Xmas break was longer than expected but we resume!
50th advance, all heroes present (bonus fortune die next time for Father Erich's player for being on time!)
The heroes spent another day in Ubersreik before leaving town for Fostenklauster.
Anselm met privately with Lord Ascaffenberg to talk about Steirlich von Bruner (orphanage raised Anselm's father it turns out). This is part of setting up a trip to see dad that likely comes after this adventure. Details of chat with Lord Rikard will be included if that adventure takes place and is recorded.
Hans went for his blood sausage breakfast at the Hofling Blutig (bloody/murderous courtier, high end "sausage-house" in Wizard’s Way (an area otherwise filled with apothecaries, alchemists). There he met (good folklore check) Herr Hans Rutsch, another gastronomic fancier, a historian from the University of Altdorf here in Ubersreik to write a history of region and a source of information about Fosten the Fury of Sigmar.
Herr Rutsch was happy to relate the history of Fosten from humble village priest to war hero, his battles against the greenskins (goblins, orcs etc.) in The Great War Against Chaos, his eventual founding of monastary and presumed interment there. He did not recall any tales of significant hammers, other than the fact Fosten wielded a two-handed hammer smiting greenskins two or three at a time with it. He had been to the monastery as part of his local researches and recommends talking to Brother Rumpolt who is most familiar with the monastery's library since he is using it to write a legal interpretation treatise.
Father Erich spent 40 schillings buying some vellum and other things he expects would be welcomed by monks. This is loaded on a cart, a draft horse borrowed from patron Lord Aschaffenberg to pull it. The heavy (encumbrance 8) lead box in which the profane beastman horn Hans is charged with lies is loaded in cart for transport.
GM note - the profane artifact card says Enc 8, I ruled that the protective leaded box in which an Enc 2 horn lies. Str 3 Hans can't cart that around easily without a cart.
These affairs are handled on the 18th of Kaldezeit. On the 19th, the heroes rise early and make a 4 hour walk up the banks of the Teufel to Flussberg, with horse and cart.
They stop for lunch in the village's open air eatery. They are amidst many soldiers of Graf von Jungfreud and, in their Aschaffenberg livery, are subject to some insulting banter about their patron (seen as a rival to the Graf). They notice a short, rather portly monk deep in conversation with a taller, wild haired zealot-looking monk (more tattered robe, chains to hang hammer from, prayer strips pinned all over clothes) and manage to overhear the two sharing criticisms of Verenan approaches to chaos (studying tomes instead of burning them and that sort of thing).
From there, they head up to the monastery on the hill overlooking town.
Image on display showing the stone walled monastery complex atop hill with its low wall around surrounding sheep pasture and the dome of its bell tower.
This is the image from current and earlier edition rule books for priests that has a priest in foreground.
There is talk of being discreet about the reason for visit, except with Abbot, but upon introducing selves to the hammer bearers (guards) at gate they find that an investigator is widely expected and Father Erich is immediately assumed to be him.
Entering the walls, they see the monastery courtyard with stables, brew house, kennels and the main monastery-hospital complex. An impressive structure obviously built up and added to over the past 200 years.
A Monastary Homebrew Card comes out - large size - it's a combination location card and group Favour tracking sheet as in Witch's Song. It notes career traits that can be used to help interact with the monks better, some particular die outcomes etc, consequences of reaching higher or lower Favour (popularity) ratings.
The heroes ask to see Abbot Strafke and are taken through the halls to his chambers, which they gain entry to after only the shortest waits.
The distinguished and handsome Abbot (picture a trim 50'ish sort who would run for public office and be telegenic) has comfortable though not lavish apartment (e.g., his chair has no padding, he is Sigmarite, but it is an elaborately carved handsome chair).
The Abbot relays the "facts" of the case, the deaths of the two next most important officials.
TEXT OF HANDOUT
Hospital Master Aldred Bek died Nachgeheim 26th. Prior Holger Esker died two months later on Brauzeit 9th. Both were a full Mannslieb. Both men’s bodies were found on the slopes of the Knochenhügel (Hill of Bones) just under a mile from the Monastery.
Aldred was missing in the morning and a search made but his body was not found for 2 days, when Hammer Bearer Eldred came across it on Nachgeheim 28. The Prior’s body was found almost immediately as he was heard being attacked atop the Knochenhügel the night he died. Hammer Bearer Eldred came to help but found no attacker atop the hill by the time he arrived and the body was not found until morning.
Hammer Bearer Ortulf, an outdoorsman, found wolf tracks the second time, thus conclusion a wolf or wolves were responsible both times.
The men’s bodies were marked by cuts and their throats torn, consistent with a wolf attack while at the top of the hill and then falling off the steep edge and down the rocky slope. Both were attired normally and had all expected possessions. Aldred wore the mail shirt he always wore outside and carried a sword; the Abbot had his robes and warhammer. In both cases their weapons were drawn but neither appeared blooded.
Father Schadrach Burke, from Ubersreik’s Garden of Morr, came to give each proper rites. Master Aldred’s remains were interred in Ubersreik’s Garden of Morr on Nachgeheim 32 and Prior Holger was interred in the Monastery Vaults on Brauzeit 12 with the other deceased brethren.
The heroes then have the opportunity to converse with and question the Abbot (progress track based on lowest Intelligence, the Abbot does not suffer fools, Anselm extends it a space playing up noble connections, the Abbot also has his own special die outcomes, which Hans will trigger below).
The heroes begin a trend of minimal to great success mixed in with a great number of chaos stars during social interactions.
The Abbot is not impressed at suggestions goblins (with wolves) might be responsible - inquiry already tried and discarded, the Graf's men keep goblins from getting this far down out of mountains, goblins would have despoiled bodies etc., Aldred at least would have accounted for one or two and the greenskins aren't known for carrying off their dead.
Hans broaches the subject of the Hammer of Fosten explaining his Order's handing of profane artifact to him for destruction. Unfortunately, this sets the Abbot off - a profane artifact was brought within the monastery walls without warning!
Had the dice been positive the Abbot would have been helpful, honoured the Order thinks the monastery patron could be source of aid, but the dice said his reaction would be otherwise. - as GM letting the die roll really "take it wherever it goes" is part of my fun.
The Abbot summons hammer bearers to escort Hans and the artifact (meaning the cart with the heavy box it's transported in) off the property post haste and calls for a gathering of brethren later to pray and cleanse the courtyard. He reminesces about his days with Marius Felberg and what would have happened to foolish wizards mishandling artifacts then (Marius Felberg being famed as the Witch Hunter's Witch Hunter who always gets his man, 100% conviction rate with no successful appeals).
In the course of his tirade the Abbot also dismisses the idea of a hammer relic, Fosten had a hammer of course - you can see it in the murals (some of the best mural work you will see outside Altdorf says the Abbot) but it was not exceptional. The "story of Fosten" is the story of a common priest instilling bravery in common men to rise to the defence of the Empire and its people without the aid of magical artifacts or such (no wizards in it either).
Hans can expect a challenge die added to dealings with Abbot for at least this and next day, and the group's Favour generally with Monastery falls by 1 as word of this gaffe spreads.
The Abbot explains, when asked, about the Hill of Bones. So named because early attempts to plow lower parts kept turning up bones. Turns out it contains pre-Imperial Unberogen burials. There is a long-standing local legend that only a man pure of soul can survive a night atop the hill when Mannslieb is full.
Thus there is a sort of "rite" or "trial" one may undergo by attempting this "ordeal". The Abbot banned anyone from trying it without his permission four years ago after the last monk who tried it, Brother Dankmar, came down off it in a state viewed as problematic, a zealot's zealot. Brother Dankmar is now the new hosptial Master (appointed to replace the dead Aldred) since he certainly has the respect of the residents and the Abbot is hoping the responsibility sobers him up a bit.
The Abbot did not give permission to either man to attempt the rite and doesn't think Aldred would have - Father Erich agrees, Aldred was more a man of action who would prove any question of his character more directly. Prior Holger might have, he was made Prior by the Abbot when Strafke became Abbot as part of reversing the monstary's drift into the Red.
In the last years of the former Abbot Wolker's tenure, when the old Abbot was ailing, the brethren began to get more extreme and favour the "Sigmar alone is fit god for empire" school of thought (red monks). Prior Holger was a good pure-doctrined disciplinarian and "helped beat the red out of straying minds." This didn't make him popular and made some question him thus he might have wanted to prove himself.
The red monk faction is something I got from an old issue of Warpstone.
Father Erich tells the Abbot of hearing a monk talking with a wild looking fellow in the village (sounding red in their talk now that it is thought of). The description matches Sacrist Herbord Fromm. The Abbot sighs and shakes his head, "our last little red", he will tell Prior Walther (the new Prior replacing Holger Esker) to follow up.
The Abbot is wistful for Esker over this. Walther's a good man, been with the Abbot for years, but he has a soft heart and favours avoiding confrontations. Esker would have had Fromm doing 36 hours of prayer prostrate on a stone cold floor, Walther will probably tell him to contemplate his error while churning butter or something.
The man Fromm was talking to is identified as the hermit Volker. He was expelled/left the monastery when it reversed its drift into red doctrine and now lives in a cave nearby.
The heroes are givena handout with a list of all the monks and hammer bearers etc of note and all the locations of note (imagine if the list of clue characters and locations).
The Abbot doesn't have much else to say but seemed sincere to the heroes' (Hans employing his intuition on the way out the door).
It's getting to 2:00 in afternoon and heroes split up to interview different people.
Hans is taking care of finding a place in the village for the cart with his profane artifact. Eva Mueller the miller's widow rents out a room, and has a shed with a lock (a fine place to store a profane artifact). A handsome woman if you can look past her 35+ years (time tells fast on a person in the Old World if you're lower class, bloom falls from the rose quickly). Hans being a Light Order wizard is not going to be good company for her however.
Anselm goes to see Sacrist Fromm. The Sacrist is responsible for monatery relics and treasures. Anselm "the face" plays up wanting to see relics of Fosten out of holy respect etc which impresses Fromm (boatload of eagles, undoes the negative influence on Favour from Hans' gaffe). He sees Fosten's sandles and belt, but confirms there is no "hammer relic". The Sacrist does remark some things didn't survive "the fire".
Findulas goes to the village with Hans and finds hammer bearer Eldred to interview. Hans joins him and they verify the facts of the Abbot's story but discover (sensing some dishonesty in Eldred's account) that when Eldred went there with the Prior and heard growls of something atop hill attacking Prior - he did not race up the path to find nothing, he fled the scene - terrified of whatever that was atop the Knockenhügel on the night of full moon.
As the afternoon wears on (clock advances - I am using the 12 hour clock gadget from the Elder Sign boardgame to track time on table),
Father Erich talks to the new Prior, Walther, a thin man in his 40’s with intelligent eyes and a neat tonsure. large boxer-like Tilean hound accompanies him. He "walks and talks" with Father Erich with a progress track for how long the interview can last based on Fellowship (instead of Intelligence as was case with Abbot). Father Erich presents the vellum and other materials he purchased earlier and Prior Walther is favourably impressed (fortune die).
Walther is questioned about the 'red' issues and if that might have lead to murder, the connection of Fromm and Volker. Walther doesn't think Fromm would be a part of violence (it's sad to watch his feeeble efforts during morning hammer time practice) but zealot-like Volker or Dankmar for that matter could explode and kill someone any time.
Findulas and Hans also find hammer bearer Ortulf to question about the tracks. The mountain of a man Ortulf is with his smaller framed sly looking friend hammer bearer Elkil when they find him. Elkil wants to stay and speak for Ortulf but Hans invokes his air of authority and forces him to leave, though not before he reassures Ortulf not to be scared and remember they can't do anything to you without the Abbot's permission and the Abbot takes care of us. Hans is angry at this "coaxing".
Findulas takes over talking to Ortulf, who is a bit forlorn at his friend going away but seems fascinated by the elf. Ortful speaks slowly with a bit of a stutter but questioned gently by the elf he confirms he found wolf tracks - but larger than a normal wolf, and that they appeared and vanished atop the hill, "a g-ghost w-w-wolf". Ortulf ceases to be informative after that as he looks around more and more distressed to see where Felkil has got to.
Hans considers what limited information they have (torn throats, terrifying growl - Eldred said it was much more than just a dog-like growl, which he imagines is what a wolf would sound like), wolf-like tracks but larger) with his Education and intellect (which he has recently honed to 6!). He comes up with a list of: mutant wolves, chaos wolves, Hounds of Knorne (daemon hounds), shapeshifters (hmm, amber wizards), werewolves or even Strigoi vampires like the one the heroes met previously rescuing Lady Agnetha.
We break with Father Erich and Anselm about to go to the hospital to interview Master Dankmar - the only man around who has survived a night atop the Hill of Bones when Mansslieb is full.
Anselm is speculating on a red monk being a werewolf but his companions are unsure if this is the tale telling of the charlatan or the insight of the seer.
A while ago, I was asked to post images of my table and stuff I use. I got around finally to putting some up on my infrequently updated blog: