Mission of Mercy

By valvorik, in WFRP Gamemasters

The continuing adventures of Anselm the Seer (Ratcatcher), Findulas the Waywatcher (Hunter), Hans the Apprentice Wizard (Apothecary), and Krieger the Disciple (Initiate, soldier) of Sigmar, this session being the 35th advance earned.

Contuing from " Who Doesn't Like Pie ": http://www.fantasyflightgames.com/edge_foros_discusion.asp?efid=165&efcid=3&efidt=500728

-- This adventure combines a homebrew "road trip" (that will explain getting the heroes into geography suitable for Witch's Song lead in) that has a stopover at a location with the "Drowning Well" adventure from Warpstone site - adapted slightly. It carries forward elements from Horror of Hugeldal , being mad lady Agentha who is Lord Aschaffenberg's sister-in-law in my version --

The heroes meet with their patron Lord Rickard von Aschaffenberg on 1st of Erntezeit, a Festag, the start of Pie Week - the halflings say this makes it a particularly blessed start to Pie Week, that it starts on the traditional day of rest in the week - take the whole family to enjoy pie!

They receive 20 shilling (each) stipend and a hearty breakfast. With trusty Vern Hendrik at his side, the Lord explains that his wife Ludmilla and he have made arrangements for the care of Lady Agnetha. She is an embarrassment to the von Bruners and they would simply shut her up someplace, “ can’t have her parading about obviously but still deserves to be treated better than a mad dog. We have have obtained Lord von Heismann’s agreement that Lady Agnetha can be sent to the Shallyan hospice for the insane at Frederheim. "

Lord von Aschaffenberg asks the heroes to act as the escort for Lady Agnetha to Frederheim, which lies on the River Reik between Altdorf and Carroberg, near the Furdienst marshes.

Lord Rickard prefers to avoid attracting attention to his sister-in-law or the troubles of the von Bruners and thus does not wish her transported by river through Altdorf - which would be easiest route but has far too many stopovers etc. where other travelers would see her etc. precisely because it is a main travel route. So instead the trip is to be by coach and boat along a less major route.

His lordship is laying on a four-horse coach for the trip, to leave on the 10th of the month (two days after pie week ends) – he is booking a special coach from the Four Seasons coaching company for this trip.

Metagame – during session for/following this leg of trip, any Player who wishes to take on the Coachman career can transition at 1 less advance cost than normal - none does.

Also, a Player can make the transtition to the Agent career at one less less advance cost than normal due to the trust Lord Aschaffenberg is showing in the heroes. All such "one less" do not reduce transition below the minumum cost of such, which is zero for humans and one for other races.

The coach is to take the Bogenhafen Road from Ubersreik to Bogenhafen. There the party is to meet a riverboat that will be waiting for them and transport them down the River Bogen to Carroburg and up to Frederheim (which lies on the south bank of the Reik, in the Reikland province).

Metagame – during session for/following this leg of the trip, any Player who wishes to take on the Boatman career can transition at 1 less advance cost than normal.

The trip will take a week or so, depending on the weather (it's 3 days by coach to Bogenhafen for example, that's the longest single leg of trip).

The heroes’ passage and upkeep are all covered - the coach is prepaid, heroes are given money the boat captain expects, and money for meals, stayovers in coaching inns etc. – (metagame - we don’t worry about costs along way unless heroes lose the expense money) – TRAVEL EXPENSE MONEY CARD represents this money, Krieger carries it.

Lord Rickard also gives documents to present to the Hospice and a donation of 15 gold karls for the Hospice (heroes can see Vern Hendrik is pained at this generosity). GIFT TO SHALLYAN HOSPICE CARD represents this money, Krieger also carries it.

The documents are important as they will not admit her without: (a) letter from next of kin or judge (in this case Lord Heismann von Bruner), (B) a letter from Shallyan temple of her origin attesting to this being done for the patient’s best interests (Marianne Altenblum), © a Doktor’s letter attesting to the problem not being medical (Lord Rickard’s physician Doktor Otto Krupp), and (d) a letter from a Lector of Sigmar attesting the subject is not a mutant or otherwise tainted by corruption (Holy Father Gunther Emming). THE FOUR LETTERS OF COMMITTAL CARD represents these letters, Hans carries them (as the only one who can read).

Lord Aschaffenberg gives each a gold crown for this service and their discretion.

He will welcome heroes back afterwards but understands if adventurous souls find opportunities to fight Chaos and so expects to see them when he sees them. He would appreciate that if they do not come back directly that they send written confirmation from the hospice of Agnetha’s committal.

--- This took place during an Interlude, there were 9 days more time passed before they actually left town --

On Erntezeit the 10th, heroes begin their journey to the Shallyan Hospice for the Insane at Frederheim ("the Shallying Hospice for the Insane" as far as the Empire is concerned, the one and only).

Their hired coach has two coachmen, Udo Nyman and Bernd Vogeler. The heroes ask Lord Aschaffenberg for two extra horses. Krieger rides one and the second is a spare/change over. Findulas rides up top on the coach roof, Hans and Anselm being inside with Lady Agnetha.

Act One - On the Road

Lady Agnetha's mad ramblings, talking of her upcoming marriage at one moment, asking advice on whether Leos should go to University in Nuln or Altdorf the next, are stressful for her travel companions. Less risk for those not in coach with her constantly (fortune die on their checks), though Findulas gets a misfortune die on his check due to the wild travel stories the coachmen are winding him up with (beastman herds, cannibal-staffed coaching inns, trees that move and hide the road after dark and all sorts of mischiefs such that even half were true there would be no travel in the Empire at all). Anselm fails and gets 2 stress (adding to two he gained in interlude before). Findulas gainst the Ill Fortuned condition ( chaos star - draw one from three possible - stress every time injured ).

The heroes stay the first night in the Wheel and Lock coaching inn, taking a large suite with an interior room for Lady Agnetha.

The second day, Erntezeit the 11th, travel continues as the first. Lady Agnetha had some bad dreams about death and disease but returns to her chipper self quickly enough. Anselm has had enough of Lady Agnetha and opts to be up top, Findulas mounts the second horse, leading Hans alone to keep her company.

At a midmorning rest stop the coachmen pay homage to a roadshide shrine to the gods Taal and Rhya. Anselm sees the whorls and antler symbols are similar to those of the token he was encouraged to buy from the Strigany he encountered. He too makes an offering, gaining a free Assess Situation check (normally not allowed outside Encounter) that allows him to reduce his stress by one (to 2) and get insight into his token ( Lucky Charm Item Card, abilities now known and useable ).

Hans also uses a spell of Hysh to remove one point of stress from Anselm (staying down the power, this whole leg of the trip is one Act).

The coach continues on, with this day's "stress from Lady Agnetha" checks (a fortune die for gaining experience) which all pass.

In the afternoon, a storm gathers and breaks, with hard rains lashing down and making the going slower. The coach hasn't reached its next stopover, the Drowning Man Inn, at sunset by the coachmen say it's less than an hour further on, they'll have the travellers in warm beds soon enough. Hardly has that assurance been made when a crack of lightning strikes a tree by the road, sending it topping onto one of the horses and the drivers - killing a horse and Udo and knocking Bernd unconcious. Anselm makes a successul Coordination check to avoid injury (riding up top he could have been sent flying). Hans fails his check inside the coach and takes 2 Fatigue from bouncing around in the sudden stop.

Hans tends to the unconcious Bernd (he has a mangled leg), while Findulas and Krieger use the horses to drag the tree clear and put the spare horse in the traces.

A party of four travellers appears in the storm coming towards them, turning out to be two roadwardens (Andreas Pfeffer and Birgitta Tagschlict), with a companion in leather named Tolzen, a longshanks priest of Taal, and a orange-crested dwarf trollsayer). They ask if the heroes need help, when themselves asked if the heroes can find a replacement coachman nearby they say coincidentally ( comet on a check being free-formed into aid ) a farmer close by the Drowning Man is a former coachman who was saying last time they stopped there he wouldn't mind some extra coin - Malthus is his name. They warn that beastmen are common in the area, though even they are unlikely to be about on a night like this.

The heroes who are outside the coach now have to make a Resilience 2D check to see if the weather and muck etc. has gotten to them (Hans being in coach immune). This is Fatigue if failing and Chaos Star is rolled by Findulas means he has to select an item of gear that's useless till dried out or lost (like a purse) - logically enough it's his bow (player's choice). Anselm gains the Under the Weather Condition till he too is dried out and has a night's rest.

Continuing on through the storm, they come within sight of the inn's storm lantern and can see a couple of farms close by it. A lone traveller is on the road ahead of them and rather than drive by and splatter him they stop and give Herr Tauber a lift the rest of the way - apparently his horse went lame a ways back and had to be put down, leaving him on foot.

The inn is neslted amidst a stand of trees and surrounded by a stout wall. As they come up to the closed gate they see the pull-rope to ring bell, and some strange signs on the wall.

Findulas recognizes these as wood elf kithband trail signs. Though he does not read, he knows the simple ones for "Danger", "Safe Rest", "Be Watchful", "Chaos", and "Beastmen" - then two he does not recognize, perhaps because he isn't literate.

Hans looks at them and realizes the last two signs are magick sees in them the grey mists of Ulgu, wind of shadow and illusion, realizing (Magic Sight check) that they are some sort of ward that would cause creatures of chaos' sight to avoid this locale, making it "innocuous" to them.

Ringing the bell, the groom Gerad opens gate for them and the heroes come into the inn courtyard, seeing the sturdy inn, large coach house, well, nice little cairn of stones to sit under a couple of trees in the yard (well nice if it's not raining snotlings and squigs). Just as the gate is closing, Findulas and Krieger (who both have keen vision specialization) spot several lights, six or so bobbing about in the woods.

Udo's body is placed in a shed (with a good lock on the outside, this is the Old World after all). Upon entering the inn, the heroes are ushered close to fire to dry out by the landlord, Wim, while his wife Sybille sees to Bernd being put to bed and calls for a local goodwife to tend his wounds.

Krieger takes Agnetha up to the room rather than have her in common area, meaning he does not benefit from the cosy, warm atmosphere as the rest do (then again he doesn't need it as much).

The common room has local farmers, a group of young nobles and their coachmen, other miscellaneous traveller and woodsmen (three general groups to interact with if choosing).

The heroes ask about the signs on the wall and are told they've been there a long time, a wizard from Altdorf said once to leave them be, that they were helpful, and Hans confirms that.

They are also told the lights in woods warn of times its best to come in close to Inn because beastmen are about.

Findulas examines a bow above the bar, a crude thing by human standards, but he realizes humans of course don't know a good bow when they see it - this is a true Bow of Athel Loren (superior, with slight benefit beyond that at times, non-magical though - Item Card).

Hans gets the tale of the inn's name and bow, the inn has stood here since shortly after the Great War Against Chaos - 200 years ago - though Wim says his family has only had it for four generations. When the inn was built it was because of the well by it, the well being dug out a body was found with the bow that is over the bar.

(The body was sent to Bogenhafen's Garden of Morr, as Udo will have to be, there being no local Garden of Morr).

Everyone goes to bed, the heroes in their suite with Agnetha in the interior room again (courtesy of Lord Aschaffenberg's travel expenses). Anselm tries to get his needed rest but the Seer has a dream about half a dozen elf warriors with bows fighting a herd of beastmen, the two factions facing off till they have all but wiped each other out, the last elf putting a killing arrow into the eye of the lead beastman, a huge one whose horns are alight with crackling blue energy and who wields an over-long maul studded with scythe like blades.

Anselm is woken from the dream by a banging sound, and going to investigate sees a shutter in corridor has come undone is blowing in storm. He pulls it shut, seeing five or so dancing lights in the woods - and as he does so he notices blood coming from underneath another door.

Anselm wakes his comrades, Findulas goes for the landlord, while Hans and Krieger look into the room, which they realize is where Bernd was placed to rest. The room is a horrifying sight, the coachman literally ripped apart, and bloody symbols finger-painted on the walls. This sight is a Fear 2 check for the two. Krieger recognizes these as symbols of the Ruinous Power Tzeentch, Changer of the Ways. Hans sees in them a beacon-like effect, magic to counteract the wood elf signs that hide the inn from things of Chaos. These runes would cancel part of that effect, not all of it.

--- the Discovery of the Body marks the end of Act One and a Rally Step ---

Act Two - Blood in the Night

Wim the Landlord is shocked and in the heroes' hands. The other guests are checked and no one else has been ripped apart etc. Groggy guests gradually start asking questions of course.

Gerad is the only staff unaccounted for (Lady Agnetha is also checked, she is still asleep, tossing in another bad dream), as he sleeps out in the stables. Findulas goes out to check on him. As he quietly crosses the yard, he senses a presence and turning round sees a transparent apparition of the same beastman Anselm dreamed of charging at him ( Terror 2 check ). Findulas passes the check and the apparition "fades out" as it reaches him.

However, he does find Gerad dead, torn apart as was Bernd, with more bloody runes marked on walls of stable loft. He has to make a Fear 2 check at this ( after the player noted before his wisdom in going for the innkeeper and not sticking around to see "what's on the other side of the door leaking blood" ).

As the heroes and an increasing number of guests gather in the common room to consider what is going on, the pull-bell at the gate is rung. Krieger goes to check, a boy from a local farm is there on a pony carrying word that beastman herds have been seen and the farmers are coming into the inn.

Out in the woods, he sees the lights dancing again, 3 or 4 of them.

(Players have not remarked but yes, as the murders and bloody runes continue, the lights become fewer in number....)

- we break -

There is a Panic in the Inn track that came out when the first body was discovered, events at 4 and 7, we're at 3 when we break (advances for 2 murders and another when report of the herds made by the boy at gate).

nice work again. i like the encouragement to transition to new careers. i also like that your players are prepared to split up.

Thanks, no players are biting at the offers of -1 advance to take various careers. They're pretty focused on "moving up" (basic, intermediate, advanced, expert etc.) I've reminded them that the "road ends" pretty soon for those on 3rd tier and they may as well get used to taking side trips. They will face that reality soon enough.

Continuing Blood in the Night,

The heroes find that several potential defenders are out of commission. Two were thieves that Bernard Tauber, who is really a bounty hunter, had papers on and drugged. The third is the older brother of the two sisters in the quartet of nobles, the sisters got him drunk to get him out of the way so they could canoodle with their beaus. (the heroes did not interact much with folk in inn and so were oblvivious to this going on, fortunately a full scale battle never broke out so this did not hurt as much as it might have).

As Krieger takes charge in the inn, sorting out able-bodied defenders and non-combatants (antoganing Bernard Tauber with his high-handed manners [chaos star] ), Anselm feels the room he is in with the sleeping Lady Agnetha grow cold with a Deathly Presence and then the ghostly beastman appears, a now terrifying sight that attacks him and does him serious injury. He runs from the room and Lady Agnetha, who is woken up, later reports the apparition pursued him but vanished as it did so.

Checks keep having to be made to stop the inn's guests etc. from panicking overmuch, eventually the situation does deteriorate to point it takes 3 boons (not 2) to recover stress in the panic-struck inn ( a panic track being used, 1st step is that effect and also a misfortune on any social actions now with people in the inn, the 2nd step was bedlam, people become easy prey for ghost and it kills enough people to complete overpowering the wards - that was never reached ).

Hans magically wards the room and Lady Agnetha returns to it with the non-combatants, who she entertains with stories of her upcoming wedding to her (actually now deceased husband).

Findulas makes out several groups of beastmen out the woods, casting about as if looking for something but bizarrely never coming closer to the inn (the heroes deduce the wards are still at work).

The ghost attacks the horses, their terrifying cries causing more alarm to the inn's guests (panic track) as Krieger tries to calm them but fails to. Two horses are killed (challenge die roll - chaos star - it's two of the heroes').

Hans tries to determine if someone in the inn raised up the ghost (e.g., a necromancer), eventually finding dark magic at work in the cairn out in the yard. He doesn't find anyone acting suspicious on this account among the able bodied defenders (but causing the people in inn to decide one of them must be responsible and raising tension). At one point he is going up the stairs to speak to the inn keeper and renew the wards when he too feels the cold and is attacked. He creates another ward to protect himself but the ghost breaks through it, taking some small injury, and attacks him also wounding him grievously.

[in true ghost story fashion, the ghost uses Deathly Presence before walking through a wall so there's a chill, then it attacks with Terror effect].

Out in the yard, Krieger and Findulas have been removing the stones from a cairn where the dark magic was seen (Hans not able to discern its purpose but Anselm seeing its nature). The work is difficult in the rain and they are almost done when the cry from Hans' being attacked draws them back into the inn. Findulas incurs fatigue to make it all the way back and shoot at the ghost with the bow from the well - the elf bow is effectively blessed against the ghost and he inflicts great injury on it. The ghost turns and seeing the elf, and the bow, turns its attack upon Findulas who suffers many wounds and Flesh Wound critical. Krieger also joins the fray, wielding a weapon Hans enspelled to be effective against undead foes, and Hans finally finishes the ghost with Burning Gaze. It vanishes away.

The heroes finish taking the cairn apart, finding an ancient scroll case. Findulas carefully removes the scroll (avoiding damaging it) and Hans reads a message in stilted Reikspeil - apparently written by a wood elf who didn't expect his own kind to find it. It tells of killing a beast man named Krokargh but fearing the creature would return. Of burying his comrades and putting rocks over the beastmans' grave to hide it, then planning to cast his own body (he is suffering from a re-opened wound as he writes) into the nearby well to avoid leaving traces for the beastman's followers. He has called on the spirit of Athel Loren to hide the spot.

The heroes decide against disturbing the grave, as this might re-awaken the ghost. They put back some rocks and warn the inn keeper, planning to tell the priests of Morr in Bogenhafen about this site and hoping they can secure it.

The one last thing the heroes determine is that Hans, having excluded necromancers in the guests as a reason the ghost rose, ponders if a mad person might cause it - and realizes (Education check) that they might - their unquiet mind calling to an unquiet spirit. That Agnetha might have been the cause of the ghost's manifestation is a bit of information the heroes keep to themselves.

Findulas convinces the inn keeper to let him keep the bow (Bow of Athel Loren, damaged condition).

(NOTE, there was no Act 3 as the Beastmen never came pouring in - if they had to deal with Ghost and Beastmen [in any order] there would have been a Rally Step between and thus a 3rd Act. They kept the people in inn from getting too far down panic track and also were careful about not letting anyone be alone.).

They continue on the next day (Findulas recovers from his critical), and reach Bogenhafen the day after. The priests of Morr there promise they will send someone to the Downing Man Inn to investigate the grave site. Hans looks into their records and sees they did, 190 years ago, get a body from the newly build inn at that site for burial. The records note it had been misidentified as a human but was actually an elf. They did bury it anyway.

At Bogenhafen they transfer to boat, meeting boatman Manfred Lang at the Haagen Docks, and sail downriver to Carroburg and then Frederheim. The trip with Lady Agnetha is still disturbing and leaves Findulas Demoralized and Ill Fortuned, Hans Perplexed . She is committed, remarking on the great edifice of the asylum, "I had no idea the von Bruner mansion in Hugeldal was so large."

The heroes return to Carroburg where they have a 1 day Interlude. They do some shopping - suffering much mishap (stress etc.) in the big city, but eventually finding a bowyer able to repair the bow for 10 shillings and a source of an overpriced healing draught (30 shillings).

At the end of the day, they encounter a Sigmarite Priest, Father Anders and begin their next adventure... The Witch's Song.