Sunday, 12 March 2017

Carrion Crown, Session 39: Shaped like a Friend

Carrion Crown, as told by Inquisitor Victoria van Helm.

Esteemed Witch Hunter Coim,

Our journey continues after a break.

Paladin Ronan has departed the party to attend to the business of purifying that mine; he will rejoin us once he has seen the process begin, I imagine. Jeff follows to further document the banishing of the Witch.

There's been a change in plans. The Chapel can wait. The cultists have a higher priority, so our destination is Ilmarsh, further down the river. In my previous letter, I mentioned the Lanternghast festival, which our cultists might have something to do with.

As we begin our journey, we realize Mei has an animal companion, a crocodile named Hillary -- because what else would you name a cold-blooded creature that kills everything that gets in it's way? We say crocodile. It's a blood cayman, and it's a "biggun".

We spot someone in the water at the edge of the river. I call out to them, and ask if they come here often, or have seen our dark-robed cultists riding by in a hurry.

A female voice calls back, and denies having seen them. She approaches us, emerging from the reeds, and I avert my gaze in case she's too virtuous.

I also notice she's got friends hiding in the reeds. One of them chimes in with something in a foreign language.

The nymph has a sister in the reeds, who may have seen our riders. But first, she wants an offering. Mei knows they want something of sentimental value, or intel. Lucia has a necklace a child gave her for saving the mining village, and that buys our intel.

The nymphs confirm that the riders did indeed pass this way, headed for Ilmarsh.  Incidentally, Ilmarsh is a bad place; we should stay away from the water. They offer us shelter; a storm is coming. We decline, and move on.

As we ride in, we notice a stone dock / pier. In the dying light, we see a boat floundering on the water with a sole crewman, in no small amount of trouble. We elect to step in and help.

Mei warns the person on the boat that Hillary is coming to help. I try to fire a rope out to the sailor with my armbow, but a wave leaps up and snatches my shot. Lucia jumps in to swim out to the boat and help there, and grabs the rope on the way. Hillary guides the boat closer in, trying to bring it under control, and Lucia grabs the helm, but it's not enough and the boat hit the pier rather hard.

It wasn't all bad; at the very least, the boat, the Isinglass, ran aground. It's piloted by Horace Croon, who was running experiments. He had a more experienced sailor on board, until the storm hit and they ditched. Incidentally, they're from Ilmarsh, and Croon has a low opinion of them.

He was performing research on the underwater environment; I correctly identify him as one of those Aquanauts. He likes the name, and confides that he's got something the others don't -- a Subaqueous Research and Exploration Vessel.

We help him unload his ship, and get his cargo onto a wagon he had parked nearby; there's not much else to be said or done, so he tells us where we can find him, and we part ways.

We eventually arrived in Ilmarsh. The wind was fierce, but it didn't stop people trying to hang up paper lanterns of fish and generally trying to have a good time. It was a masquerade, and as we rode in, Mei and I noticed we were getting odd looks.

As we rode into the town square, I spotted a group of men; one was a well-dressed, portly fellow that had a Noble look about him. His companions looked pretty stressed and upset, so I ride closer to bid them good evening, and comment that they look a little upset for a festival.

The mayor looked to be on the verge of panic, and asked if we were adventurers. We barely got a word in before he expressed joy at us agreeing to help. It turns out that there's been a few murders.

Some of the festivalgoers were found dead; Sheriff Anders set out to investigate, but Undersheriff Grumph found the Sherriff dead not long after. We agree to investigate, get deputized, and decide to get started ASAP, so Grumph rounds up a small posse.

On the way out, Grumph shares a theory with us. The mayor reckons it's just some nutjob off his rocker, but Grumph thinks it could be a killer ghost, Old Crandall, back from the dead. Apparently he always said he'd be back, but that was 20 years ago. Crandall was the cousin of the inkeeper. Went off his rocker. Butchered his wife, fed her to a mermaid for luck.

The sheriff of the time caught him and sentenced him to The Rock; a literal rock off the coast, where you're chained up and left to die and be judged by the local religion, which is a fringe branch of the church of Gozreh. At the end, he'd ranted and raved about how the town did it, and that he'd make sure the town got what was coming to it.

After a while, we make it to the crime scene, in the middle of a clearing in the swamp. Two bodies; young, late teens. Nearby, a broken lantern. The bodies are badly beaten, and saturated in blood. Which is odd, because they look like they were strangled to death, not slashed. That can't be their own blood.

Grumph shows us to the Sheriff's body; he found it after coming back with a posse to help, and following tracks away from the initial crime scene.

A short distance from the clearing is the Sheriff, decaptiated thouroughly. His head's been cast aside, and his body seems shrunken and withered. Some bushes nearby... there was a scuffle there. And in it, a well-dressed corpse with no head.

Grumph reckons the Sheriff found the headless body, and got attacked by whatever did them in. The headless guy seems like a merchant who arrived in town a few days back.

The dead sheriff is radiating magic of some sort; his gear. +2 chain shirt. A longsword with hooks, barbs and serrations, a +1 / +4 Shatterspike sword. He's unusually decked out for a small-town sheriff.

I ask to borrow Grumph's sword. I'm rather persuasive, but he still declines, insisting I borrow Anders'. I insist harder in the opposite direction, and ask him if he's hiding anything.

He says no, and I back off a little, asking him if he'd demonstrate in my stead. He obliges, drawing and swinging his sword experimentally. No blood on it.

The hut where Crandall used to live isn't far away; we agreed we should check it out. We have whistles; blow once for  We formed a perimeter around it to catch the ghost if it tried to escape, and close in on the hut.

Inside, the floor is sunken in the centre, like it's hollow beneath. As we peer at it, something peels itself free of the wall and goes for us, shooting acidic spores into the room. Lucia dodges, but I take the hit.

We battled the tree; Lucia was grappled, but I remained free to stab the tree to death.

My offer to heal Lucia from her bloodied state was rejected.

We found a chest with a padlock on it; Lucia smashed it open for 47G and 65S. There's a large lump of amber; within is a perfectly-preserved treefrog, it's bulging eyes staring lifelessly into eternity. There's also an old, leather-bound journal. It contained rather normal day-to-day accounts of life; the weather, and such - the diary of Crandall Drelay and his life with his wife, Savannah.

He found the lump of amber with the tree frog in it - it serves as the eye of something far greater than man. The entries get more sporadic and sparse. Savannah disapproved of the globe, and tried to hide it. Something about a feast of the Reefclaws, and then all is about the Globe. The wife is mentioned no more. He begins writing in spirals.

Something falls on my shoulder, and goes for my head; I manage to stop it just in time and stab it with my dagger. There's no more on the ceiling, thank goodness.

Before we can investigate much more, someone starts blowing their whistle;

We find two posse-members dead in the shrubbery; killed with bows and arrows.

We run back to town.

We watch the crowd. The crowd parts just long enough for us to see an apple-bobbing station open up... and a huge slug fall into the water as someone stepped up to have a go.

We sprint towards him; Lucia casts the man aside, and I activate True Strike as I stab the water and the slug hiding within.

I present the slug as a party trick, and people applaud.

We go back to our seat. There's another commotion across the square; a headsman with a bloody axe raises it, and decapitates a man in a fountain of blood. Children scream.

We start to charge in; I disguise myself as the decapitated man. Lucia holds fire, and good thing too; the decapitated man stands up, and his head pops out of his neck.

Japed twice by mere tricks, we almost relax when we spot the Sherriff sprinting towards the church, and we give chase.

Glory to Pharasma,

Saturday, 11 March 2017

Rogue Trading for Fun and Profit, Episode 11: Lord-Captain Shut Up and Do Business Gaiden

Rogue Trader: A quest for profit in the grim darkness of the 41st millenium. But dying in mediocrity and misery is for poor people and losers, and a Rogue Trader's retinue is anything but.

Rogue Trading for Fun and Profit is bought to you by:

Lord-Captain van Hohenheim - Rogue Trader. Hero. The last of his line. That's like a unicorn!
Magos Abigail von Thannhausen - A magos who possibly takes too much pleasure in the craft of Servitors. Accompanied by her servo-skull.
Archaius Wash - A gunnery sergeant with an irritatingly low-quality accent and a poor-grade artificial voicebox.
Sebastian LaMarck - A seneschal with a silver tongue.
Winter York - Astropath Transcendant. Monstrous willpower. Your glorious narrator and remembrancer.

We start the session with a recap of what the Absolute Ambition actually looks like layout-wise:
The astropath's tower, Winter's domain, is a figurative literal ivory tower, painted white; not actually made out of ivory, because that's a lotta ivory, and not made out of Ork teef, because while it would be baller as fuck, it would ultimately be temporary.

We're en route to Scintilla, and we've been in the warp for a few days... or weeks. Things get weird when you're sailing the warp for a few days.
I can't sleep. There's something broadcasting psychically onboard the ship. Like a record spinning, but no audio.
I intercom for whoever it is to knock it off. It doesn't stop.
Wash asks how likely a rain of blood is. I answer that if I find out who's broadcasting, extremely. I'll be feeding them a grenade.
As I descend to go hunting, I, Wash and Abigail are intercepted by Sebastian, who takes us into the boardroom.
Sebastian presents a problem; the Macrocannon Battery, the Shellmans, have an ongoing rivalry with the Lance Battery family, the Summertons. A Shellman had a betrothal with the Hanz family from the Enginarium, but they've absconded from the arrangement, and this has caused a interfamily upset.
Sebastian is worried this will spill over and cause a shipboard civil war.
We're not exactly interpersonal experts, but...
Magos: "But I want to interfere in their personal lives!"
We take an elevator down to the Macrocannons, and stop in on the guy running the show, Lucius Shellman, and get the straight skinny.
Marcus Shellman, Lucius' son, had a marriage arranged with one of the girls from the Hanz family in the Enginarium, Marie Hanz. For an arranged marriage, it seemed pretty good; both parties liked each other. But those Summerton knaves sent a foul tempress to sway him, and she's stolen his heart and twisted him. Even a lashing couldn't correct him.
Lucius has a poor opinion of the Summertons. Poor rotgut and obscura-addled thieves who couldn't hit the broad side of a battleship.
We stop in on Marcus to get his side of the story. Pretty much true, he's fallen head over heels for Lizabet Summerton since the Lathes, something of an artist, not anything like deck scum.
My headache gets worse. That psychic white noise is getting really on my (now fantastic) tits. I accept an Amasec from Wash to try and ease it.
We stop in on the Lance battery family patriach, Ky Summerton. He's the polar opposite of Lucius -- tall, thin, organized (mostly because lance batteries don't require much logistics), and with Aspirations.
I'd say gold-leafed, but rough, but then he gets all amateurishly ostentatious and reveals his nature to be crap.
We ask about Lizabet and Marcus. His mask drops. His precious daughter, running with one of *those* macrocannoners. Drunk at best, incompetent at worst.
We ask to have a word with her. She's confined in her "suite", which is a berth like pretty much anything else.
Wash tells her father to get back to work. He grudgingly agrees.
My headache is getting worse. Whatever it is, the broadcast is coming from the front of the ship.
We step inside. She's the very picture of grace. Wash has trouble keeping his cool.
She tells us her side of the story. In short, the truest expression of love this side of the Eye. Her father's always been super-protective of her, and had no plans to marry her off... or let her go, even.
We go to the Enginarium. I start to explain a plan to "execute" both the lovers and re-hire them, when my headache gets worse. Ow.
The Magos feels something hit her in the shoulder. It makes a hole in her robe, and a flattened piece of metal falls onto the floor.
Me: "Magos, I think someone just tried to assassinate you."
Magos: "Huh."
Behind us, the Magos' auspex detects heat from a body and a cooling gun. Wash jump-packs out of the railcar and over to the gantry where the assassin is hiding. I warm up my psychic powers, and Compel him to surrender. Everything around me is flushed into darkness.
He does so, and Wash takes him into custody.
The assassin's some random deck scum, and he doesn't understand what he's done.
It's gotta be psychic shit. Lets get back to the front of the ship.
We find a little-frequented area of the ship. Inside, a hydroponics lab.
Magos:"It's weed."
DM: "It's not weed."
Me:"It's space weed."
They're white flowers, tipped with blue and with red cores, being fed with blood. Can't be good, or legal. But probably profitable!
The Magos and Wash piss me off with their loud breathing and irritating voices.
We find a chem lab at the back. Inside, I feel slightly better.
I ping for minds. I don't see any except me and my allies.
Outside, I hear a gunshot. I exit the lab to see the Magos has shot someone in the leg and blown it off. They didn't even register as a people.
I get inside his head, and behold a wasteland of nothing.
I see flashes of the lance battery. People. Family. A recent family Pict. Screaming from a man.
His last name. Summerton. Red. Firing the lasers at the Fel Hand. Lizabet isn't in that photo. I see her face in stark relief...
Fucking Lizbutt. I comm Sebastian, ask him to check records for any children of Ky Summerton as we storm towards the lance battery.
As we drop the Summerton off at a medbay, Sebastian confirms; he remembers him having a child, but records don't. And his records are *meticulous*.
We barge into the Lance Battery. Lizabet's room is now guarded.
I drop-kick one of them with no effect.
The magos blows the leg off another crewmember. He dead.
Wash and I knock out the other guard.
The Magos goes in and confronts Lizbutt.
Her plan was to farm Ghostfire and eventually take over the ship.
I barge in, and remind her of my threat against whoever was broadcasting shit psychically. I prime the grenade.
She thinks I'm joking. A skim of my mind proves I'm not, but I don't let her get any deeper than that.
"You're insane," she says, disbelievingly.
She asserts that once she's finished dealing with us, she'll move on to our pathetic Lord Captain.
She tries to make Wash kneel, and he resists. Psychic backlash causes a local power brownout.
If it's a pissing match she wants, I'll oblige; I throw full power back and make her kneel against her will. I trigger another localized cloud of darkness.
The Magos steps forward and shoots Lizbutt in the neck with some syringe from her medical arm.
There's thumping on the malfunctioning door.
Lizbutt musters her full power as well for a return salvo on the pissing match; power backlash knocks her out, and stuns me for long enough for me to be skewered by icicles for 41 damage.
The emperor wills that I don't die here, and I burn one of my fate points that I never use permanently to cheat death. I'm frozen solid, but we win the fight.

The thumping stopped; on the other side of the door are a bunch of mindless bodies. Almost like puppets with cut strings. Lizbutt is out cold. Does not take a genius to figure this out. Ky Summerton is one of them.
Winter is taken to the ICU. Ha ha. The magos is careful to not drop me en route.
As soon as we arrive, Lizbutt is taken into custody and put on a drip so she stays in that coma.
Sebastian arrives after getting the short version over comms.
Sebastian: "What happened to Winter?"
Magos: "She got iced. She had a very chilling confrontation with the psyker."

Winter is stabilized, although she's going to spend the next weeks in a tank. Sebastian, the Magos and Wash go check up on loose ends.
Marcus is fine; he's far from a vegetable, unlike the Summertons that Lizbutt had under her thrall. He's apologizing to his father, doesn't get what came over him.
Surprisingly, Lucius asks about the head of the Summertons upon hearing about them.
Lucius: "This... *gesturing at the macrocannons and their crew* my boy, we're blood. But this ship... we're family."
He offers to send crew over to help the lance battery stay functional. Soft bastard.

Unfortunately, those affected by the thralling are in a bad way; they aren't really taking food. One or two with strong wills are recovering a bit, but most are basically vegetables.
Sebastian evaluates the hydroponics lab and the Ghostfire within; he's got no idea how Lizbutt managed it, but it's viable, for now, and ludicrously valuable, if illegal. She appears to have been using it to make Spook, for her own consumption.

The ship sails ever onward to wards Scintilla, and everyone who was hearing that psychic broadcast sleeps a little easier now.

Saturday, 4 March 2017

Rogue Trading for Fun and Profit, Episode 10: ????

Rogue Trader: A quest for profit in the grim darkness of the 41st millenium. But dying in mediocrity and misery is for poor people and losers, and a Rogue Trader's retinue is anything but.

Rogue Trading for Fun and Profit is bought to you by:

Lord-Captain van Hohenheim - Rogue Trader. Hero. The last of his line. That's like a unicorn!
Magos Abigail von Thannhausen - A magos who possibly takes too much pleasure in the craft of Servitors. Accompanied by her servo-skull.
Archaius Wash - A gunnery sergeant with an irritatingly low-quality accent and a poor-grade artificial voicebox.
Sebastian LaMarck - A seneschal with a silver tongue.
Winter York - Astropath Transcendant. Monstrous willpower. Your glorious narrator and remembrancer.

If you're familiar with the concept of the "unreliable narrator", that's me. I fell asleep at parts throughout this session...

We ride the guncutter away from the collapsing tower, and the rear door closes behind us.
"Well, I guess this is why we're not allowed to go to nice places."
I telepath to Whisk and ask him to get sensors checked to try and pick up a ship that might be fleeing the lathes sharpish.
There's a lot of traffic, and all of it moving fast; no way to find Skekris that way.
We exit atmosphere, bound for the station.
Lord-Captain: "We will find, destroy and humiliate the cult of the Bad Guys."
We dock, and are greeted by Vex. He's pleased to see the Lord Captain alive.
We arrange to debrief on the ship later, and Vex lets us go.
We get back onto the ship and the Lord Captain is met by officers who salute and are also quite glad to have him back.
We stop in at the Medicae bay for care.
The Magos heals us for 2hp.
We skip forward to the debrief. 
The debrief takes place in the meeting room, which has a glass floor... which also happens to look directly into Sebastian's room.
Vex figures out what Skekris was trying to do, based on the data we managed to pull. He was after.... this.
Vex puts a bunch of heavily redacted data up on the holo - a faction of tech priests of Rustwatchers. Inquisitors, minus the authority but all the power.
The Lord Captain and co discuss threats. I'm kind of suffering severe burns to the chest, and just doze a little.
In an attempt to improve my firepower further so that people wearing body armor can't beat me, and cause less incidents of friendly fire with blast damage, I acquire Krak grenades.
The Lord-Captain rolls an acquisition check for a best-quality boob job for myself, to keep up with Susan in Accounting. It's well within budget!

With our business at the lathe worlds concluded, it's time to get back to brass tacks and start making money again. Onward to Scintilla!