Saturday, 30 July 2011

Ten 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!

The Jolly Butchers were without two of their number this time around, with Lufthansa still busy with his business at the docks, and the mighty Norseman Eriksen off wenching somewhere in town. This left Englebert and Harry to investigate the mansion they had taken from the Red Hand Gang; they found that the rooms at the back of the building -- abutting the supposedly haunted garden -- had been locked and boarded by the previous occupants, and considered asking a priest of Morr to come and investigate. They were interrupted by one of their network of street urchins, who told them that a riot had broken out at the prison on Rijker's Isle, involving some members of their gang; this news concerned Harry, as the Butchers imprisoned on the island were of the old order and were of higher rank than the current leadership, all of which could cause problems if they broke out and returned to the Doodkanal. The young guttersnipe also told them that Jorn, one of the doormen at the Moby Dick, had been arrested; since the bouncer wasn't involved in any direct criminal activity, both Harry and Englebert found his arrest to be unusual.

Jorn's arrest was deemed to be less of a headache to investigate than a full-blown prison riot, and they discovered that the doorman had been identified by a witch hunter named Kurtz as being the necromancer Heinz Gerber, and that he was to be given a trial in seven days, at which point he would be burned alive. This would not do, so the dwarf and the burglar went to the guard house in which Jorn was incarcerated in an attempt to get him freed. The guards proved unhelpful, and Kurtz more so, but Harry and Englebert nipped around the back and managed to talk to their employee through the window of his cell. Once they were happy that Jorn was not in fact a dangerous necromancer and that he was being treated well enough, the pair planned their next move.

They had a number of options: to discredit Kurtz, to break Jorn out, to present exonerating evidence at his trial, or to find the real Heinz Gerber. They considered the first two options to be very unlikely, and the latter two just implausible, and thus the choice was made. They set about assembling friends, colleagues and family members who could vouch for Jorn and also started researching Gerber. They discovered that he was indeed a notorious magician with an interest in peering beyond the veil of death, and his chief interest was in a necromancer who was reputed to have found the secret to eternal life. In a cross-setting tribute to Gary Gygax, this necromancer was named Bigby.

The Jolly Butchers decided to put the word out that they had found an artefact belonging to this Bigby and, sensing that there was something a bit off about it, were eager to sell it as soon as possible and for a low price. After a day or two, an urchin arrived on behalf of an "old man" to look at the artefact -- an ornate box stolen from the tomb in the first session -- and having done so, headed off to report his -- or her, urchins are dirty and difficult to identify with certainty -- findings; Englebert made excellent use of his stealth abilities to follow the child back to a house across from the very graveyard from which the box was stolen -- and which they'd been searching for the creature which had been bothering the rat catchers -- and right next door to Skinner's funeral parlour, one of the Jolly Butchers' front businesses.

Popping in to speak to Alf Skinner, they found him nervous and shifty and he explained that some bodies had gone missing. He seemed less bothered by the theft itself and more that the Butchers would be angry that he'd been filling the empty coffins with junk to cover the absence of the rightful contents; as it happened, neither of them cared. They told old Alf to lock and bar his storage room in the basement, and they went next door with four Jolly Butchers as backup.

The gang members were reluctant to enter the house, which was run down and exuded the sickly smell of decay, and so took up covering positions with their crossbows, leaving Harry to venture inside alone, with Englebert just behind. He was attacked by three stinking, flabby pale things with poisonous claws, but Harry proved resistant to their venom, and with the aid of supporting fire from Englebert's short bow, the dwarf smashed his opponents. They threw the bodies into the streets to be burned and sent a message to Kurtz to tell him that the necromancer was still quite active and that he should perhaps come down to the house to see for himself, but a reply came a while later suggesting that the creatures they'd killed were just remnants and that the danger had passed now that Gerber was in custody.

With a sigh, Harry and Englebert went back into the house to investigate, finding nothing of interest except steps leading down into an ominous cellar. Harry went first, to find a crude laboratory inhabited by some misshapen patchwork creature.


At first, even Harry's stout dwarven mettle wasn't enough and he was frozen in fear as the thing swung at him, but he was lucky to avoid injury and snapped out of his paralysis in time to fight back. It was a tough battle, with the creature able to absorb a great deal of damage and not even Harry's mighty hammer was enough to bring it down; two massive strikes to Harry's head put great dents in his helmet and left the dwarf unconscious on the cellar stairs.

The creature bawled "FOOD!" from a slack and ill-fitting jaw and Englebert ran for it; at the time it was unclear if he was just saving his own skin or if he was trying to distract the thing from eating Harry, but it did indeed follow the thief up the stairs. Englebert climbed the outside of the house and on to the roof, thinking the thing couldn't follow, but it proved more agile than it looked and thus ensued a rooftop chase that ended when Englebert's nimble footwork had him ducking out of the creature's overextended grasp, causing it to fall into the vat of a conveniently located tannery.

Harry rested and healed, while a search of Gerber's house went on -- with an eye to a possible future career as a physician, Harry pocketed the necromancer's surgical tools -- and the Jolly Butchers found a trapdoor leading into a warren of tunnels under the city. When he was fit to move, the dwarf ventured in and identified the passages as belonging to some old necropolis, perhaps forgotten by the people of the city. Their henchmen refused to go into the tunnels, but did continue the search of the house, turning up what seemed to be Heinz Gerber's journal. The mad ravings of the necromancer were difficult to decipher, but the Butchers did find a partial map of the tunnels below their feet, as well as a number of entries concerning Bigby's tomb, dated after Jorn was captured.

They took this clear evidence of Jorn's innocence to the witch hunter and the belligerent sod did not release the doorman, but declared that the matter was worth investigating, and so agreed to go with the Jolly Butchers as they pursued Gerber into the tunnels below the city.

2 comments:

  1. Cheers El Kel. Wasn't expecting to play WFRP, but somehow that managed to turn out ok. Next session could be quite dangerous!! I guess we will see what happens! Did you burn a fate point in the last session btw? Thanks for another spot on write up! :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. No, I didn't burn a fate point, as it wasn't a life-or-death situation, and the patchwork creature wandered off anyway. If it had hit Harry again while he was unconscious, I would have burned the point then.

    ReplyDelete