The Enemy Within – Death on the Reik Part Five

By this point, the players were feeling they had made some real progress, and were racing back up the River Reik to the observatory tower they had found earlier, this time with a magical key in hand.

EW3

The players and characters were;

Ed – Thorgrim – Dwarf Scholar
Amy – Llewellyn – Wood Elf Wardancer
Andy – Thorn – Wood Elf Wizard
James – Deem – Dwarf Warrior
Alan – Yvette – Human Ranger

It was to not be quite as easy as that, at least for James.  The journey north would take the best part of two weeks, and the players were stopping at various riverside inns on the way, rather than anchoring their boat in the middle of the beastman-infested forest. Most stayed on the boat for the night (avoiding the charge for a room) but James insisted on visiting each one in the evening for a serious drinking session.

During one such stop, the barn staff gave gave James a note. Obviously from the ‘Inner Circle’, it demanded he (or, rather, Kastor, but that was rapidly becoming academic) pay 20,000 Gold Crowns immediately or else report back to Middenheim.

Interestingly, James did not bother to ask the bar staff who gave them the note, which must have somewhat mystified the three cultists sitting just across the bar room who were expecting a confrontation…

Andy also started a brief argument as their boat passed Castle Wittgenstein and its village, Wittgendorf, as he wanted to make a stop there. When asked why, his reasons flipped between ‘we can make lots of money trading there!’ and ‘it might be really interesting!’. However, last time they had come this way, they had met another boat which had just pulled a hideous mutant out of the water very close to the castle. Not wanting to complicate their lives (and not wanting to indulge Andy), they carried on.

When they finally got to the old observatory (now a fully functioning signal tower, vital to the security of the Empire), the players discovered the dwarf workers had left and had now been replaced by members of the Reiksguard. They figured (correctly, as it happened) that the soldiers would not simply let them waltz in and dig around for secret doors, and so a quick plan that relied on stealth was enacted upon.

Unfortunately, few members of the party were actually good at stealth, and those that were rolled terribly. The alert went up, and they were forced to retreat.

After a few probing approaches, the players managed to gain entrance through a method which involved Andy casting a sleep spell on one of the soldiers. Just to make sure the soldier’s life was completely ruined, he poured beer over the helpless man and left the empty bottle nearby, ready to be discovered by his sergeant…

Meanwhile, the other players had made their way to the secret area of the tower, and discovered a hidden library. The announcement that books had been found had Andy racing back to them as quickly as he could manage. Unfortunately form him, there were no necromantic tomes to be found.

However, Ed’s skills as a scholar came to the fore as he translated a few books that had been left open. They managed to piece together that an asteroid from Morrsleib had crashed in the Barren Hills (forming the crater they had seen) and had been found by one Dagmar von Wittgenstein. Furthermore, it appeared to be a very large rock of pure warpstone.

The reactions of the players varied. Most immediately decided that a piece of warpstone that large had to be found and dealt with. Andy started wondering how it would improve his magical skills if it were in his possession…

Anyway, all these clues pointed to the stone being hidden in a reinforced chamber beneath Castle Wittgenstein.

The players gathered their belongings, and prepared to head back south.

Note: It should be pointed out that these players have had some spectacularly bad luck in the past when it comes to castles. The most famous incident was the basic D&D Module, B12 Queen’s Harvest, a short, 16 page introductory adventure that most 12 year olds would complete in an evening. It took them six weeks to get into the castle. That is not six weeks of game time, mind – I mean six weeks of real time.

Thus, they were not looking forward to the possibility of assaulting another fortress, especially one in a game far more deadly then D&D…

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The Enemy Within – Death on the Reik Part Four

When we last left the intrepid adventurers, they were hot on the tail of an evil wizard, and had butchered an entire tribe of goblins.

EW3

The players and characters were;

Ed – Thorgrim – Dwarf Scholar
Amy – Llewellyn – Wood Elf Wardancer
Andy – Thorn – Wood Elf Wizard
James – Deem – Dwarf Warrior
Alan – Yvette – Human Ranger

Needing to get to an unknown location within the Barren Hills for the next stage of the adventure, the players travelled back to Kemperbad. Along the way, they finally realised they would never make any real money by trading, and finally unloaded the timber they had been carrying in their hold since they left Altdorf many moons previous. Amy, as chief pilot of the boat, had not really improved her skill at controlling it (unfortunately, she remained the best qualified…). This would come to a real head, as the journey from Kemperbad to the Barren Hills was all upstream and would involve rapids.

Needless to say, the boat received some real knocks on this journey which would require some serious repairs on the way back.

Further up the river, there was a twin waterfall which, to be negotiated, required travelling up a side channel comprising of twenty separate locks. As each lock required its own boathandling check, Amy was a bit dubious about continuing.

Fortunately, the players were flagged down by two washerwomen, who invited them back to their village, Unterbaum, just a short trip up through a tunnel next to the falls.

Unterbaum turned out to be a really tiny village deep in the forest (by this time, the players were far from real civilisation), but the people were welcoming enough, eagerly trying to get the players to buy turnips (they refused, but when one of them suggested they could buy rations here, they ended up with an entire cart full of turnips…).

They were introduced to the village elder and the village druid. While Alan quizzed the two of them on the whereabouts of a mysterious noblewoman who they said had passed through recently, the rest of the players were trying to work out why Alan was not talking career options with the druid, as he had said repeatedly that this was the direction he wanted to go in (as it turned out, he had changed his aspirations to Targeteer).

The druid explained that the woman had insisted on going to the Devil’s Bowl, but suggested they did not follow as it was a very dangerous place. Seeing they could not be dissuaded, he offered to go with them, as he needed some herbs that could only be found in that area.

They spent the night at Unterbaum, with Ed and James both enjoying the village’s cider so much, they were carrying a keg each away with them in the morning.

The druid explained that (much to Amy’s relief) they could not take their boat upstream as it was too shallow, but the village had canoes. After a brief argument about who was going to share which canoe, they were all set to start a journey that would take three days.

On the third day, as night began to fall, they reached the Devil’s Bowl, a water-filled crater surrounded by a stone circle. As they set up camp, an eerie blue mist formed over the crater and they watched as a ghostly woman approached, begging for their help. The ghost turned and floated away, leaving the players with few choices but to follow.

She took them to a hidden cave, where they quickly found her grave. As they debated the best way to lay the bones to rest (which encompassed suggestions ranging from taking them back to Kemperbad and a Temple of Morr, to just throwing them in the river), a group of Skaven appeared. They demanded to know where a stone was (the players having no clue at that point what it was they were trying to find), but negotiations quickly broke down when Amy let loose a scream and attacked.

Though the leader of the Skaven managed to last two entire rounds against Amy, the rats were soon defeated. The players poked around the cave, and found another chamber that had been blocked off by a cave-in. They could hear scratching on the other side, and so as James and Ed started to remove stones, the rest prepared to fight more Skaven.

They were therefore a little surprised when an animated skeleton clawed its way out and attacked – even more so, when it thanked them for destroying it (it had been part of the same expedition as the ghostly woman, and they all wanted a bit of peace in death). More skeletons clawed their way out, but the players were able to deal with them one by one.

When the fighting stopped and quiet returned, the players poked around in the chamber beyond the cave-in. It was there they found a fair bit of gold, along with a very familiar looking metal bar – identical to those James was still wearing round his neck.

Realising they had found the last key required to open the secret area in the observatory tower, the players left with all haste to get back to their boat for the return journey north.

Note: The evil wizard, Etelka, was very much doing her own thing at this point and was working to a timeline printed in the adventure – the players, through sheer bad/good luck managed to miss her throughout the adventure, and she remains at large.

The Enemy Within – Death on the Reik Part Three

After messing around with the Wood Elves, with varying degrees of success, the players continued their journey southwards down the River Reik.

EW3

The players and characters were;

Ed – Thorgrim – Dwarf Scholar
Amy – Llewellyn – Wood Elf Wardancer
Andy – Thorn – Wood Elf Wizard
James – Deem – Dwarf Warrior
Alan – Yvette – Human Ranger

They stopped off briefly at Kemperbad, doing a little trading along the way. James went on a one-dwarf quest to find someone who could make him a stone door for his cabin on the boat (the result of the ‘pee in the bed’ incident earlier) but while he was unsuccessful, he was very much aware someone or someones were following him. In the midst of a tight crowd, he felt a pinch about his head, but his assailant disappeared before he could react (Initiative 15 has its price). He quickly realised someone had stolen a lock of hair.

A little later, James was approached by a man addressing him as Kastor (the name of the dwarf James had taken the identity of), demanding that James pay the Inner Circle (whatever that was) what he owed. At this point, James was a little mystified as to what was going on, but was convinced it could not be good.

Still, the party had work to do – they were following a lead that suggested an evil wizard called Etelka Hertzen was up to no good further south in Grissenwald. It took them a week more to get there (bypassing Castle Wittgenstein on the way, after hearing lots of stories about Bad Things happening there), but they finally reached the small mining settlement. Their first port of call was the tavern (obviously) but while asking around about Etelka, a couple of drunk dwarfs wandered in and started insulting the elves (‘Oi! Wing Nut!’). James and Ed did not see any issues with this, but the elves started taking exception but had the presence of mind to get the watch involved rather than starting a fight.

They discovered that the dwarfs had been raiding farms and burning them, and that Etelka was  a very nice noblewoman who had not been seen recently, but had a house a few miles away, next to an abandoned mine. Thus informed, the players set off, completely ignoring the dwarf shanty town outside Grissenwald and any possible leads that lay there.

Still, that meant they also missed out on a bucket load of XP!

Marching through the woods on their way to Etelka’s home, the players came across burned out farms and, upon rooting around in the ruins, discovered a few arrows they thought to be of goblin manufacture. Hmm…

The next farm was intact but they came under a hail of arrow fire as they approached. Alan managed to convince the family cowering inside that they were not there to pillage, though he could not persuade them that Ed and James were not about to attack.

As the sun began to dip towards the horizon, they came out of the woods and found a two storey tower next to a mine – Etelka’s home, they presumed. Under the cover of daylight (yeah, I know), they decided to infiltrate the tower, and ran straight into a small tribe of goblins and their pet wolves.

It was a major battle.

They burst into the main hall and managed to nobble most of the wolves and sleeping goblins there before meeting solid resistance. Goblin spearmen blocked the stairs running upwards, holding the players firm while archers around the balcony let fly with their arrows.

Andy tried to break the deadlock by unleashing a mighty fireball at the archers, but managed to get nothing more than a faint fizz of light (as it turned out, he had misread the fireball spell and not added its base Strength – after this point his fireballs got a little more mighty, but it would not be the last time something like this happened…).

It fell to Amy and, eager to try out her new Wardancer skills for real, she bounded up the stairs with a shriek that paralysed the goblin spearmen with fear, leapt over their heads, and started hacking them apart from behind. James followed up behind while Alan kept the heads of the archers down with his own return fire.

A number of things happened then.

Andy tried to make himself as small as possible, as a few of the goblin arrows had come a little too close for comfort. Amy was keening away, tearing apart goblins while James just hoped there might be a few left for him. Ed, on the other hand…

Well, Ed had seen the chance to use a blunderbuss he had purchased from Kemperbad. The trouble is, he did not actually know anything about using a blunderbuss. He promptly rolled a misfire, rolled on the table to see what happened, and got 00.

Boom.

The resulting explosion wrecked the blunderbuss (which was what annoyed Ed most about this incident) and dealt a fair bit of damage to him, Alan and Andy, who were not best happy with the result.

Meanwhile, upstairs the goblin spearmen had been dealt with and Amy and James prepared to attack the archers who were still plugging away at the players below them. At that point, a new goblin appeared – one wearing a dress and tiara. He gestured at Amy, mumbled some gobbledegook, then looked perplexed when nothing happened (he was trying to cast a spell, but knew as much about magic as Ed did about gunpowder). As Amy stalked towards him, swords drawn and dripping with goblin blood, he tried to bargain with her, saying everything was a mistake, nothing was his fault, and if she just let him go, they would say no more about it.

Amy stabbed him, then finished off the archers.

As the dust settled, the players did a quick inventory of the tower. Andy quickly identified that the shield the goblin ‘shaman’ had been carrying was magical, and then decided to keep that knowledge (and the shield) to himself. They discovered some hostages; a farmer, his wife and Etelka’s halfling cook, who had been having some real issues about the goblins taking over at his mistress’ invitation. The halfling told the players that Etelka was not there and had gone up ‘Norn’s River to get some bare pills.’

That clue went straight over their heads, and no one even thought to look at the map to see if there was a Norn’s River (there wasn’t, but there was a Narn River, which led straight to the Barren Hills – do you see? They didn’t).

Fortunately, in the study they did find a letter written to Etelka from one Istak Graksk Tzeentch (I swear to all that is holy, they actually missed the significance of his last name), outlining an expedition to the Barren Hills.

So, they had a target for their next adventure.

There was just time for one final argument. Andy had found a room containing a stuffed bear and a stuffed crocodile. He wanted to take them both (or, failing that, just the bear) back to the boat so he could… well, actually he was not too clear about just why he wanted these stuffed animals, other than they might make his cabin look good.

However, the other players had found a huge chest full of coins which, needing two to carry, were far more interested in taking back with them. Andy begged James to help him carry the bear. James said no. Andy suggested he pull the stuffing out of the bear and fill it with the coins. The whole party said no. Andy asked if anyone knew how to take the wheels off the mining cart outside and attach them to the bear so he could wheel it back to the boat. No one answered.

They spent the night in the tower and, at first light, departed for Grissenwald and their boat.

The bear and the crocodile remained behind.

The Enemy Within – Elven Interlude

Having found an old observatory being transformed into a signal tower, the players were now heading south down the River Reik to follow up on a few leads.

EW3

The players and characters were;

Ed – Thorgrim – Dwarf Scholar
Amy – Llewellyn – Wood Elf Warrior
Andy – Thorn – Wood Elf Wizard
James – Deem – Dwarf Warrior
Alan – Yvette – Human Ranger

 

 

The journey south started quietly enough, with the players doing a bit of trading and James steadily drinking every coach inn dry. Then, in a very quiet and remote spot of the River Reik, they saw a rickety boat drifting towards them with no obvious crew on board…

Readying weapons, it was Amy’s sharp elven eyes that picked out movement on the deck, a hulking creature with green skin – Orcs!

Realising their covert approach had been blown as Alan’s arrows started raining down on them, the Orcs let loose with a loud Waa! and set their craft on a collision course.

The few arrows from the party did little to slow their advance and the two boats crashed into one another. The Orc boarding party leapt over the railings and battle was joined.

It was a tough fight, and the players had to start yielding ground. Just then, a tree from the nearby bank toppled into the river with a giant splash, and more Orcs started pouring from the trees, using the trunk as a makeshift bridge. With the ambush now well and truly under way, the players realised they were in trouble.

While Amy led the defence up front, Alan pulled back to face the Orcs coming in across the trunk. Greenskins in both groups were falling, but there were too many of them and the players started taking wounds. Then, a particularly vicious axe swing connected with Alan’s body and a Fate point had to be used.

Just as it was about to connect, the Orc was distracted by a wild, whooping cry from the forest behind it, allowing Alan to duck the blow. There was a flash of colour, and three elves came bounding along the trunk, leaping up acrobatically over the heads of the boarding Orcs and removing the heads from a couple of them. These elves were dressed in bright woodland colours, one had a magnificent crest of dyed hair, and all were clearly expert warriors.

The Wardancers had arrived.

Amy was utterly entranced…

The battle ended very quickly after that, with the players mopping up the few greenskins the Wardancers had left for them. Despite grumbling from the dwarfs (something about prancing elves), the lead Wardancer saw there were two elves in the party and Alan’s solid defence had impressed her enough that she invited them back to the Wood Elf village within the forest – after all, if they were killing Orcs, they could not be all bad.

The two dwarfs flatly refused to go, saying they had important matters to attend to on the boat, but the other players leaped at the chance.

They were led deep into the forest and eventually came to the elven village. Here they were welcomed and invited to join in a feast that evening which would see a new recruit join the Wardancer troupe affiliated with them – the recruit had passed his final test during the attack on the Orcs.

Munching away on nuts and honey, the players watched the Wardancers perform their ritual and talked with the Wood Elf Lord. They even accepted a challenge from the lead Wardancer to a duel, all of them versus her, to first blood. And so it was they got to see first hand just what a Wardancer was capable of (she tore through them in a single turn, before most were able to so much as lift their sword).

After it was complete, Amy more or less begged the Wardancer to train her.

The elves had been suitably impressed with her skill during the battle with the Orcs but wanted to see more, and so a test was devised. Amy  would have to fight each one of the players, in turn, to first blood. When this proposition was put to the dwarfs back on the boat, they eagerly accepted (‘We get to hit an elf? Sure!’). Alan and Andy were less ready, as Amy was arguably the party’s best fighter already, and they did not rate their chances.

She absolutely minced them. Skipping past dwarf, elf and human alike, Amy planted a solid blow on everyone without so much as a hair getting cut in return.

The Wardancers agreed to teach her their skills and accepted her into their troupe, so the party set up camp for the handful of weeks it would take Amy to learn everything she needed – no one complained about the chance of getting a Wardancer into the party. For their part, the elves felt they could trust Amy and liked the idea of a Wardancer going about the wider world, showing what Wood Elves were capable of – it could only enhance their reputation and keep invaders out of the forest.

At the end of their stay with the elves, Amy was made a full Wardancer and though she had much to learn (the Wardancer career is very extensive), she had just become a Warrior Plus.

Andy on the other hand… he had not got on so well with the other elves, and they sensed something… wrong about him. In fact, the Wood Elf Lord told him he had spent too long among humans and could no longer be considered a real elf (he used the term Nul-Elf), and was told to leave and never come back. It was at this time his alignment was changed from Good to Neutral (he really had not been playing a Good character up to now, at one point trying to use an example involving Hitler to justify his actions – it is a long story…). Andy promptly told the other players that he would return to the village and wipe it out in the future, just as soon as he could summon his legions of undead…

So, with that cheery thought, they bade farewell to the elves and, with a Wardancer now among their number, continued their journey south down the River Reik.

The Enemy Within – Death on the Reik Part One

With Shadows Over Bogenhafen complete, we were now two adventures down in the Enemy Within campaign. Now would start what has often been cited as one of the best adventures written for any RPG… Death on the Reik.

EW3

The players and characters were;

Ed – Thorgrim – Dwarf Scholar
Amy – Llewellyn – Wood Elf Warrior
Andy – Thorn – Wood Elf Scholar (wizard’s apprentice)
James – Deem – Dwarf Warrior
Alan – Yvette – Human Ranger

Death on the Reik starts fairly slowly, with the players effectively doing some downtime work. It begins with Josef the bargeman taking them out of Bogenhafen, a town which had become a little too ‘hot’ for them.

A couple of days out of Bogenhafen, they came across a boat that had been cast adrift in the middle of the river. Ever curious (and completely missing the warning calls of a mutant in the trees that was watching their approach), they boarded the boat to see what was what.

Within a minute, the mutants attacked, a submerged one with big tentacles seizing Alan while others leapt up from below decks and the ‘watcher in the trees’ using its wings to dive down into the fray. The fight did not last too long and the players were victorious without too many bumps and scrapes. It was not until Josef pointed out that the boat was technically salvage that their eyes lit up – they had their own boat!

Alan appointed himself captain, mainly because the other players had already started arguing over who was going to get which cabin. It was some time before anyone thought to check the hold, which contained a great many sacks of wool which was worth just shy of a thousand Gold Crowns – far more money than any of them had seen before.

Josef quickly gave them instructions on how a boat works (no one had Boat Handling skills), and Amy was appointed chief pilot, mainly because her stats meant she would fail Boat Handling tests the least. At least, that was the theory – the first lock they came to on the Weissbruck Canal saw the boat (now renamed Moon’s Folly) sustain the first of what would be a lot of damage as Amy tried to negotiate obstacles.

Josef was heading north, so bade them farewell, and the players were free to act as they saw fit!

They did, however, have a number of jobs to sort out. When raiding the Steinhager offices in Bogenhafen, they had turned up documentation that indicated that a powerful wizard called Etelka Hertzen was up to no good in and around Kemperbad, a fair distance to the south. Andy wanted to return to Delberz so he could receive training from his old master and become a proper wizard. They also had an idea that they could all become rich by using their new boat to begin a trading business.

Putting the evil wizard off for the time being, they headed to Altdorf, where Josef had lined up a contact for them to sell their wool. They managed to get 900 Gold Crowns for it, and immediately bought as much wood as they could find, thinking they could sell it elsewhere. Altdorf was left promptly behind when Alan spotted wanted posters that showed his face, in connection with the murder of a couple of young nobles – fall out from the Mistaken Identity scenario. James, meanwhile, found himself being followed by odd men trying to pass secret messages to him. His own case of mistaken identity had clearly not been resolved.

Andy convinced them all to return to Delberz, where they managed to sell their wood (for a meagre profit, but a profit nonetheless), and then they all piled round to his master’s abode, eager to see the manner of man that had trained Andy.

Andy was not… polite to his master’s other apprentice, the one who had stayed behind, and managed to somewhat confuse his master with tales of everything he had been up to. However, the players did learn that the evil wizard down south (Etelka) was bad news. Andy arranged to stay with his master for a month, during which the rest of the players visited old friends and family. Well, when I say the rest of the players, Alan and James decided to head off out of town to act as highwaymen, an endeavour that proved profitable for James but which cost Alan a Fate point as he was forced to dodge the attentions of roadwardens.

Meanwhile, Andy completed his training and was now a bona fide wizard, level one. The first spell he learned was Fireball which had the other players fearing for their lives.

This done, they loaded up their boat and proceeded to head south to find an evil wizard and disrupt her plans…

The Enemy Within – Shadows Over Bogenhafen Part Five (Finale)

In the last episode, the players had rooted out the evil and corruption within the leadership of the town of Bogenhafen and were on their way to stop a dreadful ritual before doom descended on everyone.

EW2

The players and characters were;

Ed – Thorgrim – Dwarf Scholar
Amy – Llewellyn – Wood Elf Warrior
Andy – Thorn – Wood Elf Scholar (wizard’s apprentice)
James – Deem – Dwarf Warrior
Alan – Yvette – Human Ranger

As the players approached the wharfside warehouses of Bogenfaen, night was falling and bringing with it a thick mist. They knew the ritual was taking place in one of two warehouses and, predictably, went to the wrong one first.

Having settled on the right one, they thought they would be smart, and have a plan. This revolved mostly around Amy breaking into the warehouse to lie in wait for the cultists, and James pretending to be drunk on the wharfside close to the entrance of the warehouse (actually, having picked up plenty of ale at the Schaffenfest, there was not much pretending there). The rest just kinda hid in the shadows nearby.

They waited. For a long time. Finally, a coach turned up, and a couple of men went inside the warehouse carrying bundles. There, Amy watched them getting changed into their ritualistic robes, but she did not raise the alarm. More coaches turned up, more men entered the warehouse, but the players still held their hand.

It was not until a wagon arrived and men started hefting a bundle that obviously contained a body (dead or alive, they had no idea) that they decided to act.

When all was quiet again on the wharfside, they rushed to the warehouse door, only to find it had been locked. Inside, Amy was watching the bundle being opened to reveal the unconscious form of a young woman (a captured thief that was intended as sacrifice). Guessing what the cultists intended, Amy launched her attack, sending an arrow whistling towards who she presumed was the cult leader – and missed. By a mile.

As things were clearly about to kick off, the players outside were getting a bit more frantic in their attempts to break through the locked doors. Ed resolved the situation quickly, if not neatly, by rolling one of his bombs towards the doors.

Boom.

As the smoke cleared, many of the cultists were panicking, though their attempts to escape were initially stymied by the players trying to get in. Amy, by this time, had jumped down from her perch inside and drawn swords as she raced towards the cult leader (Teugen). Unfortunately, it was at this time she discovered he was a spellcaster and a Steal Mind spell saw her sitting on the floor, drooling.

The daemon (Gideon) revealed himself at this point and from then on, it was a pitched battle. Teugen threw the odd fireball and Gideon lent his spellcasting weight to the battle. Many of the cultists finally managed to escape into the night, while the players’ own heavy hitters were being paralysed by failed Willpower tests and the Steal Mind spell. Finally, they managed to close range and wade in. Ed’s offer to throw another bomb into the mix was politely refused.

Gideon proved to be a tough nut to crack, but they eventually managed to dispatch both him and Teugen, watching as Tzeentch claimed the soul of the mortal in a display that handed out the first round of Insanity points.

And so… victory.

The ritual had been stopped, and no Chaos Gate was to open in Bogenhafen. Chaos corruption in the leadership of the town had been destroyed. And the players were fairly sure they were going to get arrested for murder (a fair assumption).

Deciding that a big reward was not going to be coming their way, they found their old friend, the boatman Josef, and hid on his barge as they crept out of Bogenhafen.

At least they all got a Fate point for their trouble.

 

 

The Enemy Within – Shadows Over Bogenhafen Part Four

When we last left our intrepid adventurers, they had detected a whiff of corruption in the higher echelons of the town of Bogenhafen and had decided what was most needed was a midnight break-in.

EW2

The players and characters were;

Ed – Thorgrim – Dwarf Scholar
Amy – Llewellyn – Wood Elf Warrior
Andy – Thorn – Wood Elf Scholar (wizard’s apprentice)
James – Deem – Dwarf Warrior
Alan – Yvette – Human Ranger

The Steinhager offices were a standalone structure near some dark alleyways. This suited to players greatly. After wandering around the offices several times to discover all the windows had been shuttered, Andy decided to try one of the doors (there were two, front and back). A quick twist of the knob, and there was a hell of a racket as the (big) dog inside started barking. They quickly scooted off to consider their options.

The plan (if we can dignify it with the term) was that James would clamber onto the roof and remove tiles. With enough gone, he would drop down inside, go to the front door and open it. Presumably he had an idea on what he was going to do about the dog.

Approaching the offices again, the players fanned out while James tried to get onto the roof.Not being the most agile of dwarfs, he failed. Twice.

This set the dog off again and, this time, two watchmen arrived to investigate the racket. Seeing James, they challenged him. Amy, deciding James needed a hand, crept up behind one of them and announced she would Strike to Stun. Unfortunately, she rolled a critical hit – and then kept rolling for multiple damage. By the time she had finished, her stealth attack had delivered well over 20 points of damage and caused the watchman’s head to fairly explode.

James ran, pursued by the other watchman, while Amy sprang onto the roof (being an elf, she had no trouble getting up there – naturally). Unfortunately for James, he ran straight into a large six-man watch patrol but in a feat of superhuman deception (he has Fellowship 15-odd, and managed to get an awesome roll), managed to persuade the patrol leader that the watchman following him was a murderer and trying to kill him!

As the watchman was led away under extreme protest, James returned to the office and, frustrated at their general lack of progress, used his own pick lock on the office door – his axe. Entering with Andy, they padded about before there was a low growl and a HUGE dog leapt out of the darkness, straight for Andy. Mouth open wide, the dog clamped down somewhere very painful (if you have seen Kick Ass 2, you get the idea). It was eventually beaten off, but Andy would be walking very gingerly for a while.

Given free reign within the office, the players turned up a list of warehouses belonging to Steinhager, a stack of parchment with the Ordo Septenarius logo, and a grimoire full of petty magic, which made Andy happy. They found a safe, but had no way to get into it (they did briefly consider the bombs Ed was still carrying) and decided to retreat while the going was good.

The rest of the night was spent aboard their friend Josef’s boat, and they got up early – Alan had not forgotten that the clerk at the town hall had told him to come back that morning.

It was not a good meeting at the town hall. The clerk kept them waiting for more than an hour and, when he finally deigned to notice them, announced that after a lot of hassle, he had managed to get an okay to release funds for their work. One Gold Crown a piece.

Alan was ready to separate the clerk’s head from his body over this, but the rest convinced him to let the poor man live.

Outside, they bumped into their merchant contact Magirius – the man looked very scared about something, and babbled on about secret rituals and sacrifices. He was looking to get out of the Ordo Septenarius, and wanted their help. They agreed to wait for him to contact them again, when he should have details about where the Ordo’s next ritual would take place, one that would include murder…

Sensing oncoming conflict, the players promptly went shopping, though they were somewhat appalled when they saw how much a mail coat cost, while Alan had trouble even finding someone who could sell him decent arrows. They also took time out to visit the wharf where the town’s warehouses were located, to see where the three-legged goblin had (apparently) been killed. There, they encountered a warehouse guard who confidently claimed he had been the one to kill it. Of course, the players knew better and some careful questioning (backed up by an impatient Alan’s threats) quickly pulled his story apart. However, despite his boasts, the man had no useful information for them, other than confirming what they already knew – someone in Bogenhafen was covering the goblin incident up, likely because it had been killed in the secret temple they had discovered earlier on…

Presently, a young messenger boy located the players, and delivered a message – from their new best friend Magirius – asking them to visit his house urgently. Apparently, the merchant had found something out about the forthcoming ritual and they would now have a decent target.

They did not think to question why the boy quickly ran off after delivering his message, without waiting for a tip. Nor did they think it odd that when they finally got to Magirius’ house, the boy was already there waiting for them.

He let them in, politely enough, and then indicated they should walk into Magirius’ study. It seemed empty at first, but a quick investigation revealed Magirius crumpled up behind his desk, his throat slit – obviously very recently.

Behind them, the boy had thrown open the front door and was shouting ‘Murder! Murder!’

Cue a watch patrol sprinting towards the house, cue the players realising they had been set up. The boy reappeared in the study (literally blinking into existence) and, in a very, very deep voice that did not belong in a child, mocked them for all the trouble they were about to get into. Then the boy faded from view…

Behind the scenes, the boy was actually a manifestation of a daemon named Gideon who had made a deal with Teugen. The forthcoming ritual was meant to give Teugen a new lease of life as his soul would be released from the daemon’s debt in return for another, the sacrifice Magirius had told the players about. In reality, the daemon was going to take Teugen’s soul anyway and the ritual would actually open a Chaos Gate right in the middle of Bogenhafen. If that happened, for the inhabitants of the town at least, it would make the End Times seem like a picnic. However, the players did not know any of this…

So, to recap. The players’ one friend has been murdered, they have been framed for the crime, and the watch are just a few metres outside the house. What would be the best thing for them to do?

Well, Andy decided the best thing would be to steal the silver letter opener on Magirius’ desk. Alan pointed out that when the watch burst in, they would see Andy standing over the body, holding the letter opener, and naturally conclude they were witnessing a burglary that had escalated into murder.

Ed had been poking about the study and realised that Magirius had been trying to write something in his own blood as he died – WHSE and either the number 13 or 17. Ed quickly deduced that WHSE meant warehouse, and that all they had to do was check out the ones numbered 13 and 17. Logically, one of those would be the site for the ritual.

While Andy and Alan were still arguing, Amy made a bolt for it, running past the watch patrol, who started to chase the agile elf. Everyone else took this as the right time to make their escape, and they split up across the town.

Except Andy – he thought the best idea would be to avoid the watch altogether and instead ran into the garden, which he discovered was surrounded by a high wall. It took him a couple of attempt to climb it, even with the help of a convenient tree (some elf…), but froze when he reached the top and realised more watchman were standing in the alley directly below him.

Fortunately, they did not see him, and he jumped down when they had moved out of view.

Eventually, after a long, long time of evading patrols and ducking into alleyways, the players finally reunited and started to make their way across Bogenhafen to the wharfs, where all the warehouses were located. Night was approaching and they had a sense of urgency about them, but were surprised when they saw, a short distance away, a building had been set on fire and a mob was chasing someone. That someone looked exactly like James and ran into the players, smiled, then disappeared into thin air (yes, it was the daemon Gideon again, trying to make their lives difficult).

Then the mob showed up, and demanded James be handed over for ‘justice.’ Being a dwarf, James was not about to outrun them, so the whole party resorted to threats and, finally, managed to get the crowd to back down. However, the mob started calling out for the watch, and the players hurried on quickly, wanting to avoid any legal entanglements.

 

In the next instalment – the players infiltrate a ritual and Ed gets to use his bombs at last!