The wheel of life turns and inevitably I and my compatriots slip on the grease from its cogs. The first day passed in such a simple way, with Hindral questioning the actual worth of talking to Anton later in the evening. This was in amongst a series of jokes and open insults at the expense of elves, who are so effete, and anaemic, and foolish, not that we have met one in person of course. We did not really have a firm answer for Hindral, other than we wanted to find out if Anton had been lying about killing the three legged goblin.
Hindral had another serious question, and asked whether we knew of seeing evidence of the chicken rustler known as the phantom bantam snaffler in these parts. I recounted having seen wanted posters of this outlaw, who Galen described as a tall, dashing fellow who is definitely not a halfling. The posters of course were hastily drawn with limited skill, by yours truly and the snaffler himself – not that I told Hindral this.
We had work to do, so we ended our lively conversation with a plan to follow up our recent experiences. I went to the Temple of Verena to explore the library with Hindral, while Dan and Rupert guarded the camp. Dan had found a hallmark on the tray that we found in the cabinet in the sewer of a mailed fist holding a stalk of grain, so Galen and Klaus sought evidence of the symbol on the signs and walls of Bogenhafen proper.
Galen realised that it was not a hallmark but a monogram or heraldic device, which he saw emblazoned on the wall of the Merchants Guild along with several others. He bluffed his way into the building and got a job as a messenger. After sitting around for a while he questioned an old servant, who was a little deaf that made conversation difficult but entertaining. For whatever reason he thought Galen had referred to a badger fish, which he had himself seen at the Zoocopia.
With a little coaxing however, the old man explained the heraldic symbols on the livery of the servants, which represented the four great merchant families of Bogenhafen. The Steinhager device is a barrel with an S in it, the Haagen is a beasts head, the Teugen is a rose and the Ruggbroder is a mailed fist holding a stalk of grain. The leaders of these families had formed a semi-secret organisation that had formed the Ordo Septinarius under the direction of Johannes Teugen, which worked to fund charitable works and generally improve living conditions in and around Bogenhafen.
The old man had nothing bad to say about the Ordo Septinarius or any of the four families, which we found odd, given that my experience as one of the nobility and Galen’s often stated position as a victim of oppression would indicate the opposite. Nonetheless, the Teugen had brought wealth to the city, which had benefited all of the guilds directly or indirectly, so that none directly opposed them. Galen was then required to take a message to the offices of the Steinhager family.
Meanwhile at the library, a lovely and very helpful initiate of Verena named Mathilda led us to a cloister in the temple where we were able to see some mighty tomes. I explained in a round about fashion that we wished to see a bestiary and a book of weapons, to which she added a catalogue of smiths and the like in the area. She was very learned and enthusiastic about her books, and certainly proved of worth in explaining much within the bestiary to Hindral.
For myself, I found nothing of use in the catalogue or the book of weapons, in which I hoped to find a dagger that corresponded to the one Dan had taken from the basement in the sewer. Hindral was able to direct Mathilda to find a creature of a non-physical nature, without inferring our battle with the smoke monster. She showed him illuminations of an air elemental, and at further hints, she showed him a drawing of a smoke elemental.
These particular elementals are used as guardians, and originate from the east. They are summoned and bound to do the bidding of a mage or wizard, to provide knowledge and or protection. In regards to the goblin, she surmised that it was an ordinary goblin from the Grey Mountains with a ‘taint’, but she would not speak much further on the subject. It was our thought, that a ‘taint’ is much like the creatures that we fought in Altdorf, something that ‘does not exist’ and should not be spoken of.
Not long after that Galen arrived and passed me the note that he had been given, so I copied it down, it read; ‘An hour after Sunset at my house. All members of the Inner Council will attend. Johannes Teugen.’ Then he ran off to deliver the note, and later met us at camp. We were not sure how to take advantage of this information, but were determined to eavesdrop on the meeting, whether it was in the Teugen mansion, or in the sewers below.
We did not know where Johannes Teugen lives, so Galen gave a street urchin a couple of silver, and he led us to the Adelring, which is a street upon which most of the luminaries of Bogenhafen live. We were not sure when to gain entry into the building as it lay behind a high wall, and whether in fact we would be interrupting a nefarious plot or some perfectly legal undertaking. So we deliberated, and realised that sunset was almost upon us.
We worked upon the premise that I would act as a visiting noble from Wissemburg, hoping to strike a trade agreement over the sale of wine, with Galen acting as manservant, and Hindral as security advisor. The guards at the gate were having none of it, as I had forgotten the most basic of protocols, and did not have a letter of introduction. Galen bluffed that one should have arrived that morning, but it was no good, we had no chance of authorised entry.
As the members of the Inner Council arrived, we walked round the wall so that Hindral could assess the options for unauthorised entry. He and Galen entered into a competition to see who could lasso one of the spikes atop the wall, and Hindral won. Galen then shimmied up the rope in the gathering gloom of dusk, and ascertained that there were no dogs or guards within. We realised however that we had little to gain and everything to lose by breaking into the building, and left the Adelring.
Instead, we went to see Anton at the Steinhager Warehouse with some ale, but were met by a young night-watchmen who explained that Anton had drowned in the river. He directed us to the Temple or Morr, so we went there to pay our respects and were led down a winding stairway to cold chamber deep under the temple. We were suspicious about the cause of death, as he was healthy that morning and not heavily drunk, so an ill advised walk along the wharves seemed unlikely.
Galen found bruising across his chest and upper arms, and a small burn mark on his shoulder. He checked his mouth and smelt something metallic and coppery like blood. He opened Anton’s eyes and found that they had no colour, this frightened Galen, and though he directed us to look also, we were forewarned and simply disconcerted by the clear milky whiteness of his eyes. This seemed most abnormal, so Hindral massaged the eyes in an attempt to find where his pupils were.
Suddenly the candles in the room were snuffed out. Klaus was positioned near the door and could see lantern light approaching, so I scrabbled around to put the sheet back over Anton. The temple attendant returned and demanded that we leave, as we had displeased Morr by interfering with Anton’s mortal remains. We apologised and tried to make amends, as we only wanted to find evidence of wrong doing so that we could put right any injury that had been done to poor old Anton.
The attendant would have none of it. She explained that if the dead were unhappy, they would make their feelings known to the initiates of the temple and their ghosts would literally come forth from the shadows and speak their part. Anton however was at rest, so although that gave us reason to relax a little, Galen was perturbed at the idea of ghosts emerging from the shadows and Hindral was intrigued at the thought of Morr informing the attendant of our wrongdoing.
So we left and made our way back to camp, with Galen buying more ale so that he could get drunk and forget half of what had happened that day. He and I were both worried that the smell of blood on Anton might have similar cause to the taste of blood we both had when we saw the horned men in our camp. Anton was after all dead, so the smell of blood should be perfectly ordinary. Rupert examined sketches that Galen had made of the burn and the bruises, and surmised that he was most likely murdered.
Galen had the first watch with Dan, so that hopefully they would make amends for the cart and tree incident, followed by Hindral and Klaus, with Rupert and I taking the dawn shift. Nothing untoward happened, but what with the horned men and the probable murder of Anton, I do not think we will let our guard drop until we are miles away from Bogenhafen. As we sat over breakfast, quieter than usual within our own thoughts, a nervous looking noble approached us.
He explained that he was Councillor Magerius from the Inner Council of the Merchants Guild. He had seen us at the Teugen mansion, and had heard that we had been asking curious questions in town, and had performed our ill advised play about the smoke monster. He wished to speak with us in private, and sought our assistance in some crisis he was having. Galen, Hindral and I invited him into one of our smaller tents to converse unobserved, while the others kept watch.
Magerius explained that Johannes Teugen’s older brother had died of a long wasting illness that had brought Johannes and his cousin Gideon back from the University in Nuln. Johannes had taken control of the Teugen business and was instrumental in forming the Ordo Septinarius. He had enlisted the aid of the Inner Council in enacting arcane rituals that he claimed would improve the wealth and standing of Bogenhafen, although Magerius considered most of it to be charlatanry.
Nonetheless, conditions for all classes of society in and around Bogenhafen have improved over recent years. Johannes has limited skill in the arts of wizardry, but his cousin Gideon is very skilled and leads these rituals, which Johannes claims have shaped market forces and weather patterns in the area. The final piece in this puzzle is apparently a climactic ritual that the Inner Council is to perform tonight, involving a human sacrifice.
It is this human sacrifice that has put Magerius in such unease, up until now he has considered these rituals as nothing but harmless posturing. He hopes that we have the strength of character to oppose Johannes and Gideon when none of the other Inner Council members will. He can also introduce us to the representatives of the Haagen family, who have always opposed the Teugens, and have never been party to the rituals of the Inner Council.
It is our plan to meet with the Haagens and seek their assistance, as they control the Stevedores Guild and can hopefully call upon the support of men of strength and willingness to fight for what is right in this corrupt city. We will return to the temple to find reasons for Anton’s strange blindness, while Magerius will send word when he knows of the location in which this latest ritual will be held. With a couple of nights rest we are now healthy and ready for battle.
We have surpassed ourselves in heroism, stood mighty upon the horizon of the proud city of Bogenhafen and struck at the dark and putrid heart of cantankerous evil. Broken and battered we struggled to the home of Jochen Haagen in the hope of a safe haven. But I digress, one must not spoil the drama of tale by revealing its climax, return with me if you will gentle reader, to the meeting our merry band had with Councillor Magerius.
Dan had been organising the cart initially, so he joined us in conversation and we explained the pertinent points of the issue. Magerius was aware of our actions in the sewers, and saw us as potential allies against Johann Teugen and his cousin Gideon, who were about to perform a ritual that involved a human sacrifice. Teugen led the Ordo Septinarius, and it was they who had engaged in rituals over the preceding months, and it was only now that Magerius realised the folly of his involvement.
We committed ourselves to helping to foil the plans of the Ordo Septinarius, and convinced Magerius that we should act out a short play of sorts before he left. We were conscious that in coming to our camp he had put himself at risk, so we composed an improvised skit where we would put on a front of anger, and that he would insult us and we would threaten violence.
Galen was more than happy to shoot him with his crossbow, but Magerius declined, instead we shouted and argued and threatened each other in full sight of our neighbours in the camp. Dan struck Magerius across the face, to which Magerius considered his options vis a vis Dan’s size and skills, and slapped Galen before striding off home. Galen was shocked to have been struck so, to which I pointed out that as Magerius feared Dan and could not strike a woman, he made do with Galen.
We went to the Temple of Verena in search of Mathilda and any information that we could gain on individuals whose eyes went blank as a white sheet. She provided us with books and helped Hindral again, while I looked through a thick tome of physicians diagrams. Dan asked for a childrens book to give to Galen to read, though Galen thought that Dan was just as in need of extra schooling. Mathilda found him a book called ‘See Falafel Run’ about a fox.
Hindral discovered that demons can sometimes suck the soul out of an individual through their eyes, which is why they become blank. Dan suggested that he go to the Temple of Morr and talk with the initiate there, to talk again about Anton and how he died. Dan had not been present when we offended Morr by fiddling with Anton’s corpse, so she dealt with him fairly. She explained that Anton’s spirit had spoken of wandering in the Underworld with pains in his eyes.
When he returned and imparted this information we wondered how she or one of her colleagues could have spoken with Anton if his soul had been sucked out. We needed to discuss this further, and Rupert hadn’t been to the temple yet. Dan instructed him on what to ask, so when he got to the temple he was able to clarify that although Anton’s soul had been sucked out, it had travelled safely to the Underworld. We were relieved to discover that the Temple of Morr was not deceiving us.
A boy arrived at the Temple of Verena while Dan and Rupert were running back and forth on errands and asked for me. He gave me a message from Jochen Haagen that we were to meet him at his house on the Adelring, so we mustered our forces and followed the boy. At the Haagen house we discussed Magerius’ suspicions and Haagen’s limited commitment to our venture. He volunteered some stevedores to assist us, but only when we were certain that somebody was to be murdered.
This was difficult for us, because if we attacked when the sacrifice was under threat, it might turn out that the ritual involved blood sacrifice and not necessarily murder. This meant that we had to let someone die in order to have reasonable justification to attack. Haagen was not able to guarantee our safety if the Ordo Septinarius were injured and or killed, especially as they controlled the Watch, which did not put us at ease.
Still, he outfitted Galen and Dan with armour, and gave us all lanterns. Hindral had learnt that demons fear darkness, so if a demon had sucked out Anton’s soul, it may have been at the behest of Gideon and Johann Teugen. We each had a lantern so we could light up the scene of the sacrifice if necessary, this was helpful to Galen who seemed nervous in shadowy settings, and of course Klaus, who has been having problems recently in proximity to smoke.
Galen and Klaus had each picked up a madness due to collecting insanity points from wounds and seeing the smoke beast.
We were then at a loose end, waiting as we were for word from Magerius. We discussed our intentions, Galen was all for throwing his bombs into the middle of the Ordo Septinarius and killing everyone, but I was circumspect about our prospect of leaving Bogenhafen safely in the outcome of such a massacre. Hindral was dubious about what our goal was, in terms of whether we should even be engaged in this venture, when it was none of our business and we could safely leave town.
Galen's response to lots of problems seems to be throw a bomb at it, he keeps asking Millicent for more bombs.
As dusk approached Magerius summoned us, so we went back to the Adelring and knocked on his door, a servant opened and sent us up to see Magerius. When we entered his room we found his chair knocked over and his corpse behind a table with its throat slit. He had scrabbled on the table and left a bloody smear, but it looked like he may have left a clue, the smear looked like ‘WHSE’ followed by a ‘1’ and possibly a ‘7’. Perhaps the ritual was planned at one of Teugen’s warehouses.
There was no time for deliberation however, as the servant was outside shouting murder, he was trying to frame us! Then an apparition came through a wall in the form of the servant, and warned us not to interfere, before leaving. We left the room with Hindral in the lead in search of an exit, as the Watch had entered the gates. He charged down the corridor and burst through a closed door, before reaching another door that led into the garden. Through a side door Dan found some corpses in the kitchen.
Once we caught up with Hindral, I suggested Galen throw a bomb into the house to put them off our trail, but we were not sure whether to climb some trees and cross the wall, or try to bluff our way past the Watch. Dan tried a couple of times and failed, so Hindral walked round the house to scout the way, as he and I were biased towards bluffing our way out. He found some men walking our way, so Galen and Dan shot a window to distract them.
Hindral ran back, by which point Klaus had scaled the wall and thrown down a rope. Galen was straight up the rope and dropped another on the other side. The rest of us clambered over with Hindral last over the wall, and I reminded Klaus to recover both of the ropes. Magerius was dead and we were now hunted men, evidently Johann and Gideon Teugen were plotting against us, so we agreed to hunt them down and kill them.
We made our way toward the wharves and the district that contains the Teugen warehouses, and scampered through the side streets to avoid the Watch. As we got close we heard shouting and the sound of burning flames, a man ran towards us and as he got close we saw that he looked like me. I tried to punch him but he dodged past and escaped so we had to take a different route to the wharves. I was now in grave danger if I was caught, as I would be under suspicion of arson.
Luckily we got there without further interruption, and were at Warehouse 1 with an eerie mist rising from the river. The warehouse was empty so we headed to Warehouse 17, which was empty, at which point Hindral pointed out that the bloody scrawl on Magerius’ desk was probably Warehouse 13. We headed back down the wharves, and realised that a coach was following us, so we hid and followed the coach to Warehouse 13.
Some men left the coach and entered Warehouse 13, once the coach had left we snuck forward and Dan encountered a guard with a club. Dan and Hindral overpowered him while Galen shot him, and I convinced the guard that we were there on city business to test the efficiency of security on the wharves, and that we were doing tactical manoeuvres. He told us that he was guarding the warehouse with five other men and that none of them were allowed in the building.
Then a wagon arrived, two men took a body sized sack into the building and then left, so time was running out. Galen climbed up to a slit window and could see men inside who were chanting, but the angle of fire was limited, so we could not afford to try firing into the building from outside. We ran to the door which was barred, so I assisted Galen in using a sword to raise the bar that locked the door from the inside. The bar clattered to the floor and we entered the warehouse.
The warehouse was full of crates and barrels, with seven men standing around a pentagram of some kind, with Gideon leading the ritual in the centre of the circle. Johann stood in the background near the corpse of woman with her heart torn out. I led with Galen and Klaus, because we each had two crossbow bolts dipped in a paralytic poison that Haagen had given us. Hindral was ready to run in with his axe, which was also dipped in poison.
We fired at Gideon, who shrugged off the first few bolts, until Galen winged him in the leg, and he was visibly slowed in his actions, so we fired at Johann. Hindral charged in under the flurry of bolts and slid through the salt that formed the pentagram, swinging his axe through the scroll that Gideon was reading and clipping him through his beard. He disrupted the ritual and angered the two Teugen cousins, and put the other Ordo Septinarius into disarray.
Gideon had gestured at Klaus before Hindral ambushed him, and used arcane powers to crush Klaus’ leg. Johann pointed a brass wand at me that erupted with fire and burnt across my chest, causing me great pain. Klaus crawled back to the door, firing off a crossbow bolt now and then, while Dan fired from the doorway, picking off targets of opportunity. Dan shouted to Rupert to go get the stevedores, so Rupert ran off for some help.
Galen took cover behind a pile of crates, readied a bomb and threw it at the rear wall behind Johann. It exploded killing a couple of the Ordo Septinarius, wounding Hindral slightly and knocking Gideon to the floor. Johann transformed into a red faced two horned demon, and became translucent so that the shards of the bomb flew through him and had no effect. Then he threw a small globe onto the floor near Galen, which grew into a large orange sphere.
The Ordo Septinarius started to run, and Johann charged into Hindral, scratching him with his black claws, severely wounding the dwarf, who was scared by the horrid visage of the demon and failed to attack him. The orange sphere exploded and a glut of squigs flew out of it, landing all across the floor of the building. They attacked the Ordo Septinarius, Hindral and Galen, so Galen climbed onto some crates to get away from the chomping bouncing squigs.
I ran in and killed a squig and a merchant, Klaus killed a couple of squigs from the doorway with his crossbow, and Dan advanced into the building to help Hindral. Then Gideon got up off the floor to our surprise, and Galen put another crossbow bolt into him, putting him out of his misery. Hindral got his act together and started to fight Johann, but took a blow that nearly killed him, and Dan crashed in with a flurry of blows, knocking Johann back and forth.
The merchants had fled and the squigs were eating the corpses, when Gideon rose from the death and floated suspended in the rafters. He called out that Johann had failed him, and was obviously not up to the task. It was obvious that Gideon was still dead as his body was all rag doll like, which indicated that he had been possessed all along, and had led Johann into some sort of evil pact when they studied at the University of Nuln.
The puppet Gideon collapsed into itself and disappeared in a flash of black light. We also felt a rumble in the floor and could see dust falling from the rafters, and then Johann screamed and spun round into a vortex. He folded up with a sickening crunch and dissolved into a hole in the floor, we felt like the place was about to fall in on us so we scampered out. Outside Rupert had arrived with the stevedores, who captured the remaining merchants.
We decided to go with the stevedores to see Jochen Haagen, and put our trust in the authorities now that we had some of the Ordo Septinarius as witnesses. He guaranteed our safety, subject to the interrogation of the merchants, and hinted that any past misdemeanours on our part would be forgiven, Rupert in particular was hopeful of regaining his licence to practice in Bogenhafen. We are now resting at Haagen’s house in a sorry state but relieved that we survived the ordeal.
Rupert's player has become an irregular guest, Rupert continues to gain xp for healing up the troupe and still gets into the occasional scrape. Klaus is turning into a sort of second character for Millicent's player, generally with an in character cameo at some point in each game and continues to provide combat support.
It was cool to run through one of the story threads from the original classic adventure supplements. Hopefully there will be more opportunities to derail the plot with badly performed plays, the troupe has a dancer, two singers and an old bluffer at the moment but Millicent is banking on picking up some relevant skills at some point.
Observations about 1st Edition - Character Generation
I never thought about it back in the eighties, but looking at 1st Ed now there is a bunch of dumb stuff. Firstly prerequisites to enter each career, a fairly conservative minimum of 30 on WS, BS and so on, but like many rpgs stops you from getting the character you want. I am sure that you get Warriors and Rangers that are crap, and given that the Warrior class includes the career of Servant and the Ranger class includes the career of Toll Keeper for example, a minimum of 30 makes less sense.
Secondly compulsory skill choices for non-humans, I can see why they did it, each non-human gets a skill for free, so the second skill is a compulsory choice to give humans flexible skill choices by default. I know it is typical rpg stereotyping, but all Halflings get Cook and all Dwarves get Mining, really? We ignored that.
The career system is excellent, a random first choice of career (which you could ignore), but you can easily hop from career to career (excluding advanced careers which are more powerful). The well known career option is Rat Catcher, and they all have bags of theme. Getting to be a Wizard is very hard, but in the setting they are rare and it is good for a low fantasy low magic campaign (admittedly against the popular choice for many gamers).
The only possible drawback is that you can easily play a decent length campaign increasing your base stats and only picking up the essential skills with spending experience points, and effectively reach a dead end with character development. Starting characters are barely competent, but it does make the combat chaotic and tense. Once you get a bunch of upgrades your characters can be hard to take down with minions, but all it takes is a critical hit really and they are toast.
Armour feels like it makes more of a difference than in other games, it prevents 1 or 2 points of damage on every hit but plate armour is expensive and scarce to buy. Once the characters can afford it the plate and chain combination is really essential unless your character has the Dodge Blow skill and a really high Initiative score, but why not just have the armour as well? Dwarves with high Toughness and full armour and shield are as you would expect, pretty solid tanks.
The advancement for abilities was a bit odd and that threw me the first time I read the book. When you gain +10 WS and then +20 in another career, it isn't +30 total, but +20 since you only count the last +10. I think it would be better to just say "Characters can have +30/whatever total to each score."
Yup, that threw half the players and they needed reminding a couple of times when they bought advances.
Our latest 'wtf' moment was one player quibbling about leather armour only preventing damage half of the time (on a low roll), his attitude being that it is overcomplex. Solution - count leather armour having a rating of 1, but that is has to be replaced on a regular basis creating a constant drain on gold crowns (as a trade off for having an equal rating to chainmail).
Career choices can be 'no brainers' if all you want is a high WS or BS at the expense of anything else, but given the general investigative focus of 1st Edition other careers can still be relevant. Having said that, Galen is moving to Scout (BS), Hindral is moving to Assassin (WS) and Millicent is moving to Raconteur (for social bonuses).
TRAGEDY STRIKES THE COUNCIL
In a most bizarre and cruel series of events, several members of the town council were killed and others injured in a freak accident last night.
Watch Captain Reiner Goertrin stated that an inspection of valuable cargoes received at a Teugen warehouse went horribly wrong when bottles containing alchemical substances from Araby cracked and leaked. The leaking substances soaked into crates containing fruit from the Hillberry estate in the Moot. The resulting mixture created noxious vapours that poisoned those nearby and caused a series of fatal explosions.
The Watch continues to assess how this tragedy could have been avoided.
Discussions between the remaining council members and other luminaries are ongoing regarding how best to ensure the continued prosperity of the city.
MURDER IN THE ADEL RING
The town, already shocked by the tragedy at the Teugen warehouse, was once more rocked by grief with the news of the foul murder of Councillor Magirius. Councillor Magirius’s body was found at his home by loyal servants, who immediately alerted a passing watch patrol. It is believed that the Councillor disturbed thieves who had broken into his home and then set upon him in a desperate panic.
A service will be held at the Temple of Morr next Aubentag. It is expected that most of the town will attend as Councillor Magirius was a well-loved and respected gentleman with many long years of service for Bogenhafen.
THREE WAREHOUSES LOST
Last night a heinous crime was committed in the docklands. Under the cloak of darkness a dastardly scoundrel set ablaze one of the Steinhager warehouses. The fire quickly spread to two adjoining warehouses, also belonging to Councillor Steinhager. Only by the timely and courageous actions of the town watch, assisted by several community minded citizens, was the blaze prevented from spreading further.
A group of men and women filled with righteous anger gave chase to the arsonist, however the ruffian was able to elude them in the alleyways of the docks.
The watch are anxious to speak with anyone who has information relating to this crime and the villain responsible.
Descriptions vary, although all witnesses state that the arsonist was a portly fellow in his latter years, dressed in the manner of a noble, albeit one who has fallen on hard times.
The motives for the arson attack are still unknown.
News has reached our fair town of Bogenhafen that the infamous chicken bandit known as the “Phantom Bantam Snaffler” has been seen in the vicinity of the Schaffenfest. It is of no little relief to the local farmers that the “Snaffler” has to date shown no interest in sheep, however is it only a matter of time before his interests turn from two legged to four legged booty?
Wanted alive, 2000GC reward.
Nearly new suit of plate mail, missing left leg. Ask for Pete “peg-leg” Jonson at the sign of The Nervous Goblin.
One hand (left) possibly human, slightly scaled. Enquire at the Old Quarter Watch house.
One repeating crossbow, good condition. Found lodged in a sewer outlet on the East bank of the River Bogen. Ask for Emily Brandysnap at the Glazed Buns bakery.
One red & white stripped tent. Last seen three days ago in the Schaffenfest near the Postern gate. Contact Klaus Schattiger, pugilist, at the camp beyond the East Gate.
The offices of The Bogenhafen Oracle are located next to the Temple of Verena. All enquiries are welcome.
We have stumbled upon good times, my travelling compatriots and I, we now reside in The Golden Trout with free board and lodging at the expense of the city of Bogenhafen. We have had to undergo several interviews with various lords and officials of the city to ensure our loyalty, or rather our lack of chaos taint after the skirmish with Johann and Gideon Teugen. Several of the members of the Ordo Septinarius had survived, and presumably suffered questioning of a more violent sort than ourselves.
I had been reading parts of the Bogenhafen Gazette to our motley crew, as it contained reports about our fracas in the docks against the Teugens, and they had expressed an interest in learning their letters. It was all a white wash of course, which I am particularly relieved about because some of Bogenhafen’s citizens might be capable of implicating me in several cases of arson during that night, when Gideon was trying to keep us away from Warehouse 13.
Dan commented on the new bounty on the head of the Phantom Bantam Snaffler, which perked Hindral’s interest. Apparently the Snaffler is on Hindral’s list, he being a bounty hunter, but as fortune would have it, the portrait of the Snaffler looks little or nothing like Galen. I threw the gazette in the fire as a precaution however.
Before that point I had read them a personal note by one Five Pint Greta, who sought companionship. Dan suggested pimping one of us out to Greta as an escort, though I doubt we could earn much coin with that endeavour. Dan was also interested in recovering a left hand that the Watch had found, for what reason I am not sure.
Galen was happy though, his little crossbow that he had lost when we encountered the smoke beast had been found by one Emily Brandysnap, a halfling working at the Glazed Buns Bakery. Galen tried his luck with the young baker, but she was out of his league, primarily as she had a steady job, a respectable profession and a home.
It was shortly after I burned the gazette that a servant of Jochen Haagen arrived and bid us follow him to the Adelring to meet with the noble. We dithered somewhat, as Galen had some suggestions as where to stick the severed hand that Dan was interested in, Hindral had been looking forward to a hearty meal which he would now have to postpone, and Dan was trying to work out how he could afford a suit of plate armour that a certain Pete Jonson was selling.
Once we had got our gear together the servant led us at quite a pace to Haagen’s home, where we anticipated a business conversation of sorts, for which I was most enthusiastic in the hopes of acquiring some profitable work for our group. It turns out that Haagen has a mining concern in the mountains and a man named Anders Flugzeit who acts as his representative had been murdered. Haagen wanted us to investigate.
There was some haggling over what supplies we could get out of the job, and we were rewarded with rations and horses, though Galen rode in his cart with Rupert and Klaus. Haagen sent a carrier pigeon to Constable Mikhail at a village near the mines to warn him of our approach and gave us a letter of introduction to prove our authority. We left Bogenhafen on the same day, as it was a matter of urgency.
There was a small threat of attack by goblins so we were very cautious. Galen kept himself occupied by turning his cart into a tiny war wagon, though his hammering was a cause of irritation on the part of Hindral, who feared the noise would attract interest and violence by bandits or some such.
Galen and I had bandied about the idea of building a turntable on the cart from which a hireling could fire at the enemy in relative safety. Dan recommended using crippled war veterans, this proved to be the final piece of the jigsaw puzzle, as we agreed then to hire some old soldiers to act as turntable amputee rear gunners.
Dan also suggested we buy war dogs, especially as Galen could use them as riding mounts, though I reckon he did so because Galen has a fear of dogs that are larger than himself, which includes most dogs once you exclude terriers and collies. While we discussed the options Galen fell off his wagon and Dan avoided trampling him using a riding trick I had taught him. Galen agreed to stop the hammering for a while.
After four days we reached the village. We approached the houses and I dismounted to parley with a denizen of the village who wore a bright red woollen hat. I asked if he was Mikhail and he said yes, I asked if he could show us the corpse of Anders Flugzeit and he said yes. He then wandered around the village in a fairly random fashion, drawing confused looks from the locals, and in some cases laughter.
We came to the conclusion that we had been fooled by the village idiot, especially as he had read the letter of introduction upside down when I presented it to him. We hitched our horses and the cart to tethers outside the tavern and went inside. A halfling barmaid named Mathilda served us some beers and went in search of Mikhail, she winked at Galen before leaving, so we did our best to embarrass him.
Mikhail had put the corpse of Anders in the cold basement of the tavern, where Rupert examined the corpse. There was no sign of a bite, cut, bruise or similar injury, but the corpse was strangely wizened, the skin was dry and flaky, the flesh had a texture of bark and seemed almost hollow. We feared the work of vampires, though our knowledge of such creatures is restricted to folklore and superstition.
The only other individual in the village who was aware of the peculiar condition of Anders’ death was the mine chief Vargren, although the inhabitants of the village were starting to consider the murder to be unnatural in some way. Dan asked about Ander’s responsibilities, which Mikhail explained involved surveys and sorting out the accounts of the mines hereabouts.
We went to Anders’ home to investigate further. Hindral checked for prints around the house, but only found strange little scratch marks on the window sill. The wood was also distressed and aged, and one small window had been smashed inwards. Inside Hindral found a table leg that was similarly distressed and some fabric on an armchair that was much faded and threadbare.
There was no evidence of burglary or any attempt to search the premises, Mikhail knew of no enemies that Anders might have, and we were all suspicious of some supernatural cause for the merchant’s death. Mikhail knew little about folklore, but recommended the village elder Geff, and the priestesses of Ria in the woods.
Dan queried the presence of so many books on the shelves and Mikhail explained that Anders liked to spend his evenings reading rather than get drunk in the tavern. He had several books on history and culture, and many ledgers. Within the ledgers were notes by Anders that indicated that Palindor, a dwarf lode finder did a survey and found a seam from which he, Vargren and Anders anticipated a valuable find of some kind.
While I read the ledgers, Hindral made a thorough search of the building, Galen tinkered with his cart and Dan explored the waterfall and pool by the village. If the man or creature that killed Anders could absorb blood or water, he reckoned it might be born of water and lurk in the pool.
Instead Dan found a water trough by the blacksmiths that was grey, splintered and warped. He summoned us to meet with him and I talked to the blacksmith, who said that the trough had only recently become so aged. I plugged the holes with cloth and we poured buckets of water into the trough, but the water was mysteriously absorbed like sand into the wood quicker than we could fill it.
We visited the priestesses of Ria, one young beauty called Fern and an old lady named Hazel, who both wandered naked through the trees and sang songs in praise of Ria. Hazel certainly took a liking to Dan, but could not help us. They had little to do with the village, as they spent most of their time in the woods, where the villagers would seek them for blessings.
When we returned to the village Hindral had a few beers with Palindor and discovered that he had found a strong coal deposit, that Anders was respected and was the driving force of the mine. Later on we talked with Gef the village elder, a small and ancient man who told us tales of wolves and a beast in the waterfall who stole children. He could not help us on the matter of disappearing water and aging wood however.
That left us with few avenues of investigation. We decided to go up to the mines to speak with Vargren the mine chief, and explore the mines during the night so that we could work without interruption by the miners.