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The Enemy Within (Göteborg, Sweden)


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#41 herrquisling

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Posted 30 April 2014 - 11:34 AM

I gave the players the choice, fade out here and move on to the next game (a post-apocalypic swedish game called "Mutant") or to enter the chaos wastes and get a chance at redemption for their characters. They wanted to go on, and so we will fight our way through a version of part 4 of the Enemy Within. I like getting the chance to get more out of Adele (they don't know about her cult affiliations, and this might be a time for confessions) and to have the full story out of Artha (perhaps with enough evil details to sour things between her and von Stangel). 

 

But the players were satisfied with the way things turned out even if we had not decided to push on. And if they never return, our heroes, then this was in fact the ending for them and so the players have nothing to lose by trying.


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#42 herrquisling

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Posted 30 April 2014 - 02:36 PM

Through the rift

 

This actually took place at the end of the game session outlined above, so it deserves to be held apart from the coming session report.

 

As the heroes went through the rift, I picked up the adventure and read parts of the text on page 160 to the players. The players nodded to themselves, that was abut what they'd expected. But they still carried an unconscious Waldenfrau and a one-legged duelist with them. I then continued and did a fair job of pretending that something like this was part of the text:

 

The clouds part for a moment as something unimaginably bright shines through them, and you see a twin-tailed comet in the skies. As the light from the comet reaches you, it transforms you. Your bodies are healed, as you are reborn in the light of Sigmar, who blesses this journey you have embarked on.

 

Obviously, that's not word-for-word, since I improvised and we play in the swedish language, not English, but you get the geist.

 

Our heroes were healed of all wounds, critical and normal, all fatigue and stress – but not insanities and mutations. Now they were ready, but for Gerber who wasn't there. His player had a solution, though. And he told us something like this:

 

As Gerber walks downstairs, he finds the cathedral filled with knights, wizards and priests. The demons are slain, but the wounded, the dead and the mutated are everywhere. No-one notices one more bloody witch hunter in all of this. Gerber walks up to the statue of Sigmar and looks up at his God. Removes his hat, his badge of office. Puts it at Sigmar's feet. And walks back up the stairs, barricading the doors behind him with a sword taken from one of the fallen.

 

 

Thus the scene is set.

 

EDIT

 

A few days after the session, Erich Gerber's player wrote (my translation):

 

Gerber staggered down the stairs, one hand pressed against the wound in his neck, the other one against the wall to keep him from falling. Adele, the ****, had betrayed him and almost killed him. The cut had set his world rocking and pushed him further towards the edge.

 

What the **** am I to do now? What did she mean, all mutants are not evil? That can't have been what she said, can it? What did she say, then? Damn, don't you get it Erich? She's a mutant herself.

 

Shut up and let me think.

 

Am I going to kill her? Is that it? I don't know. There are questions which must be answered. I've always looked to her for guidance. What was her plan when she gave me this assignment? Why did she not tell me about what had happened? Everyone seems to know that something happened when she lost her hand. She should have said something before she tried to kill us. Kill me, I mean. 

 

Who you have said anything, Erich?

 

What? Me? I'm a killer. No questions asked. Think about it now… Wait, there's people here. What am I to do?

 

Gerber's hands were shaking as he pushed open the doors into the temple's main hall. It was filled with soldiers. He didn't even see them as he walked up to the altar. With shaking hands, he lay down his hat, which he'd worn for so many years. Wrinkled, filthy from blood and with white streaks where sweat had dried. If she couldn't tell him whilst he wore it, perhaps she can now, he thought as he turned back to the bell tower.

 

 

 

I have some thoughts about how to play this.

 

1 The four Gods/realms of chaos will have to be visited, as per tew. I'm not to sure about following the script, though. I'd like it to be more about our heroes.

 

Thus

 

2 In the Khorne episode, Joseph will be put to the test. Can he hold back his rage? Kühnheit will be a part of it, somehow captured (in spirit anyway, perhaps as a part of the monolith). I'll try to hint at giving in to their anger (star-wars style) will be their doom. What counts as giving in... well, going berserk for one thing.

 

3 Meeting an unclean one will be a test for Reinhardt who's been sick forever. His grown-back leg will turn sickly and he'll be given an offer of not succumbing to his disease eventually. If the offer is turned down... we'll I expect it will be but who knows?

 

4 With Slaneesh, Adele will be in for a show. Somehow. This will involve Gerber. Perhaps also some taunts for Joseph, for sleeping with all those corrupted women. We'll see.

 

5 There has to be long treks through the setting, talking and giving an opportunity for Schaffer to come clean and perhaps to die.

 

6 Von Stangel's real test will be with Kaufman in the Tzeench castle. Will he save him? Is there redemption to be had? If there is, then it might be even for the black owl. Waldenfrau and the others who have mutated will be given an offer to return to Altdorf, whole and not mutated.

 

7 The actual fighting will have to happen as well (oh how they lust for it, with access finally given to epic-tier talents), perhaps even more of it if we feel up to it, but I'll try to keep this very un-random in order to make it meaningful. If you see what I mean.


Edited by herrquisling, 01 May 2014 - 02:04 PM.

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#43 herrquisling

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Posted 06 May 2014 - 03:26 AM

TEW part 4: In the Chaos Wastes

 

We find our heroes standing in the frozen and barren landscape of the northern chaos wastes. The clouds are boiling overhead and in the distance they can se a range of jagged mountains, from which smoke and occasionally fire erupt. As the trail of the twin-tailed comet disappears behind the cloud mass, Reinhardt screams.

 

He was quite mad, almost dead and without a leg when he last knew anything. I takes the rest quite some time to convince him that he's alive, blessed by Sigmar and in somewhat dire straits none the less. Once he has calmed down (and failed to get any permanent insanities), he sets a grim pace for the castle still seen as a mirage above the horizon. “Gotta pay the dues...”

 

After walking across the hard ground, which is covered by clinging ashes rather than snow, for an indeterminate time the cold starts to set in. Waldenfrau is more affected than the rest, and they gather around her as she makes an incantation to heat the air. The winds feel strange, and as the sorceress opens her magical sight she is assailed by visions of battles and of a cataclysmic explosion as the skies fill with auroras and something tears all across the pole. Somehow she knows this to be long ago, and as she shuts her eyes hard, she tells the others where they are. The chaos wastes.

 

Von Stangel, ever keeping their mood up, says: “So, basically, we can turn around and walk back to the empire? Not that we are going to do anything like that, of course!”.

 

As the companions huddle together, they start talking. It is close to half an hour of talking, so I'll relate it in brief below.

 

  • Artha does much of the talking. She seems to want to talk about Marcus (she never says Bauerfaust) and what he wanted and about what her part was

  • She does not try to hide things, she's killed, she's known about everything, basically, except the fact that Marcus was corrupt

  • The last thing she started to suspect around the time when the army was ambushed and the emperor struck down. She could not figure out how Marcus communicated with the forces of the Horde.

  • Marcus always had himself, her, Kaufman and Weiss play the role of high servants of chaos/the Black Cowl to control the cults. Of course, it was too easy, wasn't it. They got them to do things for them, and then they were betrayed or outright killed. Often by Artha herself.

  • She opens her heart to von Stangel. He does not recoil from her deeds. “We are a merry bunch of sinners and mutants, are we not” he says.

  • Joseph says that “the easy choices are the ones you should be careful about”, as Artha tries to tell them how every decision made felt so obvious at the time. No one judges her more than they judge themselves, not even when she tells von Stangel that she knew about Anna (although not before they parted company outside Avernheim).

  • She also warns von Stangel about the brotherhood keeping an eye on Anna's twin brother Leo, if they should somehow get word of Anna being lost. She knows not what has happened since.

  • The companions catch on to the fatalistic mood of Joseph and von Stangel and his Artha, who has got no difficulties with her answer when von Stangel finally asks her if she's with him all the way.

 

About then a figure comes walking out in the cold wasteland, approaching them at a distance. Adele and Reinhardt are quickly on their feet, pistols drawn, and they do not lower them as they see Gerber out there, a two-handed sword in his hands.

 

Another long scene follows, also related briefly below.

 

  • Adele wants them to shoot him, but Joseph says that he can't have followed them here just to kill them. “No?”, says Adele and Gerber taunts her for cutting his throat improperly, inviting her to finish the job. She retorts, with a glimmer of her old hard self, that her victims usually can't resist (also a hint about her cultist past, which I aim to elaborate on...)

  • Gerber is without his hat, and as he talks the others come to see this as a sign of him turning his back on the order. Appropriately, Adele has lost both hat and wig and is bald as an egg.

  • They discuss the “kill the mutant” dogma, and somehow end up with not all mutants being evil – but of course most mutants they've met have been cultists and worshippers of the dark powers (we'll, most have!) and then the second dogma of “burn the heretic” kicks in (no-one mentions “purge the unclean”).

  • The point is that Gerber convinces them that he's been wrong about things. And that him being here means that there's no going back. Artha agrees, they must take him on and Adele concedes.

  • The discussion happens to linger on Adele, and about wether she's been a mutant since her captivity. She has.

  • Then, how come Bauerfaust and the others never knew (Artha claims that they didn't know, even when they sent the pc:s to kill her)? He trades looks with Artha, and mutters that she doesn't know (a lie, she is Slaneesh and hidden from them, but even though everyone realizes that she isn't straight with them, no'one pushes the issue right then and there).

 

The realm of Khorne

 

Eventually, the companions gather up their things and continue their track across the frozen wasteland. They can't judge distances and seem to be getting nowhere. After a while, they notice that the ground is getting softer and the temperature is rising. There's a metallic tang to the air. A river like a wound in the plain is seen, crossing their path. As they get close, they see that it is a river of blood, coagulated clots on it's surface and on the skulls littering the banks of the flow.

 

Waldenfrau doesn't fail to make the obvious connections (the realm of Khorne) but still wants to use her magic to grow a bridge and cross the river. After she tells the others that this might go wrong and that whatever she conjures up might attack them, they decide to scout the river in the direction of a distant mound from which the blood is flowing.

 

I changed this part. The mound is central, made of bones and skulls, with a pillar on top, and the bridges are there, but not the rest. It's just sitting there in the middle of the wasteland, rivers of blood flowing in all directions. Around the mound, by the bridges, cairns of skulls bearing the mark of Khorne have been built. As the pc:s close in on the mound, they spot the bridges and later an armored knight chained to the pillar, he'd resting on his chest. As they come even closer, the knight is seen to be wearing the armor of the White Wolves of Ulric, and he raises his head...

 

...”You left me! You can't do it again! You bastards! Release me, I beg you!” It is Kühnheit, the knight who was killed by a chaos warrior as they escaped from Middenheim. Impossible? As he screams and rants at them, they shout back questions and become convinced that it really is Kühnheit. Or at least his soul. “You left me, and they trapped me by sorcery and sent me to this hell! Are you also dead? You have your freedom! You owe me mine!” he screams.

 

Our heroes are stunned, but decide that they can't leave him here. They decide to try and climb the chains over the 100 feet of blood to the central mound to try and free the white wolf. As they approach, cautiously, the river suddenly erupts and two Flesh Hounds dash towards them, followed shortly by a huge dark three-headed best dragging itself out of the blood.

 

I changed some things, as you see. For starters, as the players talked things through, they rolled a purple die every 30 seconds. As a chaos star came up, the flesh hounds emerged and initiative was rolled. At the end of every round thereafter we rolled five purple dice (six if anyone had been injured, but never more) and on chaos stars more creatures attacked.

 

As for the chains, they were at ten wounds, one black, six soak (at 15 they are to difficult to cut, I judged).

 

The spawn chart looked like this:

 

blank flesh hound (one)

swords bloodletters (two)

double swords chaos warriors (first time two, then one)

skull juggernaut

double skull karanak first time, then flesh hound

chaos star skulltaker first time, then chaos warrior

 

As carnage ensued, the hounds and Karanak tore into the pc:s but Joseph actually killed them all in one single round (the demons being slightly wounded before, but still) using berserk, reckless cleave, who's next and find the rhythm. They attacked the chains, as Kühnheit started to smoke as the pillar pulsed with red veins and he screamed “He's coming, he's coming”.

 

Unfortunately, the pc:s would have to cut eight chains before rolling the first chaos star. One in thirty-six in other words. So the fight wore on as more and more demons spawned and it is still on, actually, since the hour turned late during this unexpectedly long fight and we had to call it a night.

 

When we ended the session, eight chains were cut and the pillar showed the first signs of going down. Joseph had taken Skulltaker's skull (he recognized him from the tales of Sigmar's battles) and they had slain four flesh hounds, Karanak, two chaos warriors and seven bloodletters. At a cost.

 

All of them were seriously wounded and Joseph had been cut down by a bloodletter after having been wounded in his battle with Skulltaker. The river of blood was boiling and steaming, Kühnheit's screams those of pure pain and terror and a chaos warrior made his way out of the blood just as two bloodletters tore into von Stangel and Artha.

 

By the way, Artha and Adele were passive and activated by comets, but then they struck hard, using action cards.

 

End of session

 

 

Edit: I forgot to mention that Joseph came very close to having a go at von Stangel with the sword Gerber had taken from Marcus Bauerfaust. Not because of the sword, but because of the influences of the realm of Khorne. When the sigmarite was berserk and had no-one trying to kill him, a hard discipline check was called for to avoid attacking his comrades. To get out of berserk, the same was needed. He stayed in his rage none the less but as he had to keep himself in rein, no-one but von Stangel and Artha dared come close (until Joseph was cut down, that is).  


Edited by herrquisling, 07 May 2014 - 01:06 AM.

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#44 herrquisling

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Posted 13 May 2014 - 04:08 AM

TEW part 4: Endless fighting

 

I misjudged exactly how keen our heroes were to redeem themselves and die in the battle against chaos. Very keen, it has turned out. Perhaps I should have expected it from two witch-hunters, a sigmarite warrior-priest and the rest of them whose desperate move had just been turned into a holy quest by the blessing of Sigmar.

 

We picked up the fight where we had left off and our heroes took out a few more Bloodletters and a Chaos Warrior before the pillar at last fell, smashing the mound of bones into dust and cutting of the blood flow. The river beds dried up and the temperature dropped ten degrees in an instant.

 

Joseph, Waldenfrau and Gerber were down and their players had taken control of Artha Schaffer and Adele Kettlebaum to finish the battle. Now they gathered up the fallen and with splints and bandages and spells and blessings they got everyone to their feet (rain of life is a good one...).

 

The last Chaos Warrior got up from where he had been buried under skulls and bones and challenged the heroes. “We have a long way to walk back home now, you and I. Perhaps we can see to that some of us don't have to make the effort...” He didn't have to walk home, but von Stangel almost joined him, his mutated arm cloven by the warrior's great-axe.

 

Nowhere to go but onwards, as the influences of the realm of chaos drains away and our heroes turn north towards the ever distant mountains and the floating castle.

 

Without Artha and Adele they would have been dead twice now, thrice before this session comes to an end. Five players and two stand-ins... perhaps that is what's required to fight their way through the Chaos Wastes (at rank 5).

 

The plains turn into a soggy swamp, filled with all those lovely features of the realm of Nurgle. Bloated flies, pus-filled mud, swollen fern-like leaves the height of a man and a maze of slippery rots and sodden ground to navigate in the dense vegetation. The heroes enter it without any qualms.

 

As they make their way through the swamp, they spot a horrid group of Plaguebeares, carrying soaked-through sacks filled with body wastes, pulling a chart heaped with bloated corpses and ringing that mournful cow-bell so reminiscent of a certain monty python film. One of the Plaguebearers lifts a hand in greeting to the heroes who decide to try to avoid the gruesome party.

 

They roll, but fail, and their paths cross a short while later. The scene is just intended to set the mood, but Joseph bellows a prayer to Sigmar and the former witch-hunter Gerber charges the demons. They are after all demons, and the heroes have come do do battle against the forces of chaos.

 

War

 

Right... so there was much more fighting than I'd planned for. Actually I'd foreseen that there would be no fighting in the realm of Nurgle. I was so very wrong.

 

Plaguebearers die. Later, Nurglings freeze solid and die. Reinhardt's leg, the one which had been grown back by Sigmar, started to crack and ooze. And eventually they manage to kill the Great Unclean One who awaits them. That was really unexpected. How can the Unclean One, with his good mode, british accent and little jokes be defeated by this ragtag group of adventurers? Well...

 

As the heroes enter the clearing, they see the Greater Demon standing by a large natural cauldron in the rocky ground. It is boiling with all the enthusiasm of a witches iron pot. The Unclean one is delighted to see the pc:s.

 

“Dear friends, welcome. So unfortunate that you've done so much violence to my servants, but accidents happen, right? I assume you've come for my blessing?”

 

They most certainly haven't and Reinhardt opens fire and Gerber charges right in.

 

“Oh, ah! Aha! You have funny manners, men of the empire. Don't be frightened. Here we are most tolerant”

 

More attempts at violence are made.

 

“Nasty, nasty that was. You make me positively sick”

 

von Stangel and Waldenfrau are downed by a Stream of Bile.

 

“Come on, I didn't mean you any harm. I have the outmost respect for all life. By the way, Reinhardt, you'll die a horrid death before the end of the year if you let those diseases run wild. I'll bless you, if you like. Then you'll live a long and painless life.”

 

More violence. Some actually hurting the Unclean Jolly Fat Demon.

 

“What are you doing! Let's be friends. I'll guide you to the castle and you can settle your business and be off to your beloved empire. Is this what the height of your civilization has to offer? What manners where you taught?”

 

Unclean stench of decay, a failed spell and another Stream of Bile later, it turns out that being a lone Greater Demon against seven of the empire's finest isn't good enough and with ten critical wounds and thirty more normal ones the Unclean one falls to Adele's prosthetic dagger.

 

There was a lot more said, and not quite the way I wrote it, but what it all came down to was that even with 40 wounds and a soak value of 16 a lone demon couldn't stand up to five characters acting in unison every turn. Sure, he almost killed two of them but then the back-ups came into play. It wasn't a given outcome but that was what happened.

 

As the Unclean one falls, a freezing wind begins to blow and quickly freezes the swamp solid, the vegetation shattering or withering and leaving our heroes standing (or in some cases not) in the middle of a frozen wasteland once again.

 

End of session


/herrquisling


#45 herrquisling

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Posted 20 May 2014 - 01:33 AM

We shouldn't have run the epilogue...

 

...because with hindsight it was too much. And too repetitive. Even with scenes re-written for the characters. When all was over and done, the players were still satisfied with having chosen to press on into part 4 of TEW, but this session we did cut it short and wrapped things up.

 

Rest

 

Having defeated the unclean one, our heroes drag themselves to a suitable spot if nice, frozen swamp and rest (they needed it or the adventure was over). Only to wake up in a nice and cozy glade, paper lanterns hanging from tree branches and a big bonfire burning. By the fire, a very much nude, stunningly beautiful lady who for some reason has Adele Kettlebaum on a leash (also naked). Around them a dozen equally naked and alluring women are dancing, among them Artha Schaffer (also naked).

 

Slaneesh, obviously. Re-written to put Artha and Adele against the pc:s.

 

Everyone but Waldenfrau (who's unconscious) and Gerber (who's very tough) are seduced into a dreamy trance, von Stagel embraces Artha in the dance and Joseph once again falls victim to his lust. Even Reinhardt is drawn into the spell. Gerber does violence to von Stangel, and soon he's got but the noble and the sigmarite back to their senses. They kill.

 

The fight ends with Adele dead at Joseph's feet, but not before she almost got him. Artha was subdued by von Stangel and lives.

 

The castle

 

As the scene changes back to the frozen swamp, the mouintains suddenly loom close and a stairway straight out of lord of the rings has been cut into a steep cliff. Above them the castle floats.

 

So the pc:s enter the castle, we skip the laboratory, go through the rest of the scenes and end up in the torture chamber. There some multi-coloured horrors are torturing von Kaufman and the pc:s do violence. In the end, von Kaufman's pleading leads von Stangel to free him, since he feels that they're all damned to some part at least. A Lord of Change interrupts them, and they kill it, but not before both Joseph and Gerber are close to death (splinted criticals is all that stands between them and death) and von Kaufman's attempt to use his powers has burnt his left arm to cinders.

 

The castle falls apart, our heroes fall into multi-coloured mists, hanging on to each other...

 

End of session

 

 

There will be an epilogue, written by me by request of the players (who didn't want to take it further) which I'll translate as soon as I've got time, but otherwise this was it!


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#46 herrquisling

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Posted 04 June 2014 - 07:42 AM

So, the epilogue

 

Through the portal our heroes fell. Around them the castle came apart and large chunks of stone and shards of glass fell with them, slowly falling through the many-colored smoke. Slowly the smoke dulled their minds until everything faded to black.

 

Light. Reinhardt opened his eyes. He was on his back on a river boat, his clothes soaked through. One leg but a stump, cut above the knee. Two weathered faces leaned in over him. Yan and Also Yan, with whom they'd travelled to Altdorf a week earlier. They were quick to tell how they'd pulled Reinhardt out of the river, having seen his body stuck in a net. With eager gestures they pointed to what was also stuck in the net... a small wooden chest with the sigil of von Kaufman on the lock. The lid was askew and cracked, enough to give Reinhardt a glimpse of the riches within.

 

A few weeks later Reinhardt is back in Avernheim. One leg short but incredibly wealthy.

 

Light. Jospeh and Gerber opened their eyes. They lie on top of the clock tower in the Cathedral in Altdorf. The roof is missing, the walls have tumbled down but the sky is incredibly bright and clear and sea-gulls are wheeling above their heads. The sunlight is blinding, but they have struggled to their feet before the Sigmarite priests have reached the top of the stairs. A wizard of the college of light are with them and the light from his staff reaches out and envelopes our heroes.

 

Their story is days in the telling, but in the end Joseph and Gerber manage to duck out of the way from all the ceremonies they are invited to and the gratitudes heaped upon them and leave the city in a covered cart. It is bound south west, to the dwarven holds in the mountains. (Joseph is finally going to return the hammer from Eye for an Eye, my comment)

 

Light. Waldenfrau comes awake in the garden inside the walls of the jade college. Parts of the wall beside her has fallen and a group of novices are making their way across the rubble towards her. She tries to cover up her mutated body, but finds that she is no longer changed; the shock of that stays with her for a while. Her tale attracts much attention, of course, especially since it is supported by the cult of Sigmar who also have had people return to them.

 

Waldenfrau is weeks in recovery, but when she's up and about again she sets out on the road again. As a full wizard she needs a new staff. She seeks.

 

Light. von Stangel awakes to a commotion in the parade grounds outside the Emperor's Palace, Artha Schaffer out cold by his side, the torn corpse of von Kaufman next to her. Imperial soldiers and knights surround them as von Stangel struggles to his feet. Smoke or dust is seen from the south tower of the Cathedral and bells are tolling. The voices who call out make no sense to von Stangel. Then a familiar figure appears. Clothilde, who moves dreamlike through the soldiers and hurries to his side. Another man, also familiar in some way, helps Artha to her feet. The soldiers have fallen silent. Kaiser Karl Franz and Wulfgang von Stangel are standing eye to eye.

 

It turns out that Clothilde has managed to add up what she knew to a pretty good picture of the truth behind the conspiracy and that she's managed to get the Emperor's attention. Thus the welcome von Stangel received. Wulfgang's mutated arm was miraculously healed. But he had missed the Ball at Stirland's Embassy since closer to a week had passed since the Prayer Service for the Emperor.

 

A few weeks later, Schaffer and von Stangel leave the capital in the company of Clothilde who is traveling back to Avernheim. They travel in the company of an Imperial Delegate who is finally going to settle the issue of the electorship.

 

 

Farewell!


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