Having outlined my thoughts on my first Warhammer 3 session, I will now give the actual session report. This adventure is a preliminary adventure for the adventure An Eye for an Eye, which comes with the basic rules pack and seems a perfectly decent introductory adventure to try out. The plan for today was to give the characters a reason for being together, and being at Grunewald lodge. Some of the background material I’ll present here probably represents my own take on the warhammer world – I didn’t do too much reading about the region where the adventure was set so I don’t know if it’s a reasonable depiction of the area.
Winter in Bogenhafen
The characters had gathered separately for their own reasons in the small town of Bogenhafen. The adventure starts in early January, deep winter in the region, with the characters choosing to weather the snows and storms of the Reikland in the (relative) comfort and (relative) austerity of Bogenhafen, due primarily to a lack of money, and perhaps to look for the traditionally easy and relatively safe work that most small- to medium-sized towns in the Reikland offer in winter – relatively low-risk escort and town guard work.Typically north-south caravans reduce in number during the winter months, due to inclement weather in the Grey Mountains, and the normal work that PCs do in Bogenhafen during this period is the safe and low-paying work of escorting caravans between Bogenhafen and the towns of Helmgart, Ubersreik, Stromdorf and Auerswald, further to the east and on the far side of the Reikwald forests. This winter trade is very important to Bogenhafen, because it brings in traditional winter fare that makes the otherwise tedious and dark days of deep winter more fun. There is honeyed mead, smoked ale, black rye bread and treats from the South East, and in February after the coldest part of winter is over, a large festival is held south of the Reikwald, culminating in a society ball in which the young women of those towns who came of age during the winter get to enter society proper.
Unfortunately life in Bogenhafen this winter has proven exceptionally boring, because a large tribe of beastmen moved into the southern Reikwald forests to the East of Bogenhafen, and have been molesting the Reikwald road, preventing the usual small trading caravans from getting through. In the absence of large numbers of soldiers to protect these caravans, the traders of Bogenhafen have stopped trading, and for the last 2 months nothing has moved East from Bogenhafen. Since adventurers are only hired for caravans with soldiers already attached, there is no work for the characters in Bogenhafen, and they have spent the winter so far drinking, lounging, and getting into fights.
The traders have not been able to find soldiers for their caravans because most mercenaries commonly in the area during winter have moved south to the Grey Mountains, where significant greenskin trouble has led to a great demand for mercenaries; and the usual regular soldiers that might be supplied by nobles of the area have been held back, due to land disputes between the nobility that require them to deploy their soldiers in border skirmishes. Bogenhafen, finding itself on its own for the winter, has opted to wait out the winter without the usual trade caravans, and to appeal to Altdorf for soldiers in Spring when the troubles in the Grey Mountains are expected to subside.
It is against this backdrop that the characters find themselves slumming it in Bogenhafen, perhaps aware of each others’ presence in town but not yet acquainted.
The characters are
- Suzette, Initiate, of the Cult of Morr, a 14-year-old girl recently fled from the Chaos incursion to the North
- Shultz, Apprentice Wizard, of the Celestial Order, who usually trains in Altdorf but has decided to spend his winter holidays in Bogenhafen, taking in the country air
- Aruson, elven thief, who is wandering around the lands north of the Grey Mountains looking to find out what the human world is all about
- Heinze, soldier, who has taken some time off from his standard career and finds himself stranded for the winter in Bogenhafen without much money
They are staying at different pubs in the town, and not finding much to do in the depths of an adventure-less winter. All are first level. I fudged the money a little to give Heinze and Suzette slightly better arms and armour than they would get as standard, primarily for variety. I don’t like a party where everyone is wearing leather armour. I think I also fudged on the training rules a bit to ensure that at least one character (Shultz) had the ability to read.
The Road Opens
One day in January, in the late afternoon, with snow falling gently and the world grey and frozen as ever, the characters in their separate pubs all hear a sudden uproar. Emerging from their cups to investigate, they find a crowd gathered around two roadwardens, who are striding muddied and exhausted into town along the main road from the East. Eager to find out more, the characters join the throng as it enters the town square and the two Roadwardens mount the ever-present gallows, to give the following speech:
Men and women of Bogenhafen! We are roadwardens from Ubersreik, and we find ourselves here in Bogenhafen after a week on the roads, walking here from the towns of that distant region. We have scouted the lands to every side of the road, most carefully and at great risk to ourselves, and bar a small encounter with some greenskins who will eternally regret their impertinence, we now find ourselves arrived safe here in Bogenhafen
Men and women of Bogenhafen, we can tell you now – the road to Ubersreik is open! The beastmen have left the Southern Reikwald en masse, abandoned their camp and left only a few greenskins to guard their old stomping grounds. Something or someone has driven them off, and the road is again yours!!! Even now, without rest, we two roadwardens aim to turn around and leave this town as soon as we are able, the sooner to return to Ubersreik and inform the good Burghers of that town that they should send forthwith a large cargo of their best ales and sweetmeats!!!!
With this final declaration the crowd was immediately in uproar, cheering and yelling, but when they calmed a little, Suzette was able to yell in her clear and child-like voice the question on everyone’s lips: Will the Winter Solstice Coming of Age party happen?
The roadwarden’s response, so flattering as to have been uttered by a Tilean, was to say
Good men and women of Bogenhafen, let us not be rash! It is well known that across all the lands of the Southern Reikland, the young women of Bogenhafen are famed as the sweetest, gentlest and prettiest lasses to be had for work or wedding; and it would be a tragedy whose cost could not be counted in tears were those pretty young ladies to be sent rashly to a horrible death on the lakeshores south of the Reikwald. Before any decisions are made as to whether to hold a party to celebrate these flowers of Reikland maidenhood, we need more roadwardens to be sent from the towns to investigate the safety of the Southern Reikwald in more detail, and a meeting of Burghers from all the towns. Heaven itself would spare us no wrath if such beauties were to be endangered by poor planning!!!
But I can tell you, friends, based on my 10 years wandering these roads, that my judgement of the situation is optimistic, and our burghers when they meet will judge the lands of the Reikwald to be safe, and the party will go ahead, though preparations be a little rushed. And who will care if the garlands are not as splendid as last year, or the board does not groan so strongly with the weight of good Reikland beer? For men of standing will eat bread and drink water under torn newssheets, for the chance to make eyes at a pretty Bogenhafen lass!!!!
So saying, he roused another great cheer from the crowd, and an enterprising inkeep leapt to the gallows to yell “Bring these doughty men to my pub, The White Lizard, that we may all toast their bravery. The first toast is on me!!”
Receiving no complaint from the crowd, the roadwardens descended the gallows and set off to The White Lizard, the PCs in tow.
The Mayor’s request
The characters sat separately and alone at the White Lizard, drinking a little and watching the party, but soon their reverie was, separately, broken, by a surreptitious message delivered in a variety of different ways by a carefully inconspicuous man, who made to all of them the same request: the Mayor wants to meet you upstairs at the Purple Chick, to discuss possible work, and mere attendance there, if done subtly and without raising suspicion, will earn you a silver shilling.
They all, of course, jumped at the opportunity and after a suitably subtle interlude found themselves meeting the mayor in a well-appointed meeting room upstairs in the Purple Chick. Here the mayor, a portly red-faced chap with preposterous claims to a youth spent soldiering, outlined to them his basic problem: what, exactly, made the Beastmen go away? Had they been driven off only to be replaced by something worse, something more subtle and devious? He needed brave souls to find out what that thing was, but he also needed those brave souls to be unconnected to the normal populace of the town, for if a group of the town’s militia were sent out they would surely arouse panic. So the characters were offered 20 shillings each, and a month’s free accomodation in the rather upmarket Golden Bell, if they would depart, in secret, tonight, and investigate the cause of this turn of events. They would be paid upon their return with information, and there would be no payment for a report that stated “no reason.”
The PCs, of course, agreed, and so they asked a few questions about where to find the Beastman lair. In short: the Beastmen maintained a small nest of goblins to keep an eye on the road, and from that nest the characters could easily track their way back to the Beastman camp. They merely had to set off on the road, in dead of night, looking for a nest of goblins… understandably concerned, the PCs asked as to the whereabouts of anyone in town who might know the area and the goblins, and the mayor directed them to a drunkard in a poor tavern at the southern edge of town. They set off to learn more about the local greenskins.
Four brash young fools walk into a bar…
The characters soon found themselves entering one of the seediest establishments in Bogenhafen, the White Elephant. With a big party going on in the middle of town, this bar was nearly empty, occupied only by an irascible dwarf, a rather shoddily-dressed young lady of dubious profession, and their mark, a drunken middle-aged man already well into his cups. The Dwarf, as soon as he saw Aruson, stood up, threw down his cup, said something unpleasant about a bad smell in the room, and stalked out. The dubious young lady marched up to the elf and told him, “You just messed up my evenin’s work, hoity toity! That was 2 shillin’s I was up for there. You gonna make it up to me, free of obligation, or do I ‘ave to raise ‘ell?!!!”
The elf, being an elf, stood in a state of confusion, staring down at this strange creature, and then threw her 2 silver shillings. [game terms: the player, Mr. Miyao, declined to make any social check to get rid of her, and just wanted her out of his way]
They approached the table, and after a short conversation and some purchasing of drinks, set about getting the information they needed. Heinze the soldier took the lead, speaking as one soldier to another to try and draw out the drunken sop’s feelings of camaraderie and responsibility for the purpose of helping a fellow soldier. Although this worked beautifully, it took many hours of drinking and it was a near thing – when they left the pub their mark was passed out under the table, having drunk his weight in strong liquor, the PCs had spent 3 shillings, and several hours had passed. However, they had precise details on the number of beastmen – about 40 – and the number of goblins – about 12, mostly henchmen, usually with one acting as a scout along the road. [game terms: Mr. Kaede used leadership skill to enact this conversation, and exhausted his “I know a guy…” talent to boost it, perhaps calling on superiors they both knew to back up his claim to deserve good information. He rolled a phenomenal number of successes but he also somehow managed to dredge up quite a few misfortunes, so I decided he got all the information they needed, but at a very high price in liquor].
The Goblin Scout
And so the characters set out, to find the goblin nest. Within a few hours they had noticed that they were being tailed by a scout, but in the dark with the woods so near they couldn’t find him. They knew that he was there though, and when they began searching for him they also knew that he was making a run for it. They gave chase, into the forest at night. After a couple of hours they stumbled into a starlit clearing and there he was, in the open, trying to cross the clearing towards them, all unsuspecting. They had caught him! [game terms: I set this up to test the progress tracker and it worked beautifully. I had them do challenged observation checks, with one character (the elf thief) doing the main roll and the others explaining how they used a skill to support him. The soldier used leadership to direct the search, the initiate used minor blessings to keep everyone calm and functioning, and the wizard used light spells to help with the search, giving the thief 3 extra fortune dice. Still, the first few rolls were atrocious and the goblin was halfway up the progress tracker before they finally got him].
Battle was joined, and the goblin was soon defeated and forced to reveal the location of his nest. They then set out for the nest, and arrived at the first blush of dawn.
The nest 1: killing the guards
The nest was a two-level cave set on a hillside overlooking the forest and the distant road, with a cairn of rocks on top that could serve as a sniper’s nest. The characters were some distance from the nest in the forest, but they could see a goblin leader lounging at the main entrance to the cave, and Shultz noticed a goblin hiding in the cairn, carrying what looked like a very powerful blunderbuss of some kind [this was actually a fumbled observation check]. They couldn’t think of a way to get to the nest without being spotted, so they came up with a plan. Heinze the soldier hid near the entrance to the forest and Aruson the wood elf thief made a suitable animal noise, that would sound like the Goblins’ favourite food animal, in pain and close, i.e. easy food. Shultz would cast a cantrip to make a few dazzling spots of light – like dawn sun on falling snow – to prevent the goblin from looking too closely at Heinze’s hiding spot, and they would draw out the leader for Heinze to kill quickly from the shadows. Four one one with an ambush set would surely happen too fast for the goblin sniper to notice, and then they could perhaps sneak up on the sniper.
This they did, and Aruson’s call was so effective in making the goblin leader think a young deer was trapped just inside the forest that he called down his sniper too, and they both came to get their breakfast. [game terms: the wizard’s cantrip added a fortune die to Heinze’s poor stealth skill, and Mr. Kaede discharged his Reiklander special ability to add another 2, which won him just enough successes to make his stealth. Aruson got the usual benefits for being a wood elf doing this sort of thing, and he also got his thief’s extra die on skullduggery. He rolled up a big success and a sigmar’s comet, so I ruled that the underling joined the leader].
The ambush was over in a few seconds, Heinze landing a savage attack that tore the goblin leader apart with one blow of his spear, and Aruson ambushing the underling to deadly effect. They had opened a path to the cave without alerting anyone.
The nest 2: killing everyone else
They moved quickly to the cave mouth, and Aruson sneaked inside to see what they were up against. Unfortunately he failed his stealth check; but since he also got a sigmar’s comet (again!) I decided to rule that he realised before it was too late, and ducked out again without being seen but without getting the information he needed. Lacking the information they needed, the characters charged in, to take on 2 Goblin leaders and 8 henchmen in the final battle.
This battle was over in, I think, 4 rounds. In the first round the goblin henchmen unleashed concerted fire on the wizard (one group of 4) and the soldier (one group of 4). Somehow they shredded Heinze but missed Shultz consistently for all but 1 round (when he took a critical). The goblin leaders also moved for Heinze, and failed magnificently – a bad situation, since Heinze’s main talent is recklessly destroying everyone in his path. Shultz deployed a Cerulean Shield to block incoming crossbow bolts (to considerable effect!) and then unleashing magic darts at the goblin leaders. Suzette deployed some supporting magic and then charged into battle with Morr’s Touch enveloping her tiny fist. Aruson tried to disengage from combat and use missile weapons, which I ruled meant that he suffered a free attack (let’s call it an opportunity attack!) and took some damage. Everyone took some damage, and Heinze was so badly damaged that Suzette had to try administering first aid during combat, but they survived (just).
So, after a short but brutal battle the goblins were vanquished and the PCs were able to take their stuff. Amongst their stuff they found a note, written by the beastman leader to the Goblins in common, that declared:
We are moving North to some human hovel called “Grunewald Lodge,” at the other end of this forest, where there is a great artifact of chaos that we can devote to our gods. Maintain an eye on that road, for our return, and don’t even think about raiding the remains of our camp, unless you want to be the first additions to the midden pile when we get back.
They had the information they needed for the Mayor, and a tantalizing clue to a new adventure. Should someone go and warn the folk of Grunewald Lodge of what was coming? Did they know about this “chaos treasure”? What secrets lay beneath that distant Lodge? Curiosity, as they say, killed the cat – will it kill our intrepid heroes?
fn1: I like the weapon rules in Warhammer 3. The spear has been transformed from a “why bother” weapon in D&D to a nasty piece of badness. You can parry with it every round, it has a good critical chance, and your special abilites are fast with it. These rules also make a dagger a wise investment for someone who can’t use a shield. Very good thinking!!!
fn2: the shield’s property of rerolling fortune dice means it’s very useful deployed against groups of henchmen, since a group of 4 henchmen will likely have 4 fortune dice in total, one for the main guy using an aggression point and 1 for each of his mates.
fn3: He also has the shooting star spell but it seems weaker than magic dart, so I can’t make sense of it.