Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Episode 18 - The Enemy Within - Enemy at the Gates

The mission: seize Castle Wittgenstein and end the Wittgenstein's mad reign.
This is an actual play recording of Death on the Reik, a chapter in Games Workshop's classic campaign The Enemy Within.

Download Episode from Google Drive (27.7MB)

Heroes present were Esmerelda the Shallayan initiate, Herdan van Helsing the vampire hunter, Jotunn the dwarf veteran, Walter the halfling agitator, Solomon the halfling smuggler and Magnus the dwarven prospector.

We left the heroes having successfully navigated the tunnels beneath Castle Wittgenstein. They had been on a reconnaissance mission for the camp of outlaws they were allied to. Now they stood beneath a trapdoor they knew would lead them into the castle's courtyard and the heart of the enemy camp.

Key points from Episode 18

A shanty town of mutants could be found within the outer bailey
(1:00) With great effort the group hefted a block in the ceiling of the tunnel aside. It granted them entry to the Castle Wittgenstein's squalid courtyard. The block was difficult to move as atop it sat a scraggly mutant cradling a rancid potato. The unfortunate was dismissively spoken to while the party got their bearings. They had emerged in a ruined building in the castle's courtyard and were surrounded by a shanty town of crippled and disease struck mutants. Magnus took pity on the wretches telling them that if they wished to take their chances they could escape by following the tunnel from which the heroes had emerged.
Castle Wittgenstein's Gatehouse did little to stop the adventurers
(8:05) Huddled amongst the rubble, surrounded by inquisitive mutants the group planned their attack on the keep. They talked at length on how best to employ their poison wind globe before recalling that they had left it hidden beneath the hull of their boat. 
Castle Wittgenstein's outer bailey was the scene of this session
(12:30) They donned rancid garments to appear like any other outer bailey beggar. Suitably disguised the heroes made their way to the gatehouse, using the shanty town in the courtyard as cover. The inner door to the gatehouse was unlocked and they burst in to confront a single guard reclining at a desk, fetid lips puffing away on a pipe. He had his helm by his side which revealed his horrid rotting visage. The sight shocked the group with Esmerelda shrieking and Magnus throwing up in his mouth. Jotunn and Herdan were made of sterner stuff and charged. It was over quickly with the hapless guard impaled on Herdan's spear mid pipe puff. 
The Wittgenstein guards spent their down time playing Yahtzee
(19:15) The group raced up the stairs catching the gatehouse guards on the level above unprepared and in the midst of a game of Yahtzee. In response to the groups sudden arrival the guards flipped the table and readied their weapons. A dangerously wounded Magnus hurled himself into the fray and, thanks to a lucky charm, survived. Esmerelda locked down the room baring all exits. It was to be a fight to the death.

(22:30) There's a magic sword called Barakul in Wittgendorf that takes some thinking to convert from 1e to 2e. The change to the way armour works makes the 2e version more powerful than originally intended. After some discussion we settled on the way Barrakul interacts with shields and parries. A foes first parry would be ineffective as the warp blade phases through the parrying blade and slices into the enemies arm. Assuming they survive the opponent can parry normally as they change their approach to swatting away the hand holding Barakul.

(29:15) As the final guard fell Esmerelda seized the hunting horn, raced to an arrow slit and sounded a single blast signalling their outlaw allies to rush the gatehouse. 

(31:50) Herdan took the gatehouse key from a corpse and locked the exterior door just as a squad of guards arrived from the barracks to investigate the commotion. The group contemplated how best to use the cauldrons of lead and water they had seized.

(37:57) The guards in the courtyard called to the locked down gatehouse demanding to know what the ruckus had been about. Herdan did his best guard impersonation explaining that he had been excited and had started shouting having won the pot in Yahtzee. In fact he had been so excited that he had sounded a horn to celebrate. When the guards demanded his name Herdan quickly responded with "Hans". I ruled there was a 60% chance that there would be a garrison guard called Hans. Alas the dice were cruel and there was no Hans. The lieutenant leading the guards called Herdan's bluff and his men rushed the gatehouse. They were met by a volley of crossbow fire.

(40:15) Esmerelda realised that while loading crossbows may put her on shaky spiritual grounds with Shallya the act itself didn't violate any specific oath. She justified it to herself by saying that all she did was load the crossbows and if the halflings happened to kill someone with them she was hardly responsible. A couple of guards fell peppered with bolts as they attempted to break down the gatehouse door. As they fell the remaining guards breached the entrance and rushed the heroes position. 
Lieutenant Doppler was a coward who learned that flails aren't all that great
(44:40) Herdan threatened his foes from the top of the internal gatehouse stairs with a cauldron of tepid water and a cauldron of solid lead. He hoped to bluff them into believing each contained boiling liquid. The guards paused allowing Jotunn to pelt them with heavy spears. As they nervously advanced Herdan pushed the heavy cauldron of lead at them. The cumbersome cauldron bounced down the stairs like a giant bowling ball crushing an unlucky soldier. In the ensuing melee the disorganised guards failed to bring the might of the full garrison to bear. In frustration at the way things were transpiring the garrisons commander, Lieutenant Doppler, emerged from the throng to battle the hero's. He quickly found that he was outclassed and was forced into a humiliating retreat. Herdan hacked at the lieutenant's back and the halflings peppered him with crossbow bolts as he fled to the safety of the barracks. Somehow Doppler survived and he and his men hunkered down for a siege.

(54:00) With the guards contained the heroes flung the castle gates open allowing their thirty outlaw allies, who they had summoned with a blast of their hunting horn, access to the keep. The heroes had taken the gatehouse. The assault on the castle proper could begin.

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