ago. Also, the youngest brother has been "apprenticing" under Curd Weiss. Wulfgang himself had a brief career in the city guard where he got to serve under Marcus Bauerfaust, but has since gambled and caroused away his allowances, pawned his family ring and skipped town.  

 

Joseph, a sigmarite initiate from an unnamed farming community somewhere in the northern parts of Avernland. His schooling in the ways of his temple has been somewhat lacking, since his tutor was an old recluse from the temple of sigmar in Avernheim who's grip on religious dogma was faltering. Having caused the death of a witch (or a priestess of Taal) and his own brother, he fled, chased by his old neighbors, and found his way into a temple in a small town (also unnamed) in the southern part of the province. 

 

Holde Waldenfrau, a jade order witch, whose travels have led her to Avernheim where she's sought a respite from her toils with the peasants of the province and has spent a few months with the Sun Society and has gotten to know Luminary Mauer somewhat.

 

Reinhardt Brunner, a man with a questionable past (thief!), who got to know Wulfgang and Joseph when he had skipped town as well (having miraculously been acquitted) and on the basis of them all being from Avernheim or around spent the evenings at a tavern. He'd just gotten to feel the first advances of the brotherhood when he left town and it was after a mission  (well, a burglary) for them that he'd been arrested in the first place.  

 

Act 1

 

The pc:s returned to Avernheim since von Stangel had received a letter from one of his brothers, a sigmarite librarian, that one of his daughters (five-year-old-Anna) had gone missing. It was a plea for help. 

 

Returning to Avernheim, they find that several people have gone missing, and they have connections to a few of them. The search begins, mostly focused on finding Anna.

 

The adventure runs as written for most parts, with additions suggested by Valvorik. The pc:s meet with old acquaintances such as Bauerfaust and von Kaufman, asking them for help, as well as the Luminary (whom is only known to Waldenfrau and is not really involved until bodies with strange marks are found). The brotherhood seems to be reasonable suspects and they slowly build up a rather hostile relationship (not coming to blows) and actually negotiate their way through the darker side of the wharf district for quite a while, getting to know both the good, the bad and the ugly.

 

Note: the brotherhood really has to have names, characters and a real plan, racketeering and all, and this is missing in the written adventure. Valvorik's notes helped a lot here.

 

One addition I did make was the pc:s actually finding and exposing a cult (red crown) with a witch and a few mutants, who had been kidnapping and selling children from the streets. This was to set up the red crown further, give a connection between the black powder-stealing mutants and Avernheim, and to implicate the black cowl (whom they'd started to hear rumors about) as not only being a criminal leader but also a traitorous figure.

 

Eventually von Stangel has had enough, they've been threatened and no-one has any answers about his niece. They confront members of the brotherhood and get remarkably little coming in the way of pay-back. (actually, the black cowl has ordered the brotherhood to stand down, since he wants to point the pc:s to the skavens when they've done their part). They start to understand the full impact of the brotherhoods influence. 

 

After the party at the menagerie this changes, now the black cowl needs to buy the skaven and their red crown mutant allies (not all of them were lost with the witch) some time so the pc:s are ambushed when they are snooping around the docklands once more (they are really not ambushed, but set up to be locked away for a while, but seeing through this they avoid the trap and a manhunt starts).

 

Note: all the way up to the party at the menagerie, the pc:s where frustrated in their ambitions; there really is a lot to find but nothing to help them. All this time was really used to set up Avernheim and it's inhabitants and plots as a real place in the players' minds, and it was not a waste of time. 

 

A day or so later the pc:s return to investigate the tanneries, having finally started to suspect that this is a place to search (believing that they are to track skavens in the sewers, with the tanneries as a starting point). They sneak inside and battle mutants and skaven in what comes close to being their last fight. Eventually having the skaven flee and finding what they are supposed to find, they manage to involve the temple of sigmar and Luminary Mauer and spend a night and a day skaven-hunting before the bells start tolling. 

 

Behind the scenes

 

Well, most of you gm:s know the part described above. But what of the enemy within? Well, the truth behind things was decided just a few sessions ago. In our game, the black cowl is two people. He is Marcus Bauerfaust and von Kaufman, the former having an advantage over the second in power.

 

This advantage is to no small part due to the fact that Anna, von Stangel's niece, is really von Kaufmans daughter due to a former indiscretion and love affair six years ago. This is only revealed to Joseph by the wife of the brother as a confession and he does not spill this to the rest (being a priest, having a conscience and not understanding the importance, of course). Anna has been taken by Bauerfaust and whisked away out of von Kaufmans reach. And he cares. 

 

The old relationship between the woman and von Kaufman is hinted to several times and finally revealed to von Stangel at a family diner just after the news of the war has reached Avernheim.    They can possibly figure out the connection and possible motivation behind Anna's disappearance, but only if the priest starts talking. We'll see.

 

The witch hunter is a difficult character. I did not want the pc:s to meet her other than at the menagerie. That would possibly give things away which I did not want to (and had not decided about). I let her be paranoid, avoiding letting anyone close, but also participating in the questioning (and the torture of) the witch the pc:s had captured. This was done at the temple of sigmar and after a few days it was finished (this was the first the pc:s heard about the witch hunter, other than as a rumor).

 

When the time was right (after the bell clapper had been found) I let Kurgan inform the pc:s that the witch had admitted to knowing about Anna and that she was held in Middenheim by a red crown cell. Neither the pc:s nor Kurgan was sure about the validity of this information, but it was the witch hunter who'd gotten it out of the witch (who perhaps only said it to taunt her captors, I haven't decided yet).

 

NPC:s and foes

 

Well, the adventure sure have a lot of them but more are needed. The brotherhood needs to be a proper, well-mapped organization. The friends and families of the pc:s can be useful (in our case it's a few friends in the wharf rats, Durbein, Groz, Waldenfrau's lover and the von Stangel-brothers) to keep the pc:s informed about what people of their tier in general talk about and feel as events pass by. 

 

As for foes, well, the battles fought are in need of being upgraded to more difficult versions. At the tanneries, the pc:s fought six cult mutants (no henchmen) with access to action cards and the skaven (who came in three rounds into the action) and had just an hour earlier fought Faustman the fist, a couple of his soldiers and a whole lot of ruffians (henchmen). This almost killed them, though. 

 

Perhaps I should add that we allow one experience point for every four-hour session. So they were at rank 2 when the fight above took place. And this is the best thing about the game mechanics, the players say, they allow for epic characters to evolve, quickly. They love it.

 

 


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#2 valvorik

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Posted 04 October 2013 - 03:46 PM

Thanks for kind words.

I also went for "more than one face behind the mask" as a way of helping keep mystery mysterious.

Wow, 15 sessions for Part 1 - do your players roleplay lots and do lots of investigating, pulling on all threads?  Mine sort of cruise though.  It looks like you will get the 30 promised sessions out of the campaign.


Edited by valvorik, 04 October 2013 - 03:46 PM.


#3 herrquisling

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Posted 05 October 2013 - 01:41 AM

We've wondered sometimes how other groups manage to make progress relatively fast compared to us (I've hinted that we are on double time). I suppose that the answer probably is to be found were Valvorik points.

 

Well, yes, they do a lot of roleplaying and investigation; and with so many characters involved in a large city it is almost inevitable that it takes time. Also, especially in the beginning, all the characters had a lot of personal stuff going on. Now, they've more or less been united around von Stangel (whom they call jokingly "father", since they a lot of people call Joseph "brother" - him being a man of the (iron-)cloth). 

 

But still, last session was between late afternoon of the 28th and early afternoon on the 29th (Sigmarzeit), and lasted about four hours, and what did we do with our time? 

 

First, the pc:s watched the call for arms and one of them (von Stangel) went of to join his brothers for an extended dinner, discussing a lot of plot threads, both personal and central to the main story (this was played out using a text message agent earlier the same week). Listening to Bauerfaust, the remaining pc:s discussed briefly how they were to avoid being drafted - a real risk for the sigmarite and the nobleman as they saw it. This took about 10 minutes, rt.

 

Then they went to the temple of sigmar, Joseph wanting to meet of with Kurgan to tell him about their trip to the sewers with Mauer and the chaos/brotherhood/skaven-plot as the pc:s saw it and query Kurgan about the plans of the sigmarites for both the war and the situation in Avernheim, and also to find a way to make Kurgan let him stay in the city. This took about 20 minutes.

 

A visit to the temple of Moor took about 10 minutes.

 

The pc:s then went back to their town house, which von Kaufman has lent them, and discussed things and tried to wash away the many layers of filth coating them and their clothing. This took another 10 minutes. 

 

Them being indecisive, I had Arta Schaffer bang-bang-banging on their door, coming inside to show a friendly face, question them about their sewer crawl and take them to Bauerfaust who wants to speak to them about their findings about robbers, the brotherhood, cults and what-not. This took 10 minutes.

 

The meeting with Bauerfaust, whom they have a healthy level of respect for, took quite a while, perhaps another 20 minutes. 

 

They then went witch hunter-hunting and when a chaos star showed up on a failed dice-rool the pc:s had to roll quite a few more dice to disarm a dangerous situation where they were accused of associating with the ruinous powers. 30 minutes.

 

Following up on some more leads on the witch hunter and making a late visit to Bauerfaust took another 10 minutes.

 

Then the pc:s went home and tried to rest and get rid of troublesome diseases. 15 minutes, including a peek inside a few rulebooks.

 

The next day they went about a few mundane task and there was a lot of things happening on the streets. 15 minutes.

 

They then went to visit Mauer and in brief got the wizards task (15 minutes)

 

After that, they joined up with Schaffer and went to find and arrest Stanislav Schlussel at the chicken farm (long story, a character borrowed from Valvorik who is involved with the brotherhood). They found traces of fighting and torture and eventually a couple of bodies which had been fed to the chickens. 20 minutes.

 

(if you try to add up the numbers, it won't work, because we also have to brew coffee, brew more coffee and visit the gents)

 

So most of the time is spent investigating and talking to npc:s and each other, yes.


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#4 herrquisling

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Posted 18 October 2013 - 03:06 AM

Part 2

 

In leaving Avernheim, which becomes rather obvious that they'll have to since there are so many leads pointing north towards Middenheim, the issue of the brotherhood becomes very important.

 

What do the players know? Well, they have managed to link them through their rumored leader "the man in the black hood" to both the stolen gunpowder and to the cultist led by the witch (as described briefly above). This, and the conflicts that they've had with the brotherhood, meant that they wouldn't leave the brotherhood to continue their business. 

 

So how to play this? 

 

The pc:s tried to get both cpt Bauerfaust and the temple of Sigmar to act.

 

The temple was not reluctant but did require further proof to act against the organization as such and complained about not having that witch huntress around (although she was a bit furtive about her motivations and did not involve the brothers in her plans).

 

Bauerfaust, being the black cowl (one of them) tried to keep the pc:s in Avernheim and offered several plans, including conscripting them to the garrison to stay behind and solve things once and for all (intending for them to be killed). When they were not convinced, he let himself be talked into giving them free reins to solve the situation by somehow "attacking" the upright pig and getting to some of the leaders (and then and there deciding to sacrifice Bischoff - a character borrowed from Valvorik as the leader of the brotherhood - since he had done what he was supposed to do and could become a rival in the absence of the black cowl).

 

As a back-up he wants them to kill or be killed by the witch huntress, as the adventure states. 

 

Kaufman, meanwhile, is also the black cowl and is behind both the bell clapper-plot, the plot to implicate his rival Aschaffenberg (or what's his name, can't remember, but you know) and the plot to let the pc:s find Anna for him (she is his daughter and his held by associates of Bauerfaust... the black cowls are not above going for each others throats). That means that he wants them to travel to Middenheim, so in spite of Bauerfaust's best efforts he secures a coach and a driver for them and makes sure that they are properly motivated to leave as soon as possible.  

 

What happened was...

 

...unexpected. The pc:s do trust Bauerfaust more than they trust Kaufman, but they are not willing to work with the garrison or the magistrates (because of traitors and corruption). So they spring a plot where their Sigmarite priest Joseph rouses a mob of zealots and rag-tag-citizens from those who've gathered at Plenzerplatz on the night before the army's departure. Skillfully rolling the dice and decietfully fueling their religious fervor and their intoxication they lead the mob towards more cultist and traitors - the brotherhood at the upright pig. The pc:s intend to give all brotherhood associates the choice of marching with the army or dying.

 

This goes wrong in two ways.

 

First, Joseph fails his leadership test and the mob attacks the Upright pig, patrons an people passing by... So the option of forcing a choice upon them quickly disappears. 

 

Second, Bauerfaust has warned the brotherhood that something is up. Meinhardt (also a character borrowed from Valvorik, he leads the assassins guild) is not there, nor are any other important figures, except for Bischoff and a lot of brotherhood cut-throats and ruffians. They've prepared for something to happen and Bauerfaust intends for the pc:s or Bischoff to die. Mostly, he wants von Stangel dead since he is the leader of the party. 

 

Big fight, lots of fire, the pc:s win and barely escape the fire. Bells sound, the cry of fire echoes but the pc:s escape with the body of Bischoff, proving the connection between the ruinous powers and the brotherhood to the temple of Sigmar.

 

And the next day they leave.  


Edited by herrquisling, 18 October 2013 - 04:18 AM.

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#5 valvorik

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Posted 20 October 2013 - 12:17 PM

Nice weaving of events and I like your PC's wanting to "stay in the action" with inciting the mob (a very Warhammer thing to do).  Mine are constantly thinking "well we've reported it, the authorities will handle" etc. though they know that "that isn't how heroic fiction, TV, RPG's and most of all the Old World works".  I admit sometimes when they do that they are roleplaying and "playing into" the fact things won't be fixed doing that but it still means they leave lots of things "loose".

 

I very much like the plots between 'black cowls', that adds an extra layer to things.



#6 herrquisling

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Posted 20 October 2013 - 12:43 PM

Really, the most difficult thing for the players is balancing one of the character's motivations (finding Anna) against what all the others are into and up to. It's always a balance, having all characters carefully created and knitted into the world and then having some of them ending up more important to the story than others. And for that matter, having them swept up by events without forgetting where the characters came from. 

 

von Stangel, his family and his motivations have become what most matters when the group acts, although he's not some kind of formal leader. Joseph's player goes for inner conflicts, both spiritual and mundane, and the acts these things lead to. So he get's his time in the spotlight whatever the group's up to.

 

Reinhardt is in it all since it means that in the long run he'll be able to stay of the streets. Holde, well I don't really know about her; seems like the wizard's mostly along since she'd be damn lonely otherwise and she's gotten tired of her endless work for the jade order... (both of their players are happy just playing, not having to carve a part for their respective characters out of the story)


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#7 herrquisling

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Posted 08 November 2013 - 03:34 AM

Part 3 (Journey to Middenheim, part 1)

 

Right, so we're at an expensive inn in Talagaad. Or the pc:s are, I mean, I'm not there, of course, I'm in my classroom where i teach history and social sciences. But still...

 

...how did they get there?

 

Firstly, they got there thanks to Valvorik (for his Journey to Middenheim-pdf; it helped flesh out the travels). 

 

Secondly, they got there slowly, in real time. We got here in three game sessions, 12 hours of actual play. 

 

Thirdly, they got there with some difficulty and through lots of hardships. The pc:s have negotiated their way through the army of Avernland (which left Avernheim before they did), they've fought zombies and ghouls (when in Stirland!), they've been set up by cultists worshipping the lord of pleasure (and they did get some pleasure out of it), they've been racing and fighting goblin wolf riders (nothing like fighting henchmen for that cozy feeling of superiority - until you are viciously bitten by a group of giant wolves!) and they've been generally not enjoying their trip.

 

On top of that, when arriving in Talagaad some witch hunter had them thrown in a dungeon for a week with no food. That's really upsetting for your stomach, especially when your fellow inmates are hanged one after another and your days are filled with darkness, cold and irregular beatings. 

 

So is traveling fun?

 

Yes. But if you are not just going to jump from event to event, you have to at least flesh out each night's stop and give the players the chance to act at least once each evening/night and interact with their surroundings or nothing you throw at them will come as a surprise. This takes time, but helps keep up the tension and makes the hardships real. 

 

Lots of days, lots of recovery checks, but with the occasional fight that's also needed. And if lots of checks might be good for getting rid of those bothersome criticals, its also positively deadly if you have to make lots of really difficult disease checks. And the pc:s did.

 

Medical records:

 

Holde, the jade order witch, failed an easy disease check after having been stabbed by a filthy mutant back in Avernheim. She contracted tomb rot and that was a pain to get rid of, even with those expensive medicines they picked up at the shallaya temple in Avernheim. Other that that, she was fine!

 

Joseph was bitten by a zombie in Stirland, in the neck, from behind, not seeing it coming, and both received a mortal wound and failing his disease check (another easy one) a nasty disease (wevil cough). Later, his hand was crippled, some other injuries were inflicted on him and he contracted additional symptoms. He has finally healed that mortal wound (after weeks!) but is still sick. And insane, just to add to the fun!

 

Reinhardt is always injured, being a soft target, but constant blessings and spells hold him together. His untrained resilience of three dice gave him some trouble in the dungeons and thus he contracted a disease (some fleas, not a big deal, unless you have an untrained resilience of three dice and the gm keeps throwing more and more black dice at your recovery checks). When he finally emerged back into daylight, he'd acquired two additional symptoms and is actually fevered and close to dying.

 

Wulfgang is fine, as usual, with lots of soak, lots of defense, toughness four and two trained ranks in resilience. 

 

Meeting the armies of the empire

 

Having arrived in Talagaad, the pc:s found that the armies were gathered outside Talabheim, waiting for the army of Averland to join them in an attempt to break the siege at Wolfenburg. When they were freed from the dungeon it was by Artha Schaffer and they soon met Bauerfaust, Luminary Mauer and von Kaufman who'd finally caught up with them. A good chance to establish a few more plot points and refresh what they actually were going to do in Middenheim and have the npc:s throw around ideas about just who put the witch hunter up to jailing the pc:s.

 

Now they just have to survive the last leg of the journey to Middenheim. 

 

To be continued


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#8 herrquisling

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Posted 15 November 2013 - 04:37 PM

Part 4 (Journey to Middenheim, Part 2)

 

As the session closed the pc:s rode their coach through the gates and up the raised roadway into the city on top of the rock, and thus they've arrived. The final ten days did somehow pass more quickly, perhaps because we did skip ahead several days at a time this session, being somewhat tired of traveling in spite of what I wrote last week. 

 

This final stretch of the journey had it's moments, and this time we jumped between these scenes.

 

First among these scenes was the friendly encounter with a group of Pelzjäger whom had taken shelter on a rocky outcrop from where they'd observed a lot of beastmen moving east through the woods in large herds. The pc:s initially thought they were bandits and took all precautions to turn the expected ambush around, but it turned out not to be a violent encounter. Sharing stories by the campfire, the hunters tried to convince the pc:s to turn around after having learnt that the passage south to Talabheim was safe. For now. Some skillful handling of the dice forced one of the hunters to transform into someone who'd lived in Middenheim and could supply the pc:s with a lot of useful information about things like who was likely to be in charge when the leader of the Ulricans and the elector count both where marching to war. And of course, the pc:s didn't turn back. 

The pc:s also learnt that most of the settlements in the woods between them and the Drakwald had been deserted, the inhabitants having sought shelter in Talagaad or other larger towns.

 

All the while the pc:s Joseph (the sigmarite) and Reinhardt (the former thief-now-assassin) tried to get well. It eventually worked for Joseph, somewhere in the depths of der Drakwald, but Reinhardt just got rid of his fever symptom. Really, critical wounds are not a long term problem (unless you're in a fight every day or the severity is at 4 or above) but disease! Dear Shallya!

 

The second encounter came when the pc:s took shelter in a small abandoned village. I set the scene to ease their paranoia and it worked, soon they'd got fires lit in an iron stove and where happily snoring away in a comfortable farmer's homestead. And were set upon by beastmen who came knocking on their door. Hard. 

 

Four ungor henchmen, four gor henchmen, one gor and one wargor (who spent a few rounds howling out in the dark, as the really bad guys are prone to do, before he made an appearance) disturbed the peace. The battle was rather dramatic, Wulfgang (the noble-former-watchman-on-a-quest) managed to hold the wargor back (competetive strength check) and knocked the brute on its ass (shield bash) and the rest of the party managed to avoid being hit a ridicilous amount of times. Sure, Reinhardt was smacked about some and Wulfgang was stabbed in the back, but all together they took the nightly assault in stride.  

 

The highlight of the evening was when the coach finally made its way through the gates of Middenheim. Joseph came into the wagon and came clear with some knowledge he'd been hoarding for over a month (several months in real life). This was the first time I heard the players voice concerns over one of the big three. 

 

What happened was that Joseph had finally decided to break an oath he'd made. I quote myself: 

 

This advantage is to no small part due to the fact that Anna, von Stangel's niece, is really von Kaufmans daughter due to a former indiscretion and love affair six years ago. This is only revealed to Joseph by the wife of the brother as a confession and he does not spill this to the rest (being a priest, having a conscience and not understanding the importance, of course).

 

 

 

Having spilled his beans, the discussion turns to Joseph suspecting von Kaufman of being in liege with Red Crown; I can't really say how he came up with this idea and he does not really convince the other pc:s but it still raises the idea that von Kaufman is not to be trusted. Wulfgang disliked the graf early on since he didn't seem to care about finding Anna, but argues that it was von Kaufman who set them on the missing gun powder trail, and finding those mutants led them to the witch who as far as they know was Red Crown. They speculate on this being some kind of rivalry among the chosen, but then Wulfgang argues that von Kaufman has helped them a lot in getting to Middenheim and Anna (giving them coaches, money, reasons, herbs and other aid). Thus he is not suspect, not in a way that convinces the lot of them anyway (but yes! finally! I really want them to start having doubts!). 

 

The pc:s then try to figure whether the witch huntress is their enemy or not? Has she stumbled upon something big, is she more insane than usual (for her kind), is she after red crown for vengeance (the know she's been their captive) and therefor also gunning for von Kaufman (if he is red crown, the idea that she is after him was raised at the menagerie) or what is really going on? They decide to approach her peacefully when they find her. But you know, weapons at hand. Especially since the conversations leads up to Wulfgang confessing to the rest that he's more or less been asked to kill Adela by captain Bauerfaust if there something iffy with her, since they can't really afford to have more enemies behind the lines. They ponder this for a while, but other than being high treason it seems like a reasonable request. 

 

The pc:s finally decide that they'll get rid of that damned box of doom they've been carrying around first thing upon arriving in the city and the rest will have to be sorted out in good time. Priority one is finding Anna, but that means finding the local chapter of Red Crown (or so they believe) and if that means looking into that Aschenbeck fellow and the witch huntress, then so be it (by the way, the Pelzjäger told the pc:s that Aschenbeck might very well be in charge of Middenheim when they arrive, this isn't true but it has scared them into erasing all traces of being associated with von Kaufman from the coach and they are determined to pose as emissaries from the light order upon arrival).

 

Stay tuned for next weeks episode of the Enemy Within. 


Edited by herrquisling, 15 November 2013 - 04:39 PM.

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#9 herrquisling

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Posted 22 November 2013 - 05:02 AM

Part 5 The first day in Middenheim

 

I managed to get a copy go the old Warhammer City - Middenheim (1987) which is great together with some maps of the city from the net. The players were as frustrated as I was by the lack of maps in the game, even the map of the empire is rather weak since only the major cities can be found on it. But the lack of city maps really annoyed us. This time we have a lot more to go by (it is a weakness of 3rd ed that there's so little background material, that goes for all the boxes). 

 

Hrmpf, back to reality. 

 

Upon arrival in middenheim, the pc:s ask for directions to the Collegium Theologica, which are promptly delivered and thus they find themselves outside the large campus. Not having taken into account the differences between their backwater town and the huge city of Middenheim, they are somewhat surprised by the size of the thing. The wulfheralds who pester them about their coach blocking the road are dealt with by once again pressing their letter from the college of light into their faces. Unloading the chest, von Stangel impresses upon the wulfheralds that they have really important and dangerous cargo and it is to be delivered straight to von Oppenheim from the light order...

 

The pc:s are attracting attention here. Oh yes, they are. Which will force the hand of at least one player (namely Adele). 

 

The conversation with von Oppenheim works out great. They are not very impressed and when they for the first time realize what the ritual involves - mainly access to the sacred flame - they are having serious doubts. When they understand that von Oppenheim is never going to get permission to go through with the ritual (what, you want to put a tainted bell clapper in the sacred flame? oh, no problem… is not likely to be the answer they get) and that it will fall upon their shoulders they are not amused.

 

His assistant Max is of course suspected by the players (not the pc:s) to be in liege with the powers of chaos. And he is Red Crown. The jade order witch can see a faint taint on both von Oppenheim and Max, but then aging she sees something similar around their own sigmarite priest, Joseph. 

 

The pc:s get rid of the chest, warning von Oppenheim to look after it since it is so incredible dangerous (and ask themselves why he couldn't have started with something less corrupt, like a mutant or a tainted dagger or something less… nuclear..!)

 

They ask Max about accommodations and he directs them to the Scholar's (which drains their remaining money reserve a lot and they decide to find something else later on, right now they need rest, food and a bath since they've been on the road or in a dungeon for most of the past month). Jospeh makes his way to the temple of Sigmar to make a confession and ask about Adele. The jade order witch talks to some of the students lingering in the Scholar's, finding out a few things about who's in charge, who Aschenbeck is and some gossip about Baron Heindrich and the princess and the elector count and things like that. Then they go shopping in Neumarkt and look for another place to stay (and decide to move to Castle Rock come the next day).

 

By early evening they walk to the temple of Ulric (Jospeh is still with his brothers in the temple of Sigmar and Reinhardt is ill and stays at the scholars, drinking away some of the money he got from selling a few stolen items in Neumarkt) and manage to boost up the die-pool enough to get five successes and five boons in the attempt to get an audience with High Priest Weiss. Thus, they are told to come back tomorrow when priest Albrecht might have managed to find a slot for them with the High Priest. They are still not too enthusiastic about the task. 

 

The witch huntress

 

After the visit to the temple of Ulric, Fräulein Waldenfrau goes to pray at the temple of Shallya and von Stangel (who is starting to be convinced that the gods are directing his course of actions) goes to the temple of Myrmidia. Reinhardt, meanwhile is visited by Max who tells him that a witch huntress came to see von Oppenheim, asking lots of questions about the chest and the pc:s. When Waldenfrau and von Stangel get back, they take off into the dusk to talk to von Oppenheim. 

 

The pc:s understand from von Oppenheim's description that it was indeed Adele who paid him a visit. They learn that she threatened to seize the bell clapper if he was to try and go through with his mad ritual (but she didn't immediately seize it, which made the pc:s wonder what she was really after). She'd asked a lot of questions about Luminary Mauer and the pc:s, all of whom she obviously knew about - but it didn't seem like she knew about what was in the chest before von Oppenheim told her. Von Oppenheim is a bit shaken but not afraid - he's been accused of all maker of things during his years of research - but the pc:s don't know what to think.

 

They've been wanting to speak to the witch huntress since after the day at the menagerie but she seems to avoid all contacts with them, sigmarite authorities, and, well, everyone. They suspect that she set Luger on them and maybe she also painted the mark of slanesh underneath their coach. But they don't know. Von Stangel still ponders the fact that Bauerfaust told him that he might have to take care of her if she's proven unstable. But what is she up to?

 

They go to bed.

 

Witch hunter, retired, Hellstrom.

 

This encounter was set up because the pc:s had heard about Gregor a couple of times, but hadn't connected the dots until Joseph came back from the temple of Sigmar where he'd been advised to seek out the old man. Then the pc:s realized that von Oppenheim and Mauer both had mentioned some kind of trial which Hellstrom had presided over (about von Oppenheims heresy) . And they remembered that Bauerfaust had talked about him and Adele both having been prisoners of Red Crown. Now they very much wanted to speak to him.

 

Hellstrom was easily found at the boarding house the Graf's repose. Von Stangel did the talking (Joseph wasn't there) and they talked for close to an hour. Hellstrom was understanding but did also defend Adele, praising her as an efficient and dedicated hunter, even after the incident with red crown. He met the pc:s suspicions with reason and logic, telling them of how Adele never could let go and thus never trusted Luminary Mauer or Kaufman, since she knew about their past, and when the pc:s first associated with the Luminary and now later with von Oppenheim, she wasn't likely to trust them and he couldn't blame her for that, even though it wasn't the best practice. 

 

The bomb really dropped when the von Stangel queried about Mauer, what was it about his past? "Oh, I burned his parents at the stake since they were witches". No matter that Hellstrom and everyone they've met has praised the Luminary, this did worry the pc:s, especially since it was by the orders of the wizard they were to attempt the mad ritual. What if Adele was right? 

 

About Anna, von Stangel was understandably upset that she was probably a captive of Red Crown and still Adele wouldn't cooperate with them. He goaded Hellstrom about his captivity and got some results, but still Hellstrom was convinced that Adele was perhaps using the harsher methods found in the witch hunter manual, but "better to burn an innocent man than to let a guilty one go free" he quoted. If she wasn't trusting the pc:s, well, she had her reasons, didn't she?

 

Hellstrom promised to ask her to speak to the pc:s if she visited him. He seemed honest enough to the pc:s, a good man if there ever was a witch hunter deserving that description, and they had learnt a lot, but the pc:s felt that he was holding things back, perhaps about Adele, after they'd left and rolled their intuition dice. 

 

What now?

 

I expect that the pc:s will try to find Adele. She'll likewise want to see them come the evening, to see if the ritual is all they are here for. She knows they've done some "good" acts but is deeply suspicious of their involvement with the suspected black cowls, especially Mauer.

 

If they manage to talk with her without raising any suspicions, asking the wrong questions or accusing her of anything she might let them go. If they do otherwise, they're done for. As for the bell clapper, she considered taking it for herself and the cult, but the risks are to great and that's not really why she's doing the cultist thing anyway.

 

If the pc:s buy into everything she says and convinces her (unlikely) she'll ask them for help with the Aschenbeck thing (Markheim has arranged for her to find some of the missing gunpowder in one of von A:s warehouses so she's after him big time). 

 

If the pc:s give up the ritual, she'll try to get her hands on the bell clapper for the cult anyway, but if not she'll approach the temple of Sigmar and extract it that way. 

 

What the pc:s will do? No idea. Reinhardt could believe the witch hunter, but his family was burned at the stake so he's not too keen about her and she frightened him badly at the menagerie. Holde is unreadable (her player is, at least). I can see the sigmarite acolyte now zealot easily siding with Adele if he buys her story (it is a true story, most of it at least) but von Stangel does not like the order at all and since he isn't getting any help finding Anna, he is very much annoyed. 

 

If I can manage the manipulation, I'd like Joseph or von Stangel or both - but not the rest of the pc:s - to attend the meeting with Adele. 


Edited by herrquisling, 25 November 2013 - 04:55 AM.

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#10 herrquisling

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Posted 01 December 2013 - 03:14 PM

Part 5 (continued) The second day in Middenheim

 

On this day the pc:s eventually met with Adela, but that was after having taken care of a few other conversations first. In fact, except for a few rolls for charm, guile, intuition and folklore, there was no rule-based action at all. And still, this was a really tense session, lasting well past midnight and the time when we all should've been in bed (we play thursdays, and since we all work and two of us have young kids, sleep is important). 

 

A Meeting of Wizards

 

Anyway, first thing this session von Stangel, Reinhardt and Waldenfrau meet up with Joseph outside the Wizards and Alchemists guild, intending to seek out a light order wizard to get a second opinion on the ritual-thing. This catches me completely off guard (well, yes, the players do conspire out of session, and never tell me anything if I don't manage to get them drunk and alone). I manage to stall them by having all ranking light wizards (there was only one) up in Nordland, fighting raiders or whatever.

 

Waldenfrau, who's only an apprentice, sits down with an acolyte of the gold order who pulls rank (and charmingly tells her how things are done in Middenheim, all wizards cooperating and so on, to make her confide in him) and he tries to find some way to profit from what ever she is "selling". He gets her story, and though she is intuitive enough to feel that he's up to something, she mistakenly thinks he is going to try to get her into his bed. I have conjured an acting head wizard, a gray order one, who might actually be able to help them but they never even ask for anyone else so he's on standby for now. 

 

Weiss Weiss Baby and A Librarian Named Schwer

 

Leaving the building, which came straight from the 2nd edition Middenheim-guide, they go to their appointment with father Albrecht about seeing high priest Weiss. They speak to Albrecht, who has set up a brief meeting in about one hour from now, and who seems to embrace the idea of the ritual. Unfortunately, he goes on in some length about the difficultiess the pc:s will have in convincing Weiss. The pc:s understand that Weiss used to be a member of the teutogen guard, but in rolling a chaos star on the folk lore check, they believe that this means he is a fanatical nutcase, not just a mighty warrior. 

 

The meeting works, barely, eventually leading to Weiss considering their proposition if it is blessed by Ulric, thus the wolf-hunting-sidequest-thing for the professor and the pc:s (the players laugh at this, since the "deliver this box" mission takes so many twist and turns it reminds them of fantasy computer games and their branching quests).

 

More importantly, neither von Stangel nor Joseph feel that this ritual seems to be a very good idea. Weiss is a man of very few words, but he also hides none of his opinions and they are both impressed by him (although for different reasons, but both of them seem to have a thing for father figures). Reinhardt trusts Mauer and wants to go through with it and so does Waldenfrau, but with every complication it seems to be less and less likely that they will actually manage to perform the ritual. And they have Anna to think about. Which von Stangel mentions in about every other sentence. 

 

After a few more words exchanged with Albrecht (where he tells them about this blessing of the white wolf in detail) they manage to get him to take them to the library where I conjure up Librarian Schwer (I think I had some W40k-character in mind when I played him) to answer their questions about the Red Crown. He tells them most there is to know, but not in a straightforward manner and with all the charm of a convinced nazi (you know zer are fewer mutant tschildren born hier zan

in other cities? perhaps zer are good reasonz for zat. we are of another breed zan you southlanders). Eventually, his rantings leave the pc:s to believe that there are lots of Red Crown cultist in the city at the moment, even though that's not what he believes or says. 

 

Koch's have a good Koch and they talk to another Koch

 

The players suddenly announced they were going to Koch's to talk to the owner. What the..? I thought, but then I realized that a few weeks ago I'd let the Pelzjäger they meet on the road tell them about having lived in Middenheim ten years ago, when he knew a trustworthy man who had a beer hall. Boris Koch. I hadn't then read the part about Koch's being a cultist hangout, but now I had to roll with it. The pc:s went there and failed to see that the furniture and fittings where kept as a remainder of where Koch came from, and the player's choked on the bill (12 silvers! that's… all we have left..!). Still, they had a long conversation with Koch and after having gauged him (correctly) they got him to talk a lot about Aschenbeck and learnt that among other things he'd soon be on trial by the Ulricans (true but false, it is Adele who's on to him, which Koch doesn't know but he knows she's been asking questions and she has asked him to spread the rumor of a coming trial). 

 

Good move there, dear players. Now you're onto the last of the three main quests as well.

 

Rats!

 

From there they throw another unexpected act at me, announcing that the pc:s are going to seek out the rat catchers' guild to talk about sewers, tunnels, rats and hidden cultist lairs. They manage rather well, and so do I, grabbing a few straws from Stephen Eriksson and setting up a meeting with an insane but rather welcoming guild chairman. They talk for quite a while, ending up with a deal to buy false licenses to kill (rats) to gain entrance to the sewers if or when they come up with enough money (only 40 silvers, but they are broke). When they leave the guild, they've got no idea whether or not the guilder actually spoke about skaven or only large sneaky rats, but they do catch on to the fact that he's probably mad and that rat-catching is rather profitable. 

 

Why are they doing this? Well, the sewers in Avernheim contained mutants and skaven both so if Red Crown are hiding somewhere… I can follow the logic and will probably have to throw them a bone if they venture down the drain.

 

Adele

 

They meet, Adele sending a messenger to von Oppenheim (who arrives when the pc:s are there) after having spoken to her old mentor, Hellstrom. The meeting is as scripted at the halfway house. 

 

So this conversation lasts an hour or so. I won't try to relate it in detail here, but only Joseph and von Stangel actually talk to her. They are open and honest and where Joseph is respectful, von Stangel is angry and resentful about spending a week in the dungeon and about Adele chickening out in Avernheim, not helping with the brotherhood or more importantly with Anna.

 

She is open about not thrusting them at all.

 

They agree that she's given a plausible explanation of why they were in a dungeon (anyone following her was to get the treatment by witch finder Luger, and she didn't expect it to be the pc:s).  She goes on about guilt and suspicions and the expedition and Mauer, Bauerfaust, Kaufman, Oppenheim and the pc:s. They question her reasons for leaving Avernheim. She tells them she was afraid and couldn't act. This is true. Jospeh buys it, von Stangel doesn't. She is asked about and reveals that she killed the brotherhood agent in Avernheim before she left. 

 

In the end, she decides - and tells the pc:s - that they are naive fools and not agents of chaos, she makes them promise her to testify at Aschenbeck's trial (they told her about Kaufman's suspicions) and not to attempt the ritual. She even tells them that she'll send Werner Stolz's sigmarites to get the bell clapper (the pc:s are still suspicious about her not having done this earlier, but she is slippery). She also tells them that she has evidence that Aschenbeck has delivered some of the stolen gun powder to one of his warehouses in Middenheim and that she knows that a girl came with one of those shipments (about the first thing she is sure, since Markheim has had his agents reveal this to her, about the second thing she is really only guessing, but she is right). 

 

Why? Well, she can't be suspected of stealing the bell clapper and could probably get it from the temple later if she wants to, simply using her authority. And she really thinks the pc:s are better lucky than good idiots. They are not after her and they are open enough to her suggestions about there being a black cowl and whom it might be (but von Stangel believes it might be someone above all three suspects, a von Alptraum perhaps..?). She believes they can still do some good, and if they stumble the wrong way she'll have set things in motion so that they are killed. If they go wolf-hunting, she'll kill them as soon as they set foot in the Wald. If they bark up the wrong tree, going after someone other than Aschenbeck, she'll do the same. 

 

We'll see. They part ways to discuss things. Adele disappears to the temple of Sigmar. Max, the assistant of von Oppenheim has her followed and quickly gets the bell clapper to the temple of Ulric. He is Red Crown and must save the ritual. This the players never learn of since they go home and brood. 

 

A Final Call

 

The session is just about to end when I tell the pc:s that they are woken (the three staying at Castle Rock are, anyway) by voices shouting in the courtyard. It is past midnight and the cry "All is lost" is heard. "The emperor and the imperial amy has been defeated". 

 

End of session

 

(I know that the players now expect a siege where they'll somehow have to help save Middenheim and they think that no more will come of the ritual-thing, since I got one of them drunk and alone)

 

EDIT

the auto-correct function changes skaven to shaven, so shaven rats… I've tried to correct that now 


Edited by herrquisling, 02 December 2013 - 06:52 AM.

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#11 valvorik

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Posted 02 December 2013 - 01:01 PM

Fun read as always.  if you want to get them back on ritual track, perhaps in the fear of coming siege and surge of Chaos, a ritual to cleanse chaos suddenly is a "last best hope"?



#12 herrquisling

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Posted 03 December 2013 - 04:29 AM

Yes, well, high priest Weiss could rise from his chair, grab his great hammer and proclaim the return of his youthful vigor and that the chance to strike a blow against chaos must be taken. But will the pc:s listen? Perhaps. Or perhaps I could make it seem like the Ulricans are scheming to undermine the Sigmarites by performing the rites they tried to stop? Or its that the very reason the Ulricans will not perform the ritual, afraid that it would be a death blow to the cult if things went wrong? None of which will help convince the pc:s. 

 

If the pc:s manage to get suspicious about Adele enough, they might try the ritual without being poked by a big stick (I'd prefer that), but otherwise it will be a big, hefty bit of wood prodding them along. Or, the Ulricans could perform the ritual with the help of von Oppenheim without the pc:s involvement, that depends a lot on what they actually do these next few days. I've scheduled the trial of von Aschenbeck to the 2nd of next month and it is now midnight on the 32nd of Sommerzeit and they will be come knocking on Aschenbecks door (perhaps even literally) on the 33rd. 

 

Will there be a siege? Well, there might be elements of the horde slipping through and past the disorderly imperial army just to have something to show the players. We'll see about that as well. 


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#13 herrquisling

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Posted 06 December 2013 - 05:27 AM

Part 5 (continued 2) The third day in Middenheim

 

The players got the drop on me again. Last session ended with them being awoken by shouts about the imperial army being defeated, just past midnight. When this session started, they didn't go back to bed. Oh no, they did not. I should never have woken them up.

 

The chest

 

I thought that they were going to get on rather well with Adele and that the ritual was off, but no!

 

Instead, von Stangel and Waldenfrau get dressed and take to the streets, which are slowly filling with people coming out of the drinking dens this late Markttag (it's past midnight and the "news" about the empire having lost are quickly spreading). An ominous sliver of Morrslieb can be seen over the rooftops. And the players go to gather up the artifact and take it to the temple of Ulric. And to have a look at where Max lives. They suspect that Adele is not straight enough, whether that means chaos or not isn't relevant, and they are finally getting paranoid as hell. So they are not giving her a shot at grabbing the bell clapper from the temple of Sigmar at a later date (ok, I think, so this isn't about the ritual… but it is a wonderful opportunity). 

 

They find that they are to late, the witch hunter and a group of sigmarites are outside the campus gates. Whilst the pc:s hide the witch hunter argues with some guards who arrive, bravos among them, and the guards order the wulfherolds to open up the gates. Half an hour later, they emerge again, carrying nothing. Waldenfrau manages to hide in the gathered crowd and opens up her third eye to finally get a chance to see Adele for what she is. 

 

An aura of fire and blood surrounds her, and the streets are bathed in the ominous greenish light from Morrslieb which seems to be aflame with green, spectral fire. The aura stretches out to consume everyone near the witch hunter. Also, one of the bravos, a sergeant of some sort, looks straight at Waldenfrau, maggots streaming from his mouth, eyes and nostrils. Waldenfrau is seen by Adele but Adele won't remember this until later (equal successes, but four boons for the witch hunter). 

 

Shaken, she tells Reinhardt (whom they have gathered up earlier from his rest at the scholar's) and von Stangel about her vision. She actually used her magical sight enough during the rest of the night to both gain a significant amount of stress and to fail a terror check. She almost went insane (we've decided to make more of magical sight, it has been tuned down too much in 3rd, so more potent but also more dangerous).

 

Now, where did Joseph go?

 

In brief, Joseph went to the temple of Sigmar to find out more about the rumors but to no avail. Outside the temple, he stood watching the scene with Adele from a distance when Max and two other students came up to him, carrying the chest with the artifact. They told him that they were trying to save herr Professor's work and he agreed to take them and the chest to the temple of Ulric. Which he did. And I wasn't certain that he'd not simply take it inside the temple of Sigmar. But now thing were looking good for my plans. 

 

Eventually, the pc:s found that:

-the professor was alright but had been (accidentally?) cut by Adele

-Max room held no clues

-Max had taken the chest, unshielded, to Jospeh who'd carried it to the Ulricans

 

Their suspicions about Max were eased, but it was a damn close call. They asked him about when he got the chest out and how. He managed to lie and told them that he'd taken it when Adele arrived at the gates through a small secondary gate. This was not true. Red Crown saw Adele going to the temple of Sigmar and acted fast. There is no secondary gate. But the pc:s didn't verify any part of his story.   

 

A hard nights work

 

The pc:s know went off to the warehouse where Adele had told them there were barrels of gunpowder. Reinhardt scouts the area and Joseph takes to the rooftops but they find no-one. Believing that Adele has called off the people keeping watch on the warehouse, they take it for another sign of her not doing her duty (but they miss the candle maker in his workshop just across the road from the warehouse. Sloppy! 

 

In the warehouse they surprise two bravos ("innocent" ones) and manage to convince them that they are on official witch hunter business (making allusions to the upcoming trial of Aschenbeck and flashing that document from the Luminary again). Skillful arguments and good die-rolling were needed. They search through all wine barrels and two hours later they've found that three of them are indeed filled with gun powder. They manage to soak this in wine and smash the barrels, being somewhat conflicted since it might be needed for the defense of Middenheim, and they also convince the bravos to fake them being ambushed, knocked out and bound. They need only to keep their mouth shouts until the trial, the pc:s say. 

 

So there was gun powder. As Adele said. But that doesn't mean Aschenbeck, just someone. Perhaps Markheim, perhaps that daughter of Aschenbeck's, perhaps Aschenbeck, perhaps… Lot's of unknowns. Damn. 

 

At dawn Reinhardt stakes out another warehouse and the other pc:s go to see Hoherpriest Weiss. 

 

The Ulricans, the ritual and issues of faith

 

Joseph had impressed father Albrecht enough when he came to the temple with the artifact and told his story that they got to see Frost, Weiss and Albrecht this morning, the 33rd of Sigmarzeit.

 

They interview the pc:s carefully about the artifact, the ritual, von Oppenheim and the witch huntress. Eventually, Frost want to have a private discussion but Weiss interrupts him and says that they'll have to take this chance to strike a blow at chaos. The Ulricans claim that they cant't stop the witch huntress, but neither will they give up the arifact. They order the pc:s to bring von Oppenheim to the temple to discuss things with Frost.

 

Joseph is a bit conflicted about the upcoming clash with Stoltz and his cult, but is convinced that he is doing the right thing and that he has Sigmar's blessing. 

 

Von Stangel is worried about the gunpowder, the possible existence of more gunpowder and about von Aschenbeck. High Priest Weiss is meeting with the elder son of Boris Todbringer (who rules for now) about the news from the front and says that he'll bring it up, but Weiss says that the pc:s have caused enough of a diplomatical crisis already so they shouldn't expect to much. Weiss also orders Frost to set up a meeting at noon with Stoltz of the Sigmarites, Helena from the temple of Verena and himself to talk about the artifact, jurisdiction and issues of faith.

 

Eventually the pc:s gather up von Oppenheim and the part of his book collection and writings he will be needing and ship him off to the temple. Max, realizing that the ritual is secured, speaks to the pc:s about his worries about being interrogated by Adele. They are not very sympathetic but Josephs tells him to lie low. He avoids going with them to the temple of Ulric and isn't asked to come with herr Professor. The pc:s, being tired, thinks nothing off it. Neither did the Professor, bu he'll ask for him later. He is actually going to disappear, not surfacing again if the story doesn't call for him to make another appearance. 

 

Disrupted sleep.

 

It is a couple of hours after dawn when the pc:s finally get some rest at Castle Rock. Joseph and von Stangel wake up around noon and make a quick errand to pick up some clothes for which measurements were taken two days past, and then they walk over to the temple of Verena to see if they can catch any of the high priests there to find out what has been said. 

 

Half an hour later, someone comes knocking at the door to the room where Reinhardt and Waldenfrau are asleep. Someone also shouts "Open up, in the name of the Holy Order of Sigmar's Blood". There is panic. The voice is male, but that doesn't matter to Reinhardt who gathers up some lose stuff and bolts through the second story window. Waldenfrau hesitates, but jumps out after him. The door is bashed in. Waldenfrau skids underneath a coach in the yard and Reinhardt runs for it. He is seen by someone shouting from the window but manages to get lost in the maze like streets before any serious pursuit gets under way. Waldenfrau sees a couple of city guards, complemented by some bravos, who set off after Reinhardt. 

 

Both Reinhardt and Waldenfrau eventually end up at the temple of Ulric.

 

When the session closes, the players have made a mess of most of my assumptions. They seem to be trying hard to discredit Adele in their conversations with the Ulricans. They've managed to put themselves in a position where they'll have to perform the ritual. They've managed to anger Adele, who when she can't find Max, von Oppenheim or the chests decides to bring them in. If they avoid this, she'll have them killed, if for no other reason that they are screwing her plans and questioning her authority. 

 

To be continued


Edited by herrquisling, 06 December 2013 - 05:28 AM.

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#14 herrquisling

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Posted 14 December 2013 - 05:53 AM

Part 5 (continued 3) The third day in Middenheim

 

At the start of the session, in the early afternoon on the 33rd of Sigmarzeit, we find Reinhardt and Waldenfrau in the temple of Ulric, resting on straw mattresses among the pilgrims who patiently await their turn to visit the holy flame. Meanwhile, brother Köler and von Stangel are waiting for the results of the meeting of the religious leaders at the temple of Verena.

 

Since Waldenfrau's player isn't with us this session, she goes of to visit the Alchemists and Wizards guild to speak to the remaining wizards and see if anyone can help out with checking the validity of the ritual (which must be magical in nature, somehow, she reasons) and take refugee from the witch hunter among her fellows.

 

Conversations

 

As High Priest Weiss is about to leave the temple of Verena with a small retinue, von Stangel and Köler intercepts him. He tells them, in sparse language, that Verena accepts the claims he has made on the artefact, but about the witch hunter she'll say nothing since the temple fully recognizes her authority. Weiss warns the pc:s to stay clear of her and makes sure that Köler understands that he has probably awoken the wrath of his superiors.

 

The pc:s also learn, by overhearing some merchants, that “the bastard has hanged the deserters who spread false rumours about the emperor's armies”, and while not convinced that this isn't a political move (it is!) the pc:s are somewhat relieved.

 

As Reinhardt manages to get to the temple of Verena untroubled, brother Köler faces his superiors, father Stolz and father Gospodin. Gospodin is red-faced and furious and does nothing to hide it, growling about treason, whilst Stolz is unreadable and asks Köler to come with them to the temple of Sigmar. He complies and once they reach the temple, he endures Gospodin's angry lecturing whilst Stolz prays. A novice speaks quietly to Stolz as he approaches Köler. Köler manages – after a long scene – to convince Stolz that his actions, while doubtful, might at least not be outright traitorous. Stolz told him that witch hunter Kettlebaum awaits in his office, but after a daunting check Joseph is sent away with Stolz' blessing.

 

Cheeky bastards

 

Later, the pc:s have sought some time away from the high and might and have met up at a tavern in Southgate. The talk turns to their need to act now to find Anna, before they are somehow caught up in either the ritual or the interrogation chamber of the Holy Templars.

 

They decide to boldly go where they bloody shouldn't. So first they stroll by Windhund Hauling, which is the offices of Aschenbeck's trade imperium, where they suppose Markheim ought to be. Some Bravos are on guard but they don't seem to be recognized. Reinhardt rolls some dice to evaluate the possibilities of getting inside but fails miserably.

 

Then they go for a walk up to the gold tier quarters and straight up to the Aschenbeck manor. Von Stangel introduces himself to the bravos there, at least one of them obviously recognizes him, and asks to see the Graf. Von Stangel states who he is and that he is associated with von Kaufman. This let's the pc:s inside the gardens, and after a while they are greeted by the steward who says that the Graf is available and will join them in the garden shortly. The steward tries to find out why they've come and goes to speak to Aschenbeck.

 

Aschenbeck, meanwhile, is restlessly pacing his home, which he has been doing since yesterday when rumours about the suspicions about him finally reached him through one of his daughter's maids. He knows very little, and this has him worried. The nobleman who shows up at his gates and claims to know von Kaufman has him at an advantage, and he must find out what this is about.

 

The meeting between the two noblemen is rather straightforward. Von Stangel tells Aschenbeck about his men being arrested in Nuln by von Kaufman's agents and about the gunpowder said to have been found in his warehouse, as well as about the witch hunter being interested in him for those reasons. He doesn't know any of this, but also claims not to have heard any rumours about Kettlebaum (some dice are rolled with success).

 

Aschenbeck thanks von Stangel for his warning, and when von Stangel tells him about his kidnapped niece he is genuinely empathic. He asks von Stangel not to act on the slander von Kaufman, the sly bastard, spreads and von Stangel admits to believing that someone has falsely tried to frame the Graf, although he believes the rest – someone in Aschenbeck's organization is behind this. Aschenbeck again asks von Stangel not to cause further rumours by investigating things openly, but he can't tell him not to search for his niece. He says that that the manager of Windhund Hauling, Gluckstein, or Markheim himself, might know more.

 

Privately, Aschenbeck wonders what the hell is going on. He will talk to Markheim himself, privately, as soon as possible. This evening. Brother Köler fails his intuition check and only notices that the Graf probably is more shaken by their visit than he lets on (a comet has to mean something).

 

More in the same spirit

 

After having spoken to Aschenbeck von Stangel and his fellows walk back to the merchant district and straight to the offices of Windhund Hauling. The bravos guards recognize the pc:s, one of them actually having been there when Adele told their captain to go gather up the pc:s for her at Castle Rock for “questioning in an important matter” (the pc:s think its more sinister, but at least it wasn't then). Von Stangel asks to speak to Gluckstein and one of the bravos enters the offices.

 

The other one, being less than bright but no coward has by then moved his hand to the sword handle and it is only von Stangel's intimidating presence (die roll) as he steps close to the soldier which disarms the situation.

 

Meanwhile, Gluckstein thinks on his feet. He is a cultist of the purple hand and well aware of the fact that Markheim has been forging an investigation into Aschenbeck's nefarious work for some months now. This will come useful, but as Gluckstein asks the bravos to let the pc:s in but gather in the hallway outside he really doesn't know what to expect. He really knows nothing about the pc:s beyond that they are from Avernheim and that the witch hunter wanted them earlier this same day.

 

When they are alone with Gluckstein, von Stangel asks him about the two employees in Nuln. Gluckstein admits to knowing of them and having received a letter about their arrest from a clerk some weeks earlier. He knows what they are accused of. Von Stangel presses for more information and hints at knowing about the gunpowder in the warehouse which was found yesterday. Gluckstein then pretends to have been working for a long time with this, but he can't be seen or heard saying anything but “piss of” to the pc:s, so if they do just that now, an agent of Gluckstein's called Brenner will meet them four hours from now, at midnight, in the inn Draken in the southern part of the Freiburg. I/Gluckstein managed to fast talk the pc:s into agreeing and they leave, shouting some angry words at Gluckstein for good appearances.

 

Food and rest

 

Brother Köler, von Stangel and Reinhardt make their way to a tavern in Southgate to get some food and rest their feet after walking across town several times this day. They are tired, and they need to talk.

 

The following is what they say, in brief:

 

  • Good to have a face on Aschenbeck, he might be innocent, but if he is, then Markheim or Gluckstein is behind things. Or the daughter.

  • Gluckstein seemed to be the real deal. Which leaves Markheim. Or?

  • The witch hunter. She'll get us eventually. She is either corrupted by her experiences as a prisoner of the Red Crown or just ******* insane. But what can we do? What if... we do as Bauerfast asked and take her out? What manner of trouble might that leave us in?

  • This Brenner, it is either a trap or the real thing... we'll have to be careful.

  • The ritual seems to be on. The ulricans meet about this to decide the course of action tonight, but they seem to be keen seen as striking a blow against chaos, the cult which saves the day. Hmm... hopefully the wolf hunt will be canceled, what with the chaos army approaching (if it is, the whole imperial army can't have been lost in a single battle, even if they lost that day, if it is true, and so on...)

  • Hopefully Waldenfrau can get a wizard to have a look at Oppenheim's notes about the ritual so it doesn't involve the cutting of throats and drinking blood...

 

Finally, some action!

 

The scene at the Draken had been canceled since I saw no use for it, but now it is on again. The pc:s scout the location (Reinhardt does, anyway. To bad he has ST 2 and can't climb a roof for the life of him – a constant source of irritation for his player who is used to playing thieves who can run across roofs with the best of them in other game systems) and find no other exits from the two story house, except for some windows on the second floor leading out to the roof of another building. Some people ar eleaving the inn, but no-one enters.

 

Von Stangel and Brother Köler enter the Draken around midnight. They see a dozen or so patrons, a maid and an older woman whom they assume is the barkeep. She isn't, she's just a temporary and really is just a cult member who got hired on this evening when the real barkeep had stomach cramps from another cultist poisoning his beer (she is not the forger, though). She is told to somehow get the pc:s to the room upstairs, where two nasty lads with knives have been killing a prisoner of the cult, a southerner who originally drove one of the wagons with gun powder and who has been starved and kept in a cellar for reasons black and evil... He is to be Brenner and Gluckstein gave his description to the pc:s earlier. The plan is for the lads to take off just as the “barkeep” knocks on the door, and then a cult mutant is to kill them as they escape.

 

It turns out that the pc:s don't ask for Brenner, but for beer. They then sit waiting and sipping their beers, which means that they notice the “barkeep” being somewhat nervous. When they finally ask for a man called Brenner, they are told how he probably is upstairs, “but he has a key and comes and goes at strange hours”. She leads them there and is convinced to open the door when there is no answer. The scene is as described, but the sign is Tzeenztch and there is a body on the floor. The “barkeep” runs away, screaming, and von Stangel and Köler investigate the body, picks up the journal and a novel, and scratch their heads.

 

The players are suspicious as hell. They look for signs of Brenner having stayed here for a longer period of time, marvel at the lack of possessions (his clothes, a coil of rope with a hook, a pair of boots and some ink), poke at the wounds and so on. Unfortunately, the observation check fails so they do observe that the corpse look “a bit sickly and starved”, but I don't spell anything out for them. They'll have to draw their own conclusions.

 

Meanwhile, before the “barkeep” gets the door opened, Reinhardt notices the two killers climb down from the roof of the next building. They take off running down a set of stairs between buildings and he runs after them. We prefer competitive checks, and with two blue dice against three Reinhardt is at a disadvantage. He manages to keep up and is close behind when they run into and through a narrow alley, when suddenly something drops from the roofs onto the fleeing men. Reinhardt glimpses what looks as tentacles and the screams of the men send Reinhardt running for his life.

 

He is chased, not even daring to look back he throws all he's got into this rush and with two blue dice and three white he rolls the successes and two boons and slams open the door to the Draken, slams it shut again, and runs to the nearest window and looks out into the dark. No sign of the thing.

 

 

Bravos, books and a scaly mutant

 

As Reinhardt finds his comrades upstairs, some Bravos come running inside. Von Stangel and Köler details their find, but the Bravos, of whom some are in on the plot, tries to provoke the pc:s. How do they know Brenner? Why are they here? He didn't have any documents? You haven't touched anything? (I am trying to hint to the players that they know too much, but I don't think they get it). Von Stangel is tired and irritable and tells the bravos that this will be between his superiors and von Stangel's, who by the way are the high priests of the temple of Ulric. He manages to provoke the bravos enough to have to make a hard check to avoid being arrested, which he does without any trouble.

 

As the bravos run to get more people, von Stangel smuggles the notes and the novel to Reinhardt and they look for the barkeep. She arrived back with the bravos, but now they can't find her. Strange. Then Reinhardt finally manges to tell them about the monster and the killers, and they leave the Draken.

 

They move down to the alley and find the corpses, torn apart, only to have the mutant jump down on them from the roof. They are scared, believing it to be a demon. (why is it still there? It is not according to plan, but bloodthirst is a good enough excuse, I think).

 

The fight is pretty straightforward, Reinhardt dodges the mutant (coordination) as it jumps from the roof, then von Stangel pushes him aside and raises his guard. The mutant reaches for Reinhardt and pummels von Stangel, but is soon hammered by Köler and the body is dragged out on to the stairs as more bravos approach with an officer.

 

End of session  


Edited by herrquisling, 14 December 2013 - 05:54 AM.

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#15 herrquisling

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Posted 16 December 2013 - 05:18 AM

-- The problem with introducing new characters -- 

 

This is a problem. Has always been. More so after 28 sessions. But an old player has just graduated from officer school and will be joining us tomorrow for this years last game session. He has been able to follow some of the events from the other players, but he really has very little knowledge. 

 

We've solved this by the other players hanging out with him, filling in a lot of blanks and together coming up with a new character. My suggestion was a knight of the white wolves, starting with two careers already completed, and he took up that offer. 

 

As you know if you've read my posts, the players have found themselves somewhat allied with the Ulricans, and he is going to play a white wolf scout who arrives back in Middenheim, having watched the ambush of the from the opposite flank and before the battle was decided left as part of an escort, leading the Greatswords and the coach with the mortally wounded emperor away from the field of battle, past Talabheim and towards Altdorf.

 

Upon returning to Middenheim, the former roadwarden and initiate in the cult is knighted for his efforts by high priest Weiss and is set a new task; that of offering assistance and guidance to the pc:s into their efforts to complete the ritual, dig out chaos cults who might threaten Middenheim in the event of a siege and help them find Anna. In this, he is also given orders concerning the witch hunter, the trial of von Aschenbeck and other things. 

 

Hopefully, this will be enough to get the other pc:s to trust and accept the white wolf into their ranks. 


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#16 herrquisling

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Posted 18 December 2013 - 01:45 PM

Part 5 (continued 4) The fourth day in Middenheim

 

Our heroes retreated to an lower class inn called the Journeyman in Southgate after talking their way around the bravos. It went along the lines of ”See this mutant corpse, that means that this is way above your paygrade... sir!” and von Stangel got away with it.

 

Now Reinhardt, being the only truly literate among them (Waldenfrau is otherwise occupied), reads the notes while von Stangel harasses him with question. It seems to be solid evidence against von Aschenbeck, amassed by Brenner during at least two months of investigation, following Aschenbeck and digging deep into his business in Middenheim. This initially makes the pc:s happy, they've hit the jackpot! But as the evidence piles up they get suspicious. Too much, too easy and why the heck haven't Brenner or Gluckstein already gone to the authorities?

 

In our version, Markheim had these notes amassed to use against Aschenbeck over a period of time. They are, if checked, very accurate and details Aschenbeck's whereabouts in such a manner as that he'd be hard pressed to say otherwise. The actual rituals and foul acts are mostly said to have happened when Aschenbeck in reality met with one or the other of the cult's members, making it impossible for Aschenbeck to produce an alibi. The problem is that Gluckstein had to act quickly and though he was professional about it, killing off the witnesses to Brenner's murder and Ilse (who's the neighbor of Draken's real landlord and a forger both) it will still leave the pc:s suspicious if they find out that

 

Sleeping time.

 

Conversations

 

The next day, the 1st of Vorgesheim, the pc:s converge at the temple of Ulric. They meet father Albrecht, father Frost, high priest Weiss, von Oppenheim and the new pc, Kühnheit of the Order of the White Wolf. They learn that the ritual is on, the principles of the ritual seem to be “firmly grounded in teleological principles, if a bit old fashioned” and there is reason to hurry, since Kühnheit has brought news of the ambush and the wounded emperor and in the worst case a siege might be coming. In that case, there should preferably be no dark artifact to claim and no gun powder stashed away by nasty cultists. Therefor, great effort has been made to find some way around the wolf-killing business, and if only the pc:s can have the blessing of their cults and temples in their efforts against chaos, they should be able to perform the ritual this very evening.

 

The pc:s leave the temple in the company of the knight to seek the blessings needed. And to chase down all plot leads on the gun powder and Anna. And to avoid the witch hunter.

 

This being this years final session, I had prepared for two different battles to be fought, reasoning that either they go for Markheim or the Ritual is on; we were all itching for a fight, it being weeks since we had one. So the blessings were actually quite easily acquired. Waldenfrau had hers from the temple of Verena with an easy education check, von Stangel from the temple of Myrmidia in a similar fashion and the knight of course went with high priest Weiss' blessing from the outset.

 

Reinhardt had to find the temple of Ranald, but knew that he hadn't paid his tenth lately... An average check later, he'd rolled well enough to find himself at the right location in Ostwald with a warning about “the man” (from 2nd ed). He paid his dues, explained that he'd not been stealing in Middenheim, and gained his blessing with an average guile check.

 

Brother Köhler, our dear sigmarite, had the opportunity to consider himself blessed from the day before, but didn't see it that way. Thus he went to the temple of Sigmar again, to see Stolz. Köhler saw a group of priests and armed men in the temple and avoided being seen (intuition), which was a good thing since Adele Kettlebaum appeared and led them out (going to arrest Aschenbeck). Köhler saw Stolz and Gospodin and managed to talk them into giving their blessing, although it was a close thing (hard check, Stolz having been at the temple of Verena with Adele earlier to meet with high priest Weiss and discus the issue of the artifact and the fact that the Holy order of Sigmar's Blood et.c. had been opposed by the ulricans).

 

The pc:s also managed to talk to Gluckstein at the Hog's Head, having sent the knight to set up a meeting. He of course knew about Brenner being killed, and the pc:s spoke at length about who'd sent Brenner (turns out he's claimed to be an agent of the elector count of Nuln, which Brenner couldn't confirm when he was approached by him two weeks ago), why Gluckstein hadn't acted (because he didn't dare to believe Brenner until the gun powder was shown to him two nights past), if Markheim was involved (yes, he went to him yesterday morning, after the gun powder had been found and later the same night spilled by someone else, now Markheim had been at the temple of Verena with the evidence yesterday and there he'd learnt about the upcoming trial of his liege lord, ordered by the witch hunter.), could Brenner have been the witch hunters source (yes), who could have arranged the gun powder being stored in that warehouse (the merchant who brought it, being a character with a name, could've done it), why he believed Aschenbeck was behind it and if he himself or Markheim weren't likelier culprits (indeed they are, but since Brenner was right about the gun powder, he was probably the real deal, too bad his notes are gone...).

 

I and Gluckstein lied and improvised, but it was rather convincing. They actually believe him, but still consider Markheim or the daughter of Aschenbeck to be more likely bad guys than Aschenbeck himself.

 

Dead end(s)

 

During the day, Reinhardt and von Stangel revisited the Draken and found out that the landlady had been but a serving wench, in fact a neighbor of the landlords who'd been forced to bed by a bad case of diarrhea and had asked for her help (cleverly arranged by Gluckstein, but leaving gaps since it is now obvious that her words about Brenner having stayed at the Draken a while and so on was all lies). They proceeded to break into her house, found her naked, tied to her bed, raped and tortured, and all her belongings were so much ashes in the stove. The pc:s draw the conclusion that the evidence have been forged, but anyone who knew anything has been killed by the clever and dangerous man or woman behind it all. They start to get the idea that it might be Kettlebaum who's behind everything.

 

They suit up and go to find straight answers. They want Markheim. At Windhund Hauling they learn only that he isn't there from the bravos guarding the door, before some other Bravos, including one of the guards from Aschenbeck's manor the day before, spot all the pc:s but Waldenfrau skulking in an alley close to the offices. Embarrassing to say the least, but they stall for a while and then leave, some threats having been delivered about arrests and a warrant from the witch hunter (the bravos officer isn't in on the plot, but still reports dutifully afterwards, by now Markheim and the Purple Hand has realized that whomever sent the pc:s, they've got to go, but it'll have to wait until after the trial, which mustn't be interfered with).

 

The pc:s then promptly seek Markheim at the manor (I've decided he lives at Aschenbeck's manor) but are met by closed gates and some unfriendly Bravos who tell them that Aschenbeck has been arrested and that they can piss off and come back another day because everyone is occupied (ordered by Markheim to say just that, of course, since he is with the daughter and Rodrick, doing his best to offer them his condolences before he goes to testify on the morrow...)

 

The Ritual

 

After a lot of this and that the pc:s finally get to enter the grand chamber with the sacred flame. Von Oppenheim has drawn ominous chalk symbols all over the place and some initiates stand to one side of the flame, together with priest Frost. All is explained, and Oppenheim goes on at length about how certain symbolic roles must be filled et.c. And then he says that one of them must strip down naked and howl like a wolf for the entire ritual. (we laughed for five minutes, by then he could continue)

 

Anyway, roles are assigned. Kühnheit is the naked howler, Reinhardt is to make the divine protection-walk, Köhler is to stand with the stone chalice, von Stangel guards the artifact and Waldenfrau is to keep the sacred flame from going out (I've planted the idea of the flame being put out by the Bringer of the End Times to signal the apocalypse firmly in the minds of the players... since they've clearly stated that they believe things will go nuclear when the ritual is performed).

 

When everything is set to go but for von Oppenheim crawling around on the floor to “make some drawings clearer” with a piece of chalk in the bad light, the **** hits the fan. Now, pilgrims rush the chamber from within the temple (I had earlier mentioned to Waldenfrau's player that “a lot of new pilgrims had arrived” but he didn't think anything of it.) dressed in robes, obscene nudity, some masked and some not, some tattooed and some not, all wielding short swords, axes or sickles (one being a priest of Taal and his acolyte).

 

A grand melee

 

This section doesn't aim to describe the battle, but just to discuss it in game terms.

 

Who are the pilgrims? Assorted jade scepter cultists, who have more or less been provoked into interfering with the ritual by Adele who sincerely believes it to be a bad idea to perform the ritual but who's attempts to get he artifact have been thwarted by the pc:s and the cult of Ulric.

 

Was it a difficult fight?

 

Well, there were 2x5 henchmen, one group all tattooed females aimed at brother Köhler who's managed to sleep with two cultists previously, malicious seduction being the name of the game here. Then we had four tough jade scepter cultists. And last but not least two Fiends of Slaneesh who showed up through portals inside some fallen cultists a few rounds into the melee.

 

That being said, the pc:s were a bit lucky. As an example they managed to stall one henchmen group two rounds with that ice spell their jade order wizard can cast. The cultists failed an easy check with two green, two blue and one white die, twice. Also, one demon had Waldenfrau up against the box with the artifact and threw everything at her for three or four rounds but she still stood when the last demon was sucked back into a rift in reality.

 

Besides luck, von Stangel is an outstanding tank, Köhler can deliver berserker-fueled Sigmar's hammers and reckless strikes, Kühnheit was unarmored but still had mighty swings and thunderous blows, Reinhardt is a marksman nowadays and is outright deadly with both pistol and knife and Waldenfrau does her bit, a little bit at a time (but mostly heals the party afterwards).

 

The score

 

The jade order witch with one wound remaining, Reinhardt down with just one crit, the sigmarite in pain but with six remaining wounds, Kühnheit more or less unhurt and von Stangel with some bruises. Of the opposition, three fled back deeper into the temple and the rest were dead.

 

 

That was it for this year. The ritual is now like the cliffhanger I intended it to be. To be continued in 2014. 


Edited by herrquisling, 18 December 2013 - 01:50 PM.

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#17 herrquisling

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Posted 30 December 2013 - 12:54 PM

Character development

 

A lot has happened to the heroes these past months (in-game), and they've come out changed as a result. It needs to be said that in between game-sessions the players develop their characters continuously through posts in WhatsApp, where we get to see a lot of their past and their inner workings. 

 

 

Wulfgang von Stangel, a third son of a noble family in Avernland. They used to support the von Alptraums, but after the eldest brother was slighted in asking for the beautiful countess in marriage, their allegiance shifted to the Leitdorfs. The family has had a lot of business with von Kaufman, their now deceased father having invested half of the family fortune in the southlands expeditions two years ago. Also, the youngest brother has been "apprenticing" under Curd Weiss. Wulfgang himself had a brief career in the city guard where he got to serve under Marcus Bauerfaust, but has since gambled and caroused away his allowances, pawned his family ring and skipped town.

 

No longer the gambling and carousing kind, von Stangel is a driven and obsessed man with little or no care for frivolousness. The hunt for Anna has taken him from the easy-going character who actually managed to get along with the brotherhood to a dangerous person who has and will continue to wade through corpses to find the girl. He has shown little thought about others who has gotten hurt as a result of his actions – or inactions.

 

Unsurprisingly, considering what has happened lately, he has come to trust very few people and thus depend on their party of four more than he'd likely admit. Mostly he tends to rely on the sigmarite, Joseph, who has proven to be the most relentless of them in the battle against their foes. 

 

 

Joseph, a sigmarite initiate from an unnamed farming community somewhere in the northern parts of Avernland. His schooling in the ways of his temple has been somewhat lacking, since his tutor was an old recluse from the temple of sigmar in Avernheim who's grip on religious dogma was faltering. Having caused the death of a witch (or a priestess of Taal) and his own brother, he fled, chased by his old neighbors, and found his way into a temple in a small town (also unnamed) in the southern part of the province. 

 

Joseph has gone from a rather charming womanizer with tendencies to brood to a brooding man with a tendency to either erupt into dark rages or to be immobilized by indecision when it really matters. Increasingly taunted by memories from his childhood and past, and by the whispering voices of demons and visions of doom, he has come to question his own actions and motives. After the demon touched his mind in the battle in the temple of Ulric, he came to realize that a lot of his memories of his sister Josephine being the victim of unspeakable acts whilst he could do nothing had actually happened to him.

 

He has desperately sought true faith and has armed himself against the forces of chaos on the battlefield, and proven himself over and over again with his fists and his hammer, his zealotry being impossible to question. But over and over again he has succumbed to temptation and lain with wenches, whores and temptresses of whom all to many has proven to have been sent by the ruinous powers.

 

In the past days, he has betrayed his cult and now he knows not how to seek redemption but to cling to Sigmar with increasing fervor. His God seems to bless his every action, but why does it feel so wrong?

 

 

Holde Waldenfrau, a jade order witch, whose travels have led her to Avernheim where she's sought a respite from her toils with the peasants of the province and has spent a few months with the Sun Society and has gotten to know Luminary Mauer somewhat.

 

Waldenfrau has perhaps developed less than others, mostly because she was a rather vague sketch from the beginning. She has been drawn into things and more or less she has not resisted, but neither has she been a driving force behind anything. She has developed her powers and skills, whilst studying the people and artifacts the four have come across. Lately she has started to feel that the time allotted for her journeyman year is running out but can't bring herself to act in any other way than she's been doing. She knows not how, but it is obvious that von Stangel is leading the group through some kind of plot against the empire and thus against the colleges of magic, and she needs to help. 

 

 

Reinhardt Brunner, a man with a questionable past (thief!), who got to know Wulfgang and Joseph when he had skipped town as well (having miraculously been acquitted) and on the basis of them all being from Avernheim or around spent the evenings at a tavern. He'd just gotten to feel the first advances of the brotherhood when he left town and it was after a mission  (well, a burglary) for them that he'd been arrested in the first place.

 

Brunner seems to be unchanging. He has lately performed a few acts which were not one hundred precent selfish, and that is it.

 

He is not a talkative fellow (nor is he writing much in WhatsApp) but he is basically a good guy, even if he ain't someone you'd like to introduce to your mother. From the outset, as his family burned at the stakes after a brief trial by a visiting witch hunter, through the inequalities inherent in a life as a wharf rat and a thief, he's been striving to make things better. He has a nasty streak and is inclined to extract vengeance if he can for every perceived slight, and since he is now backed up by people with both status and power, he has been able to do more violence these past weeks than ever before.

 

As you can probably tell, he doesn't like people much, and he is in constant conflict with Waldenfrau. Brunner took a liking too Luminary Mauer early on, and this has affected the opinion of the others quite a bit. So therefor I've now invented two good reasons to suddenly mistrust the wizard... 


Edited by herrquisling, 30 December 2013 - 12:56 PM.

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#18 herrquisling

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Posted 10 January 2014 - 03:53 AM

Part 6 The ritual and onwards

 

New year, new session, now with five players which is one more than what I feel is optimal. We began in the temple of Ulric, where the demons and cultists had just been defeated...

 

As von Stangel and Kühnheit went after the cultists who had fled deeper into the temple, they discovered that the real pilgrims had all been killed. Making short work of killing the three cultists and returned to the chamber of the sacred flame.

 

Meanwhile, brother Köhler and Waldenfrau healed Brunner and helped him to his feet. They then noticed that von Oppenheim and father Frost was in a heated argument (just in time, observation and intuition was needed) and they start towards the altar just as Frost gets a strangle hold on Oppenheim and pushes him towards the flame. The situation is resolved by Waldenfrau who uses her learning to convince Frost to back down with Obfuscate and five successes. He leaves the chamber, muttering about this all being a mistake and that he won't watch it happen.

 

The players got to read some of Frost's thoughts during the christmas break where he felt weak and useless during the battle and vowed not to let his resolve break; he projected his feelings of helplessness on Oppenheim and in his mind Oppenheim's ideas suddenly turned very dangerous so he tried to kill him. Afterwards, he is shaken, and goes to speak to the high priest.

 

After clearing out the corpses and speaking to the high priest and father Albrecht, it is decided that the ritual will continue, since the attack of the cultists surely must mean that the forces of chaos wants to stop it (von Stangel had his doubts). The pc:s then perform the ritual (with some more difficult die-rolls than per the book and a hard corruption check for the player who handled the bell clapper) and it ends as expected with an explosion. Everyone is thrown to the ground, Oppenheim is obliterated and a lot of resilience rolls are thrown to avoid critical injuries.

 

In the aftermath of the ritual, that evening and the following morning, it is decided that even if the ritual seemed to work, further investigation should be done. Perhaps by the Light Order, but the guild of Alchemists and Wizards and their remaining wizard, a grey order, will be contacted first. The pc:s will continue to root out the cults – these can't have been all of them – and even though news about the ambush having been defeated has reached the high priest, victory is not assured. It might still come to a siege. And there is Anna.

 

The players are still worrying about the witch hunter and they ask the cult to have an observer at the trial of von Aschenbeck, both to keep and eye on her and to hear what is said (they haven't mentioned suspecting Markheim, but they want the cult to interfere if possible if there's talk about disbanding the bravos who might be needed to defend the city).

 

During the day, the 2nd of Vorgesheim, the pc:s decide to try to located the trail of the mutant who they killed a couple of nights ago. How to do that? Well, they take to the rooftop from where it dropped and the ulrican uses his blessed nose and the witch her winds. The ulrican fails but the winds whisper to Waldenfrau that the abomination came from below. Thus, the old idea of going down the sewers is reawakened. The pc:s ask permission from the high priest to go down the tunnels and it is granted; they even get help from the Knight Panters who makes patrols in the tunnels and have some maps and equipment.

 

About noon, the pc:s enter the sewers. A lot of tracking and sniffing and hunches and both hard and daunting checks eventually lead the pc:s to a gate barring their way underneath the merchant district around midnight. The smell of corruption is clear and the pc:s have recently been attacked by another mutant in a crawl space.

 

This is really the players coming up with an idea and backing it up with well-rolled checks which takes them straight to the cult lair under Windhund Haulings. I decided that if the gods of dice willed it, I wouldn't stand in the way of this short-cut through the plot.

 

Reinhardt picks the lock and the players move through a recently carved passage into what seems to be part of an old cellar. They are able to stand up and look around... things move and slitter in the dark – mutants!

 

We end the session.


Edited by herrquisling, 10 January 2014 - 05:13 AM.

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/herrquisling


#19 herrquisling

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Posted 14 January 2014 - 04:07 AM

Midnight at Winthund Hauling

 

Joseph and Kühnheit moved through the passage where the sewer wall had been breached and into a large space, carved from the rock. In the dark, Joseph let his lantern shine on the brick wall across the room, which was what you'd see in a cellar of one of the town houses in this part. There was a lot of filth and fur on the floor... and there were eyes gleaming in the dark.

 

A horde of growling and howling mutants rushed, slithered and leaped at them. Some where bestial with faces of boars or rams, others crept forwards on clawed feet, long scaled tails balancing them; one had the mandibles of some great insect and it carried a long iron bar, sharpened and glittering wet from some pus-like substance.

 

Joseph hefted his hammer and roared “Filthy vermin, greet your dark masters from me when you see them”. Kühnheit stepped right into the midst of the horde and swung his hammer, breaking the neck of a tusked mutant and hitting the insectoid right in the face and ruining its day. As the rest of the mutants threw themselves at the priests von Stangel rushed in between them and hit a mutant, its skull merged with its chest, with his shield charge.

 

As Waldenfrau cautiously entered the room, she fired some splinters from her staff at the mutants, but it barely distracted the thick-hided beasts. She saw that Joseph had entered one of his dark rages and was laying about with his dwarven rune-hammer. As he shouted his deity's name, the holy power made the runes glow and as his blow broke the skull of a slithering beast, the flash of power literally melted the flesh from the bones of the closest chaos spawns. The last mutant had his legs broken and was finished by a tremendous thump as Kühnheit brought his great-hammer down on its skull.

 

Kühnheit only had the time to spot the wooden door in the brick wall as it suddenly was thrown open with enough force to wrench it from its hinges and an enormous gor charged at him, wielding a tall brazier from which burning coals spilt. The gor smashed into him and up against the wall, for a moment transfixing him, but a fully armored knight of the white wolf is no lightweight himself. Kühnheit pushed the gor back and hit it with a stab from the heavy hammer-head and the Joseph was there in all his raging splendor, his rune-hammer thumping into the gor, quickly followed by the rest of Joseph and they smashed into another wall; the gor dizzied.

 

“Behind me”, von Stangel yelled and Waldenfrau dove behind him as he crouched and raised his shield. Iron balls glanced of his bare-scraped shield as flashes and smoke erupted from the door opening. Cultists in purple and gold robes, their left hands dyed purple were firing pistols at them. The stock of a crossbow was leaned on von Stangel's shoulder and Reinhardt put a bolt in the middle of the forehead of a cultist as some of the others dodged back whence they came. More cultists, wielding large daggers, erupted from the doorway and charged at Kühnheit who braced himself and met them head on.

 

Reinhardt fired another bolt through the eye of a cultist and the last one was just dodging back to reload his pistol as another cultist, wearing a golden tiara with a jewel in the shape of a purple hand stepped into the room and casually cut the other cultist's throat. He chanted, the word “Tzeentch” clearly audible and pointed at Waldenfrau who quickly invoked a counter spell, the energies dissipating through her staff.

 

Kühnheit lay about himself with his hammer as Joseph broke first the shin and then the skull of the enormous beastman. Cultists where dead, broken or dying all around them but more came through the opening. First there was a robed and elk-headed cultist, with glittering ear-rings of gold who wielded a sigmarite hammer and charged at von Stangel and Reinhardt. They clashed and the mutant was staggered. At the same time, a mutant with the upper body of a white wolf came running on all fours and threw itself at Kühnheit, tearing into his chainmail. Waldenfrau ran towards him as she saw the blood spurting from the tear in the knight's arm.

 

Reinhardt was shaken when the elk-headed mutant at the last moment was blocked from taking his head off by von Stangel. He'd been close to death many times and seldom saw the end of a battle, instead being awoken to the sound of ragged breathing and the muttered incantations of Waldenfrau or the fierce prayers of Joseph. He let go of his crossbow and slipped around von Stangel and the mutant, letting his knife draw from the shoulder and cut through tendons in the mutant's arm and finishing by grabbing the heavy sigmarite hammer from the elk-heads failing grip. He'd be damned if he'd let himself go down this time.

 

Joseph had been keeping up his ferocious chanting throughout the battle and felt the strength of Sigmar flow through his weary limbs. He was looking to keep the wolf-man and the remaining cultists from Kühnheit as Waldenfrau staunched the bleeding. He raised his shield high and fought from a crouching stance, lashing out with the hammer to catch one of the purple hand in the forehead, dropping him. As he looked up over the rim of his skull-and-laurel shield, he saw a flickering sorcerous light come from the doorway and a raven-headed cultist, purple robes covered in golden runes, enter the room. Waves of chaotic power emanated from the sorcerer and Joseph felt his body grow rigid. Every night he was tormented by visions and this figure was one of them. Was he doomed to fall to the ruinous powers, not only in body but in soul as well?

 

Waldenfrau stepped away from Kühnheit as the sorcerer of Tzeench raised his hands and gave up a shrill sound from its beak. Her power was exhausted and so was she, the fatigue and stress and the wounds inflicted by the demon the night before ached. She had left the path her tutors had intended months ago, to accompany von Stangel on his quest; this might be the end. Sorcerous lightning hit her, her flesh erupted and pus spurted from her torn body as she fell to darkness.

 

Von Stangel used the opportunity given by Reinhardt disarming the elk-headed mutant to push him back, keeping the heavily muscled mutant off balance as Reinhardt kept sticking his blade into him. He saw lightning hit Waldenfrau and she went down, her body ruptured, pus leaking out. He saw Kühnheit leaning against a wall, pushing himself to his feet and regaining his grip on the great-hammer as the wolf bore down on him. He saw Joseph, frozen, caught in fear and indecision, the strength of Sigmar leaking from his limbs. All around them were the broken bodies of the cultist and mutants who'd fallen, the floor was slippery with blood and gore, the light from the sorcerers magics leaving black flecks swimming in his vision. Anna, he thought, we cannot fail here. We cannot.

 

The cultist with the golden tiara mockingly called out to Joseph: “Joseph, you can feel our master calling to you, can you not? You know that you belong with us, not with the one you call your God. You have seen it!” The sigmarite buckled under the weight of the terrible destiny that awaited him and could barely lift his hammer. His head and shield lowered and the wolf-man almost toppled Joseph as it threw itself at him.

 

Then Kühnheit suddenly turned and ran across the room towards the cultist leaders. His vision blackened as purple lightning struck everyone in the room and a terrible darkness opened up around the sorcerer. The sorcery tore the flesh of everyone, but Kühnheit. It flickered around his armor and his great-hammer but couldn't reach him, perhaps because he hadn't yet been corrupted by exposure to the forces of chaos like the others, perhaps because his faith was unmarred by struggle and betrayals. With one might swing he tore the raven-head from the sorcerer and its body simply slumped to the ground, the robes settling around nothingness.

 

Joseph looked up and saw the wolf-man turning and rushing after the knight as the last of the dagger-wielding cultists snuck up on Joseph. He felt some strength return to his limbs, blocked the cultist and broke his skull with the hammer. The cultist with the golden tiara grabbed Kühnheit around the throat, fingers growing long and scaled as he squeezed. The wolf tore into the knight's back. He tore free and smashed the wolf's spine, slipping and barely avoided falling. The a crossbow bolt from Reinhardt found it's way into the cultists spleen and he fell, clutching his stomach and Kühnheit's steel-clad boot descending was the last the cultist saw.

 

Von Stangel slammed his shield up hard into the throat of the elk-headed mutant and it fell, hands clawing at its crushed windpipe. He shouted triumphantly and got a sickly smile in return from Reinhardt. Joseph fell to his knees next to Waldenfrau and said a blessing. What he perhaps couldn't do for himself, he could at least do for her. Kühnheit stood, panting, watching the doorway for more enemies to erupt. There were none. The battle was over.

 

The pc:s then went on to explore the cellar, finding themselves under Winthund Haulage. They saw and heard guards upstairs and outside, Bravos, but on who's side they'd be was not to say. Searching the cellar, they found a cultist lair, torture chambers, a bookkeepers office with some pretty condemning evidence of embellishment they could connect to Markheim and von Stangel and Kühnheit found some storage rooms used for holding prisoners. And, in one of them, Anna. Von Stangel's lost nephew.

 

Anna was bald, a purple hand tattooed on her head; teeth missing and with folds of fat wrapped around the five-year olds previously so thin body. The signs of mutation was there, but she seemed as sane as anyone could be, considering. The pc:s left through the sewers.

 

End of session. 


Edited by herrquisling, 14 January 2014 - 04:58 AM.

/herrquisling


#20 valvorik

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Posted 14 January 2014 - 01:16 PM

Oh my, that's a find.  The lost girl mutated - how will Graf von Kaufman react to that (presumably mutation is for others not for mine?)   What sort of reaction will your PC's likely have in the "mutants must die" Old World?






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