Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Iron Kingdoms Roleplay - Session Nine (Part Two)

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.

Those looking for Part One of this adventure specifically can find it here.

This weeks attendees would be Lieutenant Rafaldo Scorgiani (Steve's character), Martin's Warrior Priestess Danika Jansen, the Mechanik Bragg Halvard (Harry's character), Bradick Davalos (Andrew's character), My Ogrun 'Bosh' Skullsplitter with Captain Sebastian LaCroix (Toms character) temporarily moved to NPC status as he'll be GMing for the next few sessions...

Note - Tom was GMing and obviously had notes and intro bits written down so 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 again things he'd already got written and hopefully wont effect your reading enjoyment too much bouncing between the two styles of writing.

Mission Eight - 'Foothold...' (Part Two)

The officers of the Brotherhood have left Corvis behind with the resources required to enable their employers in the Transcontinental Rail Company to build their fortress in the Bloodstone Marches. After stopping a Trollkin revolt and foiling an attempt to start a Thamarite cult locally they are confident that the area is secure...perhaps overconfident in fact...

News has recently reached Ternon Crag of an aggressive move by Cryxian forces into territory held by Cygnar and a large number of the barracks in the area containing those loyal to Cygnar have marched to assist in what may turn into a sizeable conflict. This has thrown the area into panic and some local troublemakers are bound to try to take advantage in some way. The are also now far fewer patrols of the outskirts which could possibly leave the fortress open to unexpected avenues of attack.

In light of the potentially increased threat level the training of the Trollkin recruits for military roles has been prioritised along with the more directly military aspects of the fort such as firing points and access routes to key defensive locations.

A unit of ten Trollkin had been equipped with armour and heavy weapons and trained in their use by Bosh and his fellow Men at Arms, another five with the most expertise in wilderness survival had been equipped as Scouts and Pathfinders, six were trained with assisting artillery teams with loading and moving of field weapon pieces (though they were also now more than capable of firing the weapons themselves should they need to) and a further ten had been given employment as labourers on a permanent basis.

A second wave of recruits were also being trained in various areas of expertise but wouldn't be ready for some time. Many of the brotherhood members were taking advantage of the downtime to upgrade their equipment and weapons through the somewhat elaborately named Pip 'n Pop's Trade Emporium & Satisfyingly Hospitable Palace of Bits, Bramble and All Around Useful Things where a surprisingly extensive range of items were available. Preparation was now in place for most issues of a military nature.

However the first issue to crop up wasn't to be military in nature at all...

Act Three - 'All that Glitters...'
Rumours of a gold mine in the hills has created a great deal of attention locally over the last few days and has caused much tension with many prospectors and landowners all claiming ownership of the land upon which it stands. Getting bored of constant requests for assistance Sebastian decides to send his greediest most trusted officers to go and sort out the problem. Rafaldo was given more specific orders to claim the mine in the name of the Transcontinental Rail Company by any means he deemed necessary...

As they got closer to the location of the gold mine they passed many prospectors on their way to try and claim the treasure for themselves and a surprising number appeared to have official looking documentation giving them rights to the land on which it stood. As they arrived it was obvious that an individual with some authority had claimed it first as a line of mercenary guards were blocking the entrance and several elaborate tents had been set up nearby. Outside one of them an elderly yet strangely distinguished looking man was sitting in a comfortable chair surveying the scene with a somewhat self satisfied look on his face...Rafaldo went to talk to him while the rest assisted with crowd control.

The gentlemen turned out to the infamous 'Old Thorn' and claimed that the mine was his as it was on his land though he was open to offers if they wished to purchase it from him. He also claimed that the previous owner had emerged with a gigantic nugget of gold, sold the mine to him as he was ill equipped to mine it further and had left with his small but not inconsiderable fortune in gold soon after.

Rafaldo as an experienced negotiator was somewhat dubious of this extremely convenient story and asked permission to investigate the mine and ascertain if this was really the treasure trove that he was being told of. Bradick stated that he could easily test to see if there was indeed gold in the mine with some simple alchemical procedures and together they entered the mine. Many of the prospectors were growing more agitated and aggressive by this point but Bosh, Danika and Bragg made an imposing enough barrier so that they soon quietened down...

Bradick found several veins of 'gold' close to the surface and they were suspiciously pure looking but after some testing with various equipment from his travelling alchemical kit they turned out to be a substance similar in appearance to gold often used by tricksters to fool the unwary. The substance had the advantage of being easy to smelt so could often be turned into coins and ingots close enough to blend in with quantities of the genuine article. As long as the coins weren't alchemically tested the ruse would fool most people. The mine itself was therefore worthless to any-one not willing to engage in an elaborate and long term con trick. Rafaldo and Bradick left to report their findings to the 'Old Thorn'.

After a rambling yet very convincing speech about how genuine the gold was, how they must be mistaken, a repeat of the 'man with the nugget' story Rafaldo began to notice holes and inconsistencies in the various stories and he soon managed to unravel it completely as it becam obvious that the 'Old Thorn' himself had filled the mine with spurious gold and spread the tales of it's discovery. The 'Old Thorn' then changed tack completely and offered to cut the Brotherhood and by extension the Transcontinental Rail Company into the con in return for a share of the risks. After a long debate an agreement was made about the percentage split, their relative responsibilities with an additional assurance that the spurious coinage would not make it's way into the payment for any goods purchased from their respective parent companies. Having gained possession of the 'Gold Mine' for all practical purposes Rafaldo considered his task complete and summoned the rest of the group to return to the fortress.

Another few weeks passed uneventfully and the fortress was now complete for all practical purposes. The 'Old Thorn' was keeping his side of the agreement and profits from the mine were making there way into the companies coffers, word had spread throughout all the local villages and businesses of the terrible consequences of involving themselves with Thamarite cults and relationships with the Trollkin of Krieltown were at an all time high due to the mutually beneficial relationship established several months previously. The new troops stationed at the fortress were now fully trained and ready for action. Sebastian announced that the completion (or near enough) of this mammoth undertaking should warrant a celebration of some kind and a party was arranged. Much Troll ale was imported for the occasion though several people who had experienced it before stuck to more traditional beverages.

Many hangover cures would no doubt be required the following day however the wake up call they were about to receive was an extremely unpleasant one...

Act Four - 'Skorne'
The newly trained scout force had arrived back at the fortress with worrying news. A force of warriors was advancing on their location and this small army matched the description of a warlike race known as the Skorne though seemingly had allies that appeared to be human in appearance. Many of the Brotherhood had heard of these enemies but none had actually encountered them but knew they had a reputation as an extremely violent and uncompromising opponent that few people had faced and survived. It was also rumoured that they were allied with the fallen former general Magnus and this would explain the reports of their human allies. Word was sent to the Steelhead chapter-house but their barracks was almost exhausted of troops due to the current situation in Cygnar...

The opposing force stopped some distance from the new stronghold. Even at such distances it was obvious that these new enemies had considerable resources at their disposal. Giant one eyed creatures seemingly held only in check by smaller beings with whips and restraints behind them bellowed and paced apparently anxious for battle, human artillery teams were on each flank ready to advance to suitable firing positions and rows of strangely armoured warriors stood behind then in ordered ranks.

A smaller contingent of these warriors advanced and Sebastian decided to venture out with a guard of his own to attempt to negotiate with them under a flag of truce. The arrogance of their negotiator was startling and he seemed to presume that they were there to surrender and demanded that the gates be opened and he be allowed to station a force there. As someone with bitter memories of invading forces attempting to take what was rightfully his Sebastian was understandably less than diplomatic with his counter proposal. Seeing that a none violent solution was out of the question he offered to settle the dispute by putting up a champion of his own against any representative of their's they thought worthy. This second attempt at resolution was equally fruitless as the Skorne 'negotiator' seemed adamant that none of his own warriors would lower themselves to consider them equal to any warrior from the fortress. At this point Captain LaCroix's patience level was reached and the parley promptly broke down. With full warfare now unavoidable the respective parties returned to their own lines and prepared themselves for battle.

The artillery teams Trollkin assistants moved the deck and chain gun artillery pieces into position and prepared the ammunition suppliers while the gunners quickly ran through the other necessary checks. Riflemen moved to firing points on the walls, Pistoleers and other dedicated close combat specialist made ready to protect these ranged troops should any Skorne make it over the walls while the Trollkin Men at Arms accompanied by Bosh prepared for any potential breach of the gates though his own Ogrun Men at Arms were on the walls with their Battle Cannons adding to the fire from the artillery crews. Danika had managed to coerce one of the Bison to accept her as a rider again though it was still doubtful whether she could get it to charge into combat, Rafaldo and Bradick had positioned themselves on the walls above the gate ready to bombard the enemy with magic and grenades respectively while Sebastian had joined the close range troops on the walls ready to repel any breachers of the walls. Bragg had readied his jack which had been completely rebuilt using parts from a salvaged Charger light warjack and was now far more a machine of war than previously and had based himself between the main entrance to the fortress and the closest access to the fortress walls ready to defend either where necessary.

The Cyclops charged forward accompanied by what appeared to be their handlers and quickly outdistanced the rest of their fellow Skorne while the human artillery teams prepared their weapons with the other Skorne troops following behind the monstrous Warbeasts in the lead.

In a moral denting piece of lucky shooting one of the enemy artillery teams put a hole straight through the forts main door but Bragg swiftly moved forward to improvise a repair. The Brotherhoods own artillery teams returned fire and killed one of the advancing Cyclops while the riflemen targeted the opposing artillery crews and killed several spoiling there attempts to further damage the main door. Several explosive shells from the Ogrun Battle cannons landed amongst the advancing horde wounding one of the Cyclops and reducing several other Skorne to shattered corpses. Suddenly as if from nowhere a strange black smoke began to appear in front of the advancing Skorne hampering the Brotherhoods attempts to hit them with their ranged attacks. Many of the Skorne had now nearly reached the walls and more worryingly the charging Cyclops were now very close to the main gate...

Bradick launched several grenades in the approximate direction of the worryingly close Skorne as they emerged from the strange cloud of smoke and tore the closely packed enemies at the points of impact to pieces with the resulting shrapnel wounding more, Bragg made further attempts to reinforce the main gate to their stronghold with debatable levels of success while Rafaldo attempted to use his powers of influence to take control of one of the beats handlers hopefully slowing them down.

Unfortunately the Skorne's willpower was too strong and the control attempt failed however Rafaldo's second more directly offensive spell had greater success killing the whip wielding beast handler dead. Other fire-power from the walls caused more damage to the advancing army but it was insufficient to stop them reaching the fortresses perimeter walls. Bradick dropped a pair of incendiary grenades into the troops below the walls and set several on fire though the actual damage was minimal it at least disrupted their attempts to scale the walls.

With them now in range of his guns Sebastian opened fire into the crowd indiscriminately as there were seemingly no targets of strategic significance. Those Skorne troops not attempting to put themselves out had hurled grappling hooks over the ramparts and were climbing upwards and being too close to hit them with artillery fire the crews drew melee weapons and readies themselves for the assault. Some ropes were cut in time and their owners plummeted to their deaths taking some of their comrades with them. Unfortunately not enough were stopped and now the enemy was on the walls and the gates were near collapse due to the relentless assault of the remaining Cyclopean attackers.

Editors Note - Trying to describe things based on the characters knowledge rather than your own is sometimes tricky. Every-one role-played this really well with only one 'used the name of the thing that your character wouldn't actually know' incident which considering how much Warmahordes knowledge was sitting around the table at the time was still pretty impressive.

Eager to test their newly acquired skills and weapons the Trollkin advanced upon the enemies upon the walls closely followed by Bragg and his newly upgraded 'jack and butchered many of their Skorne enemies. Those on the walls not occupied with repelling the invaders continued to pour ranged weapon fire into those opponents still on the ground and finished off the artillery batteries weapon crews amongst some others.

Bradick broke free of the chaos of combat in order to drop one of his alchemical creations on the Warbeasts below before they could enter the fortress. This particular creation had the effect of weakening enemy armour and would hopefully give the defenders an edge against them. Danika used her priestly powers of magic to bolster the armour of all those close to her and though the sudden appearance of the runes of protection startled many of the defenders Bosh briefly explained to the recipients that this could well be the difference between them surviving the onslaught or not having experienced the benefits on several occasions himself.

Sebastian killed the last of the first wave of Skorne but a second had managed to gain access to the battlements at a number of other points and the beasts had finally smashed through Braggs earlier improvised repair and were now in the fortresses courtyard...On the walls the situation was at a tipping point. Braggs warjack seemed to be having trouble manoeuvring on the battlements and was unable to repeat the early successes and only killed a single enemy...a feat that Bragg duplicated. Several more invaders fell in combat but who was gaining the upper hand seemed difficult to determine.

Seeking to disrupt the enemy Rafaldo attempted to use his powers of sorcery to overtake the mind of the enemy commander but his powers were similar enough in scope to Rafaldo's for them to effectively neutralise each other (Rafaldo also suspected that he was being somehow assisted though) though this did prevent the opposing mage from utilising his powers to aid his fellow Skorne. Danika somehow managed to convince the Bison to charge into the fray and wounded the closest cyclops and Bosh killed a second and severely wounded a third. The other troops seemed reluctant to engage in a similar charge into the enemy but still caused some damage and prevented Bosh and Danika from being flanked...

The second wave of interlopers was similarly repelled from taking the walls but by now the defenders were near exhaustion and many had severe and potentially fatal wounds. Sebastian was quick to restore moral and as many of the troops had seen him kill so many of the Skorne attackers they trusted his reassurances that they could prevail. This version of events was further reinforced by the sight of the Skornes human allies abandoning their positions and retreating. The creature wounded by Danika retaliated with a mighty blow that would have no doubt incapacitated or killed her if Bosh hadn't put himself between them and absorbed the brunt of the attack before receiving a second strike from the monster he had severely wounded a moment ago which he survived only due to the extra protection provided by Danika's earlier spell. The effect of Bradick's corrosive grenade was also waning and the remaining Skorne troops had become somewhat more tricky to eliminate. With the walls now clear Bragg ordered his 'jack back to the courtyard and it promptly impaled the wounded cyclops on a large hooked spear it was using as an improvised weapon. Bosh shrugged off the wounds and made himself ready to return to the combat.

Editors Note - The 'Shield Guard' Ability and 'Revitalise' Feats came in particularly useful in these circumstances. This is also a good example of how complimentary abilities across different characters are very useful indeed as Bosh took the hit for Danika but took less damage due to the Aura of Protection that she'd cast and keeping her in a condition to maintain it...in fact there are quite a few good examples of teamwork in this battle now I think about it...

With the unusual smoke clearing now a strange figure could be seen directing the battle and had moved closer in order to assist his force to gain victory at this pivotal moment. Rafaldo yet again engaged the mage in an arcane duel but was unable to control him but yet again suitably diverted his attention from supporting his own troops. Danika finished off the final mighty Warbeast and this freed Bosh to seek a new opponent. As luck would have it the Skorne commander was still focussing his attentions on Rafaldo and so was ill prepared for a charging Ogrun to emerge from the fortress and he was obliterated by a strike from Bosh's mechanikally enhanced war-cleaver.

The direction-less Skorne survivors were shown no mercy and were brutally slaughtered though unfortunately several of the humans who had retreated earlier were now beyond pursuit...It remained to be seen whether this was would be cause for concern...and knowing their luck it probably would be...

Back to Reality
Editors Note - This one has been written by our GM as his opinion of how the session went is obviously a bit more relevant than my own in this case.

This mission was an intriguing one to write for a couple reasons. Firstly I was unaware when I began writing my section of the campaign just how much information PP have released on their world. As an old D&D player in the days of  Faerun, I was really keen to use some of this information as it would make my life easier but I love dipping into a richly written world.

Secondly Gmort and I have been trying to introduce the less experienced members of the group to a few role-play staples. For this mission i chose to use a random encounter table. This was less for dropping enemies or traps on the group but more so even I had no idea when or if certain event would occur to shape the next session.
While a rewarding way to play a session it can really tax a GM if you don’t have a good set of notes for each event or a few fall back options (A list of names is helpful as is a handful of generic enemy stats.)

I put myself through this to attempt to show the passage of time, the session took place over about a month “in game” as the fortress needed building and traditionally that doesn't happen overnight. The sequence of events played themselves out rather nicely, and it was a great benefit to the group that the Skorne raid came at the end of the session.
It was also a nice session in that everyone got involved. Rarely does this group end up leaving any players out but naturally some people have more to do than others in most sessions, the nature of the events rolled though meant all the PC’s got a chance to shine

XP was an interesting one. I decided to go for 3 each in the end (which at this point is a level) largely due to the extreme nature of the Skorne threat but also the groups role-playing was impeccable and even more than usual they really worked as a team.

I'm now off to finish writing the REAL battle. See you next time...


Thoughts and comments are (as usual) most welcome.

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