Monday, 24 August 2015

Iron Kingdoms Roleplay - Session Twelve

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

This weeks attendees would be Captain Sebastian LaCroix (Toms character), His Lieutenant Rafaldo Scorgiani (Steve's character), Martin's Priestess and 'Spiritual Advisor' character Danika Jansen, and we'll be re-joined by Andrews new Pygmy Troll character Toborg Lugosh after the unfortunate brutal execution of his last character Bradick Davalos. My Ogrun 'Bosh' Skullsplitter will be again temporarily moved to NPC status as I'm GMing for the next couple of sessions. Harry couldn't attend this week (after changing his mind twice resulting in two rewrites...) so the Mechanik Bragg Halvard (Harry's character) will be conveniently unavailable for the events of this mission...which takes some create writing when your all on a bloody train together...

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 Twelve - 'A Very Important Passenger...'
It's time for the Brotherhood of the Rail to get back to their contractual obligations...

With the bandit leadership eliminated and the area of Ternon Crag now experiencing an unprecedented era of peace and prosperity it has been deemed time for the Brotherhood to return to it's more traditional guard duties. Bosh has still yet to fully recover from multiple stab wounds and projectile related injuries sustained covering the Brotherhoods retreat in the bandit camp as their subsequent defence of the narrow pass during their escape prevented the immediate attention of the those wounds and several were more severe than first thought.

With the terrain now mapped out and the defences of the enemy camp known, quantified and significantly reduced after the battle at the pass a second mission is arranged but this time purely to ascertain if any further build-up has occurred rather than for any offensive purposes. Sebastian has sent Toborg as part of this recon but whether this is a reward for his few moments of usefulness in the previous mission or a punishment for not being able to tell the difference between the five cant for 'cut' and 'pull' is somewhat debatable. Additionally responsibility for Toborg has been delegated to Rafaldo by Sebastian. The camp has been found to be abandoned completely and obviously in some hurry as much equipment and the bodies of most of their dead have been left behind including hat was left of their giant warleader. The body of the mysterious female leader is however missing...

The rescued girl Dora has been unofficially 'adopted' by several of the Brotherhood staff and officers due to having no family in Ternon Crag and there being little in the way of facilities there that deal with orphans. The next stop being Llael is also somewhat unsuitable and even the completely indifferent Sebastian would rather she was raised in neither a war zone or by 'filthy Khadoran scum'. Several attempts have been made to allocate her sleeping quarters though she invariably ends up finding her way to one of the officers quarters. Generally this has caused few issues other than one particularly awkward moment involving Sebastians own rooms but at least he always now remembers to keep his door locked when he has visitors. On an unrelated note Sebastian has made it known that any-one who enters his quarters without knocking from now on will be shot on general principle...

With the next stop on the new 'frontier' line being travel into the contested territory of Llael it has been decided that a test trip is going to be necessary in order to fine tune the somewhat laborious task of ensuring that all appropriate passes are in place and to sort through what will no doubt be a tedious and difficult time dealing with the Khadoran border authorities. Fortunately the main station has been prudently built just outside the border of Khadoran Llael and 'free' Llael with separate lines entering each. Plans for an adjoining line between the two are currently pending based on how well (or not) the initial journey's are. The obvious downside to all this is that the first few runs will be far less profitable than would be liked.

Marcus has been busying himself ensuring that the fortress is supplied with the necessary resources and manned adequately in the Brotherhood's absence and several meetings have been scheduled between him and Sebastian to discuss the finer points of these shared responsibilities. Marcus has also somewhat conveniently 'remembered' where the rest of the wine and alcohol shipment was and this revelation seemingly occurred about three seconds after the bandit issue was deemed resolved.

The few new recruits bought back by Rafaldo have been implemented into the appropriate Brotherhood units and several requests for membership have also been received from some of the recently trained trolls.

After some discussion it's decided to supplement the Brotherhoods Artillerists with four of the Trollkin trained at the fortress and to take on three or four of the scouts (one of which was Toborg). Responsibility for the fledgling scout force has been delegated to Rafaldo by Sebastian possibly as a punishment for his nearly disastrous actions during their assault on the bandit camp. The various Pistoleers are also formed into a single unit rather than being deployed as individuals to support other units but to all intents and purposes now act as Sebastian's bodyguard. Though some of these recruits weren't all that useful on a train journey it seemed that the Captain is looking at the long term future of the Brotherhood as a mercenary force outside of it's main contract.

During these final operational tweaks and preparations Marcus makes a somewhat unscheduled appearance at the fortress just before one of the officers 'routine' meetings with some news.

"As you're no doubt aware the first few of these journey's to Llael are going to barely be profitable and are 'more a less' a fine-tuning exercise" "However we've come across some good fortune with the first of theseHe pauses briefly "One of our major investors has decided to utilise the service in order to facilitate moving some cargo plus one of their family members and his entourage to his hunting lodge just outside of Llael which is (as luck would have it) only a short distance from the rail line's route" "This means that we can both ingratiate ourselves with a figure of some importance as well as making an unexpected profit this trip"

Act One - 'Helstrom'
"Your man 'Bosh' has worked for Jonas and his family in the past so I took the liberty of sending him to act as an escort till he reaches the station and Jonas has requested his services for the duration of the trip" "I saw no reason to refuse the request as Bosh will obviously be on the train anyway and I doubt such light duties will task him despite his less than optimal state of health...and Helstrom was most insistent...he is as I'm sure you'll appreciate used to getting his own way."

"His family has considerable influence so I'm sure there's no need to remind you all that this honoured guest is to be given every consideration and his safety, happiness and well being are your primary concern"

Editors Note - I handed out some notes at this point to those playing humans with some basic information on what their characters would conceivably know about the Baron and the Helstrom family based on their backgrounds. This was necessary as I'd made the Baron and his family up from scratch for my own needs but had made them out to be of some significance in the Iron Kingdoms. How much of the information they made public and what they kept to themselves was of course up to them.

Background Note - Sebastian
The gentlemen you are to be transporting (one 'Baron' Jonas Helstrom) is somewhat of a legend in duelling circles having been victorious in some two hundred duels with both pistol and sword as well as allegedly being involved in almost double that amount of less formal 'outside the city walls' disagreements. There are however some rumours of less than reputable tactics during these duels of honour though it's possible these are just tales told by those jealous of his prowess or disgruntled family members of those killed.

Background Note - Rafaldo
The Helstrom family is well known in shipping circles for it's large and well defended fleets of ships and has a reputation for reliability and security. Some however have made a point of casting aspersions upon them due to how few incidents of piracy that they have to deal with when compared with their rivals misfortunes. It's more than likely however that these are just the kind of slanderous lies that successful business men often have said about them by jealous or less successful rivals.

Background Note - Danika
The name of the Helstrom family is well known as a generous benefactor of the Morrowan Church and has been responsible for funding the construction of many elaborate temples and sponsoring many charitable events and efforts. There are those who have levelled accusations against the family that these acts are simply to cover up scandalous acts committed behind closed doors but it's far more likely that these are just lies spread by jealous members of other churches who would rather the funds be making there way into their own coffers.

'First Impressions...'
Given the importance of their passenger the Brotherhood officers wore their finest dress uniforms, priestly raiment's or least stained engineers leathers as appropriate and those used to dealing with the aristocracy were unsurprised by his followers desire to pander to their leaders whims as relative status was important to such people. Toborg had also dressed for the occasion and was wearing his finest and shiniest cow skull helmet. While looking at this crowd of hangers-on Sebastian noted that there wasn't any-one who looked like they'd be high enough rank to be 'seconds' for the purposes of duelling as clearly the crowd of followers were mainly sycophants or ladies selected for their beauty.

A number of crates are being loaded onto several cargo carriages and most of these are quite mundane. The mundane ones show all the signs of containing normal supplies such as food, ammunition and other routine items. However there are three extremely interesting ones. These three are just over six feet square and seemingly have mechanika as part of their construction. Runes can be seen faintly glowing at several points and very occasionally these flare brightly before fading to their original dull glow and are all been loaded into the same carriage. Bragg's newly modified 'jack is also being loaded aboard the train in the engineering section with the two company laborjacks.

There is also considerable activity at the station centred around a tall, well built man of aristocratic bearing in exquisitely decorated tailored plate armour. He is surrounded by a considerable entourage of toadying hangers-on, well dressed guards and a group of young attractive ladies dressed in expensive and subsequently completely impractical outfits in the most up to date fashions. Somewhat out of place at who you presume is Jonas Helstrom's side is your fellow officer 'Bosh' who is wearing the fairly clean tabard occasionally forced upon him by Sebastian. He is seemingly in some debate with the most decorated of Jonas's own bodyguards (presumably their Captain) who is emphasising his point by periodically poking Bosh in the chest with a gauntleted hand. This debate reaches a climax as 'Bosh' somewhat less casually than you would normally expect hoists the guard several feet off the ground one-handed by the collar of his uniform before hurling him a mere ten feet across the station platform. The entourage waits a moment for the Baron's reaction and once it's evident that he finds the incident amusing they all join in with the laughter and finish about a second after he does before he ushers the humiliated guard captain away with a dismissive gesture. Bosh says something to Jonas and after a moment he nods in a somewhat disinterested manner before Bosh begins walking towards you all. The rest of the entourage makes a path for him...

Sebastian and his officers had been hoping to talk to 'Bosh' before their meeting with the Baron in order to better prepare themselves for it but it seems like they would have to wait until later to do so...

Baron Helstrom seemingly has become interested in you all and is walking over followed by a gaggling horde of sycophants, hangers on, two of the lady companions and other apparently essential personnel when those of the aristocracy travel.

The Baron is dressed in expensive, high quality armour which has the tasteful decoration one would expect from the actually wealthy rather than the over the top examples you generally see on those who simply aspire to such things. Around his neck is a particularly beautiful symbol of Morrow fashioned from a variety of rare materials. He has a similarly high quality mechanikal sword sheathed at his waist and a pair of pistols holstered in somewhat unusual holsters on each thigh seemingly designed for quickness of draw. These pistols are also clearly mechanikal in nature.

Sebastian being quite interested in pistols noted that the Baron's weapons are heavily modified mechanikal versions of Radcliffe Firestorm's. Even as a standard weapon this type of pistol is vary expensive so owning mechanikal versions shows considerable wealth and resources.

The officers introduce themselves using all the appropriate etiquette for the situation and manage to do a more than adequate job of creating a positive impression of both their own mercenary group and by extension the rail service. Some meaningless pleasantries are passed back and forth before Baron Helstrom gets to his actual reason for approaching them.

"So I hear from your man 'Bosh' that you're in charge of my protection and that of my humble belongings on this trip and after some debate with my own guard captain he has put forward the argument that I leave the security of the train in your no doubt capable hands." "I have agreed in principle but with the exception of any routine patrols you may deem necessary my cargo and private carriages will stay under the protection of my own personnel" "I presume you have no issues with this entirely reasonable proposal?"

Sebastian and his officers agree to the Baron's demands, exchange a few more of the bits of conversation that etiquette requires before going back to their relative tasks. As soon as is reasonably possible after the journey begins Sebastian, Rafaldo and Danika arrange a meeting to which they invite Bosh using a plausible excuse of 'coordinating the activities of Baron Helstrom's people and that of the Brotherhood's own' in order to see if they can gain any useful information from him given that he's worked for him in the past. He's initially reticent to divulge any personal information on Jonas Helstrom because as he points out "You wouldn't want me telling your secrets to a future employer of mine now would you?". However after the imbibing of a generous quantity of Trollkin ale that Sebastian had put aside and some subtle reminders of the dangers they'd shared in recent months Bosh opened up somewhat though was still unwilling to discuss specific 'tasks' that he'd performed for the Baron while in his service. The main areas that they were interested in were the reasons for the Ogrun's assault on the Guard Captain, whether his reputation as a duellist was overblown and if the rumours of corruption were true or just vicious gossip.

Bosh informed them that the debate was over the guard captain attempting to decide where the Brotherhoods own guards were stationed and Bosh telling him that all decisions about such things were Sebastian, Rafaldo or another officers decision and nothing to do with any Captain other than his own, The 'Captain' was also unpleasant to the female Ogrun labour Korune Krell that the Brotherhood employ to manage the rail workers and loaders when the cargo was first being looked at and as the only female Ogrun the three Brotherhood Ogruns have any dealings with they are understandably protective of her therefore with all honesty Bosh was looking for an excuse to hit him anyway. It was also obvious to Bosh that this was simply the Captain of Helstroms guards trying to exert his authority as in his opinion Jonas Helstrom couldn't care less where the Brotherhood guards are stationed as long as (with the exception of routine patrols) they stay out of the carriage's containing his own belongings.

On the specific subject of Jonas Helstrom his hobbies are somewhat predictably hunting, whoring and duelling...though not necessarily in that order of priority. Sebastian raised the subject of the absence of the seconds normally required by professional duellists and Bosh revealed that two of the toadying sycophants actually are far more professional than their outward demeanour would suggest. Helstroms Seconds are Bryson Ellsworth (a stocky fellow, tending to fat, whose also an expert swordsman) and Everett Keller (a tall, slim, pistoleer who favours a single pistol but is also quite handy with a rifle.). He also mentions that Jonas prefers head shots as he says that "any fool can unload a dozen rounds at some-ones chest and hit occasionally" a sentiment that Sebastian agrees with. In Bosh's opinion Jonas is exactly as good as people say he is with both pistol, paired pistols and a sword as he'd seen him kill with all three combinations of weapons. Bosh also is of the opinion that the Baron is no more or less corrupt than an other member of the aristocracy he's dealt with though some of the rest of his family are utterly ruthless in their business dealings and that crossing them is unwise in the extreme.

Sebastian is also understandably curious about the female members of the entourage given his 'hobbies'. Bosh isn't particularly interested in human females so his knowledge of the majority of them is limited to matching names to Sebastian's somewhat superficial descriptions. The only one he knows well is the 'slightly older red-head attempting to look younger via the skilful application of make-up' (Sabina) who has been part of the Baron's group for a significant period of time and is the only consistent member of a normally rapidly changing group of débutantes. The others are Alexia (a tall skinny blonde), Daria (a shorter more athletic blonde), Emma (a curvaceous red-head), Juliana (a petite, young looking raven-haired girl) and Tressa (a dark skinned woman with curly black hair) none of which Bosh had met before today.

Editors Note - The vague descriptions of the ladies are indicative of Sebastian's superficial attitude to women rather than any personal real life attitudes we might have before any-one gets all offended ;-)

Act Two - 'Predator...'
You are all awakened by the sounds of screams from the cargo compartment containing the 'unusual' crates.

Sebastian, Danika, Rafaldo and one of the new scouts (Toborg) are first on the scene. Toborg had been nearby as he had been tasked by Rafaldo to subtly check out the unusual crates so was lurking in a nearby carriage. He had of course changed from the cow skull he had been wearing earlier into a 'deer stalker' so as to be sneakier and less conspicuous...and had briefly stopped to put on a knights helm he had acquired so as to be ready for battle as soon as he heard the screams...where he was keeping all these various items of headgear was still a mystery to every-one however...

The carriage is a scene of devastation. Three of Helstrom's guards are dead (one has been brutally disembowelled, another's body lies dead against one wall with his chest crushed and the third's head is now rather inconveniently facing in the wrong direction). The rest have been hurled around the carriage and are in various states of unconsciousness including one who is leaning against one of the unusual storage crates...a crate which is now open. One of the carriages exterior loading doors has seemingly been opened with considerable force without the lock being disengaged first and is therefore twisted out of shape....cold air is blowing into the carriage from outside...

Rafaldo and Danika attempt to administer medical care to those injured though only Rafaldo had any success managing to save several including at least one who should by all rights have died from his wounds though Danika had little success with both of the guards she attempted to heal succumbing to their injuries despite them not initially seeming to be that serious. While this was occurring Sebastian and the Pygmy Troll scout had a look inside the open crate...

Editors Note - Many double ones and double sixes were rolled for medical tests...

The unusual container smells like something between an animal habitat and a prison cell. A bed of straw is in one corner, various open military ration containers are nearby and a pile of excrement is in one corner. Rather unusually given the circumstances there is a weapon rack on the far wall of the crate though this is currently empty...

The weapon rack looks like it once contained a spear and a shield of some description given a quick analysis of the placement of the hooks as this configuration is the same as was used to store their fellow officer Bosh's extensive collection of spears and shields Sebastian was fairly sure of the conclusion. While having a closer look at the crate itself he also noted that the runes on the crates mechanikal parts were very similar indeed to those on his on mechanikally enhanced pistols specifically those for 'Silence' and 'Cold'. He decided to summon their engineer Bragg to give the crate a closer look but before he could give the order for Toborg to fetch him their guest made an appearance.

At this point 'Bosh' enters the carriage with Helstrom just behind him, followed closely by two of the female members of his entourage in states of partial undress. The usual circle of hangers on are conspicuously absent with the exception of a portly man and a tall thin one from what they had initially deemed to be toadying sycophants but that they now knew as Helstroms duelling seconds.

"Well that's inconvenient..." Is Helstrom's only comment.

Using a fairly respectful but direct tone Sebastian made some specific enquiries about the former contents of the crate. The Baron informed them that various creatures were acquired for him to hunt at his lodge and he generally liked them to remain a secret until the contents were released in order to 'keep things interesting'. He had recently asked the big game hunter who acquired most of his entertainments for something more challenging and with some intelligence as the last few hunts had been over quite quickly indeed. Meanwhile Rafaldo and Danika had been attempting to learn what the surviving guardsmen had seen but their combined descriptions amounted to 'Tall, lean, powerfully muscled humanoid with hairless grey skin'. The musings were soon to be interrupted however.

You hear the unmistakable sound of artillery fire from one of the roof stationed weapon teams. It appears to be from the team between your current location and the engine section...

Bosh stayed with the Baron while the others moved to investigate. One of the artillery teams had seen something moving extremely fast, climbing along the side of the train carriages they shot at it and missed blaming alternately the difficult angle of the shot and the speed of the target. It was obvious that rather than leaping from the train as they previously thought the creature was still on the train. Securing the passengers was now a priority.

There's a noise coming from the direction of the engine that starts off as a squealing noise, followed by a grinding one and then...nothing...The train begins to slow...

This time they advanced weapons drawn knowing that the mysterious predator had not left the train presumably due to the speed it was travelling at or more worryingly seeking revenge for it's incarceration.

Hayli the engineer is lying unconscious on the floor, bleeding from a gash on the side of the head, while her Gobber assistant and Bragg lie in similar crumpled heaps next to opposite walls both have obvious impact related injuries they all appear to be breathing. Braggs injuries are particularly severe and he is lying in a pool of a variety of his own bodily fluids.  The same 'still breathing' diagnosis cannot be said for another of Helstrom's guards who was apparently spending some downtime in the engine compartment and is currently lying in a pool of his own blood. There's a gaping wound in his side though the most notable feature is his head....or lack thereof, his sword is still clutched in his hand so seemingly he had time to draw his weapon...just not to use it. The train engine has been torn apart, components are bent, cogs shattered and even to the casual observer several pieces appear to be missing...

Bragg is stabilised as best as possible but it's obvious that he won't be much use to any-one for quite some time if he survives at all so the focus moves to attempting to revive Hayli as they are in desperate need of an engineer. Given their somewhat vulnerable position Danika suggests moving every-one into a few easily defended carriages in case the creature attempts an assault of some kind. This initial plan is quickly implemented while a more permanent solution can be agreed upon.

With the passengers now fairly safe and Hayli well enough to be of assistance some further investigation is in order before a plan can be worked out. Hayli's assessment of the engine is that it will need at least eight hours work to repair and though finding the missing parts would be very helpful indeed she can probably make do with parts from the more advanced of their three 'jacks. Not wanting to make their best heavy weapon inoperable the plan to dismantle Bragg's prized and extensively re-built Warjack is vetoed but she is given permission to use any of the spare parts that Bragg had accumulated if they would help in any way. Before the repairs were started she was also tasked with a quick investigation of the transport crate and her worrying conclusion was that it looked like the power source had been sabotaged. It seems that there were internal threats as well as external ones so Brotherhood soldiers were placed on guard by the remaining two storage containers to prevent further incidents. Danika was also informed of the potential threat of traitors aboard the passengers but resisted her usual impulse for 'creative interrogation' given the status of their guests.

While this was going on Rafaldo took it upon himself to further question the surviving guards from the initial assault. As he had saved their lives they were more than willing to give any assistance they could. His first question was quite pertinently "Did any-one show any interest in or approach the crates during the journey?". Between the survivors a list of potential suspects was complied including The Guard Captain Scarle Versh, Bryson Ellsworth and Everett Keller from the Barons entourage of followers, Juliana and Sabina from amongst his female 'companions' and the Ogrun 'Bosh'. Rafaldo pretty much immediately eliminated the Ogrun from the suspect pool as his personal code of honour would prevent from acting against some-one he was tasked with protecting or members of the Brotherhood whom he was allied in his experience if 'Bosh' wanted some-one dead he'd just kill them himself...

Act Three - 'The Hunt'
Now that the other crates were secured the investigation however was deemed secondary to their primary purpose of defending the train from potential attacks while the repairs were under-way. Helstrom was quite keen to hunt the creature utilising Brotherhood members and his remaining guards in the usual roles of beaters and the like though he'd rather wait until daylight to do it. He did however reveal that he had some equipment that might be of use if they were planning to hunt at night.

Danika who had the ability to see perfectly in the darkness due to her priestly magical talents took the two Brotherhood Rifleman up to the roof of one of the central carriages to see if there was any sign of approaching danger and hopefully she'd be able to pass some targeting directional information to them. It also gave her a good tactical location from which to pass magical blessings to those who needed them as well as to utilise some recently awakened offensive abilities which centred upon herself.

Editors Note - By 'recently awakened' I of course mean 'recently bought with experience points...'

Bosh, Toborg and one of the other newly recruited scouts were tasked with finding any kind of trail to follow. This proved difficult and it also became apparent to Bosh that the two scouts though no doubt talented in other areas were less than expert in the field of actual tracking and Toborg as apparently surprised that he didn't instantly get better at it when he changed back into his deerstalker...

After some considerable time and effort tracks were discovered but the trail left by whatever this is has been expertly concealed and considering the speed at which it was moving this is a considerable achievement. In there opinion tracking the creature with any kind of speed would be difficult indeed. Baron Helstrom handed Sebastian a strange device which consisted of goggles with unusual lenses and an attached power source that when worn enabled the wearer to see in night as if it was day (or a close approximation) and also had another of these mechanikal wonders for his own use.

With a starting point found the Baron and Sebastian formed the guardsmen and brotherhood members into a rough semi-circle with themselves at the centre and the scouts just ahead in an effort to drive the creature towards them. Rafaldo had also moved to the top of one of the carriages from which he could use his powerful offensive magic's should an enemy approach within range. Danika thought she could see some unusual movement in a small group of trees some way in the distance and shouted directions to the hunting party. Sebastian sent Toborg ahead to investigate but kept the other scout and Bosh with him and Helstrom. The was was illuminated with flares as Toborg approached cautiously and as he moved forward detected several faint tracks leading towards the trees which he followed until he was almost in the forested area. Some fortunate sixth sense urged him to look upwards and this almost certainly saved him from death at the hands of the monster above him. He quickly turned and ran back towards the hunting party and it as clear to them from his actions that there was something there so the order to open fire as given. Massed gunfire from train mounted chain-guns, rifle and pistol fire, magical blasts and any other ranged weapon fire available tore the trees to pieces but even at such a distance it was clear that they'd hit nothing...

Danika spotted a burst of movement as the creature exploded from cover and circled around passed the front of the train. It became apparent to her that the creature had lured them to one side of the train leaving the opposite unguarded and if it got back into the train there would be little chance of stopping the monster before it created horrific carnage. She shouted for the others to return to the opposite side before casting a spell that would harm any enemies that approached her and as she was right over the passenger carriages hopefully this would go some-way to putting the creature off it's attack...hopefully...

Toborg being small and agile enough to get under the train rather than need to find a gap between the carriages moved beneath it and readied his rifle, Sebastian and the Baron ran towards a gap between the carriages with Bosh a moment behind and the rest of the guards scrambling to react. Danika shouted directions to the riflemen, artillerists and Rafaldo but their shots were again wide of the mark or in Rafaldo's case out of range. The creature continued to circle at the extreme of weapon range as Sebastian, Helstrom and Bosh emerged on the far side of their stranded transport and added their weight to the fire-power with seemingly no effect. Now having seen the creature more clearly Baron Helstrom informed those nearby that he believed it to be an almost legendary creature called a 'Totem Hunter'. The little knowledge he possessed was that Totem Hunters are enigmatic humanoids who hunt the creatures of western Immoren and wear trophies of their many kills. They are not native to Immoren and have more than likely come to the continent from across the sea, possibly from Zu, in search of new game. A Totem Hunter usually selects a creature as its quarry and hunts it relentlessly until it claims its trophy and anything that interferes with these hunts is immediately chosen as the totem hunter’s next target. It appears that in this case it had yet to select a target.

Realising that they needed to draw the creature closer Sebastian came up with a risky plan. Holstering his pistols Sebastian advanced from cover and drew his sword and advanced in the direction of the circling predator before making what any intelligent creature would perceive as a direct invitation to combat. Seemingly the creatures instinct to claim a trophy outweighed it's common sense or more worryingly that it believed it could survive a direct assault as it turned and charged across the rough terrain in an evasive and seemingly random series of jumps and acrobatic manoeuvres. Seeing his plan had succeeded the Brotherhood Captain dropped the sword, drew his pistols and opened fire while backing towards the cover of the train. In an unusual experience for him several of his shots missed though the 'cold' enchantment on one of his pistols paralysed the hunter for an instant before it shook off the effect and continued forwards powering through Danika's fiery defensive spell taking only superficial hits from ranged weapons as it did so. It would be upon Sebastian in a second as he stood little chance of outdistancing the foe...

Danika cast her spells of protection on those in range. Helstrom's own pistol fire was preternaturally accurate with every bullet hitting home but it was Rafaldo's concussive blast that stopped it in it's tracks sending it flying backwards though it was delayed only for a moment before acrobatically rolling aside and regaining it's footing. Several more shots hit home while the predator was vulnerable and it was at this moment that Toborg decided that a shotgun blast would stand more chance of hitting than his rifle had up to this point and opened fire...without bothering to warn his Captain that the shot was coming though by some miracle the shot missed him and hit the creature causing more superficial wounds. Realising that once amongst those only skilled with ranged weapons this hunter would outclass them considerably Bosh charged in...

Both giants went at each other with their respective pole-arms and shields but Bosh found himself in the unique position of fighting an opponent that matched him in skill and strength but also was by far his superior in defensive abilities and speed. Once the momentum of his charge was spent he found it increasingly difficult to do any damage at all and despite the grievous wound that his first attack had inflicted it was becoming increasingly likely that even wounded as it as it would eventually gain the upper hand. Observing the combat Sebastian concluded that he couldn't hit a vulnerable spot with the two in such a frenzied melee and would need to get in close and after a moments consideration leapt into the swirling melee and avoiding the whirling blades put one bullet through the hole in the Totem Hunters armour made by Bosh and another through it's forehead killing it instantly. A round of applause could be heard from the Baron as he acknowledged the victory.

"Very entertaining" he said seemingly pleased with the outcome "I was hoping for the killing blow to come from my own weapons but the quality of the show more than made up for that minor disappointment" "Would you like to take a trophy to commemorate the victory?"

Not wanting to seem rude Sebastian accepted the offer but said that he usually delegated trophy taking to Bosh. Helstrom sympathised with the desire to avoid getting messy and concurred with Sebastian stating that he too usually delegated the job of 'extraction' to one of his underlings. With the danger now removed the passengers were once again allowed back to their appropriate quarters though it was decided to triple the guard on the remaining two creature transports just in case. Hayli was making good progress with the engine repairs while Bragg was still in poor condition after the vicious assault he'd experienced and would be of little help for some time. Sebastian chose this time to subtly broach the subject with the Baron about the sabotage of the equipment and was given free reign to seek out the traitor on his behalf. He also confiscated and had Bosh render useless Toborg's shotgun...

Act Four - 'A Different Kind of Hunt...'
Rafaldo had already extracted a list of potential suspects from the guardsmen and had narrowed it down to the captain of Helstrom's guard Scarle Versh, Bryson Ellsworth and Everett Keller from the Barons entourage of followers and Juliana and Sabina from amongst his female 'companions'. Sebastian decided to divide up the interrogations with him and Dankia interviewing the female suspects, with the men being dealt with by Rafaldo and Bosh. Toborg meanwhile was despatched to see if he could find where the Totem Hunter had hid the engine parts.

First the seconds were spoken to and using a mixture of inspired oratory from Rafaldo and threats of violence from Bosh they discover that one of Helstroms seconds (a former naval man) has a drinking problem but in Rafaldo's opinion this is unlikely to make him a traitor as many former sailors are heavy drinkers. They also gain some gossip in that of the two female suspects the younger brunette is pretty naive and easy to manipulate but the older red-head maintains her position in the entourage by indulging Helstroms more...interesting preferences rather than via anything sinister. The Guard Captain has also been recently turned down for a significant promotion due to being required to accompany the Baron on his hunting excursions. Rafaldo took an almost instant dislike to the Guard Captain and decided that it would be a good idea if Bosh interrogated him more...forcefully...he also decided he's probably best get approval before he did...

Sebastian decided that before the interrogations began in earnest he'd see what information he could gain from the rest of Helstroms companions before specifically interrogating Sabina and Juliana. Flirting with the female members in an attempt to get some gossip was not difficult as they were as Sebastian expected pretty competitive with each other so extracting bitchy gossip was fairly simple. He discovered similar information to Rafaldo on the subject of Juliana in that she was quite naive and also that Sabina had established her position long ago as one of Jonas Helstrom's travelling companions and had kept this place despite much competition from younger hopefuls. It is also a joke amongst them that Juliana was effectively 'sold/lent' to Jonas by her own family when he took a shine to her in return for business concessions so isn't exactly happy in her position and they use a variety of artful euphemisms for stupid when describing her. In addition she and has been seen chatting to the Guard Captain on more occasions than might be considered normal.

After a brief consultation between them and with Helstroms approval they decide to focus their attentions on Juliana and the Guard Captain. Between Sebastian and Danika's combined methods of interrogation they discover from Juliana that the Captain was turned down recently for a cushy guard job at the family estate and blames being away with Jonas on 'hunting trips' all the time for some-one else sneaking in and getting the job instead. Apparently he convinced Juliana to help him with a plan that would help them both...

The Guard Captain broke under the far more forceful interrogation methods favoured by Bosh combined with Rafaldo's own verbal gifts of coercion. He revealed that he told Juliana how to sabotage the crate assuring her that the thing inside would go after Helstrom and no-one else after he discovered what it as through bribery of the supplier and she believed him because she's not smart. He just wanted the 'hunting trips' disrupted badly enough so Helstrom's family would put a stop to them and he could get back and reclaim the position he thinks he deserves in the Helstrom's household...

They then faced the dilemma that the Guard Captain would no doubt inform on Juliana if they only assigned the blame to him and they'd both be punished and more than likely executed due to the deaths caused. Bosh suggests that the Captain could 'die from his injuries' or be 'killed while trying to escape' and therefore a edited version of the story could be relayed instead...every-one got the distinct impression that he'd quite like an excuse to kill the Captain rather than having any feelings about saving the girls life. Rafaldo also suggested that Danika could pull the 'Priestess of Morrow' card and offer to administer justice themselves. Given Helstroms families professed Morrowan sympathies he might go for it and then it would be up to Danika to administer punishment as she saw fit.

Sebastian passed onto Jonas the news that despite the severe injuries inflicted upon him during his interrogation the captain of the guard had apparently attempted to escape from custody forcing Bosh to brutally hack him to pieces in self defence. Realising that the Baron might launch his own investigation and find out that Juliana was involved they informed him of her part in the plot though they greatly reduced the scope of her guilt. Danika offered to take her on as an acolyte so she could make up for her transgressions through service to Morrow and Helstrom agreed as to be honest he had grown somewhat weary of her and this seemed like a good way of off-loading her on some-one else. Sebastian spent much of the remainder of the journey with the Baron's entourage...or more specifically certain female members of the entourage though Jonas seemed to have no objections. He and Sebastian were apparently kindred spirits in a number of areas.

With the train repaired the journey could continue and the rest of the journey was thankfully uneventful. The Baron was met at the meeting point by a small army of servants to move his belongings to his lodge and his horde of followers (with the exception of Juliana and his deceased Captain) disembarked. Bragg was recovering well and could yet again take on his normal duties in a few days. The train then continued to the station outside Llael for the Brotherhood to await instructions for their journey into the dangerous and unpredictable land that Llael had now become...

Back To Reality
Quite pleased with how this session went as there were a lot of directions the PC's could have gone in and I was slightly concerned that they'd come up with something wacky that hadn't occurred to me. The role-playing was also quite excellent this week though in the interests of full disclosure the hunt for the traitor part was done via personal messages afterwards as we were running out of time during the actual session. Every-one got three experience points for this session using the parameters outlined in the rulebook.

Andrew (Toborg's player) was particularly cursed with bad dice rolls and was only one more bad roll away from losing another character as the Totem Hunter would have cut him in half had he failed to notice it. However almost killing Tom's character Sebastian with a shotgun was all his own work, lol.

Games Mastering duties will be taken over by Andrew for the next few sessions and hopefully he won't kill off any of the NPC's that I've specifically created for later missions I've already written...but that's the downside when you have rotating GM's.

Also any feedback readers of these features have would be much appreciated as I rarely get any comments yet nine hundred people read the last session, lol.


  1. At the moment I'm busy with other things so I've just read bits and pieces of of this series. What I have read seems quite interesting and I intend to go back and read the entire series from the beginning. I've always thought that the Iron Kingdoms setting looked fascinating and from what I've seen you seem to capture its feeling quite well. I also enjoy reading about campaigns like this to see how games/campaigns are designed and ran at different tables. So, thank you for a well-written and enjoyable series.

    1. Glad you enjoyed the series and thanks for the feedback.


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