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herrquisling

The Enemy Within (Göteborg, Sweden)

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The battle of Waldorf

 

Yes, well, there was a battle. Never intended for there to be one. Just a nice but tricky encounter to force some cooperation and perhaps trust between the witch hunter and the pc:s. Oh, well.

 

The coach traveled on, stopping for a short rest where Adele points out that they need to pass through a village an hour down the road, because there's a bridge that needs to be crossed. Kühnheit knows of the village, says there's nothing about it. Von Stangel raises the possibility that it's been attacked.

 

Onwards, and as they draw closer to the village Waldenfrau observes that there are no people about, which alarms her somewhat. Adele says that either they've been warned or they've been attacked.

 

Onwards, and Kühnheit who rides front guard a couple of turns ahead of the coach sees a sign, saying “Waldorf, population 160” and a couple of boots lying in the grass and lots of blood. He also rolls a chaos star and is attacked by beastmen whom he easily scatters.

 

No matter, still onwards, and the village is sighted up ahead. The banner of Khorne has been raised, heads are staked on the palisade and marauders are lounging about the open gates. A bad sign? Nope. Charge!

 

I tried. I tried to hint that caution might be needed. What's ahead is basically the none-shall-pass-chaos-warrior-encounter, but with a village filled with marauders, beastmen and no-one else alive. I imagined lots of ways the pc:s could have drawn the troops out, or even magicked their way across the river, but no! Alas, they attack. A village. 30 marauders, 20 beastmen, 1 wargor and 1 chaos warrior of Khorne. Not that they know the count, but a village massacred? They should have seen it coming.

 

Charging into ten marauders who were somewhat surprised isn't difficult to survive. They were smashed apart, quickly, and the coach and Kühnheit on his war-horse got through into the village. There, the opposition thickened. Bow-men were shooting from a roof, more marauders and beastmen came running to have a go at the coach and the knight. Shots were fired, blows landed, wounds inflicted, heads bashed, limbs cut, bones broken et.c.

 

Reinhardt got on top of the coach to fire his pistol, holding on for his life (literally!) but managed to slip and fall off, onto the street. He was attacked by two marauders who came running after the coach, but one stabbed the other (redirect) and was himself slain by Fräulein Waldenfrau's magic. The coach slowed enough to let Reinhardt run after it and get inside.

 

Joseph Köhler, the sigmarite, had been flogged in Middenheim and wasn't really up for a fight (4 wounds left, 1 critical wound, queasy condition, insane) but said a prayer to Sigmar, went berzerk and jumped out of the coach when it slowed and ran up to the big melee where Kühnheit fought everyone and their mother. Together, they killed or drove off them all.

 

In one way or another, everyone had been involved, fighting from the doors of the coach or from the roof or on the ground. As they moved forward towards the bridge, they were in a sorry shape. Kühnheit, riding his war-horse in front of the coach said nothing of his wounds, but as it turned out he'd taken quite a few hits during the battles he'd fought that day.

 

The death of a knight

 

Coming up on the bridge spanning the river, the pc:s saw lots of beastmen off to the side of the bridge, with a massive wargor in their midst. With goat-faced braying or wolf-snouted howling, they greeted the pc:s but didn't attack. On the other side of the bridge were grinning marauders, some wielding those horse-bows of theirs. And on the bridge, an iron-clad knight, one of the chosen of Khorne, a chaos warrior. He held up his hand and called out “Halt”. After a brief (not so brief in real time) hesitation, Kühnheit held in his reins and the coach came to a halt behind him.

 

A challenge followed (“Wolf-boy, dare you face me? Beat me and you'll be free to cross. Or would the witch-huntress like to have a go first? I'd like to spend some time with you, pretty girl!”) and Kühnheit (who could never back down) accepted. The other players and I didn't know at the time that he had seven wounds left and suffered from two previous crits.

 

Kühnheit threw down his shield and let his sword-belt fall to the ground, got off his horse and unslung his two-handed hammer and unfolded the banner of the white wolf. The chaos warrior readied his long, black rune-blade and yelled “Wolf-boy, I hope that shaggy god of yours isn't busy banging his ***** Shallya or he'll be to distracted by her c**t to watch you die. Help you he cannot!”.

 

The first blow struck the chaos warrior hard enough break bones and blood leaked between the armor plates. He attacked in wounded frenzy with frightening speed, but Kühnheit held him off and pushed him off with the hammer and came on hard, swinging but the chaos warrior locked his hammer with the rune-blade and shoved the white wolf off balance. “Blood for the blood god!” he yelled and the rune-blade bit deep into Kühnheits skull, killing him. Two crits, seven wounds, another crit for going down to zero wounds... death.

 

Von Stangel leapt onto the coach, beside Adele and she lashed out with her whip, the coach rolling up the bridge. The beastmen charge after them, arrows being shot from the other side of the bridge. Reinhardt shoots his gun and hand-crossbow, hitting the chaos warrior in the face and sees him topple over the railing. The beastmen try to pull them down from or out of the wagon, but the pc:s hold them off and the coach gains speed. They smash through the marauders and onto the other side of the river at high speed.

 

End of session.  

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Onwards, briefly

 

The pc:s discussed whether to retrieve the corpse of the knight or not, but exiting the village on a wave of blood and gore, plowing through numerous marauders and being followed by rather upset riders whilst being on the brink of death provided the winning argument for the "no-way"-side. Consisting of everyone but the sigmarite. 

 

Getting a new pc-replacement in the form of another witch-hunter who told an improbable story about being captured by the red crown was bad for digestion. No one likes a witch hunter. No one likes two. Double trouble. "They'll soon outnumber us", Joseph complained. Dark looks and nods.

 

Nothing improves the health like a trip through the dark and ominous woods of the empire! Lots of time to recover. When some red-eyed rat-people come sneaking in to cut your throats, it's just an excuse to get of your behind and do some running. Chasing. Catching at least one of the skaven who'd stolen some book. No snack for the rat-pack. 

 

Arriving in a proper town a week later or so is great. Good food, great beds, but big rats in the kitchen. And hundreds in the cellar. And sword-wieleding ones swinging in ninja-style through the windows (like in a classic scene from the classic warhammer-setting book only the gm has read). This really upset the stomachs of the pc:s. Sticky, melted rat-goo everywhere.

 

But the magic rat said that the bell capper was bad, probably meaning good, and that was all right then? They decided to ask Waldenfrau when they'd dug out those warpstone throwing stars which had lodged in her back, doing lots of damage and corruption. She'll become a mutant soon if this keeps happening.

 

End of session

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Altdorf, finally!

 

(you might get the impression that we're getting nowhere these past sessions, this one included, and that's correct. the following events and creatures conspire to distract and delay us: 2 pregnant wives, 4 girlfriends, 4 kids, 3 cats, 1 horse, 1 new job, 1 renovated kitchen, 1 newly purchased apartment, 1 diseased player, 1 research project, 1 case of girlfriend working late on game night and 1 unplanned trip to another city)

 

So the witch huntress actually broke down, crying, when she learned about the rats evaluation of the bell clapper. She claimed it was because of "All the suffering and the sacrifice which citizens of the empire have made in handling or destroying corrupt artifacts, which might now be avoided". Later that night the pc:s whispered about her really wanting to be cured from her own mutations. But after Anna, how could they judge the witch hunter? 

 

A journey on the waterways of the empire was a welcome respite from the eternal jostling on the coach through the dark woods. Sun, rest and having nothing to do improved the party's health and spirits. Perhaps Reinhardt relaxed a bit too much, since two river trolls almost ate von Stangel for lunch during one lazy afternoon. Not to mention Fräulein Waldenfrau being crushed by a thrown tree-trunk (she recovered, eventually). 

 

The only cloud on the otherwise clear skies was that Reinhardt got worse. His disease seemed to reach a terminal phase as he drew two new painful symptoms, his body preparing to say goodbye and thank you for the Fish (of which he'd been a member back in Avernheim). 

 

Arriving in Altdorf, the gm had a hard time selling the fact that a small map from an old 2nd edition adventure was all he'd got to show, but he told them about the people, the smells, the wonderful architecture and tall towers of Altdorf and they gave him the benefit of doubt (whilst looking at the Shallyan blessings to find a way to bribe the priestesses to save Reinhardt).

 

Upon disembarking, the two witch hunters gave the pc:s directions to the Wayfarer's rest (upgraded to strictly silver tier) and told them that they'd meet there by the evening. None were too sorry to see them skulk away. Still, there was the problem of them carrying around a small chest with the ball clapper and a rather heavy chest containing Oppenheim's books and research. They really wanted to keep all nasty little rat-paws and cultist's tentacles away from items, and eyed the open sewers suspiciously. "There's bound to be some old tunnels beneath this town as well, right?"

 

During the river journey, the pc:s and Adele had had plenty of time to talk about this little issue. von Stangel and Joseph had wanted to go straight to the temple of Sigmar, but upon learning that they'd be unlikely to ever see the items again (Adele counted on the pc:s wanting to see things through properly themselves) and the fact that they'd never find the impossible corner which led to the College of Light, Adele persuaded them to take the items straight to Luminary Mauer. Considering her previous opinions on the good wizard, the pc:s couldn't but agree that this might be for the best (although Waldenfrau was quite open with her distrust of the wizard because of the grey-order cantrip cast on the artifact). 

 

Anyway, a brief walk through the city, across Karl Franz Brücke and the great squares found the pc:s standing in all their rural splendor in front of the Imperial Palace. Digging out the old letter sealed by Mauer with the sigil of the College of Light, they sent a messenger to get Mauer since they expected him to be by the Emperor¨s side. Eventually, they found him in a large boarding house elsewhere in the Palace District and paid him a surprise visit. 

 

Having caught up, having a lot of catching up to do, they got down to business. von Stangel was suspicious about the Emperor's fall from the skies and about no real physician or priestess getting to see him. Waldenfrau was suspicious about the wizard himself. Mauer was suspicious about the pc:s dealings with Adele. And no-one trusted the luminary not to lose the research and the bell clapper to some filthy rats or cultists if left in his care in the boarding house. The luminary reluctantly argued against the paranoia, since he'd really had no reason to suspect what the gm had planned for his sister to do, but eventually he found himself agreeing with the pc:s. "Yes, it might be best if you had lunch in the courtyard below and if Waldenfrau assisted me in examining the bell-clapper and the research and if you escorted me, blades drawn to the College of Light". 

 

The gm tried to bore the pc:s with a lot of humming and as the hours passed, Mauer had to say that the taint seemed to be gone. He then went on to read the research, thoroughly, claiming this might take days. The pc:s decided to stay. And a messenger came calling from the Palace, sending for the luminary who picked up his hat and left (the gm finally having decided that Katarina Mauer will be able to trick the luminary into giving her access to the artifact in the college of light, since corrupted people actually have an easier time entering the college than others, even if it means that she'll have to openly betray him). 

 

Waldenfrau had used her intuition and was now sure that the good Wizard knew more about that grey-order cantrip than he let on. But did that mean he was a warlock? Hmmm...

 

It's just after lunch on the 22nd of Vorgesheim and that was the End of this session

Edited by herrquisling

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Second session in Altdorf (still the first day).

 

This is how I tried to sum up the pc:s' first experience of Altdorf in writing:

 

As the barge was tied down at the docks by something called ”fork wharf”, you all got to see and smell Altdorf close up for the first time. At least two gangs of stevedores where waiting close by to see if they can get work once Yan and Also Yan have dealt with the burger who has approached them, seeking fees and cargo manifests. You, however, get to disembark without attracting much attention. Except from seedy-looking early drinker who seize you up, hung-over whores who wearily try to catch your attention and a couple of bored-looking watchmen in red-and-blue uniforms who eye your arms and armour and seem to decide your not worth the trouble.

 

Following the witch-hunters down the road by the river, you are constantly jostled by people who bump into or are bumped into by you (carrying those bags and the small chest with the artifact, and Oppenheims books, scrolls and scribbles). The stench of human sweat, dirty beards, the Fischmarkt, the river itself and the open sewage drains from Niederhafen (draining straight into the river) is remarkable. Some of you are probably eyeing the sculpture outside river-front tavern “the breasts of Myrmidia” (which seems a bit disrespectful to an Avernlander...). As you come up by the Three Toll Bridge (“don't use that one”, Holde says) you can see down the Street of a Hundred Taverns. Well, you can see the Street Sign anyway, since this street is also packed close with people, carts, coaches, wagons, day-labourers, watch-men, people watching the watchmen, enclosed chairs carried by what surely-can't-be-slaves and others. Criers call out names of taverns and what they have to offer you, trying hard to out-shout the competition. Adele says your are to meet this evening at Wayfarer's rest, an upper silver-tier establishment down by Königsplatz.

 

Leaving the witch-hunters behind, you walk down the river with what's called Universität Bezirk on your right (the university quarter or block, that is). Holde points out a large privately owned Observatory with a huge domed roof on top of the impossibly high building. Come to think of it, no buildings are less than four stories high, and all small streets, roads and alleys you spot are in constant shadow from the overhanging upper stories. No easy feat, to climb one of those.

 

Further down the river you come upon the majestic Karl-Franz Brücke. On this side, the Gold Order have their Collegium. It is… opulent. On the other side of the river, you can spot the towers and spires of the Imperial Place above the rooftops. You manage to cross the bridge, in spite of it being more crowded than the aqueduct-bridges where when you left Middenheim and they were filled with fleeing refugees.

 

As you navigate the streets towards the Palace District, you can't help but to be impressed. The common burger seems to be living a a house more splendid than the Journey's End inn in Avernheim. Although there is a lot of people, so they must be as closely packed inside the buildings as out on the streets, you imagine. Once you actually have found the gates in the high walls surrounding the Palace, you find yourself on something called Kaiserplatz. Nearby, you see the huge Cathedral which serves as the Temple Of Sigmar. A lot of people are gathered here, probably too meet or to seek to petition the city's leaders. Messengers are standing by the gates, which are closed, as are a lot of armed Reiksguard (and that's not ornamental blades they're carrying).

 

Once you've established where Luminary Mauer is to be found, you follow the errand-boy's directions into the Palace District with the lavish buildings of the really golden citizens. A whole block has seemingly been turned into a set of apartments, connected by stairs and walkways and labeled “Laurel's rest”. This is where Mauer lives, and it seems to be all apartments and luxurious dining- and social areas, all set at prices to discourage all but the very cream of the Empire to even set their foot on the doorstep. Not being easily turned away, you ignore the bouncer-soldier-guards and manage to hold up your letter from the College of Light which as always manages to clear your path from any and all obstacles. Reinhardt spots a couple of Reiksguard lounging about inside, which is of course far above their pay-grade, so someone has protection. And then you are there.   

 

Session start

 

In this session, I wanted a number of things to happen, which didn't. And I had planed for the one-day events to actually occur on one day, tomorrow, but this required some quick thinking to stall the players who were itching for spoiling my plans.

 

The pc:s had a clue from Markheim's ledgers in Middenheim. They knew that he'd been doing business behind the back of Graf Aschenbeck with someone called Bertold Basserman and that it involved the Dancing Dwarf, a tavern on the Street of a Hundred Taverns. Whilst von Stangel took Reinhardt to the Shallyans to implore them to bless the terminally ill man, brother Köhler and the witch-hunter Erich Gerber (who'd been sent back by Adele to keep an eye on things as she had some things to follow up on, she didn't say what) goes to see if they can find this Bertold-fellow. Waldenfrau stayed behind in Mauer's apartments to keep an eye on the artifact since the good luminary had been called away. 

 

Sending an ordained member of the martial order of the Cult of Sigmar in full combat dress to a seedy tavern is not the way to get people talking. Except that they become very good at excusing themselves and leaving. The witch-hunter was incognito but he isn't really a people-person. Although pulling the barkeep across the bar by the scruff of his neck and asking for Bertold got the attention of Bertold and his two large Klauses.

 

Since I wanted the action to get started on the morrow, I had to fast talk a bit in this scene.

 

Joseph introduced himself as himself and in short told Bertold that he wasn't what he seemed to be and that he represented Markheim who wanted to move his business to Altdorf because of "recent events" and that he had some proposals to the effect. He wanted a chance to have a private chat with the man. Bertold recognized Köhler (intelligence from Avernheim, he knows nothing about Middenheim except rumors of a siege) and knew that he wasn't the enemy, but he might be able to use him if he could get off the hook. Thus, Bertold bascially told Köhler that he knew who Markheim was and got Joseph to accept that they'd meet in the morning when he'd had the time to speak to some of his backers. 

 

Erich Gerber, the witch hunter, recognized the fact that Bertold probably knew who Köhler was, but said nothing and just reported this to Adele later the same day. Bertold intends to act by TEW, but in the company of lots of armed thugs and face-to-face instead of sending a letter.

 

Meanwhile, von Stangel successfully convinced the Shallyans to bless Reinhardt, going on about both the heroic exploits and the services to the Empire that this man had done and about "substantial donations". 

 

Some good rolling had them donating 150 silvers in the end. One of Reinhardt's symptoms disappeared, making his nightly rest less likely to kill him. 

 

At the same time, Waldenfrau had an important visitor. A Wizard Lord of the College of Light came to collect the artifact and the writings of Oppenheim and to question Waldenfrau closely (he'd had a messenger from Mauer). The Wizard Lord was skeptical, unbelieving even, as to the effect of the bell-clapper having been sanctified. Waldenfrau made her best efforts to explain all that she knew about it, up to and including the fact that she was actually unconscious for a while during the ritual proceedings, the fact that the artifact had been stored in the temple of Ulric for some days and that it had been ensorcelled by a grey order spell. She impresses the Wizard Lord, who then haughtily tells her that it is unfortunate that she's already been trained by the Jade Wizards, since she's obviously fit for "a higher calling" (his order, that is). 

 

As the pc:s gathered back in Mauer's apartments, they decided that Köhler and Gerber were going to Wayfarer's Rest to wait for the others, Waldenfrau was going to report to her order and Reinhardt and von Stangel would stake out the Dancing Dwarf to be able to follow Bertold to his lair. Gerber left Köhler at the inn to report to witch hunter HQ and to gather some equipment and silver and Köhler found himself drinking alone, watching people and feeling a bit lost. He got to see his first High Elf, though!  

 

By this time I have come to realize that the pc:s are not going to contact Kaufman (they don't even know that he is here, come to think of it) or Bauerfaust. I'd have liked them to go to Kaufman, tell him about Anna and have Kaufman try to use Adele into assassinating Bauerfaust. We'll see about that… And they are not going to get a chance to be found by Clothilde, who has a lot of things to say to von Stangel. And if the pc:s manage to get the net closed around Bertold, it'll upset the schedule for tomorrow. So this is what happened:

 

Bertold was nowhere to be found. Von Stangel left and by chance he was hailed by a familiar voice just outside the Temple of Drama, Clothilde! She was delighted to see him and invited him for a glass of wine. In a private dining room in the Crown and two Chairmen the following things came to be said:

  • Clothilde always attends the summer season in Altdorf, there are balls, dinner parties, plays and other important things a young noblewoman must see to.
  • Kaufman and Mauer and Marcus are all in town, and Wulfgang as well, lovely. 
  • Wulfgang would in fact benefit from not tying to make himself dumber than he is.
  • Of course Clothilde had politics in mind when visiting Altdorf. Especially now.
  • She wants an imperial delegate to make a ruling on the Electorship issue in Avernheim, which is in disorder and corrupted at this pivotal time. What if Avernland has no elector and what if the Emperor dies or is unfit to rule?
  • Wulfgang would like to see the Iron Countess on the Electoral Seat, rather than a Leitdorf.
  • Wulfgang is yes in fact free and has got nothing especially important to do the next couple of weeks
  • Clothilde wants to be rid off the constant problem with suitors and would-be-lovers by having a young noble, capable, able to speak for Avernland through his own experiences, someone who's a bit of a hero of the empire by all accounts, and who could join her in her mission to petition for imperial intervention in Avernland (borrowing heavily from Valvorik, as usual).
  • Since Wulfgang can only say yes to everything, he soon has agreed and is informed by the suddenly all-business Grafin that he is required to accompany her to the opening of Cobweb Castle tomorrow afternoon, to the evening prayer for the emperor the same evening, and to the ball at Stirland's Electoral Palace the day after tomorrow. To start with. 
  • And by the way, there's a side-quest about finding missing props for the temple of drama - why yes I'd be delighted to fulfill your promises to the director, Clothilde! Well, the players accept that the story must go on, after all.

At about seven in the evening, all pc:s are gathered at the Wayfarer's rest. People are coming in to see the performance of the great Ozelli and the pc:s are discussing their plans. Waldenfrau is quite upset with von Stangel for abandoning all their plans, Anna and what-not for a large bosom and a smile and party tension keeps rising as lots of things are said which should perhaps have been best left unsaid. 

 

The pc:s have a meeting on the morrow with Bertold, a servant of chaos in all probability, or at least someone who can lead them to cultists. Wulfgang says that there's something fishy about the temple of drama, "remember that rumor we heard about them using live beastmen on stage?" So the pc:s decide to get to the temple now, not later, not to have it interfere with their plans for the morning. The actors are probably all there anyway, rehearsing, since the grand opening is tomorrow. 

 

I'll have to stall them! I look at my metaphysical watch. It says that I can get away with it being about eight in the evening. So enter Great Ozelli.

 

The pc:s and players are having a good laugh and we are actually seeing Reinhardt get into the spirit of things, throwing a tankard after the high and might elf when he departs after his snide remarks. But after the first movement, they start to get their stuff back together.

 

"Guys, should you check in first. You are after all still carrying around, well, everything?"

 

Works like a charm, the money-issue has been a long-standing issue with the pc:s. von Stangel still has to come to grips with the reality of finances, Waldenfrau has always got a lot of coins which she reluctantly uses for anything but books and essential supplies, Reinhardt never has any (until he coughs up 150 silvers at the temple of Shallya) and Köhler always lends his money to von Stangel (and never gets repaid). Eventually, they have settled things with the proprietor. "We'll just dump our things on the mattresses and then we go knocking at the temple of Drama, spoiling our GM:s plans for tomorrow!"

 

Oh no, you're not. Enter gun-powder incident. 

 

The witch hunter eventually makes himself heard over the sound of the Great Ozelli's second movement, putting on his black hat, slamming his axe into the bar and shouting for everyone to get out. He then demonstrates what the powder is to the astonished lingering guests and staff, whilst brother Köhler silences the great Ozelli who has not noticed anything (his eyes are closed whilst performing) and finally gets through to last members of the audience (who has drunk a lot, but not more than that the sudden realization that everyone else is gone makes their flight-fight instincts kick in, and so they're off). 

 

Investigations into the beer cellar and threats to the proprietor make it clear to the pc:s that the barrel seems to have ended up at Wayfarer's rest by accident (or the barkeep is lying and is in on it, the witch hunter has him believing that he's committed treason and will be summary executed if he doesn't cooperate and his quite good at intimidation). The witch hunter has some guardsmen remove the barrel after it has been determined that there is no more gunpowder to be had and the pc:s finally get to dump their things, lock up the inn and go to… the Cat and Fiddle. To the Four Seasons local office. 

 

Better than them going to the temple, and it's now officially about eleven pm. By the way, the office is of course closed at this hour!

 

"Closed, you say? So none of the staff are there. No spare key? Well, will find our own way in. Make sure no-one disturbs us." 

 

Damned witch hunters. But investigation gun-powder theft believed to be instigated by cultists is definitely under their authority.

 

Reinhardt quickly picks the lock, and while von Stangel and Köhler have a beer (by now, von Stangel is intoxicated, having drunk his fair share at various establishments: at Laurel's Rest, the Dancing Dwarf, Bruno's Brewhouse, Wayfarer's Rest and now in the Cat and Fiddle), Waldenfrau and Reinhardt go through the records. A hard check later, they find what they are looking for (specifically, records of the Avernland Brown Ale deliveries and of any complaints about a missing barrel). 

 

But this takes time, it is now about one am and the call for last orders is heard. The GM saved almost all of the action for the next day! Hurray!

 

The pc:s walk back to Wayfarer's Rest, telling von Stangel how he seems to have been right in his hunch about the Temple of Drama. They retire after making some kind of schedule for tomorrow's activities.

 

End of session.

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In the case of someone waiting for more posts, there will be a shortage of them for a month or so since my second son was born on the 1st of March. Altdorf is on hold until the 31st or so. But we shall return!

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Meanwhile

 

I sent this to the players just to remind them of what's coming in a few weeks (it is easy to get into something new when waiting, the others are already playing the swedish fantasy rpg EON and we are planning for our next campaign in the soon-to-be-released-but-we-have-a-pdf post-apocalypse swedish rpg Mutant: År Noll).

 

Some of the items thrown into this post is as usual to be accredited to Valvorik.

 

As the new day dawns, the streets of Altdorf are covered in rolling veils of mist. With dawn comes the witch huntress, Adele, and she bears tidings of the night having been dark indeed, and when you combine what you've learnt, it seems like the coming day will be filled with more things than you can possibly manage. You'll have to make some choices.

 

You tell Adele about the gunpowder, and about your suspicions (she knows some of what passed since Erich reported to witch hunter HQ and sent a barrel there during the night). The temple of Drama, suspicious disappearances, possible gun powder plot. A meeting with a supposed cultist associate at the Dancing Dwarf.

 

In addition to this, Adele tells you that Kaufman has apparently sold a lot of the items from the expedition to a Professor Mandelbrot at the Universität. He is to make a public lecture about these items at noon, and what more is: he has been under the suspicion of heresy for some time because of his writings. If he actually brings up any of his writings in the lecture, he might be arrested and then they can question him.

 

What more is: the witch hunters and the sigmarites have the inn called Priest's Den near Tempelgarten under surveillance and have had for some time. The reason being that some sedicious elements have taken to meeting there, and when Adele brought news of the missing gun-powder, she was told that there had been to many deliveries of wine there from Avernland weeks ago. The same kind found in Middenheim.

 

Adele also has some disturbing news from the College of Light, it seems to have been an incident there and the Luminary has been hurt. She knows nothing more since she heard of this just when she left to speak to you. Herself, she is now going to try to see Kaufman about the sale of the expedition items and then she will try to the the College of Light to talk to her about Mauer. She knows not where he is right now.

 

She hesitates. “I'll not manage all of this on my own, you have things to do – a lot of them, and things seem to be moving fast, To fast perhaps. I'm worried about the artifact, the bell-clapper, and about the gun-powder and everything. There might not be time for me... for anyone... the conspiracy is here, I know it. The black cowl, whoever he is.... Take care.”

 

And of course, you also have some social engagements today, at least von Stangel does. An opening of Cobweb Castle and the Prayer Service for the Emperor. With the most beautiful noblewoman in the Reich.   

 

As you can probably tell, the idea is the wrap up the campaign fast before we lose interest and wander off to other gaming worlds than the Empire. The player's have felt a bit lost since they left Avernheim where they'd built up a life for their pc:s and it is time to end this soon. Preferably in two to four sessions. We'll see.

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Back at the gaming table!

...and we´re back in Altdorf. The Joy!

 

At the temple of drama

 

At dawn, or not much thereafter, our heroes went to the Temple of Drama to search for the barrels of gunpowder they expected to find there. Easily gaining entrance, since they had legit reasons for being there (Clothilde sent them to find the missing props) they soon found themselves enduring the endless ranting of the leader of the Mummers. Who in passing mentioned that his lead actor had gone missing during the night. And that what they had lost was a giant spider.

 

The heroes (actually, not all of them since the witch hunter and his player were not there) blunder about for a while, eying the doom-trackers slowly building up, and manage to find the barrels (only 24 of them) and eventually the spider (easily bundled up by brother Köhler and Reinhardt, using a grab-stick, a blanket and some rope) and the gun-powder. There is much rejoicing, but some of the actors seem to believe that the main actor has been eaten.

 

The heroes can count and know that two barrels are missing (they aren't, but it keeps them on their toes, they think the barrels are hidden somewhere in the theatre) and that they are one hour late for their meeting with suspected cultists at the Dancing Dwarf. Feeling that time is running out, they manage some subterfuge, ending up carrying the three barrels of gunpowder out of the theater and leaving it with a message for the witch hunters at the nearest Watch Station. Never mind the actor or the fact that they can't add up the facts of the spider and the gunpowder both being hidden in the same place. Why take the spider at all when all it does is draw attention to the temple of drama and cause a search to be initiated?

 

By the way, they never told anyone that the spider hadn't escaped on its own.

 

A deal with the devil

 

One hour late, brother Köhler enters the tavern alone, in full armour, and makes his way to Bertholds table and sits down opposite him. Berthold, the Klauses and another half-dozen thugs were waiting but have now been caught off guard by the late appearance of the priest.

 

Köhler begins the old routine about the business proposition, but is interrupted and Berthold makes it perfectly clear that he knows who and what Köhler and his friends are. Köhler then asks wether they'll all come willingly or not... which is taken quite seriously by the cultists. But, they suggest a deal. The enemy of my enemy et.c. and proceed to sell Friedrich Gross as a way to get to the Black Cowl (and perhaps getting an elf out of trouble). Berthold and friends will leave town this very day, or they'll end up dead themselves. This is revenge. Vengeance. Payback. (for what? Köhler never asks, although I try to make him).

 

Anyway, the deal is on. To the surprise of Köhler's friends who are waiting outside, itching for a good fight. I even tried to poke Köhler into doing something rash by having things moving under the jacket of one of the thugs, tentacle-style. But no. He actually played the scene in conservative, a first for the brother.

 

The hunt for Gross

 

The black bat and some intimidation leaves the heroes with the knowledge that Gross is going by a false name and is about to leave. His dealings with the fish seems to be the obvious things to investigate. They assume that in speaking to one of the Fish, they risk alerting Gross. So the players choose another path. Of course.

 

They find an official at the docks who knows that the elf arrived yesterday and by what ship, proceed to hail the large sailing ship from Marienburg and learn where the elf was staying. At the crown they learn, after dealing with stiff upper lips, that the elf checked himself into the gasthaus but then left and didn't come back. Being a strict upper class establishment, they're worried about the high-profile costumer of theirs and tell the pc:s that the elf was going to travel on to Avernheim shortly. They don't know much more, but can confirm that the elf was the same elf whom Köhler saw last night at the great Ozzelie's performance.

 

Then they get back on track. Almost. They get Reinhardt to find out that the Black Bat is paying racketeering money to the Fish for “protection” and assume that the innkeep knows more than he's been letting on. So he does. And they learn that they'll probably find Gross at another tavern on the street of a hundred such.

 

Meanwhile, Waldenfrau and von Stangel has gone back to the temple of drama to find the last two barrels. They eventually manage to figure out that those have been opened, not containing gun powder. They still search the wine cellar, again, to really make sure.

 

Now, the time is after noon and the grand opening of the Cobweb Castle is in less than an hour. Von Stangel hurries back to the inn to freshen up, Waldenfrau hides in the old storeroom to see if whoever hid the barrels come for them during the play and Köhler and Reinhardt go looking for Gross. And find him, leaving a silver-tier-going-on-gold-tier-establishment. They decide to shadow him, but in spite of a glorious amount of dice rolled, fail, and Gross runs for it.

 

The chase scene makes great fun. Some improvising keeps Reinhardt on the track, in spite of having an Athletics roll of two blue dice... he just ends up far behind Köhler and Gross. Eventually, having had his fun, Gross is at the end of his endurance and Köhler jumps onto the pier, gripping his hammer in anger. Some of the Fish come running at Gross' call for help, but the angered warrior priest gives on a knee in the groin and hammers one in the chest before they are upon him. He wrestles them, letting go of his hammer to grab one by the throat, throwing him into the river and finally smashing the edge of his shield in the face of the last thug just as Gross has drawn his rapier, prepared to run Köhler through. Köhler uses his momentum, spins, gripping the haft of the hammer and smashes Gross' sword hand. The rapier clatters to the ground, and as Reinhardt finally hauls himself up onto the pier, they've got Gross in a corner. Figuratively speaking.

 

(Reckless Cleave, Judgement of Vengeance and Who's next was all it took to lay the opposition to waste)

 

Rescuing the elf

 

Köhler is faced with an arrogant Gross, who tries to stall and makes empty threats, and is forced to give him one in the kidneys and pull a small sack over his head before he gets him to come with the priest to their inn. Gross tried to get away by telling the heroes that the vessel which the elf was on would leave any minute, but that only got Reinhardt to go running for the guards (having learnt the name of the ship).

 

Now, unfortunately, Reinhardt does not carry much authority with the watchmen. Being a thief-agent-assassin-marksman-shade of man from another distant city with a tale of kidnapped Ulthuan elves isn't easy. So he gets laughs and threats from the watchmen. And does one of the first brave things in his life. He runs to the docks on his own to get the elf free before the ship leaves.

 

Meanwhile, von Stangel arrives back at the temple of drama and is escorted by one of Clothilde's ladies to the noble's box where she is awaiting him. The play is just about to start. In the bar upstairs, von Kaufman and von Stangel meet for the first time in months. They talk, briefly, Kaufman enquiring about von Stangel's health and such, before deciding to meet after the Prayer Service to the emperor. Kaufman also invites the rest of the heroes to the Prayer Service, jesting about how Clothilde might withdraw hers now that von Stangel has failed his escort duties.

 

Reinhardt, upon finding her, the ship that is, sees that's she's a small sailing boat and that she's not really ready for departure yet. Gross lied. Surprise. Two men are guarding the ship, with at least one more man aboard. He sees their tattoos and rolling up his sleeves to show his own (he used to be a member of the Fish in Altdorf, after all) he simply walks up to the guards, telling them that there's been some trouble and that he is going aboard to speak to “them”. It works like a charm.

 

On the ship, our hero is confronted by the armed and obviously dangerous sailor who is not one of the Fish. Reinhardt says that people might be on to them, and that he needs to check on the elf. This is met by some suspicion, but he gets away with it, learning that “the other three are below, one guarding the pointy-eared fellow”.

 

Walking down the steps, Reinhardt finds two more armed men, going about whatever tasks they need to complete before the ship can leave. He surprises everyone, the armed men, the other players and the gm alike, by pulling out his pistol and his small crossbow and shooting the two guards with an epic-level ranged attack (One in each eye). We'll see where this ends. Next week.

 

End of session

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Reinhardt's small but vicious fight

 

…has been played out, since his player couldn't attend tomorrow's game

 

I find it interesting when a pc has to perform on his own, since so much of the rule system focuses on group combat.

 

I gave Reinhardt (in my mind) a one-in-three risk of losing this fight. He was up against 4 Soldiers sharing three melee action cards (one of them reckless cleave) and 1 Ruffian without the expertise dice but with the subdue action card (not a good combo). He did get a free round from his reckless roleplaying, though, so he shot first and then we rolled initiative as the soldiers he fired upon drew their swords and took cover in the cramped cabin space (whatever it's called, we aren't boat people with the exception of our officer who wasn't around to correct us).

 

Turns out I might have been wrong. It was more of a fifty-fifty challenge. And then you should remember that Reinhardt is at about 40 advances, having been into the careers thief-agent-assassin-marksman and now being a duelist. Even so, with few active defenses and with the opposition having the greater numbers, you're in for a hard time.

 

For those who like this sort of thing:

The battle as it was. Cards in italics.

 

0

Battle starts with "One in each eye", wounding both soldiers present, sending them down to 4 and 6 wounds remaining with a non-serious critical each.

 

1

Reinhardt then wins the initiative with a tie of 2 for everyone, shoots one soldier dead with close quarters shot. The other soldier rushes him and slashes his blade across his brow (disorienting strike). He improved dodges, uses the dirty trick of kicking over a bunk bed and rolls with it, still getting one wound and the blinded condition.

 

2

Reinhardt shoots and kills the soldier who just blinded him (close quartes shot). Another soldier rushes into the room, swinging a reckless cleave but Reinhardt narrowly escapes due to his criminal power which recharged his improved dodge again. The door in the back of the cabin opens and Reinhardt by pure luck escapes a setup strike.

 

3

With an acrobatic strike, Reinhardt disarms and wounds the soldier who emerged from inside the hold. In return he gets the soldier's fist in the face, a very successful melee attack doing a bunch of wounds. Then he is stabbed by the other soldier, and although it's just a scratch he is blinded again (disorienting strike). As if this wasn't enough, the thugs from the Fish appear. One of them is told to run for help, the other one rushes inside and subdues Reinhardt who is overwhelmed.

 

4-8?

My memory lets me down, but somehow Reinhardt takes quite a beating, starting out with two extra purple dice on all attacks, but still manages to come out on top; a reckless cleave hits and almost kills him, but somewhere down the line he manages to take out the last thug with a sniper shot.

 

Only one of the opponents holding a weapon as they start to pound our hero probably saves him, since otherwise he'd be down below his wound threshold before he had taken them down.

 

The last living soldier had fled into the hold and ambushed Reinhardt with a crossbow, but Reinhardt was faster and nailed him with another sniper shot.

 

By then Reinhardt was down to 3 wounds but was not critically injured. He rescued the elf who got them out of the hold and into the river just as reinforcements arrived. With some assistance from the bashed-up elf, Reinhardt got ashore and they hailed some watchmen before the thugs managed to get to them. This time, the guards listened to what Reinhardt had to say.

Edited by herrquisling
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Assassins

 

Eventually, there were assassins.

 

This session the players were divided for most of the time, which slows progress somewhat, but it was of necessity. The last session they had split up since they felt the clock was ticking.

 

We started off at the Temple of Drama. Waldenfrau was hiding in a closet in the old store room, von Stangel was entering Clothilde's box above the auditorium. Waldenfrau got a chance to stop things from going from bad to worse when at the start of the second act, she heard a man (one of the Tileans, judging by his accent) being manhandled into the store room and questioned about the missing barrels. Not having any answers, except that he heard that the pc:s carried the barrels away, he gets a knife in the heart. By the time Waldenfrau emerged from her hiding place, the killer was gone and Leonardo Catrazan was dead.

 

I don't know why she hesitated, but she never caught up with the killer and instead took up guard backstage, between the stage and where everyone working the set and the stage was (by the back door) and entered a trance (magical sight). That meant that she did not get to stop the new improvised plan to kill Clothilde. The assassins dressed up in the black robes and goblin masks which had been seen on stage during act one (by von Stangel at least) and went to work.

 

In Clothilde's box, von Stangel is introduced briefly to someone who apparently is a friend of Clothilde's, the Elector of Wissenland, Emmanuelle von Liebwitz. As the second act begins on stage, the assassins enter the box and proceed to cut everyone down. Von Stangel realized what was happening to late and had to choose between protecting Clothilde and the Elector and let his heart guide him, so Emmanuelle and some of her ladies in waiting were quickly stabbed.

 

Von Stangel fought to protect Clothilde, eventually cutting one of the assassins down, pushing on off the balcony and into the auditorium and overpowering the last of them after hard fight. Somewhat cut up, he holds her as Clothilde and Waldenfrau try to save the Elector but fail. Clothilde finally breaks down (Emmanuelle being one of her very few real friends in the empire) and Waldenfrau is stunned by her failure (she got two chances to get rid of a level 3 critical wound, but no) .

 

In the auditorium, there is panic and several people are injured or actually dies as people run out of the theatre. It takes a while before staff and guards begin to find their way upstairs. Everyone is quite shaken.

 

We pan out and go to a different scene.

 

Game mechanics

Here I will describe the fight in terms of actual dice-rolling. SKip this if you just want to know what happened, it will continue further down.

 

Once again, we had a single pc against multiple opponents. This time, von Stangel had to fight on his own. Being a judical champion, a former watchman, agent, veteran and probably something else that I've forgotten, he has over 40 advances under his belt.

 

The assassins really did have a hard time against von Stangel. With sword and buckler, he soaks 7 and uses advanced block, improved parry, dodge with catlike reflexes and can make a counterblow. On the offense, he uses insulting blow, margrita thrust, and shield bash if I've gotten this right.

 

The assassins had nimble strike, acrobatic strike, cut throat, backstab and knife in the crowd shared between them, and also one improved dodge card each.

 

Basically, von Stangel fought and killed the assassins as he blunted or foiled their attacks. Slowly, they wore him down but by some luck he never was in any real danger (one of the assassins rolled a double chaos star and was thrown from the balcony).

 

Clothilde was in real danger, though. At one point, one of the assassins slip by von Stangel and grabs Clothilde. His player is told that he's got one attempt to get the assassin away from her, or... But he does it well, cutting the assassin on the wrist, smashing his teeth in with the buckler and planting a kiss on Clothilde's cheek.

 

Waldenfrau played a small part, having rolled a daunting observation check she realized that something was afoul (perhaps she heard her name being called by von Stangel whilst in her trance), she managed to get on stage, cut a rope, be pulled up onto the beams above the stage and unleashed her magic upon the last assassin. This didn't make much difference in game terms, though.

 

Friedrick Grosz and the high elf

 

Meanwhile, the sigmarite warrior-priest, in full armor, his face painted like an ashen skull (I forgot to mention that, did I), isn't bothered by anyone as he drags Grosz through the streets and into Wayfarer's Rest. There, by chance, the Witch Hunter awaits him (the pc, not Adele) and they proceed to warn the innkeep about bothering them even if he hears screams.

 

In their room, they intimidate Grosz by talking about what they'll do to him. He is clever, clever enough to know that they are quite serious. Gerber is insane, by Grosz's estimate (he is of the order, after all) and Joseph has held a grudge against Grosz since his background story was written and Grosz sold him out to the Tall-worshipers who were hunting Joseph.

 

Gerber leaves to get some stuff, “preferably a rat”, leaving Grosz to try to talk his way out of a horrible fate. “It was ever only business”, “I have done bad deeds, but I'm not one of them evil cultists” “The man in the black cowl might be, but I'm not” “Not everyone was born with a silver spoon you know, I could have been another Freidrick, a Kaufman, but you have to work with the cards you're dealt”. Et.c.

 

He then tells Joseph about meeting the black cowl several times, about him or someone posing as him (he is certain that there have been different people behind the cowl) staying at the Holy Hammer of Sigmar and about how he has had assassins kill off people who has been working for him. About the kidnapping of the elf. The black cowl is, according to Grosz, one or more persons, of which at least one fakes his noble-man accent. (after all, Grosz has met Kaufman and Curd Weiss, probably also Bauerfaust and likely Schaffer as the Black Cowl).

 

He also mentions – but the players miss this, I think – that he has set up the situation where the Red Crown followers are now under surveillance at the Priest's Den. This is a clue which if acted on might save a lot of lives. As would uncovering the fact that Grosz has actually been behind all the gun-powder smuggling. But they never get there.

 

As Gerber returns, bearing a towel and a water jug, Grosz manages to convince them that he has told all he knows about the black cowl (but other things he has done himself, those he's probably not told) by the means of a good roll for guile. The players have to accept this, but Gerber still proceeds to torture Grosz. He's just started, though, when Reinhardt and the high elf enters, bloody, wet and cut up.

 

The elf tells his story, which in all seems to be lacking some parts and the heroes decide to tell him nothing of the bell clapper and things like that. They do insist that he comes with them to meet their friends and to confront the man who ordered his kidnapping and killing. He agrees and the heroes insist that they escort him to the Crown (thus he isn't instakilled by the gm's assassins under Linhart).

 

Joseph then confronts Grosz with his old sins and in a symbolic act takes the gold grosz got for selling out the then young initiate to the Tall-worshipers from Grosz's purse. As they leave Reinhardt to guard Grosz, Gerber goes back upstairs to grab something. The elf and the sigmarite wait out in the streets as Grosz takes the fall from the third level of the inn and is impaled on a fence by the statue of the old emperor.

 

Grosz estimate was right. Gerber is insane.

 

More assassins

 

Upon getting outside the Temple of Drama, our heroes see a great crowd of five hundred or more heads. It's everyone who has fled the killings inside and everyone who has gathered to watch. As the sigmarite, the witch hunter and the elf make their way through the crowds, intuition rolls are made with great success (hard ones). The pc:s spot at least three men moving through the crow towards the elf, and as they quickly look around, they spot a man with a crossbow on a balcony opposite the theatre.

 

Initiative is rolled, the heroes go first (foresight is a good card to put on the party sheet). Gerber intercepts one of the would be assassins and they dodge about each other until enough opening is made in the crowd for Gerber to unleash the fury and the assassin drops dead. Meanwhile, Joseph runs up to the elf, shielding him with his body and shield. He catches the first bolt on the shield, but the the assassins are on them. Blood is drawn as Joseph pushes the elf out of the way, but not much (a good soak, with the option as a zealot, a flagellant now actually, to use his insanity for more soak and with the additional option to grit his teeth).

 

As the elf whips out his sword, he is hit by a crossbow bolt. He staggers, and the other two assassins both stab and cut him. He's down. Joseph has prayed Sigmar to lend him his strength, and here comes Gerber in a whirlwind with his flail and axe. The assassins quickly understand that they are outgunned, so to speak, and run for it.

 

By then, von Stangel comes running out of the building, having been alerted by the watchmen who have arrived. He quickly yells for Joseph and Gerber to chase the assassins as he himself gathers up the unconscious elf. Gerber has no luck with the shooter, but Joseph catches up with one of the others after a short chase (hard observation followed by a athletics competition) and recklessly slays him on the spot.

 

As the heroes reunite in the Temple of Drama, Joseph has cut the tattoo of Sigmar's Hammer from the forearm of the assassin he killed. It quickly turns out that the assassin von Stangel caught, Nina, has another of the same kind. Gerber gets to try to force her to talk, but she's got nothing to lose and keeps her loyalties.

 

Authorities arrive

 

I tried earlier to make the witch hunter's player understand that they are not the only law in town in Altdorf. The latest attempt was by stealing Valvorik's Mandelbrot-character and having him arrested by the Order of Light in a battle of jurisdiction with the witch hunters. He did understand my point, eventually, since as Reiksguard arrive to apprehend the killer of one of the empire's Electors, he releases her to them.

 

What has happened starts to sink in. An elector, killed. Clothilde has regained her wits and von Stangel has not lost favor with her for saving her life instead of Emmanuelle's. She likely thinks him slightly in love with her, which might be the truth for all I know. The mummers and everyone and their mother are unbalanced, to say the least. When this becomes public...

 

At that moment, Waldenfrau arrives. She's been running an important errand: to find her Order's masters to resurrect the dead Elector. She believes it can be done. They order everyone out of the Noble's box and as the others start to get a grip in this new turn of events, there is an explosion. A big one.

 

Some time later we find our heroes poking around in the ruins of the Priest's Den which exploded just as in Valvorik's script. The Black Cowl has killed a lot of witch hunters and sigmarites and perhaps given a few of them the idea that this was the goal of the gun-powder plot. Gerber horse-jacked a horse and got there in time to hear one of his superiors croak “It was a trap” before he too dies. It's about one hour and a half until the Prayer Service for the emperor starts. What now?

 

End of session.

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Just catching up, thank you for thinking my stuff worthy to steal from - you do great work with it and if I was playing after you I would pilfer your game too!

 

Poor Clothilde, things don't go right for her in either of our worlds.

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No, and today von Stangel's player confessed that our hero likes the countess indeed, but he will not be surprised if she has had a part to play in things, even though he'll be devastated if she turns out to be bad.

 

Poor Clothilde. Perhaps it's for the best since she actually is the good girl in my version, which von Stangel's real obsession, miss Artha Schaffer, certainly isn't. I'm sure you can find a reference somewhere in these posts, by he actually spent a night in her company. The thing is, I do believe that Schaffer likes him a lot too, perhaps to the degree that she's kept Bauerfaust from taking him out already. von Stangel might even agree with the conspiracy… in their mind (Bauerfasut really knows the kid, and so does Artha) and if he doesn't and Bauerfaust has gone over the edge… who's to say what sides she might take? 

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The bell tolls

 

Yes, this was the session when it finally happened. And they should have seen it coming, they felt, but they didn't since the gun-powder plot was all they could think of. Just as the black cowl had intended, I guess.

 

Aftermath of the explosion

 

Picking up the narrative, our heroes were standing around the smoldering ruins in Tempelgarten. Soldiers and watchmen and the fire brigade tried to keep things orderly, but with half a thousand bystanders and pieces of people and burning wreckage all over, there was not much order to be had.

 

Reinhardt joined the others, having left the inn since he had no-one to watch over (Grosz being rather dead). A heated discussion erupted, where von Stangel and Gerber (the witch hunter) argued about the best course of action. Gerber wanted to somehow search the Cathedral for further barrel-bombs since it was such an obvious target. Joseph wanted to kill all the bastards they could find at the Holy Hammer, and von Stangel tended to agree. In the end, Joseph found a higher ranking sigmarite and told him about their suspicions. “Don't you think we've thought about that”, was the scolding response. But as it later turned out, hundreds were saved by that act alone.

 

Gerber, needing to cool of, went to see if he could spot Adele in the area and he did find her, surreptitiously watching the carnage. She was edgy and wanted the pc:s to try to sort out what the College of Light was doing with Luminary Mauer (and the professor they had arrested as well) since they stonewalled her. She wasn't very forthcoming about her own plans.

 

Upon Gerbers return the heroes got hold of some horses and rode to the Holy Hammer to deal some damage and to get some answers.

 

At this point, I felt that it was necessary to get some things out in the open. Since we quickly approached end-game and the players hadn't tried to get to either Bauerfaust, Kaufman or Mauer for some plot-enhanching chats. I did mention to Gerber's player, using Adele, that Curd Weiss was in town with Kaufman, and that made the players somewhat suspicious. Wasn't he supposed to manage things back in Avernheim? But perhaps he simply had been sent for, they thought.

 

Anyway, this meant that I pulled out some clues (not cards, just clues) and put them in the Holy Hammer.

 

The Holy Hammer

 

The pc:s knew about the labyrinthine layout of the “tavern” and were prepared for a fight as they entered through the door from the stable yard. Reinhardt knew how to quickly pick even the locks that paranoid assassins use, now being in his 40th game session. Inside, they found the place completely deserted, no staff, no nothing. All evidence – had there ever been any – was gone, burnt.

 

Obviously some of the 30 rooms had been used for more than dining and drinking, there were ink quills, desks, shelves and even bunk beds in some of them. In two of the rooms they found things. On one shelf, there was a wooden figurine like the ones in Kaufman's exhibition. In one bucket, were papers had been burnt, they found parts of a wax sigil from the College of Light. Not enough to explain anything, but enough to cast some additional suspicions.

 

The figurine was Curd Weiss' of course, the letter had really been used by Mauer's sister Katarina to issue false documents. By the way, did I mention how Mauer was taken by the College of Light? He and Katarina went in there and she showed her true allegiances as she took the bell-clapper and knocked the Luminary out cold to be found by the other wizards. Awkward. She didn't kill him because she could not, not everything is completely black and white. Although it had been better, especially if the pc:s had gotten round to finding out what happened.

 

Our heroes then quickly left the place, because the Prayer Service was about to begin and they had a lot of suspicions about gun-powder being put in play there and von Stangel still had a “date” with Clothilde (and the gm told the players in no uncertain terms that they were not to split up this session).

 

The Prayer Service

 

You know how this is supposed to go by the book. The big difference was that the heroes were not trying to find anyone, or, they looked for Kaufman but didn't see him as they chatted with Clothilde and watched all the important people dressed in all their splendor. They met an old acquaintance, Aschaffenberg from Eye for an Eye, but didn't make any other moves.

 

After a while, Gerber and Joseph started for the bell tower since they wanted to get on the stairs to have somewhere to watch the crowd from. That's when Gerber saw a figure in a black hood disappearing up into the tower. With still hundreds of people between them and the tower, they started to push their way through as the bell started to toll... and carnage broke out.

 

Again, you know what the book says, but here I simply left the changeling out of it and had some “larger, quicker ever-changing demon” attack the heads of the cult. Other than that, there were pillars of fire of smoke from which a flaming tower of twisted flesh, bone and beaks rose and screeching horrors emerged.

 

The heroes battled their way through one group of demons and some mutating onlookers, a rather though fight since every round had the bell tolling again, but they prevailed (through liberal use of comet-rolls to take out an opponent by having them eating someone else or being hacked down by some knight).

 

Please note, although it has been said before, that one must make the effects of the bell-clapper less serious. I went with terror 2 checks all the way, for every successful roll the pc gained a fortune die and with three successes in a row the pc had to roll no more. That took it's toll, still, but all the pc:s managed to enter the stairs still standing.

 

The bell tower

 

As our heroes ran up the stairs (not Gerber, he didn't have the two fatigue to spend which I ruled it took and thus took his time), Waldenfrau mutated. She was last in line, no-one saw it then, but her body grew and her clothes started to bulge as she turned into... something else. Perhaps not even Waldenfrau herself understood what was happening right then.

 

Reaching the top of the tower, seeing the bell hanging over a railed causeway over the open stairwell, they finally met their enemy. Or enemies. Two Black Cowls where there, next to the bell, one of them pulling the rope which made it toll. They were guarded by three swordsmen and three men with guns. As von Stangel spoke up, one of the men in black pulled back his hood. Kaufman.

 

Much was said, and I'll relate the geist of it. Von Stangel accused Kaufman of pure madness, didn't her realize what he had let lose down there? As a matter of fact, he didn't know but he deemed it to be a necessary thing, since the empire had to change, the nobility was to fall and new men rise by merit of their actions and ability.

 

At this point von Stangel's player realised that Bauerfaust was the prime Black Cowl, because what Kaufman was saying sounded to much like what Bauerfaust used to say in less bloody terms.

 

As the other Black Cowl pulled the rope again, Reinhardt shot him and Waldenfrau unleashed her magic. He fell, hood thrown back, and was revealed as Curd Weiss as the bell tolled again, for the final time. Kaufman halted his men and the heroes from unleashing the fury by yelling “stop”, since von Stangel just had shouted to him that he'd found Anna.

 

More talk followed. Von Stangel skillfully tried to get Kaufman to tell who had forced him to do what he does by taking Anna (as he correctly surmised had happened) but Kaufman said that he'd damned himself and that he'd have to pay for that. Kaufman wanted to know where Anna was. Von Stangel told him, basically, that she was very damaged and that she was safe with Shallyans. Kaufman tried to negotiate his way out, to get her... but that's when Reinhardt shot him too...

 

Now, that was a bad move. Otherwise I'd let Weiss knife Kaufman and everything would have been so much better for the players...

 

The shot hit Kaufman in the chest and he staggered. At the same time, everyone charged at each other. Joseph made short work of the men with pistols, as he bashed in skulls and threw men over the railings. Von Stangel entered the melee and fought the swordsmen, trying to hold them back. Kaufman righted himself and pointed at Reinhardt, a swirling vortex of chaotic energies building up around him. Blood vessels broke across Reinhardt's skull and he fell (actually mutating as well, but the tail remains hidden for now).

 

As von Stangel and now also Gerber who comes up the stairs, exhausted, and Waldenfrau fought the swordsmen, Joseph ran around the tower and came at Curd Weiss and von Kaufman from behind. In a few quick blows, they both fell. Kaufman screamed as a rift in reality tore open in his chest and imploded him, leaving the shimmering rift hanging in the air. The last swordsman still standing threw himself from the tower as the heroes closed in on him...

 

Bauerfaust

 

As the heroes gather, Waldenfrau stands off to one side and Gerber backs up so that he has the stairs. Gerber looks at the sorceress. She has turned into... an abomination (we think she-hulk, without the colour). Reinhardt is downed, but lives, it's pretty much just exhaustion (8 fatigue), Joseph decides. Just then, steel-clad boots stomp up the stairs and Marcus Bauerfaust, Artha Schaffer and six grizzled Avernheimer Greatswords enter the scene as a rally phase hits the pc:s.

 

Bauerfaust takes a look at the scene, lingering perhaps on the mutaded woman before he sees the slumped form of the Black Cowl. “It can't have been him, can it?” he says, “Where's Kaufman?”. Von Stangel quickly replies: “In there...”. “Well, ****.” says Bauerfaust. “We'll need to sort this out, in addition to the mess downstairs. For now, you are all under arrest. Drop those weapons, all of you”. Gerber protests but Bauerfaust says “There is no authority you have which supersedes mine”. He and his men advance up into the tower, past Gerber, who then quickly slips away (down the stairs).

 

“Kaufman is dead, but not before he told us about his master”, von Stangel tells Bauerfasut. At that Bauerfaust grimly says: “He was always the weaker of us”. He shifts his hands along the grip of his greatsword. “You two, after the witch-hunter. Don't let him get away”.

 

He had to admit it, had he not?

 

As everyone backs up, or advances a step or two, von Stangel acts. Perhaps believing that true evil stands in front of him, leans under the bell and grasps the bell-clapper, lifting it of its hook, and as its corrupting influences tear at him, mutating his arm into gross, fleshy proportions, he holds out his other hand to Joseph who hands him his dwarven rune-hammer. Schaffer takes a few steps forward and seems horrified. Von Stangel raises the hammer, and strikes the clapper which shatters, throwing everyone to the ground.

 

Von Stangel, surprised, lives.

 

I threw a daunting corruption check followed by a daunting resilience check at von Stangel. The former he failed and mutated. Failure at the later check meant instant death and lots of damage to everyone around him. Now, with success, he absorbed the explosion himself. And lived. It rings true with what we've decided can be done about corrupt artifacts and why it simply isn't done.

 

End of session

valvorik likes this

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WOOO! Fantastic epic stuff.

 

Yes, the final scene needs some tweaking but that is great stuff you ended up with there.

 

Rob

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The final battle

 

As everyone at the top level of the bell tower slowly climbs to their feet as the bell vibrates with the shock of the exploding bell-clapper, von Stangel raises his swollen left arm with the shield half melted into it and shouts to Bauerfaust: “You used to tell me all the time in training never to let my guard down. Well, I haven't yet and I never will. This does not make me less inclined to stand in your path. But all the others, the mutations you have inflicted on them... do you intend for the empire to be overrun by mutants and cultists? This seems to be what you want, from where I stand. How can you?”

 

The answer comes quickly. “These mutants will be dealt with. The empire will not tolerate them. As for cults, well they have been around all the time but that's about to change. The empire has suffered at the hands of corrupt, incompetent, decadent, no-good nobles for too long. You have been here for a while, you've seen a good part of the empire on our way here. Don't you see that it is at a standstill? That nothing good has been accomplished since Magnus the Pious' days? There are good noblemen, like you von Stangel. People like you will get the chance to stay on top, to get things done and to rule. Don't you want it? A new beginning? You can still have it. The stage has been set.”

 

Unfortunately for Bauerfaust, Joseph has blessed Reinhardt, cradled his head and whispered to him as he panicked when consciousness returned. “You are needed by the empire one last time, so rise my friend. For me, for Stangel, for Sigmar... for Anna”. Joseph himself had felt dead already. As he watched his friends through his tears, he knew that nothing would be the same again. Ever.

 

As Reinhardt came to his feet, his eyes where wild. He was doomed, for sure, and he'd die, probably slowly and painfully and the next time he awoke everyone else would be gone. He saw Bauerfaust as he finished his monologue, and shot him, one bullet in the neck and a crossbow bolt through a ***** in his armor. Blood spurted and the iron-clad soldiers charged the heroes. Only one held back, Artha.

 

Joseph and von Stangel rose and the brothers in this task they had taken on, who had come closer to each other than perhaps any of the others, stood up to the charge. But not completely, as one of the long blades cut into Reinhardt and he fell into oblivion. Again.

 

Waldenfrau ran along the outer walkway of the tower and into the middle, chased by two of the greatswords. She narrowly escaped and ducked between Joseph and von Stangel, slapping Reinhardt as to get him back on his feet, muttering a chant under her breath. As the two greatswords come charging across the narrow walkway, she releases her power and chain lightning arches between her and the armored soldiers. Smoke rises, but it doesn't stop them.

 

Reinhardt, almost raving mad, staggers to his knees, leaning against Waldenfrau. He sees Bauerfaust come rushing into the melee and shots him again, the bullet tearing a bloody path straight to the grizzled captains body. It doesn't stop him. Bauerfaust knocks von Stangel's shield out of the way and smashes his sword deep into his shoulder. Blood spurts. One of the greatswords slams down onto the walkway, severing Reinhardt's leg above the knee on its way. Blood spurts.

 

Reinhardt is dying. Von Stangel is still standing only by virtue of his supreme willpower. Joseph has been ready to die since he woke this morning. Waldenfrau's power is exhausted. They are surrounded by their foes. Then Artha's gaze meets von Stangel's. He smiles (hard charm check). And she takes a swing at one of her comrades, cutting him across the back and slamming him into the railing.

 

Joseph rallies himself, gathers his strength and hurls everything he's got at Bauerfaust, smashing him hard enough to break steel and bone and cave in his chest. Blood spurting from his mouth, he collapses and topples over the railing. Just as Adele and Gerber comes running up the stairs, having killed the greatswords who went for Gerber.

 

A sword strike almost kills Joseph then and there, as he sees Bauerfaust tumble over the edge, but von Stangel jumps in front of him and is struck down instead (bodyguard with one wound). Then Gerber is among them, whirling, striking, and Joseph's prayers echo in the tower chamber. Waldenfrau is cut down, but so are Bauerfaust's men, by Artha Schaffer, Adele, Gerber and our sigmarite brother. The last man standing is surrounded and jumps over the railing, screaming “There is only one true good please take me save me...”

 

Silence only broken by distant screaming. Bells ringing somewhere in the city. The light from the open rift lights the faces of Gerber, Joseph, Adele and Artha. “Sorry about this” says Gerber as he throws a hard elbow at Joseph's face. Joseph is faster, and tumbles Gerber to the ground, backing away from everyone. (he had the choice to kill him since he won the competitive check with several Sigmar's comets, successes and boons to spare...)

 

Gerber gets up. “What are you doing”. That from Adele. “We'll have to take them in. Mutants, they're corrupt”, says Gerber. “You've got enough to deal with downstairs!” says Joseph. Meanwhile, Artha kneels by von Stangel's side. She calls out to Joseph for help, and he kneels, giving his blessing and his prayers and von Stangel's eyes flutter open.

 

Adele convinces Gerber that no-one is leaving the tower and that they have to go downstairs to discuss things. “This can wait for now”, she says. As they reach the stairs, she lets Gerber go first and cuts his throat. “not every mutant is evil”, she shouts. Blood spurts, but his reflexes save him (a few wounds left). He swings at her, but she's fast with that dagger, and they go at each other, giving their best to kill until Joseph shouts to Adele “Back down, come here Adele”, and she dodges away, coming up between von Stangel, Artha and Joseph.

 

Von Stangel leans on Artha, raising his mutated shield arm in a guard. Joseph hefts his hammer. Gerber spits on the floor in front of them and turns, walking down the stairs.

 

The end

 

There's much talking. Artha tells the others some of what has happened as von Stangel stops Reinhardt's bleeding. She tells them about Bauerfaust and how she's always agreed with him, but never did she think he'd turn to chaos to accomplish what he wished for. She answers questions. But there isn't time. Adele makes it clear that she's a mutant, showing her arm beneath the prosthetic dagger. She says that they will never get out of the tower, not past all the gathered down there, and that Gerber will be back soon.

 

Von Stangel smiles at Artha and prepares for a last fight, although he hasn't got much. She says that there might be another way. To take the fight to where it belongs, and by that she means the rift. Adele nods to this, and von Stangel agrees. But he tries to convince Joseph to stay, as the only one with a future here. He throws him his gold, meaning well, but Joseph shakes his head. “I woke up today expecting to die. I might still”. Tears and sweat has ruined his death-mask and now it splits in something akin to a smile.

 

They pick up their fallen comrades and hand in hand they walk into the rift.

 

 

The end?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3, 2, 1, Fight!

 

As we returned for this session at the gaming table, we were set for a real fight. Dramatic as things were, the game mechanics still had an important part to play in this final battle.

 

Let me introduce the contestants:

 

In one corner, we had the heroes, who were somewhat worn by then. Reinhardt, a duelist, was unconscious, and had mutated although that is besides the point here since he's also quite insane and that counted for more than a tail in the pants. Von Stangel, a champion of the empire, was in quite good shape, except for having mutated freakishly. Joseph, a prophet of doom, was a bit bloodied and worn. Waldenfrau, still an apprentice, was as always a weak link in this team of fighters, even with her new impressive frame... and Gerber, a witch hunter, had bailed out, or down. The stairs, that is. Still, for what it's worth, they were at rank 5 so this a deadly bunch.

 

In the other corner, weighing in at over a clanking ton of steel-clad muscle together, we had the Black Cowl a.k.a. Marcus Bauerfaust and his trusted men and women of the Avernheimer Greatswords, including his loyal lieutenant Artha Schaffer.

 

Marcus had the Lord card (not black cowl, that was for Kaufman who dabbled in sorcery to get an advantage over Bauerfaust, which he dared never use, though) putting him at 27 wounds and a strength of 7 and all the Zweihander actions, Reckless Cleave and Thunderous blow... and of course the Villainous Monologue card. Schaffer had the same ones, but not not the monologue and so did the six soldiers. They were enhanced at one level trained in weapon skill, strength and toughness of 4 and armor soak of 4, wielding greatswords. They could only use their actions with some restrictions, one of each card per turn and never the same card twice for the same soldier.

 

You know who won...

 

...but without Artha they could have lost. And that was both due to roleplaying much earlier in the campaign and to that fateful hard charm check.

 

...but without Adele they might have lost. And she could have died a long time ago. And even if they won, Gerber might have gotten his way and had them burnt at the stake or something like that.

 

...but also, there was always the possibility that they'd talk to Kaufman about Anna earlier, and then he'd try to kill Bauerfaust, first by using Adele and then by his own hand, setting up a very different and probably easier final battle.

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That's an "epic ending".

 

Do you plan on playing a Chaos Waste episode or to "fade out on them there"?  That is a very satisfying "fade out" dramatically.

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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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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? ****, 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

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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

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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

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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!

valvorik and Emirikol like this

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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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