A Game of Shadows – Port Vladovar (Episode 03 – A Shot in the Dark)

Welcome back, dear reader, to the third installment in my chronicle detailing the bloody path of infamy the Enfield Eviscerator’s are carving through the Iron Kingdoms! This time, I was unable to attend due to stuff, so Olliver’s player stepped forward to run a quick adventure for Genpi and Larkin, fleshing out the CIS spy side of our story…

 

With the rebuilding of Port Vladovar on schedule, it finds itself hosting many notable figures – Kayazy, Military Officers, and members of the Greylords Covenant. Each one of these is a tempting target for an Operative of the CRS, and so the next morning, whilst enjoying a warm breakfast in the Captain’s Daughter, Alexander received a coded message from his CRS contact. A scarred old man entered the tavern, and after greeting a few of the regulars (mostly the staff as well as the urchins), and hanging his coat by the door, he hobbled to the bar and ordered a glass of Caspian Red. The bartender responded that their shipment still hadn’t arrived, and offered him an alternative that he grudgingly accepted before leaving.

That was the signal that the dead drop had been made, and Genpi had orders (hidden in the man’s coat which he left behind). The message read as follows:

“odedcay esmayagesay ebayinsgay opstay anay impayortantay adkhayoranay ilimayarytay igurefay isay enayertayingay advlayovayaray opstay artayetgay ashay eenbay ospayitayivayelyay idayenayiftayieday asay eygrayordlay ovkayiknay agmayievzay mitdayiiray ihmayaylovay opstay mitdayiiray illway ebay inspayectayingay ethay ogprayessray inay arvauiousay ilimayarytay’s and infayastrayuctrayureray ojprayectsay oughthrayoutay ethay itycay opstay ommcayanday ashay issayueday ayay iprayorityay ivefay exeayutioncay ordayeray opstay eprayortay otay ierpay eightayeenay ofay ethay Eastayernay ockday atay idmayayday omtayorayowray orfay urfayerthay insayuctraytionay opstay odedcay esmayagesay endsay”

Note this is note the “true” cypher the CRS uses but how we do it to let Genpi’s player puzzle it out (this was agreed beforehand when Olliver’s player conferred with me to make sure the mission fit in the campaign I am running). For those of you not wishing to waste time translating the above, the mission was to assassinate a member of the Greylord Covenant – Kovnik Magziev Dmitiri Mihaylov. He was running a tour of inspection of not only the new military docks, but also the Naval Academy being founded in Port Vladovar. Three approaches to the mission were highlighted to the party – sniping him from a ruined lighthouse whilst he inspected the docks, arranging an “accident” at the Academy construction site, or just ambushing him on the streets.

With Rahksha still off hunting some bounty or other, and Olliver having already left to work at the scrapyard, Larkin convinces Genpi to let him take the lighthouse approach, and the spy agreed partially due to the CRS providing a rifle for the shot, hidden in the location for them to make use of. The due make it to the lighthouse, and find a group of workers (a mix of humans and gobbers) working on repairing it. When the foreman demanded to know why they were there, the pair lied and said they were delivering scrap from Jozef’s Scrapyard to aid in repairs. The foreman believed them and told them to dump it outside the lighthouse and be on their way. Realizing they had failed to gain access, Larkin’s brash nature took over, his Sinclaire blood calling to him as he drew his pistols and opened fire.

The Lighthouse

After a brief fight in which Alexander took a sledgehammer to the chest and had to be stabilized by Larkin, the gunmage ascended to the top of the lighthouse, found the rifle and setup the shot. Not knowing the nature of the weapon he cast a rune shot, shorting out the runeplate in the mechanika rifle (which had accurate, blessed and SILENCED). Unsurprisingly, the shot is extremely loud, and though the Greylord goes down, his retinue pretty much immediately know where the shot came from. As Larkin hesitated, pondering taking more shots to thin the ranks of the officers gathered, the whistling of shells convinced him to make a run for it. He took the time to take the scope and runeplate from the rifle before leaving though.

As he made it out of the lighthouse to Genpi, a shell struck the top, annihilating the upper section of the building. The duo head for the city before running into a group of winter guard, who demand ID and their purpose there (a city patrol which heard the shelling). Larkin uses the same lie as before, of delivering scrap metal, and offers his work card as proof (with the day’s work being punched through by his coat button in a quick display of sleight of hand). The officer leading the patrol was satisfied and let them go before moving on to investigate the lighthouse, leaving Larkin and Alexander to vanish back into the city.

But killing a Greylord has consequences, as they would soon find out…

 

Not much to say about this session except for Genpi’s and Larkin’s bumbling! From all accounts it was a successful and fun session, and I will make sure to tie things back into it in the future. After all, Greylords tend to work in threes…

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A Game of Shadows – Port Vladovar (Episode 02 – Day and Night)

Welcome back to my log of the Enfield Eviscerator’s attempts at surviving the Iron Kingdoms! In this second installment, the group was down players, but we soldiered on. The group took a break from the regular plot to explore their local area this time around, and I set up some NPCs and Quest Givers for further use down the line. I also ran my first scratch-built adventure, which wasn’t very roll heavy, but it did give the player’s a chance to get a feel for their characters…characters.

After a restless night in an uncomfortable and cold basement, Olliver and Larkin ate a meager breakfast provided by Genpi before heading to the docks with Dog in tow, searching for honest work. They found a winter guard with a megaphone, organizing the laborers for the day’s activities. The major employer at the dock was a man named Jozef Sudakov, owner of the scrapyard which is making good coin from clean up operations in the city.

Another employer was Father Petya Erin, a Morrowan priest seeking volunteers to aid him in clearing out a damaged church in the district. Whilst waiting for the crowd around Jozef to thin, the party approached the priest to hear his offer. Larkin was respectful, whilst Olliver preferred not to talk to the man. From Father Erin they learned of his efforts to bring aid to the impoverished in the district, and in order to earn some good reputation, they volunteered to aid him later in the day. He happily accepted their help, proud that two people in Port Vladovar had enough faith to not put stock in the ghost stories going around (which the party was unaware of).

By this point the crowd around Jozef had thinned, so the party approached him for work. He offered them ration cards of their choice, and Olliver and Larkin elected to take coal ones to keep Dog well supplied. With the paperwork sorted, Jozef sent them to the scrapyard to see his daughter, Catriona, and her Scrapper Steamjack, Ursui. Amongst her cries and the grinding of gears, the characters were assigned to sorting through scrap in section NQ.


An updated map of the district.

The mechanik duo immediately set to sorting through the debris and pocketing any useful pieces of scrap for their own use, smuggling it into Dog to get it out the yard. After six hours of work they clocked out, with Catriona stamping their cards which they handed in to the Winter Guard office at the docks, getting both cards exchanged for two 500 lbs bags of coal (having worked under ‘Jack Marshal pay grade), and the intent to return the following day.

With some time to kill, the two mechaniks went back to the Captain’s Daughter, to sort through their scrap metal and send Genpi’s little scouts (the gang of urchins who nearly stole some coal from Larkin last session) to try to find info on the Cranemen and their current actions. After a quick conferral with Genpi, they also set about fortifying the tavern against further attack, by having their Ogrun prisoner haul the metal from the ruined water tower over to the building so that the group could begin working on shutters for the building. As dusk approached and customers in the tavern came and went, the duo heard tales of a killer stalking the streets, as well as abducting people. The urchins returned, led by a twelve year old boy named Stefan wearing a stolen Winter Guard hat, and informed Larkin and Olliver that the Cranemen had gone to ground, vanishing from their usual haunts. The Winter Guard were not pleased and cut down the body of the dead ganger with lead on his face early in the morning.

As night approached Larkin and Olliver went to the docks, taking the urchins along to act as extra workers. Father Erin was surprised but welcomed all aid offered, and led them to the ruined church, destroyed during the raid. Whilst he set about purifying the grounds, he requested the characters to inspect the interior of the wrecked church, locating any bodies and setting them aside for burial later. The urchins refused to enter the building, citing the tales of it being haunted, so Olliver made them a fire outside to wait around whilst he, Larkin and Dog went in.


The interior of the Church.

There was no light, except for the glow from Dog’s furnace. Inside they found a large amount of bodies huddled in front of the altar, and some bodies sitting in the pews leading to it. Since it had been a few months since the raid, a great many of them were decomposing. With nerves of steel the two men began looking about, lighting the candles flanking the altar. Olliver then went off investigating a door to the right, leaving Larkin and Dog to inspect the bodies and altar.

Olliver discovered the room for the clergy and other staff of the old church, with a thick mist clinging to the floor. Hurling a lit torch into the room revealed a face for a moment, prompting the arcane mechanik to shoot a blast weapon into the room to clear out any surprises. The explosion alerted Larkin, who checked to make sure Olliver was alright after finding the body of a priest behind the altar. After Olliver reassured him, the gunmage got back to investigating the altar, but he noticed Dog looking curiously into a corner. Following the ‘jack’s gaze, he saw a small boy, well dressed, playing with a wind up toy resembling a steamjack.

Fearing influence on Dog, Larkin shot the little toy, and the boy fled, vanishing out the church. That prompted an irritated yell from Olliver as he came across a puddle of a strange liquid he had never encountered before in his alchemical career, and after testing it for safety, he bottled it for further study. Meanwhile Larkin investigated the room on the other side of the altar, having seen Dog eagerly listening to it. Upon approach he heard crying, and chose not to investigate just yet, and instead went into the room behind the altar.

That room was a study for the priest himself, and had a bed, closet, desk, and writing desk. Larkin found a body under the covers, and steeling himself, looked beneath them, finding the disemboweled body of a ten year old girl. He called over Olliver as Stefan called to them, reporting one of the urchins going missing. As Olliver acted the part of an investigator, Larkin and Dog went to speak to Stefan and steady his nerves.

Olliver learned that nothing was missing from the girl’s body, and satisfied, set about looting the room whilst Larkin confronted the door hiding the sobbing. Nervous, he called on Olliver to support him and they busted into the room – Larkin still hearing the crying child, Olliver hearing nothing at all, just the clanking and whirring of Dog. The room they found themselves in was an archive of books and scrolls containing information of the local area – marriage, birth and death records. Olliver inspected the books whilst Larkin approached a table from under which he could hear the sobbing. Keeping his magelock ready, he looked underneath, only to see a crying girl. He tried to speak to her, confusing Olliver as he watched the gunmage converse with thin air.

The girl vanished after realizing she was being watched, and the duo, thoroughly unnerved now, approached the last door leading down below the earth, hearing a knocking behind it. As they got closer, the knocking got more frantic and loud. Running low on patience, Olliver had Larkin kicked it in, revealing…nothing. Then another ghostly child asked them what they were doing from behind them. Olliver demanded some answers, but all the characters could get from the child was that someone was unhappy and going to hurt them before vanishing again.

When it spoke from behind them again, Olliver’s patience snapped and he ordered Larkin to shoot it, and so the gunmage placed a bullet between the shade’s eyes, hurling it down the stairs into the church morgue. With dark mutterings the two men descended to where the church had stored bodies in preparation for last rites before burial. They were surprised to find nothing disturbing down there, just cots for bodies and tables to prepare them for burial with various alchemical ingredients. Olliver made sure to take as many of the ingredients as he could before they returned upstairs.

Back in the main hall, they found the body of the dead urchin by the altar, suffering from blunt force trauma. Olliver asked Dog and Larkin to carry the bodies of the boy and the priest out of the church, whilst he himself ducked into the priest’s room to finish searching it. There he found a copy of the Einkehidrion, as well as the journal of Father Emmet, a Cygnaran priest sent out to Port Vladovar some years ago to watch over the worshipers in the district. There was also a sealed letter which Olliver opened and read, finding nothing of real interest to him – the letter contained a simple report on the state of the district and the faithful, and a request for more support to help the impoverished, using the example of a woman who had lost her son whilst he was working as a chimney sweep.

Laying out the letter to make it appear as if it was still being written, the mechanik extinguished the candle there before heading out and heading for the main doors to leave with Larkin. He made it past the altar before a much more mature voice accused him of taking “the children away”. Olliver managed to turn around before a hideous visage of a woman shrieked at him, the sound almost a solid wall slamming into him. The shriek alerted Larkin, who immediately ran to aid him, Dog in tow. Thinking quickly, Olliver shot the specter in front of him, achieving little more than demolishing the altar. Larkin loaded and took aim, and his magelock managed to visible shake the spirit as Olliver fell back to stand by his compatriot.

The ghost drifted after him and shrieked once more, catching Larkin as well this time. Knowing his weapon was useless, Olliver focused his power before unleashing it as a series of arcantrik bolts, obliterating the apparition and completely tearing up what remained of the altar. With the death of the specter, noises from outside began to filter back in, as Father Erin and the urchins entered the church, the purification of the grounds complete. Though appalled at the amount of bodies in the church, Father Erin was happy to recover the church’s copy of Morrow’s holy text, and asked if anything else had happened in the church whilst he had been busy. Larkin and Olliver said nothing of note occurred.

Father Erin thanked them for their services and requested their aid in moving all the bodies in the church to the morgue, to which they readily agreed. The task took them until morning, at which point Father Erin granted them a symbol of Morrow each in thanks for their services, as well as offering them further jobs that week as gravediggers. Again, Larkin and Olliver agreed before heading back to their hideout for some well earned rest.

Meanwhile, in the city, Alexander and Rahksha were having their own little adventures…

And so the first of many ghost buster missions comes to a close! The party wound up dealing with him far more than Jozef Sudakov – I suppose I played him better out of the cast of characters my players encountered this time. I kinda approached my NPCs very much like in a video game in this campaign – certain ones would always give out certain missions, loosely linked. So Father Erin often dealt with the ghost missions, whilst Sudakov…well, can’t spoil that in case my party chooses to deal with him in the future!