Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Episode 18 - The Enemy Within - Enemy at the Gates

The mission: seize Castle Wittgenstein and end the Wittgenstein's mad reign.
This is an actual play recording of Death on the Reik, a chapter in Games Workshop's classic campaign The Enemy Within.


Download Episode from Google Drive (27.7MB)

Heroes present were Esmerelda the Shallayan initiate, Herdan van Helsing the vampire hunter, Jotunn the dwarf veteran, Walter the halfling agitator, Solomon the halfling smuggler and Magnus the dwarven prospector.

We left the heroes having successfully navigated the tunnels beneath Castle Wittgenstein. They had been on a reconnaissance mission for the camp of outlaws they were allied to. Now they stood beneath a trapdoor they knew would lead them into the castle's courtyard and the heart of the enemy camp.


Key points from Episode 18

A shanty town of mutants could be found within the outer bailey
(1:00) With great effort the group hefted a block in the ceiling of the tunnel aside. It granted them entry to the Castle Wittgenstein's squalid courtyard. The block was difficult to move as atop it sat a scraggly mutant cradling a rancid potato. The unfortunate was dismissively spoken to while the party got their bearings. They had emerged in a ruined building in the castle's courtyard and were surrounded by a shanty town of crippled and disease struck mutants. Magnus took pity on the wretches telling them that if they wished to take their chances they could escape by following the tunnel from which the heroes had emerged.
Castle Wittgenstein's Gatehouse did little to stop the adventurers
(8:05) Huddled amongst the rubble, surrounded by inquisitive mutants the group planned their attack on the keep. They talked at length on how best to employ their poison wind globe before recalling that they had left it hidden beneath the hull of their boat. 
Castle Wittgenstein's outer bailey was the scene of this session
(12:30) They donned rancid garments to appear like any other outer bailey beggar. Suitably disguised the heroes made their way to the gatehouse, using the shanty town in the courtyard as cover. The inner door to the gatehouse was unlocked and they burst in to confront a single guard reclining at a desk, fetid lips puffing away on a pipe. He had his helm by his side which revealed his horrid rotting visage. The sight shocked the group with Esmerelda shrieking and Magnus throwing up in his mouth. Jotunn and Herdan were made of sterner stuff and charged. It was over quickly with the hapless guard impaled on Herdan's spear mid pipe puff. 
The Wittgenstein guards spent their down time playing Yahtzee
(19:15) The group raced up the stairs catching the gatehouse guards on the level above unprepared and in the midst of a game of Yahtzee. In response to the groups sudden arrival the guards flipped the table and readied their weapons. A dangerously wounded Magnus hurled himself into the fray and, thanks to a lucky charm, survived. Esmerelda locked down the room baring all exits. It was to be a fight to the death.

(22:30) There's a magic sword called Barakul in Wittgendorf that takes some thinking to convert from 1e to 2e. The change to the way armour works makes the 2e version more powerful than originally intended. After some discussion we settled on the way Barrakul interacts with shields and parries. A foes first parry would be ineffective as the warp blade phases through the parrying blade and slices into the enemies arm. Assuming they survive the opponent can parry normally as they change their approach to swatting away the hand holding Barakul.

(29:15) As the final guard fell Esmerelda seized the hunting horn, raced to an arrow slit and sounded a single blast signalling their outlaw allies to rush the gatehouse. 

(31:50) Herdan took the gatehouse key from a corpse and locked the exterior door just as a squad of guards arrived from the barracks to investigate the commotion. The group contemplated how best to use the cauldrons of lead and water they had seized.

(37:57) The guards in the courtyard called to the locked down gatehouse demanding to know what the ruckus had been about. Herdan did his best guard impersonation explaining that he had been excited and had started shouting having won the pot in Yahtzee. In fact he had been so excited that he had sounded a horn to celebrate. When the guards demanded his name Herdan quickly responded with "Hans". I ruled there was a 60% chance that there would be a garrison guard called Hans. Alas the dice were cruel and there was no Hans. The lieutenant leading the guards called Herdan's bluff and his men rushed the gatehouse. They were met by a volley of crossbow fire.

(40:15) Esmerelda realised that while loading crossbows may put her on shaky spiritual grounds with Shallya the act itself didn't violate any specific oath. She justified it to herself by saying that all she did was load the crossbows and if the halflings happened to kill someone with them she was hardly responsible. A couple of guards fell peppered with bolts as they attempted to break down the gatehouse door. As they fell the remaining guards breached the entrance and rushed the heroes position. 
Lieutenant Doppler was a coward who learned that flails aren't all that great
(44:40) Herdan threatened his foes from the top of the internal gatehouse stairs with a cauldron of tepid water and a cauldron of solid lead. He hoped to bluff them into believing each contained boiling liquid. The guards paused allowing Jotunn to pelt them with heavy spears. As they nervously advanced Herdan pushed the heavy cauldron of lead at them. The cumbersome cauldron bounced down the stairs like a giant bowling ball crushing an unlucky soldier. In the ensuing melee the disorganised guards failed to bring the might of the full garrison to bear. In frustration at the way things were transpiring the garrisons commander, Lieutenant Doppler, emerged from the throng to battle the hero's. He quickly found that he was outclassed and was forced into a humiliating retreat. Herdan hacked at the lieutenant's back and the halflings peppered him with crossbow bolts as he fled to the safety of the barracks. Somehow Doppler survived and he and his men hunkered down for a siege.

(54:00) With the guards contained the heroes flung the castle gates open allowing their thirty outlaw allies, who they had summoned with a blast of their hunting horn, access to the keep. The heroes had taken the gatehouse. The assault on the castle proper could begin.

Monday, 22 September 2014

Episode 17 - The Enemy Within - Beneath Castle Wittgenstein

Beastmen haunt the Wittgendorf woods. One served as a tracker for the castle guards.
This is an actual play recording of Death on the Reik, a chapter in Games Workshop's classic campaign The Enemy Within.


Download Episode from Google Drive (39.1MB)

Heroes present were Esmerelda Potter the Shallayan initiate, Herdan van Helsing the vampire hunter, Jotunn the dwarf veteran, Walter the halfling agitator, Solomon the halfling smuggler and Magnus the dwarven prospector.

We left the heroes out the front of the Wittgendorf physician's house. It was merrily ablaze and the physician dead, technically by his own hand. The group were somewhat the wiser from the encounter and sought to return to their outlaw allies to plan the assault on the source of the regions troubles, Castle Wittgenstein.


Key points from Episode 17

(2:50) The group were troubled by the news of a Norscan taking up residence in Castle Wittgenstein. They tried to work out what their characters would know, without blatant meta-gaming, and leaped to the conclusion that they would soon face a chaos warrior.
Sergeant Kratz will punch you in the face
(5:00) Returning to the outlaw camp the heroes spied a group of castle guards moving through the woods. These guards followed a dog headed beastman who sniffed the ground and howled excitedly. Fortunately the heroes were downwind of their foe. They hid amongst the forest's rotting foliage and prepared an ambush. The attack opened with a blunderbuss blast catching the guards mounted leader. His horse reared in terror throwing its rider. Crossbow bolts struck the confused guards while Jotunn and Herdan rushed into combat.

(20:52) The surprise wore off and soon the guards had Jotunn, Magnus and Herdan surrounded and outnumbered. Things looked grim till the pacifist Shallyan priestess Esmerelda joined the fray. While she struck no blows she did even the odds.

(27:50) The battle wore on. Both sides were well protected in heavy armour. A telling blow from Jotunn's armour ignoring blade Barakul would turn the tide but the dwarf could not hit. Esmerelda took a chance and for the first time ever channelled the winds of magic to shock her foe. For months she had bemoaned magics terrible risk to her sanity, but due to the stalemate she threw caution to the wind.

(32:41) Jotunn finally landed a blow. Barakul phased through armour, slicing through a guard's torso. The two halves remained neatly encapsulated in the armour. The torrent of blood which doused his foe left none in doubt of Barakul's potency. Jotunn had a unique way of killing heavily armoured foes.

(35:48) Combat wound down with the party having the upper hand. There was a sense of inevitability until a desperate guard lashed out and Ulric furied Magnus. The guard's sword embedded itself in the unlucky dwarf who collapsed unconscious with internal bleeding. He fortunately fell in front of the Shallyan priestess who, in the midst of combat, set about frantically bandaging him before he bled out. The Old World is fickle and thus far had reserved all its critical hits for Magnus. The guard's lucky blow was a tragic footnote rather than a turning point as he and his fellows were cut down.

(42:50) Herdan and Jotunn carried their crippled companion back to the outlaw camp. In my house rules healing poultices must be fresh so as not to have them freely available. By the book poultices are a mixture of manure, cow urine and other foul things. Esmerelda, being the healer, played this angle up crying "Quick, poo in my hands!" Her healing skills failed to help the crippled Magnus but perversely fully healed the slightly injured Jotunn. Fortunately for the mangled Magnus, Sigrid the outlaw chief called on the power of Taal and the dwarf's wounds closed slightly.

(49:00) After lengthy discussion and despite Magnus' horrific injuries the group decided to attack the castle before the missing patrol was noticed. The outlaws were told to gather rope for scaling the castle walls and to prepare fire arrows. Thunder rumbled overhead. The group cursed the GM's foreshadowing of a storm. They wanted to burn Castle Wittgenstein to the ground.

(49:38) Magnus proposed a plan to feign retreat and lure the guards into a trap. Jotunn made the point that he never retreats. Later episodes will prove the dwarf's bravado false.

(53:20) Before entering the tunnels beneath Castle Wittgenstein the group organised hunting horn signals with the outlaws. Herdan's parting words were "If we are not back in an hour wait longer."
The entrance to the tunnels beneath Castle Wittgenstein
(56:22) The group were not long in the tunnels before their senses were assailed by screams and grunts echoing about the confined space and seemingly coming from every direction at once. At several stages members of the group glimpsed a disembodied head leering at them from the dark. The halflings at the back of the party were alarmed by a blood curdling shriek perhaps a meter behind them. Walter ran to the front ranks ducking beneath Esmerelda's skirts. Solomon bravely turned to face his foe and glimpsed a horrid visage receding into the gloom. Doubling back the group determined that they were being stalked by a creature that left a trail of slimy sucker marks.
A glimpse of the natural caves beneath the castle
(64:30) The group followed the tunnels in the direction they believed Castle Wittgenstein lay. The dwarves felt comfortable underground and kept the group on track. At one point the band were assailed by barnacle like creatures with razor sharp lash like tongues, lashworms! Such creatures might have posed a threat to a skulking halfling but the group's front rank wore armour too thick for a lashworm to penetrate. Magnus' armour piercing sword was brutally efficient at slicing the odd creatures from the walls.
Former woodsman turned crazed mutant Brutagh
(68:16) In time the group came across an icy underground stream. Employing a pole they determined it was 4ft deep making it a concern for short party members. Herdan got sick of the blood curdling screams hounding them and called their stalker out. "That's it. You and me. Lets fight. Come on!" He was surprised when the creature responded cogently from the darkness. They learned their pursuer had once been Brutugh the woodsman. Brutagh told them how to find both underground entrances to the castle before his moment of lucidity ended and he returned to animalistic grunts and howls. Magnus argued that they put him out of his misery but the group left him and pressed on to the castle.

(72:50) The warriors leaped across the stream while the halflings shimmied across it via a rope. Following Brutagh's directions they discovered a trapdoor which led into Castle Wittgenstein. Despite Magnus' grievous wounds they took a chance and mounted their attack. Hefting the trapdoor aside they emerged into Castle Wittgenstein's chaotic courtyard.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Rogue Trader - The last hurrah - Marines v Eldar v Hellsreach Slavers

Optimus fobbed off family commitments and managed a final game before quiting the country. Some discussion and a roll on the random narrative generator meant we soon had the following:

Mutie the pig and his slaving company had ambushed some early model Imperial Walkers with their vastly superior Hellsreach model. The spoils, heretical xeno tech of Eldar design, would make Mutie rich if he could get them to safety. He called in a dropship to pick the group up.

Ultramarine Commander Gideon, flush with success after his triumph over Vlad Kirby, intercepted the slavers call. He personally led his battle brothers in the attempt to retrieve the heretical tech and at the same time bring the Emperor's justice to these slaving scum. 

Eldar exodite Che-vy Ba-io had been too late to prevent the trade of his people's technology to the mon-keighs. He would have to get the goods back the hard way. He didn't mind. Killing mon-keighs was a fun diversion.


---+++---

The walker strode across the field under the careful guidance of Lou Diamond Goldblum. Normally the slavers all rode in the walker but it was currently crammed full of xeno tech leaving only room for the pilot, a gunner and an outrider. The rest of the gang fanned out at the walkers feet.
Mutie on the left was not long for this world. Upper left, my thumb ruining a good pic.
Slivers of silver shot from the treeline raking the slavers. Mutie looked on in shock as high velocity shuriken tore apart his torso. For the boss it was over quickly. For his fellow slavers the terror was just beginning. On the slaver's flank the Ultramarines moved into the trees to prepare an ambush.

Lou Diamond Goldblum manoeuvred the walker to allow Papa Walken to fire a macro cannon round into the forest from which the shuriken burst had come. With a 3" burst template the macro cannon would deviate on a 2+. In a surprise to no one the round deviated badly missing everything.
Foot slogging slavers were in for a bad day. Those in the walker would need to keep their heads down to survive.
Che-vy Ba-io and his exodites hunkered down in the tree line. Their scatter laser tried ineffectively to damage the hellsreach walker. A second group of eldar broke off to tackle the troublesome marines. The only good mon-keigh is a dead mon-keigh.
The walker had to break the exodite line in order to get the xeno tech to safety.
The marines completed the humiliation of the slavers, gunning down the few left in the open. A krak missile streaked towards the Hellsreach Walker but failed to do any damage. It did however give away the marine heavies position and he was blown apart by the Eldar's lascannon.
The Ultramarines were left in the walker's wake. There was little their bolters could do.
Lou Diamond Goldblum pushed the walker to its limit striding away from the marines and towards Che-vy Ba-io's exodites. The sole surviving foot slogging slaver dove into the forest in the wake of the walker, trying his best not to get shot.
The maco cannon blasts huge chunks of earth into the sky killing 0 Eldar.
The earth shook as the walker strode towards the exodites. The crew of the walker kept their heads down and successfully avoided their foes las and shuriken fire.
Che-vy Ba-io and a fellow exodite prepare to spring from the woods and board the walker.
Che-vy Ba-io was not going to let the walker escape. He and a companion broke from the woods and tried to board the lumbering machine. While Che-vy's companion was crushed under foot the exodite leader scaled the walker and levelled his multi-laser. He had the mon-keighs at his mercy.

Che-vy thinks he has the drop on the mon-keighs. He's wrong.
But it was not to be. Lou Diamond Goldblum left the wheel and spun about, levelling a stub gun at his alien foe. The round tore through Che-vy's helmet and the xeno's delicate body tumbled from the walker's railing to land with an unceremonious splat on the ground below. Papa Walken, who had thus far killed no one with his inaccurate macro cannon fire, pumped his fist in the air to celebrate Che-vy's death. Unfortunately this meant his arm was above the protective railing and it was torn off by a hail of shuriken. 
Che-vy is blasted off the walker. Papa Walken loses his arm and plummets to his doom.
After his companion's death Lou Diamond Goldblum focused on keeping his head down as he piloted the walker off the board and to victory!
The Hellsreach Walker gets out of dodge.  A single slaver survived to celebrate victory!
With the walker gone the marines could do little other than work off some aggression against their Eldar foes. It was not without cost for Commander Gideon was sliced in two by a lascannon blast and two brothers were lit up by a flamer. In response the Eldar were purged with bolter fire. The handful of remaining exodites quit the field.
Pesky interfering Xenos. Steel yourselves brothers. For the Emperor!
That was probably the best game we had even though it was thrown together at the very last minute. The walker and in earlier battles the dreadnought confirmed that vehicles are very tough to damage. Sustained fire weapons like shuriken catapults seem superior to the forever deviating area effect weapons. Flamers seem the exception to the general uselessness of area effect weapons but only when lighting up foes at close range. The macro-cannon looked devastating on paper but after being fired about 10 times in various games managed to kill 0 opponents. A deviating macro cannon round might kill something in a massed battle but not in a skirmish game.

It was interesting relearning rules we haven't touched in ages. Nothing in Rogue Trader is too game breaking as long as you employ the rules to suit the scenario. It's a serviceable system that still has plenty to offer.

Friday, 8 August 2014

Rogue Trader | Pulp Alley - Imperials v Space Pudding Cult

Optimus had been looking into 2 hour wargames material and talked about moving away from the 'I Go, You Go' wargame. The idea of playing a game not built on the warhammer chassis appealed. I'd read Cheetor's Get to the Chopper battle report using the Pulp Alley rules and figured this was a system worth trialling.

Imperial Loyalists - Militia man Toby (follower), Trooper Karl (ally), Eddie the dreadnought (leader), Astropath Stelark (ally), Trooper Di Vito (ally), Brother Boreal (sidekick)
Cult of the Space Pudding - Sniper Jean (ally), Lay brother Franz (sidekick), Preacher Schwartzenhelm (leader), Muppet the cyber-hound (follower), Claude (ally) and Tuco (ally)
Plot point: Shotgun hobo was once a scientist before going native. He knows the code which grants access to the Hellsreach bunker. Will he share it with either side?
Turn one - The Loyalists prepared to interrogate Shotgun hobo in the southern ruins while Eddie the dreadnought stalked Muppet the cyber-hound through the perilous woods.
Brother Boreal discovered a cache of data slates dumped in the forest. He used them to determine the code to access the underground bunker and soon he was piloting the Hellsreach Walker.
Given the walker's height the Space Pudding cultists were hard pressed targeting its pilot. They raced to the higher ground of the nearby ruins.
The ruins were perilous terrain and Optimus played several fortune cards to ensure the cultists had a bad time. Several booby traps were set off felling Claude and Muppet.
The cultists took the high ground at great cost and exchanged fire with the walker. They ignored the challenging plot point of Shotgun Hobo's female captive. While she knew the access code to the bunker it was too late now. The walker had been unleashed.
Brother Boreal couldn't steer and fire the walker's cannon so he picked up Trooper De Vito to act as gunner.
Eddie and the walker blazed away and felled Lay brother Franz momentarily. Luckily for the cultists he recovered. Trooper Karl had earlier been executed by Preacher Schartzenhelm as the cultist stormed the ruins.
Trooper Di Vito aimed the walker's macro cannon at Preacher Schwartzenhelm and let rip. Unfortunately for him, and thanks to a well timed fortune card, a round misfired taking him out of action.
Optimus was particularly proud of killing Muppet the cyber-hound. Muppet had dodged a hail of bolter fire from many sources before falling to a mine buried at the base of some ruins. 
While the Hellsreach Walker buggered off, Eddie stayed and exchanged fire with the surviving cultists. He tore up Jean the ratling sniper but found Brother Schwartzenhelm and Lay brother Franz harder to hurt. The Pulp Alley rules worked well in providing a pulp feel which ensured leaders and sidekicks were hard to take out of action.
Brother Boreal piloted the Hellsreach Walker off the board. The Loyalists had won.
Optimus and I agreed that the Pulp Alley rules worked well for a Space Opera | Rogue Trader style game. The rules gave each side a competitive chance through the entire game while our recent Rogue Trader games have seen one side dominate. The survivability of leaders and sidekicks did feel odd though perfectly fits the Pulp flavour. By the end of the game all allies and followers had been taken out of action leaving battered sidekicks and leaders still standing.

That's it as far as wargame reports go, at least for a good while. Optimus will be heading back overseas but while he was in Aus we got a decent amount of oldshool gaming in.


Monday, 4 August 2014

Rogue Trader - Vlad Kirby vs the 1st Ultramarine Combat Engineers


Classic Ultramarines vs Orks diorama. This is what we were aiming for.
Optimus and I managed two games of Rogue Trader and a game of Pulp Alley while he was in Aus. This scenario was a follow-up game to the whipping that was Vlad Kirby's enslaved Orks verse Silver Skull Space Marines

Optimus had acquired some 90's Space Hulk tiles and was eager to use them. We mocked up Vlad Kirby's underground bunker and unleashed the 1st Ultramarine Combat Engineers, equipped with las-cutters and supported by fearsome dreadnoughts. Would they be able to withstand Vlad Kirby's psychic onslaught?

Vlad Kirby had successfully fended off a strike force of Silver Skulls, incensing the Marines orbiting the planet. The spiteful Astartes began an orbital bombardment, levelling the sector. Once they had finished their ship's astropath picked up a faint psychic signal. Vlad and his Orks had retreated underground. They would need to be dug out.



The 1st Ultramarine Combat Engineers, equipped with siege dreadnoughts, were shuttled to the planet's surface. They would not risk another teleport incident. Commander Gideon would lead them. He would play only a minor role in the skirmish.



The Ork's defences were scattered. They were unsure which tunnels the Ultramarines would breach and so they tried to guard all of them. The narrow corridors meant they could not repulse the marines with massed bolter fire. The killing was going to be up close and personal.





The engineers breached the northern tunnels and were met with a burst of fire from the Ork's flamer. With typical Ork accuracy it deviated badly.

The western tunnels were also breached and Eddie the dreadnought stormed down the narrow confines. Grotnob the Ork revved up his chainsword and challenged the metal giant. The dreadnought answered with a long burst of bolter fire.
The Orks rushed reinforcements to meet the rampaging Eddie, raising a barricade to delay the brute. Their bolter fire pattered of its armour like so much rain. A strength 4 hit verse toughness 6 is hard to pull off, add in a 3+ armour save and it ain't happening. 
Vlad made his move. He raced down the corridors, intending to fry Eddie's mind. Meanwhile the Ultramarine squad in the northern tunnels moved to engage the Orks that were attempting to flank them. An Ork flamer lit up Brother Bethor, Brother Marius and set the siege dreadnought aflame. Ignoring the napalm licking its metal body the dreadnought launched a plasma missile at its foe. Superheated plasma washed over the room leaving nothing but charbroiled chunks of Ork in its wake.

Things looked grim and dark for the Orks. While bolters and flame throwers could theoretically damage the dreadnoughts the Orks were having no luck. It was up to Vlad.


Vlad could hear the sounds of combat, the whine of chainswords, howling Orks and the repetitive thud of explosive bolter rounds. He stalked through the tunnels towards the carnage and contemptuously stepped into the sights of Eddie. Vlad prepared to shrug off Eddie's twin linked bolters for the chance to fry the dreadnought pilot's mind. Eddie gave him everything he had. 2 twin linked bolters barked forth, both hit. 3 shells scored wounds. It was enough. Explosive bolter rounds detonated inside the chest of the Space Vampire leaving scraps of flesh spattered across the corridor. Commander Gideon, who up to this point had done little except punch an Ork's head off, celebrated his victory over the notorious Vlad Kirby by giving Eddie the dreadnought a high five.

Vlad Kirby! Noooooo!
Optimus (aka the one) can consider his honour redeemed after his Marines were routed last game. Dreadnoughts are tough and I chanced my arm facing down Eddie with Vlad. While the odds might have been with me, luck was not. The corridors called for non standard tactics. The Marines came up with the better tactical plan, using their dreadnoughts to spearhead their assault.

This was another challenging scenario. While tactics have played a part in both our recent Rogue Trader games, luck proved the deciding factor. Once again it was the strength of the scenario that keep things interesting, fresh and fun. Rogue Trader remains an excellent, characterful skirmish game.

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Episode 16 - The Enemy Within - Wittgendorf's Physician

The physician Jean Ressauex's house. The best house in abandoned Wittgendorf.
This is an actual play recording of Death on the Reik, a chapter in Games Workshop's classic campaign The Enemy Within.


Download Episode from Google Drive (40.9 MB)

Heroes present were Esmeralda the Shallayan initiate, Herdan the vampire hunter, Joten the dwarf veteran, Walter the halfling agitator, Solomon the halfling smuggler and Magnus the dwarven prospector.

We left the heroes having evacuated the entire cursed town of Wittgendorf on their trading vessel 'The Hammer'. They planned to return to Wittgendorf to deal with the disturbing Wittgenstein family who they suspected of holding a warpstone meteor.


Key points from Episode 16

(3:44) On docking in Grissenwald with a boatload of Wittgendorf refugees the group were met by the Harbormaster. Despite his reluctance to take in possible mutants, the heroes used the recent pro-mutant Imperial edict to verbally out manoeuvre the Harbormaster. Esmeralda proclaimed "Has the Emperor not decreed that mutants are people too? As a priestess of Shallya I have vetted each and every villager and can vouch for for the sanctity of both their bodies and minds." The Wittgendorf refugees disembarked and moved into the slums on the edge of town.

(7:34) We learnt that the trading rules are inflexible, hard to utilise at the table and not to our taste. So I changed them. They will be there own blog post one of these days.


(8:56) The heroes struck a trade deal with Gorim Greathammer, leader of Grissenwald's dwarfs. They had aided the dwarves earlier in reclaiming their coal mine from goblins. In exchange for some timber to shore up the mine the heroes received a contract to sell the coal entitling them to 5% of sales. The first shipment of coal would be ready in a week.

Care to travel aboard 'The Hammer'? Alas we are fresh out of strawberries.
(16:40) While sailing to Wittgendorf the group pondered turning their boat into a dedicated passenger vessel. It's the Firefly angle the players find appealing. That and it seemed a more reliable way of earning coin than trading. I whipped together some very rough passenger rules that again will likely see its own blog post.

(22:02) While sailing Walter and Solomon, the groups halfling chefs, noticed that something had been eating the ships supplies. The boat had a rat problem. Perhaps it was time to invest in a ships cat? Later as they headed into Wittgenstein by row boat the sharp eyed in the group spotted rats jumping into the river in surreptitious pursuit. Jotun suspected Hilda, their outlaw guide, of being in league with the rats based on ... nothing really... he's a suspicious dwarven bastard. The halflings picked of the swimming rats with precision slingshots.

Sigrid - Priestess of Taal and leader of the Outlaws
(29:00) Hilda, their guide, had suffered the twin tragedies of having her husband taken by Wittgenstein guards on suspicion of collaborating with outlaws and then her newborn had mutated into a green furred spider. As it turned out she and her husband were outlaw collaborators and she offered to take the band to their woodland camp. They made the trip during the day. The corrupted wood was a haunt of beastmen, and they mostly come out at night ... mostly. At the camp they met Sigrid the outlaw leader and Priestess of Taal. Walter's contrarian nature almost argued the outlaws into leaving. "With the village evacuated you have no need to remain to defend your people. You should leave these cursed lands." Esmeralda reminded him that they needed the outlaws help against the castle defenders. Sigrid tells them of caves beneath Castle Wittgenstein and encouraged the group to explore them. The outlaws agreed to assist in any attack on the Wittgensteins.
Kurt - a simpleton that ran the local still
(40:10) The heroes decided they needed a map of the castle. The only person they knew who had been inside the place was Wittgendorf's physician Jean Ressauex. They set out on a simple snatch and grab. They waited at the edge of the vacant town and crept in at nightfall. First they searched the physician's shed. There they met Kurt the simpleton who operated the physician's still. The still was used to make a strong elderberry spirit that was passed out to the mad mutant beggars of Wittgendorf. Esmeralda convinced Kurt that the group were from the castle and that there was nothing to worry about, oh and could he lend them the key to the house? Examining the still revealed a growth of small waving tendrils near the spigot.
Jean Ressauex - Wittgendorf's Physician - still caring for the down and outs
(52:24) The group surrounded the physician's house and moved in with SWAT like precision. Jean Ressauex was confronted in his dining room by Esmeralda "J'acuse! We know you are in league with the evil Wittgensteins." Despite his outrage at the home invasion Jean Ressauex told them about the Wittgenstein family, their Norscan guest and guards. The group figured he was feeding them half truths and turned up the heat. Their lines of questioning focused on the warrior from Norsca who never left his armour as well as the apparent terminal injury to the Wittgenstein's Captain of the guard.

(61:12) While the interrogation progressed Herdan and Joten explored the house and ventured into the cellar. They discovered a horrendous smell which they countered with the old tunnel fighter trick of soaking a handkerchief in urine and wearing it as a mask. This caused the stench to be somewhat lessened. The cellar was set up as a lab full of pipettes, rubber hosing and surgical saws. Herdan approached a slab of fly covered meat on the cellar table using his lantern to shoo the buzzing swarm away. The meat, to no ones surprise, turned out to be a dismembered human body.


(66:20) Esmeralda headed down into the cellar to lend her apothecary skills to the investigation. She opened several vials to determine their contents. From one such vial a grey ooze leaped forth landing on the fly bloated corpse. The body shuddered and suddenly lashing tentacles burst forth. Joten gritted his teeth and put down the thing with two swift sword blows. Esmeralda had seen enough and screamed "Get the Doctor!" Jean 
Ressauex was manhandled to the body and ordered to investigate it. When asked what he should be investigating the group insisted he "Just use science or something." To everyone's surprise grey tentacles emerged from the corpse and wrapped themselves around the physician's neck. Herdan figured fire was the only answer here. He smashed his lantern on Ressauex and then tipped medical alcohol onto the ensuing conflagration. Ressauex was engulfed and his house became his pyre. Whilst he burned the party managed to catch a glimpse of his rapidly melting face. The speed with which his face melted suggested something was amiss, as if he wore a wax mask to conceal ... well now they will never know.

(79:00) The group conducted a rapid search while the house burned around them. The two notes below were found as well as a stash of coins. 

Notes found during the frantic search of Jean Ressaux's burning house
(84:00) The heroes stood before the blazing building using the ample light to read Jean Ressauex's notes, trying to unravel the mystery of the physician. Esmeralda speculated that the physician had been a love stuck dupe used by the Wittgenstein's. Perhaps he had been concerned for the people's welfare after all. His misguided ministrations had clearly caused much misery to the locals. Everyone agreed the old world was better off without Jean Ressauex.