Sunday, 24 July 2011

Seven Jolly Butchers

Englebert the cat burglar has been tasked with restoring his family's control over the Doodkanal district of Marienburg; with him he has brought two slabs of muscle, the Norse berserker Steiner Eriksen and the dwarf Hammerhead Harry, and the smuggler Gisbert Lufthansa. Together, they are the Jolly Butchers!

This session was heavy on the old fisticuffs, and because of the unique way in which Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay handles combat, it was also quite heavy on the gore, even more so than usual.

Following the events of the previous session, the Jolly Butchers decided to stake out the headquarters of their rivals, the Red Hand Gang; setting up shop in a, um, shop across the street, the Butchers watched and waited. The mansion was fortified with a strong gate for the outer wall, and the windows on the ground floor had been converted into arrow slits, but there were only a handful of guards visible. After some time, a cart came out of the front gates, accompanied by four gang members, and the Jolly Butchers decided to see where they were going and if possible pick them off, so reducing the opposition within the mansion itself.

Harry and Steiner followed the cart, while Englebert went to send a message to the rest of the Jolly Butchers and have them meet the core group; Gisbert was still busy with some smuggling activities down on the docks. The Red Hand Gangers took the cart -- Harry noticed from the way it was moving that its cargo was heavy -- to a warehouse where they were met by two other ruffians, and together the six of them entered the building. Englebert had returned by this time, and sneaked up on to the roof of the warehouse to peek through a window; inside he saw the enemy loading crates on to a waiting barge at the back of the building, and so he returned to the rest of the Butchers.

Four other Jolly Butchers had arrived -- Kaspar, Waldred, Grimwold and Hamlyn -- and with only one way out for the gangers and their cart, an ambush was arranged. Englebert took up a sniping position on a nearby rooftop, while Harry and Steiner took two men each and hid on either side of the narrow alleyway leading off from the warehouse.

The Jolly Butchers launched their ambush, the Red Hand launched a counter-ambush, and the little street was soon awash with gore. Through strength of numbers and the uncanny bloodlust of Steiner's unusual elven blade -- pilfered from the tomb in the first session -- the Butchers prevailed with nary a scratch, and while most of the Red Hand Gangers were left dying in the muck, there were a couple of survivors. They told the Butchers that only three men, plus the halfling Steevil and his lieutenant Catspaw, remained in the mansion, but more were supposed to be on their way from out of town. Harry -- with an eye on the interrogator career -- also found out that the gang had a secret knock with which to identify themselves at the front gate, and a plan was formed.

The Butchers pulled up their hoods and took the cart and one of the survivors back to the mansion. With the rest of the gang hanging back, the survivor went up to the front gate to request entrance, while Harry -- tall for a dwarf but still just small enough to hide below the gate's viewing grille -- kept a tight grip on the survivor's, ahem, crown jewels.

The group was let in, Harry pushed the survivor to the ground and rushed into combat with the guard, with the rest of the Butchers following up. The guard managed to let out a few shouts but soon he too was dead; not soon enough though, as crossbow bolts started whistling through the air towards the Jolly Butchers. Harry rushed over to the arrow slits, while Englebert scaled the house itself, and Kaspar, Waldred, Grimwold and Hamlyn ran for the mansion's front entrance, which was in an alcove and would provide some cover from the crossbowmen.

Where was Steiner? Well, expecting a somewhat different welcome, the big Norseman was hanging off the bottom of the cart, ready to jump out and into combat, only now he found himself in cover but perhaps pinned. Nonetheless, he made a break for Harry's position, just as the dwarf chucked his favourite mining lantern in through the arrow slit; as planned a small fire started up, which only got larger as Steiner then lobbed a bottle of spirits in through the same slit. Spotting a stable door and a possible side entrance, the dwarf and the Norseman headed in that direction.

Meanwhile, Englebert was on the roof, removing tiles in an attempt to get into the space below, and Kaspar, Waldred, Grimwold and Hamlyn found the front door of the mansion locked and barred, and the alcove not as safe as they had thought, as the pernicious halfling Steevil had installed murder holes above them. Poor Kaspar was shot twice in the head -- "Now he's a ghost!" said the GM -- and the rest of the thugs ran back to the relative safety of the cart.

In the stables, Harry and Steiner did indeed find a back door, through which they heard frantic voices and "the sound of pumping", a description which provoked a long round of laughter at the table, although I can't think why as we're all sensible adults. Honest. The two meatheads took a round or two to smash down the door and into the mansion's kitchen, by which time the, um, pumpers had returned to put out the fire. Steiner went into a berserk charge, Harry tried to keep up, and the pair burst through into a large room; the two Red Hand Gangers inside then faced the difficult choice of putting out the fire or fighting the two slabs of muscle pounding towards them.

At this point, Steevil -- robbed of easy prey -- made his way downstairs, and buoyed up by his presence, the two thugs chose the latter option, which in hindsight would prove to be their last mistake. Upstairs, Englebert poked his head in through the gap in the roof and got a crossbow bolt in the face from Catspaw for his trouble; this knocked him off the roof and into a handy hay cart in the street below, where he lay unconscious for the rest of the fight.

Back inside, the fight got brutal, with even the big Norseman into critical condition, his arm numbed and his sword dropped... except the eerie elven blade would not allow itself to be dropped, so Steiner remained in the fight. The Red Hand Gang, with their fondness for crossbows and fighting from the shadows, were no match for Steiner and Harry, whose enthusiasm for toe-to-toe fighting came to the fore, and soon enough the Red Hand Gang ceased to exist as a going concern.

As a result of all of that messy business, the Jolly Butchers have taken up residence in the mansion, and have taken control of the Red Hand Gang's assets. Next up is the exploration of the mansion itself and of its gardens, which are reputed to be haunted. When that will happen I'm not sure, as Stuart has a busy calendar over the summer, and Manoj is expecting a baby very soon. It's been great fun playing a bit of WFRP though, and a pleasant change from the heaviness of Pathfiner; the big fight at the end was very smooth and quite quick, for example, even with about twelve combatants. Ben's trying to get me to run something in the same setting, and I have some ideas on that front, but I'm also really enjoying playing.

4 comments:

  1. I would say it was the best RPG rules system I'd played all year - if I hadn't played Savage Worlds this year too! Still a Savage at heart, me. Loving the urban sandbox feel however. Sopranos meets Thieves World. You forgot to mention that Steevil was dispatched after crawling about twenty feet in his own gore by Harry beating him to death! Luckily, the GM also forgot the house was still on fire...

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  2. Ha! Good point!

    I'm keen to run some more Savage Eberron, but Ben's trying to get me to run WFRP, so we'll see how that goes.

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  3. Am loving it. Savage Worlds is a great system, but I get the feeling this is grittier... And although we have not done this yet, I think it will do sanity loss and magic quite nicely as well. Shame we have to stop.... But as they said in the 1990s Grolsch ads..... Schtop! Whats the hurry? ;) Bring on that body count! :)

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  4. And Savage Eberron is great too! Win win!

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