Friday, 11 December 2015

Iron Kingdoms Roleplay - Session Eighteen

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, my Ogrun 'Bosh' Skullsplitter and Andrews Pygmy Troll character Toborg Lugosh. Captain Sebastian LaCroix (Toms character) will be becoming an NPC for the foreseeable future as Tom is GMing for this session and using a new character from then on. Phil's 'Gunmage' Christophe Mayeux will be permanently retired in favour of a Rhulic Warcaster named Thorsten Dovur who we will be meeting soon...

Mission Eighteen - 'Blighted...'

In an effort to ensure that the Brotherhood is able to look after it's own affairs in light of the imminent ending of their relationship with the Transcontinental Rail Company Captain LaCroix has tasked a team of his senior officers with recruiting a potential asset in the form of a Rhulic engineer capable of maintaining their military equipment, mechanikal artefacts and increasing compliment of 'jacks.

As this would require their travelling to what is apparently a small but potentially dangerous border conflict with a strange new enemy it is decided that despite the mission being inherently a recruitment drive that they would go fully armed and armoured which suited Bosh and Danika just fine. It had been days since the former had killed anything or the latter had set any-one on fire and they were both getting dangerously bored...

They decided to utilise the jack drawn transport they'd used to travel from the engineering school which in true Brotherhood style they'd completely failed to return. Danika borrowed a horse instead though it was an animal more in keeping with transporting a person of dwarfish proportions...or pulling a cart...but she deemed the slight sacrifice in style worth the potential increase in mobility. Equipped with their recently acquired mechanikal equipment and new weaponry and with mode of transport decided upon they began their journey to meet their potential new team member.

Act One - "We need a Volunteer..." 
After an uneventful trip cross country they finally reached an area that had obviously seen some considerable military action far out of proportion to the 'minor border skirmish' they had been informed of and a battle-line of dwarves backed by their particularly distinctive warjacks and a small supporting force of engineers could be seen ahead. The corpses of several unusual creatures could be seen ahead of the dwarves trenches presumably part of a recently repulsed attack. These creatures were a sickly white colour and leaked a number of hideous and noxious fluids from their wounds that were seemingly toxic enough to kill any plant-life they touched. The force did however seem in good spirits so it could be presumed that they were winning...or at least believed themselves to be so doing. As the Brotherhood officers watched the Rhulic warjacks were pulled back slightly from the front-line while the engineers repaired damage to their defences undo the watchful eye of their allied soldiers. Bosh noted that they were flying the flag of the 'Rockfist' Mercenary Company which was a small but reputable group with an admirable reputation amongst the Rhulic community. He vaguely recalled that their leader was one Asher Grumhill and this matched the name they had been given of the camps leader and good etiquette dictated that they introduce themselves to him first before trying to poach one of his allied elements.

Asher was a typical member of his race and was confident that they would soon prevail over these enemies and after enquiries were made about Thorsten Dovur (the engineer they had been sent to acquire) they were given directions to his tent. In an effort to ingratiate themselves with the companies leader they asked if they could be of any assistance and though he was confident of victory he did mention that they didn't really know exactly where their enemy were coming from and had no elements that were particularly suited to scouting. Not wanting to miss an opportunity they quickly offered the services of their Pygmy Troll scout Toborg to map out the forest area for them. Toborg being outranked by every-one was in no position to refuse and after all this was his job when all was said and done. With what little information they had passed to Toborg as well as some parchment and writing utensils for making notes he was sent off alone into the woods. Meanwhile Rafaldo and Danika went to speak to Thorsten

Editors Note - This might seem a bit cruel but in character it's what would have happened...he is our scout...

Toborg carefully picked his way through the dwarfs entrenchments and tentatively entered the forest. The first thing he noticed was the strong smell of blood that pervaded the air as well as another unfamiliar and quite unpleasant scent. Having little else to go one he followed this scent further into the deeper forested area before coming across a small trail and a stream. Having no choice but to pick one or the other he decided to follow the stream reasoning that any enemy camp of note would need a water source. This turned out to be an entirely reasonable assumption as he soon came across signs of tracks made by both humanoid beings and some creature tracks he was unfamiliar with and after a short while these led to a spiked barrier surrounding a small camp. As he approached for a closer look some sixth sense alerted him to danger and he turned to find a strange misshapen elven creature standing right behind him.

In an act that could be considered either incredibly brave or suicidally foolish depending on your point of view, Toborg drew his weapon and attacked. His opponent was improbably fast and seemingly impossible to hit and after a few moments of ineffectual attacks countered by cruel counter strikes that had the troll bleeding from a number of small but unpleasant wounds he sensibly changed his plan to 'run away as fast as possible' adding as many zig-zags, feints as he could reasonably include without overly slowing himself down as he went. He could only hope that his enemy had no reason to pursue him all the way back to the dwarf camp.

Unaware of the dangers their comrade in arms was experiencing Rafaldo was engaged in negotiation with the Mechanikal Engineer and 'Jack Marshal Thorsten in regards to him joining the company and though he wasn't opposed to the idea he was adamant that he wouldn't leave while his current employers were still in danger from attack. Rafaldo pointed out to him that their scout was currently searching for the enemy camp and would no doubt soon be returning with useful tactical information though his attention was also drawn to a masked woman reclining casually in the dwarfs tent. She was introduced as Thorsten's personal bodyguard and was seemingly tasked with keeping Thorsten free from danger while his attention was focussed on his primary duties with the warjacks. There was something unusual about her that Rafaldo couldn't quite put his finger on. Conversation then returned to the subject of the Brotherhoods scout.

"Is he skilled?" was the dwarfs quite reasonable query...

Toborg was feeling somewhat hard done by at this point but at least he'd completed his mission in finding the enemy camp, had confirmed that it was occupied and had the route to it memorised as best as he could having being interrupted before he could make any notes. Though he wasn't going to stop and check he was reasonably sure that he had lost his ambusher and had become confident that nothing could now go wrong as he followed his route back downstream...and then the trap shut around his leg. Trollkin are renowned for their regenerative powers and their ability to recover from injury however rapid healing can also be somewhat of a curse when your body begins to heal around the jaws of a trap slicing into your leg.

Editors Note - He'd been doing really well up to this point and had been passing 'Sneak', 'Notice' and Agility tests like clockwork so it was inevitable that the dice gods were going to realise he was messing with the law of averages sooner or later...

Unfortunately the scout was in no position to stop and do anything about his predicament as his primary concern was getting back to the safety of the camp and after a few more minutes of half limping, half running he emerged from the trees. Noting the haste with which he appeared Bosh moved through the defensive lines in order to intercept any pursuers but there were apparently none to be seen. Toborg relayed all he had learned to the Brotherhood officers and those of the Dwarf mercenaries and had the somewhat unusual experience of getting praise for a job well done.

Act Two - 'The Fast and the Furious...'
With this information to hand Danika came up with a plan. She put it to the dwarven commander that they should make a big show of extending the trench line and moving troops down to support the expansion therefore leaving an apparent weak point in the line. Hopefully the enemy would attempt to attack at this perceived weak point as they were obviously watching the camp given that Toborg had encountered a scout in the forest. The Brotherhood and several warjacks under the command of Thorsten (with his protector Lyra giving covering fire) would be then waiting to ambush them enabling the rest of the forces to sweep in behind them enclosing the enemy in a trap from which there would be no escape. After some convincing both Asher and Thorsten agreed.

Unfortunately the enemy had their own ideas as well as resources that the allies had yet to encounter. The first sign that all was not going to plan was the shouts of alarm coming from the engineers extending the line as swift, bounding creatures charged from the cover of the woods and struck their lines with the obvious intent of disrupting this new construction by slaughtering those responsible for it's building.

Being used to having to improvise both Danika and Bosh charged towards this new threat though Danika left the larger group to Bosh's more suitable style of combat while she diverted to a smaller group that would more greatly benefit from her own more precise style. As well as preternatural agility the creatures were also far more resilient than expected and Bosh's first blow was not a killing one though his next most certainly was. Having gone some time without engaging in combat the Ogrun's first kill was enough to bring about one of his increasingly common berserker rages and though these were useful when only enemies were present they became a liability when their were friendlies in the swirling melee. Bosh finished off the closest of the remaining group of creatures but not before several Dwarven engineers had been torn to pieces and at least one of these was a result of Bosh's Warcleaver as he'd failed to evacuate the killing field as quickly as his comrades. Fortunately for the continued alliance between both groups the evisceration of the dwarf by Bosh had not been witnessed as the engineering team was far to preoccupied with running away at the time and the injury was virtually indistinguishable from that caused by the attackers themselves.

Editors Note - Berserk is a really useful ability...when there's only you and bad guys...not so much when your friends are within reach...and Bosh has quite a considerable reach...

Danika killed the nearest threat before finding herself now engaged with one of the monstrosities who had bounded away from the melee with the Ogrun and this creature seemed to have the uncanny knack of never being quite where her weapons blow landed. Having killed everything within his immediate area Bosh scanned the area for any other threats and noting the thing that had escaped him engaged with Danika charged over to help. Danika who was familiar with her fellow officers increasingly common losses of control had sensibly put herself on the opposite side of the threat and at the maximum distance that her weapon would allow her to engage it and so avoiding the fate of the dwarf from a moment ago. A large section of the forest then disappeared into splinters as Thorsten ensured that there was no additional opponents waiting to counter attack by destroying the area with concentrated fire-power. On investigation it seemed that there was indeed something or possibly several somethings waiting in the forest but there wasn't enough identifiable pieces left. With the skirmish over the Rhulic elements collected their dead for the appropriate ceremonies before they'd consider carrying on with the previously discussed plan. Unfortunately time was not on their side...

Act Three - 'A Pre-Emptive Strike...'
Whether the enemy had discerned the plan or simply believed it could overwhelm the enemy regardless the attack came not at the weak point as expected but at the centre of the allies newly extended lines.

The attack was led by a female Nyss riding a strange snake-like creature supported by a significant force of elves with more emerging from the forest behind her.

Though in normal circumstances Bosh would have engaged the most significant threat he realised that the elf leader would more than likely have sorceress powers best dealt with by those with more suitable abilities and instead moved to engage those enemies emerging from the forest and began to butcher his way through the lines at a significant pace. Unfortunately this had the effect of leading him further into the forest from the support of his allies.

Danika used her own magical abilities to assault with fire any opponents moving towards her as well as killing others via by the more traditional method of beating them to death with her mace. Both Lyra and Toborg picked off several targets with arrows and bullets respectively with Toborg seemingly having gained considerably in confidence after his earlier successes in his scouting mission.

Rafaldo blasted the warlocks mount with one of his more powerful spells augmented by his arcane staff bringing it crashing to the ground along with it's rider. Thorsten meanwhile was using the Rhulic jacks' considerable fire-power to pummel both the newly grounded enemy leader, the fallen mount and any other targets that presented themselves. Having only really seen jack's in combat situations controlled by their own engineer the observing Brotherhood officers were amazed at his ability to control so many of the warmachines simultaneously.

Editors Note - None of the characters know that Thorsten is a Warcaster and he hasn't exactly been forthcoming about it...

Now deep in the forest the rampaging Ogrun heard the loud roars of some new enemy and decided to engage it himself rather than fall back to where his comrades were fighting. This would not prove to be the greatest tactical decision he'd ever made... he found himself facing a powerfully muscled creature more than twice his height and with claws and teeth the size of swords. Seeing the monstrosity rear up ready to charge Bosh pre-empted the action and charged first which as luck would have it meant he avoided the blast of molten naptha that emerged from it's mouth destroying the section of wood he'd been standing in utterly. If ever there was a time that Danika's ability to augment others with her blessings would have been a considerable boon then this was that moment...however she was occupied elsewhere.

The Ogruns normally deadly blows were blunted by the blighted creatures dense scales and thick plates of armour but still cut deeply in spite of this. After a furious onslaught with both warcleaver and shield his opponent was still standing and more than capable of counter-attacking and Bosh himself was bleeding from a number of wounds caused by spiny growths covering it's body that gouged him whenever he himself struck it. Bosh braced himself for the inevitable return assault...

Danika's mastery of magical powers of fire and heat seemed to be the bane of the elven enemies and many had been immolated before they had even reached her with others meeting the same fate courtesy of the enchantments on her mechanikal armour.

Rafaldo's destructive spells had finished off the snake-like flying creature and the combined attacks of the remaining officers and allies had gravely wounded their leader and wiped out the remaining assaulting forces. It only remained to finish off the directing force behind the attack and victory would be theirs.

Bosh was the closest to defeat that he had ever been as he was battered, bludgeoned and slashed by this deadly opponent. Only his stubborn refusal to die gave him the strength to return to his feet and he hurled himself once again at the blighted monstrosity.

Editors Note - A passed 'Tough' roll and a feat point spent on 'Revitalise' also helped considerably.

Realising that he needed to finish of this deadliest of enemies quickly he charged into the fray once more and with the last of his strength managed to strike a killing blow, The creature tumbled to the ground with a deafening crash. Despite having the monsters blood all over him and being nearly dead from exhaustion the Ogrun decided that such a victory was worthy of a trophy and waded through the river of blighted blood to cut one of the monsters teeth from it's mouth before taking the long walk back to the battle to report his victory. He found himself strangely alert though the berserker rage that normally faded after such conflicts was for some reason still with him...

The combined powers and skills of the Brotherhood and their allies was too much for the enemy leader and she was finally defeated...or so it seemed. As the woman's blood fell to the ground it began to expand into a shape that would have been depressingly familiar to the Ogrun about to emerge from the forest as another Carnivean formed from the fluids of her dead body.

Reacting instantly Rafaldo blasted the newly birthed monster off it's feet before it could act and despite being knocked to the ground by the spells aftershock Thorsten commanded the warjacks under his control to focus their considerable fire-power on it before it could regain it's footing. Artillery sized shells and powerful rapid fired rounds tore into the monsters flesh but as Bosh himself had found to his peril earlier these creatures could endure ridiculous amounts of hurt. Lyra and Toborg having little else to do also fired and Toborgs precise shot did a surprising amount of damage for a simple rifle round. Rafaldo once again attacked with powerful offensive spell but it was the warjacks of Thorsten that were to be the deciding factor as his second salvo reduced their enemy to a shattered corpse...

With the enemy broken Thorstens contract with the Rockfist mercenaries was complete and he agreed to join the Brotherhood. Danika put forward that without them the victory would have been far less assured and suggested that the donation of a Rhulic warjack to Thorsten might be an adequate thank-you and was surprised when they agreed.

Upon their return to the train they were met by Sebastian who informed them that they were now independent from the Transcontinental Rail Company, owned the train they had been using as transport and had several new contracts in the making.

It seemed that the 'Brotherhood of the Rail' simply 'The Brotherhood' were now about to enter a new phase of the companies existence...

Back to Reality.
As a player this session was a lot of fun despite the fact that it's now added some complications to my characters life. I'm also taking over from Tom for the next few sessions so have the unenviable task of coherently gathering together the resources, equipment, allies and other bits and pieces that we've accumulated over eighteen session of cross country travel...

Thoughts and comments are ( as usual) most welcome.

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