This session report comes a little late, but continues the Steamlands Campaign that I am running using Warhammer 3. This is a report from a session late last year, when we had a slightly different-sized group of players, two of them completely new to the campaign. This session we had the Wizard of the Jade Order, the dwarven Trollslayer, a human Coachman and a human Roadwarden. Conveniently this group was somewhat better composed for combat.
When last we left our heroes, they were under attack from Beastmen, but the Roadwarden had pulled off a cunning trick that saw the leader of the Beastmen – a 12′ tall wargor – dragged along the road with its head trapped inside the group’s wagon, and the lesser Beastmen – the ungors – all entangled by the Jade wizard. At the start of this session those four ungors had been slaughtered where they stood, and the party had regrouped ready for the return of the wargor. They knew he was returning from the road, because as they gathered themselves in the clearing they could hear his rage echoing through the woods ahead. First the clatter of hooves and thunder of the wagon wheels; then a roar, a crash and a scream; silence broken by wet tearing sounds; and, finally, the approaching roars of an enraged beastman.
After just enough time for the Jade wizard to lay some healing on the Roadwarden, and for the others in the group to catch their breath, the wargor re-emerged in their clearing. Pieces of the wagon were still caught around its horns and neck, and in one huge clawed hand it held the back leg, hip and part of the spine of the donkey that had been hauling their cart. This monstrous piece of loot still steamed in the cool spring air, and the beastman himself appeared to be chewing on a large chunk of something donkey. He also clearly wasn’t happy: entering the clearing, he let loose a great roar and with a contemptuous shrug hurled the portion of donkey through the air at the party. It landed with a wet splattery thud and explosion of gore nowhere near the characters, and in its wake the beastman hurled himself into the fray.
The battle was short, brutal and surprisingly successful. The Jade wizard used entanglement to slow the beast, the Coachman and Roadwarden shot him, and the Trollslayer eventually cleaved him twain. Though they were terrified and some of the party could barely bruise the beast, they prevailed without injury. Having successfully divided the wargor from his underlings, the party could gang up on their single foe and destroy him before he had much chance to strike back. They cut out his tusks as proof for a bounty, and proceeded on their merry way to Separation City.
The healers and the bandits
The following day, when they were just a few hours from Separation City, our heroes stumbled upon an ambush just commencing. On the road before them a heavily-armed bandit was poised to deliver the coup de grace to a wounded soldier; beyond him two seriously wounded healers of the Shallya cult leaned against a driverless wagon. In the undergrowth near the road were three more bandits, armed with crossbows and preparing to fire on the wounded healers. Such a circumstance is almost unheard of in civilized lands – the healers of Shallya are welcomed everywhere they go, and rarely need to travel with a guard because even bandits will receive healing from them when it is needed. The party were suitably incensed, and immediately attacked the bandits, but upon seeing the Trollslayer the entire group turned and fled into the hills. The Jade wizard tried an entanglement spell that failed, but the party weren’t entirely without luck: one bandit tripped over something in their hideout, and the characters captured him before he could get up again.
Once they had helped the healers to recover, the party interrogated the bandit. He had tripped over the body of a goblin, wrapped in canvas, that the bandits had brought with them, and revealed that they had intended to leave the body as evidence that the healers had been slain by goblins. In fact, the bandits had been hired by someone in Separation City to ambush and murder the healers. The bandit didn’t know who had hired them, but told the party that they could find out if they managed to track down the leader of the bandit tribe, a man called Max Fleisher who could be found at the Bloody Shower tavern in Separation City – or in the bandit camp back in the foothills.
The healers had no idea why they had been targeted by the bandits. However, they did tell the PCs that they had been cast out of Separation City by the town’s matriarch, Lady Agnetha von Jungfreud, and were heading to Heavenbalm to complain to the head of the church there and gain redress. This is extremely unusual – casting out Shallyan healers is an act of heresy, and it was likely that were the healers to make it to Heavenbalm the consequences for the matriarch would be severe, up to and possibly including being burnt alive at the stake if an investigator from Heavenbalm could determine that Chaos was the cause of the heresy. And the good prosecutors of Heavenbalm always find the truth …
The healers, of course, being good folk of Shallya, were worried for the Lady von Jungfreud, and asked our heroes to rush to Separation City and give her one last chance to change her mind. They themselves had been denied an audience with her, but were the characters able to get an audience the healers are sure they would be able to convince her to change her mind. Were the characters to act this very day they might be able to send a fast horse to recall the healers, and thus avoid any unpleasantness for the town.
The healers could not explain the reasons for their exile, except that the town had been struck by ghoulpox in the past year, and for some reason this particular pox had been proof against their ministrations – “perhaps Shallya’s grace left us for a time” – so that only the town physician, Dr. Wilhelm Verfullen, had been able to have any success against the pox. The healers had failed to save von Jungfreud’s own husband, and only the physician’s swift intervention had saved her son and her, though von Jungfreud was now hideously scarred by the pox. In rage at the healers’ failings, she cast them all out and gave their hospice over to the physician.
It seemed likely, then, that whatever heresy was afoot in Separation City must have some relationship to whoever hired the bandits. The PCs pursued the bandits into the hills, following a narrow path leading away from the ambush site. Even though they approached cautiously they were too late to stop the bandit leader escaping, managing only to kill two of his cronies. There was nothing for it, then, but to proceed to Separation City and act quickly to try and convince von Jungfreud to recall the healers.
Separation City: von Jungfreud’s declaration
At the gates of the city the party were stopped by some slovenly guards, and read the following declaration:
By order of Lady Angetha von Jungfreud, the Dowager Lady of the Manor of Hugeldal.
Within the town of Hugeldal and its immediate environs the performance of Shallyan miracles is proscribed on pain of a fine of up to 10 gold crowns, the threat of the gentler tortures, and banishment.
Should you require medical attention whilst in Hugeldal, please visit the former Shallyan temple hospice in the Iron Ring, where members of the most worshipful Guild of Physicks will minister to any and all afflictions for a competitive fee and to high professional standards.
Not only had von Jungfreud cast out the Shallyans, but she had put her own personal seal to a written declaration to that effect! This was undoubtedly heresy, and apparently a heresy that benefited the physicians of the town most. The characters decided to take rooms at the Bloody Shower tavern, and to investigate further the mysteries of the town and its heresies.
It is here that we leave the PCs, preparing for a visit to the good doctor himself to find out what he knows and to try and seek healing for their wounds. They then intend to visit the Dowager Lady herself, and to hunt down the bandit leader, before bringing the strange heresies of Separation City to a close … if stranger things do not lurk beneath the surface of this heresy …