Friday, 19 June 2015

Iron Kingdoms Roleplay - Session Seven

For those of you who haven't been keeping up you can find earlier sessions and background material in here. The stats of the player characters can be found here should you be interested and the rest of the 'Brotherhood of the Rail' mercenary companies NPC's backgrounds can be found here.

As with last week this weeks attendees would be Captain Sebastian LaCroix (Toms character), His Lieutenant Rafaldo Scorgiani (Steve's character), Martin's Priestess and 'Spiritual Advisor' character Danika Jansen, the Mechanik Bragg Halvard (Harry's character) and we'll be re-joined by new character Bradick Davalos (Andrew whose normally GMing's character) with my Ogrun 'Bosh' Skullsplitter temporarily moved to NPC status. Our GM for this one (as the last one) will be me...

Note - As I was GMing and obviously had notes and intro bits written down I've just pasted them into this article directly so they'll be in a 'reading to the group' style. This'll save me a lot of time writing out everything again and hopefully wont effect your reading enjoyment too much bouncing between the two styles of writing.

Mission Six (Part 2) - 'A Trip Down River...'
The officers of the Brotherhood are in Tarna having recently completed a supposedly routine job for the Transcontinental Rail Company and as with all such things it got a bit complicated. After gathering evidence from a number of sources they finally had a potential location for their enemies and had commandeered a vessel in order to rid Tarna of them once and for all...details of the first part of this adventure can be found here.

Following the map and assisted by two people with sailing experience the trip is a relatively simple one. There are signs of fortifications and camps at various points along the bank as you'd expect given the amount of different forces that have contested it recently and given the potential danger of the area your travelling towards Bosh is keeping watch from the deck of the boat along with Bragg and his Laborjack...

After an hour or so of careful travel you reach a point about half a mile from the place indicated on the map near some old abandoned buildings...

The map indicated that some kind of watchtower was built on a small bank near the centre of the river and a plan to deal with it needed to be decided upon. After some discussion it was decided that as they were using one of their enemies craft that they'd just attempt to sail by the tower and dock as if they were actually meant to be there...this plan might have worked if not for the fact that there was now a laborjack on the deck of the boat and there obviously wasn't one on it when it left the camp. Long range rifle shots began to splash into the surrounding water though none were yet hitting the boat...they were getting closer as the boat got nearer however.

Act One -'About as Subtle as We Get...'
Now being committed to a frontal assault Sebastian ordered the pilots to beach the boat close to the dock and then for them to disembark as quickly as possible in order to hopefully take the enemy complex as much by surprise as possible...and with a sickening crunch of splintering wood they did so...

Editors Note - Annoyingly no-one failed the test I made them roll to avoid falling over...

The Brotherhood troops quickly disembarked and were using the few available bits of cover on the shore to set up firing positions for their artillery team, the Pistoleers deployed to defend them, Sebastian, Rafaldo and Bradick joined them while Danika and Bosh headed along the shore towards a dockside entrance from which several cloaked figures were emerging. Another group who had evidently been on patrol were moving towards the interlopers taking pot shots and yelling for assistance. The occupants of the tower were firing down on them and an uncannily accurate shot from the watchtower killed one of the artillerists making setting up their deck gun a far slower prospect.

The Brotherhoods officers fired at the patrol killing several of it's members while Bragg commanded his 'jack to fire it's cannon at the leg of the Watchtower in order to hopefully bring it crashing down. The first shot was on target, splintering the leg and though the tower didn't fall the shot had caused the snipers in it to seek cover as well as preventing them from setting up some kind of field weapon they had been moving into place.

Several more groups of enemies began to emerge from around the far corner of the closest and largest building of the complex presumably from some rear entrance or perhaps they were simply other patrols. There was no way of knowing without flanking the building itself and given the sparse cover available to them this seemed like a near impossible was beginning to dawn on them that a frontal assault might not have been the best idea.

Editors Note - I had the complex mapped and the occupants all had stats so the group could in theory approach this 'final battle' in any way they saw fit. I was however expecting them to disembark down river and approach the complex a bit more sneakily. of course that would have also had it's own inherent hazards as a strategy...

Bosh and Danika were successfully holding back those cult members using the pier entrance of the complex and Braggs 'jack was successfully suppressing the enemies in the tower. Elsewhere the situation was less encouraging as more and more enemies were appearing at a greater rate now than the group were killing them even with Rafaldo's spells knocking many to the ground and now heavily armoured opponents were amongst them. Several of these groups were getting into firing positions that could cause the Brotherhood severe problems should they be able to set up a crossfire and they were able to now give covering fire to the aforementioned heavily armoured cultists and mercenaries that were rapidly was difficult to see how the situation could get worse...

...until it did...

Act Two - 'First Look at an Old Enemy'
A group of armoured men in heavy cloaks emerged from the doorway surrounding a woman in an archaic but well constructed suit of full plate armour. She immediately noticed Danika's priestly raiment's and paused briefly before shouting at her bodyguard "Keep the Ogrun occupied...I'll deal with the priest..." She was armed with a wicked looking flail that glowed eerily and a long wavy bladed dagger. As ordered her guard attempted to overwhelm Bosh while the woman advanced upon Danika. Additionally, the most recent group to appear on the other side of the building had stopped some distance away and appeared to be setting up a multi-barrelled weapon of some kind behind the stumps of some recently felled trees. Bragg noted that it seemed to be a Chain-Gun, a weapon used primarily to lay down impressive amounts of covering fire...

Danika unleashed a flurry of devastating blows at the Thamarite leader but despite causing many wounds and crushing her armour in many places she failed to put her down and her counter-attack wounded Danika in return. Three more members of the cultists personal guard were now dead but more had appeared and followed their predecessors lead in attempting to bring down the giant Ogrun and prevent him from assisting Danika in her fight.

Under Bragg's guidance the 'jack finally destroyed the leg of the watchtower and it listed to one side before crashing to the ground spilling the guards it contained into the bank with bone crushing force. The Pistoleers moved forward under orders from Sebastian in order to cover both Bradick and him as they advanced to deal with the weapons team (well...mainly to cover his own advance...any help they gave Bradick would probably be completely accidental) and Sebastian managed to kill two of them with Rafaldo using his magic to knock several enemies to the floor who were attempting to impede their progress. Bradick chose this moment to hurl a grenade at the survivors...well...that was the idea at least. Unfortunately a terrible miscalculation meant that the grenade ended it's path right next to the wall of the building with two unfortunate consequences...

...firstly the chain-gun team still had enough members to set up the weapon and secondly there was now a large hole in the side of the main building big enough for significant numbers of cultists to emerge from meaning that now enemies were pouring from three directions rather than two and in greater quantities than ever.

Editors Note - That was a bit of an inconvenient turn of events. I can usually account for most things in a campaign but 'now every enemy can attack the group at once due to some-one creating an extra door' wasn't a likelihood I'd calculated upon...

Now being dangerously close to a horde of cultists, mercenaries and guards Bradick hurled several incendiary grenades into their midst in order to cover his retreat while Sebastian used the confusion to advance from cover to cover to a position whereby he could see where the first groups of enemies had been originating from and killed the rest of the weapon team on his way. His attention was however distracted a moment later by the sight of a man in Khadoran military uniform seemingly retreating from the scene of devastation with a small group of bodyguards. A carefully aimed shot caught him a glancing blow across the thigh and Drago Makarov turned to see who had dared to attack him...

Danika's initial successes against the Thamarite leader had slowed and the tide of battle seemed to be turning in her favour as her weapons were more suited to countering an armoured opponent than Danika's were, their respective magical powers were countering each other out and after several more exchanges of blows it became apparent that whoever could get in the next strike would more than likely be the victor. Worryingly there was a distinct possibility that it would be the Thamarite rather than the Morrowan who would prevail. Bosh had cut his way through a third wave of guards but those few that remained were more than he could defeat before Danika would be struck down. Fortunately Rafaldo had retreated from the chaos caused by Bradick's disastrous grenade throw and was in position to aid her by reducing the numbers of opponents Bosh had to overcome with a particularly accurate and deadly pair of Razor Wind spells. Bosh then cut down his last two enemies before driving his Warcleaver into the dark priestesses back as saving his ally seemed far more important than allowing the honour duel to take it's natural course.

Act Three - 'A Challenge Accepted'
As some-one whose homelands preferred method of resolving disputes was via duelling Captain LaCroix called out a challenge to the recently retreating figure of Drago now facing him and was surprised to find that the challenge was accepted though his bodyguard continued their retreat. He drew a single pistol and Sebastian did the same though the Captain was slightly quicker with his first shot causing a glancing wound to the Khadoran and Drago's responding shot did the same. The two men exchanged a second volley and then a third and though they were both experienced and accurate shots they were also both equally experienced at avoiding being hit and only caused minor wounds to one another though Sebastian had come out slightly worse. It seemed that despite Sebastian being faster it was Drago who was having the luck...realising that he had to finish this soon he focussed everything on making one deadly final shot and the bullet struck true hitting the Khadoran right between the eyes...

Editors Note - The start of this exchange went like this Tom - "Do I know enough Khadoran to issue a basic challenge to Drago?", Me - "Probably....why...?" Tom - "I want to challenge him to a duel..." Me - "Why the hell not..." Sometimes you have to accept that players are going to come up with cooler ideas than you did and I personally would rather let a player do something enjoyable and in character...even if it means effectively throwing away an entire scene you'd already written, lol.

Danika stopped briefly to pick up the Thamarites weapons to prevent them being retrieved by the dead leaders fellow cult members and then her and Bosh pushed forward into the building along with Rafaldo who had recently joined them..

The main building of the complex you've entered consists of a large central room containing several small offices an elaborate altar decorated with various heads from a number of humanoid races in varying states of decay as well as several weapons presumably taken as trophies and religious symbols that have been defiled in some way. Behind the altar is a large painting of a striking lady in elaborate plate armour of a somewhat archaic design carrying a rune-covered flail in one hand and in the other she's holding a wicked looking dagger with a wavy blade it appears that vanity was also one of the Lady Carolan's many sins. 

Several confused Thamarites are seeking cover in the room while a small horde of others are leaving the room via the normal and newly created exits towards the now significant outnumbered and isolated Brotherhood members Sebastian and Bradick...Despite losing both their leaders it still seemed likely that not all of the group would survive...

The unmistakable sound of several rapid fire artillery pieces can be heard over the sounds of battle and coincides exactly with a group of newly emerging enemies bodies being torn to pieces. Two military looking transport vessels have arrived at the dock at the same time as several armoured carriages and soldiers are disembarking from all of them in several disciplined ranks. Artillery teams on deck are giving covering fire and soon all your opponents are either dead or in retreat.

Marcus appears with his now seemingly ever present personal bodyguard and a number of senior looking officers of the Thorn company flanked by a number of heavily armed guardsmen.

"I see you've been busy..." "Where's the rest of your little band of troublemaking vigilantes?"

Sebastian LaCroix briefly explained recent events before heading towards one of the transports calling loudly for medical attention, some wine and a tailor...though not necessarily in that order and left Marcus to deal with the mess that was left as he figured that was the least that their erstwhile employer could do...

Marcus turns to the most senior of the officers accompanying him who appears to be of Captain rank. "You and your personal guard can accompany me, while you can have your senior Lieutenant and the rest of your men secure the dock area" He makes a point of kicking over the body of one of the cultists littering the ground nearby "This must be one of those 'common miscreants' you thought I was 'probably misinformed' about"

It seems unusual that an officer of a private company can get away with ordering about soldiers with seeming impunity but apparently Marcus has more influence than you previously thought or has finally managed to make contact with some-one who actually cared about his suspicions.

Inside the main building Bosh, Danika and Rafaldo had finished off any cultists or Khadorans foolish enough to stick around and were investigating the offices though Danika was more interested in the defiled icons around the altar. One of the items on the altar appeared to be an old Battle Staff topped with a set of spikes cleverly configured to represent the symbol of the Morrowan church. The staff was covered in blood and other foul substances but seemed to be still structurally sound and Danika's knowledge of weapons led her to believe that it could be restored with minimal effort by any craftsman worth his salt. She decided to take it with her...

Act Four - 'A Traitor Within'
The offices contained more than enough evidence to justify the groups actions in this manner and also apparently contained lists of those who Lady Carolan had recruited, bribed or threatened into joining her cause. Marcus joined everyone in sorting through the piles of documents. It was at this point that Danika noted that the Thorn Company Captain accompanying them seemed to be quite nervous and was subtly edging his way towards one of the doors as soon as 'lists of collaborators' was mentioned out loud. Danika moved to intercept him and he chose this moment to make a break for it and got knocked to the ground for his efforts.

Several of his guards moved towards her to defend their leader as they had idea what was going on and found an extremely large Ogrun literally dripping with blood and gore between them and her. Before things could escalate into more violence Marcus quickly stepping in with the evidence he'd discovered before the captains guards could react and diffused the situation as best as he could. Whether it was his authoritative tone, the evidence or the high likelihood of being brutally murdered on the spot that swayed them the result was that they backed down and acknowledged that the leaders actions were suspicious indeed. It took a little more searching to compile enough evidence to completely incriminate the Thorn Company captain but fortunately there was nothing that mentioned the other guards in his inner circle or his senior Lieutenant.

Danika stated quite explicitly that the crime for such betrayal of his commission and country was death and offered to carry out the sentence personally and immediately. Perhaps seeing a quick and easy path to personal advancement the Lieutenant agreed with Danika's assessment and authorised her to act...though it was likely she would have done so anyway...and a swift blow to the head ended the disgraced leaders life. It was however decided to thoroughly search the remainder of the complex with several squads of soldiers and the Brotherhood officers in order to ensure that all evidence was taken and that there were no nasty surprises waiting for them.

The building that the Thamarites and Khadorans were using as a cell block smells of decay, urine, excrement and makes even the worst of prisons seem like hotel accommodation. Their are ten cells containing a selection of men and women two and three to a cell and an Ogrun in a cell on his own. All are shackled either to the wall, floor or each other with the exception of the Ogrun whose chained to pretty much everything. All show signs of malnutrition and varying levels of physical abuse and several of those who have obviously been prisoners for a significant period of time appear to be dead or very nearly so. The locking system is surprisingly sophisticated allowing each cell to be opened individually or collectively and seems to be operated from a panel in the rear of the building. The guards accompanying you recognise several of the prisoners as members of a patrol that went missing about a month ago.

The group sets about freeing all the prisoners and helping them where they can. One of the more recently acquired of the prisoners was apparently once a Field Medic and despite her own injuries helps tend the wounds of the other prisoners. Several other of the prisoners have military backgrounds and it occurs to the officers that some may be suitable candidates for employment in the Brotherhood when restored to health.

Another building contains the standard room full of bunks with foot lockers that you'd expect to find in a guard room. The room is devoid of life as presumably the inhabitants either died during the defence of this facility or have retreated rather than share their fate. Their are a few weapons scattered here and there, a variety of standard civilian clothing and a few copper coins though nothing of significant value.

With no enemies to fight or valuables to 'acquire' this room held little interest and was quickly left in order to investigate several of what looked like storage areas. The store room on the right contained coal, wood, several containers of oil and a large water tank and Danika pointed out that those containers of oil and other flammables might come in useful to burn the whole place to the ground once they'd cleared it of evidence and survivors.

The other storeroom was far less mundane in contents and had two lots of shackles mounted on the far wall and blood stains coat the walls, floor and a heavy wooden table that's on your left as you enter. One set of manacles contains what's left of a young man who appears to have been brutally and inventively tortured before having his throat slit from ear to ear. A pair of vicious looking multi tailed spiked whips hang from a couple of hooks on the wall next to a selection of instruments of torture ranging from the primitive to the exotic.

There is a large leather bound book placed on one corner of the table and on closer inspection the leather actually turns out to be suspiciously like human skin. The book contains detailed notes on the various tortures that have been undertaken in this room in neat, precise handwriting and the detail is sickeningly explicit. There are notes on each victims reactions to the abuses inflicted upon them, suggested improvements to the torture equipment and several diagrams detailing how those 'improvements' might be implemented both theoretically and practically. It would be an incredibly useful aid to any budding interrogator should they be able to stomach it's contents and be ruthless enough to utilise it's techniques.

Editors Note - Martin decided to take it for his character Danika and as her Interrogation Skill was already at two (the maximum a character skill can go until they reach Veteran level) I let her take a point in Torture instead. The torture ability is detailed on page 362 of the Kings, Nations and Gods should you be interested.

With all this evidence now at the legitimate authorities disposal, both it's leaders dead and it's influence on military matters ended the Thamarite cult was effectively destroyed. More disturbing however was that the documentation also had vague references to other cults in other cities...

With the aid of the soldiers and the newly promoted Lieutenant the third boat is readied for the return journey and loaded with the rescued prisoners and the evidence of Lady Carolan and Drago Makarov's activities. The last they saw of Lady Carolan and Drago Makarov's base of operations were the rapidly increasing spread of flame as the fire they set before leaving began to engulf the corrupted buildings. Unfortunately for the group the now complicated political situation was going to mean that public acknowledgement of their service to the town of Tarna would have to remain secret and therefore public rewards of any nature were unlikely...and that includes financial ones...

However Danika had acquired some new weapons, Bragg had liberated the Chain guns used by their enemies and Bradick, Rafaldo and Sebastian at least had the satisfaction of killing some Khadorans...which none of them were fans of. Bosh got to kill things...and that's usually enough for him.

Back to Reality.
I gave every-one who didn't already have it can have 'Language - Five Cant' as they'd been using sign language to co-ordinate their attacks and that's presumably the one that Sebastian would teach them as he has it.

I also gave them 'Connections (Thorn Company)' as they were responsible for the promotion of a Lieutenant to Captain, rescued several Thorn Company prisoners and generally made the town a safer place (as well as an easier one to guard) so I figured they might be able to pull in a favour later based upon their actions. There would be no public acknowledgement of their achievements but soldiers have a habit of talking, lol.

I didn't let them make any money from looting weapons this time as I reasoned that given the current war footing in the area and the amount of casualties that have already occurred during the recent war there's no real market for second hand weapons they may have looted as they are freely available. I did however say that they could now arm any of their new recruits with basic weapons and armour and create a small armoury for the Brotherhood should any of them need a replacement basic weapon at some point.

They also got 3XP each

The next mission will be GM'd by Sebastian LaCroix's player Tom Williams and will be set in our next destination of Corvus.

Thoughts and comments are (as usual) most welcome.

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