Monday, 7 September 2015

Iron Kingdoms Roleplay - Session Thirteen

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, the Mechanik Bragg Halvard (Harry's character), My Ogrun 'Bosh' Skullsplitter and Andrews new Pygmy Troll character Toborg Lugosh will be temporarily moved to NPC status as he's GMing for the next couple of sessions.

Note - Andrew has sent me his notes so I've copied them out to include in this write up so they'll obviously be in a 'reading to the group' style. This'll save me a lot of time trying to remember everything as he said it during the session and hopefully wont effect your reading enjoyment too much bouncing between the two styles of writing.

Mission Thirteen - 'Llael'

You leave the Helstrom party with a series of complimentary farewells. Bosh having now fully recovered from the assault on the bandits fortress yet his equipment is in need of repair. Bragg has recovered from his encounter with the Totem Hunter though his goggles and hat are inexplicably missing. As a vague attempt at an apology for almost shooting his Captain in the back Toborg has retrieved the Totem Hunters head from where Bosh had left it and mounted it on a plaque for Sebastian...

Helstrom having seen Bosh's neglected Mechanika and noting that the party is almost exhausted of alchemical power supplies has recommended an Arcane Mechanik based in Rhul for when they arrive after their trip through Llael.

Editors Note - Actually 'Bosh' wasn't wearing his Mechanika on the mission in question because it was a stealth mission and Mechanika glow. Still...knowing a friendly Mechanik might come in useful I suppose...

Act One - 'A Trip Across the Border'
The journey towards occupied Llael continues uneventfully. The crew has cleaned up the mess as best as they can and repaired as much damage as is possible without access to a dedicated repair facility.

You suddenly feel the train grinding to a halt and hear some significant commotion from outside. There is a considerable armed presence at what you can only presume is the Khadoran border to the occupied part of Llael. A soldier who appears to have some authority approaches the train with a unit of Winter Guard before shouting something in Khadoran. Luckily Rafaldo is fluent in the Khadoran language and is able to translate.

"Keep your weapons stowed and prepare to be boarded we wish to speak to your ranking officer"

The force protecting the border consists of many units of Winterguard, Elite infantry, Artillery teams, several heavy Warjacks and is more than sufficient to level the train and pretty much every-one on it with minimal effort.

Rafaldo politely asks them to wait a moment in order to give Sebastian a bit of time to prepare as he had earlier told the rest of the officers that he has had some trouble in Llael in the past and would rather not reveal his real identity while there. He however hasn't revealed that this is due to him being a wanted criminal due to resistance activities in the region and most people amongst the company presume that there's some reason relating to some kind of romantic indiscretion instead...

Rafaldo also points out that few of the company speak Khadoran and asks if it's possible for them to converse in another language and fortunately the officer speaks a variety of tongues making the rest of the conversation considerably simpler. Sebastian has located the various cover identity documents given to him by Marcus Darling many months ago when hunting the Thamarites in Tarna and once again adopts the identity of a nondescript and completely fictional Baron Johan Harrick...

The Captain and his men are escorted into the officers carriage by a couple of Brotherhood Riflemen. "Greetings and welcome to Khadoran Llael. The Motherland has heard of this trains venture and it's purpose...may I ask what has caused the damage? Can our own Field Mechaniks offer any assistance?"

Sebastian relays a somewhat edited version of the events involving the Helstrom party and the Totem Hunter taking care to overstate the involvement of their guests while understating their own military might considerably. He and Rafaldo also point out that the damage is more cosmetic and inconvenient rather than structurally significant and politely decline the offer of help also stating their desire to continue with their journey with all due haste.

"No problem" says the Khadoran Captain "We understand your wish to continue...whoever..."

Editors Note - There's always a catch...

"Currently we are having a few domestic issues in the area and weapons are not permitted except for security forces" He pauses briefly "However under the circumstances you may keep your weapons while on board the train...but only aboard the train" "Also any 'Jacks you have will need to be fitted with an inhibitor that will be removed once you again leave Khadoran Llael and your carriage top and front mounted weapons will need to stowed." "As long as these restrictions are followed you'll be granted passage and if your security is a concern than a unit of my men can accompany you."

Having made such a good job of understating the Brotherhoods military capabilities it was difficult to refuse the offer of Khadoran aid but their refusal is justified by stating how impressed they are with the forces they've encountered so far and how safe they already feel having seen the impressive might of the border forces and that combined with a great deal of flattery seems to convince the officer that their help isn't needed. Fortunately the Brotherhoods own Warjack is of improvised enough construction for them to excuse it as a model adapted for heavy lifting and as it's weapon is actually a modified Gaff Hook the authorities seem happy enough with the explanation though all three 'jacks are still fitted with the aforementioned inhibitors. Bragg observes the fitting of the devices feigning professional curiosity while in actual fact seeing how easily they could be removed if necessary and is told that the inhibitors are designed to reduce any 'jack to the most basic of movement functions and thus make them useless in a combat engagement. Meanwhile the officer addresses the refusal of military assistance...

"That is no problem. In that case several units of my men are due back in Merywyn. If you don't object I'd like to charter two carriages and I as informed by Transcontinental Rail that three hundred gold crowns per carriage was the going rate in order to financially compensate you." "The officer in charge will know how to obtain your payment when you reach the station"

Having no reason to refuse the deal was accepted though the payment was requested in a negotiable currency. Bosh and Bragg whose only knowledge of Khador and it's military were the horror stories relayed to them by their fellow Brotherhood officers were both surprised by how reasonable, helpful and professional the ones they met were. This positive opinion of the Khadoran's was to be reinforced when they saw the rebuilding work undertaken in the city but knowing their colleagues attitudes they decided to keep these opinions to them-selves...for now...

The Khadoran troops embark and you are under-way. About six hours later you arrive at Merywyn station here you are greeted by a representative of the Transcontinental Rail Company named Mr Darling though he claims to be no relation to their other contact Marcus Darling.

Editors Note - It's become a running joke now that the rail company employs a lot of people with the surname 'Darling' and the continuation of this is mostly my fault so I can't really complain...

" name is James Darling and welcome to Merywyn. I see you've met some of the regimes staff. Please remember that the Transcontinental Rail Company wishes to stay in their good graces" As the Winter Guard disembarks their officer approaches "Your money will be here within the hour" After he has left, Mr Darling continues "We took the liberty of recruiting some more guards to supplement your losses and if you wish to take them on let me know...there are twelve in total" "Also Captain LaCroix...there's a letter for you..."

Editors Note - The content of the note was not discussed with the rest of the group but given later events it's content can probably be inferred...

Fortunately the Khadoran was out of earshot when Captain LaCroix was referred to by his real name and after a short period of time the promised payment from the Khadoran's arrives in a mixture of Khadoran and Ordic currency totalling six hundred crowns. Sebastian suggests that they meet up in a nearby bar in a few hours which gives every-one some time to themselves to do a bit of exploring though he heads straight to the bar himself...

Sebastian's had several concealed weapons but left his more obvious ones behind, Rafaldo had his recently acquired sword cane and Danika was carrying her Battlestaff deciding that if she was questioned she would quite reasonably point out that it was a badge of office more than a weapon. Bragg who more often than not used his tools as weapons simply carried with him whatever tools best doubled as weaponry. Bosh simply put on his large heavy cloak and concealed several trench knives beneath and his knuckledusters in a pouch though both he and Danika were still wearing their full armour.

Rafaldo takes a trip to the docks in order to pick up some gossip. The dockyard is small as there is no Llael navy and most of the ships are of the cargo variety. Some sailors recognise Rafaldo from his navy days and a few of these recognise him more specifically from his time involved in anti-Khadoran activities while with the Ordic navy though they have no interest in passing this information onto the authorities being no fans of Khador themselves. Rafaldo used this opportunity to negotiate some trade contacts with a few of the ship captains who were unaware of the trading opportunities now expanding from the Brotherhoods fortress including the purchase of one ships complete cargo and the use of a second that was currently empty. The fact that this also gave them an alternate escape route from Meryyn was potentially very useful indeed.

Danika was pleased to find that the Morrowan church was intact and flourishing and was doing it's part to help with refugees and the like but had been largely left alone by the Khadoran invaders. She also discovered that the churches defenders had been given special dispensation to wear armour and carry weapons and was assured that as long as she referred enquiries to the church she should be exempt from the authorities restrictions upon weapons and armour.

Bosh headed to the office of the local authorities that dealt with bounties in order to see if any money could be made while he was in town and gathered a large selection of wanted posters. Though nearly all of those wanted were members of the resistance which might create some conflict of interest with his Captain...especially as apparently his Captain was one of those featured on a poster with an impressive bounty of two thousand gold crowns. He was also amused to note that the traitor Bradick that he had personally executed was also featured on a poster but this turned to disappointment when he noted that he was wanted alive rather than dead.

Bragg meanwhile was making a concerted effort to remove the inhibitors from the Brotherhoods 'Jacks but managed merely to inflict several electric shocks upon himself as the tamper-proofing precautions became immediately obvious.

With their personal business attended to they all departed for the agreed upon meeting place.

Act Two - 'A Supposedly Chance Meeting...'
The tavern is full of patrons consisting mainly of off duty Khadoran soldiers, Llaelese citizens and a few Ordic ship crew. As you take your seats a serving Gobber approaches "I'm Geoff, I'll be your server" "What would you like to drink?"

A round of drinks is ordered though Bosh is somewhat inconvenienced by the fact that the taverns doorways, seats and drink portions are unsuitable for some-one of his size what with Ogrun being somewhat of a rarity in the region. However the bar staff are helpful enough to acquire him a large crate to use as a seat.

A person in a dark hooded cloak appears in the doorway. The figure goes to the bar and orders a drink before removing her hood and heading to the groups table. "Hello, it's been a while" she says before taking the one empty seat next to Bragg.

The woman in question continues to talk to them as if she's known them forever and judging from Sebastian's reaction to certain phrases it becomes apparent that much of what she is saying has more than one meaning. Once those nearby have stopped paying attention to this group of seeming friends she leans in close to Sebastian and comes to her actual reasons for the approach. Though talking to every-one it is obvious that it is the captain to which her appeal is directed.

"The resistance has a mission for you. You are to head don Steam Street and wait for a Khadoran patrol to pass, stop the cart and take it's contents." She then slides over a poorly drawn but functional map of the area "The area will be quite as it's mainly used for market related cargo items. The market will be active at the time so no cargo is going to be passing through. I'll meet you there just before we strike at 11:45

After some more specific enquiries it was ascertained that though the patrol was very regular the cargo being escorted varied wildly though was always of value. The rear escort varied based on available local troops though the lead patrol invariably consisted of a pair of Man-o-War Drakhun's and it was these elite dragoons that would no doubt cause the most severe issues to any attempting an ambush.

She then gets up "Nice to see you again, see you at the market for dinner supplies tomorrow"

Having had considerable experience both as organisers and victims of ambushes the group spent some time formulating a plan. 'Bosh' scouted the area during the night in order to map any alternate routes through the area and to locate potential escape routes as well as looking for places to conceal their weapons in order to avoid having to carry them through the streets and alerting any nearby patrols. Danika also sent her neophyte Dora to scout around the area in those places that Bosh would be somewhat obvious in as she had considerable skill in getting into places that she shouldn't and getting back out again without notice as her collection of dubiously acquired items could easily attest to.

Editors Note - Dora is an orphan rescued by the Brotherhood in a previous mission that Martin's character Danika has taken on as a Neophyte priestess of Morrow. Effectively he role-plays her as an extension of his own character hence why her stats are in the PC page here.

Sebastian found a seemingly unoccupied home with a balcony overlooking the area which he planned to use as a vantage point to direct the ambush and to give covering fire as necessary. Given concerns about the legendary fighting abilities of the Drakhun's it was decided to set some of their steel-jawed traps in the patrols path. These would be concealed by straw from the market next to an appropriate cart so as it's appearance wouldn't be too suspicious in order to dismount the pair of Man-O-War's from their mounts making them easier to eliminate. Danika further suggested soaking the straw in something volatile so as to have a potential flaming barrier and distraction should it be necessary to mask their retreat.

With the area scouted, weapon's hidden, the materials for their traps and distractions acquired, a plan of attack decided upon and optimum vantage points for all the officers located and prepared the officers got some rest ready for the next days events.

Act Three - 'Sudden but Inevitable Betrayal'
You arrive at Steam Street via the market. As you look down the street you can make out a load of crates that look good as a hiding place. You see your informant by the crates and she beckons you down. "I'll wait here and on my signal you strike."

Captain LaCroix then informed her that he'd already come up with a far better plan than 'when they appear, attack' and that it would be a much better idea for her to wait for them to strike and then to for her to follow their lead. This seems to throw her off completely and after a moment she began to make enquiries about their plan including any potential dangers to her own men and Danika tells her about the concealed traps. Every-one then moves to their predetermined ambush locations and waits for the scheduled convoy to arrive. The time for it's arrival is reached...and then passed...something has evidently gone awry with the plan and their new contact sends several of her men to investigate...

As you lie in wait you hear a loud whistle followed by several shouts and a gunshot strikes the wall behind Sebastian's cover while your contact makes a break for it.

Units of Winter Guard appear from several alleyways and Khadoran riflemen appear on several of the previously unoccupied balconies. The Brotherhood found themselves in the irritatingly familiar grips of an ambush but fortunately for them and unfortunately for their attackers the Brotherhood was exceptionally good at turning the tables upon ambushers.

Reacting with his usual trademark speed Sebastian opened fire upon the newly emerged riflemen and killed one while wounding several more. Danika and Bragg moved into better cover positions in light of the new directions from which they were being advanced upon before Danika cast a blessing upon Bosh figuring that a charge into their enemies was inevitable and a second curse that would bring harm upon any enemy that advanced towards her and by extension her allies. Bosh dropped from the balcony on which he'd been waiting to ambush the Dragoons and instead charged towards the nearest threatening group of Guardsmen through a safe path left in the booby-trapped straw. This group of Winter Guard were already in disarray as a spell from Rafaldo had reduced one to a ruptured mass of flesh and bone and wounded others around them and the charging Ogrun hit the rest like a battering ram and sliced the survivors to pieces. The enemies upon the balconies returned fire at Sebastian but each missed shot was followed by an uncannily accurate return shot from the targeted captain and even more of them fell.

Editors Note - Return Fire can apparently only be used once per turn but we didn't realise that at the time.

Another group of Winter Guard fell to the combined attacks of Rafaldo and Bosh with many more of the groups advancing opponents injured by Danika's fiery curse with one dying instantly from it's effects and it was after killing the guards they saw the resistance member presumably responsible for their betrayal fleeing around the corner. Seeing that the situation was becoming more critical and heeding a shouted warning from Bragg about heavier troops incoming Sebastian forced the immediate threats into cover with uncannily accurate gun-fire before shimmying up to the next floor of the building and making his way to the rooftops for a hopefully less guarded escape route. Sebastian's last act before escaping was to take a last shot to ignite the prepared straw...

Failing to learn from their predecessors mistakes a third and forth group of Winter Guard died to Rafaldo's magic and Bosh's cleaver supported by Danika's blessings with Bragg following in their wake. Sebastian was leaping from one rooftop to another and had seemingly avoided pursuit while moving a long a parallel route to his officers, The escape route being cleared by Bosh based upon his night-time scouting mission was then complicated somewhat by an explosion of artillery fire just ahead from a team mounted upon a building balcony.

Every-one except Bosh ducked into the cover of doorways or similar...Bosh instead charged towards the team and despite them being too high to reach he had instead an alternate plan. Reaching the wall beneath the balcony he produced his grappling hook and rope and hooked the edge of the stone overhang with surprising accuracy and pulled hard. The stone cracked and aided by the weight of the gun plummeted to the ground killing both the gunner and his weapon though the two loaders were far enough back to avoid their fellow soldiers fate. Choosing instead to make his way through the building rather than continuing to follow the others Bragg quickly became disorientated and emerged on the opposite side of the building near the market...a market that now had a patrol in it's centre with a warjack at it's disposal...Unaware that their engineer had become separated the rest continued on their way.

Bosh, Rafaldo and Danika had effectively escaped from the ambush as had Sebastian (albeit via a different route) though Bragg had managed to somehow end up in the market as had the traitor.

A loud explosion fells the guards ahead and you see several cloaked figures despatching the felled Winter Guard and two have grabbed the informant. Several more figures emerge from various hiding places and urge the Brotherhood officers to follow them. The cloaked figures head off with the informant in tow. As you follow the group splits up and takes you with them in a variety of directions. After some time you are all led into a warehouse and one who appears to be in charge steps forward.

"Greetings, I am Gregor D'varche, member of the Amethyst Rose Order and your original informant. This trespasser intercepted our messenger and took their place in order to trap you and we apologise for using you as bait but we needed her eliminated or captured" There's a brief pause "As you've seen Sebastian the streets are not what they used to be though I'm sure you still recognise this area. Please head back to your train using the items in the back-room to disguise yourself. We will meet you tomorrow at your train"

With that your 'rescuers' depart.

The crate contains several Khadoran uniforms, an oversized mechaniks outfit, several robes, a selection of springblades, three hold-out pistols and a collapsible rifle. There are also several pouches designed to be concealed in clothing and pockets.

Suitably disguised and with some new equipment the group returns to the train where they find several crates of beer and wine and an apology note from the Amethyst order.

Once back at the train Bosh points out that many of the people they met match likenesses on his recently acquired wanted posters and are probably worth three or four thousand gold crowns between them all. Much to Sebastian's disappointment several of his officers seem to be giving the idea some serious consideration...

Back to Reality.
As Andrew was the GM for this session it seems only fair that I hand this bit over to him...

Would I change the way it went? I'd have killed them al..... No I wouldn't have.

I enjoyed running it, you'd think by now though I'd have learnt that even when written out and laid out plainly my players will still throw a spanner in the works.

I will be required to alter my plans for the next session, but with an extra person joining us that will be a bonus. As always the players tested what I'd written and I enjoyed having 3 of them swearing blind that they were destined to be captured. Never in a million years was that my intention and it was a very pleasant and unexpected effect. I'm looking forward to the next instalment, let's see what paranoia I can start off with. Hmmmm I see a desk.....

Editors Note - The desk comment might require some explanation...

...I used to have a habit of booby trapping quite mundane things during campaigns and during one of the Iron Kingdoms missions I casually mentioned a desk in a room. One of the players from this campaign who had also been involved in a Dark Heresy campaign I'd done some GMing for immediately presumed that the desk was a death trap of epic proportions and then the group spent half an hour investigating what was in fact a perfectly ordinary desk with a clue in an unlocked draw...

Thoughts and comments are (as usual) most welcome.

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