Saturday, 17 October 2015

Iron Kingdoms Roleplay - Session Fifteen

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 and my Ogrun 'Bosh' Skullsplitter. Andrews Pygmy Troll character Toborg Lugosh will be remaining as an NPC as Andrew's GMing this session. The Mechanik Bragg Halvard (Harry's character) is unfortunately going to be retired as Harry himself is heading off to university. Our new player (Phil) had a prior commitment so his character will be conveniently absent...

Mission Fifteen - 'One Last Chance...'
After a second disastrous mission involving the resistance the Brotherhood's opinions on them are somewhat polarised and even those of a sympathetic nature are beginning to have doubts. Meanwhile Bragg was continuing with his attempts to repair the train but was being hampered by the lack of available parts due to most useful engineering resources being taken by the Khadoran authorities for their war effort.

The resistance have contacted the Brotherhood for the third time but on this occasion have assured them that this will be a way for them to make a real difference. They have provided maps containing the location of a coal mine and quarry manned by slaves and prisoners of war that Khadoran troops are using to keep a foothold in the area. The freeing of these prisoners would give a significant morale boost to those who oppose the Khadoran occupiers and perhaps inspire those freed and others to join the fight against the invaders. In addition the disruption of the local coal supply and removal of even a small military post would considerably hamper Khador's expansion plans outside the city. The information acquired by the resistance had led them to believe that the few troops there had grown arrogant and were guarding the camp with the minimum of resources. Despite all their misgivings about the resistance it was decided by Sebastian that this was finally a plan worthy of their involvement and those amongst his officers with Llaelese sympathies agreed to help. Toborg was drafted as a scout though it's possible that this was more because he was considered expendable than because the Captain valued his talents.

After arriving back at their base after the Tharn ambush Bosh had immediately opened the crate of beer left by the resistance as an apology for the first disastrous ambush and had done his level best to single handedly drink it all. Having succeeded admirably in this self imposed task he had then journeyed to the most raucous and disreputable drinking hole he could find and continued with epic levels of alcohol consumption. Sebastian joined him for a time before leaving in the company of several female bar patrons he had charmed while there after leaving Bosh strict instructions to avoid killing or maiming any-one in his absence. With violence off the cards he had more time for drinking and Bosh was therefore hideously hungover the next morning when told that the officers had a job to do. Fortunately for every-one he wasn't quite alert when told that Sebastian had a mission for them and therefore failed to ask whether the resistance were involved...had he known they were the source of this intelligence it's entirely possible that he'd have stayed in his bunk...

Act One - 'A Less Than Scenic Walk...'
Sebastian decided to resurrect his recently used 'Johan' identity in order to justify the trip out of the city gates in the guise of a merchant and requisitioned several carts, Braggs engineering assistant Hayli and some labourers before he then partially filled the carts with some items temporarily 'borrowed' from the trains cargo. He had the carts packed in such a manner that they appeared to be fully loaded but there was in fact plenty of additional space to hide any prisoners that they may manage to rescue from the slave camp should it be possible to do so by spreading out the crates considerably and through some creative stacking. The officers went through their usual routines of getting around the restrictions on weapons using their considerable supplies of concealable weaponry and passing off items with offensive capabilities as other less deadly implements. Sebastian's had his armoury of concealed weapons, Rafaldo's took his sword cane, Danika's had her 'Symbol of Office' which was rather conveniently also a Battle Staff and with Bosh's bulk making concealing weapons fairly simple they were as prepared as possible.

After going through the usual rigmarole of bypassing Khadoran check-points and being issued with several of the usual terrible weapons that were the only ones that the guards allowed through their gates the journey to the location specified by the resistance maps was begun.

As their rag-tag wagon train journeyed across the Llaelese countryside the true cost of the war began to become apparent. Even those of the Brotherhood who had seen the Khadoran's in a more positive light during recent events started to see the atrocities that had been committed against the people of Llael in the wake of the invasion. Entire villages had been destroyed, farms were stripped of resources and the grim remnants of valiant or foolish last stands could be seen in many of these places as they passed. One particular battleground had seemingly been only recently vacated and judging from the remnants of the Llaelese jacks scattered around and the appearance of the dead another defeat for Llael was indicated though the victory seemed to have been hard fought.

Several of the jack's were possibly salvageable but smuggling the parts back through the checkpoints to the train was likely to be problematic and it was likely they'd need the space to smuggle any rescued prisoners through with them. Sebastian therefore decided to leave the salvage where it was and possibly acquire it when they returned if there was sufficient space though Bosh had taken a large spear like weapon from near one of the jacks. Though this weapon was far to large for a human to wield it wasn't much bigger than his preferred Warcleaver and felt more comfortable in his hand than the Halberd he'd been issued by the Khadoran gate guards.

With each subsequent sight they passed Sebastian's mood grew darker and both Rafaldo and Danika had also become dangerously on edge. Bosh who had seen the atrocities of war in all it's forms was the only one seemingly unaffected.

Act Two - 'Prisoners of War...'
When near to the reported location of the camp Captain LaCroix ordered the none combatants to stay with the carts while the rest of the officers went to have a look. The camp itself consisted of several rough tents, a large building that perhaps served as a garrison building with a workshop of some description next door and a mine entrance at the bottom of a rough slope. Several carts for the transport of coal from the mine were nearby and dozens of men and women in tattered remnants of military uniforms were labouring in terrible conditions both as mineworkers and moving stones from the rock face with no tools other than their own hands. These poor wretches were being overseen by about half a dozen Khadoran troops in Winter Guard uniforms. Having surprising stealth for his size and being familiar with moving quickly through mountainous or rocky area's Bosh made his way down the slope for a closer look at the camp but unfortunately upcoming events were about to ensure that he was unable to complete his task.

Sebastian had finally reached his limit. He had been led into a deliberate ambush by a supposed friend, a second accidental one by the same friend and had been forced to witness first hand the devastation wrought upon his homeland by the Khadoran invaders and now was staring at yet more victims of Khadoran brutality. Without waiting for Bosh to report back he charged down the slope into pistol range and opened fire at the small group of guards with his duelling pistols killing two before switching to his concealed hold-out pistols and killing several more...

Editors Note - I've been involved in RPG's both as a player and Games Master on and off for over twenty years and so can easily recognise the face of a GM who really, really wasn't expecting the players to do something. Our GM was wearing exactly that face...

Unsure about why his Captain had opened fire but reasoning that he wouldn't do so without some cause Bosh charged from cover into the handful of remaining guards and butchered them where they stood. Danika and Rafaldo followed their Captain down the slope and seeing that the guards were apparently dealt with moved to give medical assistance to the slave workers and free as many as possible from their shackles. Despite Sebastian's unorthodox start to the ambush it seemed that for once everything was going their way...Then the garrison doors opened...

Act Three - 'Why is There Always an Ambush?'
The doors to the garrison building were hurled open and dozens of shots from Winter Guard within slammed into the Ogrun's armour but most failed to penetrate the heavy plates though the volume of fire inevitably meant that several found weak spots causing several minor wounds. Realising that they would end up outnumbered should this newly appeared horde of guards inside be able to spread out Bosh charged into the doorway and began to butcher any Khadoran foolish enough to step into range, the guards in turn seemed to realise that weight of numbers was their best ally and swarmed over the Ogrun.

Sebastian slit the throat of the lone guard who had survived his initial attack while Danika moved to assist the horrendously outnumbered Bosh. Rafaldo continued to help the prisoners as the power of his most potent magic's would catch Bosh and Danika in their area of effect should he use them against the horde. Then a familiar mechanical sound began to be heard from the workshop beside the garrison...the sound of a Warjack being activated...It was rapidly becoming apparent that some-one had been expecting an attack...

Editors Note - It's not uncommon for GM's whose plans have been ruined by players to get all annoyed and throw something horrendously unkillable at them. Of course most wont resort to such petty and vindictive tactics....

The doors to the workshop were quickly opened by some-one within and a gigantic and formidably armoured Warjack emerged. Several engineers could be seen lurking behind it before moving back into the protection of the workshops benches and leaving the 'jack to do it's job of crushing the interlopers.

Bosh was now knee deep in the blood, entrails and dismembered body parts of the horde of Winter Guard and was well into the grip of a berserker's blood rage and the thought of withdrawing from the combat was no longer an option he even considered. Danika's fiery curses had caused much damage to those Khadoran's attempting flanking manoeuvres and her mace had pulverised several more though she was careful to keep a safe distance between herself and Bosh as she recognised the signs of one lost in blood lust given her experiences with the more fanatical members of her own order. Reluctantly leaving him to his own devices she moved away towards the retreating slaves in an attempt to rally them to give assistance. Unfortunately the appearance of the Warjack had weakened any resolve they may have previously had and they continued their retreat. With no other option available to her she fought her way back into the whirling melee.

Rafaldo had done all he could to help the newly freed prisoners of war and no turned his attentions to the warjack. He readied his most potent spells and prepared to target this dangerous threat however there was a complication. Sebastian had decided to adopt the risky strategy of moving towards the workshop reasoning that if he could eliminate the engineers then perhaps the warjack would be easier to manage or avoid and had killed two with amazingly well placed shots past the 'jack and through the workshop entrance. This had the rather unfortunate consequence of making him the primary target for the armoured giant's attentions and he was currently using his far superior agility to avoid the ponderous attacks of it's powerful limbs though at least he was to close for it's grenade launchers to be bought to bear. Both of them couldn't help but feel that a giant armoured Ogrun with a halberd would be useful about now...unfortunately the aforementioned Ogrun was currently dealing with three score of Winter Guard and was unlikely to be coming to their aid any time soon...

Sebastian was beginning to feel the unfamiliar sensation of facing an opponent he couldn't harm. His pistol rounds could find no weak points through the steam powered monstrosities thick armour and having to avoid it's persistent attacks made it difficult to give the remaining engineers the deadly attention they deserved. Seeing little other option he risked a moment to signal in five cant to Rafaldo to attack the 'jack. Rafaldo saw the signal to attack and despite his own misgivings understood that he was the only available Brotherhood member who stood any chance of harming this powerful enemy. Summoning the energies for his most powerful spell he attacked as ordered.

Editors Note - 'Five Cant' is an underworld language that Tom selected for his character as an alternate to the 'Signal Language' option normally available to Military Officers as he considered it more suitable for his own character. We later decided that it was taught to all Brotherhood members as a matter of course through several in session roleplaying circumstances.

The explosion of magical power hit the jack with the force of an exploding powder keg, ripping much of the workshop to pieces and reducing the remaining engineers to bloody chunks though luckily Sebastian managed to leap behind a pile of armour plates which absorbed much of the force of the magical onslaught. The heavily defended Khadoran Warjack was, however depressingly intact having suffered only the most minor of cosmetic damage. It also now had an alternate target for it's attentions and bought it's ranged weapons to bear on the distant figure that had attacked it.

At this point a female figure in the uniform of a Winter Guard Officer appeared from an office on the garrison roof and shouted at the only unoccupied figure she could see which happened to be Rafaldo. She demanded their unconditional surrender for which she would call off the Jack and the horde of Winter Guard under her command. Having no reason to trust the word of this Khadoran in particular and having personal issues with all Khadorans in general he unleashed a blast of magical power at her which hurled her pulverised corpse over the balcony where it landed in an undignified heap behind the garrison building before returning his attention to the rampaging Warjack.

Editors Note - Steve's character Rafaldo's has a talent for negotiation...which he obviously didn't feel like using that day...

Without the benefit of guidance from it's marshals the jack's arcing grenade shot missed Rafaldo by quite some distance and Raflado's own counter attack was no more effective than his first. It seemed that the Warjack had been carefully selected to counter the Brotherhoods own areas of expertise...almost suspiciously well selected in fact. Meanwhile Bosh was massacring the last wave of Winter Guard with Danika killing any who got past him. Remarkably few Khadorans had attempted to retreat though whether this was out of a sense of duty or a desire for revenge would perhaps never be known. Bosh's respect for the Khadoran troops was returning in spite of their treatment of their prisoners as few soldiers in his experience would still be fighting after witnessing the brutal dismemberment of so many of their comrades.

Realising that Rafaldo would be unable to significantly harm this enemy before it's own ranged weaponry killed him first Sebastian in desperation set a fire in the workshop with what he had available and dived through the doorway slamming it behind him. He had one last desperate plan in mind but it somewhat heavily relied on the rest of his officers having acted as he expected. Fortunately Danika and Bosh's problem solving inclinations were quite predictable. With the Ogrun's blood rage beginning to fade in light of the lack of viable opponents Danika took the opportunity to search the garrison for anything that could be of use against the rampaging Warjack and found several kegs of powder, crates of explosives and fuses that were presumably kept there for mining purposes though she had her doubts about whether even this was enough to stop it for long. She and the Ogrun were carrying these from the garrison just in time to see their Captain charging towards the mine entrance as the deadly armoured jack turned the workshop door into so much kindling and charged after him...

Editors Note - Hopefully our GM had forgiven us for ruining his scenario or this plan wasn't going to be allowed to work, lol.

Sebastian ran as fast as he could towards the mine with the 'jack mindlessly following him presumably attempting to implement whatever murderous command it's doomed operators had last given to it. Surmising his intentions the rest of the Brotherhood members followed behind and once the pair had entered the mine quickly set up the explosives around what was hopefully the only way in and out. After several minutes he re-emerged from the passageway with the tell-tale heavy footsteps of his pursuer moments behind. With a deafening explosion the entrance collapsed bringing down a large section of the quarry-face with it and burying the now incapacitated Warjack under several hundred tonnes of rock...

Many of the newly freed slaves and prisoners of war had decided to take their own chances with escape as they were concerned that should they be detected entering the city that the fate awaiting them might actually be worse than the one they'd escaped from and had helped themselves to some of the very dead guards weaponry and remains of their armour before leaving. Some twenty or so had however decided to take the risk and were hiding in the previously prepared concealed locations on the carts with several others disguised as labourers due to there having been no definitive head count taken by the Khadoran gate guards upon the convoy leaving.

The relative peace and quiet on the return journey gave Sebastian some time to analyse recent events. It had become obvious to him that some-one was feeding the Llaelese resistance significant disinformation as the information on this camp had undoubtedly been a trap. Luckily his own pre-emptive strike on the small squad of guards, followed by Bosh's unexpected charge towards the survivors had triggered the trap early, With Bosh and Danika adopting their usual team tactics, Rafaldo being free to utilise his ranged abilities and Sebastian's quick thinking they had managed to yet again survive against overwhelming odds but the Captain was contemplating the real possibility that their luck might have been stretched to breaking point. Their over-reliance on Bosh to deal with major threats had shown itself to be significantly flawed as the swarm of opponents had effectively neutralised him for quite some time and had they been better armed or more elite troops he might well have been overwhelmed. He was also somewhat perturbed by the fact that he had himself been completely ineffective against the enemy Warjack.

How he would deal with the resistance issue would take some thought but the requirement for another heavy hitter and access to a weapon for himself that could hurt enemies such as the 'jack might be solvable as long as the battleground they had passed still contained the parts he'd noted on the way to the mine.

Some time later (and after one of Rafaldo's trademark guard distractions) they re-entered the city with twenty three more people than they left with and a large selection of mechanikal parts that would hopefully be enough to rebuild a particular type of Llaelese Warjack that Captain LaCroix believed would solve at least one of his current problems. It had the speed to keep up with him (well almost) though he would probably have to arm it differently due to it's standard weaponry seemingly being beyond repair. The thought of having a traditional Llaelese Warjack to defend him was pleasing though it was possible that he'd need to expend a significant quantity of his own coin to restore it...

Back to Reality.
As I mentioned earlier this mission was quite obviously meant to go in a completely different direction than it did and Andrew (our GM for this session) admitted as such. I've asked what was actually meant to happen but as I'm yet to receive any notes I can only presume that he's saving those ideas for another time.

My Ogrun was 'given' the ability 'Berserk' to represent his spectacular body count during the assault but as this is an ability that also has some significant downsides perhaps 'inflicted with' would be a more accurate description. Some other freebies were also dished out to the other players as well. We only got 2XP for this one which is I suppose reasonable considering that there wasn't much role-playing done as such.

Tom will be taking over GMing duties next session.

Thoughts and comments are (as usual) most welcome.

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