A Game of Shadows – Port Vladovar (Episode 07 – Matters of Faith)

And so our story speeds along, swiftly approaching the end of it’s first story arc – The Claw! But before that, our intrepid heroes of questionable morals try to earn some favor with the religious factions in the city…

 

Whilst the party was busy busting grave robbers and throwing the Burnt District into a mad panic on their 6th evening in Port Vladovar, Genpi headed to the Merchant’s Docks with Larina to meet with Overseer Oleg at the Tonkov Slaughterhouse. The plan was for the Burning Lead to “inherit” whatever agreement the Cranemen had had with Tonkov, but Genpi’s attention was almost immediately split between his mission and the fact that a cargo ship had docked with the slaughterhouse.

Normally this would be unsurprising, but as far a Genpi was aware, no cargo ships had a Khadoran Navy Ironclad escort. Making sure not too appear to inquisitive, he led Larina into the slaughterhouse, the guards recognizing them both from their separate dealings with Oleg. Upon reaching Oleg’s office, the pair heard an argument occurring inside before they were permitted entry. Inside, they found Oleg in the company of a member of the Greylord’s Covenant, the Khadoran Empire’s magic assembly. They were also akin to a secret police force, and the man’s presence made Genpi seriously worried. However, he masked his unease thanks to his experiences as a member of the CRS, and got down to business.

Overseer Oleg saw no reason to deny the Burning Lead the agreement that had originally belonged to the Cranemen, especially with the leader of the Cranemen being present there as well. The agreement was simple – bring the Claw to justice so the Burnt District would become more secure, allowing the slaughterhouse to continue operations without having to worry about paranoid workers. Genpi agreed to the task set to him, and excused himself along with Larina. They headed back to The Captain’s Daughter in silence, lost in their own thoughts. There, they went to sleep, though their rest was interrupted by the ringing of Church bells and panicked cries of townsfolk later in the evening…

The next morning the group convened at the tavern to plan their activities. The urchins were out gathering scrap for the scrapyard, and the tavern had been tidied. It was still missing an upper floor, and the few folks who came wanted nothing more than to drown their sorrows and fears. Eliminating the Claw and making the streets safer would surely boost business, Genpi realized. But that would have to wait, as Olliver and Raksha suggested the group deal with the haunted house that Father Erin had mentioned to them the previous day. The Church of Morrow Ascendant was proving to be a useful ally, though Raksha wished to get her weapon blessed before engaging a potential spirit – otherwise, she would be unable to harm it, and the mere though rankled her.

Remembering the words of Father Erin, and how he was currently preoccupied with dealing with the dead bodies of the Burnt District, the group reluctantly headed to the Menite shrine in the city. The shrine turned out to be a tall tower, built in the Sul style, with a wall around it guarded by Temple Flameguard. The shrine was situated in what had once been a market square, now walled off to make it impossible to access the tower without passing through the main gate. Approaching the open gate, the party managed to pass without difficulty until it was Genpi’s turn, who found his way barred by the spears of the two guards flanking the entrance onto the shrine’s grounds. Dog was also forbidden entry, so Genpi proposed he wait outside and watch Dog, whilst the human members of the party went inside to deal with the Menites.

Larkin agreed with this idea, and the trio of humans entered the shrine grounds, which were all landscaped into a beautiful garden, with various acolytes meditating despite the chill air. Paying the surroundings no mind, Olliver, Larkin and Raksha entered the shrine itself, finding it to be a prayer space flanked by two staircases leading to the next floor of the circular tower. Moving to the altar, they passed a Paladin of the Wall, standing silently and watching them, paying careful attention to the mechanika items carried by Olliver and Larkin. The Hierophant of the shrine, a man named Amon Alhara, was polite but cool with the party, recognizing them as mercenaries and thugs. Upon explaining their purpose (hunting spirits and needing divine help), Hierophant Alhara agreed to bless Raksha’s hammer in exchange for her aid in hunting down someone alongside the shrine’s reclaimer – whose quarters were in the basement beneath the tower.

Raksha saw no issue with making such an agreement since she was a bounty hunter – tracking down people for others is what she did. And so she shook hands with the Hierophant. As soon as she did she felt a strange sensation, as if something had tugged at her soul. This immediately put her on the defensive as she demanded to know what just happened. The Hierophant, amused, informed her that she had just made a contract in the shrine of the Lawgiver. She was now mystically bound to complete her contract, which infuriated the wild woman no end, though she managed to control her temper and Hierophant Alhara proceeded to bless her hammer as they had agreed.

With that done, the party swiftly left the shrine and headed to where the Merchant’s District gave way to the Burnt District. There they swiftly located the supposedly haunted house, which used to belong to an alchemist. Now it was sealed shut by orders of the Winter Guard. Genpi laid out a swift plan of action – he would go in through a window, whilst the humans would enter through the door. This would force any entity inside to chose which group to go for. Olliver saw no issue with using Genpi as bait for a potentially murderous specter.

The door to the house.

Genpi leaped in through a window into what appeared to be a storage room filled with crates and boxes. All were packed with straw and had vials – some empty, some cracked, a few full. Meanwhile, the others entered the house through the main door and headed down a long corridor before the door leading outside snapped shut behind them and locked itself, leaving Dog outside. The group pressed onwards, and discovered that the room beyond the corridor was filled with a cloud of gas. Olliver, being an alchemist, merely shrugged, put on his mask, and walked through. Larkin, seeking to follow him but not having the benefits of a mask, and not knowing what the gas was, pressed himself up against the wall and carefully tried to move around the cloud.

Meanwhile, a disembodied voice had begun accusing Genpi of disturbing it’s work, and the gobber found himself begin attacked by thrown glass vials. He wisely chose to jump inside a crate for protection, pistols drawn as he sought out a target. Olliver meanwhile stepped back out of the cloud to communicate to the party that they were clearly in an alchemical lab, and that they needed to loot this place once they were done.All of a sudden, Larkin leveled his pistol and shot Raksha, alarming Olliver enough to aim his weapon at her too, demanding what was going on. Larkin, stammering, explained he had no idea what was going on, making Olliver glare at him accusingly. At that point, Raksha exclaimed in shock as she was compelled to smash her hammer into Olliver’s head, staggering the man.

Realizing the ghost was possessing them, Raksha set to trying to tear down the door leading outside, whilst Larkin had Dog help from the other side. Meanwhile, Olliver pushed on deeper into the building, making it to a small room with a crucible, where the ghost materialized, accusing him of trying to steal his formulas. Olliver was not in the mood to trade words with a dead man, and shot the ghost, to no effect. By this point, the door leading outside had been torn off it’s hinges by Dog, and the gas cloud began to be sucked outside. Raksha headed out and jumped in through the window Genpi used to enter the building, whilst Larkin dashed around the diminishing gas cloud, clambering onto an alchemical workbench in the process to get a good line of sight to the ghost. This resulted in him running across some acidic vials and taking damage whilst taking aim.

Realizing that the group was in trouble, Genpi scuttled into the main room and hid under a table, keeping himself out of the ghost’s sights. Raksha set to smashing the various crates in the storage room to prevent the ghost having things to throw at them. Of course, taking a hammer to volatile chemicals ended badly, and one of the crates exploded in her face. Hearing the explosion, the ghost phased into the storage room, and influenced her to drop her blessed hammer and draw her crossbow. Olliver chased after it, and ran to Raksha, dropping his slug gun in the process and tearing the crossbow from the bounty hunter’s hands and hurling it to one side, disarming her before she could attack the party again.

Regaining her senses, the wild woman picked up her hammer and prepared to attack the ghost, which phased behind her and continued to hurl abuse and chemicals at her and Olliver. Fed up with the spiritual shenanigans by this point, Genpi popped out from beneath the table with Final Word, and gunned the ghost down, ending the fight. Battered and weary, the party set to looting the alchemical lab under Olliver’s guidance. They realize that someone had been in the house before them and taken some books and vials, but they are too weary to do anything about it, and merely chalked it up to regular looters before making their way back to the Church of Morrow Ascendant.

Father Erin welcomed them back, glad to see them still alive, even if badly beaten. He listened to their story whilst preparing to heal Raksha, and was not happy to learn that the woman had made an agreement with the Hierophant in the shrine. Her word was now bound by divine law to be fulfilled. Still, he made sure to reward the group as much as he was able. In addition to being magically healed, Raksha was offered Voychek’s aid in studying medicine, whilst Genpi received a cash reward and access to the Church’s library. Olliver and Larkin also requested permission to access the library, so as to better study the arcane arts. And so they began to learn how to read magical runes.

As evening came, the group thanked Father Erin for his aid and set off for home, eager to get some rest before heading to the Orphanage of Ascendant Gordenn the following day…

 

Join us next time for the thrilling two-part finale to Act 1 of Port Vladovar: Game of Shadows – The Claw that Rocked the Cradle.

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A Game of Shadows – Port Vladovar (Episode 06 – Thieves in the Night)

Welcome back to our steampunk tale of foreigners battling the Russian mafia and Jack the Ripper! With their territory secured from their nearest rivals, the players set to building up more goodwill with the locals. The Church of Morrow Ascendant was particularly high on their list of desired allies.

 

It was the evening of the group’s sixth day in Port Vladovar. Genpi and Larina headed to the slaughterhouse to alert Oleg and Tonkov of the shift in power, to strike up a deal between the Kayazy and the Burning Lead to replace the deal Tonkov had with the Cranemen. In the meantime, Raksha studied the dossier she had received from Overseer Oleg regarding the Claw whilst Olliver and Larkin relaxed in The Captain’s Daughter. Whilst there they learned that Father Erin had sent a message to them requesting their aid in some matters. The dynamic duo immediately set out to see the priest, stopping by their hideout to fetch Raksha before heading onto the Church of Morrow Ascendant.

On the way, Raksha filled the other two gang members in on what she had learned from reading the Claw’s dossier. Being an obviously trained medical professional, it stood to reason that clues regarding his identity could be found in the place he earned his training. Tonkov’s agents had already checked the hospitals in Port Vladovar for missing practitioners, but all have been accounted for. Which meant the man known as the Claw was either a foreigner, or he had something to do with the one place not even Tonkov’s agents dared enter – a burned down insane asylum. Fearing the building to be haunted, Raksha suggested having Father Erin aid them in investigating the building, a suggestion Olliver and Larkin agreed with, whilst Dog just followed them as always.

They arrived at the Church as the sun was setting, the building now somewhat renovated with scaffolding and a large tarp over the damaged roof. Entering the building, they found the interior cleaned up of broken pews and bodies. Heading straight to the office, the characters met with Father Erin again, the elderly priest glad to see them again. He quickly informed them of two matters that had been brought to his attention – his congregation had informed him of some graves being disturbed in a par of local cemeteries flanking the church to the north and the south, whilst the local Winter Guard Watchpost had asked for his aid in clearing out a potentially haunted house. Not exactly eager to deal with ghosts with night approaching, the group agreed to deal with the grave-robbers first. Olliver and Larkin set about planning the operation as Raksha spoke to the priest about the Claw and their leads, asking for his assistance dealing with the insane asylum.

Father Erin expressed surprise, not having known of an asylum in the Port at all. He looked for his maps whilst Raksha was sent back to The Captain’s Daughter to round up the urchins to act as lookouts at both graveyards as per Olliver’s instructions. One group was sent to the north cemetery whilst another was sent to the south one, both groups having a unit of alchemical waste and a phial of vitriolic fire to use as signals for the party who would stay in the Church in between both cemeteries. Each had a tiny amount of alchemical waste that would be added to a fire burning in the fireplace of the an abandoned house opposite the graveyard, making its smoke turn a certain color (green for the north, blue for the south).

This signal would be sent each hour, unless grave-robbers were sighted, at which point the vitriolic fire would be thrown in, making red smoke. Olliver and Larkin settled in to wait, whilst Raksha conferred with the priest about the asylum’s location. It turned out that the priest knew the building as the Orphanage of Ascendant Gordenn, though the copies of the map of Port Vladovar the Church had were a hundred years out of date. But the Morrowan Church had not been informed of one of their orphanages being turned into an insane asylum. Filing this away as a mystery for another time, Raksha asked for the priest’s aid in cleansing the asylum of any supernatural activity. Father Erin sadly pointed out he was too busy dealing with the rebuilding of the church and caring for the local community, making sure the dead had their rites to stop them rising again.

Reluctantly, he informed the group of a Menite Shrine in the city they could turn to for help. Satisfied, Raksha climbed up the ruined bell tower (slipping once and nearly falling to her death), before settling in on the roof, making sure the signals were sent each hour. Five hours into the night, just after midnight, the northern signal turned red, prompting Raksha to abseil down the interior of the bell tower on the bell rope, ringing the church bells as she shouted “NORTH!” to her compatriots. As the party ran out of the building, they noticed that the entire neighborhood was in an uproar, panicking over the ringing bells. Some people were shouting about the Cryx having returned, with clearly magical fires being spotted in the district as they ran for the sanctuary of the church.

It took the party about fifteen minutes at full sprint through the darkened streets of Port Vladovar to reach the small graveyard, and the came across a band of thugs trying to pry open a mausoleum whilst a female trollkin stood guard. Raksha wasted no time, yelling out a war cry as she charged in and felled a thug, binding him as he went down. The trollkin immediately shot at her with her scattergun, wounding two thugs who had strayed too close to the bounty hunter. Olliver took cover by the mausoleum and threw a stun grenade, which the trollkin managed to resist. Dog lumbered into the graveyard whilst Larkin took cover behind a statue of an Ascendant, and shot one of the thugs. The remaining lackeys took cover and shot back at the heroes, to little effect.

Raksha charged the trollkin, who immediately struck back with the butt of her gun, missing the wild woman as she smashed her summer into the trollkin”s shoulder. With an angry cry, it drew a heavy pry bar and smashed it into Raksha’s ribs, sending the bounty hunter crashing to the ground spitting blood. Olliver meanwhile shot the two thugs taking cover on the other side of the mausoleum, grievously wounding both before Larkin finished them off. The gunmage then shot the trollkin in the head, the bullet embedding itself deep in her helmet, giving the grave-robber a concussion. Dog ran in to menace the remaining thugs, who attempted to flee. only one made it. Larkin provided Olliver with a stabilizing brew he used on Raksha to stop her spitting up her own blood.

Larkin had Dog pick up the trollkin and follow Olliver, whilst he and Raksha headed back to the church with the dead bodies and the captured thug to report to Father Erin. Back at the church, the two found the place packed with panicking citizens, whispering of a new Cryx attack, the walking dead and so forth. Bullying her way to the front where Father Erin was leading the worried people in prayer, she declared there was no threat now that the grave-robbers had been dealt with, and that everyone could go home. Her faintly threatening voice promising nothing but violence convinced the people to start heading out.

Larkin stood guard by the bodies with Dog whilst Raksha asked for Father Erin’s aid in healing her injuries. He offered her the services of the apothecary who had taken up residence in the morgue, aiding the priest in dealing with all the dead bodies that needed to be prepared for burial. Unwilling to trust the apothecary, she asked the priest to heal her with magic, and in gratitude for stopping the theft of bodies, he did so. Though it was tiring and hurt, Raksha suffered no lasting ill effects from the magic. During all this, a patrol of Winter Guard with the district Kapitan arrived, demanding to know what the disturbance was. Larkin nervously explained what had happened, and the Kapitan, a man by the name of Boris Tvardovski, let him off with a warning, taking possession of the prisoner in exchange.

Having read the dossier on the Claw, and how it was clear he was a medical professional, Raksha asked for the priest’s permission to speak to the apothecary. He granted it as the Kapitan entered the office, demanding to talk to the priest. Raksha headed for the morgue as a shouting match between the Winter Guard and Father Erin began. Larkin headed off to meet back up with Olliver at the Winter Guard Watchpost, now empty since the whole patrol group had gone to the church. It turned out that Olliver had taken the trollkin prisoner back to his personal laboratory, strapped her to a table and attached a drip feeding her knockout drugs to keep her too dazed to try to escape. The other character’s remained oblivious to this.

Descending into the morgue, Raksha came face to face with the apothecary, a man named Voychek, who was fond of always wearing his beaked plague mask. Suffering from stimulant overdose and sleep deprivation, the man was somewhat…off as she spoke to him regarding his tools and duties. His manner completely threw the bounty hunter into confusion, though she managed to wrangle some information from him as he continued his work, cleaning and preparing bodies for burial. It turned out he had not been sleeping due to dealing with the sheer volume of bodies for burial, and new ones were still coming in, including what Raksha realized was the latest Claw victim from the night before, this one missing his entire head.


The morgue in the Church of Morrow Ascendant

Voychek mentioned that the Winter Guard figured a Gator had bitten it off, not noticing the sharp slash below where the ragged stump of the neck was – possibly a mark of one of the Claw’s blades, since the killer’s MO was to slash the throat. Raksha disagreed with the Gator theory, to which the apothecary expressed an interest in dissecting one of the beasts. That of course caught the bounty hunter’s attention and she asked how much he would pay for a body – and learned she could earn 25gc, a better deal than the 15gc the Winter Guard was paying for each gator killed. Voychek also wanted a head for the headless body, a mission Raksha also agreed to in order to keep the apothecary cooperative. He promised to inform the group of any new Claw victims if they came into his morgue. Satisfied, Raksha set off back to the lair as the barest hints of dawn began to form in the sky.

 

And here the subplots continue to develop towards a resolution. Who is the Claw? Why is he murdering people? What did the graverobber want? Will the Menite Church aid our heroes?

A Game of Shadows – Port Vladovar (Episode 05 – The End of the Cranemen)

Here’s episode 05 to make up for the long delay!

 

Two days passed since the clash with the sewer gators, during which Olliver and Larkin made good on sorting through their loot, upgrading Dog and brewing more potions. Genpi had returned from his business and was resting when Raksha came out of the sewers, angered by the presence of Winter Guard patrols in what she claimed were her sewers. Olliver was quick to point out that Empress Ayn Vanar would probably dispute that before Genpi asked for clarification of what had happened. At this point, Olliver and Larkin informed the rest of the group of what had transpired whilst they were busy.

Genpi had heard of Rurik Tonkov before – a relatively lowly Kayazy who had recently risen to prominence thanks to his whaling operations. He owned a slaughterhouse in the Merchant’s Docks, and controlled a small whaling fleet of no mean skill – many of the sailors also worked for the Khadoran navy. In addition to this, his income was steadily booming in a way that suggested other schemes in the works. Raksha also knew him as a man who was advertising a bounty for the Claw, worth 250 gold. Genpi considered hunting down the Claw to earn favor with Tonkov, which Olliver was firmly against, reasoning it could be a waste of time and resources. After a brief quarrel during which Larkin and Genpi let slip they had done a mission of their own (but without revealing they were behind the assassination of the Greylord), it was decided that Raksha would enter the slaughterhouse of Tonkov under the pretense of learning more about the bounty, whilst the party would wait outside in an alley, just in case she required aid.


The Tonkov Slaughterhouse

Two Winter Guard were posted at the entrance onto the slaughterhouse grounds, and they let Raksha in after a quick look over and her declaration she was there to be employed by Tonkov. Crossing the forecourt, she noticed there were no Winter Guard on the grounds, and order seemed to be kept by local thugs. Stopping a worker on his break, she learned that to gain access to the slaughterhouse she would need a punch-card issued from the security office, which proved barely troublesome. Upon entering the slaughterhouse proper, Raksha noticed that everyone was armed in some manner, mostly with flensing blades. She also noted the small amount of light and heavy labor-jacks as she made her way to the Overseer’s office.

The Overseer, a man named Oleg Mishin, identified himself as Tonkov’s favored lieutenant, and his proxy in all dealings. He provided Raksha with a file on the Claw, and wished her luck, his clerk making a note of the meeting. Raksha left peacefully and reported on the defenses of the slaughterhouse to the group, and they started planning. Ideas were voiced ranging from working for Tonkov to killing the Overseer via lead to send a message that the Burning Lead were not to be taken lightly. Ultimately, the gang elected to hunt down the remains of the Cranemen and learn what they could of Tonkov from them.

Returning to the Cranemen’s territory, the party set a fire at one of the cranes to bring the remnants of the gang to them, hiding around the pier behind barrels and crates (Genpi hiding WITHIN a crate for variety), and Raksha hiding on the rooftops of the buildings facing the pier to hopefully catch their prey in a pincer attack. Large crowds came to investigate the blaze, and Larkin managed to recognize the leader of the Cranemen, the woman who had led the attack at the tavern. He signaled to Olliver, who peeked over his cover to confirm. The woman, Larina, noticed him and opened fire. Olliver countered by throwing knockout bombs at her and her compatriot, but they managed to withstand the effects. Genpi popped out of his crate and shot Larina’s primary arm as Larkin one-shotted the mage who had come along with her.

And then Raksha swung into action, charging down the roof and swinging upon a rope she had used to climb up there in the first place, smashing her warhammer into the gang leader and immediately making her spit blood before binding her. Whilst Genpi looted the mage, the rest of the group fled with their captive as the Winter Guard approached. Managing to sneak away whilst the patrol dealt with the blaze, Genpi encountered a disturbing sight on his way back – a man tearing out the soul of an ogrun restrained by his two lackeys. He noticed the gobber looking at him in horror, smirked, and wandered off, leaving behind the dead ogrun laborer for Genpi to inspect. Meanwhile, back at the hideout, the rest of the group began interrogating Larina in earnest, settling on ripping off her toes with pliers to make her talk.

The first thing they learned was that upon losing Final Word (the mechanika handcannon that had been planted on the party in the first session), a thamarite sorcerer had come to the Cranemen and wiped the rest of them out. Accusations of theft were answered by increasing brutality from the party. Larina also revealed all of her dealings with Tonkov had also been done via the Overseer of the slaughterhouse. The Burning Lead offered the last Craneman a choice – join them or die, using the example of the ogrun already in their employ to prove they could be merciful. Having lost two of her toes already, she agreed in resignation, and Larkin cauterized her wounds with the molten lead they had prepared just in case.

As another night approached, the party was left with a particularly larger territory than before, and a new lackey for their gang. All that was left now was to find a way to meet Tonkov himself…


Current territory of the Burning Lead

 

And so the Burning Lead grows more influential. Though moving up the hierarchy of the underworld comes with it’s own dangers…especially when Kayazy are involved.

A Game of Shadows – Port Vladovar (Episode 04 – Urban Adventures)

My apologies for the delay. New job, new place…anyways, here is episode 4 of the tale of the Enfield Eviscerator’s adventure in the Iron Kingdoms. Following the shenanigans of the volunteer-run session last time, I decided the party could do with a filler episode, which would also foreshadow various side-quest plot lines. Sadly, Raksha and Genpi were unavailable for this session too.

 

With Raksha still missing in the sewers and Genpi working on keeping information pertaining to his assassination attempt suppressed, Larkin and Olliver awoke early and set out to the Captain’s Daughter for some breakfast. Along the way, they came across a crowd of people clustered around the entrance to an alley. With such gatherings being rare this early in the morning, both men chose to investigate. They discovered the body of a young boy, one of the urchins who had been with them at the Church.

The top of skull had been removed, and his body had been slashed. A pair of Winter Guard kept the crowd at bay as an apothecary investigated the body before declaring it as another victim of the Claw. Olliver saw this as a potential threat, and wished to conduct his own forensic study. Using the Morrowan pendant he had relieved earlier in the week, he convinced the Winter Guard that he was with the local church, and for them to let him take the body there for it’s final rites. One of the Winter Guard was tasked with escorting him. Meanwhile Larkin asked one of the urchins in the crowd if they knew the dead boy. The little girl revealed the boy was named Petar and had a history of hearing voices no one else could.


The scene of the crime

Olliver wandered the streets towards the direction of the Church, Winter Guard in tow, and he pretended to stop in one of the alleys out of breath. Larkin had shadowed the pair as security when they left the crime scene. Olliver swiftly drew and dropped one of his knockout bombs, but to avoid suspicion he had not donned his gas-mask. As the Winter Guard coughed violently but stayed on his feet, Olliver lost consciousness. With a sigh of exasperation, Larkin put a rune bullet in the Guard’s head. After waiting for the smoke to disperse he smacked Olliver awake, looted the Guard, and the duo fled back to their hideout with the body.

Back in the hideout, Larking and Olliver investigated the body, and Olliver was the one who managed to learn much from it. The top of the skull had been removed with a bone-saw, and part of the frontal lobe of the brain removed. That part of the brain was commonly associated with madness by medical professionals. The slashes to the body were too clean and regular to be claws, leading Olliver to assume that a weapon that resembled a claw was used. With this information, the pair began theorizing why the Claw would remove the part of the brain responsible for madness. Whilst Larkin assumed it could have something to do with the Spark (trying to ignite it via eating the part of the brain potentially responsible for triggering it), Olliver suspected some bloodthirsty religious reason behind the removal of the frontal lobe – possible to induce insanity to communicate with a god.

Wishing more information, they went back to their tavern, and sent out their urchin gang (now understandably nervous) to find out what they could whilst the party interrogated the tavern keeper. From him they learned that the Claw – as the killer had been supposedly active in Port Vladovar for some time now, and earned himself quite a reputation – targeted the homeless and insane, and that fifteen deaths had occurred so far in the past year, starting just after the Cryxian assault. Whilst some assumed the Claw to be some kind of Cryxian monster, there has been no evidence to support this theory. With no way to predict the Claw’s movements, and no way to know if he would trouble their district further, Olliver declared it a problem for another time.

It was at this point that a thud was heard at the door. After investigating, Larkin discovered a letter addressed to the Burning Lead, telling them to take responsibility for their actions, signed by a Kayazy named Rurik Tonkov. This raised a fair few questions from the pair, but the party once more decided it was a problem to be dealt with later, once Genpi returned from his business. Heading off back to their lair (now the size of two basements, one of which was taken over by Olliver for his laboratory), the duo discovered the body of the urchin missing, the trail of blood leading to a large sewer grate that acted as the hideout’s escape route.

Intrigued, they set out into the sewers in pursuit of their quarry, eventually stumbling upon a pack of albino gatormen. Following a brief and vicious battle, they dragged the corpses of the gatormen and dumped them outside a Winter Guard outpost near the docks to alert them of the danger. And with that, the duo returned to their hideout, barricaded the sewer entrance, and went to sleep as dawn came, and the gatormen were discovered. Suitably alarmed, the Winter Guard were now made to patrol the sewers as well…

 

Another quick session, run mostly using the Urban Adventures supplement. Nothing groundbreaking, but it did give me a good starting point of what later turned out to be the main quest!

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…

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!

A Game of Shadows – Port Vladovar (Episode 01 – Arrival)

Welcome back to my log of the Enfield Eviscerators attempts at surviving the Iron Kingdoms! The first game we had dealt with the party’s arrival in Port Vladovar, using the first scene from “Friends in High Places” from Urban Adventure. It is a good opening, immediately providing the players with a common foe and plot to resolve, which should make the characters learn to trust one another and start working together.

We opened up with a ship arriving at the civilian docks of Port Vladovar, the least repaired set of docks along that stretch of coastline. The finer docks were being used by the Merchant District whilst the Navy docks were not only the finest, but still undergoing modernization and redevelopment. Larkin and Olliver were waiting for their cargo to be brought off the ship when they were approached by a polite, scruffy looking gobber inquiring after the time. Larkin attempted to guess the time from the position of the sun but settled on midday since it was halfway between morning and evening.


The Civilian Docks.

The gobber thanked him for his attempts at being helpful before vanishing into the crowd, just as Olliver’s crate and Dog were lowered from the ship by crane. That aided Genpi in his attempt to locate the duo, and he quickly approached the pair and introduced himself to Olliver, whilst Larkin busied himself with activating the steamjack. A few urchins tried to steal some of the coal set aside for Dog, but a glare from Larkin made them scatter. With the introductions dealt with, Genpi gave the two Cygnarans a quick overview of the situation in Port Vladovar as he led them into the Burnt District, past a large gathering of workers being assigned duties by a winter guard.

Genpi’s territory currently consists of only two streets and buildings – the basement of a ruined moneylenders house which has been set aside for Larkin’s and Olliver’s workshops, and a tavern around the corner called the Captain’s Daughter. When they entered the main hideout, they met Raksha, idly maintaining her gear. Whilst unpacking, Olliver found a broken down weapon in his bag, and asked the others if they knew anything about it. Genpi immediately recognized it as a relic of some importance to another local gang (being the symbol of leadership), which immediately set the whole group on edge.

As if on cue, one of the runners from the Captain’s Daughter knocked on the basement door, and informed the group the Cranemen (a gang formed from crane operators and their families) had arrived at the tavern and where demanding the return of their hand cannon. Raksha was given the stolen item to hide somewhere in the sewers (after Olliver had extracted the runeplate), whilst Genpi and the two mechaniks went to investigate.


The Captain’s Daughter Tavern – That is not a gazebo, but a ruined water tower to the left.

They came across the Cranemen waiting outside the tavern whilst half of the gang ransacked it, searching for the weapon. Immediately recognizing Genpi, the gang attacked the trio. Following a quick and brutal fight, Larina (leader of the Cranemen), fled with two other gang members, leaving behind the bodies of three more, one knocked out by gas, and her ogrun enforcer spitting blood.

Having looted the bodies, Genpi retired to make sure his tavern was alright, leaving Larkin and Olliver to deal with the prisoners. Olliver suggested a scheme to convince the ogrun to join the “Burning Lead”, which Larkin found himself having the stomach for. The ogrun, named Kroll, awoke to see the other captured gang member screaming as Larkin poured molten lead from his rune etching kit down his throat, melting part of his face before Olliver calmly stated the only way out was for the ogrun to pledge his allegiance to them. Unsurprisingly, he readily agreed.

The two mechaniks then had the ogrun drag the body of the dead ganger to the bottom of the street, and string it up from a lamppost, with his armband (declaring him a member of the Cranemen) tied around his eyes, over the ruined part of his face covered in cold lead. Now the ogrun is tied up in the tavern cellar whilst Olliver and Larkin get some sleep before searching for jobs the next day to start earning money.

But as first impressions go, they certainly have made one on the Cranemen.

A/N: You learn some disturbing things about your players when playing evil campaigns! Also, Genpi’s player had to leave early, whilst Raksha’s player was busy working on something but was able to drop in for a scene to make sure the party at least knew each other in the first session. I must say, I love how quick IKRPG is to play – the whole session only took two hours.

Down below is a map of the local area, with the gang’s territory marked in dark green!

And that’s that for our first session! No one died, we had come combat, some role-playing, and establishing what the character’s were like.  This bodes well for the future…