Friday, 12 June 2015

Iron Kingdoms Roleplay - Session Six

For those of you who haven't been keeping up you can find earlier sessions and background material in here. The stats of the player characters can be found here should you be interested and the rest of the 'Brotherhood of the Rail' mercenary companies NPC's backgrounds can be found here.

As with last week this weeks attendees would be Captain Sebastian LaCroix (Toms character), His Lieutenant Rafaldo Scorgiani (Steve's character), Martin's Priestess and 'Spiritual Advisor' character Danika Jansen, the Mechanik Bragg Halvard (Harry's character) and we'll be re-joined by new character Bradick Davalos (Andrew whose normally GMing's character) with my Ogrun 'Bosh' Skullsplitter temporarily moved to NPC status. Our GM for this one (as the last one) will be me...

Note - As I was GMing and obviously had notes and intro bits written down I've just pasted them into this article directly so they'll be in a 'reading to the group' style. This'll save me a lot of time writing out everything again and hopefully wont effect your reading enjoyment too much bouncing between the two styles of writing.

Mission Six - 'The One That Got Away...'
The officers of the Brotherhood are in Tarna having recently completed a supposedly routine job for the Transcontinental Rail Company and as with all such things it got a bit complicated. The details can be found here.

After cleaning yourselves up and sleeping late into the day the conversation next day turns to what your going to do about the still missing Khadoran Drago who almost certainly tried to have you killed between the smoking club and his office and the Thamarite cult who were about to carve up the missing 'diplomat' Padri. Before a plan of action can be decided upon your contact Marcus from the day before arrives and interrupts your meeting accompanied by the scarred gentlemen who met you at the meeting place and later helped acquire you a carriage though this time he's armed and armoured...presumably his performance was considered satisfactory enough for his employment to have become somewhat more permanent.

Marcus ushers Bosh out of the room to deal with some query about the last lot of wages and drops a folder of paperwork onto the table before sitting himself down amongst you all.

Marcus Darling first informs you that he has arranged to buy the rations, clothes and other bits and pieces you acquired from the warehouse crates on behalf of the Transcontinental Rail Company despite them having little need for them and the profits work out at twenty five gold crowns each he can't do anything with the Khadoran Man-o-War weapons however so what you do with them is up to you. As for most of you this is over a weeks pay for a nights work (a fair proportion of which was spent drinking in a club) the result isn't a bad one for the team.

"Thank-you for the timely return of my man Padri...he had some interesting things to tell me about Drago Makarov and the Thamarites he now seems to be dealing with and provided some interesting potential lines of enquiry,,,however there's a complication..."

"All my attempts to meet with any-one of importance to discuss the issue have been politely and firmly declined or deferred. The story I've been given from the few individuals willing to discuss the matter is that Drago has no doubt fled the city and unfortunately with no evidence left of the cultists I'd be forced to incriminate you all if I was to bring you forth as witnesses and I have no wish to sacrifice assets that are proving to be moderately useful"

"This means that the issue is...closed...and any useful information I acquired would be quite useless to me..." he pauses before tapping the folder he placed upon the table a moment earlier "...I also would be unable to provide any expenses to help conduct a search without some underhanded conspiracy which is obviously not the sort of thing I could possibly involve myself in."

"My apologies if this is a somewhat unsatisfactory ending but at least you'll be out of here in three more days regardless..."

He then leaves giving a nod to the returning Bosh as he does so. Bosh re-enters the meeting and drops a pouch of coins onto the table next to the rather conspicuously abandoned folder...

"Some smug little prick from the office seems to think that the pay-roll was under last time but I don't see how it could be as I made sure every-one got paid just like I always do..."

The pouch contained one hundred and twenty gold coins and as usual Sebastian gave these to Rafaldo to manage. On investigation of the folder it was found to contain a Khadoran military record for one Drago Makarov, Several politely worded notes telling Marcus to drop the matter from a Lady Carolan Madigan who is seemingly the chief administrator for the Moorgrave of Tarna, a plan of a warehouse and a Transcontinental Rail Company requisition form.

The military record was presumably a direct translation of a Khadoran original as it had references to glorious actions against the enemy in several campaigns that few people outside Khador would consider 'glorious' including deployments in Llael and a brief stint in the navy. His reasons for leaving the military seem to have been skimmed over though there is a vague reference to several 'unauthorised actions' towards the end of the document.

The notes from Lady Carolan are the expected politely worded bullshit and Marcus has attached two notes of his own to the bundle. An address has been neatly written on one attached note that you presume is her home as it's in Marcus's handwriting though he's referred to her as 'that bitch'. Another note has 'why would she need warehouse space?' written next to an address. It seems that Marcus has his suspicions about her unwillingness to help.

The warehouse plan matches the dimensions of the one in which the Thamarites were encountered but seems to include a large cellar which they didn't come across. Some-one (presumably Marcus) has written 'They never mentioned a cellar?' in the corner and undoubtedly this refers to the report he got from the team after their investigation.

The document is a signed but undated Transcontinental Rail Company requisition form for what's referred to as an 'executive' carriage and the part of the form referring to a driver has also been left blank.

After some discussion it was decided to take a journey to Lady Carolan's home to see if they'd have more luck than Marcus did. It was also somewhat obvious that they'd need to tidy themselves up a bit if they were to not look out of place in the better parts of town. Those with better clothing changed into it and those without took a quick trip into town to acquire some and as Tarna has a significant textile industry such items were easily available. Danika was in her full armour but had added her formal priestly raiment's too it, Bosh reluctantly left his warcleaver behind but took his claymore instead and the rest were dressed in finer clothing that they already possessed or had recently purchased. Sebastian was rather unsurprisingly not lacking in fine clothes to choose from but was somewhat delayed by trying every single on of them on till he was happy with the final look...

Once he'd finished getting changed...again...Sebastian acquired them a carriage and after vetoing several of the rail companies less reputable looking drivers requisitioned one of their more professional looking individuals to use for the next few days.

Act One - 'Going up in the World'
The nicer part of town is unsurprisingly the furthest from the damp and decay of the river and the better quality housing each stands in their own grounds. Lady Carolan's home is surrounded by a high wall topped with decorative but still functional spikes and has a single heavy duty gate protecting the grounds entrance. Through the gate you can see a solidly constructed building with a large imposing front door though there doesn't appear to be any guards least not that you can see. The area itself however has regular patrols as you'd expect in such a high profile area.

The gate was secured with a lock and a heavy chain and it quickly became apparent that either no-one was home or at the very least they weren't expecting visitors. After chatting with a passing guard and feeding him a vaguely credible story about an appointment they had at the house and their surprise that no-one was there to meet them they were informed that all visits to Lady Carolan were by appointment only and that if there was no-one there then it was probable that they either weren't considered important or they'd made a mistake. His fear at hearing her name was also apparent and they concluded that they were unlikely to find any guard willing to help them get into the properties grounds or that wouldn't promptly sell them out after they did. After waiting for a suitable moment Bragg used his tools to break the lock and they loosely wrapped the chain back around the gate in order to fool a casual observer that it was still intact.

The grounds had the usual selection of tasteful statues and well maintained lawns and flowerbeds. The front door itself was a work of art in both the areas of decoration and security. There were three extremely sophisticated and complex locks whose heavy duty appearance has been cleverly integrated into the pattern of the door and the fit of that door left no leverage points at all. If that wasn't enough all the windows had heavy bars on them. Bragg didn't take long to ascertain that the locks were beyond the groups skill to bypass. He was also well aware that such sophisticated locks often contained or activated a variety of unpleasant traps should they be incorrectly tampered with. A sensible person would look for another way in...After some investigation they discovered a set of double doors set into the floor secured with a substantial but mundane lock. It looked to be the kind of entrance that leads to a wine cellar or basement. The lock was fairly easy to remove...

Stone stairs lead down into the darkness, a small shelf to one side contains two lanterns. Sebastian decided to return to the coach in order to divert any-one who might come to investigate the house and also to help facilitate their getaway should it become necessary while the others searched the basement area.

The stairway leads down about thirty steps until you eventually reach a fairly circular room roughly twenty five feet across with pillars supporting the roof every six feet or so. A set of shelving next to the entrance contains a wide selection of candles of various sizes, several incense burners and some vials of liquid. The opposite end of the room has a raised platform on it with a waist high stone block about six and a half feet long, A ladder on the left hand side leads to a hatch in the ceiling. It reminded Danika of a temple or religious gathering place as candles and incense are often used in ceremonies in such places. The whole place feels somehow wrong though...

There are several red stains of various ages on the top of the stone block. There's a recess behind it that you couldn't see from the entrance containing several books, parchments and a leather case.

The books and parchments are texts on a variety of religions ceremonies from many cultures including one debating the origins of both Morrow and Thamar. Danika pointed out that this particular book was biased towards Thamar being in the right and much of the opinions within were strongly contested by Morrowan philosophers. On further investigation it was observed that a folded piece of parchment has been used as a bookmark in the latter text.

The parchment is a diagram of a cargo vessel on which the letters MM have been written on one corner and given their naval experience Danika hands it too Rafaldo and Bradick for their opinions. They note that the vessel appears to have been modified to have a variety of smaller individual storage spaces within rather than the usual large open area. Danika kept the book and several of the documents for future perusal...

The ladder they spotted earlier was unfortunately too small and poorly mounted for either Bosh or Bragg to climb up and none of the others could shift the trapdoor at the top without making a lot of noise. Eventually they took what evidence they'd found and evacuated the grounds as subtly as possible. They then decided to have another look at the warehouse of Drago Makarov to see if they could find any signs of the hidden cellar mentioned on the warehouse plan.

Editors Note - I had the house mapped should they have come up with an entry plan and decided to investigate but they wouldn't have found anything if they did as all the naughty stuff was in the cellar anyway. It pays to be prepared for those 'just in case' events though and so I tend to have a list of character names, a mapped out house or two and some generic stat-lined NPC's just in case.

Act Two - Back to the Scene of the Crime.
The warehouse is now a pile of charred remains as is the dock area just in front of it. A squad of ten guards wearing the uniform of the Thorn Company are stationed nearby in front of an improvised boundary made of rope hung roughly around anything solid enough for it to wrap around both of these factors are presumably to deter looters though this does seem somewhat excessive to protect a burnt-out warehouse area. 

There's also another person picking through the wreckage whom the guards occasionally glance in the direction of so he must surely be there with their approval. The guards are wearing the medium protection armour common to infantry all over the Iron Kingdoms, Most are armed with halberds and similar pole-arms and a couple have an extra weapon here and there...the kind of things that a soldier picks up during active service. They have all the signs of a unit with front-line combat experience and come to alert the moment you approach.

After deciding that attacking ten heavily armed soldiers in view of at least one witness who has many easy options for escape wasn't a brilliant idea it was instead decided that a more subtle approach might be in order. Sebastian decided to front it and just pretend that they were meant to be there and started discussing loudly about 'liability issues', 'rebuild costs' and discussing with Bragg about structural issues. Sebastian's skill with oratory and Bragg's engineering technical speak seemed to convince the guards and they left them to investigate the wreckage though they were intercepted by the man they'd seen poking about in the wreckage. After another session of fast talking he was similarly convinced of their legitimacy and allowed to continue their search...he did however insist on following them around though...

Editors Note - This was an inspired use of oratory and so I was less annoyed than I might have been that I'd written what retrospectively became completely unnecessary backgrounds for both the Squad Sergeant and the Investigator...

The warehouse floor has collapsed in one corner to reveal a previously hidden area underneath and if you were to guess you'd say the collapse occurred in the rough location of the crates you saw when first here.. It's quite precarious indeed but you could probably get down if you didn't mind getting a bit dirty.

Bosh was initially nominated for the climb down but the ground around the hole wasn't sturdy enough to hold his weight and given how dark it was, combined with their lack of lanterns another plan was required. It looks like Danika's 'True Sight' ability was about to come in useful again. Bosh carefully lowered her down with a length of rope he normally used for incapacitating prisoners...

The space underneath has all the appearance of a cell block in a prison and a smell that some of you recognise as burnt flesh fills the room. Approximately a third of the cells contain bodies of both men, women and what may well have been children. The causes of death seems to be a mixture of suffocation due to inhalation of smoke, victims of the fire and at least one was crushed by the collapsing ceiling. Something very unpleasant was going on here...

Editors Note - Those of you who have read the previous adventure will realise that the groups actions directly resulted in the deaths of all these people and even though they couldn't really have known about it I thought it might be an idea to add a little more motivation to the groups quest than 'kill some bad guy and a few cultists'. It wasn't subtle but it had the desired effect...

After a brief search she discovered a burnt and battered metal box had somehow survived the carnage and also that there's a tunnel entrance in one wall half obscured by rubble. She put the box to one side before checking out the tunnel entrance.

She soon discovered that it runs parallel to the dockside and has several side entrances that lead onto heavy grills by various docks further along the river and though each of the gates is poorly maintained they're still sturdy. The locks on them are equally aged though were originally of good enough quality so as to have survived the passage of time so possibly this was originally some form of drainage system or sewer. Several ladders in various states of repair lead upwards at various points but any exit points appear to have been sealed up long a go. It's possible that the tunnel leads the entire length of the dock area.

Thinking ahead Rafaldo had already started a distracting conversation with the Investigator and gradually led him away from the hole in case Danika discovered anything so he didn't observe her sneaking out with the box. It was found to contain the deed for a small piece of land downriver that would once have been quite valuable but it now dangerously close to the disputed area of the Dragons Tongue river as well as a tattered map of the rough lay-out of some kind of complex of buildings.

Sebastian was debating going back to the train to plan their next move though once Bradick pointed out that the warehouse apparently belonging to Lady Carolan was less than half an hour trip away he decided to give it a look on the way and then make a final decision.

Act Three - 'A Suspicious Piece of Property for a Lady'
The warehouse from the address is similar in size and appearance to the one belonging to Drago and it seems that most of the ones in the area have been built in a particular style. The main differences are that this one lacks the rear entrance of Drago's and there is only a single cargo vessel at it's dock. Several guards are patrolling the area though their lack of uniforms marks them as mercenaries rather than 'official' representatives of the town guard or local militia and they appeared to be well equipped and armoured. The guards are stationed in pairs and their are eight in total with a pair roughly at each corner of the building making a stealthy approach somewhat tricky. 

Danika was convinced that something evil was going on in the warehouse and the possibility that it might also contain prisoners like Drago's had also spurred on several of the others to want to investigate. Sebastian was largely indifferent but the possibility that Drago himself might be present was edging him towards action. After some discussion they decided on a direct assault and moved into position to attack the guards as simultaneously as possible before hopefully taking those inside relatively unprepared.

The armour was however an issue as Sebastian generally relied on a combination of accuracy and weight of fire to get the job done and only Bosh and Danika were really prepared for dealing with such opponents directly. Bradick's grenades were also not an option unless they wanted everyone within a mile radius to investigate the noise. Coordinating the attack was therefore going to be crucial.

Once in position, Sebastian signalled the start of the attack by opening fire on the first group of guards killing both and taking out one from a second group while the others charged in and brutally murdered the confused remnants quickly and efficiently.

Editors Note - Regular readers of these features know that the group has got massacring small groups of unsuspecting enemies down to an art-form so I haven't described the attack in particular detail.

With the exterior defences neutralised they met at the front gate which had a similar lock system to that of Drago's and Bradick suggested he could make an effective acid that would destroy the lock silently and proceeded to do so using his portable alchemist equipment.

Editors Note - There's a very specific list of what you can do 'on the fly' with the Alchemist Skill and creating a simple acid is indeed one of them. There were actually a lot of other ways the lock could have been simply and quickly removed but I think Andrew just wanted to use the Skill because his character had it, lol.

Bragg used the chain to open the warehouse shutter, those with close combat tendencies charged forward with the rest giving covering fire. Several guards inside had taken cover and opened fire as soon as targets appeared...

A shot ricocheted from the entrance by Bragg's head and others bounced ineffectually from Bosh and Danika's armour while a near miss aimed at Sebastian resulted in a counter attack that forced the shooter to duck back into cover. Noting that four guards should be little effort for four of them to deal with Sebastian signalled for Rafaldo and Bradick to have a closer look at the cargo vessel in the dock area. Bosh and Danika made short work of butchering their targets while Bragg killed a third before taking a wild shot at the guard that had ducked to avoid Sebastian's retaliatory strike. Seeing a chance for revenge the aforementioned enemy in cover put a round into Bragg before Sebastian blew his brains out.

The warehouse contains a small work area where a dirty and malnourished man has been utilised making chains and manacles, an old lady is in what appears to be a compacted version of a candle-makers shop and three more abused looking people are in a corner. All are either manacled to the wall or their work area. It seems somebody has been utilising their acquired slaves as labour to manufacture the things they require without drawing attention to themselves by going out and buying them. The warehouse also has the upper walkway and office that Drago's contained leading to a similar small office space.

The office contains several shelves, a few functional chairs and a desk strewn with paperwork. A map of a stretch of river and some purchase orders for a variety of mundane items including food, blankets, coal and the like are in one of the drawers as well as several more dubious religious texts that Danika decides to seize as further evidence of corruption. After questioning the prisoners they reveal that they've been there on and off for what seems like months but they have no real idea of how long they've been there specifically. Also none of them have ever seen Lady Carolan though they have heard the other guards refer to another regular visitor as Drago. This warehouse also had the underground area linked to a dockyard passageway and given the respective locations it was likely that they linked up at some point.

After discussing all that they'd discovered it seemed likely that both Lady Carolan and Drago Makarov were working together and that either one or both were leading the Thamarites and using a combination of their criminal and legitimate influences to further it's aims and cover up it's activities. Combining the various maps they'd found also gave them a good idea of the location of their headquarters down river. Deciding to put an end to the cult and Drago once and for all a plan needed to be created.

The carrying capacity of the boat by their current location was calculated in order to work out how many Brotherhood troops it could potentially carry before Sebastian sent the carriage back to the train with a list of Brotherhood guards required and some equipment that they might need as well as the prisoners they'd rescued. Bragg also returned with them so he could fetch his laborjack 'Ol' Faithful' to give them some heavy support.

Some time later with the laborjack secured on deck, as many of the brotherhood as possible crammed into the few remaining spaces and Rafaldo and Bradick given the duties of piloting and navigating the craft down river the group began their journey down river to find their enemies base of operations and destroy them once and for all...

To Be Continued...

Back to Reality.
Though it might not be obvious from the write-up above pretty much every bit of the mission was approached in a different manner from the one I was expecting up to and including the order they went to each location. Fortunately I always have profiles for every character, area specific names, maps of most areas and the occasional 'interlude' event already written in anticipation of such occurrences so it didn't become an issue.

Also as there's no real time gap it was decided that the player characters would need to wait before getting any experience related upgrades in order to avoid the following occurring...

PC  - "I now know a new spell..."
GM  - " How exactly did you learn it while walking from one room to another?" or

PC - "While sitting in this room doing nothing I've inexplicably become more skilled at picking locks."

Completing this mission shouldn't take a full session so I'll finish mine next time and then I'll tag in Tom who will be using the remaining time to do the introduction to his own stint as GM. I'll sort out every-ones XP at that point.

Thoughts and comments are (as usual) most welcome.


  1. Very enjoyable, and I agree that characters shouldn't be upgrading when hardly any time (narratively speaking) has passed.

    Will have to return to read all the previous posts.


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