Consequences – Part 1: The Blood of My Enemies
by Dane Leitch · Published · Updated
Below is the first of four parts of Consequences.
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The entirety of the adventure has also been pasted below.
“The blood of my enemies flows too slow, that of my friends too fast.
Regardless of victory, or something else, be glad the terror has passed.”
Part 01: The Blood of My Enemies
Players find themselves in the tiny hamlet of Fenrick’s March which is beset by evil. For generations the people have protected themselves through sheer grit, determination, and a touch of brutality. Although a well trained militia has defended the town in the past, it was inevitable in the wartorn Iron Kingdoms that a larger and stronger force would sweep through. A Cryxian expedition seeking powerful Orgoth relics has done just that and embarrassed the militia taking almost all of them alive. The Players arrive mere hours after the attack and are sent to either save the forty captives or otherwise learn their fate. After tracking the raiders to a nearby abandoned outpost adjacent to an Orgoth tomb, the party is faced with the simple reality that time is not on their side. Every moment they waste, another militia member dies. Once the threat has been contained and as many captives as possible saved, the players are left with the difficult task of delivering bad news. No matter how fast the players move, people will die and the end of this first adventure is bittersweet for Fenrick’s March.
During the Quiet Century research and exploration were at their peak. One group of archaeologists led by Fenrick Storigg sought out Orgoth ruins in order to better understand the former oppressors who were quickly falling into legend. Fenrick and his allies travelled far and wide until they settled in one especially quiet corner of the Iron Kingdoms. Content to study rather than become embroiled in the mounting political chaos, Fenrick and his team enlisted the aid of Rhulic friends and built a small tower to serve as a research base for the various ruins scattered across the region. Rhulstone Tower grew and around it a town took root. Never particularly large, its people named the town Fenrick’s March. Overlooked in the battles and wars which raged in the scores of years after its founding, Fenrick’s March proved a refuge for study and research. Though Fenrick is long dead, his legacy persists.
While many in the Iron Kingdoms sought protection in urban centers, the people of Fenrick’s March trusted in their own prowess. Founded so far from civilization, these villagers learned to protect themselves. Fenrick’s March is the quintessential middle of nowhere podunk village, mostly oblivious to the outside world and dependent on little more than their own abilities and resources. In recent years their need for protection has grown. Thirty years ago a new Magistrate enacted brutal measures to maintain safety and independence. After three decades, brutality is now second nature.
The young men and women of Fenrick’s March train long and hard to protect their village from bandits, beasts, and other evils which are liable to wipe an easily forgettable copse of houses from the surface of Caen. This militia has grown more than capable of accomplishing their protective purpose. Fenrick’s March harshly stamps out any nearby banditry and thievery. Occasionally a gang thinks themselves capable of a quick smash and grab operation and are beaten like dogs. Rumors say the people of Fenrick’s March are unforgiving in the justice they dole out. Rarely do invaders live to tell tales of the warriors who wear the mist like a cloak. It’s this brutality which protects Fenrick’s March as much as the strength of her militia. Prisoner’s heads are stacked at the borders. Eyes and teeth removed. Jaws locked open. Tongues weighed down with an ocher stone.
Many years have passed since the Marchers last knew fear. Then in the dark hours of one terrible morning, it was not a force of bandits, but of organized Cryx attackers who descended upon the town. Although the alarm sounded and militia formed up, they failed. Surprisingly few died. Disarmed and captured alive, their fate is unknown. This defeat has shocked the tiny hamlet. Survivors have barricaded themselves in Rhulstone Tower, the modest temple of Menoth, and the more extravagant Morrowan church. Villagers hide fearing for their lives. While only ten or so were killed, forty militia members were taken. The handful who remain are too old or too sick to defend the village. For the first time in a generation Fenrick’s March is defenseless.
Karyx Bloodstar and Etienne
Orgoth ruins and tombs are far from commonplace in the Iron Kingdoms, so the discovery of any tend to draw attention. Powerful beings intent on collecting dark artifacts and magics scour these stones for any gleanable scrap of old might. Karyx Bloodstar and her Bile Thrall Quartermaster Etienne have come across one such place of power. Although it has so far proven impossible to breach, careful translation of the writing surrounding a massive Orgoth door has revealed a recipe of sorts.
Living blood taken not given
Living water twice the weight
Drank by the faces of Fear and Loathing
Spit out is the Ichor of Fate
Uncertain of what the Ichor of Fate may be capable of, Karyx felt the only reasonable response was to attempt the ritual and see what developed. Gathering her forces she garrisoned a nearby abandoned outpost and began scouting for potential donors. Coming across a simple band of travelers, Karyx and company easily overwhelmed and captured the hapless group. Using pumps designed by Etienne and his bile thralls water from a nearby stream and blood from the captives were routed into the faces on the door. The resulting fluid proved a powerful component for necromantic incantations.
The Bloodwitch bolstered her ranks with a small squad of pistol wraiths raised using the potent liquid. Although meant to raise a single mundane wraith, use of the Ichor of Fate magnified the ritual’s power. A Pistol Wraith Spell Slinger and two normal Pistol Wraiths rose up from the long dead remains used as components. Additionally, the wraiths proved especially obedient compared to others Karyx had commanded. Their lust for destruction was just as deep, but they acted as well-trained hounds rather than bloodthirsty beasts. Initial research suggests that nearly any required element in a spell or ritual may be replaced or amplified with application of this viscous phlegm-like liquid. Etienne is particularly excited about the potential for use in the creation of his bile and bloat thralls as the corrosives used now breakdown the cadavers of his creations and even himself too quickly for his liking. With proof of concept established, the band eyed the convenient proximity of a hamlet full of hapless victims in waiting.
Karyx’s Lich Lord observes her progress through a necklace gifted her before this journey. It is aware of the Ichor of Fate and the party who will soon interfere with its creation.
Mere hours before the PC’s arrived at Fenrick’s March, Karyx and her crew descended without mercy upon the village. Many are still hiding scared and a few thralls remain behind seeking defenseless victims. While the PCs deal with the remnants of the Cryx and speak with the town magistrate, the captive militia members are hooked up to Etienne’s pump and additional hose is run from the outpost to the cavern. Time wasted will result in wasted lives.
Cast of Characters, Antagonists, Allies, and Locales:
In addition to the characters brought by the players, a number of non-player characters fulfill necessary roles in the story. Antagonists are outlined in detail in their first encounter. NPCs which are not expected to require stats may reference a page in the Core Rules or relevant supplement instead.
A disturbingly forgettable hamlet, Fenrick’s March has a small common square surrounded by the massive Rhulstone Tower, a Morrowan church, a small Menite temple built more like a fort than place of worship, and a very old shelled stage used during festivals and court hearings. On the stage there is a large crank driven siren which calls up the militia (a gift from a generous traveler years ago). Farms that are little more than subsistence plots surround the region with the furthest a mile or so away. Both livestock and fields are surrounded by sturdy fences. The road through Fenrick’s March could go anywhere, but truly goes nowhere. Other than many nearby Orgoth ruins, the unique dwarf-built tower, and a surreal hanging silence, there is nothing special about this place at all. Secretly record positive and negative actions to determine how the townsfolk feel about the players. Assume that any theft is later discovered and natural distrust causes the people to blame (even if they do not formally accuse) the party. The standing of the party within Fenrick’s March will be of great consequence in Part 4 of this series. Make an effort to carry positive and negative effects forward during every visit to the hamlet.
Town Magistrate: Allyss Fenrick (human, 60s, cold and serious)
Allyss has served as magistrate for thirty years. Although she has attempted many times in the past to train an apprentice, the severity of her personality has caused trainees to suddenly decide farmwork isn’t so bad. Even with the majority of the village gone, she does not descend into despair. Her calculating mind assures her that if they were taken alive then they must still be alive. Given time she would organize the remaining capable villagers to seek out the militia. Allyss serves as the primary quest giver as everyone in Fenrick’s March acquiesces to her rulings. Technically, she is considered for election every three years, but the people have voted unanimously in her favor for so many decades it is nothing more than tradition which retains the ceremony. Allyss harbors great potential for villainy. The hard methods enacted by the militia are at her command. She feels the only way Fenrick’s March will remain free is if it is strong and she is willing to exact any methods necessary to retain that freedom. It is unlikely she expected the consequences that so many decades of viciousness would have on her soul.
Militia Captain: Georick Fenrick (human, 60s, militant and disciplined)
Georick has given his life to the strengthening of the militia. Having served as a drill sergeant during his time in the Cygnaran military, he is well equipped to prepare this small village for protecting what is theirs. Although he fought hard, Captain Georick was captured during the battle. Listed here as an ally, Georick is actually the first of the captured militia members to die as his lifeblood is drained by the infernal machine of the Cryxian raiders. A decisive party bent on rescuing all of the militia could theoretically run straight to the outpost, knockdown the door in one attack, storm up the stairs, cut the pump, and then administer emergency medical stabilization to save Georick and all of the militia. If that is the case Georick leaves Fenrick’s March in the night. He leaves behind a note and his journal. He can no longer execute such terrible vengeance after having not so dissimilar tortures enacted on his friends. He is perhaps the person most aware of the consequences of his actions and his journal reveals long years of silently questioning the wisdom of his wife’s command for brutality.
Morrowan Rector: Reverend Betilda Atchley (human, 70s, warm and welcoming)
Batilda has served the tiny hamlet of Fenrick’s March for nearly her entire life. It is almost as though the priesthood placed her and forgot her. It has been 50 years since the most recent visit from a vicar and nearly as long since the last tithe was advanced beyond the care of the local church. Betilda loves her flock dearly and would do nothing to risk their safety. This compassion has caused her to turn a blind eye to the actions of Allyss and the militia in ensuring no evil enters from the outside. She is warm and welcoming to outsiders, but tells everything shared with her to Allyss during their weekly confessions. Reverend Atchley holds a great secret, her and Father Rhinehart have been in an intimate relationship for 40 years. Each believes the town ignorant of their dalliances, while the town is aware that any acknowledgement of the relationship has the chance to call down the attention of those further up the hierarchy. The consequences of that happening would likely result in Betilda being reassigned or even stripped of her robes.
Menite Priest: Father Egan Rhinehart (human, 80s, compassionate and disciplined)
Father Rhinehart has long served as a member of the Paladins of the Order of the Wall. Although his tower shield and sword are secreted out of sight for most of the day, a sun has not yet risen which did not shine through the windows of the temple to gleam off his weapons’ polished surfaces as he works through Trionfante Militante. His strength is hardly sufficient to finish his meditations, but his devotion is unwavering. He immediately noticed the compassion of the priestess of Morrow upon his arrival at the fortress temple and before long the two were a couple. Egan was disheartened by the extreme measures enacted by the new Magistrate, however he knew well the teaching role served by such methods. Refusing to participate, but likewise refusing to condemn, Father Rhinehart quietly permitted the actions. He has long advised Captain Georick and serves as confidante to the morally conflicted man. The consequences of Father Rhinehart’s relationship with Betilda would result in wracking if it were discovered. Given his advanced age, the wrack would most certainly end him.
Inn Keeper: Freitag Sigmur (rhulic, 40s, mercantile and suspicious)
The Inn of Fenrick’s March is an expertly crafted six story building named Rhulstone Tower. Freitag’s family tied their lot to Fenrick’s March when Fenrick’s expedition first passed through this beautiful out of the way region. Now, eight human generations later, the Sigmur clan continue to honor their commitment to the hamlet. Although a young Sigmur will journey back to Rhul to find a wife, there have always been a small handful who remain to watch over Rhulstone Tower. Within is an alchemical laboratory, a mechanika shop, along with a kitchen, common room, and guest accommodations as well. Though often referred to as the Inn Keeper by the humans of the hamlet, Freitag’s formal title is Master of the Tower and he oversees the work of his cousins, a few aunts and uncles, and his children who ease life in Fenrick’s March with light and power. He carries the burden of his great great great grandfather by caring for the descendants of Fenrick just as Fenrick was cared for by his ancestor. Freitag knows well the consequences of tradition and obligation as his family have slowly moved either back to Rhul or sought more interesting homes.
Militia and Defenses
Militia Strength hovers around 50 well-trained men and women between 15 and 60. Armed with voulge-rifles and short swords with pistols scattered throughout the ranks, this small group is more than capable of defending themselves from most threats. With such a large percentage of the hamlet dedicated to its protection, crime is almost non-existent and usually falls into the categories of juvenile idiocy or the exploits of a drunk.
The Red Dawn
Karyx Bloodstar is the captain of the modest pirate vessel Red Dawn. Assigned to the task of exploring Orgoth ruins in the search for uses for the dark magics, Karyx has taken her crew up and down the coasts of Immoren. Red Dawn is a small and agile craft able to survive choppy seas and shallow river bottoms allowing the crew to strike deep into the hinterlands of the Iron Kingdoms. Research performed by her Quartermaster Etienne has pointed the crew to a region awash with Orgoth ruins. Although the reason for such density is unknown, there can be no doubt that valuable relics are waiting to be claimed. Perhaps sufficient tribute to her Lichlord, along with some choice bits set aside for herself, will grant Karyx additional favor. And with the favor of the Lichlords, comes greater power. The ship itself is moored a few days travel up river at the base of a thirty-foot waterfall. It is unlikely to be an area of interest during this adventure.
Karyx Bloodstar (satyxis, mid-20s, relentless and ambitious)
Karyx is a bloodwitch in her first real position of command. She is intent on finding ways to augment her arcane powers and feels that the best way is through the accumulation of Orgoth knowledge. Artifacts from those former conquerors are well known conduits of power and their mastery over undead is of special interest to Karyx and her necrosurgeon. Karyx will fight hard, but is not suicidal. If the opportunity to escape a hopeless situation presents itself she will abandon her crew and return to the Red Dawn. Karyx trusts her quartermaster Etienne as the ghastly creature has proved himself a capable creator of useful undead tools to bolster the crew of her ship without overburdening her with the need to feed or pay the monstrosities.
Etienne (bloat thrall, undeterminable, clever and conniving)
Cyxian Lichlords thought Mobius was unique when they learned of the spindly creature, but it seems he is one of many. Etienne commands from the putrid back of a bloat thrall also called Etienne. Speaking in a rasping third person, Etienne barks out orders to himself and surrounding bloats whenever necessary. Observation of the monstrous creature in action seems to indicate that the smaller beast has absolute control over the motor functions of his blob-like mount, however the blob has a head and presumably mind of its own. Etienne is a master of fluid dynamics and pumping systems. His expertise has crafted bloats with greater range and control than ever thought possible. Assigned as Quartermaster and advisor to Karyx, Etienne is satisfied with any opportunity to put his knowledge to a greater work. If defeated the beast is liable to play dead in the hopes that the opportunity to scuttle away arises.
The Cavern of Fear and Loathing
Like so many of the abandoned Orgoth ruins, crypts, and temples, the original use of this cave is lost to the annals of history. Built into the back of a shallow 80 foot cavern, fairly well preserved piping and stonework are still intact. On one side is a raised platform. Three stone pedestals with bowl-like tops sit beneath hooks set deep into the ceiling. Partially decomposed piping runs behind the platform to a large face set into the wall. The face has been carved in the Orgoth style with a look of abject terror frozen on its features. The mouth extends out and opens upward toward the broken piping. On the opposite side are small dry aqueducts that run to a second carved face. An unmistakable look of disgust marks this face. Again mouth is open and extends ready to catch what falls from the ancient plumbing. Three figures of carved stone lean heavily against the rear wall. Human in size and appearance, the naked statues are either holding something in or trying to push down the wall. Each has mouth open and lifted except for one whose head was long ago destroyed. Only an empty void which leads down through the neck remains. Above the three figures is a single massive entity. Vaguely human in appearance, the creature appears to be pulling is massive body through the wall. Clawed hands press against the stone as half its chest, neck, and head extend outward. Wicked fangs fill the gaping open mouth and a long rippled tongue stretches out above a bowl topped stone pillar. The wall to either side of the beast is covered in a repeating pattern which an astute researcher would discern as writing. Before this adventure began the crew of the Red Dawn have run hoses to the nearby river and outpost as to spread out their resources making it more difficult to take out the operation in one fell swoop. In this adventure the interior of the tomb will not be explored, but it serves as a central location nonetheless for the story.
Fenrick’s March Disposition Toward the Party
Throughout these four adventures the successes and failures of the party can affect the disposition of the hamlet as a whole toward the group. During various points in this adventure the general feelings of the Marchers toward the group should be used in considering how easy it is to get help from the citizens of this paranoid corner of Caen. Secretly track this disposition for the final scene of the adventure, show the feelings of the town whenever appropriate.
Closed Shutters, Locked Doors
The first scene establishes the primary actors within the adventure along with the main antagonists. An opening battle wires the PCs for danger while the desperate request for help should motivate them to action. Tracking of the antagonists and arrival at the Outpost should all take place within the first hour of play.
Getting the PCs Involved
Consequences: The Blood of My Enemies does not establish either a specific geographic region or purpose for the PCs arrival at Fenrick’s March. Although reasonably close proximity to the coast is assumed in order to be within raiding distance of a Cryx ship, any location could work without too much difficulty. Some possible hooks to draw the party to the hamlet are outlined below:
- Rumors abound of a black hole of a region where Orgoth ruins are numerous and dangerous. The oddity is that your eyes want to slide off that area of the map while any inquiries regarding the region are met with confused looks. Some great power is veiling a not insignificant patch of land and a closer look might reveal why.
A mounted messenger is racing down the road in your direction. He frantically waves his arms and practically leaps off the horse to seek aid. Once closer, the messenger is revealed to be a boy, unlikely older than 10 summers. With tears streaming down his face he recounts the horrors which befell his home that very morning. So many were taken, help is needed before whatever evil befalling them is fulfilled.
- Either the Morrowan or Menite authorities have uncovered a small temple/church which has not contributed tithe in many years, decades in fact. It seems a clerical error misplaced the information about the small hamlet. Regardless of the reason, communication must be reestablished and perhaps punishment for failing to reach out to the proper authorities should be explored. A character with connections Morrow or Menite Church may be assigned to investigate and report back as soon as possible.
- Bandits spread tales of victories with the same vigor that gremlins spread chaos. Rarely do they speak of their defeats. One region in particular though is spoken of only in whispers. The people there are vicious, relentless, and stronger than they should be. Powerful magic must be aiding those folk and anyone who could abscond with their secrets may be privy to a not insignificant reward. Be warned: it seems the people of this region pluck out eyes and tear out teeth before locking open jaws leaving the tongue hanging out weighed down with an ocher colored stone. Heads such as these are posted along the only road in and are just as often sent via hooded messenger back to the gangs from which the bandits came.
Mixing hooks and giving partial information to various party members can reinforce the importance of investigating this area and in many ways will elevate the mystique surrounding it. Additional information about Fenrick’s March is incredibly difficult to find. First and foremost, it is a tiny nearly insignificant place. Outside of its own internal history, nothing of note has ever taken place there or at least is nowhere recorded. Second, an unusually high concentration of Orgoth ruins in the vicinity has had a perception blocking effect on anyone trying to nail down what is present in the region. Any skills used to gain information about Fenrick’s March suffer a -5 penalty.
Narrative Encounter 1
An Unwelcome Arrival
The PCs are traveling together along an old and unmaintained Orgoth road. Paving stones occasionally jut upward at harsh angles, while in other places they are as smooth as the day they were laid. Give the players the opportunity to greet one another and establish why they are traveling together on this road.
Read the following aloud
You have been travelling the road for a few days now. Nothing special, notable, or otherwise important has happened in long enough that the lack of action itself is starting to make you nervous. Ancient Orgoth paving stones guide your path. For short stretches at a time the stones lay flat and smooth, while just as often they take on a vicious tooth-like visage. An hour or so ago, silence descended upon your journey. Birds stopped singing, insects stopped chirping, and even the sound of the wind blowing through the trees took on a hollow and somehow empty sound. Perhaps coincidentally this is around when you first caught sight of the top of a tower in the distance. Various obstacles have since blocked your view, but even were it still visible the distraction of gaping maws and horned heads of Orgoth monuments would be more than enough to steal your attention. Some have been worn nearly round by time with only the barest remnants of their former details decipherable. Very rarely a stone or metal work face in perfect detail remains. Unblemished images seem to grow more common as you near the distant tower, especially considering the effort the Orgoth went through to be forgotten. Nearly another full hour passes before you come to a true rarity of the modern world, a perfectly preserved 8 foot tall marble statue of an Orgoth warrior. He has weapons ready, standing at attention with his back against a black obelisk twice again as tall as he. This ancient monument is flanked by a gruesum addendum. Staked into the ground beside the ominous guard is a human head. Eye sockets stare at you vacantly. The mouth is locked open and the tongue lolls out to a disturbing length weighed down by an ocher stone hanging from a thick thread.
Just beyond the pillar and its rotting footnote is a farm. At a glance the buildings appear empty except for a few random sounds from various livestock. Another silent mile, another silent farm until about a mile and a half past the guardian a tiny hamlet comes into view. A large cold stone tower dominates the landscape standing higher than even the steeple of what looks to be a Morrowan church and the crenellations of a small Menite temple as well. As you approach, dense fog begins to blanket the village, adding weight to the silence. The tower and churches disappear in the mist. As you enter the edge of the town itself your vision is completely obscured beyond a few dozen feet.
Give the character the opportunity to explore the hamlet. Casual investigation reveals the remains of some kind or riot or scuffle. Careful study (Forensic Science TN:10, Tracking TN:12, or Detection TN:14) reveals a battle took place. Success by 3+ in used skill reveals a strange chemical residue on the wall of a nearby building. Success by 5+ in used skill spots movement through the windows of a large stone building in the center of town. Success by 7+ reveals that there are too few dead in proportion to the obvious size of the clash. More blood should have been spilled unless almost no one lives here at all. If residue was found Alchemy TN:13 identifies it as some kind of nerve agent that would likely render a person unconscious for some time. The PCs find doors locked. Once sufficient investigation time has passed or the PCs attempt to get into any building, break the unusual silence with a cry of “HELP!” from a very young sounding voice.
Combat Encounter 1
This encounter takes place after the PCs have completed some preliminary investigation of Fenrick’s March. It is early morning and an eerie fog rises up from the ground. Figures more than 15’ away have concealment and those 30’ or more away have stealth. This should be a relatively easy fight for the party.
Players may expect some kind of reward or appreciation for saving the girl. Instead they will be met with apathy and a town magistrate who barely even acknowledges that some rescue had taken place. Her statement of their ability is matter of fact and her request that they find out what happened to the militia does not at any point explicitly request their return.
Read the following aloud
The cool mist encompasses everything, veiling the early morning light in a shroud of uncertainty. Buildings which were so clear from a distance now seem to rise up suddenly as you approach. A cry of “HELP!” rings out again, echoing strangely through the previous silence. The cloud thins for a moment and at its very edge is an amphitheatre. What appears to be a young girl is darting and dodging around scenery on a stage beneath the bandshell. A bald thin creature with a large mechanikal arm is directing a trio of gaunt naked thralls who are trying to throw sacks over the head of the fleeing girl. They are undoubtedly intending to take her alive. Rows of wooden benches sit below the stage longing for spectators to watch the life and death drama play out.
Combat takes place in and around an amphitheatre which has the stage set for some kind of a play or production. Rows of wooden benches along the ground provide cover against a single attack before breaking. So too does the scenery on stage provide cover against one attack before falling or otherwise being ineffective for defense. The NPC spends the entire combat fleeing enemies while they attempt to throw a bag over her head if given the chance. Once aware of interference, the necrosurgeon will create another mechanithrall for additional defense. The necrosurgeon realizes escape is unlikely and will fight to the end instead.
As soon as possible, the necrosurgeon creates a pair of mechanithralls to give the group some kind of offensive punch. Stitchthralls are usually defenseless, but these have been equipped with some kind of a goo launching device. So too does the necrosurgeon have a corrosive spray attack. The group tries to fend off the PCs from a distance, only engaging if absolutely necessary. This group was collecting any remaining living captives and did not expect to find resistance. All enemies will persist until destroyed.
The encounter takes place in and around a stage prepped for a production. Benches line the area in front of the stage while the amphitheater itself has scenery and lighting ready for a stage play.
- Benches & Scenery: Each provide solid cover against one attack to a character taking cover behind them. A STR TN:10 can knock a piece of scenery onto an adjacent target for a POW 12 and knockdown attack in a 3” AOE. The AOE must be placed touching but not overlapping the piece of scenery.
- Stage: The stage is 4’ off the ground and requires a climbing or jumping skill to quickly ascend without losing movement. There are stairs on either side
It should be noted that I am no artist. The maps are meant only to give the impression of what each combat area is like. DMs are encouraged to set up the scenarios as seen fit.
Once the enemies are dispatched, the little girl curls up and cries. She is probably 7 or 8 years old. The PCs can attempt to calm her down if they want to, do not prompt them to do so. Allow any skill use that seems valuable at either TN:9 or TN:12 depending on the likelihood of a small child being calmed by their demeanor. Succeeding will raise Fenrick’s March Disposition by 1. Failing or not attempting has no effect. While they are distracted Allyss Fenrick approaches from Rhulstone Tower.
Read the following aloud
“Our militia was devastated early this morning.” A serene woman of 60-some years approaches out of the fog. A tight bun rests on top of her head and small half-moon spectacles rest on the end of her beak of a nose. “Those Cyxian monsters came in force. Beasts we have never seen before swept through our forces like a scythe through wheat. They were taken alive, or at least many seemed to yet live. I would like to know what became of them. My husband commands our militia and he too was taken. You seem capable. Will you find them?”
Allyss will answer basic questions when addressed. Her name, the name of the area, any history of the region that the PCs inquire about, but she does not volunteer information without prompting. Allyss did not get a good look at the attackers, but Father Rhinehart was the one who sounded the alarm and may have had a better view. If a reward is requested her face visibly darkens and she agrees to some worthwhile information about some surrounding ruins. Fenrick’s March has almost no gold to speak of because of how insular and cut off they are from the rest of civilization. Persistent PCs will be given 36 gold pieces that are stamped with dates between 498 AR and 509 AR. To a collector they could be worth 200 modern gold pieces and the players’ standing within the community is diminished. Allyss suggests that the PCs look around for clues or ask questions of some of the townsfolk to determine where the captives may have been taken. This conversation segues into Skill Encounter 1 below. If a group is pressed for time, Skill Encounter 1 can be skipped and Allyss can point to an obvious trail west out of town. Role play heavy groups are encouraged to take part in the next encounter while combat focused groups may prefer to skip immediately ahead to Scene 2.
If asked why she is entrusting them with this task: You need not have helped Manda a few moments ago. You knew of nothing to gain, saw no one to impress, and would suffer no punishment for inaction. You chose to act. That tells me you know both action and inaction have consequences. I need people like that right now.
Alyss excuses herself by saying: “I must assess the damage which has taken place and comfort those who are mourning. You can find me in Rhulstone Tower if there is anything more you need or when you learn the fate of my people.” Just before she turns to leave you see a single tear form in the corner of her eye. Without any further comment, she takes the little girl by the hand and walks to the nearby tower.
Skill Encounter 1
Following the exchange with Allyss the opportunity to investigate the area and speak with different people within the community is possible. Different approaches can be taken as people within the town know bits of useful information or have resources which can aid the group. Thorough investigation can better prepare the players for what is to come. Below are summaries of useful people and locations. Depending on the nature of the group, some parties may find themselves immediately hitting the obvious trail to follow the captives, while others will research the potential threat and can gain helpful information or resources. Generally speaking, a party that takes its time to learn at this point will be better equipped to face the enemies before them. However, there are consequences to wasted time. Every person or locale investigated will result in 1D3 additional dead militia members. Secretly track these consequences for the conclusion. Once finished with the hamlet, the obvious trail leads to the west. Leaving immediately will increase Fenrick’s March Disposition by 1.
Read the following aloud
Looking around Fenrick’s March there are many places to begin an investigation. The clearing just outside the hamlet where much of the fighting took place could be helpful. A small Menite Temple and a larger Church of Morrow are almost always centers of information. People have begun exiting the large six story tower not far from the amphitheater where your battle just took place. They may know something of value. You do notice that although many are visibly distraught, there are few tears and no overt sobbing. These are certainly a hard people and regardless of the devastation to their families it is unlikely they will give up.
Players can basically choose one of four areas to explore. Below are the areas, important NPCs in those areas, relevant skills to use in those areas, and a reward for successfully completing the investigation in that area. Some rewards are tangible, some are information. Failure is simply wasted time which unbeknownst to the party is costing lives.
Successful investigation of the Battlefield takes a half hour. During that time the three most useful skills are Forensic Science, Tracking, and Detection. The information gathered using these skills is the same, but the more specialized skills are rewarded with greater ease of success. Be open to other potential research avenues, but not overtly generous with the necessary Target Numbers.
Read the following aloud
The worst of the fighting seems to have taken at the edge of town. Fencing and boulders carry the scars of battle. What may have once been a lush pasture has been churned into a muddy pit beneath trampling feet and blood. Nothing was left behind. No corpses. No pieces of corpses. No weapons. Nothing. A closer look may help you better understand who and how many participated in the attack.
The Menite Temple
Built as much like a small fortress as a temple, the local Menite Temple could be a source of information as its priest, Father Rhinehart sounded the alarm. If anyone still in Fenrick’s March was able to get a good look at the attackers it was him.
Read the following aloud
Painted a clean and gleaming white, the small Menite temple has but a single minaret maybe three or four stories tall in the southwest corner. Size does nothing to diminish the obvious strength of the ancient stone structure. Beautiful stained glass windows reinforced with steel menofixes flank a pair of 8’ tall, 6’ wide heavy iron double doors. As you approach the afternoon adhan begins. From the top of the minaret a loud deep voice calls out to the faithful one of the daily prayers. The scent of incense greets you as you open the doors to enter. Although not a particularly large space, the apse and ambo dominating the back wall are impressively decorated with Menite iconography. Within is sufficient space for about fifty people to sit comfortably. Currently there are ten or so faithful in various states of prayer throughout the sanctuary. It takes a few more minutes for the adhan to end, during which the interior acoustics add an element of reverb to the haunting melody.
Players are given some time to acquaint themselves with the area as the adhan continues. Adherents are generally polite and decline to speak until prayers have concluded. Once Father Rhinehart comes down from the call to prayer or the party ascends to meet him in the minaret, the group may speak with them however they feel will be most helpful. The reward for successfully navigating the conversation without insulting or berating the priest will be a blessing on the party’s weapons which lasts 24 hours .
Encounter Relevant Skills
Successes and failures should be tracked during this interaction. Composing themselves well will increase their standing with the people of Fenrick’s March. So long as the party experiences at least 2 successes for each 1 failure Fenrick’s March Disposition will increase by 1. The inverse causes Fenrick’s March Disposition to decrease by 1. All players should begin any interaction with the priest with an Etiquette check TN:11, Menites should receive a +3 bonus to the roll. Proper understanding of how to interact with the priesthood can benefit the party greatly.
Father Rhinehart was able to get a decent view of the attackers just before they charged in. He was working through his morning meditations early as he had trouble sleeping when a chill compelled him to look to the west. An ethereal green glow illuminated the edge of the woods highlighting the forms of lumbering mechanithralls, graceful satyxis and massive bloat thralls. While that alone would be sufficient to call up the militia, he was especially distraught to see a trio of pistol wraiths hovering nearby. He quickly called up the militia and did his best to bless weapons so that they would be more effective against the incorporeal foes. Discovering Father Rhinehart’s secret and promising to keep it quiet counts as a success as far as standing in the community is concerned.
The Church of Morrow
Much more popular than the Menite temple nearby, the church of Morrow is an extravagant and large building. The pastor of the local flock knows a great deal about fighting undead and may be able to ease any combat further down the line. Her influence is so great that any influence earned or lost is double while interacting with the woman.
Read the following aloud
The Church of Morrow is a marvel of beauty and craftsmanship wholly out of place in this tiny village. Massive windows reflect and redirect light in such a manner that the interior and exterior of the church appears to be a well of light in a desert of darkness. Within is enough room for two hundred to gather in worship, more than the population of the hamlet in which it was built. Mid-day bells begin to ring high in the vaulted ceiling. Thirty or so people are scattered throughout the sanctuary with a brightly smiling woman who appears to be in her seventies shuffling to each group of worshipers to offer encouragement, prayer, or wise words. Catching your eye the Rector approaches your group with a smile. “Got to keep your head up children. No matter how dark the night may grow, Morrow’s light will shine again! Heard word you might come this way. How may I serve?”
Encounter Relevant Skills
Successes and failures should be tracked during this interaction. Composing themselves well will increase their standing with the people of Fenrick’s March. So long as the party experiences at least 2 successes for each 1 failure Fenrick’s March Disposition will increase by 2. The inverse causes Fenrick’s March Disposition to decrease by 2. The popularity of Reverend Betilda and the decent-sized group of onlookers means the party’s behaviors are under additional scrutiny.
Reverend Betilda does not know much about this particular group of attackers. If asked about undead specifically she is glad to share a helpful book from her personal library and will explain any information helpful for fighting the creatures. She offers the party a collection of brooches which will allow them to roll one additional dice and drop the lowest when making a willpower check vs. Undead.
Outing the secret couple will cause Fenrick’s March Disposition to decrease by 1.
Largest and finest building in Fenrick’s March, the Rhulstone Tower was also the first permanent structure. Originally a base for Fenrick and his men, this six story seamless stone monument houses what is now an inn, general store, alchemist shop, and workshop. A Rhulic family ensures that the tower runs smoothly and the Master of the Tower is Frietag Sigmur. Anything necessary from farming equipment repairs to the manufacture of the specialized rifle volgues used by the militia can be acquired at Rhulstone Tower.
Read the following aloud
More than sixty feet of seamless stone erupts out of the ground in the center of Fenrick’s March. A small boy notices you looking up at the tower. “Rhulstone Tower. Whate’er you need, Frietag’ll know ha’ta getit.” Entering through one of the four doors around its base you see tables and couches aplenty. In the very center of this floor there is a beautiful dark wood bar topped in fine seamless marble. Shelves well-stocked with bottles of all shapes and sizes are behind the bar. At a lectern sitting atop the bar, taking careful notes in a large ledger is a male dwarf. His well kept beard is trimmed short and shaped to exclude hair directly above and below his lips. Multi-lense eyeglasses sit at the end of his broad nose.
When he looks up in your direction he adjusts a few lenses to see better who just entered his tower. After a few moments squinting in your direction he readjusts the lenses and returns to his ledger.
Encounter Relevant Skills
Successes and failures should be tracked during this interaction. Composing themselves well will increase their standing with the people of Fenrick’s March. So long as the party experiences at least 2 successes for each 1 failure Fenrick’s March Disposition will increase by 1. The inverse causes Fenrick’s March Disposition to decrease by 1. In his heart of hearts Freitag is a negotiator. He wants to establish a baseline agreement and stick to the terms. Failures to deceive Freitag are counted as two failures, while shrewd negotiators will be rewarded with two successes.
Tower Master Freitag does not have any knowledge of Cryx or the raiders. He does, however, have any number of items which could be beneficial in an inevitable encounter. One regent in particular is a compound his niece has been working on to lessen acid burns. He is willing to sell at 30gp per dose. When immediately administered to a corrosive substance 1d3 vitality is restored and any lingering effects are negated. Without contact with an acid the healing effect does not take place. He has access to all simple equipment, multiple swords, a few pistols, all the light rounds a person could want, and has one voulge-rifle which is used by the militia of Fenrick’s March. Legend has it that Fenrick himself used a voulge-rifle in his expeditions and the people have over time adopted the unique weapon and made it central to their fighting style.
Success or failure in this encounter is much like the others, it is circumstantial and builds toward the finale of Part 04. Be careful to get a feel for how the PCs interact with the various NPCs and plan to make use of that demeanor when the party eventually returns.
As the second scene unfolds the true consequences of decisions begins to take place. This scene should be timed starting at the Read Aloud text below. Using a stopwatch, any out of combat time should be recorded. Combat time is added assuming each round lasts six seconds. The order in which the players deal with the Cryx force will determine how many captives live and how many die. Refer to the Time Has Consequences section below to be familiar with the situation. Only use the stopwatch during decision making times as the party is discussing what to do. Otherwise, manually add time based on their decisions. Any narrative explanations you provide as a Game Master do not count against the party as these observations occur “outside of time.” Determine if any additional investigation beyond the narrative would be instantaneous or take more time. Record the current time often in your notebook to give “save points” in case you forget to stop the watch or need to refigure time at any point.
After a brief trip west, the players arrive at the edge of a clearing down in a ditch. Before them is a hill with some interesting features. The hillside is dotted with rocky outcroppings and fallen rocks that can provide easy cover. There are three options for proceeding, one is to investigate the old outpost, the second is to address the group of bloat thralls next to a stream at the bottom of the hill, the third choice is a cave opening near the top of the hill outside of which is a cart and emaciated horse. The Game Master should fully describe the scene starting with the Read the following aloud text below. Ask if there are any questions to clarify what can be observed from this vantage point. Then, once players are satisfied say “thumpthump” and start the stopwatch.
Time Has Consequences
The party arrives 250 feet from both outpost (uphill) and water pumps (downhill) which are 250 feet apart. 350 feet ahead is a cavern with a small cart full of barrels parked outside it. Hoses from both the stream and the outpost lead to the cavern. When all is clear and the PCs begin to plan their assault of the outpost, start a stopwatch. A deep reverberating thumpthump about every 2 seconds can be heard from the general area before them. If the PCs listen closely they will hear a 2 second throb from the outpost and a 1 second throb from the river. The first prisoner dies after 1.5 minutes. Then every 3 minutes another dies. After 9 minutes the Ichor of Fate begins to flow and activity around the cavern increases as satyxis can be seen taking barrels in to fill. If the PCs enter combat, stop the timer and count rounds, add 6 seconds per round to the total time. Any time outside of combat discussing what to do should be timed. Once actions are agreed upon use the following data to add more time.
- Walking 250 ft. takes 1 minute
- Sneaking 250 ft. takes 3 minutes
- Running 250 ft takes 12 seconds
- Walking 350 ft takes 1.5 minutes
- Sneaking 350 ft takes 4 minutes
- Running 350 ft takes 16 seconds
- Walking 100 ft takes 45 seconds
- Sneaking 100 ft takes 2.5 minutes
- Running 100 ft takes 9 seconds
- Lock picking the outpost door at TN:10 takes 3 minutes, +30 seconds for each number below 10, -15 seconds for each number above 10
- Breaking down door is ARM 16 with 15 vitality. Attempts take 6 seconds each. STR 16 will break it down in one hard kick.
- Disabling pumps require Mechanikal Engineering and takes 2 minutes at TN:11, +30 seconds for each number below 11, -15 seconds for each number above 11
- Cutting the lines between the captives and the pump causes militia members to begin bleeding out. A Medicine TN:14 skill check is used to stabilize the captives so long as the party is adjacent to the last captive in the chain. One dies with each failure. After three failures the next attempt succeeds in a haphazard way, although 1 additional captive dies for each number under 14 in that third attempt.
Time is kept to see how many of the captured militia survive. It adds an element of haste to the adventure as wasting time arguing or spending too much time in the tank will cost lives. Especially once the PCs get into the outpost the consequences of their strategy should be obvious. GM fiat should be used to determine how much time is “real time” and how much needs to be adjusted for game time. Be sure to add 1 death for every location visited in Fenrick’s March.
After either the outpost pump is shut down or the prisoners are cut free and stabilized stop all measuring of time and determine how many captives lived. If more than 30 militia members survive, increase Fenrick’s March Disposition by 2. If 25-30 live, increase Fenrick’s March Disposition by 1. For every five fewer than 20 that die, reduce Fenrick’s March Disposition by 1. Record the survivors to add to Fenrick’s March’s Defenses in Part 4 of the adventure.
Read the following aloud
After a mile or so following the trampled path created by the Cryxian attackers you come to the edge of the forest into a low ditch. Before you is a rocky hillside. To the north at the apex of the hill is an old stone watchtower three stories tall. Down the hill to the south are a group of four bloat thralls and four mechanithrall attendants working on some kind of large machine. Further west, a little beyond both the tower and the pumps is a cavern opening in the side of an outcropping. A horse-like creature attached to a wagon full of barrels is outside of the entrance. Two hoses run into the cavern. One is from the large device next to the stream where the bloat thralls are at work. The second hose is coming out of a narrow window on the third story of the watchtower. In the few moments it takes to observe the situation a mechanithrall pulls a lever on the device by the stream and a low reverberates across the hillside. After two beats, one second apart, a second can be heard from the watchtower. Something has begun.
Allow a few moments for questions and clarifications. Then start the stopwatch when the players begin to discuss what to do. Be certain to pause the clock during any narrations spoken by the Game Master.
Combat Encounter 2a
As the space inside the cavern is too small to house the number of captives Karyx wants to drain, the hydraulic knowledge of Etienne was put to good use creating a pump strong enough to send the blood from a very closeby abandoned outpost into the cave. Since a neurotoxin was used to render the captives unconscious prior to their capture, only a pair of Mechanithralls and the trio of pistol wraiths were left behind to ensure everything continues as planned. Combat begins under one of three circumstances.
The first is the players attempt to break down the door forcibly. This alerts the wraiths who sneak through to lay a trap on the second floor in order to attack from hiding while the mechanithralls barricade the door to the third floor.
The second is the players successfully enter the outpost quietly, but fail to navigate the second floor armory without making too much noise. This alerts the wraiths who burst through the floor from above to engage the party while the mechanithralls barricade the door to the third floor.
The third is the players successfully enter the outpost and proceed to the third floor without alerting the guards. This saves the adventurers a substantial amount of time as they do not have to cut through a barricade.
Pause the clock when the players enter the outpost and run the entire encounter in “combat time”. Once the enemies are defeated, pause the clock during the read aloud text and answer any questions or resolve any skill checks which would not require additional time to assess.
Pistol Wraiths are the only intelligent undead in the Outpost, but they are under strict orders to guard the captured militia members. Unless the party approaches directly, they will not go out to seek the party of their own volition. If the group visited the Cavern before coming to the Outpost, Karyx will try to escape, rally the remaining undead and escape back to the Red Dawn to be faced again in Part 4 of the adventure.
Read the following aloud
The steady <thumthum>grows louder as you approach the abandoned outpost. Despite its presumed age, the construction is solid. Mosses and lichens have covered the walls but failed to penetrate the mortar. A heavily oxidized iron door reinforced by a rusty portcullis sits on the ground floor. Narrow windows flank the entrance and a murder hole sits directly above the entrance. There seems to be no indication that anyone or anything is aware of your approach to the tower.
Options for entering the tower essentially fall into two categories, stealthy or forceful. Using any forceful method will cause the pistol wraiths to lay a trap for the party on the second floor.
Read the following aloud
A trail through the broken furniture and dust leads from the entrance to the tower to a second door near the back. Utilitarian sconces and chandeliers once lit this common room. A number of doors along the back wall likely lead to a kitchen, storage, or other necessary rooms for an outpost. One of the doors must lead to a stairwell that leads further up the tower.
Allow the party to engage in as many skill checks or exploration that they want to, but continue to track time using combat movement to ease keeping note of the passage of time. Exploration of the ground floor turns up nothing of note except for what can be found in the officer’s quarters. Successful detection in that room will turn up a very old journal preserved within an airtight safe. Before it disintegrates the small book (an old dialect of Cygnaran) contains information about the dispatched troops and their experiences. The captain’s journal records various events where previously trustworthy soldiers make absentminded errors usually involving forgetting something important.
Also, their relief is months overdue and any scouts sent out do not return. One entry relays the arrival of a group led by one Fenrick Storigg who was seeking Orgoth ruins. A few days later an exchange with Fenrick is written out where the explorer suspects an odd memory affecting influence over the entire region. A few days later Fenrick and his crew, who were staying with the now sparsely populated garrison share a breakthrough. The adventurer suspects that the strange repeating pattern at the back of the cave is the only known case of extant Orgoth script! Reading the journal the dates get muddled and loop in some cases, but broadly speaking are within the Quiet Century during the period Storigg was active.
If undetected on their approach, read the following aloud
Every two seconds the steady <thumthum>repeats. It is as though the building itself is living and breathing. As you ascend to the second story of the tower you are met with a mess of iron and steel. Helmets, breastplates, swords, shields, bows and arrows of all kinds are scatter across the floor. Almost every surface is covered with bits and pieces of weaponry. The trail through the first floor does not continue here, but a single door near the back seems to have fallen partially off its hinges. Other doors in various states of disrepair line the walls of the room. Some are hanging open to reveal storage spaces within.
So long as the party do not make too much noise while crossing this room they will be able to enter the third floor unmolested. Any sufficient rattling or racket will call down the wraiths who swoop in with a vengeance. Every member of the party must make a poise, climbing, detection, or escape artist check for each door they investigate. If detected make a boosted attack roll vs. the lead character as they enter the second story.
If detected on their approach, read the following aloud
Looking into the second story room reveals a hoarder’s mess of discarded weapons and armor. Before you have time to assess the lay of the land thoroughly your leading party member suddenly jerks back and to the left as though struck by something. An unusual smell of burnt gunpowder fills the room as a tricorn hat wearing wraith finishes descending from the floor above, a barrel showing wisps of ethereal smoke. Two others materialize beside it as you realize the creature has taken a shot.
So long as they get the opportunity the pistol wraiths will attempt a stealth attack led by their spellslinger leader. Essentially the spellslinger is holding his full load of silent, brutal, trick shot for the first person to walk through the door to the second floor. The wraiths will pass through the various rooms of the second floor to harry the party for as long as possible. As the fight drags on, junk is being tossed against the door to the third floor to slow their assent to that level. All three wraiths fight until either they or the party are destroyed.
Formerly a equipment and training room, this second story space is now littered with weapons and armor in various states of disrepair. The entire floor is considered difficult terrain. A running or charging character must pass a poise TN:9 check or be knocked prone. Being knocked prone triggers a POW 10 damage roll from the rusted weapons.
The destruction of the pistol wraiths was sufficient distraction to allow the mechanithralls above more time to reinforce the doorway with debris. For every round of combat fighting the pistol wraiths another 10 vitality is added to the ARM 14 barricade.
Read the following aloud
As you ascend the final stairwell the <thumthum> has grown quite loud. Beneath its throbbing, low moans can be discerned along with the clatter of something being thrown against the doorway. Opening the final passageway you see a mass of broken wooden furniture. Through cracks in the barricade two mechanithralls are mindless adding material. Around them, lining both walls, strapped to what appear to be bunk beds turned on their end are the naked forms of some 40 militia members. Hoses and tubes run through their bodies into legs, arms, and necks mostly in the major blood vessels. All these lines lead to a machine in the center of the room which is the obvious source of the pulse. A larger hose leads out the window toward the cavern. While some of the gagged militia members are rolling their eyes in terror, others have ceased moving entirely. Another militia member’s eyes flutter and close, head dropping just as another piece of debris fills the gap through which you were looking.
Continue combat timing adding the mechanithralls to the turn order. Every round the players may attempt to break down the barricade as the thralls continue to add to its strength. The garbage has an effective ARM 14 and 10 vitality for every round spent in combat with the pistol wraiths. On their turn the mechanithralls add another armload for 5 more vitality. They do not resist destruction if targeted directly.
Once through the barricade, disabling the pump requires a Mechanikal Engineering check and takes 2 minutes at TN:11. Add 30 seconds for each number below 11 and subtract 15 seconds for each number above 11. Breaking the pump requires dealing 20 vitality to an ARM 16 device. Cutting the lines between the captives and the pump will stop the machine, but causes militia members to begin bleeding out. A Medicine TN:14 skill check is used to stabilize the captives. One dies with each failure. After three failures the next attempt succeeds in a haphazard way, although 1 additional captive dies for each number under 14 in that third attempt. Completely and safely disconnecting the militia from each other is not at all a small task and will take at about 5 minutes per surviving militia member. A Medicine TN:10 check is needed to remove the tubes. For every 3 that a party member exceeds the TN reduce the time to disconnect the militia by 1 minute to a minimum of 1 minute per surviving member. Failing to meet the TN wastes time, but does not further endanger the lives of the militia.
If the party shuts down the pump in the outpost before going to either the Waterside or the Cavern, a pair of satyxis will walk down to ask Etienne if something has gone wrong. Given the often volatile nature of Pistol Wraiths, gunshots do not immediately elicit a suspicious response. Those two satyxis, Etienne, and one bile thrall will come to the Outpost to investigate. It will take 10 minutes for this group to arrive at the ground floor of the outpost.
If the party has already shut down the pump at the Waterside and then shut down the Outpost pump, two satyxis will walk down to the Waterside, see evidence of battle, then run back to inform Karyx. She will personally investigate leaving a pair of satyxis to guard the Cavern while her and the rest of her retinue go to the Outpost to see what has gone wrong. They will arrive at the ground floor 5 minutes after the Outpost pump is disabled.
Combat Encounter 2b
A necessary ingredient for the mysterious “Ichor of Fate” is living water. Using the knowledge of her quartermaster Etienne, Karyx has assigned the creature and his bloat thrall assistants to the creation of a pump for moving both blood and water into the cavern. Having previously secured the captives, Etienne has put the finishing touches on the water pump as the party moves into view of the area. Distracted with the work, none of the bloat thralls notice the players as they move toward the outpost. A handful of mechanithralls do much of the lifting while Etienne orders them around in the third person. It is unclear if Etienne has actual control of the body to which he is attached, or merely orders it around. They will notice, however if a group approaches The Waterside without taking necessary stealth precautions. Stealth checks to approach the Bloat Thralls benefit from a +5 bonus as the spider-legged blobs are otherwise occupied.
Read the following aloud
“Etienne must see this water flow, yes?” An emaciated figure growing out of or otherwise attached to the back of a massive blob of fat suspended on four spindly legs points excitedly. “The waters live, yes? Now they flow fast, good. Tighten coupling there, stupid!” A steady <thumthum> pulses from the machine. One giant hose is held in the water by two mechanithralls while two others shuffle around at the Overseer’s order. A second hose runs up the hill toward the cavern not so very far away. Stop here if the party successfully sneaks up on the thralls, otherwise continue. “Look here comes more living blood Etienne, yes. Take it we should, maybe!” The creature shuffles to the back of the line as mechanithralls drop what they are doing to move between you and the bloat thralls. “More is better, yes! Saves us the trip back for more, good!” The emaciated figure on the bloat thralls back waves its hands palms up toward you. “Wait, words with you first, yes?”
Etienne will attempt to delay the party as long as possible. Detection TN:12 shows that the emaciated figure keeps darting its eyes toward the cavern. He truly does not care what they talk about so long as both of the pumps keep water and blood flowing. If either pump has stopped Etienne seeks to delay so that the satyxis that Karyx will surely send to investigate have time to arrive. It takes two minutes for a pair of satyxis to come investigate and three rounds for them to arrive. Encourage skill checks, but treat anything except for the most blatant failures as a success so that the party feels as though they are making headway. A successful Detection TN:14 check to discern the bloat thralls motive makes it clear he is delaying for the sake of delay.
Etienne delays as long as possible. When that is no longer an option he uses his mechanithralls to screen his bloat thrall artillery. Etienne’s bloat thralls attempt to take the group alive with a spray 10” chemical which if it hits causes the target to suffer -2 to all attack rolls and -2 to DEF. A character hit while suffering this penalty falls asleep. A sleeping character hit with this attack is rendered unconscious requiring a TN:11 Medicine check to awaken. When the mechanithralls fall he shuffles back behind his bloats and orders them to use deadly force. If defeat appears inevitable he will jump into the stream and float with the current to try and return to the Red Dawn to regroup with Karyx. Etienne is not mindless and has aspirations of his own which are difficult to fulfill if killed. He is not above allowing his bloat thrall host to die and then playing dead so that the party will leave him alone. He will detach himself and crawl away if necessary. If either leader survives they will return with reinforcements in Part 04 of this adventure.
The encounter takes place near a stream beside a large pump assembly. The pump provides hard cover for any behind it. Swimming in the stream is easy and any who enter it or fall in receive a +3 bonus to their swimming checks.
As the final thrall falls the <thumthum> persists. Disabling the pump requires a Mechanikal Engineering check and takes 2 minutes at TN:11. Add 30 seconds for each number below 11 and subtract 15 seconds for each number above 11. Breaking the pump requires dealing 20 vitality to an ARM 16 device. Cutting the water line either to or from the device or pulling the hose from the water will cause the machine to throw a piston after a handful of dry hollow-sounding pumps.
If this is the first combat, then a pair of satyxis will be sent to investigate 5 minutes after the pump is disabled. Any gunshots are assumed to be the volatile pistol wraiths and are insufficient cause to leave the Cavern. Seeing an armed party and/or destroyed undead, any investigating satyxis will immediately run back to the Cavern to warn Karyx. She will prepare an ambush inside the Cavern.
Etienne and his assistants are too busy to notice if the party bypassed them to go to either the Cavern or the Outpost. Gunshots or other combat noises from the Cavern will result in Etienne and two of his bloat thralls heading up to investigate after 1d3+2 rounds.
Combat Encounter 2c
This encounter is the most volatile. How it plays out depends greatly on how much time has passed and whether or not the party has yet visited the other locations in Combat Encounter 2.
Karyx Bloodstar is ready to barrel and take back to her ship as much Ichor of Fate as she can extract from the Marchers. She is personally overseeing its collection as some of her most trusted satyxis crew assist. Too important to leave to mindless thralls, they begin to fill and carry barrels after 9 minutes has passed unless something disrupts the flow. If the Cavern is the first stop by the party and nine minutes has not yet passed, then the Ichor will not be flowing. Otherwise they arrive to see satyxis carrying barrels in pairs to a large statue of a humanoid creature that seems to be crawling out of the back wall of the cavern. Approaching unobserved after nine minutes have passed allows the group to see the obvious commander with her large feathered hat giving orders to the other satyxis as they fill and transport barrels of an earthy orange-brown goo. Left alone, they will fill all of the barrels and return to the ship to come back in one month.
Any combat which takes place outside the cavern will be reinforced with any undefeated enemies from Combat Encounter 2b after 3 rounds. If the cavern is the first fight and the party draws attention to itself from the 2b creatures it will be an incredibly difficult battle. It is recommended that groups seeking to start a fight outside be reminded of the bloat thralls within sight just a short trip down the hillside.
Combat inside the Cavern will be reinforced by Etienne and two Bloat Thralls after 1d3+2 rounds. The Pistol wraiths from the Outpost will not leave their postion unless Karyx herself goes to the Outpost to recall them.
Read the following aloud
Sitting outside of the cavern is a large open topped wagon. A number of keg-sized barrels are strapped into the back. What could best be described as a horse is hitched to the wagon. An eerie greenish glow emanates from within its visible ribs. The beast does not appear to have eyes or ears on its furless elongated face. A glance into the cavern reveals a number of figures lounging about the cave spread out on various rocks and bedrolls.
If this is the first combat and less than 9 minutes have elapsed since the pumps started
The satyxis seem to be preparing for something. An empty barrel has been placed within a stone basin beneath the central figure bursting forth with a twisted wicked smile, while two hoses are inserted into different twisted faces on either side, the focus seems to be on the center face. Its long tongue is extended a foot beyond wickedly sharp fangs. The satyxis laugh and joke. Two seemed to be engaged in a knife fight while some of the others cheer them on. Behind you the heartbeat of the pumps continues its monosyllabic beat.
If the party does nothing until the flow begins read: If this is the first combat and 9 minutes have elapsed below.
If either pump was rendered dysfunctional less than 5 minutes ago
The entire cave is filled with a sickly ochre light which seems to emanate from the back wall. A central orgoth face is carved in the center of the wall. An earthy-orange goo is flowing across its fangs and down its extended tongue. A barrel placed below catches the flow. As you watch the glow begins to fade and the goo sputters and stops. One satyxis wearing a cavalier hat jumps up from her prone position. Lanterns are illuminated refilling the cavern with light. Orders are barked and a pair of the satyxis break off to grab weapons and start toward the entrance.
The pair of satyxis are sent to investigate why the flow has stopped. It is likely the party will either hide to ambush the group or wait until they leave to attack. Regardless of which pump was deactivated it does not take long for the Satyxis to return. Roll 1D6 at the end of each combat round. On a six the satyxis who left return in the next round.
If neither pump was rendered dysfunctional and 9 minutes have elapsed
The entire cave is filled with a sickly ochre light which seems to emanate from the back wall. A central human-like figure appears to be pulling itself from the back wall. While you watch the ocher light reaches its scowling visage. A sudden howl and gust of wind burst forth from the figure and an earthy orange goo begins to flow, down its tongue and into the barrel. The group of underlings clap their hands and stomp their heeled-boots as their cavalier hat wearing leader takes a bow. A barrel placed below catches the flow and slowly fills. The feathered hat wearing satyxis flops back down onto the cushions allowing another to feed her what appears to be eyeballs like grapes.
If the party does not enter a pair of satyxis will eventually pick up a full barrel and begin walking to the wagon while two others situate a spare empty beneath.
If either pump was rendered dysfunctional more than 5 minutes ago
Lantern light illuminates the cavern within. Shadows dance across a carved human-like figure which seems to be frozen in the middle of pulling itself from the wall. A number of satyxis are positioned throughout the chamber. They seem to be anxiously awaiting news from those sent out not long ago.
Karyx has assumed a defensive posture until she hears back from those she sent out. Any light or figures entering the Cavern while she is in this position will be challenged to identify themselves. She has no interest in diplomacy and will attack if given the opportunity.
The cavern has a number of stalagmites which serve as hardcover. A stone aqueduct is in serious disrepair and may be able to be toppled. There are raised platforms along the back wall and a higher still platform to the left. Directly beneath the central face there is a large bowl carved into a pedestal. New pipes have been retrofitted over the old plumbing leading to the two pumps further down the hillside.
As the Satyxis may not all be in the cavern during the fight the general strategy is to have the Raiders jump on top of stalactites and fight from reach. Non-reach melee weapons cannot hit them when they are on the rocks. The Raider Captain shouts orders as she shoots spell casters and other back rank enemies. Karyx fights as intelligently as possible working her way to the highest platform so that she can jump down with a better chance of escape if necessary. She has a respectable spell list and uses it to target anyone between her and the way out. If overwhelmed she tries to escape to the Outpost where she collects any surviving undead and flees to her ship. Enraged, she will cut the hose leading from the pump in the Outpost causing any remaining militia members to quickly bleed out.
Within the cavern are a number of relevant terrain features which could frustrate or facilitate the player’s combat. Oh, and don’t forget the bats.
- Stalagmites: These stone teeth are partially smooth on top with sufficient space for a person or creature to perch. A creature on the top of a stalagmite is out of range of non-reach weapons used from the cavern floor. Stalagmites are hardcover.
- Platforms: Along one sidewall and the back of the cavern there are raised platforms. The back wall platform is five feet off the ground, while the sidewall platform is ten from the ground.
- Aqueduct: The opposite side of the chamber has a stonework aqueduct which is in disrepair. Either a STR 13 push or dealing 10 damage to the ARM 14 structure will cause it to collapse into the cavern. Any creature within 12’ of the aqueduct and on the innermost side will suffer a POW 12 auto-hitting knockdown attack. The resulting debris is treated as difficult terrain.
- Alcove: If a creature or player move to within 12’ of the alcove a swarm of razorwing bats emerges and randomly sweeps around the cavern. Treat the swarm as a 3” cloud effect that scatters randomly 1d6+2 inches every combat round. If the cloud passes over a creature’s base that creature suffers a MAT 6 P+S 4 melee attack with Anatomical Precision. Non-AOE, Non-Spray damage against the swarm is reduced by 1 dice. It has DEF 12 and ARM 12. If the cloud scatters out the cavern opening or suffers 9 damage it disperses.
Regardless of if Karyx is killed, captured, or escaped, the encounter ends when all the satyxis are defeated. If neither pump was turned off or disabled, the Ichor of Fate continues to pour out of the mouth of the central face on the wall. Research TN:12 or Alchemy TN:10 with 1 hour of research can determine some of the properties of the Ichor of Fate. Add one piece of knowledge for every 2 that the roll exceeds the target number.
- It is a universal substitute for all physical necromantic components (other than a corpse)
- If fully submerged a corpse will become an undead thrall beholden to the first creature it encounters even without magic
- Using it in conjunction with necromantic rituals triples the power of the spell
Given the necessity of living blood taken not given, it is considered an evil act to create the substance
- Drinking the substance will not immediately kill the drinker, but creates a fatal dependency. Death will occur unless one drink is taken at least every 1d3 days.
The following read aloud text may need to be adjusted if ALL of the militia members die.
Read the following aloud
The substance being collected by the satyxis has been stopped. Whatever plans Karyx and her crew had with the material have been dismantled even before they could become fully assembled. It is likely someone out there is unhappy with this development. Most importantly, however, some of the militia have been saved. You cannot help but feel more might have been rescued had you moved a little more quickly. That, sadly, is the consequence of your actions. It cannot be taken away and they cannot be given back. An old adage comes to mind, one oft repeated on the battlefield, “The blood of my enemies flows too slow, that of my friends too fast. Regardless of victory or something else, I’m glad this terror has passed.” All that is left now is to return to Fenrick’s March and deliver the news.
The party is free to do any remaining exploring or clearing they would like. If any of the militia yet live they are unable to make back under their own power. Arrival back to Fenrick’s March is not met with fanfare, but with the same stoic determination you experienced upon your arrival. There are no tears of joy or sorrow, merely the scowls of a people suffering.
The party returns to Fenrick’s March with a qualified victory. They were unable to rescue all members of the militia and many died a terrible death. Allyss will have an additional task for the players if they would like to help restabilize Fenrick’s March before continuing on their journey. This is continued in Consequences: 02 The Tears of the Widow. Otherwise the party is free to leave the broken hamlet behind. Fenrick’s March is moving toward a dark place. If left behind the hamlet will soon become a cesspool of necromantic rituals and evil.
To determine how many of the original 40 captured militia members survived, subtract 90 seconds the final time on the stopwatch. That is Georick’s death. For every three full minutes remaining one more militia member died from exsanguination. Additionally, one member died for every hamlet location visited in Skill Encounter 1. Last, take into account any loss of life during the attempt to disable the pump in Combat Encounter 2a.
- Stopping the collection of the Ichor of Fate grants 1 XP
- Saving more than twenty of the militia gives all characters 1 XP
- Thirty or more militia members surviving grants a bonus 1 XP
- Discovering the relationship between the “rival” holy people is worth 1 XP
- Killing or Capturing BOTH Karyx and Etienne is worth 1 XP
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