Friday, 25 April 2014

Episode 12 - The Enemy Within - Hunting the witch Etelka

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

Download Episode from Google Drive (35MB)

The characters were Esmerelda the Shallyan initiate, Herdan the vampire hunter, Joten the dwarf veteran, Walter the halfling agitator, Solomon the halfling smuggler and Magnus the dwarven prospector.

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

Key Points from Episode 12.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, 4 April 2014

The Enemy Within - Death on the Reik part 6

The Twisted Maw tribe, allies of the witch Etelka, were about to have a very bad day. 

Here's a link to part 6 of our groups Death on the Reik play through. 

We left the protagonists at a farmstead on the outskirts of the Imperial town of Grissenwald. They had just defeated a raiding party of wolf mounted goblins from the Twisted Maw tribe. Etelka's tower in the Black Peaks was their next stop and they intended to arrive on her door step with an angry mob of slightly inebriated dwarves led by a warrior called Gorim Greathammer.

Heroes present were Walter Cinder Corbit the halfling agitator, Esmerelda the Shallyan initiate, Solomon the halfling smuggler, Joten the dwarf veteran, Herdan Van Helsing the vampire hunter and Magnus the dwarven miner.

Key points from part 6

  • 8:05 The assault on Etelka's tower was planned. The tower had no windows so a frontal attack was deemed best. The halflings were awful climbers so scaling the roof to descend via the skylight was ruled out. Much to the DM's chagrin the group had the assistance of ten dwarves from Khazad Slumbol. They split their force into four groups. Two groups would flank the main attack and focus on clearing the side rooms, Gorim would take point and a few dwarves would act as a rearguard.
    The dwarves gave the group the layout of Etelka's tower.
  • 10:35 The goblins noticed the large group approach and slammed the tower entrance shut while shrieking for assistance. Doors are no match for dwarven axes and soon Gorim and friends had barged in.
    Gutbag Stoat-throttler!
  • 14:15 Gutbag Stoat-throttler led the goblins in the defence of the tower. The greenskins let loose a hail of arrows from the towers balcony to little effect. Combat was joined and it became apparent that the goblins were outnumber and outclassed. All except the oddly attired Gutbag Stoat-throttler who began a deadly duel with Herdan. Gutbag wore a fine tiara and exquisite red dress that was much too long for the goblin. The bottom of the garment had been trampled and ripped. 
  • 31:15 The assault on the tower had not gone unnoticed as a band of goblins mounted on great wolves sped from the neighbouring coal mines. The mines had once belonged to the dwarves of Khazad Slumbol but had been 'stolen by the witch Etelka!' The wolf riders peppered the rear guard with arrows slaying an unfortunate dwarf. Solomon, who had been with the rearguard, was left dangerously exposed and fled into the tower.
    Wolf riders barely lasted a round.
  • 39:15 While Gutbag and a pair of goblins held the balcony the wolf riders sped into the towers foyer and were ambushed by the dwarves who had hastily prepared for them. Despite being surprised, one of the wolves unleashed an Ulric's Fury on Magnus. It appeared as if the dwarfs entrails had been torn from his belly though later it would be revealed that he had merely suffered a flesh wound and fainted [Fate point spent].
  • 53:20 The ambushed wolf riders were slaughtered and fled, leaving the parties dwarven allies free to break out their crossbows and assist Herdan and Joten. The heroic pair continued to battle the goblin champion Gutbag on the balcony. The dwarves of Khazad Slumbol unleashed nine aimed crossbow bolts in the greenskins direction though they either missed or were deflected by Gutbag's shield.
  • 63:00 Gutbag made a heroic stand. He fended off the heroes Herdan and Joten while landing telling blows on both. In the end he suffered the ignominy of being shot twice in the gonads by dwarven crossbow bolts before a final shot ruptured his internal organs. The brave goblin had left such an impression that the players demanded I somehow have Gutbag mysteriously escape death. We shall see.
    Etelka and her cat. Hardly the ugliest of villains.
  • 71:20 Etelka's tower was searched and everything of value taken; cutlery, ruined finery, loose earrings, the lot. A painting of Etelka was found. It's the groups first glimpse of the witch.
  • 75:30 Etelka's personal chest was searched and a false bottom revealed. If there is one thing D&D taught us it's that important chests always have a false bottom. Inside they discovered a signet ring with cult markings. It was at this moment that Esmerelda got a 'magic' vibe from the dwarven shield Gutbag had used to great effect. The shield was emblazoned with magic dwarven runes of defence.
  • 83:20 Etelka's study was ransacked. Solomon was disappointed at the destruction of a number of stuffed animals as his fellows insisted they be torn asunder in the hope of discovering a secret cache. A stuffed alligator and bear were ruined and a good source of coin wasted. Important correspondence was discovered in Etelka's desk which went some way to soothing Solomon's disappointment at their financial vandalism.
Dumpling, Etelka's personal chef.

  • 91:35 While the heroes searched the top level and secured all the good loot, their dwarven allies searched the ground floor. The dwarves discovered Etelka's personal halfling cook, Dumpling Hayfoot. Dumpling shared a similar accent to Esmerelda and the ensuing conversation took a confusing turn. The halfling lass confirmed that Etelka and a weaselly looking man had left the tower weeks ago leaving the cook alone with the goblins, who subsequently ran riot. The group confirmed their suspicion that Etelka was looking for Morsleib's spittle up north in the Barren Hills. Given her head start, she'd probably already found it. They would need to come up with a plan to find and stop her.
The note found in Etelka's study.