Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Chapter Three: Something's Rotting in Montaigne

Brother Sergeant Hengist and his companion Silva the Elf are the characters from the front and end pieces of Warrior Heroes; Armies and Adventures.  I want to assign them the investigation into the disturbance at Spoil’s Farm. With that in mind I thought we should catch up with them as they go about their current assignment...

Brother Sergeant Hengist

Following the trail of the Worm that Writhes Beneath had led Hengist to Montaigne.  Capturing a suspected cultist was his first real break in the case. Davenport’s initial “interview” had provided tantalizingly little evidence on which to proceed. Tomorrow the villain would be put to the question again… if only.

Only… Hengist cleared the sleep from his mind as he answered Davenport’s repeated pounding on the door of his chamber. “Brother Sergeant, we are needed at the Watch station immediately!”

“Stop that infernal racket dwarf, I hear you well enough. I trust Silva as well as half of Montaigne have heard you by now.”

A moment later the Witch Hunter and his companions were on their way.

The Watch station was in chaos. “Captain Bayard, what in the name of all that is Holy is going on here?”
The duty Captain, face begrimed with dust, looked much the worse for wear. “It is your prisoner, Brother. Gone from his cell through a breach in the floor.”

“’Gone’ Captain? You mean to tell me that he simply tunneled out of your jail?”

“No Brother, he was closely watched and had no chance at digging. Something bored into his cell, taking him and two of my men in an instant.”


The Party inspect the jail cell.

In country, Ekra.
Brother Sergeant Hengist, Rep 5, Hard 3, Pistol, Sword, Stake, Elite Trained, Social 3, Move 8
Silva, Elf, Rep 5, Hard 3, Long Bow, Sword, Elite Trained, Healer, Move 8
Davenport, Dwarf, Rep 5, Hard 2, Two Pistols, Short sword, Cheroot, Elite Trained, Theif, Move 6
Combined CV 16.

Caster Alphonse  Zunft der roten Hemd Rep 4 AC 2, move 8 sword, caster, CV 1

2 x Watchmen Rep 3, AC 2, move 8

Total CV 19

Some game notes:
Again the plot is a mish mash of pulp literature and Hammer-esque films. This bit owes a great deal to the "Witch Hunter" cycle of stories by C. L. Werner. The books are published by Black Library and if you like this sort of thing, do seek them out and have a read.

This series of games also made use of "The Creature Crafter" by Tom Pigeon. This book is a supplement usable with any game. It provides a scheme for possibly altering the stats and capabilities of "stock" monsters, providing an element of surprise to encounters.

Now back to the story...

Sewer of Dooooooooommmmmm... 

The party enter the tunnel to find it filled with sewage.

Caster passes 1 on water proof spell with a passing die of 3 and may protect only three items: Hengist’s powder, Davenport’s powder and his spell book. Silva will be unable to use her bow.

The place stinks and the tunnel leads to the main sewer system. No traps are triggered.

First encounter minor demon and sorceress.
DEMON!


The beast charges Hengist who holds it at bay long enough for Silva to join the fight. From the other side of the channel, Davenport repeatedly fired into the flanks of the beast. The fight raged on for many turns with first one side then the other having the advantage.

All the while Alphonse and the cultist engaged in a dual of magic, while ephemeral shapes could occasionally be glimpsed in the murky effluvia beyond the monster.
Battle Rages

At one point the cultist became dazed after attacking Alphonse. Seeking to take advantage of this, Davenport made his way past the monster and towards the sorceress. He managed a shot which hit the caster but resulted in no damage.

Just as this was going on, the Beast struck Silva down and out of the fight. Stunned, Alphonse fell back while surprisingly the watchmen did not.


Silva is down, the Casters are stunned!

Hengist kept the monster occupied while the watchmen pulled Silva to safety. She was carrying a couple of healing potions so one Watchman fumbled through her pack in search thereof.

With a flurry of blows the beast felled Hengist, who sure must have been killed had he not slipped at an opportune moment. However his fall resulted in a blow to the head that left him too out of  the fight.
This was all too much for the Watchmen who promptly fled.

Alphonse however, emboldened by the circumstances cast against the beast with good result. From here on Alphonse and Davenport would emanate a sense of Dread that was even too much for their demonic opponent.
With Hengist down, its up to Davenport and Alphonse.

Davenport turned from the caster and fired at the beast. The shot caused no harm but did divert the creature from finishing off Hengist and Silva. The beast launched itself at Davenport who cooly fired his other pistol. This shot struck some vital spot and the creature was dead when it landed.

Seeing her creation destroyed the cultist fled into the dark. Daveport made no move to follow, rather he helped Alphonse see to Silva. The Elf was restored with one of her own potions and then saw to Hengist, who also recovered (at -1 Rep due to “cheating death”.

The remaining PEF’s turned out to be nothing at all.
And so ended the first encounter.

The Haunted House:

After resting a bit our heroes decide to press on, in the direction the cultist fled.

Hengist, the leader of the group, had been reduced to Rep 4, having cheated
death last encounter. Silva, Davenport, and Alphonse the Mage are at their
starting Reps, although Silva has but one healing potion left.

The men of the Watch have fled, the cramped conditions, reek, and demon
infestation of the sewers having proved too much for them.

With four PEF’s down already, I decided to reset the clock so to speak.


The trail through the sewer led to a basement in a shunned part of town. The neighborhood used to be the residence of the rich and fabulous that was until they were wiped out by some seemingly supernatural plague a few years back. 

Since then only the indigent can be found inhabiting the once opulent, now sadly tattered townhouses. As rule the Watch refuses to enter this part of the city, which is OK as even the most hardened criminal element shun it as well.

The basement proved empty of any but rats caught gnawing on bones protruding from a couple of shallow graves in one corner of the room. However the sound of muffled chanting, and feint taste of ozone in the air led Hengist to believe his quarry could not be far off.

Crawling up the basement ladder led the group to a rotting wooden stairwell that followed two sides of the wall, ending by a door on the second floor. Hengist, then Silva, Davenport and finally Alphonse started up the stairs.

Opening the door, Hengist barely had time to register what once must have been a very luxurious room. Broken sofas, torn, wall hangings, and a huge discolored fireplace were all that remained of its past glory,

The far end of the room was graced by magnificent double doors but this is not what drew his attention. For on the right hand wall, a wall panel stood ajar, and from it scuttled a hideous figure. The size of a large man, it had the aspect of an octopus, yet could climb on wall and ceiling with the ease of a spider.
The Cult surprised.


The demon was followed by 8 screaming cultists, while beyond them, Hengist could see the same mage from the sewer and and an older gentlemen of extremely cruel countenance moving towards the room’s double doors.

Hengist fired before the beast could reach him. The shot struck home, and while the beast winced in an all too human parody of pain, it did not slow. In a moment it was upon him and bore him back down the stairs a few steps.

Davenport fired on the creature and Alphonse raised his hands in an arcane gesture yet neither had any visible affect on the creature. Silva was by his side, repeatedly striking the hideous creature and nimbly dodging its
counter moves.

The stairway worked to their advantage, preventing the cultists from joining the fray while the walls to the vestibule blocked visibility to the casters above. Indeed the stair was well wide enough for two the party to battle the beast, yet the beast in its bulk had to fight alone.
Battle on the (2D) steps.


Still not recovered from the head wound he had suffered in the sewer, Hengist soon began to sway on his feet. Burly hands grabbed him, pulling him back while Davenport gruff voice told him to rest while he took over the fight.
Davenport into the breach.


Silva and Davenport fought a long battle vs. the demon. First one side then the other would gain ground, only to lose it moments later. Silva took a wound that knocked her out of the fight. 

Hengist jumped back into the fray while Alphonse administered the remaining healing potion. While the potion stabilized Silva, the elf would remain out of the fight this day.

Enraged at the Elf’s fall, Davenport redoubled his efforts, stunning the beast repeatedly before finally beating it to death with the silver accented butt of a pistol.

As the demon died, the bulk of the cultists fled. One made to charge the party. 
Fanatic cultist charges while the others flee.

Hengist’s pistol put an end the depraved reveler.

Two cultists remained with the mages at the far end of the room.  The three remaining heroes moved into the room only to be met by a blast of magic energy that knocked Hengist and Alphonse to the ground. 
Our heroes assaulted with magic.

Swearing an oath, Hengist rose and fired a shot that hit the old mage, and yet did no apparent damage.

Alphonse remained crumpled on the ground, barely conscious and out of the fight.

A short exchange of magic and shot ensued. The cult magus was hit at least five times before he finally fell. The remaining cultists fled while the remaining mage, made to drag her leader to safety.
Hengist charges the retreating Magi.
Hengist and Davenport charged! Davenport was felled by a blast of magic, but Hengist managed to cut down the sorceress.
The Cult Sanctum beyond the paneled wall.


 Hengist saw to his companions. They all lived, if only barely.

The witch hunter examined the room from which the beast had attacked. Clearly it was a site of debased ritual. This house could only, indeed MUST, be purified by fire.

Seven cultists had fled down the grand stairway and out the front door. However now that the cult had been beheaded, literally and figuratively, Hengist believed that local law would be able to handle the clean up.
---------------------------------------------------
Some game notes:

The house consisted of only five rooms. The basement, the back stairs, the grand room, the cult chamber, and the grand stairway/entrance hall. The game started with a PEF in each.

Oddly enough the PEF in the grand stairway/entrance hall withdrew on the first TWO game turns. So the room was emptied and I left the door to the street open.

The octopoid demon was indeed a Major Demon. I lucked out somewhat using the Creature Crafter as it turned out to both have a lower hardiness than the stock critter, but also a vulnerability to a certain substance. I used Brother Sergeant Hengist’s Social Standing as a value to test against to see if we had this substance with us and indeed we did. I decided it was silver as any witch hunter worth his salt must carry some silver shot and weapons : )

The news wasn’t all good however. The beast could still cast spells, shoot projectiles, and climb walls. Fortunately only the last came into play giving the creature a bit of an advantage on the rickety back stairs.

The Big Bad, the old mage, was a Rep 6 which saw off Alphonse and nearly did in Hengist. In fact Hengist was lucky that this Hardiness didn’t desert him as had Silva’s and Davenport’s. 

On the flip side, Hardiness served both demon and cult leader well. Davenport stunned the demon four times before finally being able to kill it. By much the same token had the cult leader lived and had a drink of water he would have made a useful lawn sprinkler.

Finally I didn’t search for any treasure figuring it would be tainted by the demonic. Better to play it safe and burn the lot!

Haven’t yet figured out what changes if any experience will bring. At least
Hengist is now free to investigate the matter of Havenbrook.

Rep
AC
Hardiness
Notes
Social
Hengist
5
3
2
1
2
Silva
6
3
2
2
0
Davenport
5
3
1
2
0
Alphonse
5
2
0
2
0

On a final note, the walls and doors are from Black Platypus, the terrain tiles from Paizo, and the figures from many manufacturers including Citadel, EM-4, and Reaper.