Darkest Dungeons in the World Between: Arrival

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Martin the Leper, Vance the Crusader, and Galatea the Vestal were sent from the Church of the Lady in Trivium to assist a local baron with a troublesome settlement up in the mountains. Centuries ago, the noble responsible for the small town of Zellanta delved into the occult and accidentally opened a gate to the World Below just a crack.

The energy flowing from that crack, called the Encroachment, mutated everything it touched. It took a long time to spread, but it is now creating quite an unstable presence in the area. The baron (who is almost certainly a vampire) contacted the church to give them a chance to work out their evil-smashing zeal in an environment that doesn’t threaten those in power.

Bumpy Ride

The crazy coach driver barreled along unsafe roads, heading towards the tiny settlement up in the mountains. Rounding a corner, they saw a fallen tree ambush, and the coach was wrecked. They climbed out, ready for trouble, and faced off with a pack of zealous bandits.

Vance took a blow to the head that knocked him senseless, and Martin leaped into the fray and was subdued by four-to-one odds. Galatea surrendered. They were all disarmed and dragged through the woods to meet with the leader.

The impossibly huge bandit with his knotted rope flail held court in a clearing, his throne fashioned from the cascading tap roots of a vast tree. He gloated that they would be killed if they wanted to continue, but the bandits would release them at the road if they would leave, never to return. The leper stung the bandit leader’s pride with a harsh speech, and the bandit agreed to single combat. They fought viciously, and the leper was knocked down, but Galatea managed a surreptitious healing and Martin got up, fighting on to win the battle.

The bandits had a morale failure, and fled. Galatea used crackling divine light to knock down the bandit with her mace, and Vance chanted prayers at the one carrying his sword, flaring holy energy through the Encroachment surrounding the unfortunate mutant, who collapsed. As they escaped, the invaders managed to grab a heavy sack of silver that belonged to the bandit leader. Then they escaped back to the road, cut some coach horses loose, and rode them into town.

Town

They checked in with the coach driver, who somehow managed to get back to town before they did. They took in the sight of the pretty much ruined town, then checked in to the tavern. While drinking, they were visited by the eerie Caretaker, who told them there was a 10% tax on earned treasure.

After a good night’s sleep, they visited the church. Its presence repelled the Encroachment, so the town was relatively safe. They met the weedy, nervous abbot. They talked about the past. Apparently the baron sent a garrison of troops to the town, but their leaders fell to the Encroachment, and now they are bandits, cultists, and worse, mutated by the corrupting mists.

He told them the Encroachment tended to gravitate around a node, usually an altar or statue or something like that. Then it would swell, and send out feelers to the next node. Did they see anything like that? They figured something might have been behind the roots.

After a short worship to prepare body and soul, they ventured forth.

Short Mission

They headed back down the road. A contingent of bandits ambushed them, but they were ready this time, and they slashed through the bandits in short order. Vance took the blunderbuss that was fired at them, a weapon and a trophy.

Outpacing the incoming reinforcements, they got to the ambush site, and then into the forest, before the clotted weird wolves caught up to them. They slaughtered their way out of that predicament, and found themselves on the hill overlooking the box.

Below, exhausted bandits were cutting themselves and conducting a ritual, smearing their blood on an idol of a tentacle. A grim cult priest looked on. As the bandits saw the invaders, they rushed into battle, to be blown away by the blunderbuss; in their weakened state, it carved a swathe through them.

The cult leader assaulted them to be felled in one mighty blow. The invaders quickly went to the idol and smashed it, keeping a piece to show the abbot. Then they withdrew, slipping past the disoriented and dismayed bandits to reach town safely.

They were well paid for their work, and more tasks were sure to rise for them soon.

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Silent Legions: A Pulse, Pounding (Session 4)

Silent Legions, Grifton, 2

They stood regarding the abandoned Sears department store/mall. Terry knew he had to go in, to follow the series of strange impulses that led him here. Truc had to go in, to look after his buddies and face down this thing menacing his home. Dr. Jones had to go in, because if things got bad on a broader scope he would see it in his clinic. Lawrence looked at the others, and reached his limit; whether they ran into law enforcement because of this jaunt, or criminals, either way they’d need someone on the outside to help them get clear. He drove off, instead of going into the ruin.

Let’s All Go to Sears

Truc got them through the padlocked fence, and they strolled around the exterior looking for signs of activity. The loading dock had tire tracks, and a wireless security camera, recently added. Not wanting to be seen, they climbed a tree to get on the awning of an unused entrance, up to the roof. There they found signs of a foot patrol, so they got away from that and got to one of the roof access points that was unused.

Truc struggled with the lock, and someone was coming with a flashlight, along the route. He got the lock open, and threw a rock to distract the patrol, then they all ducked inside. Down the stairs, and they were in the back of a shoe department. Truc remembered getting shoes here as a kid; the Sears closed 15 years ago.

They jacked up the security door and crept out into the abandoned department store. Breaking into an area that had an internal staircase, less likely to be guarded, they headed down.

Guardians

They paused when they saw two guards below with walkie talkies. One also had a shotgun. They talked about the “package” being secure. Dr. Jones and Terry crept down the escalator, in position, and Truc got one of the mannequins left in the store, positioned it like it fell, and rolled its head down the escalator. (The power was off in the building.)

One guard went up the stairs to investigate. He growled, and sniffed?! His eyes glowed green. He was armed with a knife, and dressed with leftovers scrounged from the Sears (fashions 15+ years old.) He closed in on Truc’s hiding place.

Meanwhile, the others jumped the guard with the shotgun. Terry wrestled it away from him before Dr. Jones sailed in with his kung fu and knocked the guard out cold. The upstairs guard went to the top of the stairs to see what was going on, and Truc body checked him to tumble down. The guard caught himself halfway, and Truc landed a massive uppercut on him that hurled him down the rest of the way to break his neck as he landed.

His blood was iridescent green, and he smelled like cleaning supplies and a septic tank. They took the guns and radios, and continued downstairs.

Backup

The radio squawked, follow up to the guards calling in a disturbance, asking if it was sorted out. Truc tried to cough and obscure a response, and the radios were switched to alternate channels. They looked for a place to quickly hide, and Truc found a pile of stacked corpses under a tarp that weren’t decomposing normally, but were withering and mummifying.

They were still hiding when three guards came by; one was huge, with the glowing green eyes; another was weedy, but with the glowing eyes; the third was a guy with a ball cap, flak vest, and submachine gun.

The fight was short and sharp. The thin weirdo was shot but escaped to report back. The guy with the vest and submachine gun was shot down before he could do much. The big guy, on the other hand, brutally attacked the intruders. Also, one of his arms elongated through the flesh and became a claw, and his face opened up to reveal a mass of vileness behind it. Still, masses of gunfire put him down.

Truc had been smacked around pretty good, and Dr. Jones had some sort of projectiles lodged in his chest from the weirdo who ran away. They found a spot to treat their wounds, and a woman came to talk to them. One of the weird things she said was that she wasn’t all there. She just wanted to talk, or so she said, but Terry tried to shoot her down. His shaky hands betrayed him, only winging her, but Truc leaned out of hiding and shot her square. She fell over.

Terry approached her, and he was ready for it; she popped up and he gunned her down with the submachine gun.

The Theater

After they were quickly patched up, they headed into the underground theater. Sneaking up to the projection booth, they saw that two of the theaters were used as drug labs, the other two as storage for a massive shipment of Gangplank. They were checking out the film room, finding nothing flammable–except it was also the armory, with shotguns, submachine guns, pistols, and grenades. They wondered where the “package” was.

A man in the hallway answered them; it’s in the pet shop. They pivoted to see Jim Gunderson, dressed in a white suit and pink shirt, barefoot. He explained he was getting revenge on the one who killed him. They were confused, and he remembered they were seeing his shell; he revealed his true appearance to them, which was utterly revolting (but somewhat matched the charcoal sketch from Gunderson’s dream.)

Enough talk! They opened fire on him, and snatched at the armory supplies. He was knocked down, but his blood was reluctant to leave him. They ran for it, and he casually pursued.

The Pet Shop

Rushing into the stinky abandoned pet shop they shot the guards looking after it, with Gunderson right behind them. They found a man in a suit chained to a chair; breaking the chair was easier than dealing with the chains.

The man said he was Ralf Singleton, a lawyer with Singleton, Rye, and Oaks, with offices Downtown; he claimed to have no idea why this crazy guy was after him. Thinking fast as they broke him out, they figured he was probably the lawyer that denied Jim treatment.

Then Jim was on his way into the pet shop. Ralf said there was an elevator to get out the back way, into the parking garage. He told them he’d hold the coming monster off, buy them time; at that point they realized he might not just be a lawyer. Terry challenged him on it, and looked into the man’s eyes–they were terrifying, for just a moment. A paralyzing gaze. And the man muttered that he was starving and this was NOT a good time to challenge him. Then he took a few steps–and pretty much disappeared into thin air.

The Escape

Swearing, they ran for it. As they dashed up the stairwell by the freight elevator, some guards pursued. They tossed a grenade down the stairwell before banging out, sending casing fragments propelled at high speed around the concrete chimney. They gunned down the guy in the parking garage. He was guarding a taxi, a way to get around the city invisibly.

As they were making their adrenaline-fueled getaway, Terry was distracted for a moment. He took a few steps, and saw off to the side, a chughole with water in it. It was the same hole that had filled him with dread in his lucid dream. It matched the charcoal sketch. Something about that hole–

And Truc grabbed him and tossed him into the back of the cab as Terry laughed uncontrollably. They escaped, driving all the way to the university campus.

Aftermath

In the days that followed, they retrieved their vehicles from the parking lot across from the Sears ruin. Some smoke came out of it, but no first responders bothered with it. Nothing showed up on the news. It was like the whole surreal assault was a dream, unseen by the waking world. They all returned to their duties, and life went on.

However, Gangplank’s price skyrocketed as the supply dried up. Few could get enough to manage any long term abuse. The Shambles Crossroaders returned to their relative insignificance, and no gang war erupted. Dreams were quiet and personal reserves of helpless reaction once again. Ralf Singleton was back at work like nothing ever happened.

Terry, Truc, and Dr. Jones felt the touch of something otherworldly. They have reason to doubt that other world will leave them alone now. A cold caution underlies their days and nights as they find a new normal–one that isn’t.

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WARHAMMER. Goblins Are a Problem.

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The adventurers included:

  • Othric. A dwarven pharmacist.
  • Thorgrim. A dwarven mercenary.
  • Sevn. A dwarven slayer, beyond redemption and seeking a good death.
  • Kurt Semmler. A human outrider, messenger and courier for the College.
  • Marise Devereaux. A Bretonnian noble, training to join the musketeers.
  • Ozmont “Ozzie” Kel. A saucy bawd.

Marise got a mission from her musketeer contact. Turns out a woman named Mellria lived in a small village on the river Aver named Watersedge. Mellria was the unclaimed child of someone important, who kept an eye on her and protected her anonymity; even Mellria herself did not know one of her parents was important. The village was under threat from goblins, and Mellria’s patron wanted to make sure she was safe, without appearing to take an interest at all.So, Marise was sent to pretend to be family to Mellria, and see about thwarting the goblin menace to the village.

Marise went to the Sprocket, the ramshackle tavern on the College grounds, and recruited some people she’d worked with before. She had a war chest for the mission, and authorization to pay them 50 gold each for their (discreet) help.

Meanwhile, they had bought various supplies; mostly more armor, but Sevn bought a bandoleer of healing draughts, and Thorgrim asked others to chip in, so he could buy a cart horse named Sparklestep and a cart for the horse to draw. Watersedge was only a day’s ride away, so they headed out bright and early and got there as darkness and snow fell.

Looking Around Town

After a young teen let them in past the ramshackle “palisade” they went to the tavern, the Gauntlet. There they saw a road warden deep in his cups after a days-long bender, and they met the mayor and tavern owner, Gladstock.

They asked after Mellria’s whereabouts, and he was suspicious of that, so they switched over to asking about the goblin troubles. Apparently goblins attacked the north pasture, trying to erect a totem pole. They were surprised and chased off, but their shaman was distracted, and they captured him. He was a troublesome captive.

They went to see the captive goblin shaman. Four children were helping guard him, smashing the spiders he attracted as they came in. He was hanging upside down with a “disk of shame” to keep him from chewing through his restraints or captors.

Apparently a kid named Savellek saw goblins doing something at the bank of the river bend, but no one was interested. The newcomers were, so Savellek was called in to meet them back at the Gauntlet. The dwarves and Ozzie would go check out the river bend, and Marise and Kurt would go check on Mellria.

The River Bend

They snuck to see the river bend, and saw a few spider riding goblins and other forest goblins, and a shaman. They had a hole in the riverbank, and they were dumping in baskets of fish, then crooning and crying and singing into the hole. Weird.

It occurred to them that nobody knows where trolls come from, not really. Could this be a summoning? They snuck back undetected.

Mellria

She ran a clinic/knacker’s yard, and when they dropped in she was skinning a pig corpse. Marise told her that she was on a research mission to find a lost Bretonnian questing knight who moved through here decades ago; she guessed Mellria’s age at early 20s, so aimed for that time frame. Any legends or mysterious burial sites?

Marise figured she was here representing someone named Flint, and turned her down; she was baffled by that implication, and stuck with the knight story. Marise didn’t know of anything, but referred her to the mayor.

The adventurers got a good night sleep, standing watches and squishing spiders, and figured their next moves in the morning.

Showdown on the River Bend

First things first. With the mayor’s permission, they executed the captive shaman and burned the corpse and all its spiders.

Then they purchased the town’s supply of lamp oil through Ozzie’s generosity. They put some in bottles, for Kurt to carry.

Then they headed to the river bend to scout it out by light of day. They found a rupture in the earth, where something big pushed out, just inland of the tunnel. The hole smelled foul, with fish pressed in the mud here and there.

Following the tracks, they came to a shallow shoreline, where the river troll squatted by the water fishing, looking like a boulder until he moved. They also saw the shaman in the woods, his arm in a sling, looked after by some spider riders; apparently they summoned the troll, but negotiations for alliance were…ongoing.

Sevn charged the troll, with Ozzie and Thorgrim trotting along in his wake, and the others in the safety of the tree line. The troll leaped at Sevn, but didn’t connect with its attacks, and he mauled it fiercely. Thorgrim finished the troll off with his hammer, but broke the hip bone, rupturing the belly hide; acid sprayed all over the two dwarves, ruining their gear and threatening their lives.

Still, the troll was down. It tried to crawl into the water, but Thorgrim’s mighty thewes helped him prevent its escape. The containers of healing draught across Sevn’s chest were melted, and the magical liquid boiled with the foul acid, and healed him somewhat even as they ran all over the powerful acid and his torso and his melting armor.

The rest of the adventurers moved to help, Othric lighting the bottle firebombs and handing them to Kurt, who threw them at the troll; several missed or bounced off before one burst and set off a merry flame. They managed to drag the troll out further, and use the rest of the oil to spread the flame. The troll would not rise.

Wrapping It Up

While Thorgrim and Sevn both wanted to make lewd and challenging gestures to the goblins in the trees, the others restrained or prevented that activity, not wanting to turn this into a direct confrontation.

Ozzie approached the goblins, and told them more dwarves were coming; the shaman concluded that this was not an ideal site after all, and they would find another place to winter.

Victorious, they burned the troll corpse some more to be sure, then sold the rest of the lamp oil back to the village. There was a pathetic celebration for a day; the town was too poor to offer much. They stayed for a few days to make sure the goblins weren’t just outwaiting them, and they put some effort into offering suggestions for how to “fix” some of the fortifications.

Then they headed back to town, victorious, and got paid.

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Silent Legions: A Pulse, Pounding (Session 3)

Silent Legions, Grifton, 2

After a good day’s work, they split up, and went about their investigations in the morning.

Morning Investigations

Terry could take it easy at work, as he had a brand new enthusiastic partner, Kelsey Dumont, from rural Wisconsin. She was learning how things work in Grifton. He dug for what he could find on Jim Gunderson, and narrowed down from 8 in Grifton to a handful. He noted one of them was only in the system for a parking ticket at the University. Pursuing that further, he found an address in Kelsen Estates, and found he used to work at the same slaughterhouse as Truc, the Savnitz Meatworks. Oh, and he was under massive student loans (which he still owned) and about $15,000 that was in the hands of collection agencies. His wages were garnished to pay on that.

Truc went to work at the Savnitz Meatworks, and asked around to see if anyone there knew Jim Gunderson. One toothless old-timer that worked the front desk remembered him (in HR there was such high turnover that no one was still there from three years ago.) Gunderson was a college kid from a middle class or maybe upper class background, and try as he might, he never fit in or made friends. Then, like most do, he just quit one day and disappeared.

Doctor Jones spent the morning researching the drug. After a mind-melting four hours of sifting academic blogs and forums and web sites he found an argument about neural processing that linked to the thesis Jim Gunderson wrote in his post-graduate work. Something about using chemicals to change the brain’s processing capacity and activating bio-processing, like the placebo effect, as a force multiplier for chemical intervention. Theoretically, of course.

Lawrence checked in with some underworld contacts to see what the story was with Mr. Swan. He found that the tough guy had killed someone with a pair of bricks a month ago (just a fun fact) and people figure he’s working for the Underground, as usual, and is a deniable part of their inevitable bid to take control of Gangplank from the Shambles Crossroaders.

The investigators made extensive use of text messaging to keep each other appraised of their efforts.

Afternoon Investigations

In the afternoon, Truc checked around shift managers and finally found the guy who managed Gunderson. He verified that the kid kept to himself, and didn’t leave a forwarding address when he disappeared. He didn’t go to any of the other slaughterhouses; people figured he probably went home, wherever that was, or overdosed and died in a gutter. Whatever. He was smart–kind of too smart.

Doctor Jones spent hours processing the Gunderson paper so he could put it in layman’s terms and understand what the paper’s implications might be. Gunderson linked the neural capacity of the brain to process bioelectric energy to moisture in the atmosphere, relative to the heat of the air. If the air was warm, it could hold exponentially more water, and if the brain was properly prepared, it could process far more than usual. His intended applications were to assist in gene therapy and use bioelectric feedback to aid in healing.

Lawrence checked into Jacobson. As far as anyone knew, he disappeared off the grid and crawled into a bottle. No real enemies, no new friends, he was in a flophouse drinking himself to death. Lawrence got the address.

After Truc got off work, he and Lawrence checked in with Irwin, who seemed troubled. They decided to have something on hand to cheer him up, if that would help.

Lawrence checked in with Pink Spot by texting with an underling. He agreed to do a favor for Pink Spot, which was to get a cargo van out of police impound without drawing attention to it for a more thorough search. In exchange, Pink Spot’s underlings would throw a post-fight party for Truc, with spray paint and booze in the basement of an abandoned slaughterhouse they could decorate with the paint.

So, they approached him, and found he was concerned about some new distribution plan. Truc insisted he wanted to know more about the drug and its source. Against his instructions, Irwin confided that there was a sub-contractor who sent the drugs in a truck, where it was swapped out for money, every two weeks. Very anonymous and hush hush. Truc wanted Irwin to put in a good word for him so he could maybe be security for this contractor, and Irwin enthusiastically agreed. And, he looked forward to the after-fight party, too! He could go with Lawrence to make sure a reluctant Truc had a great time.

Jacobson

Terry got the address for Jacobson and went to pay him a visit. The former bodyguard wasn’t home, but a friendly and easily bribed maid told him to check the Medusa, a very nearby hole-in-the-wall bar.

When Terry arrived, loan shark goons were preparing to do something terrible to Jacobson. Terry intervened with his badge, to borrow Jacobson, who went back to the bathroom with the detective in tow. Since the building was old, and subdivided from a previous bigger building, there was a back door in the men’s room, so they escaped to a nearby alley. There, Terry admitted he was looking to stop Gangplank, and tested the waters to see what spooked Jacobson into leaving the Shambles Crossroaders.

First the drunk rambled something about how a wall is not monolithic, it’s made of bricks and mortar in some kind of order. But even those smaller things are made of molecules, which are mostly energy and empty space. Similarly, the world looks one way to people who don’t know better, and as a career criminal he knows the bricks and mortar and order that hold the world together. But he saw behind that, behind the curtain, to the deeper level. The world is going to be destroyed, it’s already too late. He rambled something about how dreams are important to have, but only while asleep, and something about turning the curtain inside out so dreams walk the earth.

Terry asked how to stop it, and Jacobson’s despair was revealed; he suggested the intervening barrier was already broken and it was a matter of very little time; they are already here, where you least expect, among us. There may have been more creepy rambling. Jacobson certainly didn’t think Terry’s curiosity and insomnia would be fixed by diving into this stuff, but he also apparently believed the end was near enough that he could live on loan shark money for alcohol until it was over.

As a parting gift before blearily stumbling off (and taking some of Terry’s money to repair his badly damaged buzz) he said if Terry really wanted to get to the bottom of it, he should go to the Sears building.

Gunderson’s Apartment

Terry was somewhat unsettled, so he called everybody together to go with him to talk to the super for Gunderson’s last known address. He quit paying rent 8 months ago, but apparently it was not a desirable apartment, so his stuff was all still there.

They all put on “GPD” windbreakers to go with Terry, and the building super let them into the apartment in the depressing basement of a somewhat ruined (but overoccupied) apartment building.

Truc found all sorts of things while pretending he didn’t know what he was doing. The others helped sift and sort. It was dark in the apartment, so they all used the flashlights on their cell phones.

Truc went through a crate of bills, seeing how they all defaulted. Apparently Gunderson struggled with narcolepsy, and insomnia, so they did a sleep study to see if they could pinpoint the reason. He was also diagnosed with the early stages of brain cancer. Gunderson buckled under the debt before he could pursue treatment; the system wrote him a suicide note to sign.

He self-medicated with opiates hidden in the cushion of his duct-taped chair.

Terry skipped to the end of his dream journal, where he wrote about going to meet the Reflection, as Alice went down the rabbit hole, to put an end to all this. There were three months of entries, but that was the end.

Truc also found an unregistered revolver, and a rolled-up sheaf of charcoal drawings on foolscap. He took that out into the hall where there was light, and unrolled it, finding pages and pages of formula and proverbs scrawled together, and three pictures; a neat suit and tie with a glob covered in white circles where the head would be, called “Reflection.” A snake eye, with a human head and snake head overlapping to both use it. And a picture of a puddle, in a cracked floor.

They gathered their stuff, and headed across the street to where they parked. But Terry hesitated, coping with an odd feeling of foreboding, and looked back.

Across the alley street from the apartment building was the darkened bulk of a long-abandoned Sears building.

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Blades in the Dark: The Spoilers

BitD Title_01 by James Dudli

greater kc rpg day

Five bold scoundrels came together to form a crew that was eventually named The Spoilers by an enemy.

  • Thena Farros. Lurk.
  • Kavros “The Doctor.” Leech.
  • Crawl “Whip” Slane. Cutter.
  • Xander “Thril” Vale. Slide.
  • Bricks “Skinner” Maradon. Hound.

They formed a crew of thieves skilled in working together in group actions, and proud to sponsor a gang of shadows led by a gangly Skovlander scarecrow named Pockets. The gang was adamant about not targeting Skovlanders, and it was savage, but the gang was also very loyal and able to operate independently with good decision making. They based their operations out of Adelaide Phroaig’s nearly empty mansion; the Phroaig family and the Vale family were both powerful once, and both fell on hard times; now it’s a grim satisfaction to loot the world as it crumbles around the aristocracy.

Bombing Baz

Mylera Klev called them in for a consult; she wanted to know where their allegiance lay, and they promised it to her instead of the Lampblacks. Very good! She gave them a box, and orders to put it in the coach with Baz. It would destroy him, and get his pathetic crew in trouble with the spirit wardens. They agreed. First they did some checking around.

  • The Doctor checked to see how the box would be triggered and how it worked. He found it was tied to some biological material from Baz that was locked into the Ghost Field to interact with his proximity to open the box stuffed with mad spirits (“like the spirits of those he ruined” as Mylera put it so poetically.) He also saw the hallmarks of the work of Kymar Schmidt, a spiritworker who disappeared 6 months ago after being dragged from a spherical saferoom in one of the Dimmer Sisters’ properties. Maybe he didn’t want to know that.
  • Skinner staked out the home base to see where the coach went; only two places, to the hagfish races and to the occasional noble party. Security in either place was pretty good, but not really THAT good.

After a little more investigation, the crew decided this heist was too easy for them. They assigned it to their gang of shadows, and Pockets carried it out easily. They decided to stage the explosive at the hagfish races carriage park rather than an aristocrat’s carriage park, so the Crows would be upset with the Red Sashes, but nothing unmanageable.

Later reports said Baz was blown up so badly by the box that his teeth were embedded all over the interior, and his ribs and spine had to be removed from the wood behind the cushions with a prybar. Bye Bye Baz! Factional infighting in the Lampblacks ran rampant, and the Spoilers got paid.

The Cleftbank Station Heist

Mylara was impressed enough to summon them back (and everyone went but Farros, who hung back in case someone needed to rescue the rest of the crew.) After a celebratory drink that was apparently just good wine, they got another job.

Lampblacks had a faction at the Cleftbank Station, where they used to refill coal wagons and store lamp oil. A treasury of stolen art from the Red Sash temple dojos is supposed to be hidden there; bring it back, and get paid in coin. They took the job.

  • Skinner staked the place out and noted that there was between 15 and 30 people there at all times. The station had a makeshift clinic for battered Lampblacks, regular mealtimes for members and their families, a place for the local extortionists to drop off their daily take and rest a bit, and so on. Three stories tall, with dormer windows, to help the fumes disperse.
  • Thril wanted a look inside, so he disguised himself as Laudius Strathmidt, important Lampblack from Coal Ridge. He fooled the leader, Two-Limp Switcher, who hobbled around with a crutch containing a single blast of gunfire and a concealed blade. Switcher ordered his thug to allow Thril to inspect the stash. They went behind the center tank, down a trap door, under a tank, up a ladder, through a trapdoor, into the tank where the paintings and statues were kept. Very good!
  • The Doctor brewed up three vials of a knock-out gas, with chemicals in it that would cause long-term problems with bloody coughing and bone cancer because of his own amusement at sadistic health problems.
  • The others found out the cabbies would be stealing a noble coach and driving it to the Cleftbank Station, where they pre-negotiated having some time and space to repaint and modify it to look like one of their coaches. The group decided that was their “in.”

Put Me In, Coach

The mighty coach was rolling along pulled by two surly war goats, and Whip (fortified by a potion to give him flesh like armor) pretended to be drunk in the street until he shot the driver. Moments later, the passenger on the buckboard was shot at long range by Skinner’s rifle. The crew waited until after the cabbies stole the cab, then they hit the cabbies.

With no instruction, the goats started getting ideas. Whip shucked his heavy demolitions gear and dashed up to the buckboard, barely taking control of the coach and driving away as whistling bluecoats closed in on the sound of gunfire. Skinner dropped from the roof and snatched the discarded tools, running for his life and staying out of bluecoat range.

He rendezvoused with the rest of the crew. Thril and Whip got on the buckboard dressed as cabbies, and Doc got inside with a heavy devilfish platter, a feast. Farros hid under the carriage, and Skinner headed to the site to get in sniping position outside–just in case.

Chaos in a Brick Box

They arrived, and Thril’s disguise was good enough that Switcher didn’t realize it was the same actor but a different role from Laudius, Lampblack big man. They were waved in to park in the corner. The coach was blue and orange with a seal of a Medusa head; it would be a relief to paint it black and modify it slightly.

Farros rolled out from underneath, snuck to the trapdoor, and got up in the tank to start moving all the art away from one side. Whip quietly moved the cutting torch over by the tank as Doc and Thril took the devilfish platter to a central location. Everyone gathered to marvel and get some of the food, clustering them tightly enough Doc’s knockout gas would work. Whip hurled it, but it landed a little short; only about half the crowd was knocked out, and hastily raised face masks saved Doc and Thril from passing out.

Previously, they posted Pockets and his crew on the roof. Now as the panicking Lampblacks looked for guidance, every leader that rose up caught a bullet from the snipers above, intensifying the chaos. Across the street, Skinner was poised to pick off high-initiative actors too.

As Doc cut through the wall of the tank, Farros finished moving the art. Time to pack it on the coach, to escape. While Farros expertly managed stacks of paintings, Whip struggled to move his; it seemed everything you could grab was greasy or an erogenous zone for the subject, no matter how fanciful. Why would anyone want this on display? Farros got some of the patina on her face and mouth accidentally, but resisted the numb effects. In the end, Whip triumphantly hauled out the final statue, muscles straining, and finished stuffing the coach with loot.

They drove out, the stolen coach swaying wildly, and raced to safety.

Next Steps

A new Lampblack faction leader emerged, named Clawhammer. He figured out who was behind the Cleftbank situation by interrogating people with a claw hammer. “Which end do you prefer?” Pockets, leader of their sneak gang, was draped on their doorstep disemboweled by a claw hammer. The crew frowned, paid for new members, and chose Quickstepper to lead the gang. Now the Lampblacks were officially at war with the Spoilers.

Doc started working on a project to make Lampblacks zombies, and to finish tweaking his long-term illness residues. The rest of the crew considered future alliances and enemies, and prepared for the next steps towards power.

Special thanks to my players, Kelsey, Josh, Joey, Nathan, and Jeff!

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Blades in the Dark: Crowfeathers

BitD Title_01 by James Dudli

greater kc rpg day

Three scoundrels formed an impromptu gang for the Crows, determined to operate as shadows, based out of a pawn shop, serving Stella.

  • Mist aka Sessereth, a Whisper known for “consorting” with ghosts. ::nudge, wink::
  • Shadow aka Wester, a Lurk known for hanging out in rafters socially, and animal-style parkour.
  • Wind aka Victor Lock, a Hound known for his vengeful streak.

Stella told them that Lady Polonia Brogan, an ugly and dull noblewoman who was widely desired because she is heir to the Brogan fortune, was upset. Lady Brogan had been seeing Dr. Crechelle, a powerful occult expert on dreams. Her agents found a fake will leaving everything to him, which steamed her something fierce. She wanted the locket she gave him retrieved.

The gang took the job, and did some background checking over the next few days.

  • Shadow found out Dr. Crechelle’s house was built on an old foundation. The Ventsworth family had a special license for a dynastic hive, keeping the spirits of nine generations instead of allowing them to be destroyed. The hive was under their mansion. Centuries ago, the mansion was leveled down to the hive basement, then a new house built on the old hive. That’s where Crechelle lives. As far as anyone knows, the Ventsworth family notables are still in the hive, and totally insane. Also, there were some new centipedes in the area, an invasive species making a mess of the local wildlife; their bite causes painful hallucinations.
  • Mist researched the Ventsworths until he found an heir to imitate. It might help in dealing with the family if he could pretend to be one of them. He even went to his witch rival (former lover) and she painted runes on his skin to help him bluff ghosts. As far as the ghosts would know, Mist would be Archibald Ventsworth.
  • Wind persuaded his buddy Veleris, the spy, to infiltrate the house. Veleris couldn’t manage it as the head of the House Guard, but he got in as a sommelier for a few days to re-certify some wines in the cellar. Veleris agreed to help if Wind would take his niece to a party; she had a reputation as an angry young woman prone to outbursts. Wind happily agreed.

Breaking the Wall

They arrived at the wall leading into the hive from the sewers. It was sheathed in inscribed metal.

Mist sank deep into meditation to pull a lightning storm around a few blocks, to cause cover and distraction. Shadow faded back into the tunnels, standing guard. That left Wind to heft his wrecking tools and try to batter his way into the hive.

As he worked, the noise attracted the attention of some centipedes the length of an arm. They reared to challenge Wind, and Shadow attacked them from behind. Apparently, the centipede blood roused a mess of them that converged on the location. When he saw that Wind had explosives and meant to collapse the tunnel, he pranced over the centipedes to get next to Wind–who was overrun by masses of centipedes. Wind pulled him out, but they were overmatched by the many-legged menaces. Both of them were bit, but doggedly resisted the hallucinations.

Wind fired guns into the mass, and Mist roused from his meditation. He quickly pulled out some arcane implements and conducted a ritual to repel the centipedes. Once they were gone and everyone had a chance to catch their breath, he resumed his ritual. (He left traces of his energy in the house arcane objects above as he pulled the storm together. He also left a taste for his energy embedded in the centipedes. Unlikely either of those problems would develop later.)

The storm was crackling and pouring above as Wind pounded away at the wall, using acid to peel away some metal plates then banging a hole in the stone beyond.

The Hive

Mist peered in, seeing many disjointed dancers and strange ballroom echoes. He was accosted by a ghost of a gay former lover for his persona, Archibald Ventsworth. He played along with the romantic reunion, even promising to do a favor for the courtier, so the courtier introduced him to the ghost at the center of the hive, the one whose will drove all things in this insane place–Auntie Sally.

Her speech was disjointed, as she was a half-step out of time, but she communicated well enough. Mist told her about the doctor’s house above, and how he wished to ruin the doctor; she liked that, as she was profoundly consumed with rage and cruelty. She agreed to grant them passage, if he would let her out. Mist agreed. The only way she could get out was to ride in a host, so they did some ballroom dancing until she slipped into him. (The other ghosts that were obliviously ballroom dancing alone had danced with her as she tore their minds to shreds, and the echo was all that was left.)

Meanwhile Shadow was struggling to survey the place, but it was a tangled and menacing mess. He attuned so he could see ghosts well enough to evade them. Left alone, Wind tried to attune to see the ghosts too, but failed; he bonded with his badger, who attuned easier as a natural creature. As long as the badger didn’t move, Wind could see.

The three rendezvoused at the far end of the hive, where there was a three story staircase shaft that had been filled in, the top sealed. They clambered to the top, and the rapidly-tiring Mist conducted a ritual to open the way without opening it to the ghosts. Shadow rapidly scouted, finding that the broken wall opened into the heavily-secured wine cellar of Dr. Crechelle. (Mist had also procured a prayer mat to temporarily seal the way they came in, so ghosts wouldn’t flood the sewer.) The badger’s connection to Wind broke as they moved past the barrier, but now they were in the house.

In the House

They saw blood stains (from interrogations maybe? Hopefully?) and a bunk bed (for secure dreaming, surely.) Wind helped himself to a couple bottles of really expensive wine, rounding out his pockets. Then he mounted the stairs and rapped on the door, and his spy friend opened the way, then retreated to resume his alias.

Wind tucked some demolitions explosives in a corner, to possibly tremble the house’s structure should they need to escape this way.

They crept into the house, looking for Crechelle’s chambers. Everything was going well until they rounded a corner and came face to face with two of the House Guard!

Wind remembered when he had dealt with his sentinel rival, purchasing two single-use silencers off her. She wanted a weekend with his badger; she liked the badger more than she liked him, and she liked putting him off balance. He grudgingly agreed.

Chances were good they were going to have a reckoning later–he pulled the trigger on his silenced pistols, and the silencers didn’t work AT ALL. Shattering booms resounded, killing the two guards as Shadow and Mist helped tackle them. Then it was all about fleeing, pell-mell, through the rousing house.

They hid, panting, in the alcoves of statues in the upper gallery of the art display area. They had a rapid hushed whisper conversation about what to do next. Shadow remembers a conversation he had with his rival, a former bluecoat, about whether there was any loose talk of what Crechelle might do if the house alarm was raised. His smirking rival confirmed that of course the old man ran for the highly secure wine cellar.

So… they decided to return to the wine cellar to set an ambush. They crept through the house, avoiding all guards, and got in position.

They waited for an hour, and… nothing.

Then they heard a weird modulating tone. The doctor had an electroplasmic dowser, seeking out powerful energy that did not belong in the house. He had the captain of the house guard with him, and he was closing in.

The End Game

Sure that the doctor was tracking Auntie Sally, Mist politely asked her to exit him. She made an agonizing wrench as she tore out through his sinuses, choosing to be visible. She blinked up to where the doctor and guard were at the top of the stairs, and there was screaming.

Feeling bold and opportunistic, Shadow darted up the stairs. He saw the doctor laid out and twitching, the guard convulsively dying with the ghosts hand in his face. He patted down the doctor, coming up with the locket (yes!) and some other jewelry. He tried to escape, but was too slow, as Auntie Sally oriented on him. Only his hastily invoked spiritbane charm bought him enough time to topple down the stairs, and with the others, race for the hole down into the hive.

Wind turned, and hurled the lantern at the explosive powder he planted earlier. It didn’t go off at once, but fire was splashed all around; it was just a matter of time.

They got to the bottom of the shaft, and realized there was no longer a controlling force managing the insane ghosts. Just then, the explosive detonated above, and fortune favored the scoundrels; the gossip ghosts oriented on it, and a vast gush of most of the ghosts piled up through the shaft and into the mansion, wreaking untold havoc as the scoundrels raced through the mostly-empty hive and escaped into the sewers.

Success! For them. The Crows had to deal with a LOT of heat for this one, and some determined and furious Spirit Wardens as well as angry aristocrats and incensed historians. Such is the life of the rogue.

Special thanks to Jeremiah, Jason, and Shawn for playing!

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WARHAMMER. Rats Are a Problem.

warhammer-fantasy-roleplay-logo

The adventurers included:

  • Othric. A dwarven pharmacist, nicknamed “Rick” by the humans.
  • Thorgrim. A dwarven mercenary.
  • Sevn. A dwarven slayer, beyond redemption and seeking a good death.
  • Kurt Semmler. A human outrider, messenger and courier for the College.
  • Marise Devereaux. A Bretonnian noble, training to join the musketeers.
  • Ozmont “Ozzie” Kel. A saucy bawd.

Othric, Thorgrim, Sevn, and Kurt had been paid 50 crowns for their efforts, and everyone was promised 100 crowns if they sorted out the problem under the Morrspark before the funeral. They talked to Mackle, and he offered them an alternate way down. They took him up on it, going into a nearby basement and down through the drain into the sewer.

Thorgrim went first, and ran into some suspicious sewer jacks. They solicted a bribe, and their leader was battered by the tiny fists of street fighters and left incapacitated as his buddies ran off. Othric treated his injury, and they compelled him to lead them.

The Back Trellis

He took them to a place called the Back Trellis, so named because of the blind plant life that swarmed over the rejected trash pile of broken rock that led up to a back entrance to where the ratmen lurked.

As they were climbing, those with acute hearing heard a high-pitched whistle. Rats boiled out of hidden lairs everywhere. Some rats overbalanced Seven and rode him like a dwarven toboggan down the rocks, while the rest of the party smashed all the other rats. Only the ones on Sevn chewed him like jerky, until he finished sorting them out. He returned to the lead position.

Skaven using slings attacked from the darkness, so they charged, taking the skaven by surprise and sending them fleeing for their lives. This accellerated the plans of the more focused skaven further back, who provoked the party into chasing them into a narrow passage.

Rat Ogres

They squeezed through the passage, losing hope of catching the fleet-footed rats, when in a bigger area, a rat ogre dropped from a vertical shaft and fought Sevn. Seven managed to kill him, after maneuvering in so Thorgrim could help. Meanwhile, behind them, Kurt heard a rat ogre pushing through the too-narrow corridor. They continued forward, ignoring that threat, and came to a larger open chamber.

The Big Escape

A tough-looking skaven was using a piece of warpstone to somehow energize a couple columns supporting a tunnel. While this went on, half a dozen skaven deployed a massive pile of rodents of unusual size that kept the party trapped in the tunnel as it rapidly clogged with corpses. The slayer grimly pushed through, and the whole party surged towards the battle. Just as the last defenders (whose courage had been boosted with drugs) got mowed down, the leader ran down the tunnel and it exploded behind him.

Sevn’s spine was severed, but with some medical attention and healing drugs and a touch of fate, he recovered enough to stagger on. They gave the leader up for lost, but figured they could claim a victory. They followed Othric, who had the tunnels figured out, and emerged.

They spent some time bathing in the Morrspark luxury rooms, enjoyed magical healing, and were richly paid.

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