Sunday 24 November 2019

Rogue Trader - Return to Station Anotla - Escher v Marines

Mr Papafakis arranged and GM'd a game of Rogue Trader while Tytus was in the country with his excellent Escher models.

++++ Imperial Record 1A 2019.11 +++++

Imperial propaganda held that Anotla station and its surrounds had been purged for a heretical misspelling of 'Emperor' in documents accompanying the monthly tithe. The truth was more sinister. Imperial scientists had been conducting warp experiments that had ended in catastrophe. As a result the site had been cleansed. For years the station lay dormant ... until now.

Deploying marines at the beach and Escher on the ruins outskirts
Imperial light cruiser "The Emperor's Lengthy Lance" had been monitoring the site and had picked up heavy ordinance fire. A squad of Marines were dispatched to investigate and ensure the site remained clear.
Marines deployed and avoiding the active bot at the carnage strewn ruins
As the Marines landed Clan Escher scavengers pulled up in jury-rigged street cars on the outskirts of the ruins. Hearing reports of a viscous firefight the night before that had arrived to loot what they could from the defeated.
Cyndi and her gangers arrive in their street cars
The rest of the Escher gang deploy alongside the bounty hunter Hans Olo
The Space Marines had split into two forces. Brother-Captain Janus led a five man team towards the ruins on the left. It was clear that whatever had happened recently had unfolded in the open ground before these ruins. Mangled bodies of chaotics lay strewn about and towering over them with its back to the ruins stood a smoking and sparking bot, its assault cannon swivelling in search of a target.

The assault cannon armed bot and a field of destruction. What is it guarding?
Believing the crippled bot a serious threat the Marines did their best to avoid its attention. The Contemptor class dreadnought advanced down the middle using the forest as cover while the second squad looked to situate their missile launcher in a ruined tower overlooking the site.

Battle brothers heading for the high ground
Cyndi, the Escher gangs boss, led the bulk of her gangers towards the carnage strewn ruins hoping to get behind the crippled bot. The Bounty Hunter Hans Olo took the remaining gangers around the other flank. The converted street cars slowly made their way through the trees. Both Marines and gangers were approaching the scene with caution.

Suddenly the lead battle brother in the squad closest to the carnage strewn ruin turned on this fellow brothers and opened up with his bolter. At the back of the line another marine incinerated his brothers with a burst from his flamer. Brother-Captain Janus' final words were 'Witchcraft... Chaos!" which he broadcast across the coms before collapsing in a smouldering heap. In response the Contemptor class dreadnought moved from the tree line and blasted apart a traitor marine with its twin linked bolters.

Brother-Captain Janus is incinerated by traitors

The dreadnought avenges his fallen Brother-Captain
On the other flank a chaos addled squat had emerged from the forest and into the sites of the remaining marine squad. A krak missile put an end to the miserable creatures life.

Cyndi heard the bolter fire from the other side of the ruins but didn't have line of sight to the marine on marine conflict. She sought a tunnel entrance rumoured to be within these ruins. If she could find them the payoff would be huge and her gangs prestige would skyrocket. Thoughts of riches were the last of her independent thoughts before she and half her gangers turned their weapons on her fellows. Stub gun, shotgun and heavy stubber rounds fired widely as emotionless traitors turned on loyal gangers.

Cyndi's willpower is weak and she turns on her fellow gangers. Tiffany the juve looks on.

The core of the gang had been gutted and was without leadership. Only a handful of gangers and Hans Olo remained. Another chaotic squat wandered out of the forest toting a grenade launcher, it lined up one of the street cars but took a bolter round to the head before he could fire courtesy of Hans.

The Marines were having a bad time but it was about to get worse. In extracting some measure of vengeance for the loss of Brother-Captain Janus the Contemptor had entered the damaged bots field of vision. Bot 9985987.M2. opened up with its assault cannon rupturing the dreadnoughts cooling system and causing it to detonate. Just five marines remained.

Part way through turn two. The dreadnought is down
Panicked by Cyndi's betrayal Tiffany the juve fled, jumping into the closest street car and accelerating away. Unfortunately her escape brought her into the open momentarily and Bot 9985987.M2 tore her vehicle's engine apart with a sustained burst of assault cannon fire. She leaped from the damaged vehicle and hunkered down out of sight.
Tiffany leaps into the blue street car to escape her possessed fellow gangers
The swiftness with which everything had fallen apart for the both marines and gangers was stunning. The marines entered a 'safe' looking ruin from the north while gangers picked through the opposite section. Their search flushed out a flayed skinned cultist and a massive chaos spawn. The spawn raced towards bot 998598.M2 and the building beyond while the cultist trailed behind sticking to the tree line. The marines had a choice, go after the nearby gangers or pursue the chaos spawn. Chaos, being the true enemy, was prioritised. The marines took cover in forest and bounced bolter rounds off the spawns thick blubbery hide. The idiotic creature grunted in irritation before leaping off towards the ocean never to be seen again, without a leader to provide guidance the stupid thing probably drowned. The flayed cultist made it to the outskirts of the forest but not deep enough to be concealed. He was pursued by the bounty hunter who put him down with a bolter round to the brainpan.
Chaos spawn runs at bot before stupidity kicks in and the brute wanders off to drown
The few remaining marines were conflicted in how to proceed. Clearly something else was going on and it wasn't the Escher scavengers causing it. When in doubt refer back to the mission briefing. Eliminate the enemy, no exceptions. With the dilemma solved Brother Crassius fired a krak missile into a ganger street car turning its engine bay into a smoking wreck. Hans Olo and a nearby ganger Molly returned fire. Molly, armed with a plasma pistol, had the drop on two marines and had them dead to rights but then Tytus rolled terribly and the opportunity was lost. 'Molly' didn't get another chance. A krak missile ended her while a volley of bolter fire wounded the bounty hunter. 

Cyndi and the other Escher traitors had moved deeper into the carnage strewn ruins allowing Tiffany to escape. The brave juve hooked up with a ganger pal and the pair edged their way into the forest in front of the ruins hoping to scavenge some armour or weapons from the fallen. Unfortunately their approach saw them enter a sphere of malevolent warp influence and the two juves minds were seized. Their loot forgotten, the possessed pair raised their stubbers and went out to defend the ruins.

Brother Vulcan's head up display was worrying him. It indicated that his target was an Imperial sanctioned bounty hunter. Their true foe was chaos, if anything this bounty hunter should be their ally. Brother Vulcan called out to his battle brothers to cease fire. He walked out into no mans land hailing the bounty hunter. The pair worked out a truce. Credits were transferred and an allegiance shifted. By Hans Olo's reasoning the Escher gang, his employers, were no more. A strict reading of the marine's mission brief meant that they had to 'clear' the area. As long as the bounty hunter quit the field the mission would be complete. 
Knife loving Brother Vulcan and Hans Olo 'cut' a deal
During this momentary lull in the battle bot 9985987.M2 had a system failure and shut down.

The traitorous Tiffany and her juve companion emerged from the forest and began firing stub rounds wildly at the marines. The marines returned fire downing Tiffany's companion. Hans considered helping the scrappy juves but the credits he'd been paid were too great and he never liked those gangers anyway. He left them to their fate. 

With the ganger threat neutralised the marines turned their attention to the sinister ruins that had been causing this. Brother Vulcan raised the bounty hunter again on the communicator and a new deal was struck. Hans Olo would assist them in purging the ruins for an additional payment. A sketchy plan was formed involving a vortex grenade and a street car sent on a collision course with the ruins. While both complicated and ingenious the plan was not required as a salvo of krak missiles obliterated the front of the sinister ruin and it collapsed killing all inside. 

Tiffany regained control of her mind, groggily she scooped up the chaos squat grenade launcher near her and staggered towards a still running street car. Possession of chaos tainted goods is heresy and so Brother Cassius fired a krak missile into the street car. The resulting explosion took out Tiffany - the sole remaining Escher ganger. The gang truly was no more.
Tiffany loots a grenade launcher but then dies when the car near her explodes
Hans looted a heavy webber from a slain cultist well out of sight of the marines. He furtively stuffed it under his coat and hurried from the field. All in all he'd made out very well from this contract and the webber was a nice bonus.
Hans Olo loots a heavy webber while the marines are distracted. Consider it a bonus
The surviving marines picked through the rubble uncovering the bloated body of an 'Enslaver'. It seemed that the warp entity had made it through a rift during the disastrous warp experiments at the station. It had seized control of the minds of those who came near instigating their traitorous actions.
The collapsed building is searched and the cause of the problem found. An Enslaver!
Close up with an Enslaver
+++ End Record +++

Some notes:
  • The 'what's going on' element of the mission would not have worked without a GM. While we worked out it was bad to approach the sinister building we had no idea what was causing it or how to stop it. The Enslaver reveal was nice even though the model didn't see any action on the table.
  • Vehicles and dreadnoughts have a bad day when on the receiving end of d10 damage weapons (assault cannons and krak missiles). They are not as tough as I thought they were.
  • We roleplayed the truce between the bounty hunter Hans Olo and marines. I had a feeling that if we didn't stop fighting each other the GM would win. I'm not sure how satisfactory that outcome would have been. It certainly would have been a first.

Saturday 28 September 2019

Rogue Trader - Incident at Imperial Research Station Anotla

Mr Papafakis is back in the country so we gamed.

The hastily improvised scenario concerned an Imperial research station that had been razed by xenos raiders and in its death throes had released a spherical warp storm. This would move randomly warping all those who come too close. If marines suffered the sphere's baleful glare there was the chance that both their bodies and minds would be warped causing them to switch allegiance. 

The fall of the research station and subsequent warp 'leak' was the result of a raid by an unlikely alliance of chaos squats and orks. These xenos remained on site. Space marines had been mobilised to evacuate scientists on the scene. These scientists were hidden in the forest too scared to move out on their own. Meanwhile scattered around the landing zone were crates some of which contained teleport beacons that could be used by either side to bring in fresh forces.

The devastated research station with warp sphere looming overhead. Pic prior to deployment.
The xenos variant crusader bot would operate on remote until its programming could engage the enemy.
The infamous Ork fat bastard Kulo. Troll with meltagun in background along with some of the ladz.

The xenos line. Two ork squads, a troll, some chaos squats and a crusader bot.
Kulo heard the whine of jet cycles close by. The marines had arrived before he could finish the cowardly scientists off. He and one of the chaos squats fell back to the devastated research base to pick through the cargo looking for the teleport beacon. The rest of his troops lumbered towards the forest looking for the scientists.

The space wolf bullock jet cycles split up to locate the teleport beacon and missing scientists.

Brother Dorn swooped his cycle low over the forest. He spotted a ground car full of scientists. This was lucky as he had feared the evacuation would take some time. The scientists started the cars engine and slowly navigated through the woods. 

< First turn a ground car was discovered. There were 6 'wood' sections on the board with the odds of finding a ground car 1 in 6. >

The warp sphere moves towards the xenos.
The baleful glare of the warp sphere gifts long necks, scaly skin and poisonous flatulence.
The xenos line advanced. Back at the research station Kulo discovered a teleport beacon amongst the debris. Discovering this so soon had him roaring in triumph. In orbit above them Kulo's space hulk readied a variant crusader pattern robot for porting to the surface.

The warp sphere raced towards the xenos line causing chaotic transformations amongst the troops. 

<While initially a neat idea the warp sphere proved impractical in play. We rolled mutations using the mutation table in rogue trader for each model within 3d6 inches of the warp sphere. Most of the mutations were cosmetic and none had an impact on the game. In hindsight it would have been better to have the sphere blast out randomly with models killed mutating into primordial ooze.>

Me moving a bullock cycle into the ruins for cover.
The marine jet cycles kept a slow pace scouting the woods for the second group of scientists. While they didn't find them they did locate a teleport beacon and would be able to beam down a squad of Mk 1 Goodwin pattern terminators.

Brother Rogal powered down his bullock cycle guiding it into the cover of a ruined building before taking a pot shot at an advancing ork. The first shot fired in the game. He missed.

The second ground car full of scientists is discovered by the chaos squats.
A thorough search of the woods uncovered the glint of glass and metal. The second and final car load of scientists had been discovered by the chaos squats. Korgan the unburnt levelled his flamer as he moved in on the cars flank while the terrified scientists fumbled to start the engine.

The first car load of scientists is halted by a variant crusader bot freshly teleported in.
The orks on board Kulo's orbiting space hulk responded to the active teleport beacon by beaming down a crusader bot with unnerving accuracy. The droid collided with the front of the first scientists vehicle. Both the robot and the car sustained damage from the collision. The scientists found they had lost control of the vehicle's grav drive. The car was attempting to gain altitude but could not do so as the crusader bot had it pinned with its power claws. The vehicle would continue to struggle for altitude while being slowly torn apart.

<The bots programming was fixated on the closest target, which in this case was the ground car. This kept it locked down for the game slowly whittling away at the cars large pool of damage points, doing one or two damage each turn from the cars total of 25. It was going to be a long slog unless a lucky blow took out the fuel tank.>

The terminators port in and charge. The xenos flee. Sensible cowards!
Commander Russ could hear the screams of the scientists over the comms from the battle barge. A recently activated teleport beacon would allow him and his terminator brothers to intervene. The first group of scientists were lost given the damage to their cars grav drive. They would never make it to the evacuation point but the second car load of scientists might. He intoned the sacred rite and activated the teleporter.

Russ and his brothers arrived on the xenos flank. He called on his brothers to charge the stunted ones while he brought his righteous storm hammer to bear on the crusader bot. The xenos fled, their stunted legs pumping, leaving the terminators looking foolish and out in the open.

The chaos squats, who had recently fled, turned and fired at the terminators. Their rounds bounced harmlessly off the marines terminator armour. Korgan the unburnt lit up the car sheltering in the woods causing the scientists to slam the now blazing vehicle into reverse.

<When charged you can stand and shoot or run away. Running away looks like a smart option with no downside. At least from our read of the rules.>

Commander Russ hammers into the back of the bot which does not flee as it has WS 8! Korgan the unburnt watches on.
Commander Russ realised he was outmatched as the Crusader bot turned to face him brandishing its power claws with obvious skill. However the Captain had the Emperor on his side as he hammered into his robotic foe. The Captain's hammer smashed the servo's in the bots leg while he took a solid blow in return. Despite the wound he pressed on with righteous fury somehow landing blow after blow on his foe destroying the bots cannon. His righteous armour stopping all but the bots first blow.

<The Captain shouldn't have won this duel as he was outclassed. I got luck and rolled lots of 6's to hit. Bots are very hard to kill. Reducing them to 0 damage just means each subsequent damaging hit causes a malfunction where you roll on a table and need to get lucky to put the bot down. The table is too fiddly requiring you to keep track of lots of little things as bits are slowly damaged or destroyed.>
Kulo dodges heavy flamer fire.

The bots programming sees it wailing on the ground car instead of more important targets.
Fragile jet cycles lit up by an ork flamer.
With the scientists located the jet cycles roared towards the xenos line hoping their speed would see them avoid ground fire. The squats and orks shrugged off the cycles bolter rounds and returned fire. Flames and bolter shells engulfed the bullock cycles causing their tanks to explode spectacularly. The flaming wreckage of three bullock cycles crashed into the forest starting a small blaze.

The warp sphere re-entered the board and warped the carload of terrified scientists.
The warp sphere had drifted off the field of battle earlier as it floated past the xenos line and across the ocean. It returned to a largely abandoned quadrant where a crusader bot was slowly tearing apart a ground car full of scientists. 

The terrified screams of the scientists changed to garbled chaotic gibbering and feral snarls. The scientists inside the car were warped into monstrosities and tore each other apart within the confined space. All the while the bot continued rending and tearing at the vehicle that steadfastly refused to blow up.

After a failed charge Kulo is 'terminated'.
Kulo barrelled towards the terminator holding the heavy flamer. As he ran he bellowed a challenge "Fight me puny marine. Kulo will crush you!" The marine retreated before the corpulent ork. He had learned from the squats earlier cowardice. With Kulo hung out to dry the terminators formed a line and tore the ork warlord apart with a withering hail of storm bolter fire.

A crusader bot was knocked to the ground by the terminator Commander Russ. With damaged sensors it was 'out'.
Commander Russ finally felled the crusader bot. With sensors damaged it toppled forwards. The crippled leg servos could not right it. It lay thrashing futilely in the mud. Meanwhile the two remaining bullock cycles rounded on Kurgan the unburnt. They felled the stunty with a burst of twin linked bolter fire.

The second carload of scientists reversed their flaming car to the teleport beacon and escaped.
The xenos troll shrugged off his bewildered state and along with a handful or squats turned his attention to the reversing and still burning car full of scientists. The squats gunfire did little other than dent the vehicles body. The trolls melta gun landed a lucky blow severely damaging the cars structure but not significantly enough to cause a malfunction. 

The scientists reversed the car to the ruins that housed the teleport beacon. This was no small task as the vehicle had been burning for some time after being hit by Kurgan the unburnt's flamer. The flames finally died down as the scientists scrambled into the ruins and huddled around the beacon. High above them the Imperial battle barge activated the teleporter whisking the scientists to safety. They had been evacuated. The forces of the Imperium were triumphant. The remaining leaderless xenos scattered into the ruins.


Here's what I learned:  

  • We did the jet cycle rules wrong. When reduced to 0 damage they should roll on the malfunction chart and not simply blow up. That should make them more resilient. 
  • The warp sphere was a non event. It had the potential to deny zones to the marines with its threat of corruption but its random movement saw it play no real role. 
  • Robots and vehicles are hard to kill. The malfunction charts don't escalate in severity when high amounts of damage is inflicted. The dreadnought malfunction tables are better thought out. 
  • Finally running from a charge seems to be a sensible tactic with no down side. Who knew.

Friday 24 October 2014

Episode 19 - The Enemy Within - Awful Lieutenant Doppler

It's not 'The Enemy Within' without some Ian Miller art.
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 Googe Drive (37.7MB)
Heroes present were Esmerelda Potter the Shallayan initiate, Herdan Van Helsing the vampire hunter, Jotunn the dwarf veteran, Walter Cinder Corbit the halfling agitator, Solomon the halfling smuggler and Magnus the dwarven prospector.

We left the heroes in possession of Castle Wittgenstein's main gatehouse. They had repulsed a sortie of guards led by the craven Lieutenant Doppler and caused their foe to retreat to their barracks. Victorious they had flung the gates open and thirty allied outlaws moved up from nearby woods to join them. The assault on Castle Wittgenstein was off to a good start.

Key points from Episode 19
The heroes worked hard to secure the outer bailey
(7:10) Sigrid, the outlaw leader, encouraged the group to take the middle gatehouse as quickly as possible reasoning that the guards manning it would soon notice the commotion and raise the drawbridge. 

The group organised the outlaws with bows into groups and co-ordinated fields of fire on the barracks to keep Lieutenant Doppler and his guards hemmed in.

(12:09) The party swept anticlockwise along the outer bailey walls. Their first stop was the stables where they gave valuable looking horses covetous looks. Their greed was distracted by a worrisome green glow coming from an obscured stable stall. Herdan's curiosity was piqued. He discovered the source of the green glow when confronted by a shimmering stablehand brandishing a pitchfork. The pair chatted and agreed to leave each other alone. The stablehand blamed a black rainstorm that had occurred years ago for his mutated condition. 

The band finished reconnoitring the grounds running into a number of mutant servants whom they put on notice to behave.

(18:33) Axes and shovels were hefted and the middle gatehouse's side door charged. The dash to the door drew crossbow fire from the barracks. Herdan led the charge shrugging off bolts that clattered harmlessly off his armour. Magnus embedded his pick in the gatehouse door and levered it from its hinges. With one mighty stroke the middle gatehouse was breached

(26:00) The band found the ground level deserted and raced up the gatehouse stairs to confront the shell shocked guards. Solomon and Walter provided cover fire with their slings as Herdan and Jotunn waded into the foe. A grievously injured Magnus shied from combat, instead he watched over the outlaws as they secured the ground level.
Georg Hegel - Ex-Captain of the Guard ventured from his tower to attack the rear of the group.
(29:00) While Magnus may have sought to avoid confrontation, trouble found him when six skeletons from the nearby Captain's tower joined the battle for the ground level of the gatehouse. As the undead lurched across the courtyard they were caught by a hail of arrows from outlaws the group had stationed in the stables, smithy and coach house. Alas the missiles had no effect on their bony enemy. Trailing behind the skeletons was a black armoured corpse surrounded by a shadowy nimbus. Esmerelda, who had provided moral support in the battle against the gatehouse guards, spied the undead from a window and called out in alarm. Herdan, sworn to serve Morr the guardian of the dead, was eager to do battle with his gods enemy and fell back to the ground level. This left Jotunn to battle four gatehouse guards with only the meagre support of the halflings.

(33:10) The skeletons could not be considered alive which allowed Esmerelda to clobber them with her quarterstaff. It's a rare moments when the priestess strikes out in anger and given her lack of combat experience her blows were ineffective.

(38:13) Magnus guarded the shattered doors at the entrance to the gatehouse. He smashed several skeletons apart before the shadowy form of ex-Captain Hegel swept in to confront him. The undead's deathly cold blade struck Magnus who could not prevent the blow through the fortuitous use of a lucky charm...

... At this moment I had to rescue spring rolls from the oven which left the group on a momentary cliff hanger! ...

... Fortunately for our hero the wight's blade left Magnus reeling on 0 wounds, mercifully avoiding a devastating critical hit.

(40:36) Jotunn, outnumbered four to one in the melee on the second level of the gatehouse, managed to fell a pair of guards in quick succession. The remaining guards were so intimidated by the dwarf's martial prowess that they surrendered. The halflings secured the guard's weapons and kept an eye on them while Jotunn raced down the stairs to aid in the conflict with the undead. Alas upon seeing his foe the dwarf was cowed by fear. In contrast Herdan attacked with righteous vigour and speared the wight's arm off. The crippled spectral ex-Captain retreated.

(46) The heroes pursued their foe into the courtyard and were met by a volley of bolts from the barracks. They shrugged the quarrels off and remained focussed on the retreating enemy. In a frantic flurry of blows Herdan snapped the wight like a twig. With the creature defeated the warriors scurried back to the gatehouse, but not before they gave a one fingered salute to Lieutenant Doppler and his guards holed up in the barracks.

(51:56) Amongst the guards Jotunn had cowed into submission was Sgt Kurtz whom the group began to question. They were interrupted however by a cry from the inner gatehouse where the final outpost of guards standing between the group and Castle Wittgenstein were based. 'What's happening?' they demanded. The group had Sgt Kurtz respond that everything was fine and that Lieutenant Doppler had put down a bandit attack. There was nothing for the inner gate guards to worry about. 

Kurtz went on to spill the beans on the castle's defences, residents, guests and layout. His co-operative approach earned him his freedom. Though who could tell what peace a former guard with rotting flesh would find roaming the Empire.

(59:09) To thank Sgt Kurtz for his assistance Esmerelda recommended some chamomile tea and jojoba extract for his horrific skin condition, a condition Kurtz blamed on the night of black rain.
Lieutenant Doppler could be called risk-averse though to be fair he was badly wounded.
(61:37) With the main and middle gatehouses secured and Sgt Kurtz interrogated the group decided to seize the barracks before taking the fight to the inner bailey and castle proper. They rushed the barracks, ignoring the crossbow fire. The entrance was rent asunder under the groups manic blows and the five remaining guards and Lieutenant Doppler were confronted. Jotunn called out a challenge 'Doppler lets end this nobly. You verse me. One on one.' Doppler agreed, inviting Jotunn to step out from cover to confront him. Honourable, gullible or perhaps a bit of both, Jotunn obliged stepping forward and making himself a target. Doppler gave the order to "shoot the bastard." Quarrels were loosed but luck was with the dwarf and none found their mark.

(67:12) Jotunn cursed Doppler as a coward and charged. Doppler retreated but encouraged his men, 'Look how injured they are. Why that dwarf can barely stand. This will be an easy fight.' While charging Jotunnn got tangled amongst chairs the guards had set as a makeshift barricade. Combat was joined and once Doppler had retreated out of sight a number of guards broke and ran only to be cut down. Skirting the edges of the melee Jotunn bolted up the stairs in pursuit of the craven Lieutenant.
Doppler's pitiful hostage of uncertain identity was trapped within a crow's cage
(72:49) Jotunn cornered Doppler in his immaculately furnished rooms. These beautiful rooms seemed at odds with the decay and corruption of the Wittgenstein's. Ruining the splendor was a horribly tortured man trapped within a crows cage. Doppler held a blade to the man's throat which stopped Jotunn in his tracks. "Stand back or I shall kill this important noble hostage! This is Von Tassernick, he went on an expedition to the Grey mountains and vanished and yet here he is. You don't want his blood on your hands." Jotunn negotiated and sheathed his blade. He would escort Doppler and the surviving guards out of the castle. When safely beyond the gates Doppler would turn the hostage over.

(77:00) Confident that he was in control, Doppler sheathed his sword. He ordered one of his few remaining guards to fetch a loaded crossbow. As he reached for it Jotunn struck with the reflexes of a cobra, quick drawing his rune blade Barakul he sliced cleanly through Doppler's leg. The magic of the rune blade ensured that Doppler's armour remained intact though the torrent of blood pouring around his greaves left little doubt as to the Lieutenant's fate. Doppler's death saw the remaining guards surrender. The outer bailey was secure.

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.