After the Storm

Tracking Goblins
be werry werry quiet

Erntezeit 7th Morning at Gronenborn Farm

Act 1 – tracking goblins

Otto goes to take word of delay of the rest of party back.

The Streissen Men set off with their guide teenager Josef and some rations (most 4 days, Erasmus 2 – provided freely by the grateful Gronenborns) on a clear and sunny day. They traverse the open terrain of the valley and the woods, entering the rougher wooded hills to the south.

After a bit over 3 hours travel, they find the goblin trail in the wooded hills (easy check to see how long it took – no time at all) and follow. Matthias is in the form of a grey wolf ranging ahead. They find signs the goblins camped about an hour on from where they pick up the trail. The goblins likely camped during the day yesterday and moved on at dusk, likely being camped a “night’s travel” somewhere ahead – they seem to be setting a normal pace.

Wolf-Matthias and Harek both search about the camp and confirm 50 or so goblins, perhaps 10-12 wolves and that some goblins were carrying something heavy and they see signs of something stacked in the camp – Harek thinks from the impressions left it’s some sort of simple mechanical object being carried disassembled.

At dusk the trackers camp, having come about 5 miles from where they picked up trail. Their routine watch pattern is followed (Raz, Matthias, Harek, Brun). The night is dark under the trees (it being just after dark of moon as well) but nothing disturbs them. They set off again following the trail – a light rain starting to fall. The goblins are still sticking to the wooded hills and heading more or less west along the south side of the valley.

Erntezeit 8th, woods (-1 rations) the party continues on through the wooded hills. Matthias fails to transform into wolf form, the spell escaping him today [narrative Act only one try].

They pass the headwaters of the stream the Raebel Farm lies on, and Josef is relieved to see the goblins carried on and did not head down it. Another goblin campsite is found and other signs of goblin passage – dung, a dead goblin knifed in the back, a dead goblin with head bashed in, small animals that were mutilated – the sort of things a large group of goblins leave behind.

In early afternoon they find the goblins are leaving the hills, which curve more to the south now, and keeping on a westerly course now through lightly wooded terrain. Josef recounts that there’s nothing close by in this direction – only the northern end of the Trauerwald (a deep old forest some say is haunted though hunters say it’s just wind in trees) and the Hohlhűgel – burial mounds of the ancient wood people that are avoided as haunted (there seems to be a recurring theme in local folklore “place you don’t go” = “haunted”).

Hoping the goblins have lit another fire for their camp, the trackers pick a tall tree that they hope will give a view down over the woods ahead. Brun fails to climb the rain-slicked trunk (Easy 1 misfortune) but Harek manages to find purchase. Looking ahead he does see a faint wisp of smoke – on a line that suggests the goblins are going to pass through, or are heading for the Hohlhűgel.

Plotting whether to try to overtake and get head of goblins or not the trackers realize the goblins have not moved as far as they could through the lighter terrain, which is one reason they have this option – the goblins camped last night just a bit short of the Hohlhűgel.

Pushing themselves just a bit, the trackers follow after but position themselves to the north of the goblin camp (thus between goblins and valley’s farms rather than other way around). They can see the Hohlhűgel, a small region rolling low hills with only a few stunted trees. They set a watch again.

(-2 rations cumulative, at this point Raz is out of food, other Streissen men have 2 days left, Josef has 3 days left)

The night of 8th, Raz doesn’t see anything on his watch. Matthias notes there a bonfire or similar source burning in the hills – the actual source is obscured but he can see the light flickering against hillsides. He also makes out small dark blurs – a band of goblins heading up from their camp into the hills, but only 8-12 (judging by size of dark smudge he is seeing cross the hillside). A bit later he sees a similar dark blur moving into the hills from north of where the trackers are camped – more goblins. Some sort of rendezvous, which the trackers suspected might be happening as they have seen evidence of different goblin tribes cooperating.

On Harek’s watch, Matthias tells him what he has seen and Harek takes over. The wind is picking up and rain is starting to fall harder, in the distance lightning can be seen – a storm is blowing in. Harek sees an unnatural blast of purple energy from the site where the fire flickers and a loud “boom” echoes – waking up his comrades.

It is very early on the night of the 9th (Brun got nearly a full rest, everyone else is a bit short of one, no immediate effect).

Act 2 – what are those goblins up to?

The trackers decide to use the cover of the storm (which makes observing movement in the hills harder) to get closer. Matthias shifts to wolf form successfully and goes a bit ahead as they investigate the site of flames. They pass over the low outer hillocks and see, amidst stunted trees, the central mound on which stand some menhirs – one partly toppled and the platform for the fire and a goblin haranguing the others.

There are three groups of goblins being harangued, each keeping to themselves. The ones the trackers followed, dark robed night goblin ones (the centre goblin appears to be one of these) and a third group. The goblin doing the talking has several larger goblin bodyguards and apparently can reduce troublemakers to a small burnt-out crater with “booming” purple blasts if a reference to recent events is properly understood.

The three groups are each digging and uncovering what turn out to be wagons previously buried under tarps and leaves, and then sorting through (in typical goblin “me first” fashion) the contents – bits of armour in all, crossbows in another, casks of what could be blackpowder in another and clay pots of something else in a third.

The haranguing goblin gets disgusted with trying to make himself understood (apparently each tribe has its own dialect) and resorts to pidgin Reikspiel allowing the watchers to understand (mostly) what he is saying as he lays out “the cunning plan” to burn crops, blow up something “humies” will be sad about, and kill anyone trying to leave valley but let anyone entering come in. [more details than that Players will have to recall – they are free to post to share etc.].

The goblins are still sorting out their allotted goodies as we break – still the same Act to resume in a few weeks.

View
In the Army Now
What are those gobbo's up to?

All present

Chapter One, In Search of the Missing ends. With Yadri found and interviewed the fate of one is thought known and it is confirmed that the mine site where students last seen will have to be visited. A mine and a farm saved in the process.

Chapter Two, Goblin Troubles begins. It can’t be as simple as “so just go the mine”, can it?

Erntezeit 5 sees the Grubers give their thanks to Sigmar for delivering them from the greenskin menace (in the form of sending the Streissen men).

Yadri declines to go on to Neiderfeld. He doesn’t like being around his own folk in numbers, never mind umgi, and is only comfortable near mountain stone, “I’ll go into the mountains to where there is a good view of the valley and keep a lookout for grobi. I’ll light a fire that sends lots of smoke up if I sees any great number of them.

Matthias remains at farm to rest, being of frailer constitution recovering from critical injury is harder for him.

Heinrich Gruber goes with the rest of the Streissen men to Neiderfeld.

At Gruber’s Farm – resting Matthias sees the men of the farm going out to work, after quickly carting goblin bodies away to leave for scavengers a safe distance from the farm. They are focused on starting to take in the harvest – over the next three weeks is the time to harvest most of their grain crops.

Matthias pays attention to Lady Julianne and Emilie Gruber as they tend him and confer about herbal remedies (rather than Sir Quintus when he pauses in his rounds to have the occasional pipe and reminisce about goblins in his day).

• Lady Julianne is chatting about the best time to harvest different herbs and how to store them, Emilie is telling her to always thank the Green Lady for her gifts – saying how her own mother taught her the prayers to use.
• Her mother is Gilda Heymann of Kleinsdorf, a lay servant of the Green Goddess – it was always her mother’s regret she never went to Dunkelhirsch to learn the mysteries and Emilie has not felt the calling, as much as she respects the Green Mother.
• Emilie is looking forward to the harvest celebrations of Mittherbst in a little over three weeks. Most of the county gathers at Neiderfeld but the Grubers will go to Three Stones which has the better celebration. It will be a chance to see her mother and younger brother – they will stay in Kleinsdorf overnight. They will also be taking a part of the harvest to the mill there.

The others take 2 and a half hours to walk to the village – on the way, see fields of crops and vineyards nearly ready to harvest with men and women working in them, children running errands or throwing stones at birds that the scarecrows don’t intimidate (especially those crows).

Nearing Neiderfeld, the village in sight, they meet the same eight well-armed riders who passed them as they were going to Hammelfels (7 days ago) heading out of it going down the valley – when the riders spot them they turn and ride towards PCs.

Both parties are interested in the other’s reasons to be in the region and the riders are interested to learn that the heroes are from Streissen, as they are looking for students from Streissen and a dwarf. Otto manages, despite a rider Intuiting Intentions, to conceal the fact the PC’s have met Yadri. Harek resists a Steely Gaze and draws information from the riders. The riders reveal there is a reward from a party who does not want to named for finding the students. They are leaving the area, however, as goblins are not part of their job.

[metagame – the PC’s could have tried to convince/shame the riders into staying and helping, 8 heavily armed riders would be very handy helping in valley’s defence, and trying to convince them could have had a bonus – they would have possibly revealed there was more to their decision to leave than goblins]

At Neiderfeld, a walled (in need of repair) village of 60, Heinrich introduces the men from Streissen who save his farm and Otto recounts the tale to good effect. The villagers are alarmed at word of more goblins but relieved they have been nearly wiped out. They know that goblins overwhelmed the Bergjaeger outpost at the head of the valley – some Bergjaegers are expected in a few hours.

The Bailiff, Morgenstein, is uncertain but decides to send two of his men (on two of his four horses) to Hammelfels (day’s ride) and Grenzstadt (3 days ride) to ask for help.

Waiting for the Bergjaegers, Brun asks the Bailiff about the ruined manor that overlooks the village from atop a rise to the east (the most defensible site in area actually). It was 14 years ago, Morgenstein relates that the villagers discovered the grave-robbing von Gorstein’s conducting bizarre experiments involving body parts. A young girl’s murder was the catalyst for bringing the would-be necromancers to justice. “We may not have witch hunters but we know what to do.

Matthias remarks the village wall is in poor shape and Brun suggests some effort be devoted to fixing it.

[Metagame – well the Bailiff’s reaction to crisis has been to dither, only sending riders for help when the PC’s arrived with report of more goblins]

Ten Bergjaegers arrive in early afternoon. At this point Captain Zimmerman takes charge from the Bailiff and tells Morgenstein to call up militia (all 10 of them in the village) – but being clear that the eastern farms will keep their men on site.

The Captain interviews the heroes and is puzzled about their news of goblin attacks on dwarf mine. Not that this is surprising but that the goblins divided forces beforehand is not at all like goblins, who like to have as much a numerical advantage as they can and to whom dwarfs are like catnip. Sending half their force south instead of staying in one force to attack the dwarfs is bizarre.

He’s disturbed to be told and see the time marker, saying that the attack on the Bergjaeger outpost started on the same night. There is some coordination of attacks. That’s at the “upper range” of goblin cleverness – tactical ambush sort of coordination is more their forte not strategic planning. This and dividing forces are both strange.

After a quick questioning about their legal status, PC’s are drafted into the Army of Averland, Waldbach Militia. Captain Zimmerman has the authority of the Steward of Grenzstadt and the Elector Count and can draft anyone who is not a noble, in service to a noble, clergy of an official cult, or a tenant farmer (needed to work land and belonging to their landlord effectively). Anyone who is simply a labourer, tradesman or a wandering adventure sort can be compelled into militia.

The Captain is not sure how many goblins threaten the valley. Sergeant Grun saw the mobs attacking the outpost, there were 90 or so. Here too there as an oddity, they were using clay firepots of oil – a more sophisticated fire attack than normal. The Captain hopes the outpost gave a good account of itself and perhaps halved or more the goblin force.

The Captain orders the milita to the northernmost farm that he believes to be threatened and the PC’s to the southernmost. His men will take the central farm. A rider is positioned at each north and south farm (only 2 horses left) to ride for help if there is an attack. The intent defensively is to hold out till relieved.

However the Captain’s real hope is that the forces at each farm will act as advance scouts, looking by day for sign of the goblins (who will likely be moving by night). If the goblins can be spotted and the valley gather its forces together to face them by day that is the best chance of defeating them (depending on how many are pulled from farms, that’s about 20 militia, 10 Bergjaegers and the PCs, then another 20-30 poorly armed farmers and villagers except where a surprise like a family of archers pops up).

Militia means someone with half-decent arms such as a leather jerkin, wood shield and a spear who knows which end of the spear is which, villagers are just folk with makeshift weapons. In practical terms a single militia man is a bit better than a goblin and a single villager a bit worse.

The Captain hopes that others of his detachment survived and are making their way to the village – another patrol was also out when the outpost was attacked, its fate is not known.

The PCs asked the Captain about students and the riders. No one in valley appears to know anything about the students but the Captain says the riders sound like treasure hunters (he speaks contemptuously of the sort – you can spot them by the 10’ poles disguised as spears) hired by Guttman, a merchant in Grenzstadt who funds explorations of dwarf ruins.

[Metagame – Joe’s recollection of a Guttman is likely ‘remembering a past life’ as unless Herr Guttman both came back to life and changed career this is probably not the Witch Hunter Guttman encountered as an animated corpse by another set of adventurers in the Border Princes Territory]

The PCs first go back to Gruber’s and send word to Yadri to expect them in 3 days (the 8th)

That was optimistic.

Matthias decides to cut short his recovery and comes with his comrades to Gronenborn farm. Reached usually by boat across the river at Neiderfeld and then just under 3 miles by trail (1.5 hours normal walk).

The farm has as a mixed wall of rough stone and logs 8’ high. There is one built up point in each corner to look out over it and the upper story of the barn also looks out to the east.

The farm is built on a bluff overlooking a pond in a small (unnavigable) stream that flows down to the Waldbach river (nobody in the valley builds on the river directly as spring flooding makes that foolish). A bucket on wooden arm swings out to fetch up water, it being an 8’ drop down the bluff to the pond.

The Gronenborns are bowyers and fletchers and five of them are effective archers. They loan shortbows to any PCs who want them and have only 1 spare longbow (Otto borrows) and give any using bows 6 superior arrows each. They also have eight hired hands who are able bodied and can heft a pitchfork in a fight. The total population of their farmstead is 17 (compared to Gruber’s 8).

[Metagame – so one farm is a quasi-healing hospice and another produces superior arrows, the valley is not without resources, if only it had a halfing bakery]

Nothing happens that night, the farmers keep watch while the Streissen men rest up.

The next day, the 6th, the heroes go out a patrol, taking one of the Gronenborn’s 3rd generation (teenage boy) as a local guide. It is raining heavily, obscuring vision and risking bowstrings.

They opt to spend a half day on a ‘long range outing’ that takes them into the hills to the south – the Captain believed the goblins would move through the hills to the south or north of the valley rather than come down the more open valley between them.

In the afternoon, Matthias spots three deer running down out of the woods, one wounded with an arrow and just manages to make out ten wolf riders pursuing them (2 gangs of 5). PCs all act before goblins and they hunker down in the brush to hide. The wounded deer falls and one gang of wolf riders stops to butcher it, the other goes on after the other two deer. After they butcher the deer and give scraps to wolves, the riders go back deeper into hills.

PCs trail them, hoping not to have the other gang of riders come up behind them. After a couple of hours they find the wolf riders are moving south-west – past the Gronenborn farm, and are in the trail of/catching up to a larger group of goblins – 50 or so.

The heroes decide this is important, that more goblins survived than hoped but that they appear to be making their way out of the valley or at least past the eastern farms and village. What their destination could be is unclear. And of course, they aren’t eager to meet 50 goblins.

So they return to the farm, pressing themselves (1D athletics) to get there with enough light to send the rider to the Captain (he’s about 3 miles away though the river has to be forded to reach him – the river is not too fast this time of year and a horse can swim it but the rider will get well-soaked).

That night they are awoken by a goblin attack! The Groggy condition of waking and need to put on armour hinders their response time (the entire fight is over by the time Brun is ready). Two gangs of goblins had been creeping up on the walls but were spotted. They are using some sort of puff-fungus that makes victims sluggish (Matthias is affected, as is a farm lookout). They have bows (goblins generally like to use missile weapons and are better with them being more agile than strong) but don’t do much damage before they are shot down by magic missiles and arrows.

We break (a truncated, one misfortune die on recovery roll, night’s sleep will be had)

Post game material:

On the 7th, the Captain arrives with two men before the sun is truly over the horizon the next day. He inspects the dead goblins and hears the tale of the attack. To comments about counting and numbers of goblins he replies these are a different tribe. “That was slack fungus and these fellas are all in black – these are Night Goblins, a different breed, not just different tribe. Live in caves most of the time, don’t mind dark at all, and are crazy even for goblins – you see one whirling a ball and chain either shoot it dead or run.

So a large body of goblins, of the same tribe that attacked the outpost is moving west either out of the valley or to seal off escape.

And now it’s three tribes cooperating. This puzzles the Captain as it’s starting to look like a WAAAGH! But the goblins on this side of mountains never WAAAGH! No one is sure why not, whether there’s not enough of them or whether they need more orcs. The WAAAGH!s always come from the Badlands or Darklands, which is why Black Fire Pass is so important.

Still, with a new group of goblins having appeared to harass farms, the Captain doesn’t want to pull too many men away from the farms. He orders the men from Streissen, since they are such good trackers and have a shape-shifting wizard among them to see if they can pick up the trail of these goblins again. Are they really leaving the valley, if so where to?

There are no other communities immediately to the south for about 20 miles – the terrain is hills and forest. Then there is a Bergjaeger outpost and some more villages – this is getting closer to Grenzstadt. The closest communities are Kleinsdorf and the Diocese of Hammelfels in the Spechthardt.

Otto observes that this likely means they won’t make their rendezvous with Yadri. The Captain says he will have word sent to the Grubers to let the dwarf know his friend are hunting goblins.

The Captain has a map of Upper Waldbach Valley.

View
Goblins and Puppets in the Dark
Answers and more questions

All present, we resume on the afternoon of Erntezeit 3rd, 2523.

The goblins all slain, the adventurers are thanked by Yadri. Harek tells him that the group has been looking for him to ask him about missing students but that it is a long tale. Yadri is suitably angered hearing of the attack on the mine. After recovering their breath (rally step) the adventurers and Yadri continue on after the goblins.

They are setting a hard travel pace and several companions are carrying more than is easily borne while hiking, Otto, Erasmus and Harek all suffering fatigue (2 points failing 2D Athletics) and Harek falls behind (delay result). The result is that when they make camp in a place Yadri knows, Harek is late arriving and not present when the comrades try to talk to Yadri.

Otto asks Yadri about the silver ring and a short account is given (Charm fortune for having aided, misfortune for not being dwarf, 1 success):

The site was an old delve (dwarf mine) from before the War of Vengeance and following Goblin Wars. The site had been used since by humans who did some work. It looked like someone had tried to blow up the inner hall but underestimated dwarf craftsmanship and just brought a few stones down on themselves. The ring was on a long dead bony hand which was all left of one fellow. The mine markings were on the inner doors so seeing it was marked played out, I left.

On the 4th, the sky is overcast with a few clouds and light winds. Yadri knows of a shorter path than the goblins are taking through the mountains, if one is willing to risk narrower and steeper ways. The party takes that route, hoping to reach the other side (the Upper Waldbach River Valley) before the goblins. Matthias is in white wolf form as they follow Yadri. It takes coordination (2D check with 2 fortune for Yadri’s advice) to navigate this path and Brun slips and takes a fall, breaking his nose (auto crit for fall).

As they come through the path, just before the final dip down into the valley, they have a good view of the valley and Yadri points out the Gruber farm not far away and the other farmsteads ( Shenkelhütte, Hinterstein, Gronenborn and Raebel Farms), the village of Neiderfeld and hidden from sight at the river head the Bergjaeger outpost of Schlupwinkel (about 12 miles from Neiderfeld) .

Oh, that’s not good, there’s smoke coming from where Schlupwinkel lies, thicker than just a campfire or chimney. Yadri says about 30 mountain guard are based there, though most are usually out in patrols. Harek, with his good eyes, picks out 2 or 3 figures, likely on horseback, moving up the valley.

The comrades decide to split up. Matthias in wolf form will go to see if the goblins are coming through the path Yadri expects (which comes out about a quarter mile away) while the rest go to the nearby Gruber farmstead to warn them. It is twilight when they arrive to alarm the Grubers.

The Gruber farmstead is a small one with a simple wooden pallisade and a population of eight adults and two children – Heinrich and Emilie Gruber, their family and hired hands. Lady Julianne von Leitdorf, Sir Quintus and maid are still here tending the fevered boys Deiter and Pieter. “Goblins!” cries out Otto raising the alarm.

Brun wants to know if they will send warning to the other farms and village but the Grubers won’t send anyone out into the darkness if there are goblins nearby. The Grubers offer the adventurers shelter for the night.

In case the goblins are coming to attack the farm, Brun asks if there is any place the adventurers could use to surprise them. Heinrich says if the goblins are coming from direction expected there is a hedgerow along the east side the field the goblins will come through. It could conceal an ambush.

Meanwhile, Matthias in wolf-form spotted goblin wolf riders, spearmen and archers as they approached before they were too close to him (Observation 2D) and avoids their wolves catching his scent (Chaos Star on roll meant they had this chance).

[the goblins weren’t actively looking, like a watchman would be, so this was not opposed/competing check and principle of ‘player rolls’ applied, but the Chaos Star then gives the foe a chance to roll – mechanically the rolling party often having advantage]

Matthias went ahead of the goblins and when his comrades saw the white wolf they called him over to the hedgerow to join the ambush.

[At this point a 4 hour playing mark is passed and as they steel themselves for the fight to come an advance is earned – Matthias has spent enough time in the wild and as a wolf that he completes learning Nature Lore, others TBD – it is important an advances spent can be explained in terms of what is learned/revealed etc.]

Three goblin wolf-riders (archers, most wolf-riders are archers) come into view. They have a challenge die added into their initiative to reflect “ambush”.

Melee ensues – it is a cloudy night near dark new moon meaning three misfortune dice darkness penalty (one for Harek)) and it’s late in day (a full day’s mountain trek, and now a fight after sunset) so a single misfortune die is added to all actions for being tired.

During the melee, Matthias come close to falling and suffers a disorienting blow (critical) and Harek finds himself the preferred target of several goblins, suffering a minor trauma (critical). Yadri and Grimbul aid the adventurers, Yadri advising Erasmus where to shoot in the dark (all 3 fortune dice he can give used) and Harek being helped by Grimbul (success/boon to one roll). Grimbul’s ‘large and in charge’ feature makes criticals on foes likely to scare them off.

Most of the raiders are killed, two wolves and a wounded goblin archer escape.

[Episode End]

The goblin bodies are searched. They don’t have any particularly exceptional weapons or gear (unlike the ones at mine) but one wolf rider has a scrap of hide with a moon symbol and eight hash marks on it. Folklore recalls goblins use the moon as their calendar and the adventurers realize that the attack on the mine happened 8 days after a full moon. Matthias concludes the attack was timed – part of a coordinated effort.

The Gruber’s have related that Herr Morgenstein sent some of his men to investigate the fire upriver. Herr Morgenstein is the wealthiest man in valley and de facto leader since the von Gorsteins died out (in the fire that killed them all) and the valley fell under the Steward of Grenzstadt’s dominion (the steward’s authority meaning he sends a tax collector each season). The Grubers whisper the Gorsteins were necromancers, stealing corpses and making things out of their parts.

Harek talks with Yadri, in kazalid, and (multiple successes) gets him to reveal a story he has kept to himself out of fear of invoking some vengeance from somewhere,

I took the three to the mine site and showed them the entry, its a narrow cut and defile that leads to the pocket canyon with mine entrance – you could walk right by it and never know it was there if you didn’t know what to look for.

A couple days later, I’m panning in a stream nearby when by good luck I see a reflection in the water, it’s their bodyguard trying to come up behind me with his sword out – I scramble out of the way, nearly getting skewered and holler for Grimbul who does for this backstabber. (A comment by Harek about the evidence being eaten is rebuffed, Grimbul’s a good bear, I buried the murdering bastard under a pile of rocks).

I don’t know what became of the other two. Didn’t want no trouble so I’ve not told this to anyone.

Harek also asks about the abandoned mine where the ring was found and Yadri says,

Humans had built since it was abandoned. They were good about not defacing any our work, bringing stone slabs and such in for their own carvings. I ken Reikspiel but this wasn’t it – didn’t poke around as I’m no spelunker or grave robber – and then he admits, something about the place bothered me, felt like something was creeping up on me all the time I was there though I could never see anything and Grimbul wasn’t bothered.

Meanwhile Otto entertains the Gruber children with a puppet show, complete with goblin heads on sticks, enacting the defeat of the goblins. The Grubers are much heartened.

[Fortune Point into party pool]

The comrades rest overnight at the Gruber farmstead and receive trained first aid with the benefit of Lady Julianne’s care and Emile Gruber’s herb collection (2 fortune dice, also applicable to overnight recovery checks here). Lady Julianne sets Brun’s broken jaw (critical healed).

Harek relates Yadri’s story, out of earshot of Yadri, to his comrades. Brun finds it difficult to believe Vilmar would try to murder the prospector. Harek believes his suspicions that there is some conspiracy to keep what the students were looking for (the Tutis Bibliotheca) hidden and that Vilmar could have been part of it.

Another development is that last evening Harek and Otto spotted something peculiar. Their host, Heinrich Gruber bears a strong resemblance to Professor Wilhelm Fortenhaffer of Owl’s Inn College in Streissen. Well except that Heinrich is missing an ear.

Otto probes this by ‘innocently’ saying he’s met someone who looks like Heinrich, which provokes an immediate reaction – where, what name is he using? Thoughts of “do we use guile, charm or what” to find out whatever Heinrich knows are banished by his string of exclamation and curses – joined by his wife as he calls to her, “Gustave is in Streissen, he’s a Professor, the bastard!”

It turns out that many years ago Heinrich’s older brother Gustave stole a cache of valuable items from The Gentlemen and ran off with them. The smugglers thought Heinrich would know where his brother had gone and questioned him – at some length (hence the missing ear), but Heinrich knew nothing – until now! It is clear there is no love lost here!

We break the morning of Erntezeit 5th. Matthias plans to stay and rest (a To2 and severity 2 critical could use some fortune dice on recoveries) while others go to the village to see what is up.

PC’s recall:

- Professor Wilhelm Fortenhaffer is one of the two professors who Otto met in Wissenland before his family relocated.
- These were the two professors Brun’s love interest Gisila worked for and and who helped out of a jam, though he recalls it was the other professor, Helmgarter who emptied his purse to get her out of the false charges – on that same trip.
- Professor Fortenhaffer is a colleague of Professor Helmgarter, Otto’s sister Mina’s professor (who s the other of the two professors above and one of the two professors who sent the students and the PCs’ on this trip).
- He is an expert in history.

[Correcting from session, Fortenhaffer is not Mina’s professor though he takes classes for Helmgarter at times and is friends with him]

Added:

Note, Matthias will get “long term care” benefit not just because he “takes day off” but also does so in an environment conducive to healing. The Gruber Farm is a “mini-hospice” with its herb racks, Emilie Gruber’s skills with first aid and herb lore, and in this case Lady Julianne’s assistance, in the peaceful bucolic environment etc. Something to remember perhaps.

On the morning’s walk to Neiderfeld (it’s about 2.5 hour walk), those who go will be accompanied by Heinrich Gruber, who wants to know what is going on with the smoke upriver and what the Bailiff will do – unless the investigators do not wish the company.

View
Grobi!
It's not easy being green

All present.

Erntezeit 1st in Kleinsdorf:

In the morning, Otto bargains with Ernst Fallenstaffer for guide services. Between his curiosity about these travellers, Otto’s charms and realizing “hmm, it’s Pie Week and the Waldenschmidts have a Halfling cook – smacking lips” Fallenstaffer offers to guide them for free.

Erasmus is the only party member to purchase some of Richter’s Cure-All for What Ails Ye (wounded, tired, afraid – Richter’s Cure-All is for you!), managing to bargain the village apothecary with “family secrets handed down from Ancient Nehekhara” down to 4 shillings from the requested 5.

It is still raining heavily for second day in row (random weather draw).

Having slept in a bit after their exertions the previous day, the investigators heads up the Hochstrom. Around noon they reach the abandoned village of Schrobenheim – wiped out by plague 20 years earlier. Otto will not enter, taking them around but they want to see if anyone has been using the site.

Matthias shifts to wolf-form (Ernst having been told about it) and noses about the site to see if it is being used as a hide out. It is actually a peaceful site nature is reclaiming. Only a few stone foundations and the weathered remains of charred uprights show where homes once stood (it appears the village was burned). Trees are growing throughout the site and there are signs of wildlife. Matthias found signs of a dozen or so travellers having camped here without a fire recently. They are messy (poor latrine hygiene) but didn’t leave any other traces. The heavy rains (2nd day now) have washed away any trails they left coming or going.

The group continues on to Waldenschmidt Farm, it being about 3 o’clock in the afternoon when they come in sight of the hill-top fortified farmstead with its fields and pigs, a small shrine down by stream bank to Abnoba Maid of the Bursting Waters (a local spirit – do not wash us away in spring or leave us too thirsty in fall maid of the mountain-fed stream).

Ernst hails the farmstead and introduces the travellers to the Waldenschmidts, who are rural farm folk (like the Kleinsdorfers) wary of outsiders (two misfortune dice to all social with them). They are met by the three able-bodied men of the arm – Eustasius (sword sheathed), brother Hugo (pitchfork) and hired man from Kleinsdorf Kasimir (scythe), and their wolf hound – though eventually meet the grandparents, wife, kids.

The investigators explain they come from Streissen University in search of missing students. The farmers don’t recall seeing any students. Two days ago eight riders, well-armed, came by also looking for them – said they were “Gentlemen” but Eustasius says they weren’t. These searchers road off south (presumably to Kleinsdorf or Grubers Farm).

They know of the dwarf mine but don’t deal with it. Though Eustasius appears put off by the travellers (insight/observation failing to see any reason why, an extra two misfortune dice with him), with Ernst’s help, investigators are allowed to sleep in the barn for a penny each (please check you paid).

Erasmus helps out in the kitchen and the travellers end up being fed. However, whether it’s Erasmus trying to talk up Eloise Broadleaf the cook (used to cook for mercenaries but when Eustasius decided to come back to the family farm she came with him) – “I’m just the cook” or Brun with Grandpa Gobel in the morning the investigators find themselves failing to induce any of the farm folk be more chatty or forthcoming.

Sleep in the Barn (misfortune die to recovery) – Episode End.

Erntezeit 2 comes and the rain eases off to a light rain.

Act 1 – to the Mine!

Ernst takes the investigators south-east from the farmstead, into hillier and hillier terrain as they approach a spur of the World’s Edge Mountains. It’s 10 miles or so but there is no trail and the terrain is rougher and it’s past mid-afternoon by the time the canyon mouth comes into sight. This is where Ernst once saw the dwarfs come out with their packtrain taking silver ingots to Grenzstadt.

Ernst declines to go into the canyon. He will make a lean-to shelter in the trees here near the entry and sleep here tonight. If the investigators show up by morning they can go back together, otherwise he will head back on his own.

Harek goes into the canyon with Erasmus and wolf-Matthias. He is hailed by a lookout and introduces himself. Being a dwarf he manages to get welcomed and the rest of investigators join.

They meet mine-owner Dargo Morekson who says the dwarfs have seen no students. His cousin Yadri is a bit of a zaki, wandering, ahem prospecting, in the region with his pet, well trained, well mostly behaved bear. He recalls Yadri talking about the silver ring he found in some ruins. It wasn’t a big deal, Yadri just mentioned he found a human ruin built in an old dwarf mine but the mine had been played out so it was of no interest. Dargo doesn’t know where this was (dwarfs have been mining these mountains and hills on and off since before Sigmar).

Yadri doesn’t come to the mine much – lately he’s been working out of Waldenschmidt farm.
— Waldenschmidt?! The investigators realize though they asked about students at the farm they didn’t ask about Yadri.

(Meta-game – that’s sort of reason I reminded earlier that you were going to the dwarf mine to ask about Yadri, the mine only being a means to find him).

It is evening, Harek speaks with the mine’s engineer Goddi Skalderson, though Goddi doesn’t take well to hearing about the problem with the still he improved in Kleinsdorf. (failed charm).

While the evening is getting on, a horn starts blowing and a voice bellows ‘GROBI!’ A greenskin attack! A mixed group of wolf-riders, spearmen, cleaver-wielders, snotlings and crossbow-armed goblins has scaled the dwarf wall.

The dwarves grab their arms and rush to defend themselves. Melee ensues with goblin and dwarf dice pools rolled to inflict injury on each other. Goblins the heroes occupy don’t contribute to the goblin dice pool. Some dwarfs are hardier and can ‘take 2 narrative hits before falling’ and one dwarf, Ulfar, is skilled with first aid and can mitigate dwarf losses.

Early in the confrontation, the dwarf engineer Goddi uses some sort of flare to illuminate the scene and remove darkness penalties (the canyon otherwise being quite dark at night).

The dwarfs and investigators are victorious but the goblins kill three dwarfs before they are overwhelmed (Dargo’s Mine 11 years with 0 3 fatalities, it’s all good till the greenskins show up). Brun and Matthias bore the worst brunt of the goblin fighting.

Mopping up and assessing situation, the dwarfs are concerned because the goblins are from two different tribes. One is the local Gut Rippers, but the other is the Stumpnose which is usually found in the mountains south of Black Fire Pass (which they recognize because they are from Karak Angazhar which is south of Black Fire Pass).

Two goblin tribes cooperating is a bad sign meaning some powerful gobo has forced them to work together. These were only a few gobbo’s, there must be more and the dwarfs are not willing to wait it out here for whatever might be coming.

The dwarfs also note that the crossbows two goblins had were in better condition than typical, they must have looted them recently. The investigators wonder if the goblins “looted them” or got them otherwise and Harek notes that both have the same maker’s mark (the investigators don’t recognize the maker’s mark but that is not surprising).

The dwarfs plan to bury their dead tonight and will evacuate the site tomorrow (heading to Waldenschmidt farm and then downriver).

The dwarfs are stoic but as the names of the dead are recited in Kazalid, Harek realizes one of them was named Kragg Morekson – likely Dargo’s brother and the youngest was the son of another miner, Yanni. Dargo and Yanni both declare grudges against the greenskins.

The dwarfs are grateful the investigators were here to help deal with the grobi (Brun keeps to himself and his comrades his suspicion that maybe the greenskins came here because of/following the investigators).

Harek offers that the dwarfs can make use of the comrade’s mules if they need help evacuating.

The comrades go to check on Ernst Fallenstaffer, where he had camped in woods beyond canyon mouth. Poor Ernst appears to have been the first to meet the goblins. They bury him with a few words, using some rocks to secure his remains. Brun declares that “it was Ernst who had the medallion” (e.g., if anyone connects the medallion they took from the tinker with the missing tinker they will say they found it with Ernst – gee you might almost think Brun was used to this sort of thing).

Trying to track the goblins, Harek’s observation finds their path and an hour through the darkness a camp is located. There were more goblins here (and just goblins it seems, no horse tracks for example) but the others, roughly same number, moved off south into the mountains. The Gruber farm is about 2 days through mountain paths south of here (not as far as Waldenschmidt as crow flies but much slower going) and the comrades are worried that the goblins are heading there (where Lady Julianne’s party was going, she would have arrived last night).

After a brief debate, the comrades decide though they want to go to Waldenschmidt farm to ask about Yadri, their immediate concern is those greenskins and the Gruber farm. Brun points out that if they are going to try to make a difference they have to “go all out” and push themselves – so just as well they don’t take the mules. Greenskins mostly travel at night so perhaps over the course of two days of travel they can catch up.

Ulfar provides first said to investigators . They sleep that night, and Brun recovers his “pulled muscle” critical.

Rally Step (Act 2 begins)

3rd Erntezeit, the skies clear. It’s the kind of day Rhya met Taal.

The investigators follow the other goblin party south through the mountainous terrain (a great Observation tracking success earlier carrying through).

In the afternoon, they hear a bestial growl and roar (thinking “bear?”) the comrades come upon five goblins and a shaman with a drum which have “treed” (or “rocked”) a dwarf and a bear – the dwarf and bear being cornered atop a rocky outcropping but no goblin wanting the honour of going first.

The comrades attack the goblins, wounding the shaman with a shot first, and then square off. The dwarf and bear come down and join the fray adding 3 fortune die and 1 success/boon result to a pool.

Numbers are even which makes the goblins a bit skittish (misfortune all attacks) as they really prefer to out-number foes.

The goblins are all slain, managing to inflict some self-injury at times reminding why it’s so dishonourable to be killed by the pathetic things, without serious injury to any PC.

Rally Step (Act 3 begins).

We break with introductions to Yadri, and the bear, to come.

Note – since you’re slugging it on foot, whether any of you are carrying >3xStr will be important for some Fatigue end of day.

View
Tinkers and Dwarf Stills
Learning to bite

Resuming the evening of Aubentag, Nachgeheim 31st in the dining hall of Hammelfels Monastery.

Brunhart Katzlmacher and Erasmus Sprinthoffer are seated with men-at-arms and monks, Otto Lutterberg, Matthias Hofmeister and Harek Harginson are seated at the Abbot’s table with the monastery senior monks, noble Lady Julianne and knights.

  • During their travels Brun and Erasmus have developed more Discipline (perhaps having to endure nobles and jibes and other matters during this trip), Matthais is progressing in his knowledge of Nature Lore (walking through the wooded hills of the Spechthardt), Harek is becoming more Observant (looking about him more), and we learn that though Silver Tier, Otto’s family believed in an Ascetic Upbringing.
    Ideally we will continue to narratively track character developments, showing how they are are warranted.

Brun tries to strike up comradely chat with the men-at-arms but is rebuffed. The men-at-arms consider themselves above mere mercenaries and freikorps sorts, being in service to Knights of Sigmar’s Blood (they are all wearing tunics in the same red-gold colour scheme as the two knights seated at the main table). [failed charm roll]

(This is an example of play establishing something I hadn’t – a different role and it could have turned out men-at-arms of Sigmar’s Blood are salt of the earth comradely types).

Erasmus learns from a monk that the dwarf mine’s precise location is unknown. It has been operating for about 10 years – they’re not sure exactly how long. The dwarfs just appeared taking their silver down to Grenzstadt one year and have been making such a trip down, taking supplies back up about twice a year ever since. For a guide who might know the way, he is recommended to seek out the trapper Ernst Fallenstaffer in Kleinsdorf.

At the Abbot’s table, the Medicus Conrad wonders why Torch College sent no one (apparently it’s apparent there are no devout Sigmarites in this group). Lady Julianne asks for news, particularly of her family, the Leitdorfs. Matthais recounts, diplomatically, events in Heideck and the change in power there from Leitdorf to Mecklenburg.

Lady Julianne takes the news surprisingly well – amused at thinking of what Lector Stromni would think if he knew the outcome of his convincing Maurice into entailing estates against the female line was to see a holding transferred to the Mecklenburgs. When asked she explains Stromni was Sigmar’s Lector for Averland in the closing years of the last century (Maurice von Leitdorf was father to Marius, Lucas etc. – so when he gave Heideck to Lucas it was entailed in the male line).

Harek seeks to gain entry to the monastery’s library but fails (Charm), being advised that the library is for the use of Sigmar’s faithful.

The goblin threat is inquired about – the greenskins are lurking in wooded hills to the west and not in the river valley to the west – they would not want to risk being caught out in the open.

After dinner, the travellers are offered a tour of the monastery by Sakrist Markus including its great murals of Sigmar gathering the tribes to face the Greenskins at Black Fire Pass and Sigmar and the wildmen before the raging Aver, with Altaver raising from the waters to deny the greenskins passage while the twelve tribes mustered. A potted history of the 700 year old site is given going back to its founding on the site of a manor destroyed in Gorbad Ironclaw’s invasion and successful resistance and sheltering of villagers from the region during Grom the Paunch’s WAAAGH! 103 years ago, when Sigmar’s Holy Fury smote the greenskins and spared his faithful.

On Marktag the 32nd, last day of Nachgeheim 2523, the party leaves the monastery. It is raining heavily, obscuring distance vision and possibly hindering bows and blackpowder weapons.

They are accompanied by a mounted party Lady Julianne, her maid and the elderly Sir Quintus – who suggests those on foot travel first as otherwise they will be muddied following the horses. These riders set a slow pace so walking with them is easy – Lady Julianne being a tiny little old lady in her 70’s. The lady is going to the Gruber farmstead where some children have a fever – she wishes to help and trade herb lore with Emilie Gruber.

On the way, Otto talks with Lady Julianne explaining his background and asks if there are any among the monastery’s monks he should be particularly careful about (there being some Sigmarites who are intolerant of other faiths). Lady Julianne is quite chatty with Otto, and says that the Librarian (the even more-elderly than she Elder Berold) and the Medicus (Conrad) are the most conservative and likely to see followers of the Horned God and Green Goddess as sliding dangerously towards Chaos worship with their naked woodland frolics.

(Otto having rolled 4 successes and a comet and party also wondering if students antagonized anyone at monastery) – Lady Julianne does not recall any antagonism between students and monks – the one young man from Torch College (Gustave Hesse) was planning to become an initiate and got on well. The other young man (Franz Bessels) was polite enough. Lady Julianne also recounts that the Librarian stuck up a very friendly conservation with the students’ bodyguard (she does not use the name, presumably this was Vilmar) and even invited him to share a glass of wine together (the Librarian has a private stock).

After following a well-marked trail through the wooded hills of the Spechthardt for about five hours the two groups come to the Three Stones Ford over the Hochstrom. Along the way Harek had kept an eye out for anything that might have caught the students’ eyes and lead them off trail, but saw nothing.

The river is low this late in year and at this site it widens to about 20’ and becomes shallower. Stones have been placed into the riverbed to create almost a “cobbled walkway”. On the other side three menhirs can be seen, each about 16’ tall arrayed in a triangle or circle (depending on how one prefers to see it).

Lady Julianne’s party continues on a less-travelled trail that leads east, towards the Gruber farmstead while the investigators turn downriver the short walk to Kleinsdorf.

Not long after splitting up, they encounter a tinker with a mule and cart, a couple of mangy guard dogs who is coming up from Kleinsdorf. The tinker is wary of the strangers he meets, making a point of noting he has pots and pans – no “small valuable highly portable objects” and complains about the poor trading prospects in the valley. There’s hardly 2 pennies in the whole region, everyone wants to pay in chickens. There’s only so many chickens a man can use.

They continue, first seeing the fields and river-side mill and then the small village with its palisade. The village headman Liebert Muller (yes the owner of the mill) meets the visitors and asks their business. When they ask about students Muller says the village never saw them, though they seem to be popular with so many asking after them – this prompts inquiry and Muller says smugglers, The Gentlemen, and a tinker have both been asking. Yes, the tinker who was just here.

At this point Brun and Matthais decide to chase after the tinker to ask him about his interest (the topic didn’t come up when they met him). Once out of sight of the village Matthais shifts to wolf form. The two set a fast pace (Athletics check) and manage to catch up before sunset (on the other wise of the ford, in the wooded hills).

The tinker is wary when hailed by Brun and a wolf. Brun tries to be intimidating and draw closer – then seeing the tinker was a concealed shortsword he is drawing and a fight breaks out. Burn and Matthais (wolf form) face off against the tinker, who is handier with a sword than he looks, and his two dogs who are trained to fight with him (prevent him being flanked, lend aid in terms of fortune die at times).

The tinker wounds Brun (critical – pulled muscle) and Matthais manages to get the hang of biting foes (mangy dog doesn’t taste so good). Brun is fighting too recklessly to try subduing and kills the tinker. One dog also is slain and the other runs off (morale check failure). They search the tinker and his cart thoroughly finding only one thing of interest (reported below). The cart is pulled off the trail and tinker’s body hidden in the woods, his mule left to wander.

Meanwhile, in the village the possible guide Fallensteller has been found (the headman shouting was sufficient and luckily he was in the village at time). Fallensteller thinks he knows where the dwarf mine is, having seen them come out of a box canyon once. The way to reach it is to go up the Hochstrom to Waldenschmidt’s farm, overnight there and then go south-east into the foothills where the canyon is.

[A reminder, the Hochstrom, ford, Three Stones, Kleinsdorf are all in a valley – to the west lies the Spechthardt hills and to the east lies the foothills of the World’s Edge Mountains – whose peaks are clearly visible from the valley]

Otto puts off talking fees until after breakfast the next day.

There is no inn or tavern in town. The investigators can bed down in a barn. The benches under a tree where villagers sometime gather are unoccupied today with the rain.

Asking about Three Stones, the investigators learn the site is sacred to Taal and Ryha and has been there “forever”.

While settling in a shrieking noise is heard and steam starts coming out of a shed, there are shouts, “the dwarf’s still!”. Harek goes to see, with several villagers, and finds the shed holds an “improved” still that is operating under pressure and seems about to explode (which would send potentially deadly shards of metal flying about) – he manages to make an Average Dwarf Engineering check to shut it down safely (he doesn’t roll well enough to actually fix it). This gives Harek a Fortune Die in all future interactions with villagers.

Later, Erasmus amuses villagers with tales casting peasants in a good light (Folklore check, per Performing Arts). He does well and earns supper (no rations used that day). He asks what local tales villagers have and they relate the story of the haunted wood downriver, the Trauerwald where a maiden’s ghost punishes anyone who has been unfaithful to a lover, and the abandoned village of Schrobenheim upriver – everyone died of Plague over 20 years ago and the site is avoided and said to be haunted.

Plague is a somewhat generic term in the Old World can could mean any epidemic or could mean the actual “Plague” itself, a deadly Severity 5 disease.

Brun and Matthais return and in the barn late that evening relate what happened and what they found (it is late day with all this, party must sleep in or be less well rested next day).

The mysterious tinker had no valuables or clues on him except one thing. He word a bronze medallion with a Sigmar-hammer mark on it (a typical peasant/commoner religious token) – but Brun recognized it to be like one Vilmar had worn all the time Brun knew him. Brun had been in Vilmar’s company often enough he had once seen the back of Vilmar’s medallion and spotted a mark there, he assumed the maker’s mark. However the tinker’s medallion has exactly the same mark on the back.

Harek and Matthais try to recall if they have learned anything about such a mark and both have (in the same book, see PC-only material below). The mark is a combination, by superimposing, of N O F – standing for the Novo Ordo Fidelum, a suppressed sect of Sigmarite fanatics that emerged during the Dark Ages as a reborn version of another sect of fanatics, the Ordo Fidelum which had been suppressed in the 6th Century.

Is this Vilmar’s medallion, or do they both belong to the same sect of Sigmarite fanatics? Vilmar was a Sigmarite (albeit disenchanted with church). Did the students run afoul of some fanatics? How do smugglers fit into things? Are there answers in Hammelfels, was there something more to Vilmar’s talk with the Librarian? Yet, everyone seems to be lookingf for them and whoever is looking for them presumably isn’t the reason they are missing, unless they went into hiding. The investigators are up for a while puzzling over these questions.

Fallensteller’s fee will be determined by a Charm check, and he will take a guided party around Schrobenheim – though the investigators decide they want to check it out (as it’s a place someone might hide if trying to not be found). He won’t take anyone “to the mine” just to the canyon as he doesn’t wish to antagonize dwarfs.

(this is “Dargo’s mine”, Dargo being the cousin of prospector Yadri who found ring that started all this).

We break and will resume the next day, Backertag the 1st day of Erntezeit. This is the day to sleep in (less done) or be a bit fatigued starting out with less sleep. This is most acute for Brun and Matthais.

Ah, Pie Week and the Wine Festival in Averland being missed. Pie Week tends not to be celebrated in less sophisticated village backwaters.

View
Unexpected Revelations

All present

We first go back and settle something in last session (updated there).

We affirm that all are here to support each other’s fun and everyone has a responsibility to pursue their own fun through that lens – what may make an interesting character in a story is not always a welcome part of a “group of characters supposed to be working together on solving problems and advancing interests”.

The coach reaches its last stop-over before Grenzstadt. At the Old Dwarf Road’s intersection with the Hochsleben trail lies the small village of Ziegenhausen (Grenzstadt demesne) and the Baron’s Feast Coach House.

- Rolls are made to see how passengers fared in their coach trip. Erasmus’s efforts to cheer passengers and overcome the effects of travelling with less than average Fellowship companions fail. Both Brunhart Katzlmacher and Matthias Hofmeister are less than the most charming of men (Fel 2) and everyone knows what it can be like stuck on a long trip in a confined space with “one of those” – which both will be if they fail a Charm check. Failures raise Party Tension +2 (Fortune stands at +1).

- The coachman does a much better job and not only passes (meaning the difficulty check of trip leg for passengers is reduced by one challenge die – there’s a reason people take coaches) but has managed coach so well everyone gets one success added into their outcome pool of the Resilience check. Those who wore armour (Brun and Harek) suffer misfortune dice = soak value on this check for the discomfort. Brun and Erasmus fail their check and each gets one Travel Fatigue.

On Nachgeheim 27th, late in the day the coach reaches Grenzstadt. The travellers decide to stay an extra night here, at the Rover’s Hearth (the last point where their way is paid for by their patrons), in order to recovery from Travel Fatigue (it taking at least two nights in a good bed for that) and pursue various inquiries.

Over the two days they acquire mules, bedrolls, a week of preserved rations for each of them at Friedrich’s, a outfitter near the main gate. He remembered the students and Vilmar when pressed by Brun. Some picks and shovels and rope was also obtained.

Otto hears about the public executions that were high point of day they arrived, a forger drawn and quartered and a famed highwayman Tancred Radische. He “always robbed in women’s apparel, which disguise was the means of his reigning so long in his villainy.” Tales circulate that “he was so abominably wicked that this very morning of the day he would die, a woman of trade came to visit him and he had the unparalleled audaciousness to act carnally with her, and gloried in the sin as he was going to execution – taunting that he would rather live 20 years as he has than 40 years toiling to pay taxes to fat burghers and nobles who keep their wealth in dust-collecting silver and gold decorations for their homes – we’re all the same wormfood." He gave the “crossed fingers” salute before he knelt for the axe. Talk is all about where he hid his ill-got gains since he couldn’t possibly have drunk and whored through it all (could he?)

Brun and others conceive a plan to find the “woman of trade” hoping to find the treasure (or wondering about a cross-dressing criminal visited by a woman..) but don’t get a chance to do this before leaving.

Harek located the dwarf silversmith who had obtained the silver ring. From him the name of the prospector, Yadri Dorinson, was learned and the fact he works in a region near his cousin Dargo’s silver mine “up the Hochback”. Harek also buys a nicely made cloak pin fashioned with the Ancestor God Morgrim’s face and bearing his rune.

Brun visits taverns mercenaries favour (there being many of those in town) but finds no one who recalls seeing Vilmar (it was a couple of months ago and it’s a busy town with lots of people coming and going).

On their second day, on the chance Vilmar visited a Sigmarite temple, he tries temples and is successful, though not in the way he expected. Vilmar is known to the Sigmarite temples in Grenzstadt but not because they saw him recently (in fact they ask Brun and Erasmus for news of him and how he is doing). First the older Catechist Stafke Roban who taught him as a youth and then Father Ossman who oversee a local temple paint a picture of Vilmar’s past.

Brun had known Vilmar to be a devout Sigmarite who disliked the church (and knew a lot about it) and now understands why.

As a youth Vilmar was trained in the temple school in Grenzstadt and eventually became an initiate of Sigmar. However, like many, he got caught up in the debates that raged in every seminary and other place Sigmarites gathered in the 2510’s about the right response to Ulrican persecution of Sigmarites in Middenland and the hotly debated Eimar Accord (under which the policy of cult self-regulation was to be firmed up with some specific expectations relating to persecution of Sigmarites, though the ‘need for parity’ and demand for expectations on Sigmarites were part of what angered Sigmarites who viewed all fault to be on the Ulrican side).

Vilmar was strongly in the “Middenland Lector Manfred von Hindenstern camp” advocating a duty to intervene with military force to protect Sigmarites from persecution and that the Elector Count of Middenland and the Ar Ulric were abrogating their responsibilities and had lost claim to their legal authority. Like all Sigmarites he mourned when Yorri the XV was assassinated in 2514 (at a meeting with the leading proponents and critics of the Eimar Accord where he was moving towards an official position) but the “very silver lining” was Lector von Hindenstern becoming Grand Theogonist Volkmar the Grim, instead of the “conciliatory, long game” Esmer of Wurtbad.

When Volkmar himself signed the Eimar Accord in 2516, many of his earlier admirers had difficulty coming to terms with his apparent about-face (the public explanation was Sigmar’s inspiration of the need for cult unity in facing the greater threat of chaos – which in retrospect now sounds much better than it did in 2516).

Vilmar took his grievances to an extreme and left the clergy, saying he could no longer accept the articles of faith (Article 2 Grand Theogonist is always right {that’s the short version}). He is remembered as a strong, devout man but no “friends” remain remembered nor do the clergy talked to admit to knowing anyone of similar views. (Vilmar is in his late 30’s so there was time for all of this to have happened).

On the 29th, the travellers leave with their mules and supplies.

It’s 3 days walk to Hammelfels, first along the Waldbach River then up into hills. The trail is well marked and there are wayshrines along the way (simple shelters dedicated to Sigmar). One village is passed on the first day, Bad Ehrlech. One the second day a troop of well-armed riders with mules and not wearing any colours ride by – hearing them, the party moved their own mules off the trail.

By the second day the terrain is becoming hilly, wooded with rocky outcroppings and streams.

(By Hammelfels, of the 8 days food the PC’s had 2 have been used as some fresh food was purchased and eaten on way).

Reaching Hammelfels it is seen to be a stone-walled monastery, with a stone watchtower beside it and small collection of thatch-roofed huts around it. Fields and grazing sheep complete the picture.

At the gate, a cheerful monk greets the travellers who introduce themselves as investigating the vanishing students who came through earlier. An invitation to join the monks for dinner ensues.

There are two tables, one for monks and men-at-arms, which brass tier Brun and Erasmus join and one for the monastery’s leading members and key others which silver Matthias, Harek and Otto join.

At the silver table, Abbot Droevig, the abbey librarian, cellarer, medicus sit along with an elderly noblewoman Julianne von Leitdorf and an almost equally elderly knight Quintus von Ulbricht. Two younger knights are also seated here – Franz von Ehrard and Holger von Harden.

- Tracks are created for ‘how much can be accomplished’ with the length being the lowest Fellowship score of the PCs at each table – 2 (with some possibility to extend). So each PC gets to make 2 forays/rolls etc in interactions.

At the “brass table” no actions have been taken yet.

At the “silver table” so far Matthias and Otto have acted once, Harek has yet to act.

Matthias impresses with his education and is told by the Abbot about the monastery’s collection of records about Black Fire Pass and Sigmarite visions, its respected maps.

Otto manages to insult the Abbot (chaos star on attempt to spot anything ‘off’ about the Abbot).

I will do the NPC’s (they get a turn too!) – speeding table time by posting this.

The Abbot invites the visitors to stay overnight and offers to let them see the monastery’s trail-map of the region (by which he means they do not have a nice cartographer imaginary ‘aerial view’ style map), they have what is actually much more common – itinerary style maps: from Hammelfels by trail 10 miles to Three Stones Ford over the Hochstrom, from ford 2 miles downstream to Kleinsdorf, from ford 12 miles upstream to Waldenschmidt Farm, from ford 8 miles through hills to Gruber Farm. From Kleinsdorf it is 10 miles down river to where Hochstrom meets Waldbach. From where Hochstrom meets Waldbach it is 25 miles up the Waldbach to Schlupfwinkel (Bergjaegar outpost).

Dargo’s mine is not part of their trail map.

Franz von Ehrard asks if they have the Abbot’s permission to enlist some villagers in their patrol to hunt down this band of goblins the villagers of Borkenchen claim passed through. They want to call up some men from Borkenchen and Gelbhorst, the Abbot looks over at the monk introduced as Cellarer Groger who pauses and says that “each village can be required to provide five militia, but in both cases they must be released back within 8 days or they are entitled to remittance on their tithes, in any event they should be released within 10 days for the harvest. It’s a bad time of year to call men away for extended time.”

The Abbot authorizes calling up five militia from each village for eight days, longer only if greenskins are actually sighted. Any villager injured in an engagement is promised a remittance of tithes. The knights appear pleased.

- Note a “knight” is at least a 2nd career character, at least Wpn Skilled once, or perhaps twice – they are the “tank” with a squire and couple of men-at-arms to back them up so they don’t get “mired” or “swamped”.

Lady Julianne asks if she should be concerned going to see the Grubers and Sir Holger responds that there have been no reports of greenskins anywhere around here or east of the monastery. It’s a small band likely are sticking to hills and woods and away from the valley land. “We need to ferret out the little green slime before they kill any more sheep or some hapless woodsman.”

Harek, Erasmus and Brun still to go “round one”. No NPC at the brass table has acted.

View
The Road to Grenzstadt
On small things do great things turn

All present.

In which the newly-forged band of investigators set off to see the province together, passing through places and meeting people they will doubtless encounter again if their lives continue to take them around Averland (the bridge you burn today is the river you swim across tomorrow).

Nachgeheim 17th

After being charged with their mission by the professors, and given 10 shillings in advance, the investigators have the rest of 17th before leaving Streissen.

Brun goes to the Skull and Rose Inn and asks around what mercenaries know of the route to be travelled. The Old Dwarf Road from Averheim to Grenzstadt is well travelled, the greatest danger bandits though most stick to rustling “cows don’t shoot back”. Plenty of work escorting merchant caravans beyond that, as the Old Dwarf Road continues through Black Fire Pass and joins trade routes into the Border Princes territory and Tilea. The additional step of the path to Hammelfels monastery isn’t known to those he asks – suggesting there’s not much work for mercenaries guarding people on that route.

Erasmus, or Raz, goes to see Auntie. He mooches some tasty pastries such as only a halfling cook such as Auntie can make and is told to look in on her cousin, Poppy Oatcakes, who owns a coaching inn on the Old Dwarf Road (special pastry card given in exchange for fortune point).

Morning of the 18th, a Red Arrow Coach leaves for Averheim. After a stop-over for the night of 19th at the obnoxiously moral Welcome Rest Inn, co-located with the Hospice of Valour’s Rest, it reaches Averheim on the 20th.

At the Welcome Rest, Brass Brun and Raz slept in a common area with other brass travellers. Silver Otto and Matthais shared a double, Harek would have to share with a random silver traveller but instead payed out of his own pocket to upgrade to a single bed silver room. Harek continues to do this for the whole trip.

In Averheim’s Plenzerplatz, the investigators hear an agitator calling for free speech and free cities and railing against Sigmarite witch hunters trying people outside the Empire’s common law (the sort of stuff only whispered in Streissen). At the coach line Journey’s End Coaching Inn they meet their coachman for the main journey, Rudy Scharf and a fellow passenger as far as Heideck. Young Andreas von Mecklenburg is familiar to Matthias and Harek as another first year student at Count’s College (no one asks his reason for travelling, that becomes apparent in Heideck).

They see some merchants and a Sigmarite priest arguing with a well-dressed man, who Rudy identifies as Graf Friedrich von Kaufman, owner of the line. Brun manages to make out that they are angry at being put off tomorrow’s coach and the Graf is promising them a make-up coach will be laid on before week’s end. Rudy explains the Graf is always willing to help the university.

(there were five people put off, not Andreas, Andreas being noble after all).

During the trip the investigators talk a bit, Matthias makes sure everyone understands he can shift into wolf form as a proper Amber Wizard etc. (asking Harek to keep custody of his coinage as metals won’t shift with him). Andreas hears all of this of course, and is fascinated (it’s considered a good thing for later if a fellow student who is noble knows Matthais is a college wizard-shape shifter).

On the 21st the coach reaches Cock’s Crown coaching inn and Otto manages to avoid giving affront when the inn patroness Helga Bűcher tries to line him up as prospective suitor for her daughter Greta – after all the Lutterburgs have settled at nearby Muhlendorf and a regional partnership makes so much sense. Otto convincingly argues he must make his fortune before thinking of marriage.

Other guests include pilgrims heading towards Grenzstadt, following the path of Sigmar’s Exodus, and a merchant heading towards Averheim. Talking to the merchant, Ludwig Ploetz, he speaks of political trouble as the handover of power in Heideck is not going smoothly. He offers a healing draught for sale and Otto buys it.

The coach reaches Heideck late on the 22nd.

Along the way, the passengers realize Rudy is saying something whenever a stream is crossed, and pouring a bit of water out. At a stop-over, Matthais asks him about this (having only managed to hear enough to figure out it’s a prayer but not naming any official god). Rudy explains he’s offering to the spirit of Immerdurst, a daughter of Old Man River Altaver.

Folklore recalls the poem about a daughter of Altaver who defied her father and ran off to hear the elves’ music in the hills and was condemned to never return to him – banned from all waterways flowing to the Aver. Her ever thirsty spirit wanders the banks of rivers and an offering gains her mercy, otherwise river banks can be dangerous places. The investigators realize that Muhlendorf is within the area her spirit is said to wander.

Arriving in Heideck, the coach comes into an unfolding scene. Through shadows lengthen as the sun sets, more and more people are coming into the streets as the coach tries to get to the town square (and destination inn) until the coach is trapped.

It appears Countess Magda von Leitdorf’s denial of her husband’s death continues but all others have recognized it and with the end of his male line, their only child being ten year old Eloise, the entailment of Heideck in the male line means it reverts to the Mecklenburg family. The lady, her daughter, household staff and small house guard are on the footsteps of their manor overlooking the square, facing off against the incoming Baron von Mecklenberg who is supported forty soldiers in smart-looking gold-black state uniforms and three knights (a Folklore 1D test recognizes that the red-white tabards with a vertical half-sword dividing line marks them as Knights of the Broken Sword, the southern-empire, ‘fight till your sword breaks and then fight on’ nobles with connections to fallen Solland order).

As they come upon the scene it is mostly townsfolk of differing sentiments who are arguing back and forth, however exchanges between the captain of the Leitdorf house guard (as Lady Magda does not deign to speak directly) and Baron von Mecklenburg are inflammatory, the attempts of a Shallyan with the Baron to moderate failing, and a small riot starts.

Andreas leaps from the coach crying Mecklenburg Stands! (some sort of family motto it seems) which attracts some pro-Leitdorf ruffians.

At this point the “Lovely Riot” card comes out to establish difficulty/risks of various options from trying to get people out of way of coach to getting someone in particular (such as Andreas) out of the mess, and initiative is rolled for those ruffians.

Otto and Brun both try their own strategies of leadership and intimidation to get people to move out way of coach (failing) and Harek tries to get Andreas back in coach (failing, and being rebuffed by Andreas). Matthias tries to channel (failing), while Raz remembers the last riot he was in and stays low. Andreas takes a scratch, Matthais transforms into a wolf to try to help scare people away from front of coach. Efforts to get people away from coach are still failing (Otto falls and takes a wound, CHAOS STAR) when the Knights spring into action and head for the altercation between Andreas and ruffians.

Brun moves to intervene, ready to take on a mounted, armoured knight if it turns out they are targeting Harek but it turns out they are targeting the ruffians – who exercise better part of valour, as Andreas cheers “Felix!”, pointing at the lead knight, “That’s my brother”. Knights on armoured warhorses are still a recipe for mayhem and they did leave a trail of trampled flesh through the crowd.

The coach was slightly damaged (a misfortune die on a later roll).

Belatedly (failing first free Observation, making a second on later), Otto and Brun both recognized people in the crowd. Otto recognized his uncle Oswin and cousin Krugar (the family’s cattle-broker agents in Heideck) and Brun recognizes Captain Ulli and other Sons of Sölland scattered about the crowd “with intent”. When things got nasty with knights charging in, Oswin and Krugar avoided harm (as Otto never saw them in time to do anything, resolved randomly) and the freikorps members start moving ‘non-rioters’ out of the square.

Raz gives Auntie’s pastries to Matthais to eat to help him get over the stress of the situation (they were going to be stale in another day anyway).

[metagame – any chaos star after Andreas took wounds meant the knights would spring into action, I do have the stats for those in my ‘background doc’ though I admit I wasn’t planning on throwing one at a PC just yet]

The Countess and her retinue take over the Silver Arrow inn where the travellers were to stay but fortunately Oswin Lutterburg can put his cousin and companions up for the night.

Brun seeks out Ulli to find out what was going on. Ulli and the sons had linked up with Felix von Mecklenburg coming back from the war, on their way to see about work fighting greenskins to clear merchant routes etc. They had agreed to lend a hand here in Heideck with a few “cheers” in the crowd for Mecklenburg, but as they saw the situation turning violent changed their minds (they had not been paid anything yet). The freikorps exists to fight the enemies of the Empire etc. not fight peasants as part of inheritance disputes.

They are going the same way the investigators are but the Sons are marching so will be behind them (they will get to Grenzstadt about 3 days after the PCs).

The next day, the 23rd, the party gathers to board the the coach, Otto’s uncle and cousin coming to see them off.

Added Events

However, they are met not only by Andreas, there to see off his sister, the Shallyan who was with the Mecklenburg delegation, as it turns out she is Andreas’ older sister, Sister Katharina (von Mecklenburg), but also the Knight of Broken Sword Felix von Mecklenburg as well.

During the trip from Averheim, when passing Heinzstadt, the coachman had observed this was the seat of the Gravin Clothilde von Alptraum. Brun asked his fellow passengers who this was and Otto had made an off-colour comment suggesting either she was low class or promiscuous.

Andreas was non-plussed but said nothing at the time, but apparently he has relayed this comment to his older brother and sister.

The family resemblance is clear (they all have a slight oval cast to eyes or “almond shape” think Merle Oberon), though Felix has a nasty scar on his throat and his eyes have a shiny glint (enthusiasm, inspiration, zealousness, psychotic intent, weirdroot high – who can say).

Andreas points Otto out and Felix asks Otto, “Are you the one who spoke of a great lady in terms more appropriate to a street walker?” – his voice is a hoarse whisper (sort of like how batman is in some movies – evidently that was a bad throat wound).

Otto responds, “Whoa, whoa, whoa, I was merely retelling the gossip of Streissen to while away the tedious hours spent in a long carriage ride. No offense was meant to her ladyship.”

Felix would respond, “Repeating gossip is feeding it”, and ask his brother “Andreas did he say this was only what some said?”

Andreas says Otto did not say he was repeating something, he simply labelled the Lady so – indeed saying she was low class and implying sexual misconduct, and that he has heard no such gossip about the Gravin and lower classes.

Felix then draws his blade and challenges Otto, on the “presumption that that shiny stick is an adequate weapon, do you have sufficient honour to support your words with your body”, (a challenge to a serious injury not death).

Otto’s efforts to blather his way out of things fail (Fellowship roll fails) and rather than duel or see what Felix does if he refuses, he gives an abject apology.

Katharina had been going to join the coach for the trip to Grenzstadt but now declines.

[Metagame, is she had just been a noblewoman and not a Shallyan it would have been Otto put off the coach instead but being a Shallyan that’s not her style]

During the rest of the trip, travellers are asked and relay what they know of Grenzstadt.

[And with that three Mecklenburgs have all been encountered directly or indirectly – Student Andreas, Knight and Adventurer Felix, Shallyan Katharina – and their attitudes influenced]

Harek sees if he can recall anything about it (Education with dwarf bonus as there are dwarf connections). He recalls that Grenzstadt is the centre of what humans call the “dwarf antiquities trade” and what dwarfs call “tomb robbing” – as many abandoned dwarfholds and other sites have what the humans consider valuables and the dwarfs consider grave goods or just “things best left were our ancestors left them”. Grenzstadt cooperates surrendering thieves to dwarfs but doesn’t really suppress the trade or investigate it themselves.

The night of 23rd of Nachgeheim, the coach stops in Willenfeld, a small village in Heideck’s territory. Word hasn’t reached the roadwardens stationed here yet, they’re still all wearing Leitdorf colours (red, gold and black).

[Note the colours no one needs to make checks to recognize are Averland gold/black, Leitdorf red/gold/black and Alptraum gold/black/green]

Roadwarden Captain Felix Albers is present with his full band of a dozen men (unusual). He is depressed it is learned, partly from him but mostly from his men, because two trappers who had been enlisted to help locate smugglers were killed (their bodies are in a cart in courtyard). Albers feels guilty about getting them involved.

The smuggler in question is the “Gentleman” called “the Ogre” for his size and viciousness – he controls the profitable smuggling route up into Stirland to supply dwarfs with lower cost luxuries.

On the 24th, the coach reaches the Black Tusk Way Temple. This is a small Sigmarite temple with rooms for travellers (way temples are maintained by various cults, most are not on commercial routes). Though their way here too is paid, Brother Ranfeld is so good at stirringly describing the history of the temple (founded as a place for refugees after the 18th century devastation by Gorbad’s WAAAGH!, resisting falling to an outlying force of Grom the Paunch’s WAAAGH! just over a century ago) that both Brun and Raz find themselves dropping a penny in the collection box (Brun cursing himself later, stress) [Easy Discipline check failed]. Others resist.

On the 25th, the Oatcake’s Inn is reached. This Halfling-owned coaching inn is co-located with a fortified human farm (fresh eggs and milk!). It is also base for a band of roadwardens but they are all out at the moment.

A Strigany band is encamped beside the inn. Mother Suraya offers to tell fortunes by the bones (special dice) or cards for a shilling. Only Erasmus is interested and he opts for a card reading. Matthais professed distrust of anything supposedly supernatural outside of College of Magic traditions and Brun claimed he had no silver to spend.

Erasmus’ Card Reading.

A standard 5-card layout is used with Erasmus cutting the cards and putting them out as he chooses into each space (not turning over before placing).

Most Significant Past – The Missionary; Risk of Harm – The Abjurer Reversed; Source of Help – The Ghost; Foe – The Merchant Reversed; the Focus – The Innocent.

Muttering and passing her hands over the cards, Mother Suraya seems to tremble a little, “A great weight falls on small shoulders, be sure your companions are true.”

“The focus is the Innocent – there is a threat to one undeserving and unaware of their danger – someone important to you – no not just one, many – all faces you have seen in the past eight days and all places you have been, all this land is in peril. The threat is the Merchant – of the suit of coins – speaking to those governed by material desires for worldly wealth, influence or sensation and reversed speaks of deceitful transactions and dealings which threaten disaster to the unsuspecting innocent. A vast fraud places all in great peril. The ghost is your greatest help in opposing this danger – it is a secret, a memory hidden long ago and now only a shadow of the truth that was – this truth is the key to shifting circumstances. It is about one in the past, long ago, the Missionary is a man who tried to spread wisdom but failed. The suit of glyphs is one of spirituality, this was a man of faith. Find what truth remains. Your greatest risk of failure is the Abjurer reversed – the abjurer stands for reason and logic but reversed it means an overlooked clue. You have already failed to see clues about the threats you face – if you continue to fail to see the clues, you will be destroyed.”

metagame – with all the PC threads and the various threads I have contemplated for campaign I was pretty confident any reading could be managed, might inspire something new to me, but this one was the universe reaching down to play its role perfectly – I didn’t have fudge one thing in that reading – right down to “what would help, abjurer reversed – missed clues!”

Erasmus talks with Poppy Oatcakes and stays up late into the night getting her to open up about troubles. She’s worried about smugglers, not the Ogre and the Zhufbar-destined trade, but what is called the “new trail” (smugglers refer to different routes, which are ‘owned’ by different captains among them, as trails).

She’s been offered to buy things from it but doesn’t like the mix of things she’s offered as it feels like the product of banditry (sometimes assorted goods, sometimes personal effects). Smuggling to avoid tariffs is practically just a business (that is a very widespread view) but dealing in the sort of stuff being offered would turn her stomach (the standard test of Halfling morals – would it spoil digestion).

On the 26th the travellers will continue on, with one more stopover before Grenzstadt.

Two PC’s (Brun and Harek) have been wearing armour during their coach ride, which will factor into their “how sore am I after that trip” check.

(All the events during a trip may factor into it. A late night with an innkeeper may be a misfortune die as well for that PC. Any particular efforts to relax or refresh be it baths or social activity might have added beneficial dice.)

View
Prelude - Meeting at the Crossed Keys
Answering the call for help

In Streissen, on Backertag Nachgeheim 17th, the first day of autumn 2523, less than a week after news of the outcome of the war in the north has reached Averland, the leading characters of this story gather – a group of Brash Young Fools.

At the Crossed Keys Inn, close to Count’s College, in a snug (private room) five people meet with two professors who are seeking help.

How did these characters come to be the people here?

  • Matthias was also told by Professor Ursinus that something may have happened to Franz Bessels, an Owl’s Inn College student who is also a member of The Ravens Fraternity along with Matthias.
  • Otto Lutterberg has heard that his sister Mina’s professor is seeking assistance and that acquaintances of his will be offering their’s. His sister is safely occupied spending her summer assisting at the Verenan Temple of Balance.
  • Erasmus Sprinthoffer has been wondering where Gustave Hesse has gotten to and was told when asking what has happened to him that “he should seek out Brother Baldurich” and been invited as a result.
  • Brunhart Katzlmacher hears that Professor Helmgarter seeks a strong arm to for some work and recalls he was a good sort for his help to Gisila – he also is wondering what happened to his friend Vilmar who left town on some job for the Professor.

Professor Oldric Helmgarter (the Owl’s Inn College) and Brother Baldurich (the Sigmarite Torch College) are worried about two students sent to track down rumours of a historically important site in the mountain foothills of eastern Averland.

The professors are recruiting individuals that the university can trust to search for the students: Franz Bessels of Owl’s Inn and Gustave Hesse of Torch College, who were sent with a mercenary bodyguard Vilmar of Dorfbach.

To those who can be trusted to keep confidence, the professors explain they are looking for the site of the Tutis Bibliotheca, a hidden library built centuries ago by an obscure branch of the Sigmarite monastic Order of the Anvil (most professors at Torch College are monks of this order, including Brother Baldurich).

The library’s location is unknown and its existence is disputed but if it exists it would hold records from the early Empire and Church of Sigmar, documents of great historical and religious interest – records lost in the civil wars of the Time of the Three Emperors and the WAAAGH! of Gorbad Ironclaw.

The Professors found a clue suggesting the library lies in eastern Averland and that a dwarven prospector may have found its site. They sent the students to follow up. The students were not to go spelunking or exploring ruins just confirm if there was a site to explore.

  • The clue was a silver ring with the anvil and quill emblem of the monastic sect that was supposed to have created the library (Helmgarter shows it and a sketch of the symbol is given)

The Professors were being discrete both for reasons of academic competition and to avoid the attention of would-be censors. One reason for the library’s value if it exists is that many records from the Empire’s first millenium and a half were lost in the civil wars and greenskin invasions but also as religious conflict (primarily Ulrican-Sigmarite) lead to the destruction of records each sect deemed heretical or insulting.

The students are overdue, a letter to a monastery in region confirms they passed through but nothing more has been heard. The professors now fear that wild animals, bandits, goblins or some other mishap has claimed them.

  • Matthias recalls goblins are said to be more of a menace of late, but then also that they are spoken of as more dangerous in the Border Princes territory beyond Black Fire Pass. Why great hordes of them seem to always appear in regions beyond the Pass and the goblin tribes of the mountain foothills and regions on this side never seem to come together in such numbers is one of those mysteries of the Old World.

The mission the professors are now recruiting for is to find what happened to the students, and their guard. If they are still alive, get an explanation of what is keeping them, if some injustice was done them correct it if possible or bring it to the attention of proper authorities – the University has an interest in not letting its students be preyed upon with impunity.

The original task of locating the possible site of the Tutis Bibliotheca remains, though it is not as important as finding out what happened to the students.

For those recruited this task should be of natural interest.

Nonetheless, a ‘modest fee’ is offered of 30 shillings each – 10 shillings down and 20 on return (plus some expenses including coach fare and basic living costs equivalent of 5 pennies/day for stews and fresh or yesterday’s bread, costs are hand-waved as long as living at social level up to silver).

An added reward (total, to be divided among PCs) of 30 shillings is offered for the recovery of Bessels alive or 10 shillings for his remains’ proper interment, a reward of 20 shillings is offered for Hesse’s living recovery or 5 shillings for his proper interment.

Actually finding the Tutis Bibliotheca would be worth a total of 120 shillings, assuming the information is kept confidential.

Brun, being a distrusting sort, is watching the professors closely during their explanation but sees no sign they are being deceptive – it appears they are legitimately more worried about the missing than about the library. (Intuition 1 success)

Matthias asks how much they can reveal when seeking the missing party. The Professors say they can reveal they are looking for a ruined monastery or similar building – they don’t want to reveal the possible existence of the Tutis Bibliotheca but it’s such an obscure matter (not taken seriously by many) that they doubt anyone will connect looking for a ruin with it.

Harek tries to recall if he has heard anything about this library, having had a year of study at the university and recalls he has heard about it, in fact he knows the name of the obscure branch of the Order of the Anvil that was supposed to have built it – the Ordo Scriptoris. He recalls that the Ordo was suppressed sometime around the Great War Against Chaos (200 years ago) and its properties confiscated when it was revealed it had become so enamoured of books and learning that its members had converted to following Verena instead of Sigmar. Hammelfels Monastery was actually one of these properties. (Education check using Student background benefit and making what may be the best roll he ever will, 5 successes and 2 comets, though two chaos stars).

Harek is so startled by what he recalls that he exclaims, “The Ordo Scriptoris!” (chaos stars) which the Professors acknowledge – they hadn’t planned on bandying about the name of a suppressed order, Professor Ursinus must be lecturing broadly.

They have about half a day to make any preparations as the professors have booked them on a coach for Averheim that leaves the next morning, to make a connection to the coach for Grenzstadt (which they have sent word ahead to reserve space on). The trip to Grenzstadt should take about 9-10 days by coach.

View
Kaboom!
This is how we do it in the Old World

Finale of Campaign

The heroes (for we can now call them that), manage to elude patrols of Magritta Company mercenaries and ascend the Prophet’s Pyramid.

On their way to the ‘control chamber’ they encounter hybrids and a serpent person. Korhadriel’s hearing giving warning so they surprise their foes. Overcoming them, they enter the control chamber.

Through the staff, Korhadriel channels the will of the alien mind that instructs him how to set the energies within the pyramids (which are each a magical fuel tank in sense) to a devastating overload. He suffers massive stress and fatigue from this experience.

They have no idea how long it will before the energy is released in a devastating wave that will also blow each pyramid apart sending tons of rock flying through the air.

The heroes then do what it takes to survive in the Old World, they run. Korhadriel is worn out by his efforts and his cousin Edrahil carries him.

As they run they must dodge early releases of energy – blasts that require dodging.

[increasing numbers of misfortune dice rolled to see if blasts triggered, players are lucky and few released, fatigue spent, the fact that they avoided fatiguing fights etc. getting in is critical to having enough to get out]

When the pyramids finally explode the PCs are far enough away that the energy and flying rock damage is survivable with the right checks (which they make).

Whoever and whatever was in the pyramids – designing custom diseases to wreck havoc on the world using the keys to the major races – is destroyed utterly, along with sarcophagi of life, and whatever else was in the city of the gods.

The encamped mercenary army is devastated.

Well from there it’s a long trek through jungle with a story no one will believe about how they saved the world.

As the characters are unlikely to ever accomplish more than this, we fade out on these heroes.

View
Visions of Doom and Plans for Glory
well at least the curse is lifted

All present.

The heroes rested after their fight, Korhadriel being some days from unconsciousness with all his wounds (and no one with First Aid, Medicine skills etc.)

The next day, they hear some chanting or singing from ahead in the forest and Edrahil and Gunnar go to explore while Captain Jurgen stays back, as he is carrying the unconscious Korhadriel.

Efforts to approach the source of sounds stealthily fail and several native warriors appear.

The two explorers keep weapons sheathed and try to parlay though no common language is found. Edrahil holds out the sigil he was given by the “king” but it doesn’t attract as much attention as the two elves, who provoke quite a bit of chatting and pointing and then some dispute as the two humans are then pointed at, their legs in particular, which are inspected.

The heroes deduce the natives somehow knew of them by description that included a human with wooden leg (Gunnar having miraculously regrown his leg meaning they don’t quite fit the description).

The native talk includes some key repeated phrases among which are Morwana and Morintaba, the PC’s had earlier learned that the Magritta company’s native foes were called Morwana Timely Arrival at Puesta del Sol- though that didn’t appear to be spotted.

After more natives are fetched and more discussion among them, four of the warriors are tasked to guide the heroes somewhere while the others all vanish away. The leader of the four is one who seemed to have prevailed in some dispute about the heroes, though gaining this task as a result didn’t please him.

The PC’s are then lead through the jungle eastwards for seven days, going so far as to reach the foothills of the eastern mountains where they see a rocky spire or mesa pointed to as the destination. During this time the Captain struggled with his disease and did not make much progress, worsening a little.

More interestingly, while carrying an unconscious Korhadriel, one of the silver cubes in his pouch started issuing a sibilant voice – it repeated itself and after a few moments a shrill whistle like the ones that triggered skinflake survivors’ transformations sounds, so piercing it’s a Stress, but unlike previous times it has been heard it keeps rising in pitch, dealing a Wound to all in vicinity (the unconscious from wounds Korhadriel takes an automatic critical, a nuisance black to mental checks) before Edrahil grabs it with his gauntleted hand and hurls it into jungle – just as it flashes a red blast and turns to dust.

Not long afterwards, the other silver cube starts the same progression but it is hurled away at the ‘stress causing stage’.

Continuing on, after a few days Korhadriel has regained consciousness, awaking with a start as visions came flooding back – shadowy reptilian people working in the Great Pyramid’s sarcophagi chamber, a great assembly of armed men camped in the sunken ruins and then terrifying images of the world being overrun by skinflake transformed humanoids (Terror 4 failed) {though he does not share these details till later, below}

On Sommerzeit 27th, the group reaches the rocky spire and ascends via a pathway around it. At the top is a ruined brick building and a small pyramid on which sits a metal disk set on a shaft so it can be turned.

The native warrior who lead them here starts spinning it and gestures for the heroes to keep it going. In the setting sun, the spinning disk flashes brightly. After about twenty minutes of this he signals they can stop and that they should remain, while he leaves (no further sign of the tribal warriors).

The next day, the heroes hear someone ascending the rock and see four warriors with curved swords and composite bows, cloth headdresses come up and take a defensive screen in front of two robed figures, each wearing gilded masks that look like the King and Queen. Though dark-skinned as with other natives their clothing and arms are clearly more sophisticated.

They quickly establish the gilded figures comprehend a sort of pidgin elvish (Korhardriel considers if it is an earlier proto-elvish and decides it’s a debased pidgin elvish instead, 3D Education check).

Edrahil tells them of their King and Queen awaiting them, which triggers surprise and questions about the status of the city, if lizardmen are around it (after some confusion they are told no). The natives consider this would be good news if it wasn’t for the fact the sun will soon go dark (the world is ending) for the City of the Gods has been entered.

On the plus side, this seems to satisfy whatever curse was on them and their shortness of breath (2 enduring Fatigue each) vanishes.

The gilded priests (as it turns out) and heroes talk and the heroes learn that (according to the priests) the army of many types of people (Magritta mercenaries) are pawns of the Serpents that Walk – which are not lizardmen and which can pass as humans as some sort of shapeshifter. These creatures are the enemies of all and prophecy says that if the City of the Gods falls the human race will end, so these creatures entering it certainly looks bad – at this point Korhardriel shares his terrifying vision which seems to depict that outcome.

Somebody makes custom diseases that transform victims into crazed killers and someone, maybe the same someone, has got control of the site with the templates for all the humanoid races – that can’t be bad can it?

The heroes learn when posing as humans these creatures are undetectable unless they are carrying some of their strange ‘hidden magic’ artefacts (silver cubes and such), though if they are killed by something fatal to a human but not a serpent person they change back. There is a poison (ingested) which qualifies and which these people all carry (giving some to heroes).

Examining things the heroes have found, they are shown the staff Korhadriel took from Borgir’s body and are awed, it is a Staff of Ptrah. What that means in practice they don’t know, it’s legend, Ptrah is the great creator whose gaze must not be met (some comparative symbology suggests this is the same god the elves call Asuryan, and was the greatest power referenced in the City of Gold). Magical sight reveals the staff is some sort of conduit, the bearer may effectively act as a proxy for some entity (which is still active) though at great risk to sanity from the contact with such a power. Gunnar, feeling he may have fatally erred in shooting his brother Borgir, offers to carry it now. He cannot sense anything when handling it though.

Korhadriel tries and manages to contact a distant mind (when he handled staff in the pyramid it was difficult to stop from being overwhelmed by something, now he must work to reach it). Korhadriel is successful, earning him the chance to pass a Fear 4 check in terms of stress risk, and has a vision of how guided by the mind working through the staff, the ‘control room’ site in the smaller “Prophet’s Pyramid” can be used to cause the city’s energies to overload and destroy it – including the contents of the Great Pyramid being used by the ‘serpents the walk’. This seems a radical, last option, though the heroes can see no other way now.

The gilded priests stay with the heroes a day atop the mesa, and overnight, praying for them (between them giving a boatload of fortune dice to PC rolls, mostly to the Captain as he suffers disease). They also give some tonic that helps suppress symptoms.

Edrahil asks that a letter be taken to the waiting boat, describing where it is, writing a note that explains the officers do not expect to return.

Two warriors guide the heroes to another way to enter the canyon city (the gilded priests’ people keeping watch on all such ways), taking five days. This is a place where the cliff face is more easily climbed – it descends into the marsh at one end of the city – which if crossed would lead heroes close to the Prophet’s Pyramid. The heroes climb down, Captain Jurgen managing to hold firm to Korhadriel’s safety rope when he slips.

In the marsh they encounter some poisonous water vipers and three heroes (all but Korhadriel) are bitten suffering a woozy condition from the poison.

(Draw from nature encounter cards dictated the risk)

Though they have speculated that Borgir’s followers who scattered on his death likely live in the marsh they do not try to contact the “bullywugs” as Captain Jurgen calls them (recalling a game involving imaginary places he played when he was a teenager).

The heroes make their way to the edge of the marsh next to the city ruins but spend the day there, getting a bit water-logged, waiting for darkness to make their desperate effort to sacrifice themselves and save their races from extinction.

Next time, Going Out With a Bang?

View

I'm sorry, but we no longer support this web browser. Please upgrade your browser or install Chrome or Firefox to enjoy the full functionality of this site.