[WFRP 1e] The Middenheim Six

DJChallix

Gygaxian Gen-Xer
Validated User
Point of Departure: The Restless GM

What happens when a guy who has (1) played and refereed Gygaxian D&D on and off since 1980 and (2) always loved horror of the sanity-blasting abomination variety, becomes restless for a change in his gaming? When that happens it's time to crack open WFRP1e, a game once owned in 1986 but never played, a game that promises gaming delights with the descriptor "The players start out thinking they're playing D&D, but soon realize they're playing Call of Cthulhu." I read that once (I actually think it was here on RPGnet) and never forgot it. Let's see how true it is.

I've started a thread in Tabletop Roleplaying Open asking questions about the game, and any questions that arise in the course of this campaign I will continue to ask in this thread. The thread in question is here.

A few thoughts about this campaign and my plans for this thread:

1. The campaign (should it evolve to become such) will be more or less sandbox. I'm going to explore various published adventures for WFRP1e but I will also borrow and steal from other sources. This campaign will NOT be an epic, unified, The Enemy Within-type game.

2. The campaign begins in Middenheim, with six down-on-their-luck strangers meeting in a wretched hive of scum and villainy, the Toe and Tit tavern. I am only using two books, the WFRP1e rulebook (obviously), and the Middenheim: City of Chaos sourcebook.

Essential Trappings (note the chaos-infected dice mixed in with the regular dice . . .)

3. Posts will be short to aid readability, and I intend a balance between narrativist and gamist approaches in describing the sessions. I don't want to attempt to write long-winded fiction that arises from the game sessions, but I also don't want to simply give a mechanical list of dice rolling and statistics. Hopefully we'll strike a good balance.

Using this beautiful device, I intend to keep detailed notes during each session.

4. Canon means little to nothing to me. Having said that, I don't plan any major departures from canon either, except for one: the way I envision the Empire, wizard magic is almost entirely forbidden. There are no colleges of wizards and alchemists. There are wizards and alchemists, of course, but they practice their crafts in secret, always fearing the witch hunters. Clerical magic exists, and is (generally) permitted by the secular authorities, but is tightly controlled by the churches and cults and, like wizard magic, is feared by the populace at large. Druidic magic exists beneath the radar, with druids, for the most part, living in solitude deep in the woods and keeping to themselves. To the extent that their existence is even known, they are almost always viewed as chaos-spawn by witch hunters.

Other than this one (perhaps significant) change to the setting, I plan to take my cues more or less from the two books I'm using but I'll tinker with setting detail as I see fit. I want my WFRP 1e campaign to be the story of what the PCs do and the world we create, rather than some kind of detailed treatise on the canonical published setting.

That's it for now. Next time we'll meet our intrepid advcenturers and see how they get drawn into a grim and gritty world of adventure . . .
 

DJChallix

Gygaxian Gen-Xer
Validated User
Episode 0: Dramatis Personae

Drawn together by a purposeful fate that has picked them out for greater things, or perhaps merely the random machinations of a blind, uncaring cosmos, six strangers meet at the foul and fetid Toe and Tit tavern in Ostwald District, one of the seediest areas of the great city of Middenheim.

In no particular order, they are:

Barthas Klump (Human male, age 20).
Academic - Student
A student of history at the ill-reputed Kragspeak College, Klump dreams of one day becoming a wizard, an ambition he dares not share with others, since wizards are hated, feared, and persecuted throughout the Empire.

Shal Shem Shirestockings (Halfling male, age 35).
Rogue - Footpad
A footpad of questionable ability who scrapes out a living with petty thievery, Shal lives in a tiny rented room in the basement of a brothel in Ostwald. He talks a lot about “getting out of this shithole” but has no idea where to go or what to do next. So far he has stayed under the radar of both the authorities and the organized criminal elements of Middenheim, but he fears luck may not hold out much longer.

Elya the Orphan (Human female, age 17).
Rogue - Entertainer (Fire Eater)
Raised in the wretched Middenheim Orphanage where she suffered both abuse and deprivation, Elya left the orphanage at age 14 and has since been living on the streets, scraping out a living as a street performer with a gift for fire eating. No longer ashamed of being an orphan, she has made it part of her name. But she longs for more, and will not live hand-to-mouth if she can help it.

Grundog Hammerstine (Dwarf male, age 51).
Academic - Artisans' Apprentice (Builder)
A builder’s apprentice who has lived most of his life in Middenheim, Grundog has become disillusioned with the city and his chosen profession. Where many dwarves see glory and grandeur in the great stone structures of their ancestors, Grundog sees only tedium and wage slavery.

Sonja Bargerian (Human female, age 32).
Warrior - Outrider
A strong, capable, proud woman who has served as an outrider on patrols of the Drakwald. She lives in a crumbling village at the base of Middenheim and often finds herself in Middenheim’s taverns, drowning her loneliness in cheap ale.

Grundy Smithson (Human male, age 18).
Warrior - Soldier
A strong young lad recently forced into service as a soldier in the Graf’s standing army, Grundy fought in a short yet brutal war against a particularly well-organized tribe of Beastmen in the Drakwald. The wretched experience, in which Grundy spent more time shivering in the cold, wet darkness and trying to keep his wounds from getting infected than he did in actual battle, disillusioned him from any ideas of the glory of war or heroism. Upon his discharge, he decided to seek his fortune instead.

It's a dark rainy night, though in the slum district of Ostwald there is much activity about. Our protagonists are not the only patrons in the tavern this evening, though they are the only ones who are not staggering or vomiting from extreme inebriation. Each of them sits, alone, unaware that they will soon be making acquaintance with each other. For unbeknownst to them, opportunity is about to come walking (literally) through the greasy doors of the Toe and Tit tavern . . .

===
GM's NOTE: Character creation tonight and not much else, though the basic stage is set for the adventure. I am probably going to to adapt "The Restless Dead," a short mini-adventure from the Middenheim sourcebook (though I'm still tossing around ideas). I have never been a fan of heavy urban adventuring, though I plan to try my hand at GMing urban intrigue in Middenheim. For the first adventure, especially as a way for the characters to get to know each other and for me to get comfortable with running WFRP 1e combat, I'm going to get the party down in the Undercity. I love the idea of unknown layers of sewers, tunnels, and dungeons underneath Middenheim, many that have been forgotten for centuries . . .
 

DJChallix

Gygaxian Gen-Xer
Validated User
Episode 1: A Stranger in the Dark

Our party of ne'er-do-wells:

Barthas Klump (Human male student)
Shal Shem Shirestockings (Halfling male footpad)
Elya the Orphan (Human female entertainer-fire eater)
Grundog Hammerstein (Dwarf male builder’s apprentice)
Sonja Bargerian (Human female outrider)
Grundy Smithson (Human male soldier)

The PCs (all strangers to each other at this point) are resting, wet from the rain and despondent from their lot in life, in the Toe and Tit tavern when in stumbles an old woman, leaning awkwardly on a crutch, brandishing a pile of filthy rags.

Sonja (perhaps the only kind-hearted of the PCs) asks the old woman if she is all right. The other PCs (sitting at separate tables) glance over with mild interest.

“Fine, fine, my dears!” the woman says, “Me name is Eliza Elenden, it is.” It comes out pretty quickly in Eliza’s conversation with Sonja that she is a scavenger, a rag-picker who sells clothing pulled from the corpses at the bottom of the Cliff of Sighs.

Grundog the dwarf is disgusted. “For the love of the gods! You’re a vulture, woman!”

Barthas ignores the exchange. He’s reading his text on astronomy and lamenting that he is still a virgin at age 20. He picks nervously at the wart on his face.

Grundy scowls at the dwarf. “Give her a rest. She does what she has to do to survive.” Grundog glares at the young soldier but says nothing.

Suddenly the barkeep emerges from the back room and yells at Eliza. “I threw you out of here yesterday, now get yer wretched bones out of my bar!”

“She’s my guest!” Sonja retorts. “I’ll buy her a drink.” The barkeep glares at Sonja but allows her to buy the old ragpicker a pint of ale. Glancing around Sonja sees several passed-out patrons and four others, including the angry dwarf, watching the exchange with mild interest, plus a fifth, a young man with a wart on his face, hunched over a book.

Elya says to Eliza, not unkindly, “That’s more kindness than I’ve ever been shown in this dunghill of a city.”

The skinny streetwise teenager sits down at Sonja’s table. “So what’s your story, you some kind of nun or something?”
Sonja shrugs. “I’m not anything.”

But Eliza is glowing, and sits eagerly at the table with the two younger women. “You mean a lot ta me, dearie.” As she sips her ale she talks excitedly about her fine collection of bloody, tattered, scavenged rags.

Sonja and Elya quickly make it clear they have no interest in buying any of the rags, so finally Eliza pulls out a heavy, silver ring set with a blue precious stone. Eagerly she offers the ring to Sonja as a “special gift” for 10 Gold crowns.

Now THIS catches Barthas’ interest, and he closes his book and comes over from the bar, politely asking if he can see the ring. The old woman hands it to him. [Barthas’ INT is 40; an INT roll=6!] He can tell from examining the ring that it is probably worth at least 50 Gold Crowns.

“I’ll take it!” he tells Eliza.

Sonja snatches it. “She offered it to ME.”

Barthas, never good at talking to women, whines, “Please!” It isn’t clear if he’s pleading with Sonja or Eliza.

Eliza replies, eyes gleaming with excitement. “Oh, let ‘im have it, dearie, and you can buy me somthin’ to eat.”

Elya laughs and Grundy Smithson walks over and sits at the table with the three women and the shy young student. “I guess this is as good an entertainment as I’m getting tonight,” he says, placing his pint on the table.

Barthas pays the 10 GC (he’s now down to 3 GC) to the delighted old woman and eagerly sets out examining the ring. The name KLAUS GURTELROSE is inscribed on the inside.

Barthas is ecstatic—Klaus Gurtelrose is the name of a reputed necromancer who was, supposedly, killed one hundred years ago by witch hunters. He dips into his last three Gold Crowns and buys the woman another ale, then tells Sonja and Grundy his findings. They both look like fighters to him, and he’ll need their muscle for what he has in mind, especially since he himself has a severe allergy to pain. He glances at the kid (Elya is only two years younger than Barthas but she seems much younger than that) and figures she might be useful as well.

Grundog the dwarf and Shal the halfling wander over to the table to see what all the excitement is about. Shal carefully steps over a pile of old vomit. Sonja, realizing the poor old woman is on the verge of starvation, buys Eliza a meal—the miserable barkeep soon brings her a rancid-smelling meat pie and a stale crust of black bread and the old woman eagerly eats everything, licking the bowl clean.

Wanting to get on everyone’s good side, and realizing he may have the makings of a half-way respectable band of mercenaries here, Barthas buys a round of ale for Elya, Sonja, Grundy, Grundog the dwarf, and Shal the halfling. He tells them all the legend of Klaus Gurtelrose, doomed necromancer, a story popular amongst students, especially those with an interest in the dark arts.

The dwarf’s eyes light up. “There could be treasure of some sort.” The other PCs all join in, echoing agreement that this might be worth looking into, and could be profitable.

Barthas nods. What he really wants, of course, is not treasure so much as knowledge of the black arts of magic.

“Now come close, darlings,” Eliza says, delighted to be the center of attention, “and I’ll tell ye whereabouts I found this ring that’s got ye all so worked up…”

TO BE CONTINUED

===
GM's NOTE: Surprisingly little tonight compared with how much I would get done in a D&D session, but that's life when you're learning a new system. Only one dice roll, Barthas' INT check to determine if he could discern the value of the ring. Overall not a bad start, considering it's my first WFRP 1e session ever. Stay tuned.
 

DJChallix

Gygaxian Gen-Xer
Validated User
Today's session was a blast--our first taste of WFRP combat and its glorious critical hit tables!

Episode 2: The Ambush

Our down-on-their-luck PCs:

Barthas Klump (Human male student)
Shal Shem Shirestockings (Halfling male footpad)
Elya the Orphan (Human female entertainer-fire eater)
Grundog Hammerstine (Dwarf male builder’s apprentice)
Sonja Bargerian (Human female outrider)
Grundy Smithson (Human male soldier)


To the best of her ability, Eliza describes where she found the ring. An especially large tree with strange markings carved in one side—what Eliza calls “witch markings”—is a notable landmark. “Find the tree at the base of the Cliff of Sighs,” Eliza tells them, “the ring was just to the south of there. A particularly rotted corpse—the finger almost came off with it, heh heh.”

Barthas looks at the ring with distaste.

Since the base of the Cliff of Sighs is, obviously, at the bottom of the mountain outside the city, the party will have to either go through the city gates and follow the long viaduct road, or ride the chair lift to the bottom. Either plan will have to wait until morning since the city gates are locked and the chair lift shut down for the night.

Hammerstine the dwarf tells Eliza to go sit at a distant table so he can talk to his new companions. The dwarf is suspicious. When Eliza is out of earshot, he hisses, “This could be a trap.”

“The ring is real enough,” Barthas says.

Grundy agrees with the dwarf. “Hammerstine is right. The ring could be bait.”

Sonja is skeptical. “It’s possible, but it seems unlikely to me.”

“We should make her come along,” Grundy says. “I’m not sure we could find it anyway just from her directions. There’s a lot of forest down there.”

The party discuss it back and forth. Meanwhile Eliza leers at them from the far side of the tavern as the barkeep glares at her with undisguised contempt.

The party finally decides that Eliza will accompany them and act as a guide. “If it is a trap,” Hammerstine snarls, “she dies first.”

Shal the halfling chuckles and sips his ale. “Think you can handle her?” Hammerstine gives Shal a glance of dislike.

“Perhaps I can offer you all some accomodations,” Shal says. “I just so happen to rent a room in an exclusive gentleman’s club. I could get discounts for the boys here.”

Barthas blushes instantly while Sonja shrugs. The truth is that she needs to find a room for the night, and staying with her new companions might be a good idea. Safety in numbers--even if it is in a brothel.

After more conversation the party call Eliza back over to their table. To their surprise, she eagerly agrees to take them to the site in the morning. Eliza has never felt so important in her life.

For the sake of convenience—and because none of the party really trust each other yet—they all decide to stick together and crash at the brothel for the night. The thought terrifies Barthas more than any danger that might be lurking in the Drakwald, but he goes along with the consensus.

Incidentally, Shal warns them not to use the term “whorehouse” once they arrive there—the proprietor, an old halfling woman named Madame Lefear, would be deeply offended. “It’s a gentleman’s club,” he warns them as Sonja rolls her eyes and Elya snickers.

They leave the Toe and Tit tavern. Outside, the night is a smothering dark. It has at least stopped raining, but the cobblestone streets are still slick with moisture, a combination of the rainwater, mud, and various other substances too filthy to be described.

The party, with Eliza in tow, are walking up an alley on their way to Madame Lefear’s club when they are attacked by three foul-smelling thugs wielding bent iron bars and reeking of alcohol! They are big, brutish men with rotted teeth and bloodshot eyes. They attack with a guttural scream from the shadows.

Shal, who was leading the way, saw movement (Night Vision) and yells to warn the others, “Watch out!” He jumps out of the way and tries to climb the side of the building on his right. [DEX=40, Roll=07] Easily finding handholds in the lumpy brick and stone, he scrambles up.

Sonja draws her sword and swings at the lead thug. She can’t charge due to the close quarters in the alley. [WS=32; Roll=07—seriously, another 7!] Her sword cuts into his arm.

Elya draws her knife and tries to thrust up into the stomach of the thug Sonya attacks. She connects, but doesn’t penetrate his flesh.

The first thug, the largest of the three, tries to smash Sonja with his club, but she avoids the blow.

The second thug, a skinny, wirey, weasel-like brute, swings at Grundy. His club connects, the blow glancing off Grundy’s helmet, dizzying the young soldier’s vision. [Grundy takes 1W from the head blow.]

The third thug, a one-eyed brute with a gaping, uncovered eyehole, swings his club at the dwarf but misses completely.

Grundy draws his sword and swings at the skinny thug but misses completely in the chaos of the melee.

Hammerstine swings his axe with an enraged scream but misses completely!

Shal, now comfortably ensconced in a windowsill above the alley, aims his crossbow at the lead thug but the bolt thuds harmlessly into the fence opposite. He prepares to reload.

Elya screams up at Shal. “Watch it, you’ll hit us!” She thrusts her blade up at the lead thug but he bats her arm aside.

Sonja’s sword thrusts into the lead thug, wounding him badly [He takes 5 damage, and is now has 1 Wound remaining]. Her sword is coated with his blood.

Desperately, he swings his club at her but misses; the one-eyed thug also swings at Hammerstine but fails to hit the dwarf.

Grundy lands a mighty blow on the skinny thug, slicing thickly into his shoulder. Hammerstine swings his axe at the one-eyed thug but is jostled in the alley and can’t connect.

This whole time, Barthas cowers against the alley wall, crying, “I’m a man of peace! A man of peace!” as Eliza chuckles good-naturedly, crouching beside him, seemingly unintimidated by the brawl. “These streets are dangerous after dark,” she opines, her rotten breath filling Barthas’ nostrils.

Shal again fires his crossbow but fails to connect—another bolt whizzes into the alley fence.

Elya and Sonja both miss with their next swings as the lead thug fights furiously. He tries to hit Elya but fails to connect. His companions also miss in their attacks on Grundy and Hammerstine; at this point they must be wondering if this ambush was worth the effort. Grundy and Hammerstine, however, also whiff on their attacks. It’s a clumsy, chaotic fight in the dark alley.

Shal again fires his crossbow at the large thug leader, connecting with his leg—a critical hit! The heavy crossbow bolt slices through the upper leg and into the pelvis, puncturing the lower abdomen. Blood sprays out of the wound and the thug collapses, dying almost instantly from shock and blood loss. [Critical hit!]

“Fuck this!” the skinny thug cries. Horrified, he and his one-eyed partner turn to run. But Grundy swings his sword at the fleeing skinny thug and severs his arm at the shoulder, blood pouring from the ruined stump. The skinny thug dies instantly, the arm dangling by a thin strip of flesh, the wound gushing blood from a gruesome stump of bone and gristle. [Critical hit!]

Hammerstine also connects on the fleeing one-eyed thug, his axe slicing the thug’s left arm, but the damage is superficial and the thug escapes up the alley, a horrified wailing escaping his lungs the whole way.

From the pockets of the dead men, Elya retrieves 17 shillings. “We’re rich,” she says drily. She tells the others they’ll split the coins at the brothel.

Barthas is still trembling against the wall, covering his eyes. Shal jumps down from the second-story windowsill and retrieves his crossbow bolts, not even blinking an eye as he pulls the one bloody bolt from the dead man’s upper thigh. He wipes the blood on the man’s tunic.

Hammerstine glares at Barthas. “Coward!”

“I’m a man of peace!” Barthas blubbers.

“Men of peace end in pieces,” Hammerstine snarls.

Sonja can’t help but laugh. “Have you been saving that line for a moment like this?”

“We should get moving,” Shal says, “before the Night’s Watch arrive—or before that scum returns with greater numbers.”

The party agrees. With no injuries other than a minor flesh wound to Grundy’s shoulder (1W) the party continues up the darkened alley to Madam Lefear’s.

TO BE CONTINUED
 
Last edited:

DJChallix

Gygaxian Gen-Xer
Validated User
I'm delighted to see some interest brewing in this thread! Just a short session today of planning and preparation. Only one dice roll, and that a failed Bargain test. Read on . . .


Episode 3: Trappings

Our vagabond PCs:

Barthas Klump (Human male student)
Shal Shem Shirestockings (Halfling male footpad)
Elya the Orphan (Human female entertainer-fire eater)
Grundog Hammerstine (Dwarf male builder’s apprentice)
Sonja Bargerian (Human female outrider)
Grundy Smithson (Human male soldier)

The brothel is shabby and run-down but not quite as filthy as the PCs feared. As they enter the common room, lit by a dimly-burning candle and containing ripped couches and stained cushions, they are confronted by the proprietor, Madame Lefear.

Madame Lefear, quite possibly the plumpest, bustiest halfling woman the PCs have ever seen, glares at Shal for bringing six scruffy ruffians in her lobby, one of whom is clearly a half-crazed beggar woman. “If you’re thinkin’ of havin’ a late-night romp, you’re all outta luck. Got a nasty case of the Ichor Itch goin’ around—all the girls are outta service.” She stands with her hands on her hips like an angry mother.

“They’re just here to crash,” Shal says. That goes over even worse.

“This ain’t no charity, for Sigmar’s sake! Your friends stay, they pay. One Crown a piece.”

Hammerstine the dwarf laughs with disgust. “You must be shittin’ me! To crash in a whorehouse?”

Shal winces as Madame screams, “THIS AIN’T SO COMMON WHOREHOUSE! THIS IS A RESPECTABLE ESTABLISHMENT! Tell ya what. Yer so high ‘n mighty you can pay TWO Crowns apiece.” She crosses her arms, face red with anger.

Shal says to the others, “Give us a minute, will you?” He gives the dwarf a dirty look as he leads Madame Lefear to one corner to talk in private. He’s been her tenant a long time and tries to convince her to forgive his rude hoodlum friend and to give everyone a break on the cost of staying the night. [Fel=45; Roll=72] But Madame Lefear is unimpressed and glares at Shal. “Two crowns apiece, or nothin’.”

His charm offensive failing badly, Shal calls Barthas over and convinces the student to share the expense with him. Barthas badly wants to keep the party together; he’s afraid that if they leave to find their own accommodations they may simply lose interest and not reassemble in the morning and his dream of investigating the necromancer’s ring will come to nothing since he dares not descend into the Drakwald on his own. He needs the others, especially Grundy, Sonja, and Hammerstine, all of whom can obviously fight. Shal also wants the expedition to get off the ground and he doesn’t want to antagonist his landlady anymore than he already has. Together they come up with 12 Gold Crowns for Shal’s six guests.

“It’s highway robbery, but we’ll make ten times that when we sell this ring. And who knows what other treasure we may find?” Barthas tells Shal as they make their way back to the party.

Thus it is that our adventurers find themselves sleeping uneasily in a cramped common room in a brothel. The couches are surprisingly comfortable and the room is warm, if a bit stuffy.

In the morning the PCs make their plans.

They draw up a list of equipment they think they will need to conduct an effective treasure hunt:
3 large sacks (2GC, 4Sh)
10 torches (10Sh)
Tinderbox (1GC, 10Sh)
1 grappling hook (4GC)
1 rope, 20 yards (5GC)
1 spade, iron edge (1GC, 5Sh)

Total cost = 14GC, 9Sh

The PCs also decide to take the chairlift down the cliff, as it is much faster than going through the gate and travelling down the long, winding viaduct road to the forest floor, then having to double back to the base of the cliffs at ground level. Based on their equipment, Sonja (who uses the chairlift regularly), estimates they’ll have to pay 5 Shillings each, bringing their total expenses to 14GC, 14Sh.

Turns out the party had completely forgotten about the 17 shillings they took from the dead thugs last night. Elya divides the spoils, giving every combatant 3 shillings, and Eliza 2, just to keep her happy. Elya then makes a big deal about looking at Barthas and saying, “None for you.” He blushes and fidgets with his cloak in embarrassment.

Madame Lefear stares at the party sourly as they leave while Shal makes a mental note to look for a new place to live. It takes the party about an hour to buy the equipment they need and make their way to the chairlift terminal for their descent . . .

TO BE CONTINUED
 

DJChallix

Gygaxian Gen-Xer
Validated User
Episode 4: Among the Rags and Bones of the Dead

Our rag-picking PCs:

Barthas Klump (Human male student)
Shal Shem Shirestockings (Halfling male footpad)
Elya the Orphan (Human female entertainer-fire eater)
Grundog Hammerstine (Dwarf male builder’s apprentice)
Sonja Bargerian (Human female outrider)
Grundy Smithson (Human male soldier)

Another busy morning at the chairlift terminus. The guards are bored and barely glance at the party once they pay their fare—the tight scrutiny and almost paranoid security of former years is a thing of the past as the city has been slowly but steadily descending into decadence for years. The chair holds four so the party descends in two groups. The rickety wooden chair sways in the wind as the pully slowly turns and Barthas barely suppresses the need to vomit. [Cl=30; Roll=30] He silently thanks the Mother that he doesn’t throw up (he is a secret follower of the Old Faith). He dreads the thought of his new-found colleagues showing contempt for him yet again.

As the chair descends, the PCs observe the long, jagged cliffs that surround the ancient plateau. The Cliff of Sighs is at the north face of the plateau, on the other side of the chairlift ground terminus—they still have a long walk around the base of the plateau.

At last they are at the base terminus. Sonja’s estimate was slightly off—it actually cost 10 shillings each for the descent, with the exception of Eliza, who carried little other than the clothes on her back; she was charged 2 shillings.

The party walk away from the crowd at the chairlift terminus, eschewing the safety of the group and the promise of civilization offered by the wide dirt road. They step into the Drakwald, following a narrow yet well-worn path used by rag pickers who scavenge corpses at the base of the Cliff of Sighs.

“Stay alert,” Hammerstine growls, clutching his axe. “Dangerous things in the Drakwald, even this close to the city.”

Barthas swallows nervously as the other party members brandish weapons. Old Eliza chuckles, “That’s true, my loves. But stay with Eliza and she’ll keep you safe.” Whether Eliza is trying to make a joke or not isn’t clear.

The PCs make their way along the path without incident until the smell hits them, the smell of death and decay, of rotting flesh and dried blood. Then they break through the trees and step into the clearing.

The ground is littered with bones and the gristle of rotting flesh. Bits of corpses and skeletons hang in the trees. There are flies everywhere and a cold breeze blows over this forsaken ground. The smell is indescribable.

Far, far above the party the cliffs rise to the city of Middenheim—the Cliff of Sighs. The towers of the city itself are barely visible, shrouded in mist and fog.

“Nothing here but rot,” Shal says. “Why did we think this was a good idea?”

Sonja feels depressed. Is this what she’s become, a common rag picker?

Barthas looks at Eliza. “Show us.”

Snickering, Eliza scrambles over to the base of one of the smaller trees. “Right ‘ere, luv.”

And there, on the muddy ground, is a severed finger. It is grey and mottled and resembles a thick, dried-up worm.

“I don’t understand,” Barthas says. “Where’s the body?”

Eliza chuckles. “There was no body, luv. Just the finger, heh heh.”

“I’m starting to wonder what the hell I’m doing here,” Hammerstine grumbles, angrily waving flies away from his face.

Shal brandishes his crossbow, nervously watching the treeline.

“Wait, this doesn’t make sense,” Barthas says. He looks up the side of the cliff, as if hoping for clues to fall from above.

“Maybe wolves or something else took the body,” Elya suggests.

“If that were the case you’d expect the finger would be gone too,” Grundy says. Standing beside Shal he too closely watches the treeline.

“There’s got to be more going on here,” Barthas insists. “We need to spread out and search this area.”

“Search for what?” Hammerstine says irritably.

“Clues, anything,” Barthas says. “It doesn’t make sense that there was one finger wearing this ring all by itself at the base of that tree.”

The search begins. Every character brandishes a weapon as they search, with the exception of Barthas, who searches eagerly on hands and knees with both hands pushing away dead bodies and picking through shrubs, and Eliza, who carries no weapon and seems to find the whole thing rather amusing.

Then Hammerstine the dwarf, searching along the rock face at the base of the cliff, is attacked by bloodsedge! The vicious shrub comes to life as the Hammerstine gets too close and one of its branches lashes out, raking the dwarf for 4W damage! The branch ensnares Hammerstine, wrapping around his waist like a tentacle, then drags him along the ground like a child’s toy. His arms are free, and he swings his axe desperately as he is pulled along the ground.

“Devil plant!” he screams. But he misses his swing!

“Shit!” Grundy runs towards the plant brandishing his sword, then stops as he realizes—as all the PCs do—that the entire area at the base of the cliff is infested with bloodsedge.

“Don’t get too close!” Shal yells out. He aims his crossbow at the trunk of the shrub that has ensnared Grundog Hammerstine. He fires, but misses!

Any PCs that step into melee range to assist Hammerstine risk being attacked by other bloodsedge—there seem to be at least half a dozen of the nasty plants clustered at the base of the cliff.

Sonja drops her sword and takes out her bow, knocking an arrow.

Elya, who carries the torches and tinderbox in a backpack, drops her backpack and rummages through it, pulling out a torch. Desperately, she tries to light it.

Now pulled underneath the shrub, Hammerstine is squeezed for another 1W damage. He swings his axe again! This time, a solid hit as he chops into the thick roots at the base of the bloodsedge! [WS=39;Roll=03] The plant squeals like a pig as green ichor spurts from its wound and the branch quickly releases the dwarf. Hammerstine crawls back to his fellows. He is down to 3W (from 8), shaken and weakened, but not seriously injured.

Sonja lowers her bow as Elya lights a torch. She tosses it at the bloodsedge as the entire colony begins to burn, screaming in a perverse approximation to pain as thick, oily smoke curls up and crawls along the cliff face.

As the bloodsedge colony burns, the characters notice a strange shimmering effect on the cliff wall directly behind the fire. This is more than a heat shimmer.

Barthas picks up a rock and throws it at the cliff wall, and the rock passes right through the illusory rock face. An illusion, concealing the entrance to a cave!

“The bloodsedge was probably guarding that entrance,” Shal says, looking at the shimmering illusion in wonder. As the fire of bloodsedge colony dies down the shimmer of the illusion fades.

Sonja throws a rock as well, and it too passes through the false rock wall, which now appears solid once more.

“This is what we’ve been looking for,” Barthas says, his eyes shining with amazement and wonder . . .

TO BE CONTINUED
 
Last edited:

DJChallix

Gygaxian Gen-Xer
Validated User
*** Quick Update ***

Have a big session planned for tomorrow (Saturday), so next update should be up by Sunday morning (Pacific Standard Time) . . .
 
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