Part 14: Winter Carnage

A great Harn campaign with the esteemed Patrick Nilsson, AKA "The Dongmaster" as GM.

Part 14: Winter Carnage

Postby Matt » Mon May 16, 2016 9:56 am

A WILD FIGHT (session 14, Mogger, Erol, Jeremiz PCs) ...

Mogger swallowed hard. In spite the bitter cold, the howling winds, and the white pure snow, he was sweating. The midget had survived Agrikan knights, undead and even sorcerers. Now he was cornered. Pushed back by looters and renegade thieves who had been turning the city up side down since the civil war began. Bhurt was at his side, his breathing hard and his mouth foaming in a frenzy. But the enemies were too many. Their leader, a scant tall man with a bloody and rusty broadsword, smiled evilly as he eyed the corpse on the floor. The dead man had been one of Mogger's most trusted regulars and his objection against the intrusion in the Silk Hat had cost him his life. The killer who hadn't spoken before took words to his mouth. "Stinking rats. It'll be a long winter for this gargun breeder's family. If you do not want to join him you maggot you better tell me where all your money is stashed." He shook the blood of his sword, spraying another terrified customer with the content. Mogger recognized him now. It was one of the Lads of Kolkene, one who had taken control of the vile gang when Kolkene himself had died of an overdose only three tendays ago. It seemed that this fellow had the same craving for Fanosel as his former master had. That made him very dangerous. His name was Urgin and his shifty eyes was a testament of his weakness for the drug.

"I am a poor taverner master murderer. By the shadow of the god of thieves I have only a few shillings at most and I need them to..." The midget never finished his sentence. Urgin slammed his sword into the nearest table, knocking two guests to the floor and spilling ale and broken shards all over the place. "Do not try to fool me you arse. I know you are one of Jarop's closest men and with the fat former master out of town I want it all. You must be wealthy. You must. Give it to me. Now!" Mogger drew his dagger shaking his head. "Never. Never will I give my money to the likes of you. You have defiled the guild. For that and for this night's intrusion your life is forfeit. If you want my money. Come and get it. I will enjoy gutting you open like a fish." Although tough words, the weak voice of the midget betrayed him.Urgin simply laughed insanely. "Brave words little one. Your guard may stop one or two of us but be sure that it will be all. I didn't come here to play games with you. I came to get your money. Your life will be spared if you hand it to me." Although the killer tried to sound sincere, an addict on Fanosel was as trustworthy as a Morgathian inviting a guest to his cellar. There was no way these thugs would let Mogger live. He would sell his hide at the highest bidder and take as many of these men down with him to the grave as he could.

"And you will be spared if you take off all of your clothes, run around naked in the street, and squawk like a chicken." All heads spinned around to face the newcomer who stood lazingly resting on the door frame to the brothel. He was a short fellow, dark skinned, and his two ears seemed misplaced on his tiny head. In his hands he held two daggers. There was a cunning smile on his lips. Jeremiz, foolish Jeremiz had walked into a trap and was now playing the hero. Mogger felt the bile rise in his throat. Was this the end to their gang? Urgin's slack jaw was erased slowly as he began to smile. "Look what the cat dragged in. Another rat for the butchery. I will enjoy this. Tell me... Who will make us? You?" Jeremiz simply pulled his hood over his head and drew his daggers together. "Mayhaps." Urgin roared with laughter as he asked the thief. "You and what company of soldiers?" But the gurgling sound coming from outside cut him short. One of his men was staring at his own torso. A sharp metal piece was pertruding from his bleeding chest. He fell to the ground with a moan. Behind him a man clad in black clothes, cloaking his features and holding a sharp broadsword, now bloody, shook his head. With a whisper he took over the conversation. "No soldiers scum. Me, master assassin, and your last enemy..." Slakka was here at last. Mogger eyed his cousin who nodded. The Silk Hat would get bloody tonight...

WHEN JAROP IS OUT OF TOWN THE MICE DANCE ...

Rethem in a civil war. The southern and northern parts of the kingdom is in turmoil and Golotha is as much part of the war as is any town. In Golotha the guildsmen are trying to keep up with all the demands a war brings them and profit, as long as the city is safe from the rattling, seems to be blooming. In the mist of all this there is a war brewing within the guild of thieves. For years the Lorjan brothers have been scheming against the current guildmaster to break up his hold on the very lucrative smuggling operations in the two wharves of the city. Unfortunately for them Jarop's grip in the city is held by an iron hand and disposing of him or his lieutenants has proven almost impossible. Besides, although the two wealthy brothers are well connected they fall short compared to the guildmaster of the thieves. This fact and Jarop's own cunning and ruthlessness has prevented them from making any gains on the dangerous king of the streets. However of late Largo, the elder of the two brothers has been able to bribe enough guildsmen in Golotha and Coranan to warrant an investigation against the chandler and his business.

Jarop has a major flaw. One that the Lorjan brothers have finally been able to see through. His greed is sometimes blocking his field of cunning. Largo has been meeting quite often, mostly by letters, with the head of the Mangai, a certain Minzal in Coranan. Minzal has been promised a substantial fee from Largo should he send Jarop a letter of invitation. The fee, according to the older of the two Lorjans, would be hefty enough to get a key member or two of the senate to ignore the pressure from the Teamsters fighting for their own guild (it has been postponed IMC). What Largo wants in return is the accusation of Jarop through legal means and that he has more than once breached the guild rights by bribing, using false credentials, smuggling and much, much more. Not only in Golotha but also in Coranan. Since the thieves of the domed city do not like their fellow "brethren" in Golotha, the Lorjan brothers have made sure that they too have a hand in all this. The plan is simple. Invite Jarop to Coranan with the promise of lucrative affairs with Minzal and the disposal of some "troublesome teamsters and their lackeys". The head of the Mangai, as he wrote to Jarop, is not interested in dealing with weakling thieves in his own city who are probably doing the bidding of the senators opposed to him and his friends. The sum he offers the guildmaster of the Lia-Kavair in Golotha is vast.

Jarop who does not fully trust Minzal takes his brother Thorfinn and his men with him to Coranan, as well as a few thugs. The plan is in motion. Unfortunately for the father of thieves the warden of Coranan, newly appointed and eager to prove his point, is handed a gift by the Mangai to arrest the scheming guildsman who has the blood of many a Coranan citizen on his hands. Though many men strong, Thorfinn is unable to save his brother who is captured, tried and imprisoned (gagged and bound), in the castle of the city. Minzal sends word to the Lorjan brothers that Jarop is behind bars and that he will never leave the dungeon alive. Largo's plan is to destroy the guild and build it up again using puppets as masters. His first move is to have Kolkene killed making it look like he took an overdose of Fanosel. Second is to destabilize the rest of the masters with lies, double-dealing, and whole lot of threats. The plan seems secure and it is only a matter of time before the city slips through the doomed Jarop's fingers and into the two merchants' hands. They intend to use Dalfyn of Oprail, a drug "lord" from North Haven Wharf as their puppet master. Dalfyn hates Jarop and is excited about becoming the king of the city.

BRINGING DOWN THE HOUSE ...

The adventure starts with the attack on Mogger's tavern. Urgin is from the lads of Kolkene and he has been bought by Dalfyn (read: Lorjans) to wreak havoc amongst the thieves. He is also an addict to the same drug that took the life of his former master and Urgin is very unpredictable. A bird whispered in his ears that The Silk Hat had lots of coins just waiting to be taken. Should the PCs survive the fight with Urgin and his five remaining henchmen, the adventure will really mostly be about what they will do when Golotha is free of the tyrant chandler. More importantly what will the PCs do when Jarop is no longer in command? Here is what will happen the coming days/weeks:

    • Oparn who is the current Master of Chance hires a few more bodyguards, keep all visitors from his domains, especially thieves, and try to protect as many of his men as he can. But being locked safe and sound behind bars or keeping thieves at a spear distance is doomed from the beginning and more than one of his lackeys fall under the protecting hands of Dalfyn.
    • Alvaro, who is Jarop's closest friend and the most loyal, goes into hiding. He is not a fighter and his small gang of thieves are not killers. He hides out in one of the safe houses which is unknown to most of the underworld. In the group of PCs only Jeremiz knows where this is.
    • A few days after the attack a rumor starts to spread on the streets that Jarop has died in a dungeon in Coranan. This rumor fueled by the Lorjans and Dalfyn, spreads blood on the snow of the city as thieves and thugs battle each other for scraps of territory. There is a chance the PCs will be attacked by would-be renegade Lia-Kavairs (randomly chosen crooks).
    • A few days after there is a rumor of a new master who has been waiting for his chance to spring into the pants as Lord of the Underworld. A drug lord of the wharves is destined to take over the city and bring the Lia-Kavair to new heights and heists. Though most are suspect of this so-called master, a few gruesome killings done by mercenaries from abroad, change many souls.
    • Late at night Jarop's Chandlery is burned to the ground and the journeyman and his two thugs with it. Although efforts are made to quench the fire, the building burns to the ground. Luckily because of the cold and snow, no other nearby houses are affected. Still, it is another proof that the legacy of the former guildmaster of thieves is fading.
    • The chaos on the streets continues but amongst all this urban underworld fighting, rumors is spreading that the new master is backed up by a treasure he or she found down in Selvos (a lie spread by the Lorjans), and that if one proves to be loyal to this new master, one can have a share of the pie.
    • Finally the master decides to surface and all people who live and breathe underworld are invited to a house near North Haven Wharf to pay homage and hear what the self-appointed father of the Lia-Kavair has to say. The house is renovated with new iron bound doors, a handful of mercenaries as guards, and when over three dozen thugs, crooks, thieves, beggars, and other lowly scum citizen has gathered in what appears to be a great hall the new master presents himself and his visions...

HE PROMISE MILK AND HONEY FOR NO MONEY ...

Those who knows Dalfyn are surprised to see this man sitting on a fake throne welcoming the lowliest of the low. He is known as a small man with no real cunning and daring plans. Anticipating this, the Lorjan brothers have almost structured the scene and Dalfyn is dancing to their pipe. Dalfyn explains that he has been biding his time when the day of war in the kingdom would come and maybe spread to the city of Golotha. He also announce that he has proof that Jarop died of a heart still in the dungeon in Coranan in the form of a stolen letter from the warden of that city addressed to the Mangai. He curse the guilds for their treachery of the former master of Golotha and swears never to fall into their trap. Dalfyn then tells the Lia-Kavair of his plans. To good to be true, he tells them that he will divide the city into territories instead of into positions of office like Jarop did. Each district will have its own master, those who are cunning enough, and they will pay tribute to him for protection and a piece of any news that may lead to revenue. Not only that, the tribute asked is only half of what Jarop demanded and more, the masters are free to do as they please within limits of not overexposing the Lia- Kavair.

This information brings up questions like who will be the masters of the districts and so forth. To find that out Dalfyn explains, is to see who has the reputation, boldness, and convincing attitude this night. He also explains that the wharves are his because those are the places he knows, and besides, what better way than to hide from the eyes of the city guards and the law (even though it is almost nonexistent in Golotha)? Dalfyn does not really give a rat's ass about what happens up in the city as long as he is paid by the masters and by the Lorjan brothers who will be the true masters of the city. What none of them knows is that Jarop is not dead. He has been able to persuade one of the guards that he is extremely wealthy and that he should reward any who sets him free. The persuasion succeeds and he is smuggled out of the dungeon to Thorfinn who is patiently waiting for his brother's release. The guards who set him free are paid in gold and flees to Aleath. Jarop then heads for Golotha silently to make sure no one knows of his arrival. He instructs Thorfinn and his marines to lay low on one of the many islands close to Golotha and not appear until called for (as he suspects foul play...).

A CHANDLER'S TERRIBLE WRATH ...

Jarop contacts his two remaining brothers to meet with him at the safe house where Alvaro is located. From there he will tell them of his plan and what has happened to his character in Coranan. Alvaro has told him all he needs to know about Dalfyn and Jarop is convinced that it is a scheme set up by the Lorjan brothers. His plan is to kill Dalfyn and all his closest men, scare the hell out of all thieves so that they will never again think twice about who is the master, and finally spend some of that "hard earned cash" to buy those who are too though to be intimidated. The next couple of days will be a ground shaking event gathering consisting of assassinations, pure murder, intimidation and ball breaking effects. Most of the plan succeeds. Taking by surprise the Lorjan brothers are outmaneuvered and it does not take long until Jarop finds out that they are behind the plan to remove him from power. Though he will never reveal that he has found out about the merchant's scam. With a decimated guild of thieves Jarop is more than ever dependent on his brothers and his vast connections. The whole affair costs him much of his hidden cash and he swears to wreak a terrible vengeance against the traitors who stepped on his toes. If the PCs were amongst these they will have much to answer for. If the dead can speak...

CAMPAIGN ADDS ...

Time: 14th Navek Golotha
Days: 14th - 26th (13 days all in all)
Characters: Slakka, Jeremiz, Mogger, and Bhurt
Players: Dan, Jonny, and Darius
Date: Saturday 10th July 2004
Length: 16:00 - 03:00 (holy cow...)

Notes: As I predicted my HârnMaster Pro rules sucked when minis were involved. Like HMG and HM1 there are at least three moments too much when combat is concerned. Comparing weapons, rolling IPs and keeping track of rounds is tedious and spoils much of the fun. The rules are out and I am using HM3 as is written with my other house rules instead. This session started as a short one but took eleven freakish hours to complete. Mostly because of the planning, back-stabbing, and idea cracking of the PCs. I had anticipated about five to six hours but that soon changed as the players took their characters to very dangerous grounds. Evil Erol was not with the rest of the gang as he was still looked up in a dungeon in the safe house of Alvaro (who didn't want to release him until he was sure of his master's fate). And if that wasn't enough, one of the characters died. I was hoping for a lot of PC interaction and I got what I wanted, and then some...

Where to begin? To make a long story short I will try to detail only the parts that matters to the story. The PCs won the fight, just barely, over Urgin's men. Slakka in spite his skills was seriously injured and Bhurt almost died (but he is not an easy man to kill). Jeremiz was the only one who came away unharmed. Looting the bodies, stealing what they could, Mogger sent for the local Embalmer to take care of the corpses (two fled, the rest died/were executed). After resting and seeing to their injuries for a few days the PCs decided to check out the rumors of the city. Most of the beginning of the session was done by snooping around, following thieves, and so on. Without any effect or progress.

As soon as the rumor of Jarop's death came rolling by the PCs ears things changed. Jeremiz suddenly became quite the scared thief because not only did Mogger and Slakka scheme together more and more, they also became demanding and acted brusque and hostile to the thief. Slakka was happy to hear that Jarop may have died and although Mogger was more careful he could not keep it in for long. The PCs managed to find out who the new master was and that he had connections with the Lorjan brothers (or so they assumed). Jeremiz fearing for his life and the loose tongue of Mogger contacted Alvaro who told him all he knew (about Jarop being imprisoned, and that he might die and so on). The old master also warned the thief to thread lightly around his "friends" and report back to him what happened on the streets above.

When the master presented himself, Jeremiz went into hiding with Alvaro. Prior to that however he had met with both the midget and his cousin assassin. Mogger was convinced that Jarop was dead and spilled the secret to Slakka of the theft of the two stones and how Erol lost everything. The assassin being a good friend to Erol told Jeremiz that he had one day to leave the city before he killed him. Jeremiz understanding that he is not match for Slakka fled high over heals to the safe house. Mogger confident, went to the meeting set up by Dalfyn. During the meeting he took the step out fully and paid homage to the new master in return for the "Trevorman Master" position (because of his connections with Slakka, Dalfyn agreed). After the meeting he spent the next day intimidating the weaker population of the Trevorman with Slakka, telling them that "the joke Jarop was dead" and that he would be running the show henceforth. This went on for a few days and both Jonny and Dan who play Mogger and Slakka respectively were all full of themselves.

But all good things come to an end. Jarop returned in secret to the city where Jeremiz told him everything that had happened and that the plan with the two diamonds had reached Slakka's ears through Mogger's babbling mouth. However since Erol was still hidden in a basement close by he had never heard about it. Jarop decided to have Slakka killed for his meandering with the Lorjans and his stubborn refusal to join the guild (and to save his most loyal thief Jeremiz from both Erol and Slakka's claws). Ironically Mogger sealed his cousin's death warrant when he told him about the heist. The midget himself was dragged into the night bound and gagged to the safe house where Jarop was residing. Mogger was about to be tortured to death when he revealed his last ace. His ability to shape change into an animal. This, and only this, saved the midget's life. Now Jarop knows and will take full advantage of the situation. But if Mogger betrays the chandler again, he will become an undead shape changer working for Jarop's brother.

Slakka OTOH was able to escape the early attempts to kill him. The vikings Thorfinn sent were not stealthy enough so Jarop sent Lurtz (who didn't swear loyalty to Dalfyn) to take care of business. Lurtz tricked Slakka by luring him to Borana's house where he had killed all in the building (including the child). The ambush failed however and Slakka killed Lurtz by a well aimed crossbow bolt poised with Gaethipa. He then fled to his house purchased by a handful of armed vikings. There he barricaded himself. Unfortunately for him he was unable to take any water or food with him into his secret bedroom where he hid.

Jarop infuriated by loosing Lurtz to Slakka appealed to his brother the Morgath priest to help him out (in return for many victims and money). The priest gathered two Gulmorvin and sent them into the house. Though they fell through the traps, they were unaffected by the damage done. Meanwhile a few Vikings hacked their way through the roof and opened the door on the third floor letting the undead enter. The Gulmorvin guarded the inside of the house and five vikings waited on the outside (changing with others as time went by). Slakka getting desperate for food and water, and feeling the cold death stench outside decided to take his chances and escape. He almost managed. Thirsty, hungry and sleepy, he managed to fight off the two Gulmorvin, escape the shadow, climb up onto the roof, kill a viking before falling for the vicked blade of another norseman. When he awoken he turned down the offer to become undead and thus he joined the rest of the Gulmorvins in the crypts.

Jarop had returned and destroyed his enemies. But the price has been high. Half of the Lia-Kavair elite is gone, most of the assassins are dead, and people he thought he could trust have been executed or fled the city. The master of thieves is planning to dispose of the Lorjan brothers but knows it needs more than a piece of paper to get rid of them. In the meantime both Largo and Harald suspect that Jarop will be looking for revenge and spends money on protection accordingly. For the PCs, Jeremiz got Slakka's silver while Mogger got a sound beating, higher monthly pay to Jarop, and the last threat. Messing up will make him join his cousin...
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Matt
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