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)
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.