Saturday, 6 February 2016

Iron Kingdoms Roleplay - Session Twenty

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 Lieutenant Rafaldo Scorgiani (Steve's character), Martin's Priestess and 'Spiritual Advisor' Danika Jansen, Andrews Pygmy Troll character Toborg Lugosh. Phil's Rhulic Warcaster named Thorsten Dovur and Tom's new character Lyra Syalyss. My own character 'Bosh' Skullsplitter will be off on other duties for this mission as I'm GMing for the next few sessions.

Mission Twenty - 'A Sailing Trip...'

Recent Events
The normal day to day activities of the Brotherhood were recently disturbed when a supposedly simply bodyguard mission for some new recruits become a siege by a new and unknown foe. Advanced scouts were sent to investigate the site of this attack followed by the entire available weight of the Brotherhoods military resources but unfortunately the enemy had long gone by the time of their arrival.

Several enemy corpses in the burnt out remains of the estate were all that remained to show any indication of an enemy presence though the site had obviously been searched as the armour and weapon that the enemy had been seeking were missing and both sides of the escape tunnel used by the group to make their escape had been unearthed. Surprisingly the chest of gold was still where it had been hidden and after a small quantity was allocated for those operatives who had been clever enough to hide it (as was the Brotherhoods usual profit sharing practice) the rest was added to the Brotherhoods coffers as in their opinion the merchant had lost his rights to it when he had misled them about the actual dangers involved in the mission in an attempt to reduce his own overheads.

With Danika's approval of both the creative looting and skilful cleansing of the area with flame the five Brotherhood recruits have gained themselves some small favour in the eyes of at least one of the senior officers as well as full employment status.

A recent envoy from the Helstrom family in Cygnar has been observed arriving at the Brotherhood fortress together with a considerable entourage and has been met in Sebastian's private meeting rooms rather than the usual tavern meeting rooms reserved for less important clients.

It is therefore no surprise that several senior officers presence is requested by Sebastian soon after though several others of those invited raise an eyebrow or two.

The central portion of the inner keep becomes increasingly filled with decorations from Llaelese culture the further towards Sebastians quarters you get and his own meeting room is a lavishly decorated affair. Sebastian is seated in an elaborately decorated and somewhat ostentatious chair at the head of the table with the envoy seated nearby. A full bottle of expensive wine is stood between them on the table next to several empty ones. Four of Helstroms envoys own bodyguards are standing around the room with an equal number of the Captain's pistoleers that act as his person bodyguard when subtlety rather than violent intimidation is necessary.

Once you are all seated Sebastian begins.

"Our former client Baron Helstrom has requested that we provide him a bodyguard for a delicate meeting he's going to in a few days time and has further requested the same team that so skilfully resolved his previous...issue..."Unfortunately I've had to inform him that I myself will be unable to attend due to my duties here and that 'Bosh' is currently on assignment dealing with a minor border dispute for one of our other clients" He pauses briefly to take a sip of wine "I have therefore decided to supplement this loss of fire-power and armoured might with the abilities off both you and you..." he emphasises this by pointing at Thorsten and Lyra.

"The Barons envoy here is to provide transport, lodging and expenses on your journey though I will of course be providing you with the necessary support for your 'jacks"

"Any questions?"

After a few minor introductions including learning the name of the envoy who is to be facilitating their journey as one Godwin Ravelle and a few queries about pay Thorsten is informed that transports have been provided for both of his Warjacks together with fuel and experienced drivers for the carriages. The rest of the group equip themselves with appropriate weapons and equipment from both their personal armouries and the Brotherhoods extensive store of items before setting off.

Act One - 'The Journey.'
The transports provided by Baron Helstrom are of the finest quality and you are treated to exemplary service at the various places you stop for sustenance and rest on the way in-between the various trains, carriages and other methods of transport necessary. The envoy is apparently used to pre-empting the needs of others and you want for nothing as you travel.

After many days of pleasant but uneventful travel you arrive at the Cygnaran port of Ceryl where you are escorted to a garishly decorated establishment in the better part of town where the Baron has apparently decided to base himself. The envoy politely asks you to wait for a moment while he informs his employer of your arrival and returns shortly to escort you through the establishment to a back-room.

Baron Helstrom is reclining on a settee in front of a table filled with an impressive variety of exotic alcoholic beverages and snacks and is in the company of several young ladies wearing scandalously revealing clothing who are ushered out as you yourselves enter.

"Greetings and please...take a seat"

"Godwin has explained about the reasons for the change of personnel from those I requested. Lets hope you are as skilled as those you are replacing"

Those members of the party not familiar with the Baron formally introduce themselves as seems polite to do so given the circumstances. Baron Helstrom listens politely while Thorsten gives his own introduction in the somewhat lengthy and detailed fashion favoured by the Rhulic community. Lyra's own introduction is mercifully brief in comparison.

"On to business then." "As some of you are aware my families major business enterprises revolve around shipping and we are very successful in that area" "What is less common knowledge is that our relatively minor problems with piracy are due to several arrangements I have personally with the local freebooters" "In short they are paid a retainer to leave my families holdings alone and are occasionally...guided...towards our competitors" "I can assure you that they would happily do the same to us if we hadn't thought of it first"


"Recently our vessels and those of our allies and the freebooters we retain have found themselves under attack and my family has tasked me with dealing with the situation" "In light of this I have arranged a meeting with the most important of these contacts (a Captain Lynch) in order to discuss our strategy for dealing with this mutual threat" "However as this involves sailing into the ocean to a meeting with what is effectively a pirate captain during a time we are both under threat of attack I thought I'd supplement my normal guard with some more...innovative thinkers...which is where you come in"

"We set sail early tomorrow and I have arranged quarters for you. You may stay in this establishment if you wish or if you have any moral objections to it's...other uses...there is a very nice hotel nearby I can also arrange quarters in" "The choice is yours"

"Any questions?"

Thorsten's concerns are obviously biased towards the transport of his personal 'jacks and he is assured that as Helstrom's vessel is a former warship that transport is no issue and indeed he had already anticipated this request and made the appropriate arrangements. With these concerns dealt with the others either take quarters in the brothel that the Baron has apparently based himself in or the other alternative accommodation based upon their own moral preferences. The Baron arranges to meet them at his ship 'Liberator' in the morning.

Editors Note - I've had to make certain presumptions about naval warfare in the Iron Kingdoms as the RPG sourcebooks don't have a lot of information on the subject. I have therefore presumed that there are no prejudices about women on board ships and that transport of warjacks is common enough for most ships and dockyards have the facilities to deal with such things.

The 'Liberator'.
The vessel on which you are travelling is an impressive former warship that has been converted into a personal transport vessel for the Baron and other important family members. It is sturdily constructed and is equipped with a formidable array of broadside cannon and some deck guns. A heavy duty ramp has been provided to enable your 'jacks to be transported to the ships hold via a second ramp into the vessels depths. There are three sets of quarters provided for you to divide between yourselves as you wish.

Editors Note - Rather annoyingly the squabbling that I expected to happen at this point failed to occur.

The ships captain gives Garlghast Island a wide berth before setting course across the narrows to the predetermined rendezvous point and you are left to your own devices for the initial part of the journey.

Lyra utilises this time to familiarise herself with the ship in her role as bodyguard with particular emphasis on certain locations where an interloper could threaten the group such as the galley and various passages between quarters and the deck before moving up into the rigging in a search for useful vantage points of which she found several. Rafaldo meanwhile was getting to know the captain and important members of the crew in case he needed to call upon their services during the journey. The rest did a brief sweep of the vessel before retiring to their respective quarters with Thorsten stopping to check upon his Rhukic 'jacls secured in the cargo hold. He had left them fully fuelled but deactivated so as to conserve their fuel reserves.

Editors Note - Warjacks burn fuel more quickly in combat then when simply plodding about but even the efficient engines of Rhulic warjacks will use up their coal and water within hours when active. Thorstens player Phil therefore chose to have them as ready for action as possible without them actually utilising resources. This was a good idea as otherwise I would no doubt have had any danger occur about a minute after they ran out of fuel....

It is late in the day when the ship reaches the agreed point and you are evidently the first to arrive. Visibility is less than optimal due to a thick fog that has seemingly rolled in from nowhere and the crew has become unusually tense. It is therefore some relief when a look-out observes an incoming ship which is identified as Captain Lynch's the ship 'The Paquin'. Signals are exchanged and the other ship launches a small craft to meet with your own vessel.

Captain Lynch turns out rather surprisingly to be a striking looking woman rather than the grizzled pirate you were no doubt expecting. She is accompanied by half a dozen extremely rough looking heavily armed sailors with an impressive selection of tattoos, scars and whose faces seem to perpetually scowling at any one who comes near. The group is completed by a young woman currently attempting to keep control of a small monkey that you can only presume is the Captains pet. If she has any other purpose it's not immediately apparent

Lynch is apparently familiar with Helstroms vessel as she heads unguided to the ships meeting room accompanied by only her assistant and the largest and meanest looking of her bodyguard followed closely by the Baron himself. As no-one says anything to the contrary you can only presume that you are also invited.

The more senior Brotherhood members join the meeting with the others staying either on the outskirts with the pirates own bodyguard or keeping a watch out in the immediate area.

The Meeting.

The news is not hopeful. Captain Lynch informs the Baron that she's lost two ships to enemy attacks and given the area they were patrolling it's likely that one of the Barons own ships 'The Amethyst' that was in the area has also been destroyed. The remains of the lost vessels she has investigated have all the signs of attacks by Cryxian pirates but the fact that no attempt was made to take the vessels intact or acquire cargo is unusual as even the pirates of the nightmare empire usually have the normal motivations of pirates when it comes to looting and salvage.

She is also convinced that such precise information on ships courses must have been obtained from some-one 'on the inside' and somewhat unsubtly implies that this must be the Barons fault as her own people gained nothing from doing so and also had no knowledge of the locations of at least two of the Helstrom families destroyed vessels. The debate begins to get somewhat heated...

As the debate becomes far less constructive and begins to become a circular argument of blame and denial several of the brotherhood senior officers suggest in various ways that perhaps a break would be in order. After a few more less subtle hints the Baron and the Captain begin to both see the merit in the idea.

"Maybe we need a cooling off period and it is getting late. Perhaps we can resume this meeting tomorrow..."

The Captain returns to her vessel and the Baron turns to you. "So what do you think of that then?"

The Brotherhood are forced to agree with the assessment of Captain Lynch that any leak of information is more likely to have come from the Barons side as given the total destruction of the attacked vessels there would be nothing for her pirate crews to gain from the attacks with her current deal with the Helstrom family being far more profitable not to mention convenient in every area. The Baron despite being unhappy about the assessment is forced to agree that it is likely an accurate one...

Act Two - 'Attack from the Mist...'
Your musings are interrupted by a cry of alert from several of your ships look-outs. Apparently several enemy vessels have emerged from the mist...

Everyone with the exception of Thorsten heads to the ships main deck to investigate while Thorsten instead heads below deck to activate his Warjacks ready for battle.

The approaching vessels are typical of those used by Cryxian pirates in that they have all the signs of decay and poor repair that sadly seems to never translate to issues in their effectiveness. One of a pair of larger vessels is heading towards the Barons own ship with a second moving towards that of Captain Lynch and Lynch's crew are frantically rushing to get her aboard before it reaches them. At least two other smaller vessels can also be seen emerging from the cover of the thick fog.

Rafaldo's extensive knowledge of naval warfare enables him to ascertain that both vessels approaches are unusual. They seem to be making no attempt to minimise their vulnerability to a volley of broadside cannon fire. Speaking of which he also notes that neither Helstrom nor Lynch's vessel has yet fired despite the enemy being now within cannon range.

The closest enemy ships have launched a number of smaller assault vessels and you can see the ships newly emerged from the mist doing the same. It's difficult to tell at this distance but the shouts coming from some of them are eerily familiar to the warcries you are used to hearing from your own Ogrun.

The two attacking vessels had launched a significant number of smaller boats containing either huge Black Ogrun or Satyxis Raiders led by screaming Witches. The pirate captain Lynch's vessel being closer to the attackers was already in severe danger of being boarded but unfortunately was far too far away for the crew of the Liberator to assist in any way. Besides which they had their own problems as the gun crews of their own ship had still failed to fire any of the ships cannon at the rapidly closing enemies...

Editors Note - The subsequent events happened separately across the vessel but rather than relay them piece-meal I'll cover each one in it's own section...

Thorstens 'Jacks...
As you make your way into the hold you almost trip over a pair of dead sailors bodies. One has had his throat expertly slit with the second having been seemingly stabbed in the back a number of times. You can hear banging noises coming from the area containing your 'jacks.

Three sailors are making a concerted attempt to cause damage to your machines. One is attempting to lever off exterior plates with a crowbar in order to reach a vulnerable spot while the others are simply attacking any spot that looks like it may be a weak point. Fortunately the sturdiness and unusual design of Rhulic creations is making the task difficult...they have not yet noticed your approach...

Seeking to ensure that no damage comes to his most prized possessions Thorsten immediately charged into the saboteurs killing one instantly with a savage blow as he channelled power into his mechanikally enhanced mace that pulverised the unfortunate individual into the ground. The two survivors counter attacked but being armed with only knives and clubs were able only to inflict superficial damage to the heavily armoured dwarf. However being far more manoeuvrable than Thorsten himself they were proving difficult to catch and he was forced to yet again draw upon his Warcaster abilities to enhance his attacks through the bond plate in his mechanikal weapon. With this enhancing power flowing into his mace place he was finally able to reduce his opponents to bloody pulp.

Fortunately the speed of his response meant that the damage to his machines was purely superficial and he set about activating the warmachines for defence of the Baron's vessel.

Gun Deck
The Baron was told to secure himself in his cabin protected by his own guards with Danika and Lyra remaining on deck. Rafaldo decided to investigate the gun crews inactivity and he was followed below deck by Toborg.

The gun deck is in chaos. A dozen sailors lie dead, most of the rest are ineffectually examining their cannon and a group of others are attempting to break down a door at the far end of the walkway.

Rafaldo notes that the door they're trying to break down would normally lead to the powder store and you presume this is also the case with this vessel. Not knowing who was being helpful and who might potential be one of the traitors they now believed to be amongst Helstroms own people Rafaldo cast a spell that knocked every-one on the gun deck off their feet though this also dislodged several cannon and equipment items from their racks.

Editors Note - The spell in question is called 'Earthquake' and is quite literally an explosion with a concussive area of effect. In theory what should have happened next using the spells actual written effect is me saying "You blow a hole in the hull of the ship and kill all the crew members who could potentially have repaired it...the ship sinks to the bottom of the sea killing all hands including yourselves...every-one dies...mission over...". I however chose to allow the spell to be used in a way for which it was never intended rather than murder every-ones characters...though to be honest I was severely tempted to do so for a minute or so due to the monumental ill thought out nature of the original idea as earthquakes rarely have helpful effects on things made of wood.....

After a cursory inspection of the floored gun crew members it became obvious that those already dead were traitors who had attempted to take over the gun deck and that the crew had successfully killed the interlopers themselves making Rafaldos attempt to help actually counter productive. Realising his mistake he and Toborg rushed to the door to the powder room, helped the sailors nearby to their feet and attempted to ascertain what was going on.

Apparently when alerted to the danger they had attempted to ready the cannon only to find that variously fuses, powder and some mechanikal aspects of the cannons had been sabotaged and when they attempted to repair them they were attacked by some of their own number but they fortunately managed to repel the attack. Three surviving traitors had locked the door to the room containing additional powder and ammunition and the loyalists were trying to gain entry before some unknown force had took them off their feet. Rafaldo ushered the crew aside and prepared to use a more focussed spell to remove the door. Just behind him Toborg noticed a sailor with a dagger dripping with an unusual and noxious green substance on the tip of the blade about to drive it's point into his back. Before he could do so the Pygmy Troll shot him dead with an amazingly pin point accurate shot to the head. Wasting no more time Rafaldo reduced the door to a pile of splinters and Toborg charged through the doorway.

One of the traitors lay dead in the doorway with a dagger sized splinter of wood through his eye socket but the others were only dazed. Before they could act Toborg set upon them and seriously wounded the first before the second leapt into the fray. These two were well trained in close quarters combat and despite the surprise nature of the attack had caused the Troll many quite serious wounds. Seeing that he might be unable to prevail against the foes Rafaldo himself ordered the recovering gun crew to assist and between them they soon overpowered and killed their traitorous former comrades. With some semblance of order restored Rafaldo left Toborg to manage the crew as they used the spares to bring the cannon back to working order before returning to the deck to assist with the repelling of the boarders.

Act Three - "Repel Boarders..."
Rafaldo emerged from the gun deck just as Thorsten was also emerging from the cargo hold with his two warjacks. Lyra took several explosive arrows from her quiver and now they were close enough to feel it's effects Danika cast her Star Fire spell that attacked with purifying flame those enemies who advanced towards her and was somewhat surprised to find that several advancing members of the Barons own crew promptly burst into flame revealing them to be also traitors. This good fortune had inevitably saved several of the Brotherhood members from receiving poisoned daggers in the back. The remaining crew who it could only be presumed were loyal moved into defensive positions and awaited the time to repel boarders.

A combination of spells from Danika and Rafaldo, explosive projectiles fired from Lyra's bow and shells launched from Thorsten's Warjack cannon took a terrible toll amongst the incoming assault vessels though their were many still intact and even some of the dismounted passengers were still healthy enough to swim towards their target vessel. In fact several Satyxis Raiders were at this very moment clambering up the side of the ship and were attempting to gain access through the cannons own gun ports. Precision shots from Toborgs carbine were currently keeping the gun deck area clear of foes but it was only a matter of time before they were overwhelmed if they could attack with numbers.

With her explosive projectiles exhausted, Lyra was forced to utilise more precise methods and began picking off choice targets with vicious barbed arrows. Rafaldo was now using more precise offensive spells as the enemy assault vessels were now close enough that his area effect magic's would damage their own vessel. Thorsten's pair of Warjacks were now forced to lean precariously over the ships rail in order to aim downwards and so he ordered them further back so as to be able to utilise their guns to repel the now inevitable boarders as more and more grappling hooks began to appear along ships rails and likely attachment points. Meanwhile Toborg was showing a previously unknown talent for command and had successfully organised the hard pressed gun crews who had now repelled half a dozen attacks by Satyxis Raiders with himself taking an impressive head count as well as there now being over a third of the ships cannon operational. His defence was in fact so well organised now that the attackers had stopped risking themselves and were instead focussing on the defenders on deck enabling him to free up some crew members to assist with the defence of the rest of the ship.

Several Raiders had leapt athletically into the main deck and were promptly met by Lyra's Nyss Claymore as she tore into groups of Satyxis before nimbly leaping away and engaging another. Danika was reaping her usual bloody toll of victims bludgeoning them to death with her mace and shield. Thorstens 'jacks own cannons tore apart several of the large Ogrun before he himself was forced to engage these fearsome opponents as the aforementioned jacks lacked any melee capability other than their own armoured weight and the enemy was too close for them to bring their guns to bear and he moved somewhat relutantly to engage a small group of Black Ogrun. Being relatively ill-suited to such close combat engagements Rafaldo was instead attempting to slice through the ropes on the boarding grapples to prevent reinforcements from joining their comrades though in this he was only partially successful and instead chose to withdraw to where the ships captain had moved to in order to urge him to move the ship towards that of Captain Lynch and hopefully away from the raiders emerging from the waters to board the vessel. Fortunately his comrades with the reinforcements sent by Toborg from below deck were close to clearing this first significant wave of attackers. It was just as Thorsten with the assistance of Lyra defeated the last Ogrun that he detected the unmistakable magical aura of another Warcaster utilising their own powers...

A sound of splintering wood can be heard from the port side of the ship before a hideous black claw emerges over the ships rail, pulls a sailor from the deck and squeezes him in half and a moment later this claw is followed by it's owner. You are confronted by some foul approximation of a jack on spindly but sure legs equipped with a strange projectile weapon and deadly claws. Before you can react the weapon on it's left arm unleashes a hail of vicious spikes that cuts a swathe of destruction through those crew between itself and you...

The remaining crew members understandably scattered to avoid this fearsome new foe leaving the Brotherhood to deal with it themselves. As they unleashed their most powerful spells, ranged weapons and other attacks at this surprise foe it was joined by a second jack. It was at this point that Thorsten learnt the rather unfortunate lesson that several of his spells for dealing with enemy 'jacks seemed completely ineffective against those utilised by the Nightmare Isles.

The first of these enemy Warjacks fell to the combined fire-power of the Brotherhood though the second had endured enough of the onslaught to still be functional and had advanced upon it's opposite numbers. Seeing no alternative Thorsten engaged this final opponent and focussing all his powers into his weapon managed to cripple it with his final blow.

With your cannons now ready to engage the attackers overconfidence is to prove their undoing as the broadside they sought to prevent tears into the closest enemy ship, punching holes through the hull and bringing down one of the masts. The vessel assaulting the ship of Captain Lynch attempts to disengage perceiving the new danger it's in and she uses this uncertainty to stage an audacious counter-attack that clears her decks enabling her own deck guns to open fire at point-blank range into the opposing ship. The remaining assault vessels begin to beat a hasty retreat back to the two furthest vessels...

Victory is yours.

Back to Reality.
Much of this mission was worked out in explicit detail only to need to be re-written on the fly as pretty much nobody did what I expected them to do. Fortunately as an experienced GM I actually always have 'fill some time' events worked out that I can auto-pilot through should I need to and these proved rather useful.

We were also running a bit low on time towards the end so I'm moving the aftermath events I had planned for after the battle for the next session. I won't mention them yet though as some of them now give away significant plot point for session twenty one and I'd hate to ruin the surprise for you all....

Thoughts and comments are (as usual) most welcome.

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