Dungeon Crawl Classics - Vornheim

Imaro

Adventurer
Oh wow! That's some endorsement!

Would love to hear about it, Imaro!
Well its starting in a week. I've thought about doing a story hour or just an actual play thread... ill definitely let you know if I decide to do either.
 

Sammael99

Visitor
By the way, Imaro (and others) I was thinking of doing a bit of behind the scenes and explain how I organise the game. Would that be of interest ?
 

Imaro

Adventurer
By the way, Imaro (and others) I was thinking of doing a bit of behind the scenes and explain how I organise the game. Would that be of interest ?
I had actually planned on trying something like this where I do a write up but also post about prep, running techniques, etc. Sort of a behind the scenes (thought I am afraid of the time sink this might involve). I am actually a little unsure about which forum something like this would go in... which is to say I would definitely be interested in your own thoughts, notes, etc...
 

Richards

Adventurer
I actually do the same with my own Story Hours. Sometimes it's a blurb after the session's write-up, or sometimes it's a complete post of its own.

But sure, go for it!

Johnathan
 

Sammael99

Visitor
OK, I'll do a post once I'm back home in HK with access to my notes and custom tables.

Meanwhile progressing on the next write-up as well (boy does this take time...)
 

Sammael99

Visitor
Session 6: An Unfortunate Rescue

Elan runs to the Bleak Beaver where he finds Jack and Valya in a deep drinking session. Breathlessly, he explains the events of the evening and tells them that they need to find Dwimberg. Valya casually mentions that Elan is welcome to break into his no doubt highly secure Antiquarian shop, but that things will otherwise wait 'til the morning. Elan is worried about Wistul's fate, not so much about Sabrina's.

In the morning, the three of them walk up to Dwimberg's shop. When he sees Jack, the dwarf clearly registers that something is wrong and signals for them to head into his office.

- "It is not a good sign to see you here without your diminutive female leader..." he starts.
- "She's not our leader, but apart from that your assessment is correct. Things did not go well last night, and my friend Elan can tell you all about it", Jack answers.

Elan retells his tale without embellishing it in anyway.

- "And so", Elan concludes, "I managed to convince Rallentando to let me go by promising I would rob you of your bracelet."
- "And do you intend to do that?" Dwimberg asks defensively.
- "If I was I wouldn't be telling you about it..."
- "So then what do you intend to do?"
- "Do you think it would be possible to get a copy of the bracelet?"

Dwimberg takes a moment to think and says that he can probably work out something to look like the bracelet from a few meters away. It will not withstand close scrutiny, but in the allotted time, that's the best he can offer. He also suggests that Rallentando most likely keeps the bracelet on his person at all times but does not wear it. Finally, as Jack asks him whether he can help them in case they get into a scuffle, Dwimberg reluctantly offers him a phial of Elixir of the Furies. "It will make you greatly more powerful as a warrior" he says, "while it lasts."

Elan, Jack and Valya decide to head out towards the circus around the middle of the day. They haven't decided on a plan yet, they are just looking up the place. Elan makes sure he's discreet and not easily recognizable.

Jack, thinking back on the fact that Madame Sosostris seems to have anticipated the attempted robbery the night before decides to see if there is something to her divination or not. He queues up to get his palms read and enters her tent.

Madame Sosostris puts her hand over his and slowly follows the various lines on his calloused hands. She then makes some generic statements promising prosperity and danger. Jack is not impressed. Still, he decides to take her out of the picture and extracts his machete from inside his cape while she isn't looking. He hits her with the blunt side of the blade to knock her out, but fails. She starts yelling "Murderer!" and alternatively mumbles incomprehensible phrases while Jack repeatedly hits her on the head until she finally collapses.

Outside, the seer's cries for help have been heard and when Jack emerges, there's a crowd in front of the tent. A few men who clearly seem to be guarding the circus move forward towards Jack.

- "She's a witch!" he yells. He puts his hand up, the one with the massive brown and unnatural scar from the shambling corpse. "A witch! And she cursed me with a deadly disease!"

Some in the crowd walk back a few meters. This is the moment Valya decides to use to create a diversion. In front of one of the animal cages in which a truly massive bovine with enormous horns is held, he shakes his hands and intones the words to Ludurafet's Igneous Eruption. A massive gust of flames erupts from his hands, setting fire to the straw in the bovine's cage, but also the wooden floor and roof of the cage itself. The buffalo like creature starts to moo desperately and rock the cage. Valya turns around as if in a panic and leaves the circus grounds.

Elan has already exited the grounds, worried that Rallentando might recognize him. Jack takes advantage of the panic and starts running towards the inside of the grounds, yelling "Sabrina, Wistul, where are you?" Sabrina actually answers, but Jack is being pursued, he cannot stop. He manages to run faster than the circus strongmen and exits the grounds as well.

***

Sabrina and Wistul are tied at the back of the tiger cage in a small enclosed area where the tigers sleep at night. They cannot be seen by the circus' visitors but Rallentando didn't think it necessary to gag them. Sabrina has already tried to negotiate with the tigers for them to gnaw the knots that bind her, but she has nothing to offer them in exchange... When she hears Jack's voice asking where she is, she yells in return, and the tigers start growling at her, so she stands still, biding her time. She attempts to summon animals, but her binds make it hard and ineffective. Wistul's attempts to make himself larger similarly fail.

Meanwhile, Elan, Jack and Valya regroup outside the grounds and decide to go back in in full attack mode, heading out for the back of the tiger cage. Jack drinks the elixir given to him by Dwimberg. It burns his innards but he feels energy pump into his veins. As they walk towards the circus grounds, still in chaos and smoke following the fire of the bovine cage, Valya lays his hand on Jack's shoulder, and Jack doubles in size. The warrior grabs his cleaver (similarly grown) and runs towards the tiger cage.

From the shadows of the circus tent emerges a silhouette nearly as tall as his: it's the giant and deformed creature that Rallentando called Gorm the night before. Jack then notices a small silhouette standing on a barrel: it's signor Rallentando himself. "Be a good ogre, Gorm! Attack the intruders and you will get to eat their flesh!" he yells.

The circus guards are also joining the fray. Elan tries to discreetly get closer to Rallentando, but he is spotted and chased by a guard. Valya is the only one who manages to head out to the tiger cage without being seen. He decides that since his previous tactic of setting a cage on fire using Ludurafet's very effective formula worked so well, he might as well use it again. He sets fire to the tiger cage.

What Valya doesn't know is that Rollentando has sent some guards to retrieve Wistul and Sabrina from the back of the cage. They have just at that instant opened the backdoor to the cage. One of them has a crossbow armed and pointed at the prisoners. The other one unties their knots. Sabrina attempts a discreet spell, but fails. Wistul punches the guard that has just untied him towards the other one, and quickly intones the words to Caskel's Distant Direction. The spell conjures up an invisible wall between him and Sabrina and the two guards. When the armed guard manages to find a line of sight and shoots, his bolt inexplicably bounces back.

Sabrina then crawls through the open semi-circle passage that connects the back of the cage with the main cage. Wistul follows. But the cage is now on fire, and the tigers are in a panic.
- "Help us survive the evil flames!" one of them growls at Sabrina.
- "I asked you for help earlier and you refused. Roast in hell!", the wizardess answers.

The two quickly crawl back to the guards waiting for them, and in a desperate gamble, Wistul jumps on one of them, toppling him down outside the cage. Lithe Sabrina manages to squeeze out as well. Wistul avoids the sword blow of the second guard as he stands up then punches him in the face and runs. Sabrina hides under the cage until she can safely crawl to the next caravan and thus closer to the exit.

Meanwhile, Jack is starting to discover that despite his enhanced size and the effect of Dwimberg's elixir, he is no match for the muscular ogre. He manages to land a blow on the creature, but the ogre's spiked club hits him repeatedly. Finally he decides to try and run away, but the ogre lands a solid blow on his back and he collapses.

Elan attempts to escape the guard chasing him by rolling under the circus tent flap, but he misjudges and hits one of the big stakes that keep the tent tied to the ground instead. The guard hits him with his club. Elan scrambles to crawl under the flap in a different area but hits a bench on the other side. A second club blow puts him out. As he dozes out to unconsciousness he hears the distinct whistles of the Vornheim militia storming the circus grounds.

Outside the grounds, Valya has retreated to a safe place where the milita men can't spot him. From afar he sees Wistul emerging from the circus grounds and discreetly slide through a manhole in the sewers below. A moment later, Sabrina crawls from the wreckage. She walks to him casually and says:

- "I never though I would ever say this, but you are a sight for sore eyes..."

***

- "Judges, here are the three accused," the advocate says.
- "Introduce them to the judges!" the spokesperson responds.
- "First, here is one Elan, known in the District of the Forked Tongue as "the Petty Thief". He has a reputation for burglary and small time scamming but to this day was never arrested or accused. He was found unconscious on the grounds of Signor Rallentando's Circus."
- "Second is one Aventine Jack, deserter of the Third Army of Melliflu in the Southern Realms. He earns his living as a part-time bouncer at the Bleak Beaver drinking and fornicating establishment, with no known family or attachments. He was also found unconscious on the same Circus grounds."
- "Third is Signor Rallentando of Halfling blood, a stranger to the City of Vornheim and owner of the Circus that bears his name. Signor Rallentando accuses the other two of breaking and entering with intent to burgle and kill, resulting in the fire of his animal caravans and the death of one Giant Marsh Buffalo and two Southern Green Tigers. He however is himself accused of aiding and abetting a known criminal barred from the city, an Ogre known as Gorm. Gorm has been captured and will be tried separately."
- "What say you, judges?" the advocate asks.
- "Here is the Judges' deliberation" the spokesperson answers, "in accordance with the will of Vorn: the case of Elan and Aventine Jack vs. Signor Rallentando shall be tried by Proxy Combat. Are the accused familiar with this Trial Method ?"

None of the accused know of this method. The Spokesperson continues:

"In a trial by Proxy Combat each party shall name three proxys. These must be personal friends or acquaintances of the accused. The Minister will concurrently appoint three officially sanctioned Judicial Assassins. Assassins and Proxys must eliminate each other. Should the three appointed assassins be eliminated first, the accused will go free of any charges. Should the (in this case) six proxys die first, the accused will be proved guilty and hanged. You have exactly one day to name your proxys."

***

Sabrina waits in front of the Red Mansion, where the Vornheim militia has its headquarters. She's been waiting all day for Rulius, the new fangled detective of the force. He finally walks out, heading for a nearby wine bar. Sabrina follows him and, once he's seated with a glass of mulled wine in front of him, she slips in the seat next to his and says:
- "Can I buy you that drink?"
- "I hope this is not an attempt at bribery, young lady..."
- "No, of course not. But I do need to speak to you."
- "I'm listening..."
- "It's about my friends. They have been arrested, and are awaiting trial."
- "Yes, I am aware. Elan the thief and Aventine Jack. To be tried by Proxy Combat."

Sabrina blanches when hearing the trial method.

- "Listen, they are wrongly accused. They came to rescue me. I had been abducted by Signor Rollentando. He seduced me, then drugged me. He intended to feed me to his tigers. I was tied at the back of that cage. That's why they set fire to it, to help me free myself."
- "Well, you see, that is all well and good", Rulius answers, his voice thick with irony, "but the beauty of our legal system is that Vorn will help decide who is right and who is wrong... No doubt you will have a chance yourself to face the Judicial Assassins and prove your friends correct..."
- "No, we don't stand a chance. Listen, can't you do something?"
- "How could I? As absurd as I think our legal system is, my duty is to arrest the guilty, not to try them."
- "But you must know people, you can pull some favors maybe..."
- "And why would I do that?"
- "Because my friends aren't guilty and that matters to you? Because we helped you with the Taxidermist' case and probably eliminated a very real threat to the safety of the city..."
- "Hrm... I will see what I can do."

***

A few days later, Elan, Jack and Signor Rallentando are summoned in front of the Judges again.
- "Two of you have not named any friends. Why is that?"
- "Because we don't have any friends", Jack answers defiantly. "We only have each other."
- "In consideration of this fact, and because it has been pointed to us that this case is not Vornheim vs. the accused but rather Elan the thief and Aventine Jack vs. Signor Rallentando, the Trial Method is commuted to a Trial by Crowd Duel. Are the accused familiar with this Trial Method?"

None of the accused are. The Spokesperson continues: "Fourty and six citizens will be recruited. Each party may also directly recruit two, for a total of fifty citizens. The accused (or, in the case of Elan the thief and Aventine Jack, one of the accused) will each be standing on the shoulders of one of their named recruits. They will fight bare chested with swords handed over by the Minister. The first of the accused to pass out from wounds or fall to the ground shall be deemed guilty. That party will be hanged, the other will be free."

***

During one more week, Elan and Jack are looked after and made to rest until they are fully healed. Then comes the big day of the trial. Jack named Sabrina and Wistul as their recruits, pretending that they are not friends but only known by reputation. Jack is escorted to a small room where he meets Sabrina and Wistul. He doesn't say a word to the Wizardess, but hugs Wistul and tells him that he couldn't hope for someone better on whose shoulders to stand for this fight that may be his last.

They walk out into a small round arena where people picked randomly from the streets are massed. Wistul and Jack walk to the center of the arena. There they see Signor Rallentando and one of his named recruits, a tall and muscular man. Jack is helped onto Wistul's shoulders while Rallentando hops on his friends'. The swords are handed out to them, and the officials close the arena and go walk to the side. Elan is also there, in a position to see his friend and associate succeed or fail.

Things start well, with Jack landing a solid blow on Rallentando's left shoulder, but the halfling is nimble and surprisingly good with his sword. Repeatedly, Jack tries to push his advantage and topple his diminutive adversary, but the Halfling not only hangs on, he gives as good as he's getting.

Sabrina tries to summon some rats to crawl up the legs of Rallentando's, but she fails miserably. Her other magical formulas are all too blatant to use in public and get away with. She can do nothing but helplessly watch Jack get slowly hacked by his unexpectedly effective halfling opponent.

Finally, one last blow from Rallentando saps out Jack's energy for good. He slowly falls back from Wistul's shoulders. The elf turns around to stop his fall and slowly lays him on the ground. He sees immediately that Jack is dead. Wistul closes the warrior's eyes. Outside of the ring, Elan starts pulling his hair out as the Judicial Guard escorts him away.

The next day at dawn, a gallows is erected in one of the squares in Under the Mountain. Elan is escorted there and summarily hanged.
 

Sammael99

Visitor
The new characters:

Makabee the confused Northern Elf (M)
Makabee is a Northern Elf and Wistul's cousin. He has been sent over from the Elven lands to meet with Wistul and convince him to come home. Makabee enjoys his magics, perhaps a little too much. One of his spells in particular has the secondary effect of forcing a gender change onto him each time it is cast. Makabee has been enjoying casting that particular spell not because of its primary effect but because of the gender change. That's in fact the real reason (although he doesn't know it) he has been sent to Vornheim: he's entirely too bizarre for the Elven society and they hope he never comes back.

Humboldt Barley the cretinous Halfling (M)
Humboldt Barley is an incredibly lucky Halfling, and that's probably what has kept him alive all these years: he is also probably the stupidest Halfling in the history of Halflings. He is convinced that he's really good at whatever he does, and that everyone admires him despite evidence to the contrary. He lives as a vagrant in the streets of Vornheim but that doesn't strike him as odd. He often says that he once met a long dead Carnifex of Vornheim in the sewers near the Palace Immense, but it's probably just drunken talk. He admires Makabee and usually sticks with him.
 

Sammael99

Visitor
Session 5-6 Epilogue

In our next installment, some of the following questions may be answered:

  • What happened to the alleged necromancer that fled from the Whitefish mausoleum?
  • Why are granary cats to be found in the sewers?
  • What exactly is this Undertaker's Ball and will our heroes want to venture there?
  • What mysterious activities is the Taxidermists' Guild a cover for, and will they accept their defeat?
  • Are the Versheim catacombs worth exploring and why is the Count paying so little to get it done?
  • How will Wistul get rid of his brown scars before they turn him into an undead? And what will happen to Jack's infected corpse after his death?
  • Will Dwimberg consider Sabrina's debt repaid despite her failure to procure the bracelet?
  • Will Signor Rallentando leave the city and dissappear or will he stay to enact revenge and/or acquire the second bracelet from Dwimberg?
  • What are these damn bracelets?
 

Sammael99

Visitor
Session 7: The Undertaker's Ball

The day of the Undertaker's Ball has arrived. It is to be a masked and costumed affair. Valya and Wistul are very keen to get to the bottom of it and understand why the necromancer from the Whitefish family mausoleum had an invite (and hopefully identify who he was as well...) Makabee, Wistul's cousin likes the idea of a party, and Humboldt rarely overthinks any decision, so he's game too. Sabrina seems to have disappeared since Jack and Elan's execution.

They decide to go as follows: Valya will be dressed as a mock wizard with starred robe, pointy hat and a black leather mask. Humboldt will pretend to be his manservant, wearing a hooked nose mask and a ruff. Makabee will be his ladyfriend, wearing exaggerated elf features. The fact that she is currently a woman is a convenient coincidence. Wistul is not disguised and pretends to be Valya's (or rather Reginald Whitefish's) bodyguard.

The ball takes place in the long low building of the St Cuthbert's Mortuary. As the four approach, they are struck by the powerful smell of formaldehyde that seems to pervade the building. A guard in red livery and wearing a wig (but with a sword by his side) takes the fake Reginald's invite and welcomes him. His manservant and bodyguard will have to stay in the servant's welcome area (he waves to the side) but he and his lady companion are most welcome.

Valya and Makabee walk into the reception area. The entire place is candlelit and guests are lavishly dressed and (for the most part) masked. The tasteful music is produced by a string quartet standing at one end of the room. Waiters are dressed in black with a smooth white mask on their faces and Makabee quickly notices that there is something odd about them: they seem to move a bit too slowly. Makabee also notices a good number of fat cats sitting on beams above the party or standing by the curtains on the sides of the room.

In the servant's area, Humboldt starts stuffing himself with the (rather better than usual) fare and making friends. Wistul stands next to the corridor that connects the side room with the main hall where the party is, just in case Valya and Makabee need his help. After a while, he notices that just outside of the corridor some of the waiters have gathered, staring at him listlessly. One of the two guards standing between the ballroom and the side room tries shooing them off, but they seem to come back, to the guard's mounting irritation.

Back in the ballroom, Valya notices a rotund man disguised as a theatrical devil (complete with barbed tail and fake red fork). His posture seems somewhat familiar although Valya can't quite place him. He decides to go speak with him. Meanwhile, Makabee's attention is attracted to the cluster of idle waiters near the servants' room. She immediately notices that the waiters are looking at Wistul, although she can't quite figure out why. While one of the guards again tries to yell ineffectually at the waiters to get them to do their jobs, Makabee walks to the second guard and, mumbling under her breath touches him on the shoulder. This utterance of Mornay's Secret of Lasting Friendship (1) formula causes him to change gender back to male. The guard turns around and looks at Makabee with friendly eyes:
- Oh, it's you my friend! So good to see you here!
- It is indeed!
- Love the transvestite elf costume. They are strange buggers, these elves, aren't they...
- They sure are! I actually have an Elf friend in the servant's area there (he points at Wistul). You wouldn't mind letting him in, would you? He's missing out on all the fun.
- Sure, I'll let him through, just make sure that my colleague doesn't see him.
- Great! See you soon!

Wistul passes unnoticed by the second guard. Humboldt, seeing Wistul goes through, follows discreetly.

Valya is chatting with the theater devil gentleman but the man seems guarded and himself fishing for information. He asks Valya if he knows what is going on behind the velvet door, pointing. Valya looks in the direction the man indicates and notices an ornate side-door guarded by no less than four guards. At this very moment, the door opens and a fantastically beautiful woman walks out. She is thin and tall but curvy where it matters. Her skin is impossibly pale but her lips are ruby red. Her hair as dark as night. "Great costume", Valya gurgles worriedly.

The woman walks towards the guests and immediately is surrounded. She grabs a glass of ruby wine handed to her by one of the guards and starts talking with the guests. Her cristalline laughter resonates in the room and all around her seem entranced. Worried that the wine is not what it seems, Wistul quickly chants the words to Allaskobe's Wonder Identification but determines the wine is not magical. Outside, it starts to snow again (2). A few minutes later, having sipped all of her wine, the pale lady walks back to the ornate door and walks through. The guards block all those who try to follow.

Makabee and Wilbur join Valya in the ballroom, not noticing that Humboldt is right behind them, drinking wine and laughing with guests surprised and delighted at what they assume to be some sort of clown act. "We should try to slip behind that door", Makabee says. Seems to be where interesting things are happening..." But just as they are starting to plot to do so, a guard walks to Valya and says: "Sir Reginald Whitefish ? You are kindly requested to join The Committee. Follow me please."

Valya hesitates an instant then walks towards the ornate door, escorted by the guard and followed by Humboldt who manages to slip inside unseen and hide behind a wall curtain. Valya walks towards the center of the room where a few old but comfortable looking couches have been laid. Five people are standing or sitting there, including the disturbingly stunning lady Valya noticed previously. Valya also spots a few cats languishingly lying in front of a chimney.

- "Welcome, Sir Reginald. For those not in the know I am Lady Tate, but you have probably heard of me under my real name, that of Lady in Tatters. We at the Committee are glad to finally meet you in the flesh, so to speak. Let me introduce my colleagues."

Lady Tate points to a man (or creature) disguised with what looks like really ancient cloth bands and wearing nothing but an old and worn iron crown on his head. She introduces him as Rostrum King.

She then looks at an impossibly emaciated looking woman whose arms are abnormally long and whose skin seems to have been painted grey. Lady Tate calls her Ashaya Thin.

She then turns to someone whose disguise consists solely of a white sheet with a couple of holes cut out for the eyes. "This is Evan Essence", Lady Tate says.

The last member of the Committee seems to be a man, or to have been a man. His parched skin is stretched so thinly upon his skull that it seems like there is no flesh in between. There's a faint amber glow emanating from his eyes. Lady Tate introduces him as Jiang Feng, the oldest wizard alive.

- "So, Lord Reginald, even though our contacts have so far been distant, you were awakened a few months back and accepted the tasks we gave you. How does your mission progress ?"
- "Errr. Well. It progresses well. Very well."
- "That is rather vague. Please be more specific. How many of the noble family mausoleums have you infected with the Rot?"
- "Errr... How many... Let me see... About a dozen, I think. Yes."
- "Which ones for example?"
- "Well, the Whitefish of course, but also the Brittleshins, the Silverfish and many more."

Lady Tate looks at Valya with a glint of suspicion in her eyes and then says:
- "You seem ill at ease... And why is it that I sense a pulse coming from you?"
- "Ahhh, magic! I found an amulet that fakes the body heat and pulse of a live man. But this costume is ill fitting and that's why I fidget!"

Lady Tate crosses eyes with the other members of the committee, and after a long silence she speaks again.

- "Very well, Sir Reginald. I trust you will continue with your mission. We need all the mausoleums infected and ready for the Long Night one month from now. Good luck."

Valya bows and walks out. Humboldt, who was too busy looking at a spider crawling on the curtain he was hiding behind paid no attention whatsoever to the conversation and totally forgets to leave. He hears the voices inside the room in heated conversation, but still does not pay any attention until suddenly everything goes silent.

- "I can still feel a pulse!" a female voice says.

The curtain is swung open, and Lady Tate stares straight into Humboldt's eyes.

- "Who are you?" she hisses menacingly.
- "I'm Humboldt. Pleased to meet you!" the dimwitted halfling says, holding his hand out.
- "What are you doing here?" Lady Tate asks, a little taken aback.
- "I was looking at a spider. Fascinating little creature, it was! But it must have ran off when you opened the curtain. If spiders do run off. Crawl off?"
- "What have you heard of our conversations?", Lady Tate asks again, this time in a more seductive voice that carries a lot of persuasion.
- "Conversations? Nothing at all. As I told you I was looking at this really interesting spider. It had red speckles on its hairy legs. I wonder where it's gone..."
- "Enough with your damn spider! Look me in the eyes."

Humboldt does as Lady Tate asks, and she waves her hands slowly in front of her.

- "You will forget every conversation you heard while inside this room!"
- "Conversation? What conversation?"

Lady Tate seems satisfied (3). She opens the door and kicks Humboldt out.

While all this is going on inside the room where the Committee sits, Wistul and Makabee loiter outside, trying to look inconspicuous. Again, waiters dressed in black and wearing the disturbing white face masks seem to congregate near Wistul. They start moaning in low voices.

- "You seem to attract them," Makabee says. "I've noticed there's a faint smell of fermentation around them..."
- "Yes. I suspect they are not human but undead. I was bitten by one like them once, and maybe they feel some kinship with me..."
- "You are full of surprises, cousin, even though that particular one seems rather more gruesome than I'd like..."

Suddenly there's a commotion when one of the waiters rushes towards the ornate door, only to be stopped by the guards. His mask is torn off, and Wistul recognizes the man he and his companions called the necromancer, first encountered in the Whitefish Mausoleum.

- "You don't understand!" the man yells. "I am Reginald Whitefish!"

Makabee loses no time and rushes towards the man, still held by two guards, while muttering the words to Mornay's Friendship formula, which causes him to change gender again. He touches Sir Reginald who turns around, suddenly despondent and obedient (4). Makabee flashes her best smile to one of the guards and charmingly apologizes for her drunk uncle. She and Wistul quietly move away with a now unresponsive Sir Reginald Whitefish.

Once Valya and (a few minutes later) Humboldt exit the Committee's salon, they join Wistul and Makabee and decide to make a quiet exit. Once outside, they find a dark alley and start questioning Sir Reginald. He only answers to Makabee, and the friendship formula seems to have a less spectacular effect than on the guard Makabee seduced earlier.

- "So, what's this 'rot' thing, Reginald?"
- "The Committee brought me back to undeath to contribute to their master plan. They gave me a substance that they call 'The Rot' that slowly seeps into the corpses of the dead and buried and brings them back to undeath."
- "And what is the master plan?"
- "I don't know for sure, they did not tell me, but the size of the army of undead I am helping to create suggests that they want to take over the city. Maybe even more..."
- "And these undead that are created, are they intelligent like you?"
- "Oh no. They follow the orders of the most powerful undead in the vicinity. Some are slow and tough, usually those that still had some flesh on them when revived. Others are skeletal, fast but weak."
- "Any idea how the Committee could be stopped?"
- "Not really, I think they're unstoppable. But they seem worried about the Congregation of the Carnifex."
- "What's that?"
- "A pervasive Vornheim legend. It is said that in the City's hour of need, the spirits of the dead Carnifex will rise to help those who would protect the city."
- "Is there any truth to this legend?"
- "I have no idea, but the Committee seems to think so..."

Finally, Makabee asks Reginald to list all of the mausoleums that he has already infected with the rot. She then asks him to bring them to the Whitefish Mausoleum. Reginald finds a nearby sewer exit and takes the four friends down with him to just under the Whitefish palace. Wistul and Valya who have already been here notice that the secret exit they broke through has not been repaired. They walk inside the mausoleum following Sir Reginald.

As they enter the central corridor with the stairs leading to the ground floor, they are suddenly faced with a massive Iron warrior wielding a sharp sword. It moves swiftly towards them, clearly intent on an attack. "The animated statue!" Valya yells. "We'd forgotten about it!"

But Makabee is once more undeterred. She touches the iron statue and utters the words to Mornay's Lasting Friendship. To the utter surprise of the others, the statue stops in its tracks. It cannot speak, but it seems to obey Makabee's words: he understands instinctively that the magic that animates the statue is triggered when intruders steal valuables in the mausoleum. In his newfound deep male voice, he simply instructs the statue that they are not intruders.

They follow Reginald to his tomb, the place where Wistul and Valya first confronted it. Makabee instructs the undead to rest, then on a signal given by him, they all attack it at the same time. Wistul and Humboldt's sword blows combine with an eruption of flames from Valya's hands and a parallel eruption of a purple fluid from Makabee's hands. The undead is reduced to cinders in an instant.

"I do like Vezz'enan's Netherworld Refraction (5) when confronting undead...", Makabee says with great satisfaction.

They spend the next few minutes looting the mausoleum of all they didn't have time to retrieve during their previous visit, and then exit.

Once outside, they find an upmarket tavern bizarrely named The Grotesque Cousin, and order a good bottle of wine as well as a large jug of beer.

- "So," Valya says, "it looks like we need to find those dead Carnifex if we want the city to survive the undead onslaught..."
- "The undead helping us against the undead, how ironic", Makabee replies. "Do we care about the city though?"
- "We do!" Valya answers heatedly. "I was born here, I've never left the city walls. Vornheim may not be much, but it's all I've got!"
- "I quite like it here as well..." Wistul says more quietly.
- "But I thought you were coming back with me to the Elven Forest? That's what they sent me here for, you know..."
- "Cousin, I hate to tell you this, but I doubt it..."
- "What do you mean?"
- "Everybody hates you back there. You're a weirdo, shifting gender all the time. You even do it for fun. You try to seduce people of both sexes. I don't mind much, but they do back home. I think they sent you here knowing full well that I wouldn't want to go back, just to get rid of you..."
- "I'll be damned!"

- "Hey, Humboldt," Makeeba says after a few minutes of silence, "what about you?"
- "What about me?"
- "Do you care about Vornheim?"
- "Of course I do! I'm a hero here, everyone thinks highly of me!"
- "Really?"
- "Oh yes, just you wait and see!"

- "OK, so if we're going to try and save Vornheim, how do we go about finding those dead Carnifex?" Valya asks.
- "A Carnifex, is that like a king?" Humboldt asks.
- "Well, I suppose..."
- "I saw a dead king of Vornheim in the sewers once. He told me stuff. Sounded important, but I can't really remember."
- "Yes, yes, we know", Valya says. "You told us a million times."
- "Wait a minute", Wistul interjects. "What if he really did see a dead Carnifex? Humboldt, do you remember where you saw the dead king?"
- "Not precisely, but I think I could find my way back there..."

***

(1) Charm Person
(2) Wistul's Mercurial Magic Effect for Detect Magic is to change the weather
(3) Against all odds (he has Intelligence 4) Humboldt made his save, but since he didn't know anything in the first place, Lady Tate thought her suggestion had worked
(4) In DCC Charm Person works on monsters with a penalty. Makabee's player Greg rolled really really well that night.
(5) Chill Touch
 

Sammael99

Visitor
Session 7 Epilogue

The next day, Valya goes to the Red Mansion, the headquarters of the Vornheim militia. He finds Rulius in his dingy little office.

- "No offense, Master Rulius, but I thought that considering your important role, you would be better accommodated."
- "That would require for the so-called thinking heads up above to realize the importance of what I am trying to do."
- "Which is what exactly?"
- "Elucidate crime rather than simply find someone to take the fall. Anticipate threats to the security of Vornheim. And generally take a modern and scientific approach to dealing with criminals."
- "Well, that's very convenient, because I think you and I could help each other on one of these missions you listed."
- "And why should I trust you, pray tell? You are friends with the Wizardess Sabrina, who is increasingly high on my list of people with suspicious activities, you were friends with two criminals who have been executed for destroying Sir Rallentando's circus, and I strongly suspect you to have been part of that endeavour, though you have not been caught."
- "You don't have to trust me, just to listen to me. Have you heard of the Undertaker's Ball that took place last night?"

A flash of surprise briefly flickers on Valya's face who then remembers thinking that the man disguised as a theater devil looked familiar.

- "Of course you do," Valya says. "You were there, disguised as a devil."
- "You were there as well?"
- "I was the theatrical wizard with a pointy starred hat. We spoke."
- "So we did... Did you find out more about the meetings in the salon? And why did they call you Whitefish?"
- "I think the time has come for both of us to be as open books to each other..."

Valya then tells Rulius nearly everything about the situation. He only dissembles on the reasons for them being in the Whitefish mausoleum in the first place and glosses over a few illegal things they might have done over the course of their adventures. Most importantly, he asks Rulius for confirmation of the legend of the Dead Carnifex. Rulius confirms that he has heard the legend but has no idea if any of it is true. "Stranger things have happened in Vornheim..."

Rulius asks Valya if he and his companions would be willing to clean up the infected mausoleums. Valya hesitates, pointing out that while he is keen to protect the city, others are less attached to it.

- "It's a risky job. It would be easier to convince them if monies were guaranteed to come their way."
- "I understand. However, I do not have personal or professional access to sufficient funds to motivate adventurers such as yourselves. Try to convince your friends to at least scout the places, and I will try on my side to convince people higher up the hierarchy that it is worth funding you. Also, keep me informed."

Satisfied that the path ahead is at least a little clearer, but also worried about the looming dangers, Valya decides that evening to undertake the ritual to bond with the magical Patron he has found out about in the ophidian papers of Edgar Brittleshins. By the end of the night, Valya is recognised as a valuable aid to Vendel Re'Yune, the rebel yet immortal sorcerer whose spite for the Gods earned him a life of eternal pain blocked in a slab of rock on an elemental demi-plane. Re'Yune teaches Valya a secret formula that will allow him to wither his own arm in exchange for dreadful powers...

In our next installment, some of the following questions may be answered:

  • What are the Committee's goals, who are they exactly and how can they be countered?
  • What is the link between the granary cats and the Committee?
  • Will our heroes find the Dead Carnifex, assuming the legend is real?
  • What mysterious activities is the Taxidermists' Guild a cover for, and will they accept their defeat?
  • Are the Versheim catacombs worth exploring and why is the Count paying so little to get it done?
  • How will Wistul get rid of his brown scars before they turn him into an undead? And what will happen to Jack's infected corpse after his death?
  • Will Dwimberg consider Sabrina's debt repaid despite her failure to procure the bracelet?
  • Will Signor Rallentando leave the city and dissappear or will he stay to enact revenge and/or acquire the second bracelet from Dwimberg?
  • What are these damn bracelets?
 
Great write ups! Interesting to see bits and pieces of both DCC and Vornheim peaking through the narrative. Not sure how far you've gone with the Granary Cats but it's making me think of Jim Butcher's cats in The Aeronaut's Windlass and how they help protect the city and how to work something like that into PC interaction (confuse them with cat logic and social customs while they bargain for help).

Looking forward to more as this is giving me ideas of how to implement Vornheim into the upcoming Lankhmar (I'm sure there will be amazing stuff there but I love the lists and concepts in Zak S's Vornheim and think it will help give Lankhmar enough gonzo spirit to make it fit with a typical DCC campaign rather than the literary style campaign).
 

Sammael99

Visitor
Great write ups! Interesting to see bits and pieces of both DCC and Vornheim peaking through the narrative. Not sure how far you've gone with the Granary Cats but it's making me think of Jim Butcher's cats in The Aeronaut's Windlass and how they help protect the city and how to work something like that into PC interaction (confuse them with cat logic and social customs while they bargain for help).
I wasn't aware of that reference. So far I have some clear idea of what the cat's involvement is, but interaction with the players which could have happened at the last session didn't because the player who speaks cat wasn't present.

Looking forward to more as this is giving me ideas of how to implement Vornheim into the upcoming Lankhmar (I'm sure there will be amazing stuff there but I love the lists and concepts in Zak S's Vornheim and think it will help give Lankhmar enough gonzo spirit to make it fit with a typical DCC campaign rather than the literary style campaign).
Thanks for your comments. I used to love Lankmahr but since the DCC campaign will be winding down (temporarily, while we play something else) I decided not to get it for the time being. I think Vornheim has a fair bit of Lankmahr in it though, and its fair share of gonzo anyway, so great fit I suspect.

Oh, and next game tonight. This one will be very dungeon-y for a change.
 

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