Last weekend we took our first foray into Cörpathium as a small-time mercenary band looking to gain some coin and reputation. I didn’t have much time beforehand so I came up with a few jobs they could take and the main preparation was keying a map for the only job that required crawling through a building.
They did not take this job so I ended up winging the whole session.
Other things I learned? The city tables that I made work great in having the city and the player’s experience grow in a natural way, but are a bit much to be happening all the time given how many boroughs they’ll be constantly travelling between, and I also want the city to feel more full, I want the different boroughs to have their own atmosphere without me just constantly making shit up, so I can concentrate on what’s going on in the game instead of worrying that I’m making the environment interesting enough.
So, I’m probably going to do up a document that sets out each borough with common sights and sounds and smells, common activities for different parts of the day, major landmarks (“Oh you want to go to a brewhouse? The biggest one in this borough is the Thirst of the Leviathan. whispering inaudibly: and down a hidden staircase they drain vagrants of blood into a grate in the floor.”), and a table of mundane encounters specific to that borough, then likely make it a 50/50 chance when travelling between boroughs of rolling on the city encounters, or that borough’s encounters.
Rose: Octavius Goldenloins (Fighter Lvl 1) – Overconfident tinyman with an oiled moustache and a feather cape.
Michael: Ballmar the Girthy (Mystic Lvl 1) – Oblivious Lover of Bakhri, the only healer, probably the greatest liability. (I let Michael re-roll his Ability Scores twice and he still ended up with an Intelligence of 5)
Roy: Gravelax Bowel-Shatterer (Maleficar Lvl 1) – Wearing spell-inscribed leather armour decorated with jaunty shrunken heads and teeth. On the lookout for more teeth.
Ellen: Madame du Lumpé (Specialist Lvl 1) – Ex-madam of the Black Rose whorehouse, her black left hand is still full of the poison that was meant to kill her.
The mercenary band, the Gilded Loin, receives messages regarding several jobs.
Sister Nektaria Siourthas of the Cathedral of Lost Virtue needs help finding a missing Whaugur, Octavius’ old friend Holt Brueghel is trying to organise protection for a merchant caravan headed to the Möndfels, bibliophile Ryszard Schmaler is looking to recover stolen property, and Cordell van Heerden wants help reclaiming a derelict library.
They head straight for the Cathedral of Lost Virtue.
Let’s do this in bullet points.
- Heading through the Dockmaw they see an old woman drop the fish she had just purchased, which is then stomped into the ground by three ostentatious young men dancing a jig. Octavius shoves the nearest one to the ground, causing fishguts to adhere to his lovely clothes. Eyes are narrowed and threats are made, but the young men leave.
- They see Nektaria at the Cathedral of Lost Virtue, who explains that a Whaugur named Bernadette de Haas is missing, a ransom was demanded and paid to a young boy with green eyes at a brewhouse called the Tramp’s Folly, but the location they were directed to in exchange was empty. Questioning reveals that while she had a few regulars, most of them have been back looking for her since she went missing. In Bernadette’s room Gravelax pillow-talks a locked trunk into opening using Knock, where they find a love letter signed ‘Solomon’. Nektaria confirms that as the name of a young merchant who often came to see Bernadette.
- On their way to the merchant quarter to speak to Holt Brueghel a man drags himself from a sewer opening, his legs are missing, trailing clumps of pink and white filth, he passes out clutching a misshapen gold nugget in his hand. Ballmar and Gravellax approach to see if they can steal it, but in the commotion caused by others coming to see what is happening a young boy takes it and runs. They leave the unconscious man in the street and duck into a random alley to avoid the Godless coming down the street.
- After walking a little way around the alleys they hear a voice behind them. They turn to see the young men from earlier along with three more friends, wielding blades. With fish-stains still on his clothes the leader points and says, “You messed with the Youngbloods, now you’re gonna bleed.” Octavius holds his belly and gives a great big hearty chortling laugh, during which the Youngblood rolls a critical on his thrown blade, dropping Octavius to the ground with a knife in his throat. (Which Rose then drew into her Significant Items illustration)
- Gravelax responds by hurling a wurfkruez into the Youngblood’s face and he and Madame du Lumpé draw blades while Ballmar drags Octavius to the side and begins lapping at his throat, healing the wound through his faith and love for Bakhri.
Blows are exchanged, Madame du Lumpé attempts to claw three of the Youngbloods with her Black Hand, fails her Called Shot, gets stabbed in the arm, but that causes poison to burst from some of the boils and into the eyes of the stabby Youngblood, who falls to the ground screaming and dying in agony. Soon Gravelax and a foolhardy Ballmar are unconscious and bleeding out with Madame du Lumpé desperately trying to stabilise them, and a shaky Octavius is trying to shield-bash the final Youngblood, whose morale held out to the last.
- When Octavius finally drives his sword through the Youngblood’s gut the Godless have arrived in the alley to investigate the noise.
- The Godless accept Octavius’ explanation of reprisal and ambush, but lead them all to the Deicidium, sending word for a Leech to tend to Gravelax and Ballmar. They allow Octavius and Madame du Lumpé to leave, but keep Octavius’ sword and shield.
- In the merchant quarter Octavius and Madame du Lumpé purchase some fig pies and Octavius tries to out-Charisma a happy blacksmith. Octavius walks away after spending all the silver he had and trading his bolas for a long sword that is going to take a Notch on a 4 or less.
- They find Holt Brueghel who thinks they’re here in response to his message, but they show him the letter’s signature and ask if he knows who Solomon might be. Holt asks if they mean Solomon Fiergrieve, of the Fiergrieve merchants, the caravan he’s hiring them to escort.
- Back at the Deicidium Gravelax and Ballmar awake with a fright, and Gravelax fights off Ballmar’s attempts to lick him before they’re thrown into the street.
They start walking to the merchant quarter, but dark clouds tinged with pink have been gathering over the city, and old ex-adventurers look to the skies with fear, muttering “Sturg’s Storm” and running for cover. Ballmar and Gravellax run with a group of people into the nearest building.
- Merchants hastily pack up their stalls and caravans and start to leave, and Octavius and Madame du Lumpé run after Holt back to his house. The rain is falling hard and Holt points out the window at the departing Fiergrieve caravan. Octavius tears down Holt’s mother’s drapes and runs into the rain, followed by Madame du Lumpé who changes her mind after a short run and walks back to Holt’s.
Octavius runs down several streets but can’t even see the caravan anymore, drops the sheets in the street, and takes refuge in front of a garrisoned house.
- Madame du Lumpé offers herself to Holt to be let back in, and after being washed down and dried in front of a fire is surprised by Holt’s sexual prowess. After making post-coital small talk and hearing the story of Holt’s mother’s drapes Madame du Lumpé decides she is falling for Holt and vows to buy him the nicest drapes after they have been paid for finding Bernadette (“Good”, says Ellen, “I wanted a love interest.”).
- Ballmar and Gravelax find themselves in a dingy bar where the proprietor informs them that this is a fight house, and if they want in out of the rain, they’ll be needing to either bet or fight. While they both have enough money to bet, one of the elderly ex-adventurers that came in with them does not. Gravelax tries to give the old man some money but the proprietor politely tells him that if he’s wanting to do something in the old man’s place, it’ll be fighting not betting.
- Downstairs, Gravelax’s fight is announced as he climbs into a wooden pit. A muscular woman a head taller than Gravelax pushes her way through the crowd and drops into the pit, club in hand. “BAROVIAAAAAA!” announces the proprietor as she takes a swing at Gravelax’s head. They both trade equally ineffective blows, tripping over each other and diving into the dirt, Gravelax hurls another wurfkruez which embeds itself into the pit wall, Barovia discards her club and beats Gravelax with her fists, the crowd jeers such a poor showing until Gravelax kicks Barovia onto the embedded wurfkruez (then again to kill her proper).
Ballmar collects his winnings from the bet and buys Gravelax a drink upstairs, where they learn that Soldadt Raas, one of Bernadette’s other regulars, is actually back down by the fight pit. Ballmar has Gravelax hold his drink while he tries to talk to Soldadt about Bernadette’s whereabouts.
- Soldadt listens to Ballmar then tells him that he’s bored and wants a fight, so if Ballmar will get into the pit with him for a fistfight and gets in at least one good punch, he’ll tell him anything he needs to know.
A fight is already underway but they stop and make room when Soldadt jumps into the pit. Ballmar gets in with his cock hanging out of his pants (Michael spent far too much time drawing it hanging down Ballmar’s trouser leg on his character sheet), and the proprietor yells that he’s already told him once it’s a fighthouse not a whorehouse. While Ballmar still has his hands down his pants putting it away Soldadt punches him square in the dick, and a second punch leaves him lying unconscious in other people’s blood.
Soldadt hoists himself out of the pit and tells Gravelax to buy him a drink. “I’ll buy you two!” says Gravelax and hands him Ballmar’s drink, who is being dragged to the side of the pit so that the other fight can continue.
- Soldadt is very fond of Bernadette due to the glory she always prophesied while fucking him, and informs Gravelax that he’ll accompany them until she is found.
Ballmar eventually wakes up and buys himself another drink.
- By the time the rain ends Ballmar has spent 60sp on cheap booze and Octavius has spent an awkward six hours in the home of a cabbage-selling widow. They meet each other in the merchant quarter and rouse Madame du Lumpé and Holt Brueghel from their lovemaking. Holt is quick to forgive Octavius’ desecration of his mother’s drapes and provides them his coach to pursue the Fiergrieves for a 50sp fee, warning that he wants it back undamaged.
- The Gilded Loin immediately leaves Cörpathium and heads for the Möndfels, a good two days ride away, and the Fiergrieve’s have an eight hour head-start.
- Along the way the coach lanterns illuminate a ford with a band of eight demented looking bearded men on the other side, who immediately start wading across singing about a dirty mule (Mouldering Hugo and his Wherrymen).
Madame du Lumpé has already thrown herself from the back of the coach and is sneaking around the side while Octavius stands up in the driver’s seat and issues challenges, narrowly missed by five darts. Ballmar stands on top of the coach and attempts to invoke the Carnal Cornucopia but is still really, really drunk and falls over.
- Knowing that the magic is beyond his control but not seeing any other option, Gravelax attempts to conjure a crocodile in the water using Phantasmal Supergoria (Roy was given the choice of randomly selecting his spells from the 1st and 2nd level spell lists, or from all spell lists, and he made the manly choice. But he is now 3 Cataclysm points short of what he needs to cast this spell, meaning a -3 penalty to his Cast the Bones roll, which amazingly comes up as Success/Chaos Reigns). The crocodile manifests in the water full of Gravelax’s murderous intent, and the Chaos Reigns result causes an intense burning itch in the flesh of everyone present. Their pores stretch open and close like something is moving through them and Soldadt digs into his skin to catch a glimpse of glassy things like jellyfish the size of a fingernail. While the bandits writhe and scratch at their skin the crocodile snaps and death rolls half of them over the next few rounds, and when the burning leaves his flesh Soldadt stands up from the coach and looses a crossbow bolt into Mouldering Hugo’s chest. Madame du Lumpé wades into the water but the crocodile steals her quarry away and the final bandit flees downstream.
Gravelax sends the crocodilian apparition after him and basks in the echoing screams as he dislodges 73 teeth from the deceased bandits.
- Aside from a quick stop to water the horses they don’t stop until they reach the Möndfels, which seems like a quaint happy little town nestled in lush countryside. They pay a helpful man named Freidrich to stable the horses and head to the tavern to sample the locally-brewed ale as suggested by Friedrich.
There they quickly learn that the Fiergrieve caravan only recently arrived, and after explaining that they were meant to escort them but got separated are directed to the town hall.
- The caravan is tied up out the front and the mercenaries storm inside ready for a confrontation with the group of men gathered within, until Soldadt recognises Bernadette linking arms with a young man in their midst.
Blades are drawn and Soldadt is convinced to wait outside while Madame du Lumpé speaks with Bernadette. She discovers that Bernadette was not as happy at the Cathedral of Lost Virtue as Sister Nektaria thought she was, and that the ransom was actually a ruse for them to get extra money for their escape and wedding.
- The mercenaries excuse themselves to discuss the matter outside, determining to tell Sister Nektaria they were able to find nothing but Bernadette’s bloodied underwear, and to steal the Fiergrieve’s caravan for their own recompense.
Madame du Lumpé tells Bernadette they will make sure she is not hunted any longer, takes her underwear, and closes the doors on her way out. Octavius is already aboard the caravan and cracks the reigns as Madame du Lumpé jumps aboard and Soldadt hurls a lit lantern at the wooden doors.
A young boy runs from the side of the hall and clambers aboard, drawing a blade from his boot as he nears Octavius, but opens his green eyes wide in fear and pain when Madame du Lumpé pulls a thin dagger out of her hair, plunges it into his chest, and kicks him from the moving caravan.
- They clatter back down the main street of Möndfels, pointing back at the town hall and shouting “She’s a witch! A witch!”, leaving both the Fiergrieves and Holt Brueghel’s coach behind them.
I’m not sure why I did this in bullet points now, it turned out so damn long anyway.