Saturday, 13 February 2016

Iron Kingdoms Roleplay - Session Twenty One (Part One)

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 One - 'Five Fingers...'
Recent Events
The Brotherhood of the Rail mercenary companies services had been requested by an old ally Baron Helstrom as bodyguards for an important meeting with a somewhat dubious business partner. The meeting was disrupted by Cryxian pirates who were repelled with considerable difficulty.

The full account can be found here.

Having successfully repelled the attack by Cryxian pirates both yours and the pirate captains vessels prepare to limp back to their respective ports. The entire remainder of the crew are inspected for the distinctive tattoo shared by all the discovered traitors and those unfortunate enough to have gang markings similar to the ones decorating those self same traitors have been separated for 'questioning' though Helstrom has been quite specific that torture may only be used on those crew members with the Cryxian mark of which four have been discovered across both vessels.

Overzealous members of Captain Lynch's crew brutally murdered one of the two discovered on the Paquin with a second taking their own life before that fate could be shared but the two on the Barons vessel have been captured alive if not unharmed by teams made up of the ships gun crews whose survivors loyalty had been proven by their actions in the battle. 

The dead traitors in the majority from their gang tattoos seem to be from three gangs from one of the islands of 'Five Fingers' though there are a couple of anomalies.

After some enquiries amongst those in the know amongst both crews two of these are identified by Lynch's pirates and a few of the more disreputable of Helstroms sailors as being...

'The Butchers' an offshoot of the Salter Crew whose symbol is a Bloody Cleaver and who are known for their inventive displaying of their victims. They currently 'manage' most of the 'blood sports' on the Wake Isles using their legitimate slaughterhouses and butchery businesses as both convenient locations...and disposal points. The second are 'The Crooked Men' whose tattoos are generally themed around mining as the gang leaders are rumoured to be escapees from a Cygnaran prison hard labour camp rather than being descended from pirates like most in the area. They are rumoured to operate from a network of tunnels underneath the Wake Isles amongst others and are heavily involved in both the market in corpses and the slave trade. Both gangs are based on the Wake Isles and are not considered prominent compared to others amongst the Wake Isles Syndicate. A third gang symbol amongst them isn't known by any of either crew and is a smiling skull though skulls being a fairly common tattoo theme this may be just coincidence.

With some at least vague background information to hand it is decided that it's time to interrogate the two surviving traitorous prisoners.

Act One - Interrogation
It was decided to split up the two prisoners and utilise different methods on each. The first was to be the recipient of Danika's skilful attentions in the areas of torture with the other getting a more manipulative attempt at information retrieval at the hands of Lyra. Should either method fail or stall then each would have an attempt at the others target.

Both targets were difficult to break but by alternating between the two interrogation methods some useful information was extracted from both.

The first who was known by the crew as 'Delp' and was a member of the Butchers gang had been told to await the enemy attack and then cause as much additional disorder as possible. He had been contacted by an old gang leader from the Salter Crew who had paid him fifty crowns and promised him his choice of 'work' with the gang in 'Five Fingers' afterwards and from this it was obvious that he'd expected to survive the attack. With some prompting he also revealed that the unusual tattoo each had been given was to identify them as 'friendlies' to the attackers. By this point it was obvious to Danika who was an experienced torturer and interrogator that the subject would need some rest before the questioning could continue.

The second crew member 'Milo' who was apparently formerly of the 'Crooked Men' had been informed that the Helstrom family were in some way a threat to the gangs plans in the port of Five Fingers though how a merchant from Cygnar would effect events in that port was unknown to him. They had been informed of the possibility of the Baron hiring in extra bodyguards but they'd been expecting more rank and file mercenaries rather than the 'heavy hitters' he'd actually brought along. It seemed apparent to Lyra that he had more information but that mere questions and friendly conversation would not be adequate to extract it from him and so she decided to hand this one over to Danika...

Lyra cleaned up Danika's first target Delp a little in the hope that a bit of kindness might loosen his tongue about any remaining information and this seemed to work with him revealing the name of the gang contact as a person known only to him as 'Griffon'. He had also not been informed about the possibility of extra guards and was almost apologetic for the fact that he had considered poisoning them when they were aboard and it was apparently only Lyra's own ever watchful presence that had prevented him from doing so. Meanwhile Milo was regretting not giving up everything he knew to Lyra as Danika's methods were far more direct though the only extra relevant information obtained was that both the Butchers and Crooked Men gangs had new leaders and new contacts which had enabled them to expand their own power-bases considerably.

With both a location (The Wake Isles in Five Fingers), two groups of suspects (The Butchers and The Crooked Men) and a potential target ('Griffon') obtained the two traitors were put out of their misery and the bodies thrown overboard to join the rest of their traitorous brethren.

On your arrival back in Ceryl, Helstrom immediately gives the surviving crew members shore leave, takes over most of a nearby hotel and informs you that he will make arrangements for your travel to the port of Five Fingers. Godwin who arranged your travel from Ternon Crag is left to cater to any and all needs you might have. The Baron arranges to meet you all tomorrow morning at breakfast by which time he should have everything sorted.

Those of the team who had only seen Ceryl briefly when they first arrived before their sea journey with the Baron decided to explore the city with the rest taking advantage of the respite to recharge themselves with good food, fine drink and some pleasant company.

Editors Note - Tom's character Lyra has Urban Nomad as a career so it's very in character for her to want to explore the city. She also has Cutthroat as a career so it's probably best not to ask what she was actually doing there though.....

The Baron meets you at the prearranged time and informs you that he has arranged for a small cargo vessel and a very carefully screened crew for your journey along the coast to Five Fingers. The wake Island being one of the most brutal and lawless has little appeal for the Helstrom family but they do have one small warehouse there belonging to one of their smaller subsidiary companies that is known to occasionally move cargo through the area that his own family might want to distance themselves from. These less than legitimate deals are facilitated by a smuggler turned bar owner, Vasco Scali who may help if the money's right and Helstrom has written a note for you to give to him indicating that he'd appreciate him assisting you.

A few questions are asked about Vasco including a brief description of his appearance and the level of assistance he can actually give. They are informed that he has contacts amongst both the local gangs and smugglers in particular so at the very least will be a good source of information.

He also has some sets of documents for you. The first are standard passes required by any ship travelling along the Cygnaran coast in such troubled times and the second identifying you as traders in the Helstrom families employ sent to remove company assets from the aforementioned warehouse and given the situation in the nearby Scharde islands this is as plausible reason as any for you to be there. There is room on the cargo vessel for your 'jacks but he will take no responsibility for their safety considering the circumstances of your mission. Additionally he has despatched a messenger to inform your headquarters that he has retained your services for an additional period of time and tell them of your destination.

"Is there anything else you require?"

Thorsten asks for access to a workshop facility in order to stock up on ammunition for his Rhulic Warjacks as well as to give them a basic service before what will no doubt be a dangerous mission though the others requirements are more basic ones of ammunition and the like. In addition the Pygmy Troll Toborg is provided with some custom made battle armour courtesy of Baron Helstrom as a thank-you for his services on board ship. Rafaldo enquires about some extra expenses for the purposes of bribery and the like and they are provided with an additional one hundred and fifty gold crowns between them.

The provided ship is a mid-size coastal cargo vessel with little in the way of armament other than a handful of deckguns and something that looks like a Cygnaran Slugger on a pintle mount on the cabin roof. There are round about a dozen crew members but most have the look of soldiers rather than sailors. The vessel however has only one cabin that has any measure of privacy with the rest of the sleeping area being a communal sleeping area. The Captain of this group of soldiers and sailors is a former Cygnaran military man named Elias Hitch. The ship departs in an hour so if you have any last minute errands to perform now is your last chance.

Act Two - 'A Hive of Scum and Villainy' 
The coastal trip is fairly uneventful though you are stopped for routine inspection at various points by coastal vessels of the Cygnaran navy these are very brief and your paperwork is quite in order. Most of the talking is done by your ships Captain who has seemingly gone through this many times before and the delays are virtually none existent.

As your destination comes into view it is immediately apparent why it is described as a 'wretched hive of scum and villainy'. The majority of the ships have more the look of pirate vessels than the usual merchant type and the buildings are seemingly built on top of one another with no plan of any kind apparent and these are from a vast variety of architectural styles. There is nothing even vaguely like a port authority to report to and you quickly make your way past the main islands, to the Wake Isles where you plan to start your search for Helstroms attackers.

The warehouse has a small pier sufficient for the docking of your one vessel but with little room for anything else. Hitch sends several of his men to inspect the area and other than having to clear away a few beggars secure the warehouse with no problems. The unit is a basic affair with an elevated single office reached by a rickety but functional staircase, a ground floor room half full of empty crates and an open area in the centre presumably where packing and sorting of goods was done. The only other feature is a ladder leading up to a trapdoor in the roof.

Editors Note - Martin's character 'Danika' decided that she wanted the ships crew to establish a base of operations in the warehouse rather than stay on the boat...this required a quick mental re-writing of the next section...I don't think any of the PC's noticed though it did mean that the crews other skills became apparent sooner than I really wanted them to be.

The ships crew have unloaded several crates and the contents have enabled them to quickly and efficiently set up a sleeping area and what is effectively a military style base camp unusual only by virtue of being indoors. They have also changed from their travel clothes into tailored suits of armour which they then conceal under cloaks and long coats and have equipped themselves with Military Rifles, Repeating Pistols and a number of melee weapons such as axes and swords. It is evident that they have done this before...

Hitch leaves the rest of his men to their work and approaches you all "Our orders are to secure the ship for a quick escape and ensure we have an effective base of operations and fall back position...the rest is up to you." "We've left the upstairs office and the downstairs rooms empty should the ladies wish some privacy and help yourself to any of the supplies...we have plenty..." One of the crew interrupts the meeting "What do you want doing with the 'jacks?" he asks.

Thorsten supervises the unloading of his pair of 'jacks and stows them and their fuel safely in the warehouse while the rest make themselves comfortable before deciding upon a course of action. Lyra however first heads up onto the roof in order to familiarise herself with the surrounding area. Amongst the remaining supplies are Military Rifles and Ammo, Repeating Pistols and Ammo, Bayonets, Daggers, Axes and Swords as well as Military Rations, Medical Kits, various climbing equipment and various items of civilian clothing.

With the immediate area secured it is decided to go and meet the suggested contact who Hitch informs them is based at a bar called 'The Broken Bell' the location of which they are given rough directions to. Having seen the way the buildings are cramped together Lyra decided to travel via the rooftops rather than at ground level so as to get more advance notice of any threats and in order to get the drop on any attackers as well as to get a better idea of the islands lay-out. As travelling with a pair of 'jacks would be both impractical and draw a lot of attention it is decided to leave Thorsten's favourite weapons behind for now. As they move through the streets Lyra and Toborg both noticed that the beggars seem to follow them for a brief period before another takes their place and that they must be acting as the eyes and ears of the various gangs.

Editors Note - Apparently 'Lyra' doesn't fail Agility, Climb, Jump or Notice tests...

The Broken Bell Tavern is typical of the haphazard and somewhat run down construction that effects most of the Wake Isles. Several disreputable looking individuals are milling about outside and the obligatory beggars are watching passers by looking for likely marks or individuals whose activities might be of interest to those willing to pay for information. Most of the establishments you passed on your way have had some kind of visible doorman or other 'heavy' at the door but this one does not for some reason. As you approach several patrons are leaving in quite a hurry...

Lyra finds a vantage point with a clear view of the doorway while the others enter the bar.

Inside a semi-circle of human gang members and a single Trollkin armed with an impressively scaled Sledgehammer are surrounding a tall, stocky gentlemen who seems rather unwisely to be arguing with an impressively scarred person who is presumably the groups leader.

As you enter one of the gang members notices you enter "Bars closed...get out..."

Noting that the target of this threatening group of gangers matches the description given them of their contact the Brotherhood members make a somewhat half hearted attempt at negotiation that falls on deaf ears and then becomes largely pointless as Toborg chooses this moment to open fire regardless. Hearing the commotion from inside the establishment Lyra leapt agilely to the ground and entered through the doorway in support of her comrades before promptly disarming two of the gang with precise arrow shots to their shoulders though this none lethal approach was completely undermined as Danika decapitated the nearest enemy with her mace. A brief but brutal melee ensued with the Trollkin as the primary threat being neutralised by Rafaldo's magic before a finishing blow from Lyra's sword removed him from the battle permanently with the rest of the group despatching nearby enemies with varying degrees of success. Thorsten and Lyra being fairly new to the Brotherhoods more 'specialist' operations were both somewhat surprised at the brutal and uncompromising way the situation was dealt with.....

Their contact introduces himself as Vasco Scali "Thanks for the you make a habit of helping strangers or is there something you wanted?..." He pauses briefly as if considering his next words carefully "If your another displaced gang wanting protection money I can't afford to pay you lot any more than I could those bastards..."

Once their reasons for helping are relayed to Vasco and after the bodies are moved to the cellar he drops a heavy duty latch across the front door before fetching a bottle of whisky and several shot glasses which he puts on one of the larger tables. "Have a drink then and I'll tell you what I know..."

To Be Continued in Part Two...

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