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.

Monday, 28 July 2014

The Enemy Within podcast - putting it together

Sadly we never recorded our 1990s campaign.
Remember that awesome roleplaying session from high school? The one you and your friends still reminisce about today? For me it was my first run through Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay's The Enemy Within campaign. This was the first game I had played in that had carried on for more than 2 or 3 sessions. The details of what went down aren't clear anymore, its been 20 years.  While Optimus, Pete and I had considered tape recording our sessions regretfully we never did. So when I decided to run the campaign last year I figured I would record it for prosperity. I was heavily inspired by this The Enemy Within campaign as well as the Fear the Boot podcast. Here's how I make my podcast:

I use a voice recorder app on my smart phone. I place the phone in the middle of the table and let it run. It picks up the clatter of dice, every cough and the squeak of floorboards as people move around the kitchen. The voice levels are a bit off but you can fix that later using The Levelator program.
Once you have a session recorded you need to edit it down to something manageable. You should aim for an episode to be an hour long. I listen to podcasts on the way to and from work which means I can listen to one podcast a day. My friend Optimus had pointed out that my initial recordings were too long and I am in the laborious process of editing the early sessions down. A typical gaming session will be 6 hours long. Once you edit it down you should have 3 x 1 hour long podcasts. There will be in jokes, off topic talk, boring bits like equipment shopping and extended rules look-ups that you will want to remove. I use Audacity to edit the recording. It's free, intuitive and has online support. If you have a Mac then Garage Band is a valid option. 

When cutting the sound file down to size I have a blog post on the go. I note down key points and how far in to the recording they occur. Later I go back and flesh them out. Sticking to one tense when writing helps the posts cohesion. After writing a post I might stew on it for a day and re-read it the following day.
Once I have an hour long episode cut down I run it through another free program called The Levelator. The program is great with voices as it boosts the quiet parts and tones down shouting.

From there I record an introduction on my smart phone and drop it in to the session recording that's been run through the levelator; I do this all in Audacity. While in Audacity I import some back ground music. Fade this music in and out using Audacity. These days I play it safe and use royalty free music. I snagged my introduction music from here.

With the introduction and music added to the session recording I export the file as an MP3. When exporting you get the option to edit the meta-data, things like the track number and date recorded. This is useful information if you plan on uploading the session to iTunes.

I upload the mp3 file to a google drive folder. I can then share the link to the folder so other people can listen if they want. Taking this a step further I embed an audio player in my session blogpost. I follow these instructions to imbed the audio.

It's a long process and I often don't feel like doing it because of the time involved. A 6 hour game session will take 12 hours to edit and blog. Once you get an episode finished it feels like an accomplishment. You now have a record of that amazing session that you can listen to in 5, 10 or even 20 years time.

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Rogue Trader - Vlad Kirby's enslaved Orks verse Silver Skull Space Marines

Long time opponent Optimus (the one) returned to Aus. We plan on playing a short Rogue Trader campaign while he is here.

We needed a scenario and rolled on Rogue Trader's inspiring generator. I fully expected Abdul Goldberg or the Space Pudding to make an appearance. Instead we rolled a scenario where a space vampire had enslaved a 'crew' and had to be put down before he did anymore harm. It hinted at an Aliens bug hunt but we took it in another direction turning the crew into orks. Rolling on the complication chart we ended up with a number of storage sites with the chance that one of the sites contained the one's excellent Hellsreach Walker.

Space vampire Vlad Kirby had enslaved a space ork mob through the use of his insidious psychic powers. His lair had been discovered by Imperial forces who immediately teleported three squads of Silver Skull marines to his location in a surgical strike. Would they be able to best Vlad and his orks?

Vlad Kirby watches over his 30 enthralled orks. They await the arrival of the marines who would teleport down in 3 x 4 man squads.
The Silver Skulls beamed down on the left of the battlefield. They intended to search the supply bases located in each corner hoping to discover the Hellsreach Walker to turn on their foe. Zeta squad teleported off target and appeared in woods close to ork lines. The marines opened fire and a lucky deviating plasma missile hit the ground next to Vlad Kirby. The vampire was not wounded when struck nor at the start of his turn as he scurried away from the roiling plasma sphere.

Ominously Commander Lucius and Silver Skull Beta squad did not beam down with their battle brothers. A third of the marines would not show up until very late in the conflict. The orks weight of numbers would prove telling.

Zeta squad is routed in the woods and falls back to the supply dump behind the hill.
Fleeing from the advancing orks the remnants of Zeta squad discovered the Hellsreach Walker. They boarded and unleashed the deadly MACRO-CANNON! It proved ineffective in the hands of the marines, firing two rounds and killing 0 orks.
The Hellsreach Walker hits the board but with only two crew can do little to turn the tide.
Alpha squad was eliminated in a hail of lucky bolter fire. 5 shots, 5 hits, 5 wounds and 4 failed armour saves saw the entire squad cut down. Vlad Kirby first mentally blitzed the walker pilot before turning his attention to the marine manning the macro-cannon. The space vampire augmented his psychic powers to ensure the marines had little chance of passing their psychic saving throw.
The macro-cannon is silenced and Alpha squad cut down. Where is Commander Lucius and Beta squad?
Optimus had to roll every turn to work out what had happened to Beta squad and their teleport mishap. On a 6 they teleported down late but safely, on a 1 they suffered a serious mishap. Beta squad finally beamed down as a single multi-limbed living organism. The mass of flesh was barely kept sentient by the supreme will of the Silver Skull commander Lucius, who battled the other minds for control.
So that's what happened to the Beta squad.
Lucius wrested control of the mass of flesh he and his battle brothers had become. He willed the arms holding the missile launcher to aim at Vlad and let lose. The plasma missile struck home followed by a salvo of bolter rounds. None managed to wound the resilient vampire who stepped unharmed from the boiling field of plasma.
Beta squads fate revealed. Four marines become one thanks to a teleporter incident.
From the top of Vlad's tower an ork with a heavy bolter lined up the space marine monstrosity and plugged it with a high explosive round. Vlad commanded his orks to fire and a hail of bolter rounds put the heaving mass of flesh down.
The monstrosity that is Beta squad is put down.
A fun if one sided battle. Vlad had the numbers and his psychic powers provided reliable kills. We hoped that teleporting and the Walker would give the marines a boost. Teleporting proved a disaster leaving the marines undermanned and the walker's crew were easily picked off by Vlad's mental blitz power.

Scenario two will be Vlad verse the marines in his underground lair which we intend to represent with Space Hulk tiles. Should be good. Now if we could only convince a friend to GM the battle for us.

Saturday, 28 June 2014

Episode 15 - The Enemy Within - Evacuating Wittgendorf

Castle Wittgenstein looms over the decrepit town of 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 Goggle Drive (32.5 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 in the crypts of an abandoned Sigmarite temple on the outskirts of the cursed town of Wittgendorf. They had discovered, through their interactions with Red Crown cultists, that Wittgendorf was the likely site of a sizable chunk of warpstone. The group intended to seize the stone to prevent it being used for foul and corrupting purposes.

Key points from Episode 15

(0:50) Ominous hand dug tunnels were discovered in the crypts beneath the abandoned Sigmarite temple. Magnus put his mining skills to work and collapsed them. 

(3:10) Further exploration uncovered the towns records in the temple's library. Walter, being the only literate party member, read through Wittgendorf's history. He learnt that the town had once been prosperous but two years ago a ferocious gale had enveloped the lands, the eye of the storm being the local castle. This was followed by a week of black rain. Since then the region had suffered from crop failures and increased mutations. The records also spoke of an expedition to the Barren Hills by the then Baron's son and known astronomer Dagmar Wittgenstein. The expedition had occurred three years ago and ended with Dagmar returning alone hauling a lead lined box. Finally the records provided a full lineage of the local nobles the Wittgenstein's.

Ghoulish villagers, when there's no food in Wittgendorf what do you eat?
(8:08) The band rested in the altar room feeling reassured by its holy presence. As they settled in they heard voices from the temple's foyer. Solomon crept as close as he dared to eavesdrop on a pair of dishevelled villagers who muttered in low tones about their hunger and complained about the collapsed tunnel into the crypt. As they spoke it became clear that they had turned to cannibalism to survive Wittgendorf's famine.

(11:18) The heroes confronted the villagers about their cannibalism. The unfortunates protested their innocence all the while refusing to enter the altar room to discuss things. Even the promise of food could not get them to cross the boundary into the temple proper. Their apparent fear of Sigmar sealed their fate in the adventurers eyes and the party attacked. In the ensuing slaughter a wretch was allowed to flee into the night, the dwarves could hardly catch him.

Two headed sheep are much sought-after by the beggars of Wittgendorf.
(21:49) The following morning the group considered heading straight to the castle but instead chose to observe the village first. It wasn't long before they saw a cluster of crippled beggars chasing a two headed sheep in their general direction. As the group of unfortunates came closer it was clear that they were afflicted with an assortment of minor mutations. The group usually killed mutants on sight but they held off. Killing every mutant in Wittgendorf promised to be long and bloody work. They gave the beggars a wide berth.

(24:42) Wittgendorf's local inn was called the Shooting Star. Despite the early hour is was crowded with locals. A word with the innkeeper let them know that many in the village wanted to leave but couldn't. The innkeeper explained that the commotion they had seen yesterday outside the inn was Lady Magritte Wittgenstein seizing the local Miller who she accused of being an outlaw collaborator. The inn keep also explained that these outlaws harassed the Wittgenstein soldiers from the dubious safety of the woods. The group formulated a plan to evacuate the entire town, all except the somewhat mutated beggars. Perhaps this act would provoke the Wittgenstein's into leaving the relative safety of their castle.

After seeing the locals is it any wonder the group didn't trust Wittgendorf's physician?
(32:27) The town physician Jean Rousseaux entered the inn, introduced himself and welcomed the group to town. He invited them to dinner that night and sang the praises of Magritte Von Wittgenstein. The group were non committal and the physician left.

(37:41) Walter used his public speaking skills to tell those gathered in the inn that the heroes boat would arrive at dusk and that anyone who wanted to leave was welcome to board it. The villagers should tell their friends but avoid telling the physician at all costs.

(40:51) As the group set off to get their boat Esmeralda the Shallyan initiate was approached by a distressed woman. It was the Miller's wife. Her baby was ill. She told Esmeralda that the town physician was useless and his aid had worsened her child's condition. Esmeralda agreed to help and examined the child in the safety of the abandoned temple. There she saw that the child was covered in fur and had taken many arachnid features. This was Esmeralda's second encounter with a mutant baby! The child was very ill and not long for this world. Esmeralda broke the news to the mother as best she could. Herdan put the child out of its misery.

(49:34) While the halflings fetched the boat the warriors watched the town. Joten spotted Jean 
Rousseaux waddle his way to the Wittgentsteins castle. Soon after the physicians arrival three heavily armoured guards headed from the castle and made their way to the inn where they menaced the locals. The group raced to the rescue and after a long melee put the guards down.
"We will return for you beggars of Wittgendorf." <fingers crossed>
(62:39) That evening the locals gathered at the inn. As dusk approached the heroes boat arrived at the dock where Herdan ushered the villagers, and not the towns slightly mutated beggars, onto to the vessel. A days sailing later and the townsfolk were resettled in the slums of Grissenwald.

(65:23) Now that she was a safe the grief stricken mother, whose baby was a mutant and whose husband was taken by Wittgenstein guards, confessed to aiding the outlaws. She offered to take the group to the outlaws as long as they tried their best to free her husband.

Saturday, 7 June 2014

Episode 14 - The Enemy Within - Visions in Wittgendorf

The heroes would soon visit the unpleasant town of 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 (28MB)  

Heroes present were Esmerelda 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 standing victorious over the corpse of Etelka, a witch they had hunted for some time before stumbling across her path at Kemperbad's Cat and Fiddle inn. Before her death Etelka had revealed some of her plans to Herdan. She had intended to travel to Castle Wittgenstein where she believed the Wittgenstein family held a meteorite of corrupting chaos magic.

Key Points from Episode 14

(0:52) The party discussed how best to deal with Etelka's apprentice Urnst. The scrawny mage had surrendered rather than suffer his mistresses fate. The group bound and gagged the wretch and turned him over to the watch to interrogate. The watch, who had been on hand at Etelka's arrest, helped the group loot Etelka's still warm body and in the process kept half her wealth for themselves. Much coin was liberated and Etelka's dangerous artifacts turned over to the Sigmarite priests for burning.

(4:20) At the watch house Urnst was interrogated under the supervision of a cheerful Joten and a squeamish Solomon. Meanwhile Walter mixed with the gawking crowd and spread word that the Champion of Kemperbad had slain a witch. The mob were suitably impressed by the actions of their local hero. Before becoming a broken blubbering mess Urnst revealed that Etelka belonged to the Red Crown Cult, that he intended to betray Etelka and that they had intended to visit Castle Wittgenstein in pursuit of a sizable chunk of warpstone; a meteorite that had devastated the Barren Hills many years ago. In the end Urnst's cover story moved from undercover sanctioned wizard to independent hedge wizard on a mission of vengeance against Etelka. While Joten and Solomon believed the cultist, his motivation didn't matter as he was destined to burn in the fires of Sigmar regardless.

(10:25) Haggling ensued and Etelka's jewelry and perfume collection was sold off. Once again the party were rich. Magnus donated a generous 10 crowns to the Temple of Shallya to finance the rebuilding of their temple at Grissenwald. Esmerelda one-upped the dwarf by donating 100 crowns to the same cause. The warriors kitted themselves out in plate mail and Solomon pondered upgrading their boat with a deck sweeping blunderbuss.

(12:03) The group discussed the note that had been left pinned to their door the night prior. This note was intended for Herdan's body double Kastor Leiberung. Herdan became understandably worried that Purple Hand cultists were watching him and insisted they leave town. 

(17:45) Solomon invested his wealth in cargo. In order to trade he purchased a 'legitimate' traders licence from his criminal contacts under the name Axle Schnitzel. He would have to use this false name when conducting business. The halfling smuggler went on to buy discount lumber that he planned to sell in the ship building town of Grissenwald. [The trading rules proved a complex time sink which I thankfully edited out of the podcast.] In the end 10 trade units of wood was purchased at the bargain price of 160 gold crowns.

(22:28) The group talked about leaving Kemperbad in a hurry but instead spent time shopping, haggling and taking on lumber. As this dragged on Herdan was constantly looking over their shoulder in case the Purple Hand struck. Walter re-assured the group that they had plenty of time before the cultists came calling as the warning note had given them at least a week to deliver a large sum of gold to Middenheim. Finally they set sail. Favourable winds meant it wasn't long before they arrived at the miserable town of Wittgendorf.

(24:30) Their ships crew were promised a bonus to assuage their fears of approaching the infamous Wittgendorf. They chose not to use the towns docks, instead they anchored out of sight. The group made their way through the forest towards the town and on the way noticed a foul corruption had gripped the land. Trees were twisted and overgrown with fungi while bloated beetles and grubs swarmed across the forest floor.
Lady Magritte Von Wittgenstein loves harassing peasants.
(30:34) The group hid on the outskirts of Wittgendorf and kept watch. Some distance off Solomon spotted an noblewoman atop a horse, surrounded by heavily armoured guards. She seemed to be conversing with a mob of ragged peasants. Given the distance they could hear only indistinct shouting before witnessing a villager struck down and hauled off in the direction of the castle.
(35:17) The group decided to explore the abandoned temple to Sigmar on the village edge. They did so stealthily with Solomon sneaking in and then throwing a rope through a back window so his companions could clamber in. The temple was rundown its floor scattered with bones, rats, rubble, ashes and detritus. Miraculously the altar room remained undefiled.

(41:38) Walter read the classic script illuminating the domed ceiling of the altar room. It told the tale of the founding of the temple, for it was here that there had been a key battle between the armies of Sigmar and the forces of Chaos. On this site a Templar of Sigmar, Siegfried Von Kesselring, had slain a Chaos Warlord, an act that shattered a chaotic horde. Alas in victory the Templar had been fatally wounded and upon passing, Siegfried was buried, along with his blade Barakul, in the crypts of this very temple.
Walter read the passage and received a vision from Sigmar.
(43:20) Walter read aloud a passage concerning the dwarves relationship with Sigmar and as he did so the statue of Sigmar that stood watch over the altar spoke to him. Only the halfling could hear Sigmar's words. The god asked if Walter would be ready to stand against chaos when the time came. The young agitator answered in the affirmative and was bade to find the source of chaos that afflicted Sigmar's lands. The halfling had received a vision from Sigmar!
Sigfried Von Kesselring. Templar of Sigmar.
(51:30) The heroes ventured into the temples crypts. The crypts themselves had been smashed open and, judging by the bones on the ground, their contents devoured. A glow visible only to Walter led the halfling to a niche marking the final resting place of Von Kesselring. Former grave warden Herdan said a prayer to Morr as the tomb was cracked open and Von Kesselring exhumed. Joten reverently took the long sword Barakul from the Templar's bony hands. The dwarf swore to put it to good use against Sigmar's foes.

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Episode 13 - The Enemy Within - Executing Etelka

This Episode took place in and around the Cat and Fiddle Inn. An inn a bit bigger than this.

This is an actual play recording of Death on the Reik, a chapter in Games Workshops classic Warhammer Fantasy Roleplaying campaign: The Enemy Within.

Download Episode from Google Drive (20MB)

Heroes present were Esmerelda the Shallyan 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 hero's at Kemperbad's Cat and Fiddle Inn. An inn run by crime lord Luigi Belladona. Luigi is Solomon's smuggling contact. Etelka, the witch they had been seeking, had entered the inn with her entourage. She sought a strong warrior to accompany her south to Castle Wittgenstein and so hired on Herdan. As a result Herdan had learnt some of her plans and now the group plotted her downfall.

Key Points from Episode 13.

Villainous Witch Etelka and her suspicious cat.
(01:04) The planning began with a discussion of lobbing a poison wind globe, found last session, into Etelka's room and holding the door shut. The idea was discarded as the group didn't know what the gas would do or if it might hurt others staying in the inn. There was some discussion about taking Etelka alive in order to learn more about the broader conspiracy but they decide not to risk it. There was conjecture that her pet cat was a disguised demon along with concern over Luigi's reaction should they kill someone in his inn.

(13:10) The heroes settled on the following plan. Solomon would pretend to be a crusty river captain plan who would offer to take Etelka's party south; no questions asked. Once Etelka left the inn the ambush would be sprung. The town watch would also be informed to ensure no miscreants escaped. Herdan, Joten and Magnus were expected to do all the killing. As an undercover member of Etelka's entourage Herdan is not informed of the plan. He spends a restless night guarding Etelka's chambers waiting for his companions to act.

(14:28) The watch are visited during the night and just like the law in the town of Bogenhafen they are surprising accommodating. This could well be the result of Herdan's town wide popularity having become the Kemperbad Champion. The Watch Captain agreed to clear the streets and be present in case things got out of hand.

(19:32) The plan swings into motion with Etelka heading downstairs the following morning for a meeting with Solomon the Ships Captain. Prior to this meeting
 a note was left under the door to Walter's room. It was addressed to Kastor Leiberung (Herdan's look alike). The note promised to further complicate things.

(24:08) Solomon's negotiations with Etelka were interrupted by a Purple Hand cultist who cast something at Herdan, which the warrior resisted. Everyone including Etelka looked bemused as the robed figure then dashed for the kitchens. Not wishing to complicate their ambush plans the group let the cultist escape. 

(29:05) Solomon extorted an exorbitant sum of coin from Etelka for the hire of his boat. They left the Cat and Fiddle Inn and the ambush was sprung.

(30:45) In the plan Walter had one task to do, bring out the warrant for Etelka's execution and announce it loudly for all to hear in the hope that her guards would back off. He neglected to do this so he could focus on breakfast. With Walter's inaction it was up to Magnus to start things. The dwarf stood casually from his position near the inn's door and followed the witch and her group outside. Once on the street he hefted his two handed pick and swung for Etelka's back. Thus mission 'gank the mage' began. A surprise round left Etelka on death's door.

(34.49) Walter remembered his lines, drew out the warrant and scared off Etelka's guards. Walter's words were backed by a volley of crossbow bolts fired by the town watch. Etelka's weedy looking assistant Urnst was struck by a quarrel. He weighed up his options and promptly professed to also be after Etelka and that he would aid the hereos in their effortst. Etelka remained defiant.

(38:06) Magnus' initial swing of his pick had embedded itself in Etelka's back. He withdrew his weapon and struck again ripping straight through the witches left arm, leaving it so much pulped meat. Etelka swigged a potion in response levitating ever so slightly off the ground before her kneecap was blown asunder by a well aimed sling stone from Solomon. Etelka was no more.

Urnst knew the game was up but could do little to extract himself from the mess.
(41:05) No one believed Urnst's terrible 'Undercover Imperial agent' story. He was roughly handed over to the Sigmarites for trial. Etelka's cat hissed and spat at the group; guarding her dead mistress as best she could until Jotan cut it in twain with his blade. Harsh but to be expected in the cruel Old World.

Friday, 25 April 2014

Episode 12 - The Enemy Within - Hunting the witch Etelka

The logo I am using for the podcast.
This is an actual play recording of Death on the Reik, a chapter in Games Workshops classic Warhammer Fantasy Roleplaying campaign: The Enemy Within.

Download Episode from Google Drive (35MB)

The characters were Esmerelda the Shallyan 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 hero's victorious in the foyer of the witch Etelka's tower. The witch herself was long gone. With the help of dwarfs from the shanty town of Khazad Slumbol they had purged the tower of goblins and looted plenty of valuables in the process.

Key Points from Episode 12.

(1:16) We reminisced about Gutbag the goblin hero from last episode and his missed 'surrender lines' wherein he blamed society for his evils. We discussed ways that Gutbag could have survived and agreed to grant the plucky goblin a second chance.

(2:39) Herdan and Joten explored the possibility of recruiting the ex-farmers and 
former captives of the goblins Hans and Gretl. Herdan uncharacteristically asked 'Can they take an arrow?' A quick reminder of "What would Shallya think?" stopped this line of thinking. Which was for the best because, despite the manic gleam in their eyes, the farmers were poor warriors.

(5:12) Magnus broke with his clan citing irreconcilable differences. He turned his back on Gorim Greathammer and his clans drunken ways. While exiled it was considered a minor exile; no need to shave his head and hunt trolls, much to Joten's disappointment.

(8:25) The group returned to Grissenwald to hock Etelka's jewellery and silverware at Luigi and Salvatore's. There they haggled with Boris. For once their stories of the 'Emperor's own silverware' didn't work and they were comprehensively out-haggled much to their chagrin.

(14:15) Lucky charms were purchased. These took the form of pieces of a mast from a wrecked ship, sanctified by priests of Sigmar as well as blessed river pebbles that if you look at them from the correct angle seem to contain the visage of Sigmar. Brother Hertzis supplied these charms for a suitable donation. They came with his blessing and small passages of scripture which were tacked to the heroes armour.

(17:23) The group contemplated turning in Etelka's heretical books to Brother Hertzis but saved them for their favourite book burning priest in Kemperbad.

(18:10) Grissenwald's dilapidated and vacant Shallyan temple was discovered much to Esmerelda's shock. She and the warriors settled into the ruin for the night in order to pursue tales of ghosts. The halflings returned to the luxurious Pfiefferroucher hotel, where Walter had arranged to perform. 

(21:15) Joten and Herdan did ghost impressions to scare off locals looking for a late night thrill at the abandoned temple. After an uneventful night Magnus, an expert miner, skillfully moved the rubble from the temple stairs.

(21:48) The temple's cellar was uncovered and the group were attacked by four skeletal skaven who laired within. One landed a lucky blow on Magnus but otherwise the skeletons were trounced. A mysterious glowing orb full of swirling mist (Poison wind globe) was discovered along with the gnawed bones of a child.

(34:20) The watch, known as the Pfieffers and the local Sigmarites were alerted. Esmerelda declared the temple could be reconsecrated but unfortunately as an initiate she wasn't qualified to do it. Alas she needed to move on but promised to tell the temple at Kemperbad to send a Shallyan priestess urgently.

(36:30) The party pooled their coin to purchase a boat. The man to see to buy a vessel was Gerlich Fuchs, the racist and misogynistic head of the Fisherman's mission. The un-savvy Herdan was coached on what to say and then sent to negotiate on his own. He hefted the boat funds, a sack of 480 crowns, through the rough streets of Grissemwald's Altdstadt all the while trailed by his anxious companions. Esmerelda contributed 90 crowns to the purchase of the vessel and Walter and Joten 40 crowns between them. Solomon had the largest stake in the vessel and was declared the captain.
The group now proudly own 'The Hammer'.
(37:48) Gerlich Fuchs sold them a boat called 'The Hammer'. A small fast sailed vessel with little cargo room. Before the purchase the group had hired an expert called Ulric to assess the vessel. When questioned on the vessels worthiness Ulric replied 'Why yes Master Gerlich you have kept this ship in tip top shape'. The sailed vessel was 12m long and could house 30 people in the hold if they all stood. Herdan was assured the rot on the vessel was cosmetic 'Surface rot, cleans right up that does.'

(42:40) Two crew, Ulric and Sigfried were hired. The group took it upon themselves to form the remainder of the six crew required to sail the ship. Passengers were booked by the halflings who acted as touts. The boat wasn't kitted out as a passenger vessel yet so they could only comfortably take on four passengers. This made for tight profit margins.

(45:08) Ulric and Sigfried harnessed the power of a localised storm, avoided mishap on the river and made excellent time to Kemperbad. They arrived in two days instead of three, which allowed for a profit from the passenger fares. On the way they passed accursed Castle Wittgenstein. The crew warned the heroes that they wanted nothing to do with the location.

(48:44) The group were waved through 
Kemperbad's gates as Herdan was recognised as the local champion. Solomon explained that the poison wind globe was being kept in a box beneath their boats waterline. 

(49:35) The group visited Father Erkhart who spoke of Kemperbad's growing independence movement, the recruitment of militia and the general sense of excitement in town. He told them other provinces have defied the mutant loving edict but none had done so as aggressively as Kemperbad. They surrendered Etelka's heretical texts and a potion that part time apothecary Esemeralda couldn't identify.

(51:41) The halflings worked their contacts looking for a sanctioned wizard to explain the significance of a ring they had liberated from Etelka's tower. Its 
crown and beast design intrigued and confused them. They learnt of the presence of Herionymous Blitzen, an astrologer of the Celestial College who was in town. The wizard told them a wealth of information on cults. He also informed them about the stars last night 'the hammer constellation is looking a bit sad right now and is not in its dominant position. While the stars above Kislev, the northern stars, have gone dark.' Finally he identified the purple hand as a likely cult symbol.

(60:18) Etelka arrived at the Cat and Fiddle inn while Walter was performing his routine. She was intrigued by Herdan's Champion of Kemperbad status and as a result Herdan had an awkward job interview.

(65:15) Herdan infiltrated the witches band and learnt Etelka's plans. She intended to head to Castle Wittgenstein to acquire a meteorite. No doubt for nefarious purposes.

(74:27) Walter eloquently introduced himself to Etelka and promised to arrange a meeting with a discrete ship captain who could sail her south. Etelka agreed to meet the captain in the morning.

(76:28) Etelka's group, along with Herdan, settled in to their rooms for the night. Herdan had first watch and announced it loudly in the common room so his companions could hear. The party feverishly plotted Etelka's downfall.