Friday, 30 October 2015

Iron Kingdoms Roleplay - Session Sixteen (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.

This weeks attendees would be Lieutenant Rafaldo Scorgiani (Steve's character), Martin's Priestess and 'Spiritual Advisor' Danika Jansen, Phil's 'Gunmage' Christophe Mayeux, Andrews Pygmy Troll character Toborg Lugosh and my Ogrun 'Bosh' Skullsplitter. Captain Sebastian LaCroix (Toms character) will be becoming an NPC for a bit as Tom is GMing for the next few sessions.

Mission Sixteen - 'Hunters and Hunted'
Part Two - '...Hunted'
The traitors in the Llaelese resistance have been dealt with but unfortunately the Brotherhood are now themselves mistakenly the ones being hunted down...

Part one containing the introduction and acts one and two can be found here.

Act Three - 'How Safe is this Safe House?'
The 'house' turned out to be a block of four buildings with a single access road in and out with open terrain all around making observing incoming enemies fairly easy during daylight hours though the lack of ambient light would make the area pitch black during the night. Hopefully this would cause as many problems for their enemies and besides which it seemed unlikely that any-one other than themselves would know of it's location. Hadrik was given the promised medical care and left in a room to rest after agreeing to help them in any way he could in exchange for the sparing of his life. After feeding themselves with supplies left at the house presumably left for those utilising the facilities Bosh volunteered for first watch and after an uneventful couple of hours woke up Tuborg to take his turn before finding a place to sleep where he could still be quickly alerted by whomever was on watch should danger occur. Toborgs shift was equally uneventful and thinking better of awaking another Brotherhood officer he instead awoke Christophe. Christophe's watch was rudely interrupted as an arrow thudded into the wall inches from his throat. Before he could move a second punched through his armoured greatcoat and deep into his shoulder...

...with the wound bleeding profusely he shouted for help while diving into cover. Bosh awoke to the sound of Christophe's shouting and immediately moved towards the spot where the noise was coming from and on the way a strange blur could be discerned moving across one of the buildings upper floors and he changed direction to intercept. Meanwhile Toborg had emerged from where he was sleeping and spotting the wounded Gunmage asked what was going on and was quickly appraised of the situation as both Rafaldo and Danika now awake also began to investigate the commotion outside.

Editors Note - All new player characters can speak a number of languages and there's always one left open so a group can select a single language that they can all communicate with. Unfortunately new player characters appearing over time during our sessions have created a bit of a language barrier and now there is no longer one universal language that we all speak. This periodically creates some interesting role-playing moments when some-one shouts a warning and the GM responds with "Everyone gets to duck...except YOU..."

Bosh quickly pulled himself onto up onto the first floor balcony and then onto the roof at the far end hoping to intercept the strange blur he'd seen earlier but it had reached the edge before he could stop it. He charged towards it and as he came closer the shape of an Iosan archer could be discerned but unfortunately just as his Warcleaver was about to strike it down it agilely back flipped over the edge to the ground much to his frustration. Christophe delved into his portable alchemist kit and quickly threw together the ingredients to make some flares and threw the first into the midst of the complex of buildings in the vague hope that the illumination would somehow negate the obviously magical camouflage of their attackers.

Danika and Rafaldo noted a second blur of motion moving towards them and as Danika readied her weapons Rafaldo cast a spell towards it. Much to his surprise not only did the spell fail to cast but he himself instantly felt weaker as some disruptive enchantment interfered with his own abilities. Toborg fired several shots at the indistinct blur but his rounds hit nothing but air...

Seeing no quick way to get to the ground to pursue the Iosan Bosh decided upon the unorthodox strategy of simply stepping off the edge and trying to crush it with his bulk before it could evade him. Even this surprise tactic only caught the attacker slightly off guard and the plummeting Ogrun only glanced it as he landed but given his bulk this was enough to knock it to the ground along with Bosh himself. On the other side of the safe-house Danika found herself in combat with the second of the pair of Iosan's and despite her considerable combat prowess was unable to strike it down and had taken several vicious wounds in return.

Bosh managed to get to his feet while keeping the Iosan assassin pinned under one foot. Even inconvenienced as it was it still managed to find gaps in the Ogruns armour with it's wickedly sharp daggers and he was bleeding profusely from a number of deep cuts in his legs. Giving them no time to wriggle free Bosh raised his warcleaver and drove it downwards through it's chest and into the ground beneath twisting the blade deep as he did so before ripping it free and lopping the Iosan's head from their shoulders. Christophe meanwhile had been busy seeding the area with enough flares to illuminate the entire central square.

A scream of rage came from Danika's opponent as it sensed the death of it's partner and the air filled with a thick obscuring smoke as it hurled a grenade to the ground before disengaging from the assault to seek it's vengeance. Firing expertly on the move the remaining elven assassin impaled Bosh with several arrows and yet still had enough skill to avoid the shots aimed at it by the rest of the Brotherhood and it successfully engaged the killer of it's fellow Iosan. Christophe loaded his Magelocks with rounds enchanted especially to seek out enemies engaged with his allies and unloaded both into the combat and with magical accuracy struck the Iosan without hitting it's Ogrun opponent. Bosh on the other hand was having no success as the last of their attackers constantly avoided every blow aimed at it with only inches to spare. Already bleeding from several new wounds even Bosh's legendary resilience was coming to it's limit and the next significant blow would no doubt be the end of him but before this could happen Christophe's next volley of shots killed it dead. Bosh removed the head from the bullet ridden corpse and offered it to the Gunmage as a trophy of the battle but the gesture was politely declined. Hurling the unwanted head to one side he returned to the site of his own victory and retrieved it's head so as to add it to his own collection of trophies along with several of their daggers.

Act Four - 'Misplaced Trust'
Now having a far better idea of the quality of opponents being sent against them it is decided that a plan needs to be implemented that gives them the most advantages in a confrontation. After some debate about his trustfulness it is decided to utilise Hadrik to bring Freya to them as she sounds like the most dangerous of their known enemies. It is decided to leave the safe-house in it's current blood-stained state and for Hadrik to lure Freya to them with the story that the group has been seriously wounded by the Iosan assassins and that together they should be able to finish them off. Hopefully this should put her off guard or at the very least bring her to their location at a time of their choosing. Danika added several dire threats of the potential consequences for betraying them including an explicit description of the tortures she'd recently inflicted on the traitors discovered in the resistance.

Concerned that even 'motivated' as he was Hadrik might just abandon them completely and not arrange the meeting it as decided by Sebastian to send the Pygmy Troll Tuborg to follow him to ensure he headed back into the city. Though the trolls tracking skills were very much improved this had seemingly occurred at the expense of his ability to move stealthily and Hadrick lost his pursuer at the earliest opportunity. Not wanting to admit that he had lost the target due to his own clumsiness he returned with an elaborate tale of Hadriks shiftiness and obvious attempts to avoid being followed despite his spectacularly stealthy and efficient following of his trail. Given the circumstances the story was plausible enough to be believed.

Editors Note - Toborg's player Andrews excellent tracking rolls were unfortunate enough to be countered by some of the worst 'Stealth' rolls that I'd ever seen.

Meanwhile the rest decided to take the risk that Hadrik was still following the plan and continued to give the safe-house the appearance that the Brotherhood had been badly hurt by the Iosan assassins and were now easy targets. Bosh waited in position to attack Freya as she entered the complex and the officers not pretending to be wounded were on watch waiting for Hadrik to return with her.

The first sign that something was awry with the plan was the fact that not two but four horses and riders were approaching the safe-house. Hearing that there was something wrong and concluding that the plan had already fallen apart in some manner Rafaldo used his spy-glass to get a closer look at the approaching riders. They consisted of the sniper Hadrik, a strange pair on a large horse consisting of a Troll with some unusual projectile weapon with a Gobber actually controlling the horse's reigns, a sorceress who from her scarred face must be Freya and a second woman in strange dark armour whose close combat weapons were giving off an unhealthy looking green glow as she moved. Either Hadrik had been forced by circumstances to use the ruse on all of their enemies or had simply betrayed them. Such considerations had to be put to one side however as the light reflected from the spy-glasses lens and alerted the approaching five that they had been observed.

Hadrik galloped off to the right, the unusual Trollkin and Gobber pair charged towards the entrance to the complex while the pair of women veered around to the left presumably looking for an alternate approach. Before the Brotherhood could react the air and ground around them was rocked by multiple explosions from a wide spread of grenades launched from the Trollkins unusual launcher and every-one of them was riddled with shrapnel before the majority were knocked off their feet though the Mechanikal enchantments and bulk of the Ogrun Bosh allowed him to keep his footing. Knowing that another volley of explosives would undoubtedly finish them off Bosh charged towards the strange pairing in order to prevent this from occurring if at all possible. The rest of the officers not now injured or spitting blood moved into better positions and fired at the now spread out hunters but the extreme range made effective shots nearly impossible for the pistol armed Sebastian and Christophe and the unpredictable movement also ruined Toborgs aim.

Bosh reached Grush and Dalli's mount and cleaved the unfortunate creature in half with a scything blow from his Warcleaver. Both the Trollkin and Gobber managed to keep their balance after their impromptu dismounting and perceiving the Trollkin to be the greatest threat Bosh gutted him with a low swinging blow before finishing him off with a vicious back-swing. As was becoming an increasing problem for the Ogrun the killing spree triggered a Berserker rage and he turned his attentions to the Gobber.

During this brief respite Rafaldo used his magic to stabilise Toborg and Christophe's critical injuries and those with more mundane medical knowledge quickly patched each other up with whatever they had to hand. Observing that Bosh's frenzied attacks were missing the Gobber by a considerable margin the now stabilised Christophe opened fire but even his shells enchantments couldn't pick out the elusive Gobber and he instead shot the enraged Ogrun several glancing blows in the back.

Editors Note - We decided that as Bosh was in full on Berserk mode at the time that he probably didn't notice the damage until later by which point the source would more than likely be impossible to long as nobody did anything stupid like tell an unstable Ogrun killing machine that they'd shot him in the back...

The Gobber Dalli had seemingly realised that even though the Ogrun was currently unable to hit him he was equally unable to hurt him in return with his own melee attacks and came to a startling decision in order to gain his vengeance upon the killers of his friend and acquaintance Grush. Ducking under the latest wild swing he stopped momentarily to pull the pins on several of the grenades from his bandolier and after tucking one into a convenient location on Bosh's chest armour charged towards the freshly regrouped officers. The resulting explosions tore the Gobber to pieces as well as undoing most of the improvised battlefield medicine used to bring Christophe, Danika, Rafaldo and Toborg back into the fight a moment ago. By a stroke of luck the grenade attached to Bosh exploded in a lacklustre blast and caused only superficial shrapnel wounds rather than tearing him to pieces as was no doubt the doomed creatures intention.

Sebastian's shots towards the pair of sorceresses were uncharacteristically ineffective but the extreme range had made success somewhat unlikely and now they were obscured by their positions behind the buildings to the rear. Hadrik seemed unwilling to enter the combat and was keeping himself and his mount at extreme weapon range with his intentions being unable to discern currently though his earlier return shot at Toborg made it unlikely that he was going to be helpful towards the Brotherhoods officer core. The intentions of the arcane pair however became instantly apparent as an explosion tore apart the point where two of the rear buildings met enabling them to enter the complex from the rear.

Shrugging off as much of the damage to himself as he could manage Bosh charged passed his wounded colleagues in the direction of this new threat while they patched themselves up for the third time that day. Having seen the damage that a proficient spell-caster could inflict and noting that the explosion that tore the building apart would have reduced him or any other mortal being to a fine bloody mist the Ogrun hoped to engage these formidable threats before they could bring their talents to bear against them. Much to every-ones relief they were unprepared to see an Ogrun berserker emerging from the dust and rubble and they were hacked into bloody chunks before they could react with any of their magical arsenal.

Though battered, bloody and riddled with shrapnel wounds the Brotherhood emerged victorious in time to observe Hadrik's hasty retreat from danger with both the Ogrun Bosh and the Priestess Danika vowing bloody reprisals against this latest in a long line of enemies who had attempted to murder them via ambush. With only the poisoner Varrig still to be dealt with it as deemed safe to re-enter the city in order to protest their innocence with the Llaelese leaders as long as they were very, very careful about what they ate and drank along the way.....

With all the significant obstacles removed and other hunters somewhat reticent to take up the contract (what with six of the eight best ones in the area having failed to collect the considerable bounty on their heads and one of the others gone into hiding) the journey into town was as uneventful as expected and a meeting was arranged where the true situation with Gregor was outlined. With the bounties removed from their heads the Brotherhood officers were now free to explore the city and recover from their wounds. Danika and Bosh had begun a search of the city using their usual less than subtle methods to attempt to find the elusive opportunist traitor Hadrik but their quest had so far been fruitless. Several members of the Brotherhood expressed a desire to stay in town long enough to see the military parade as the guest of honour was no less than Constance Blaize, Knight of the Prophet herself who Danika was very keen to witness in person.

Then the Brotherhood of the Rail's journey would continue onwards to Rhul...

Back to Reality.
This session was GM'd by Tom so it seems only fair that the session overview should be written by him...

This session was a strange one to GM. It's always hard to transition between GM’s but this time I had a few hostile feelings outstanding that needed to be addressed. The betrayal storyline was the only way I could see the resistance having been so lacklustre in their war on the occupying forces, and why we had been ambushed so much.

The first draft of the mission had the group travelling to Menoth held North Llael. However it felt a little too much like I was leading the players especially as my character was a central part to it all it became thirty minutes of me talking to myself.

At this point I decided to build a 'stepping stone' mission, where I had key events and characters but would let the players decide most of the mission. As such if Gregor had not been so hated by the PC’s the traitor would have been Amelie and they would have been off to North Llael. I've kept a lot of the Menoth parts secret so I can use them later.

I was glad with how the assassins played out. A little inspired by Arkham Origins I wanted credible threats that could take down the party. I designed six possible groups and where an attack would occur and left the rest to chance. Some of them worked better than others, the elf couple were more effective than I considered and my two spell casters were a little lacklustre.

The players made some great decisions and reacted almost completely in character, that meant I went a little easier on them in some places as a reward for this.

My next two sessions take us to Rhul, where we’ll see a little from the past crop back up and a lot of development for the party to accommodate.

Thoughts and comments are (as usual) most welcome.

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