The Witch's Song

Introduction to session four

It was a meagre dawn that met our exhausted gang, the fog blocking most of the diminutive rays of sunrise. The meagre light falling upon the campsite soon revealed how absolutely filth-encrusted they where, caked in mud and blood, troll gore and quick mire, biting insects and bog weed. Tam remained unconscious from his injuries, while the wounds of the party members ached unrelentingly. They were also miserable and hungry, but grateful to have lived through the night to see the next day.

They soon found that they were being watched, a voice calling out to them from the dissipating fog to ask if they needed assistance. Immediately suspicious, the gang instinctively switched to their default status of passive-aggressive and began belligerently questioning the unseen stranger.

HermitAssuring them of his desire for peace, the stranger eventually emerged from the mists, his rotund and dirty form shuffling forward through the mire. Offering to lead the party back towards Faulgimere and safety, the gang’s suspicion deepened, and they began interrogating the self-declared swamp hermit as to where he lived (“Hermit’s Hill”), if he was the witch they were hunting (“No, definitely not I”), where the witch could be found (“In the Swamp – but you should leave the fellow alone for he harms no-one”), and what the stranger was doing in the swamp (“I live here”). Leading the gang westwards, the gang continued to pepper the hermit with questions, discovering that the hermit only answered questions at his own discretion and openly ignored some of the parties more pointed questions about the history of the area and the nature of the curse befalling the swamp.

The hermit hinted that that the problems all lie within Faulgimere, not the swamp or the witch, and beseeched the party to stay away and leave the witch alone. Unsatisfied with the hermit’s lack of full disclosure, the party thanklessly waved the mysterious hermit away once the fallen walls of the town came within view.

Staggering on towards the town and the hope of food and bath, the gang soon discover that the formidable retinue of one Witch Hunter Krieger on site. Arriving on a well-equipped barge with black sails and heavily adorned with religious iconography, the gang soon realises that they have to share the town with a group of equally hardened and experienced killers and zealots.

Aulric and Gorm assisted the crew with unloading some crates and dragging them up the hillside through the village gate. Aulric attempts to befriend Volden, a warrior with a damaged face, but he instead comes across as making fun of Volden’s lisp. He is immediately offended and storms away, now a dangerous foe, while Aulric feels genuine regret at his social lapse.

Undaunted, the gang pushes through to the Three Hogs Inn, where they are greeted by a dismayed innkeeper. Taking the inn over once more, the gang begins the onerous task of cleaning themselves and their equipment from the swamp foulness, and fresh(er) water for a bath and buckets is called for. Tam remains unconscious, but Klaus suddenly becomes obsessively concerned that Tam may soil himself and argues for intervention. Klaus then sits the unconscious wizard’s apprentice him on the privy and ties him in place, where Tam remains slumped for most of the day. Meanwhile, Grom once more takes his pants off and drinks at the bar while they dry (strangely, he is the only customer all day) and the rest of the gang meticulously clean themselves and their gear as best as the woeful conditions permit.

Surprisingly, at one point Grom manages to greatly offend the innkeeper after making crude comments about the minstrel stand, and the fellow flares up. The dwarf attempted to smooth the waters, but the innkeeper’s passive demeanour has become soured and he has started to turn against the gang, despite their significant coin.

It is in the midst of these shenanigans that an envoy from Krieger arrives and (ignoring the naked dwarf and unconscious wizard tied to the toilet) invites the gang to dine with the witch hunter at the Stauffer manor that evening. They accept, but they insist that the witch hunter meets them at the Three Peaks Inn, mysteriously suggesting the need for a “private conversation” without the noble family present.

As night falls, Tam awakens and finds himself tied to the toilet and demands to be released. Separately, Grom puts his pants back on. Tam has but moments to scrape swamp filth off himself before the party leaves and walks to the other Inn for dinner. On the way, they discover that the witch hunters have been busy and already assembled three pyres and a gibbet in the town square.

Old world tavernThe Three Peaks proved to be a sharp contrast to the Three Hogs: a clean and dry place with a bright atmosphere (unlike the rest of Faulgimere). However, conversation dies as the gang enters through the door, and in the stunned silence Grom announces that he wishes to “try the shitter” (comatose Tam having occupied the one at the Three Hogs all day).

After discussions with the nervous barkeep, the gang soon discovers that Krieger’s envoy has been very efficient and the upstairs common room hurriedly converted to a private meeting room. The gang soon find themselves relaxing over ale followed by a well-cooked meal in a tidy space all to themselves, and they begin to relax after their horrid venture into the swamp.
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This respite is short lived, for Krieger soon arrives with some of his menacing warriors. He is a friendly chap, and sits with the gang and asks the party about what they have learned in a polite, non-confrontational, way. The conversation goes mostly well, but the party leaves a mixed impression as:

  • Aulric alleges that the von Stauffers are “into” witchcraft – but is unable to offer any proof other than his considerable dislike of them. He is soon rebuffed for the dangerous practice of bringing disrepute to the nobility.
  • Richard highlights that von Schnell, the Baron’s favourite pigeon, is a fat, sinister creature that is frightful to be around. Many of the gang nod vigorously in agreement and rock traumatically in their seats, but Krieger looks askance at the suggestion.
  • Krieger asks the gang is they had come across an alleged “hermit” in the swamp. Aulric spontaneously denies this loudly and unconvincingly, and then breaks into a sweat as if suddenly realising the implications of being caught lying to a witch hunter. Krieger makes nothing of it, but this somehow seems all the more disturbing.

Agreeing to work together in principle, Krieger indicates that hunting parties are setting off into the swamp tomorrow, aided in their explorations by some of the resident bog hunters. Krieger indicates that he would prefer the witch captured alive if possible, but appreciates the difficultly of this request. Further, he suggests that his “questioning” of the villagers will begin tomorrow, and the gang has a fairly clear and grim understanding of what that will likely entail.

The meeting over, Krieger leaves and heads downstairs and offers a speech to the locals, while upstairs the gang hiss and snipe at one another about their current predicament and that they’ve yet to see any gold for their efforts.

The group ventures downstairs after the witch hunter and his entourage depart. They soon split up and pursue a range of initiatives: Richard gossips with the locals and discovers the significant lack of certainty or clarity around the witch’s attack, and his suspicion deepens. Aulric runs after Krieger – catching up with him at the entrance to the von Stauffer manor – and apologies for fibbing. Grom buys a keg of ale and freely shares it with the patrons, much to everyone’s delight. An ailing and smelly Tam makes undertakes a late-night visit back to the apothecary, seeking more medicinal assistance. Klaus hangs around, making plans for the ‘morrow.

Tam stays on the night at the Three Peaks, preferring the cleaner lodgings and hoping that the improved accommodation will assist with his recovery. The rest of the gang sleep in the damp hovel of the Three Hogs, awaking not longer after yet another sallow dawn breaks over Faulgimere.

And it is at this point that tonight’s session begins…

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Introduction to session three

Our gang awoke in the early hours of the morning, stirring to wakefulness in the damp interior of the Three Hogs Inn. Outside, a stubborn and miasmic fog lingered over Faulgimere and cast the village in a smog-like pall. The ever-present foul stench of the river waters and the sounds of Tam’s morning vomiting only added to the depressing nature of the place.

Not waiting for breakfast, Tam wiped his vomit stained face and staggered out into the muddy streets in search of the apothecary, keen to obtain a cure for the vapours that have him constantly ill since arriving in the village. After waiting for the innkeeper to complete an eccentric task of tidying the minstrel’s stand, the rest of the party settle into a breakfast of sour ale, black bread with the consistency of wood, and bog octopus broth. Over breakfast, the gang discusses their plan to hunt down Old Ned the swamp troll, which breaks down to: leave the village, plunge into the eastern swamp until they find the monster, then kill Ned. Grom buys a keg of ale from the innkeeper, instructing him to share it with the village upon his death.

Meanwhile, Tam eventually finds the leaning hovel of Saskia the apothecary and obtains an herbal cure for the vapours. He makes some small talk with the herbalist and haggles over a healing elixir, which he eventually declines. Seeking some assistance with the perils of the swamp and its residents, Saskia warns Tam of the illness that befall those who experience the “kiss” of the swamp flies, or the painless (yet deadly) touch of the blood leech. Purchasing more herbs from the apothecary to prevent leech-bite, Tam wanders down to the jetties to speak with a cadre of bog octopus hunters for further assistance. The hunters sell him a rotting Elan fruit, telling Tam that it will drive away the flies if he smears its juices over his skin.

Tam returns to the Three Hogs, bumping into the gang as they are leaving. Tam attempts to get the group to wait so that he can get some breakfast, but they taunt him and head off anyway. Leaving the village and making his way to the edge of the eastern swamp bank, Grom soon realises that he can’t easily take his wheelbarrow into the bog and decides to return it to the Three Hogs. As the gang make their way back to Faulgimere, Tam complains that he could have head breakfast anyway, while Richard becomes despondent that the morning is fritting away.

After leaving his wheelbarrow at the inn, Grom leads the gang back to the swamp and they plunge randomly into its fetid depths. Tam and Klaus spread fermented fruit juice over their skin, much to the amazement of Grom and Richard, who taunt them by default. Splashing into the bog, the hunt only really begins just before noonday, and Richard begins to fall into a sullen depression as he worries about becoming lost – at night – in the Cursed Swamp. Aulric tells him that will never happen.

Fortunately for the gang, Klaus is a highly-experienced hunter, and after casting for a trail, eventually finds traces of the troll. Aided by the magical portents casted by Tam, Richard follows the trail deep into the bog and avoids the many perils of the swamp. However, his deliberative and considered approach consumes many hours, and it is soon well-dark by the time the gang finds Old Ned’s lair. It is at this point the gang realises they don’t have a light source.

As anticipated, the swamp troll’s lair is a wretched place, a wet mould-strewn cave set in the base of a bone-covered hill surrounded by skeletal black-barked trees. Grom and Alric immediately run for the cave entrance, covered by Richard, Klaus and Tam. However, Old Ned is a crafty troll, and the hunchbacked beast rises from the swamp water behind the latter trio undetected.
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The trio are immediately covered in a spray of acid, and they flail in the swamp water, screaming and disoriented as Old Ned moves towards them, clutching a massive club. There is now lots of yelling: Old Ned’s blood is up at the invasion, three of the party are injured and acid steams off their backs, Alric is confused, and Grom roars in frustration as he realises he is the furthest from the troll. However, our gang of thugs has faced many dangers, and they instinctively spring into coordinated action and turn against Old Ned in a desperate night fight.

The troll is hammered by a fullisade of blows of a kind that it has never faced before in its evil life. It lashes out with its club, but this slips from its grasp after a massive swing against Alric. Arrows and bolts soon pepper its frame, whilst Alric stabs it repeatedly with this spear until Grom reaches the combat, who drops the wounded and immobilised Old Ned with a single blow – not quite the glorious scenario Grom was hoping for.

It is a significant victory, but all the party are injured to some degree, with some broken bones. The gang rests on the wet, diseased, hillside while Richard scours the surrounding bog for dry wood to set the troll corpse aflame. Despite the incredible odds, Richard does find an armful and returns to the lair, whereupon the gang drags Old Ned’s corpse up to the top of the hill and set it alight. As black, greasy smoke falls over them, they wait until Old Ned’s flesh is incinerated then decide to find a place to camp for the night. While the gang snipe at one another, Grom falls into a bleak anger at his missed opportunity to slay a troll single handed.

Klaus leads the gang through the swamp to a potential campsite, moving through the sinister blackness in the bog for a time before erroneously leading the party into a quickmire field. What follows is pure trauma, as Tam and Richard slowly sink into the mire, with the remainder of the gang deciding round-by-round prioritisation as to who receives assistance. There is lots of yelling again, and eventually Grom belly-flops into the mire next to Tam to better help the wizard. There is lots of swearing and some near-drowning over the course of an hour, but eventually the exhausted gang drags itself out of the quickmire patch.

Correcting his path, Klaus leads the filth-covered gang to a small islet set amidst the bog, whereupon the party collapses in exhaustion and stress. The depressed Richard attempts a rousing speech to raise the spirits of the group, but this goes terribly wrong and the party turns on one another in a burst of punching, kicking and verbal abuse. However, with the release of the pent-up tension the gang feels much more comfortable with one another and all is forgiven. They then settle in to catch some rest in the last few hours before dawn breaks.

And it is at this point that tonight’s session begins…

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Introduction to session two

Our gang of thugs arrived at dusk at the unsuspecting town of Auerbatt, a farming community on the eastern bank of the River Bach. Trying to remain inconspicuous with their armour, weapons, and bad attitude as they approached the main gate, our bunch of rascals were challenged by the village militia. After failing to pretend that they were local farmers, then failing to verbally abuse the guards into submission, our well-armed and fearsome group then intimidated the two guards with the threat of impending violence. They were then let through the gates, leaving the terrified militia behind them.

The gang then walked into the Wanton Mermaid Inn, scaring most of the patrons away and making many demands from the innkeeper and his wife. After taking turns harassing the innkeeper, the party is eventually approached by Father Anders, a priest of Sigmar. After taking turns harassing the priest, the party eventually learns that Anders has just come from Faulgimere. There, the priest advised, a witch had attacked the village with foul magics, using a terrible song to beguile some of the villagers while attacking others with searing flames from its fingers. Most important to the gang, the local nobility was offering a reward to seek out the witch in the surrounding swamps and kill him. Father Anders stayed in the common room with the party overnight, but was gone early in the morning before any of the gang awoke.

After a tense situation where Grom demanded the innkeeper sell him his wheelbarrow to store his immense weapons cache, the gang wandered around for a time before heading down to the docks. There, they found a barge in the process of being loaded with supplies- which they promptly stepped on and began untying. The barge captain frantically attempted to dissuade the gang from their hijacking, but our party had the barge floating mid-river and leaving the remainder of its cargo behind on the wharf within a matter of minutes. Fortunately for all involved, the barge happened to be heading to Faulgimere.

Floating down the river, the gang watched the landscape change from towering and ancient forests to fetid bog, and the sinister nature of the well-named Cursed Swap became more apparent. A foul stench emanated from the swamp water, so overwhelming that it has caused two of the gang to become ill. Also, a strange, unnatural fog rolls across the swamp irrespective of the weather conditions. The atmosphere within the swamp is one of menace, with dark shadows and misshapen trees creating a haunted landscape chilling to look upon.

Eventually, the barge reached the wretched village of Faulgimere, a rotting community half-falling into the encroaching swamp and its once-firm land slowly becoming submerged from beneath. It is a desolate place, further confirmed as the gang makes its way through the mud-strewn entrance. There, they are handed an invitation to dinner that evening with the von Stauffer family at their manor, which is accepted by the party. Our gangsters then made their way through filthy streets and across wooden planks over patches of bog to shelter in the Three Boars Inn. The Inn matches the decor of the town, and is a wretched little place with mud-caked planking for a floor, soot-smeared walls, and paintings hidden behind a patina of mould. The gang soon take over the place, harassing the innkeeper and taking over the combination bath/kitchen/privy room to prepare for the dinner that evening. Grom walks around the Inn naked for the remainder of the afternoon, drinking bad ale and scaring off incoming patrons.

After dark, the gang travels through the village and make their way to Stauffer Manor, a dilapidated multi-storey building with a jutting tower serving as a roost for the massive population of pigeons surrounding the place. Inside, the gang dines with the three Stauffers and the menacing Von Schnell. The dinner is a bizarre affair, with the occasional splatter of pigeon excrement from the dozens of birds roosting in the rafters overhead, the mad nature of the nobles themselves, and Von Schnell’s intimidating gaze. However, despite the weirdness, the gang is able to provide Baroness Wandelina with the missive (the bundle protected by a glamour cast by Tam), and negotiate payment from Lady Theodora to slay the Swamp Switch and to also kill “Old ‘Ness” – the Swamp Troll of the Eastern Bog. However, the mental cost of the interaction is significant and many of the gang leave the dinner in a very distracted and distressed state.

The group returned to the Three Boars and – grateful to be away from the von Stauffers – fall to sleep in the common room. And it is at that point that tonight’s episode begins…

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Welcome to The Witch's Song!
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INTRODUCTION TO THE WITCH’S SONG MINI-CAMPAIGN

[Please read the WFRP overview of our campaign to date before reading this material – it helps provide the context for your current quest.]

Fleisher’s offer proves to be fairly straightforward: take a sealed missive to Baroness Wandelina von Stauffer at their manor in the village of Fauligmere. The seal of the missive is not to be broken, nor is the item to be provided to any other party. Further, the gang is not to betray the existence of the missive or its conveyance to the Baroness – especially the other members of the von Stauffer family!

Fleisher also indicated that the Baroness will be made aware that the missive is on its way (but does not reveal how this would be achieved), and that the party will be paid 4 gold for the service – quite a handsome sum! Eager for the money (and to leave Talabheim to let the heat die down), the group has accepted the job.

Taking receipt of the missive (a large 1×1 foot bundle about three inches deep, wrapped in waterproofed leather and elaborately tied in thin strings of complex knots), the gang has successfully departed Talabheim and walked east along the northern bank of the Taleb river. Travelling on foot for several days, the party turned north and strolled along the eastern bank of River Bach, leaving the Grand Duchy of Talebecland behind and entering the Grand Duchy of Middenland. The days are long and somewhat tiring after repeated days of trekking, but it is summer and the weather has been excellent.

As the sun begins to set, the walls of the town of Auerbatt can be seen to the north at the end of the trail. From your understanding, this is the last village before Fauligmere – that village lies a day beyond within the swampland known as the Cursed Marshes.

And it is at this point that this week’s session will commence…
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