Saturday, 27 February 2016

Iron Kingdoms Roleplay - Session Twenty One (Part Two)

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 Nyss character Lyra Syalyss. My own character 'Bosh' Skullsplitter will be off on other duties for these missions as I'm GMing for the next few sessions.

Mission Twenty One - 'Five Fingers...'

Recent Events
Having been sent to the Wake Isles in the port of 'Five Fingers' by their current employer Baron Helstrom after the Brotherhood had acquired information that this was the origin of the plot against him they have come across some more...complications...

The full write-up of part one can be found here.

Fortunately their newly acquired contact Vasco Scali is turning out to be an impressive source of information.

Vasco informs you that something or some-one has been causing problems with the usual gang structure and several new emerging elements in what he refers to as the 'Wake Isles Syndicate' have resulted in many of the smaller gangs attempting to carve out new territories hence his earlier problem. Elements of the Salter Crew who are now calling themselves 'The Butchers' are the new power and seemingly have some arrangement with a gang called the 'Crooked Men' who are being seen more often now though conflict between the two is still occurring periodically, 'Disappearances' are now even more common than they were and these changes are seemingly with High Captain Waernuk's approval.

After some more specific enquiries are made a bit more information is acquired.

Editors Note - Enough in character conversation was done so I let the extra information be extracted fairly easily without dice rolls...It is a role-playing game after all...

The Butchers and The Crooked Men.
The best place to find information on the activities of the Butchers and the other gangs is at the one of the various blood sports they run as these are attended by most of the gangs and causing trouble there is considered bad form as doing so tends to antagonise pretty much every gang in the area. There's a particularity well anticipated event coming up in a day or two whose main event is a grudge fight between one of the Butchers most favoured 'enforcers' and the Salter Crews most vicious assassin and all the significant powers should be there as it's expected to be a particularly brutal fight to the death.

He also knows one of the dockside entrances to the Crooked Mens underground tunnels as it's an area avoided by other smugglers due to the very high chance of ending up a slave or corpse should the Crooked men need an extra of either. It's also one of the most heavily guarded areas in the Isles currently for no clearly defined reason and his recommendation is to give it a wide berth unless it becomes absolutely necessary to attempt entry.

After a brief discussion Lyra puts forward the idea that they play the role of a new gang that has established themselves at the bar as this will give them an area to work out of closer to the more significant areas on the Island and also give them an excuse to attend the upcoming bloodsports. Vasco is fully in support of this idea as having a group of armed individuals based in his establishment can't help but deter any further trouble especially once he spreads the word about what happened to the last group that tried to cause trouble there. He also offers the mercenaries a cut of the profits from the selling of the victims bodies to the roaring local corpse trade and is pleasantly surprised when they don't seem particularly interested in a share of this particular activity. They do however rather sensibly decide to work their way around the 'Bloodsport' event separately just in case their identities have been revealed to any interested parties figuring that they would draw less attention as individuals than as a group.

Act Three - 'Bloodsport'
The event is being held at an old cattle-market where the area where the animals for sale are usually placed has had a raised platform built upon it and seating placed all around. There's also existing seating normally used by cattle buyers that has been left unaltered. Many stalls selling food, drink, tobacco and other less legal substances surround the perimeter and are all doing a roaring trade as are those taking bets. Representatives of every gang in the Isles are rubbing shoulders together and other than a bit of pushing and shoving are keeping violence to a minimum though no doubt some 'accidents' may occur later. There are a number of competitive events going on ranging from tests of strength through boxing matches though it is the 'no holds barred' events that are the most popular and several fatalities have already occurred especially in those events featuring Ogrun and Trollkin fighters. Some of these events are taking place in what was once pits where animals were kept while others are in more public raised platforms.

The event is filled with such a variety of races, cultures and styles of dress that you are relatively un-noticed.

Lyra removes her distinctive mask and has instead partially concealed her Nyss features behind an improvised covering made from a piece of material and has begun to make casual conversation with any-one with the look of mercenaries as she hopes that such people are likely to have a strong interest in the 'movers and shakers' locally. Several likely individuals are mixing with what looks like members of the Butchers gangs around one of the bookmakers stalls and she decides to infiltrate the group by making a small wager and striking up a conversation.

Danika has left much of the bulk of her armour at the bar keeping only the breastplate containing it's mechanikal upgrades and a few easily concealable plates which she has concealed beneath some borrowed clothing and a rough cloak deeming the loss of protection an acceptable sacrifice in return for being far less obvious in appearance. She rather unsurprisingly is taking a more direct approach and has approached the largest group of 'Crooked Men' claiming to be an Arcanist mercenary looking for work and after some persuasion and a minor demonstration of magic has managed to work her way through the ranks to a gang member with enough authority to actually make decisions. Toborg has accompanied her in the guise of a fellow mercenary.

Feeling somewhat out of place considering how few members of the Rhulic race are inhabitants of the various Five Fingers Islands Thorsten is keeping as low a profile as possible and is simply mingling with the crowd and picking up what information he can from the various conversations he can overhear. Fortunately there is far too much going on around the event for him to draw anything but the occasional casual glance.

Rafaldo has decided to play the role of a merchant and implied smuggler and is attempting to gain information on movements to and from the Isles by offering his services as a transporter of questions asked. Despite his formidable powers of persuasion he finds out very little as most of the gang members present either have their own vessels for smuggling or failing that already have arrangements with those that do and therefore only picks up the more common bits of gossip that are being discussed.

Lyra's attempt at gaining favour with the mercenaries and gang members was going very well indeed and she had managed to coax from them the name and description of one the leaders of a group of local bounty hunters who had some extremely lucrative new contracts. After some time one of her new acquaintances pointed out this individual amongst the crowd and she moved to intercept him to continue her enquiries. He turned out to be very receptive to her attempts at gaining favour and had listened intently to her list of qualifications before offering to meet her at their base of operations the next day with further information on these contracts. It was her hope that these would turn out to be relevant to either Helstrom or the Brotherhood themselves though she was also not naive to the fact that she may well be about to accept a bounty on herself and her associates.

Meanwhile Danika had also impressed those she was attempting to infiltrate and the Crooked Man ganger she was now in discussions with assured her that he would send a messenger to bring her to one of their 'bosses' tomorrow to discuss terms for her assistance. She wisely arranged for them to collect her from the bar they had taken over rather than the warehouse that was their own primary base.

Some considerable time had now gone by and the main events had completed with a surprise victory for the Butchers favourite which had made Lyra a small amount of profit from her wager. With the crowds beginning to thin the more unusual members of their party would no doubt begin to draw attention to themselves so it was wisely decided that they would head back to the bar separately in order to compare the gathered information and plan upon a course of action.

It was decided that Lyra would indeed attend the meeting with these 'Bounty Hunters' she had discovered and Danika would wait at the bar for the Crooked Men to get in touch with her later. Toborg could then track Danika to the meeting in case she needed back-up. The others would decide what to do based on the results of Lyra's and Danika's individual meetings.

To Be Continued...

Editors Note - I had a number of 'rumours' already prepared in note form and as the platers talked to various NPC's I allowed them to randomly select some from the pile. They were quite thorough in their investigations so ended up exhausting the pile of fifteen that I'd prepared. Of course many of these were of no use whatsoever, to do with events unrelated to them from the current timeline (I was using the Iron Kingdoms 'Urban Adventures' source-book as reference for this) or actually completely wrong. I left it to the players to try and ascertain which (if any) were actually decent pieces of intelligence...

As the players are one mission ahead of the write-ups now I can reveal which are which...Skip past the next bit to the 'Back to Reality' section if you don't want any spoilers.

The Rumours.
1 - The Butchers have over stretched themselves dramatically (Partially true...they have good reasons for the risks though).
2 - Schard pirates have been seen dealing with the Crooked Men (True but irrelevant as they actually deal with most of the wake Isles gangs).
3 - Some-ones been buying up all the slaves and the slavers are taking risks to keep up with the demand including taking gang members from other Isles (True).
4 - High Captain Waernuk is ready to oust High Captains Kilbrade and Hurley and then make a play for ruler-ship of the whole of Five Fingers (Possibly true as such power-plays are a regular occurrence but very unlikely indeed).
5 - The Crooked Men are linking all the underground tunnels between the islands (Partially true as will become apparent soon).
6 - A maniac known only as 'The claw' has murdered and mutilated another victim...he's probably an assassin and all this 'serial killer' bollocks is just a cover...
7 - The serial killer known as 'The claw' is actually a cultist harvesting body parts for secret rituals.
8 - The lunatic known as 'The claw' is actually one of the High Captains who has gone insane
(The Claw is a character from a mission in the Urban Adventures book so I won't spoil it for you. These rumours were there mainly as a distraction tactic)
9 - The Salter Crew are losing territory to other syndicates due to infighting (False. They're losing territory but not due to infighting)
10 - The Crooked Men's new success is ironically due to a new leader who is apparently a woman (True)
11 - The Thamarite cults have nearly wiped out their Cryxian rivals... (False)
12 - The Cryxian cults have nearly wiped out their Thamarite rivals... (False)
13 - The Crooked Mens leader was found floating in the bay, he'd been stabbed in the back... (True but old news to the locals)
14 - Some idiot pirate is antagonising a rich merchant in Cygnar who is apparently sending hired assassins to the Isles... (Partially true)
15 - The Crooked Men's new leader is offering considerable bounties on the heads of half a dozen enemy agents apparently being sent to the island by a Cygnaran merchant (Very true indeed...)

Back to Reality.
Overall this session went very well indeed with even those players not normally that comfortable with the less melee orientated missions making some nice in character decisions and enquiries.

They were doing so well in fact that I didn't even bother making them dice roll for several of the conversations as it seemed unfair to punish some-one with failure for a low roll when in reality their character would no doubt have succeeded based on how they were approaching the mission.

Every-one deserved their experience points this session and I even dished out a few bonus ones for an exceptional piece of role-playing here and there.

The next session will be somewhat challenging as I'm going to have to effectively run three different sessions simultaneously due to every-one being split up...I have some ideas for that though...

Thoughts and comments are (as usual) most welcome.

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