The Enemy Within Remixed, Season 2: Death on the Reik (campaign report)

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Theo
Posts: 64
Joined: Tue Jan 08, 2019 3:25 pm

Tue Jan 29, 2019 6:17 am

After the holiday break, Season 2 of my remixed The Enemy Within campaign – based on Death on the Reik, mostly – begun last week. I’m still working out some of the plotlines.

Campaign thread on RPGNet, including recaps of Season 1 and details on how I’ve modified the setting and plot

I also talk about some of my reworked plots on this forum:
Rethinking the Tzeentch cults
The Red Crown and the Wittgenstein meteorite

But anyway, on with the show.


Season 2, Session 1 : Messing about on the river
We picked up right where Season 1 ended, with the Apollonia sailing out of Bogenhafen at midnight headed for Altdorf, where Joost had his next errands. During the night, the full, skull-faced Morrslieb was obscured by clouds and mists for a few hours. When the sky cleared up, it had reverted to its regular state of a new moon.

The ambushed riverboat
In the morning, as the river winded through heavy woods, the travellers found a corpse floating down the river sporting two crossbow bolts and, after the next turn, an apparently abandoned and drifting riverboat. It turned out to be the site of a recent fight, with several dead on deck. The forest was silent, except for a single owl hooting as they approached. Marike had a distinct tingling sense that the danger was not over yet.

No one answered their call, but something sounded briefly below deck. They boarded warily, with weapons drawn.

As Aenlinn and Wernhart entered the darkened cabin, they were attacked by two grotesquely disfigured men - one covered in fur and one with a beak-like face – while Said and Marike outside saw what first looked like a huge bird taking flight from the trees. The “bird” turned out to be another mutant: a winged woman with claw-like feet, diving to the attack with a spear.

Aenlinn and Wernhart made short work of the mutants in the cabin – Wernhart managed to draw the hairy one between him and the bird-man, who couldn’t stop his attack in the cramped space in time, mortally wounding his comrade – and after another brief fight the adventurers also managed to kill the winged woman.

Meanwhile, up on deck, Zima had been attacked by a pair of long tentacles slithering over the side and threating to drag her overboard. With some help from the others, she cut herself free and they could see what looked like a man with tentacles for arms swimming away. Aenlinn put him down with a crossbow bolt.


The aftermath
Subsequent investigation found the dead former owners, whom Said and Joost turned out to be passingly familiar with – the trader Fritz Siegler and his son and daughter-in-law – and a cargo of wool, as well as a small arsenal of weapons and some armour.

The captains explained that usual practice is to take over a salvaged boat and work it until any heirs of the previous owners can be traced, keeping any profits made in the meantime as a salvage fee. The closest place to inquire for relatives would be Altdorf, and there – if not earlier – they should be able to sell off the wool. Said and Courage, in particular, were excited at the prospect of generating some actual income.

So they decided to take on the new boat, at the very least to Altdorf, and take the Sieglers to the next town for burial.


Sailing onward
As the little convoy sailed on, further in the morning they passed Castle Grauenberg, and towards the evening reached the signal tower (see Season 1, Session 4-5). It was apparently finished now but locked, barred and apparently abandoned. Courage and Aenlinn took the time to make sure the iron cylinder key still opened the secret door to the observatory under the tower, but they didn’t enter.


Some notes:

- We were supposed to play with the full group, but once more two players dropped out on very short notice, this time the twins’. That’s why I postponed most of the discussion about where to go and what to do next for the next session, which will also be longer since we’ll play on a Sunday.

- I’d made some tweaks to the combat rules (again, I’m using a BRP homebrew mixing and matching from several rulesets) to make combat a little faster. That seemed to work somewhat; the fight with the mutants on the boat was over quickly – though part of it was due to the PCs winning a fairly easy victory using strength of numbers and good dice rolls.

- The players were (pleasantly, it seemed) surprised I threw them into a fight right away, having expected a slow start to the new “season”. Actually things will be quieter for a session or two now, but this might help keep them a bit more on their toes.

- Speaking of what’s coming next, I’m trying to plot out the next session now. The PCs haven’t properly argued out and decided what to do next beyond taking the boat to Altdorf, but I think it’s fairly likely that Marike at least will insist on returning to visit Professor Bletzen to learn more about the alchemical recipes she left for her mentor, as well as the new findings made during the journey.

- - The fact that they’ve already visited the observatory means I have to decide what Prof. Bletzen will make of the astronomical and alchemical notes they brought from there. (Though I could buy time by saying that will need some further study while they go off adventuring for a while.

- - Since the PCs never met Elvyra Kleinestun in Bogenhafen, I’ll skip the kidnapping episode in Weissbruck (I might reuse it later on if I need a friendly NPC kidnapped at some point).

- - Apart from the cultists starting to try contacting “Esther Lieberung” again, I’m thinking of throwing in an encounter in Altdorf with the criminal gang that both Said and Wernhart have a history with – Said, in particular, needs to pay off some more of his debts to it. I’m having some ideas about using this to foreshadow a possible future plotline, loosely inspired by the old Hellblazer comic Son of Man. (Briefly put: a few years back, the gang boss ordered Wernhart to save his dying daughter – which turned out to be impossible. In desperation, Wernhart enlisted the aid of a necromancer to revive her and then legged it. The undead daughter may become an important figure later on, and I thought of having her make a brief cameo now.)
Last edited by Theo on Thu Mar 21, 2019 2:57 am, edited 1 time in total.
Theo
Posts: 64
Joined: Tue Jan 08, 2019 3:25 pm

Fri Feb 08, 2019 6:58 am

Reprise: The Cast of Characters

Doktor Marike Havenblast, an eccentric, somewhat vain and frivolous, young scholar and student of alchemy, lately of the University of Nuln. Bastard-born of minor Wissenland nobility and in fact the half-sister and uncanny double of one Esther Lieberung.

Aenlinn Sattler, an ex-soldier, bounty hunter and general-purpose troubleshooter from Nuln, currently hired as Marike’s bodyguard.

Wernhart Bader, a somewhat bitter and drunken barber-surgeon, originally from Middenheim by way of an aborted stint at Altdorf university and a – generously speaking – chequered career largely dealing with the underworld.

Zima de Labyourteaux, a Bretonnian vigilante / duelist of mixed Southlander ancestry and fierce Purist faith. Imagine sort of a pint-sized, Afro-French, female Solomon Kane/The Shadow wannabe.

Said de Labyourteaux, Zima’s no-good twin brother, a smuggler, occasional honest trader and smooth-talking rogue. He’s occasionally mistaken for his twin (and vice versa), whose ambition is to reform him. (Sadly, Said’s player just dropped out for Season 2, meaning he’ll be an NPC for now.)

Rounding out the ensemble is a couple of NPC hangers-on:

Courage, Marike’s loyal but snarky lackey, who’s turned out to be surprisingly competent, not least in thief/rogue skills.

Renate Hausier, a young orphan girl and travelling pedlar, with the gift/curse of second sight and perhaps other powers. In Bogenhafen, she was captured by Gideon after seeing through his disguise and was rescued from being sacrificed in the ritual by the PCs.
Theo
Posts: 64
Joined: Tue Jan 08, 2019 3:25 pm

Fri Feb 08, 2019 7:07 am

Season 2, Session 2: We’ve got a boat!

Trading partners
The adventurers agreed to form a temporary trading company for as long as they have the boat. It was agreed that Said, being the one with professional experience of trade and boating, would become its captain and take the brunt of responsibility for trading, in exchange for a greater share of profits as well as risk. (1)

After some arguments they settled on naming the boat the Esther, after the woman who was the beginning of their adventures together.


The bloody palm
In Weissbrück, the adventurers found a local priest willing to bury the Sieglers, the valuables the dead were carrying being enough to pay for the funerals. Also in Weissbrück, they came across a pair of strange pedlars trying to signal to Marike by making strange gestures. After she mimicked the signal, one of them shook her hand before they quickly made themselves scarce. Her palm turned out to be covered in blood.


Altdorf revisited
A couple of days later, the Esther and the Apollonia arrived in Altdorf once more. While Said sorted out the red tape with the Merchants’ Guild and started looking for buyers (with Zima bodyguarding him), the others sought out the master builder Isambard about their pay for ending the haunting of the signal tower. He had just closed the deal and only very barely avoided a net loss, but he willingly paid them a share of the meagre profit (a few Thalers each). (2)

Said successfully sold off the cargo of wool to a good price and bought a new cargo of flour to sell in Steinbrück. He was also visited by his sinister creditors in Altdorf, but after realising he had new capital they became somewhat more friendly. They accepted his own boat and a chunk of his share of the profits as an installment for a couple of months. (3)


Off to see the Professor
After a night of moderately drunken celebration, the adventurers and Joost Quartjin’s crew parted ways – Joost was heading south, and the adventurers first going northeast to visit Marike’s mentor, Professor Bletzen, in the town of Steinbrück. (4) Renate Hausier decided to go with the PCs for a while, and Said even hired her as a general helper.

Image
Professor Bletzen

The Professor – who, as it turned out, also knew Wernhart under his real name Rudolphus from his long-ago university days - received them in her study and listened to the story of their adventures, filling in some blanks and even helping them solve the mathematical riddle in Etelka Herzen’s letter to Esther Lieberung (from way back in Session 1-1). Speaking of Herzen, she knew who she was – in fact, she had given her some tuition in alchemy years ago – and had heard other bad rumours. The Professor suggested it might be a good idea to go to Grissenwald and check up on what she’s actually up to now. The adventurers, some of whom were already intent on tracking her down and bringing her to justice for her part in Teugen’s evil schemes, weren’t hard to convince.

Before this, however, she was going to spend a couple of weeks training with Marike, allowing her to “level” in alchemy. The rest of the party was welcome to stay as her guests in the meantime. Wernhart was particularly looking forward to access to the Professor’s extensive library.

During the stay in Steinbrück, Aenlinn got word from her family in Nuln: they needed her help with some urgent but private business. She temporarily quit the trading company and Marike’s service and rode south, intent on rejoining as soon as this minor crisis was sorted out. Which hopefully shouldn’t be too long… (5)


Some notes:

(1) There was some metagaming involved here. Sadly, Said’s player suddenly dropped out for the season and we had to find a quick solution to the problems caused by that. This agreement meant that Said could still tag along as an NPC (and join in when/if the player returns) and deal with most of the trading stuff, which the other players will be happy to have largely offstage/ in the background.

(2) I’m not using the WFRP price lists, but as a rough guide, a Thaler would be equivalent to about 20 GCs in WFRP1 prices and 4-5 GCs in WFRP2.

(3) I was originally planning to make much more of the Altdorf gangsters – in fact I had planned this session largely as a kind of spotlight episode for Said. Then his player dropped out the same day and I had to rethink quickly. As it was, this whole paragraph happened offstage and was just recapped by Said and Zima.

(4) Since Delberz moved much further north on later maps, I found it easiest to just add in a new town about where it used to be.

(5) Aenlinn’s player is having a baby and will need to drop out of the game for a while.
Theo
Posts: 64
Joined: Tue Jan 08, 2019 3:25 pm

Tue Mar 26, 2019 9:27 am

Season 2, Session 3: ”Videte ne quis sciat!”
The adventurers spent about two quiet weeks as guests of Professor Bletzen in Steinbrück.
- Marike studied alchemy and mastered a few new elixirs.
- Wernhart holed up in the Professor’s library and read up on history.
- Zima financed some purchases by giving fencing lessons in town. She also suspected the professor of dark sorceries, but found nothing obviously incriminating.
- Said sold off the flour and bought a heavy load of salt.
- Professor Bletzen will study the astronomical and alchemical texts found under the signal tower, but that will take a while.
- It was decided that Renate will stay in the Professor’s household for a while.

As their next project, they agreed to sail south to Grissenwald to confront the suspected sorceress Etelka Herzen. Marike also wanted to see her family (living a bit further south), to find out whether they know anything about her double. The adventurers weren’t sure whether to take the detour to visit Marike’s family before calling on Herzen, but as Grissenwald was on the way anyway, they could put off the decision for a while. The journey from Steinbrück to Grissenwald was expected to take about 12 days.

Sailing up the Reik
Near the end of May, they finally sailed south. During the first week of sailing they passed such tourist attractions as Altdorf, as loud and smelly as ever (Said sold off the salt at an excellent profit here), two of the newly-built signal towers, and the imposing Castle Reikgard, where Prince Wolfgang – the nephew and heir of the Emperor – resides.

There turned out to be several rumours about the Prince, who apparently hadn’t left his castle in months. Some rumours whispered of contagious or embarrassing diseases, others of madness, and others of protective custody from murderous relatives.

Image
Castle Reikgard

Some other news picked up – largely from Reinhilde Schank, a talkative merchant who kept them company for part of the trip – was that the expedition of Crown Prince Hergard of Ostland to the Grey Mountains, which the adventurers had narrowly missed a spot on, had met with a bad end and the Prince himself been killed. His father, the Grand Prince of Ostland, was said to blame his old rival, the Grand Duke of Talabecland, for his son’s death.

The incident at Wulf's Haven
On the seventh evening of the trip, at the shabby inn Wulf’s Haven in the village of Wörlitz, they observed that a pair of sketchy-looking fellows had been in the same inns as them for several nights now and seemed to be watching them. Outside the inn they confronted the two men, Gerhard Lorbeer and Willfried Kühn, who somewhat unconvincingly claimed to be out-of-work mercenaries offering their services as caravan guards. The adventurers didn’t buy it, and after Marike bluffing that any new employees would need to take a “truth potion”, and some goading from Zima, the men suddenly drew swords to fight their way out. Kühn managed to escape, but Lorbeer was cut down badly wounded and unconscious. After Wernhart stabilised him, they brought him aboard and sailed on under cover of darkness.

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Lorbeer & Kühn

In the unconscious Lorbeer’s pockets they found a letter reading:

“Gentlemen,

Now we need the service we agreed upon. Our eyes and ears inform us that the object is travelling your way, in the company of the group described previously. Earlier attempts to make contact elicited very little. You are to make sure that we do not lose track of our valuables again, making regular reports in the usual maner. Do not forget that the Crimson Palm has already been passed.

VIDETE NE QUIS SCIAT!”


The letter was not signed, but much of the remaining paper was covered by a bloody red handprint…

Some notes:
- In my version, Lorbeer & Kühn aren’t actually sworn Purple Hand cultists but external associates and troubleshooters hired by an actual cultist in Altdorf. This was the best way to make sense of the written instruction to them IMO.

- They’re professional (although not terribly competent) but not tremendously loyal to their current employer, so assuming Lorbeer survives (he’s in a pretty bad state) and recovers enough to be questioned he might be willing to cut a deal and share what little he knows. This will probably raise more questions than it answers. Kühn might or might not try to rescue his comrade.

- The Latin phrase in the letter means “See to it that no one knows”. I nicked it from The Last Door adventure game; it seemed like a good fit for my somewhat reimagined Purple Hand.

- I didn’t want to get too bogged down in the river journey so played through it fairly quickly, even skipping a few minor encounters I had planned – I can always use them later and the encounter with Lorbeer & Kühn was a good bit to end the session on.

- This was a fairly roleplaying-heavy session, much of it spent by the PCs talking and arguing amongst themselves. But I’m happy we got a bit underway. They should be getting to Grissenwald next.

- Next session in two weeks (well, a bit over one from now), and we’ll probably introduce a new PC then. Thinking about how to fit him in – I might start a separate thread on that.
Bungle
Posts: 3
Joined: Tue Mar 12, 2019 7:10 am

Wed Mar 27, 2019 6:02 pm

I've been following this campaign for a while and I love reading each new part that comes out. Forever interested in the setting and story changes you've made.
Theo
Posts: 64
Joined: Tue Jan 08, 2019 3:25 pm

Thu Mar 28, 2019 1:56 am

Bungle wrote:
Wed Mar 27, 2019 6:02 pm
I've been following this campaign for a while and I love reading each new part that comes out. Forever interested in the setting and story changes you've made.
Thanks! I'm working on putting together a proper blog for it. :)
Theo
Posts: 64
Joined: Tue Jan 08, 2019 3:25 pm

Mon Apr 08, 2019 8:25 am

Season 2, Session 4: The journey to Grissenwald

As the PCs sailed on from Wörlitz in the night, Wernhart tried a risky operation to save the life of the badly wounded Lorbeer, but it failed and the prisoner died without regaining consciousness. This got to Wernhart heavily, especially since he was the one who wounded him in the first place, and he spent much of the remaining journey drunk, depressed, or both. They sunk the body in the river under cover of darkness.

Sailing on, they passed the free city of Kemperbad but preferred to stay at the coaching inn in the nearby village of Jungbach after visiting the road chapel outside. At the inn, a couple of old fishermen told ominous tales of the ghost town of Wittgendorf and the ill-reputed barons of the house of Wittgenstein. Zima immediately perked up at the prospect of adventure and foul deeds to be avenged.

Image
The ghost town of Wittgendorf

The next day they sailed past Wittgendorf and the castle of Wittgenstein, both indeed looking anything but inviting. Camping that night, they met Reiko, a Strigany boatman traveling south with his family and looking for work. His grandmother blurted out a weird vision about ”the Beast on the rocks and its curse”; Reiko didn’t pay much attention to this, but his enterprising daughter Chello promptly sold Marike not one but three amulets of ”protection against the dark arts”.

On Friday June the 8th, after 12 days of sailing, they finally arrived in Grissenwald and begun to make enquiries to find out whether Etelka Herzen was a problem that needed dealing with immediately, or whether she could wait for them doing the detour to visit Marike’s family further south.

Having lunch in the Water Baron inn, they encountered a pair of very drunk Waldavian miners who came in looking to pick a fight. After failing to bait Wernhart into one they drank some more and eventually left.

Talking to some locals, the adventurers found out some interesting tidbits: the Waldavians belonged to the ”Radescu clan”, who used to run the coal mine at Schwartzspitze south of town, but after the mine ran dry a few years ago they sold the land to Etelka Herzen, who had a manor built at the spot. The other day a farm outside the city was burned to the ground and looted, and the Waldavians, generally considered drunken lowlives, were prime suspects since they’d seemed to come into some money at the very same time.


Some notes:
- If Wernhart had managed to save Lorbeer’s life, after he recovered a bit they could have questioned him – not being a fanatical cultist but only hired muscle, he would’ve been fairly easy to convince to spill what beans he knew (not too much). His companion Kühn is still trailing the PCs but being much more cautious now – which means he might lose track of them.

- I adapted the encounter with Reiko’s family from the 4E adventure ”If Looks Could Kill”. I probably won’t have the time and space to work that adventure into the campaign, but if I do they will have already met the PCs.

- The Dwarfs of Grissenwald, obviously, became (human) Waldavian miners (Waldavia being one of the Border Princes – I borrowed the name from the old 1E BP writeup, not sure whether to use all of that background or do something else. At this point they’re generic Balkan types).

- Next session will introduce a new PC, a ranger-type. I’m thinking about how best to introduce him and what plot hooks to start him off with – ideally he and the PCs should have good reason to work together and keep going together. I’m leaning toward him also looking for Etelka, or maybe the Red Crown in general.

- If, next session, the players actually decide that Etelka can wait and go south first, I’ll need to rewrite parts of the main plot and come up with whatever happens on the detour (I have a rough idea of what they can learn from visiting Marike’s family but nothing ready). But I’ll try not to railroad them into following the staked-out path. The new PC could probably be used to nudge them in Etelka’s direction, though.
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hallucyon
Posts: 16
Joined: Mon Jan 07, 2019 2:32 pm

Mon Apr 08, 2019 9:54 am

Theo, have you drawn this picture? :shock:
Theo
Posts: 64
Joined: Tue Jan 08, 2019 3:25 pm

Mon Apr 08, 2019 1:26 pm

Oops! No. I meant to put a link with that but apparently I missed it!

Here's the art I borrowed: "Dark Plague" by Ruslan Schifonic

I'm not nearly that good. :)
Theo
Posts: 64
Joined: Tue Jan 08, 2019 3:25 pm

Sun Apr 28, 2019 4:09 am

Season 2, Session 5: Dmitri
While Marike and Courage were off doing something else (1) Zima and Wernhart continued their enquiries in Grissenwald. They thought to visit the town’s sole apothecary, who indeed turned out to know Etelka Herzen as one of his best customers – she would buy various ingredients and preparations, and was also a major consumer of expensive perfumes.

Image

Dmitri
As they were chatting to the old apothecary, Dmitri (2), a grizzled huntsman with a Kislevite accent, came in to deliver some herbs and animal parts. It turned out he and Wernhart were old acquaintances, and even more interestingly, he as actually on his way to visit none other than Etelka Herzen, who had written to hire him for a wilderness expedition.

Wernhart, Zima and Dmitri repaired to the Boatman’s Rest Inn to talk. Zima started off giving a vivid though perhaps not too easily-followed recap of their adventures and their suspicions about Etelka. Dmitri turned out to be no stranger to the weird, having encountered dark sorceries as well as Beastmen and worse things in his travels (3), and he admitted he had been having some doubts about Etelka, who had employed him briefly a year or so ago (for some mundane tracking jobs – she had paid well and been good to deal with).

Lately, he’d gotten on the trail of some kind of conspiracy between various bands of Beastmen and mutant outlaws and their accomplices in human society, and found a recurring symbol. (4) Very recently he found out that Etelka is apparently connected to this conspiracy somehow but it was unclear whether as a conspirator or as a victim. The adventurers speculated whether this was the same conspiracy as the “bloody hand” people that had been tracking them, and whether Etelka’s planned expedition had something to do with the ill-fated expedition by Prince Hergard to the Grey Mountains. Dmitri also pointed out that Etelka’s letter to him had been badly delayed and she might have already left.

The journey to Schwarzspitze
Eventually a plan was hatched. Dmitri was to go to Etelka according to plan and offer his services, bringing his new friends along. In the best case, they might infiltrate her expedition. If she were already gone, they’d ask for shelter for the night and then try to search the house. After hiring a mule and loading up with equipment including weapons and armour, they walked off toward Schwarzspitze as night fell.

It was about a two-hour walk along a track through the woods. The only one they met for much of the way was a peasant heading home, worried about the raid two nights ago.

About a mile from the house, they found a badly wounded Waldavian, shot with two crossbow bolts, left for dead and hurriedly hidden in a ditch. He regained consciousness for long enough to say something about “Brigands! At the mine! Taking our silver…” before passing out again. Wernhart managed to bandage and stabilize him – he was safe from bleeding out but still unconscious and badly hurt. Constructing a makeshift stretcher, they decided to bring him along to Etelka.

A questionable welcome

Schwarzspitze, “Black Peaks”, turned out to be a well-fortified manor, almost a small castle. The houses formed a rectangle, at least all ground floors were built in stone or brick (some of the buildings had timbered upper stories), and there was a squat square tower in one corner. Some lights were on and smoke rose from chimneys – someone was home, at least. They decided to walk right up to the gatehouse and ask to be let in.

The guard at the gate, a disreputable-looking fellow armed with a crossbow, said the lady wasn’t seeing anyone and told them to go away. After the adventurers pointed out they had found a badly wounded man in the woods who needed care and shelter, the guard called for backup and another man and a woman – also both shady-looking and armed – appeared. After having a look at the wounded Waldavian, they agreed to let the visitors bring him in and wait with him in the granary while they tried to rouse the lady’s medicus. (5) They were shown into the well-stocked granary – an outbuilding between the gatehouse and the tower – and were shut in there with their patient as one of the guards scurried off to the main house.

The adventurers were smelling an ambush – especially as they realized a guard had been left outside the granary doors – and started looking for other exits. There were no windows on the ground floor of the barn, but the hayloft above had doors presumably leading out to the walkways. After putting the wounded man away under one of the stairs for now, they crept up to the loft and headed for one of the doors. By now they could hear people moving outside.

Quietly opening the door, they go out on a short, wide walkway leading up to the corner tower. In the dim moonlight they saw some armed men and women were out in the courtyard already and more were coming out of the houses, heading for the granary. Might they be able to slip into the tower undetected?

No such luck. Just then, the tower door opened and a one-eyed woman came out, a saber and pistol in her hands. Lightning fast, Zima drew one of her pistols and shot first, blowing a hole in her hat and throwing her off balance. The first shot was fired…


Some GM notes:


(1) Marike’s player couldn’t make this session. Since we all thought it would be more fun if her first meeting with Dmitri was when she was actually played, we agreed to for the moment be vague about exactly where she and Courage were and when they rejoined the group and retcon in something workable for next time. See below.

(2) The PC of a new player who joined this session. The new guy will join at least for this season to replace Said’s player.

(3) Dmitri in fact has Second Sight and partly because of that has kept running into monsters and the supernatural over the years.

(4) This is my variant of the Red Crown, though it’ll be called something else. I let the player design the symbol since it hasn’t appeared yet, and he’ll also flesh out the details of what he’s found, after which I’ll riff something off of it.

(5) These guys are some of the brigands currently occupying the house, my substitution for the original adventure’s Goblins. They recognized the Waldavian they thought they had killed and gratefully took their second chance to off any witnesses.

Next time, we’re looking at a big set-piece fight/chase with the brigands. I’m working on how to stage it most effectively and excitingly, but I'm looking forward to a big action sequence. :)

As mentioned above, we kept vague about the absent player’s characters. Afterward, we agreed that Marike and Courage had indeed joined the others for the trip to Schwarzspitze, and we’ll play out Marike’s first meeting with Dmitri as a flashback scene next session.
Theo
Posts: 64
Joined: Tue Jan 08, 2019 3:25 pm

Tue May 28, 2019 3:17 am

Season 2, Session 6: The Battle of Schwarzspitze
Most of this session was taken up by the fight with the brigands who were occupying Schwarzspitze (Black Peaks), the home of Etelka Herzen.

As we picked up where we left off, the adventurers quickly tried to get their bearings. Apart from the woman facing them at the tower door, four people – three with crossbows, one with a bow – were in the courtyard and they caught a glimpse of one or two guys scrambling up the southern walkway and heading for the hayloft they just came out of to outflank them. Oddly enough, they also noticed a part of the outer wall on the other side of the manor seemed to have collapsed.

A few rounds of chaotic night fighting followed. Zima managed to push past the one-eyed woman and into the tower, where she met and killed another brigand; Dmitri begun a somewhat desperate shooting match with the crossbowmen and archer; Courage went back into the hayloft to try to hold or at least delay that flank; Marike managed to throw a bottle of alchemical fire into the courtyard and create a temporary wall of fire that made it harder for the shooters and forced anyone trying to reach the ladder to take a detour. Wernhart, and eventually Marike, continued fighting the one-eyed brigand at the tower door.

The cavalry
Then, unexpectedly, a horsewoman came barreling into the courtyard, charging into the group of shooters and scattering them as they dove out of the way. It was none other than Aenlinn. Her arrival helped tip the odds quite a bit, but the brigands were quickly regrouping and two more heavily-armed ones were joining the fight.

However, after a few more rounds, the adventurers had managed to cause enough casualties among the brigands – three dead, two unconscious or badly wounded – that their just-arrived leaders, Dietlieb Schneider and Brother Udolf, called for a parlay.



A negotiated surrender
After some negotiation the brigands agreed, surprisingly easily, to simply pack their stuff and ride off for good that same night (it seemed they were already planning on leaving soon anyway), leaving the adventurers to do what they wanted with the house – provided they stayed at least the night; the brigands didn’t want a posse from Grissenwald sicced on them while they were leaving. The PCs were suspicious but tentatively agreed; they did get everything they wanted out of this arrangement.

Schneider and Udolf also gave a somewhat vague and contradictory recap of what had happened here: apparently Etelka Herzen had hired them to guard her place while she went off on a research expedition “up in the hills” by way of Kemperbad a few days ago. Then, just a night or two after that, another strange group had attacked the manor, blowing up part of the wall and killing the brigand’s previous leader. These people (if indeed they were people) were apparently looking for Etelka and left after finding out she was gone. They were all masked – some of them actually seemed to be wearing animal masks…


Aenlinn’s story
So where did Aenlinn suddenly come from?

Having finished her side business, she had gone to Grissenwald where she knew the rest of the gang was heading. She had found the boat, with Said on board, in the harbor the same night and he told her about the others going off to Schwarzspitze. She rode after them, hearing the gunshots just as she was approaching the house. When the slightly distracted guard wouldn’t let her in, she simply rode him down and made her heroic entrance.

As we wrapped up the session, the PCs were waiting for the brigands to finish tending their wounded, packing their stuff and getting out. They’re waiting to next session to search the place and talk to the servants still left here, but they did spot a portrait of Etelka in the great hall.

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Etelka's portrait (art by myself)


Some notes:

- This session saw the largest and most complex fight in the campaign so far – a tough test for my homebrew combat rules, but by and large they worked well and the players were excited. The odds did change quite a bit with the late addition of Aenlinn’s mounted rescue attack (her player became available on short notice and we hammered her entry out just before the session). I also did accidentally let the players off a little easier by forgetting about encumbrance and some other stuff, but it wouldn’t have made any great difference. The fight could still have been very hard of them – as it was, they caused enough casualties quickly (while taking only a few wounds themselves) to demoralize the brigands, who were already pretty low on morale after their previous fight (see below).

- To help visualize the fight, I also made my most complex floorplans so far, with different “layers” for the various floors. Quite a bit of work but it helped.

- At the start of next session, I’ll put in some complications to perhaps give the players second thoughts on their deal with the brigands, in particular demonstrate Schneider being an utter murderous sociopath. There might be another fight after all.

- The brigands’ story is largely true but far from complete. In fact Etelka had allowed them to squat in the abandoned mine for a few months in exchange for a) keeping their robbing activities well away from Grissenwald and b) providing her with a few guards or thugs when needed. After she left they were taken by surprise by the Chaos band (see below) and lost their leader and some of their number. After this embarrassing defeat, Schneider took over the band and occupied the house, intending to raid a few neighbouring farms and then getting out before Etelka got home again. (Basically, as will be seen, the brigands are replacing the goblins of the original DotR.)

The PCs will be able to get a much more complete and truthful account from the cook and servants next session, and they will have an opportunity to find some other important clues in Etelka’s study.

- So it seems a small Chaos warband – or else people who wanted to look like one – attacked the place just a couple nights ago. Who were those guys? We’ll hear more of them later, but they will crop up again in the Barren Hills and – sort of – replace the Skaven.

- We’ll play again next week, but after that we’ll probably have to call a summer break (might possibly get one more session in before that). During the summer break, I’ve agreed to run a solo adventure for Aenlinn’s player as a “flashback” about what she did during her time offstage. Depending on where the players decide to go next session – chasing after Etelka to the Barren Hills, or continuing south to see Marike’s family - I might also have some different preparing to do for after the break.
Theo
Posts: 64
Joined: Tue Jan 08, 2019 3:25 pm

Sat Jun 08, 2019 4:21 pm

Season 2, Episode 7: The House of Herzen

The second battle of Schwarzspitze

Before the brigands could leave, there was another ruckus. Their leader Schneider was going to execute the wounded brigands that couldn’t be brought along (to preempt them selling him out to escape the gallows); Wernhart stopped him and the argument quickly escalated into a fight when more people got involved. Dmitri went down with a badly wounded leg – at first the wound seemed mortal – but both Schneider and his lieutenant, Brother Udolf, were killed in the fight. The surviving brigands yielded and left as quickly as they could.

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Dietlieb Schneider (art by Piotr Chrzanowski)

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Brother Udolf (art by Jeff Lee Johnson)


Talking to the servants
With the brigands gone, the servants – Madame Boulette, the Bretonnian cook, and the house-servants Hertha and Rainer – finally dared approach the adventurers. They were very grateful for being rid of the brigands and supplied a hearty meal and some information about what had happened.

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Madame Boulette (photo by Diane Earl)
  • Etelka Herzen had indeed left on some kind of research expedition, apparently heading for the Barren Hills by way of Kemperbad. Ernst Heidelmann was her assistant and had accompanied her, as had her personal valet Saskia Fuchs.
  • The brigands, under their previous chief Rosenknospe, had been allowed to hide out in the mine for a while. Etelka had engaged them to help guard the house while she was away, and initially this had worked out. Rosenknospe was highly trusted by Etelka and he ran a tight ship, keeping harsh discipline.
  • A few nights ago, however, the house was attacked by another party – apparently the mysterious people in “Beast masks” the brigands had mentioned – who then left soon after. Rosenknospe was killed in the fight and Schneider took over, after which discipline collapsed completely and the brigands moved into the house and occupied it. They had been staging raids against nearby farms, but were apparently planning to leave soon anyway.
  • Madame Boulette remained under the impression that Marike was Esther Lieberung, and seemed if not frightened then at least very guarded and reserved with her. So far, Marike has cautiously played along.
  • None of the servants wanted to stick around. Hertha and Rainer wanted home to their families in Grissenwald. Boulette wanted to go to some larger city – Kemperbad or Nuln, for instance – and offered to cook during the journey in return for a lift.
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Etelka's study

The letters
While the others were night-snacking and talking to the servants, Zima and Courage went searching the upper floor. In Etelka’s study, they found a collection of alchemical formulae, a healing elixir (very timely for Dmitri’s injury) and four letters: two from Johannes Teugen, regarding her help with supplies for his ritual in Bogenhafen, an anonymous one decorated with a strange symbol – Zima had found a ring marked with the same symbol in a secret compartment in Etelka’s bedroom – and one from none other than Esther Lieberung.

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The symbol of the Seeing Circle

The letter from Lieberung mentioned her having “located the lost observatory of D.” and intending to investigate further before visiting Etelka again – apparently referring to the old laboratory/observatory the adventurers had found beneath the signal tower between Altdorf and Bogenhafen. The anonymous letter seemed to refer to the expedition, and to something that was expected to be found and then brought to Altdorf.

After some deliberation, the adventurers decided to head for Kemperbad and hopefully pick up the trail of Etelka’s expedition there.





Some notes:

This session marked the first time a player needed to expend a Fate Point – Dmitri would otherwise have been mortally wounded. It was a bit ironic since he had actually tried to deescalate the new fight, but that’s the Old World for you I suppose.

Dmitri was familiar with the odd symbol on the letter – he’s seen it several times before, apparently as some form of signal or secret sign used by some Beastman groups and their human allies. The Seeing Circle is my reskin of the Red Crown.

The servants have met Esther Lieberung as one of Etelka’s guests and are, not unreasonably, apprehensive of her – while she hadn’t mistreated them, they had sensed she was very dangerous. The PCs have realized this but are so far keeping up the charade of Marike pretending to be Esther (while using the “Marike Havenblast” name as a travelling incognito alias). In fact, Madame Boulette is going to become much more useful to them if they come clean with her, since she’ll be able to give some pointers on how to impersonate Lieberung effectively. We’ll see if they twig onto this.

As can be readily seen if you’re familiar with the original adventure, I’ve reskinned this section quite heavily to fit my campaign’s aesthetic while keeping most of the plot points. Etelka’s heaxagonal wizard’s tower became a more conventional fortified manor house; her Halfling cook became a Bretonnian human and was joined by a few more servants; and the goblins became the human brigands, becoming quite a bit more of a menace in the process. The next act, the journey to the Barren Hills, will be more faithful to the original, except that I’ll replace the Skaven with the Chaos warband glimpsed briefly in the accounts of the brigands and servants. Their continuing role in the plot will also be somewhat different.
Theo
Posts: 64
Joined: Tue Jan 08, 2019 3:25 pm

Mon Jul 22, 2019 3:56 am

I finally finished updating the blog I've been working on to document the campaign. It contains the same recaps I've been posting here, plus some brief notes on the backgrounds and characters. From now on I'll be posting the recaps there and linking them from here.

https://theenemywithinremixed.wordpress.com/
Theo
Posts: 64
Joined: Tue Jan 08, 2019 3:25 pm

Mon Jul 22, 2019 3:57 am

Season 2, Episode 8: Death on the Reik, Part 8 - Onward to Kemperbad

In which our friends pursue Etelka Herzen north and learn some more of what they might be seeking.

Read the full recap here!
Theo
Posts: 64
Joined: Tue Jan 08, 2019 3:25 pm

Thu Aug 22, 2019 1:32 pm

During the summer break I got together with Aenlinn's player - who had missed a bunch of sessions in the spring due to having a baby - and a guest player and ran a short adventure about what happened to Aenlinn and her cousin, Käte the coachwoman, during her time away from the main party. The recap of the first part can be found on the blog:

Interlude: Aenlinn's Adventure, Part I - The Runaways
In which Aenlinn goes to visit her family in Nuln, learns something more of her past, and joins forces with her cousin to find her runaway sister.
This episode happened concurrently with Season 2: Episode 3.
Theo
Posts: 64
Joined: Tue Jan 08, 2019 3:25 pm

Wed Aug 28, 2019 12:28 am

For the second half of the summer interlude, I recycled an early WFRP classic: Night of Blood by Jim Bambra, originally published in 1987 and recently reissued for 4th edition (I borrowed some of the art from the new version).

Interlude: Aenlinn's Adventure, Part II - A Night of Blood
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In which the adventurers seek shelter from the storm at the Hooded Lantern Inn, but find there might be more danger within than without.

This episode happened concurrently with Season 2: Episodes 3, 4 and 5.
Theo
Posts: 64
Joined: Tue Jan 08, 2019 3:25 pm

Mon Sep 02, 2019 1:32 am

Next episode of the main campaign is up.

Season 2, Episode 9: Death on the Reik, Part IX - A Lock of Hair

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In which the associates of Esther Lieberung get in touch with our friends once more, and things appear to be escalated.

GM's notes (spoilers!)
Theo
Posts: 64
Joined: Tue Jan 08, 2019 3:25 pm

Fri Sep 06, 2019 1:11 am

Season 2, Episode 10: Death on the Reik, Part X - The Path to the Twin Falls

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In which our friends, after some further enquiries, leave Kemperbad and wander east on the trail of Etelka Herzen.

GM's notes (spoilers)
Theo
Posts: 64
Joined: Tue Jan 08, 2019 3:25 pm

Mon Sep 16, 2019 4:12 am

Season 2, Episode 11: Death on the Reik, Part XI - The Devil's Bowl

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In which our friends travel into the Barren Hills, learn something of the fate of the Mórrslieb meteorite, and lay some unquiet dead to rest.

GM's notes (spoilers!)
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