Thursday, 9 January 2014

The Enemy Within - Shadows over Bogenhafen - part 5

Will everything end in chaos and flames?
And so to the conclusion of Shadows over Bogenhafen. This adventure takes a lot of prep prior to play. It's imperative that you take notes as you read it through. The note taking process helps you recall key facts, locations and plot points. By taking these notes you become familiar with the adventure, as if it was one of your own. 

The players shook the plot up, they came up with desperate plans and I scrambled to keep up. The adventure sort of followed the expected course... if you squint your eyes... maybe. The decisive assistance of the watch wasn't planned but was well earned through the players actions.

Here is a link to part 5 of our recorded play through of the classic campaign The Enemy Within. I have the initial recordings of the next chapter, Death on the Reik, and they are equally great. Links to the other recordings and write-ups are on this page here.

We last left off with the adventurers holed up in a thieves guild safe house. They feared arrest by the watch after their failed raid on the Tuegen estate. They had identified the Tuegen's as key conspirators in a chaos plot to bring down the town of Bogenhafen.

The PC's are Walter the halfling raconteur, Esmerelda the reluctant hedge mage, Solomon the halfling smuggler, Joten the dwarf sewerjack and Herdan the odorous grave warden.

Key Points from part 5

  • 3:50 Herdan and Joten were identified during the scuffle at Tuegen's house and were wanted by the watch. This limited their movement within the town.
  • 10:15 Leaving their easily identified companions behind, the group visit Franz Steinhager at the watch house. The watch sergeant tells them Franz broke when 'questioned' but he allows them to further interogate the merchant. 
  • 11:15 Franz admits some of the rituals the Ordo conducted involved the sacrifice of 'scum' that wouldn't be missed. He claimed that he didn't agree with the sacrifices but that Johannes insisted.
  • 13:30 Franz tells them the location of his safe and in return begs the adventurers to deal with his brother Heinrich, who he is sure is behind his incarceration.
  • 16:00 A remorseful Franz suggests a plan. They release him and he will wait for the Ordo to send him the location of the upcoming midnight ritual. He was told the ritual would bring great wealth to Bogenhafen but he now believes it will bring doom instead. Once he knows the rituals location he will inform the group.
  • 22:00 Watch Captain Reiner agrees to the plan and releases Franz. Reporting the conspiracy to local ruler Baron Von Saponatheim and going through official 'legal' channels will take too long. Besides Reiner wants to do things the brutal old fashioned way. 
  • 23:00 Esmerelda insists they not kill Heinrich Steinhager despite Franz's request. Heinrich may be a shady character but he wasn't an Ordo cultist. The group is happy to take Franz Steinhager's gold from his safe, despite reneging on the deal to kill Heinrich.
  • 25:00 the group realise that this adventure breaks the RPG cliche. Instead of the ritual occurring on the final night of the Shaffenfest, it occurs the following night once everyone has left. Nice one!
    Its a trap!
  • 33:02 Late that night the group receive a message telling them to visit Franz urgently. The message boy gives them a bad vibe. Everything screams trap but the group cautiously play along.
  • 37:24 Walter suspects the message boy is Gideon disguised with magic. The whole "PCs are framed for the murder of Franz Steinhager" subplot unravels. Gideon escapes to the ethereal plane as the group find Franz's body.
  • 47:14 Watch Captain Reiner and four watchmen arrive at the murder scene. They agree to accompany the group to warehouse 17. Franz's final act, prior to bleeding out, was to spell the ritual location in his own gore. It is not clear if he scrawled 'warehouse 13 or 17'. Three watchmen are sent to warehouse 13 just incase. 
  • 52:36 The heroes, Reiner and a single watchman plan a direct assault on warehouse 17. They quickly scatter the stevedore guards who had formed a ring around the warehouse. The sound of chanting force their hand before additional watchmen arrive.
  • 61:10 Warehouse 17's doors are kicked in and the cultist's ritual disrupted. The villains unleash a barrage of sorcery momentarily seizing control of Watch Captain Reiner's actions and having him hack at his former allies. Joten is stunned by tormenting visions. The group quickly surround Johannes Tuegan.
    "Hello, mighty Tzeentch? A little help here". - Johannes Tuegen.
  • 79:54 Gideon drops his human guise and reveals his true demonic form. It dawns on the meta-gaming players that the demon's flameresque arm means dire news. They are right. Soon Joten, Walter and Reiner are human torches, writhing in multi-coloured flames. <On listening back to the recording I noticed that I was so keen to use the flamer ability that I forgot how it worked. You can't move and flame, its a full round action. The rules for being on fire were hard to parse in the main book so we used the Dark Heresy rules which are crippling.>
  • 86:00 Johannes became desperate as his most dangerous spells fizzled. He contented himself with spitting burning blood at Esmerelda, who fell and began the long process of bleeding out. A fate point kept her alive despite Solomon's repeated frantic first aid attempts
  • 92:35 The three Watchmen, who had been sent to investigate warehouse 13, arrived and began to smother any human torch they found. A fate point saves Walter from permanent paralysis caused by his horrific burns.
  • 93:46 The group are confused as to why Gideon hasn't burnt the tempting group clustered around the embattled Johannes. Little do they know that Johannes is critical to Gideon's plans and must survive so the ritual can be completed.
  • 105:00 The nameless watchman who had been with them since the battle was joined, lands a critical blow to Johannes' arm, severing it and slaying the wizard. Gideon became enraged having nothing left to lose.
  • 116:00 Watch Captain Reiner had been set alight, had his mind controlled and been blasted by warping magics; he would have his revenge. Charging a battered Gideon, he dealt a savage blow knocking his foe to the ground. Herdan followed with a mighty slash which destroyed the demon's flamer arm. A final blow from the nameless watchman banished the demon to the realms of chaos. This watchman had slain both Johannes and Gideon Tuegen!
  • 126:00 More watchmen arrived on the scene and arrested the remaining cultists huddled at the back of the warehouse. The group looted Johannes and found an incriminating note. They are now widely regarded as the hero's of Boganhafen.
A note plucked from the dead hand of Johannes Tuegen.

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