Monday, September 2, 2013

The Path of Kane - A Solomon Kane Actual Play Volume 2

A Tangled Web

After the dream-visit by N’Longa, the Winthorpe party decided to head to Northern England to rendezvous with a scholar friend of Roger’s named Conners. Hopefully, Conners could tell them of the Gems of Power, or at least the one in the Old World.

On the trail North, the Winthorpe party was taken aback to find people hanging from trees on the trail, animals having picked at them! Roger noted, after an examination, that they didn’t even appear to be criminals, but farmers and laborers.

As Tenzan immediately moved to cut them down, Jonathan was overtaken with a sense of nausea, and said he would “lead the horses away”. While removing himself from the scene, he spotted a side trail through the woods, where five men were stringing up another person!

Jonathan returned to his party and rounded them up to approach this other event. Jonathan got their attention, asking the men why they were stringing people up, to which they replied that the people of Wickhampton were guilty of desecrating the grave of The Lady Wyndham and were being strung up on orders from Lord Robert Wyndham! Jonathan demanded evidence of this foul play, to which the guards replied that Lord Wyndham and his adviser Nicodemus were certain the people of Wickhampton had jealously desecrated the body of Lady Wyndham in order to disrespect Lord Wyndham! Lady Wyndham had come from Wickhampton, and was buried – at Lord Wyndham’s dismay – in Wickhampton due to her final wishes.

This led to a fight, which ended badly for the guards. Three wound up dead, with one more hurt badly and the fifth lightly wounded. They interrogated the fifth, and wound up taking him and the other survivor in as indentured servants to Wickhampton as they took the prisoner and the guards back to Wickhampton, returning with carts to bring all the bodies down.

That night, they were filled with a new sense of urgency at hearing the tales of Wyndham’s brutality, hearing that the scholar Conners had been imprisoned by Wyndham’s men as well! Early the next day, granted a cart by the people of Wickhampton, the Winthorpe party headed to Wyndham Keep.

At Wyndham keep, they were greeted at the sight of Lord Wyndham himself on the wall, his adviser Nicodemus standing behind him. The keep appeared to be rather run down, and Lord Wyndham was rather obstinate as he argued with Jonathan Winthorpe over his treatment of the people of Wickhampton. Nicodemus advised Lord Wyndham that he sensed magick off of Jonathan Winthorpe, accusing him of being a Necromancer!

Jonathan argued at this and let slip that he had encountered the Lord’s men the day prior…to which Wyndham latched on, saying that the Winthorpe party would be required to replace the bodies they had cut down!

As battle commenced, Nicodemus transformed Christina Winthorpe’s rapier into a snake, one that bit her! She cried out and was forced to battle her own weapon with her dagger! Roger Therrien drew his wheel-lock pistol and blasted one of the guards off the wall! Tenzan moved to the drawbridge as Jonathan drew his sling and launched a rock at Nicodemus.

Jonathan kept slinging stones at Nicodemus, while Roger drew his rapier and joined Tenzan at the drawbridge to battle the approaching guards. Christina battled the snake viciously, finally killing it with her main-gauche and retrieving her weapon as it transformed back!

Lord Wyndham stalked down to the drawbridge, a mad rage on his face! Two of his guards opened fire on Roger, then moved to the tower for a better vantage point.

Wyndham’s madness was apparent when he attacked one of his own men, throwing him off the drawbridge and drowning him so he could attack Tenzan! Christina made her way across the bridge, aiding Tenzan while her brother slipped in the ranks, boosting the capabilities of Tenzan.

Nicodemus approaching Christina and frightened her back as he cast a spell on his knife and approached her…but he went into a complete panic as Tenzan hacked his Lord down!

Nicodemus, in a sad rage, confronted the assassins and asked them why they had come and what they wanted! Jonathan pressed further about the attacks on Wickhampton, but Nicodemus held firm, until Christina said that Wickhampton’s cemetery had been raided several times over the last six months!

Nicodemus was stunned by this…by the realization that his Lady’s grave may not have been particularly targeted…and that all this death and devastation may have been for the wrong reasons. He begged the Winthorpe party to find the fiends responsible and make them pay! He offered what he could of the Lord’s coffers, and even offered to release Conners to them for satisfaction!

The Winthorpe party headed back to Wickhampton to do what they could to resolve this horror.

Having dinner at the inn, they overhead the gravediggers talking about their evening duties and refusing to head back to the cemetery, deciding a Necromancer to be at fault for the grave robbings. Jonathan confronted them, and ultimately agreed to accompany them to the cemetery!

Heading to the cemetery, the party saw four men digging away, and the gravediggers ran off in fear! The party, not a single one skilled in Stealth, managed to sneak RIGHT up on the grave robbers!

Roger decided to try to cow them into submission, but as horrific a crime as graverobbing is, the grave robbers decided “fight” was the better choice.

They were dismantled in seconds.

Jonathan seemed pleased with the results, thinking it to be satisfactory.

Roger educated his young charge that grave robbers were interchangeable minions…symptoms, not the disease. Roger, shoving his finger into the wound of one of the surviving grave robbers, made him talk quickly and give up the name of Dr. John Hapgood.

Heading to the Inn, the party found out Hapgood is a pillar of the community and a wonderful guy whose wife was horribly killed in an accident a year back, crushed under a horse cart. Jonathan decided he should be confronted about these horrendous acts. The townsfolk tried to argue, but Roger and Tenzan ended that.

The party headed to Hapgood’s home on the Moors, and Jonathan picked the lock to get inside. Stepping inside, they were greeted by the insane sight of Dr. Hapgood, cackling gleefully about “saving” his wife and conquering death! Then the putrid arm of his wife snatched him back into a back room! A struggle ensued, and he went silent!

Jonathan pondered just burning the house down, when The Monster emerged! Tenzan was captivated by the horrific beauty of The Monster, and clearly thrown off as it approached. He did join Christina and Roger in battling it, while Jonathan moved about the rear, enhancing their fighting abilities, weapons and strength. The Monster flew into a rage and attacked everyone as they moved in, while shrugging off their strongest blows. A huge backhand from The Monster sent Roger spiraling to the ground, and this set Christina into a Righteous Fury!

Seeing the only thing she’s had resembling a parent in years crumple to the ground made her erupt in anger and she pounced on The Monster, driving her rapier through its skull! As The Monster fell, she stabbed it in the heart again and again until Tenzan roughly pulled her away…she didn’t stop trying to kill The Monster until she saw Roger standing before her, mostly intact…at which point she turned away so no one could see her cry.

Jonathan moved into that back room and found a book: “On the Subject of Life and How to Awaken it After Death”. Throughout the house he found notes and journals about the Hapgoods…how Martha had been crushed and how he kept her body preserved…how he failed to find help…until he bought that book from a scholar named Conners.

Returning to Wyndham Keep and providing evidence to Nicodemus about Hapgood’s responsibility for the grave robbings as well as Conners’ involvement, the party went to the dungeon to find out just what Conners meant by selling the book.

Conners tried to say the book was a fake, full of lies…but his old friend Roger saw through it. Roger told him he broke a sacred trust by putting something so dangerous into the hands of one so unstable, and Conners tried to say something about Rogers past, but was cut off. Roger finally turned his back on his old friend, telling Nicodemus to let him rot.

Nicodemus, for his part, offered the party 200 lbs (of which they only took 20) and his best wishes on their journey, planning to head to Wickhampton to try to mend the damage.

The people of Wickhampton, for their part, gave the Winthorpe party the carriage to use in their travels.

And Jonathan Winthorpe kept in his bag the devilish manual with the power to raise the dead…

Notes: This was a Savage tale called The Dark Side of Love with a large framing sequence added by me that expanded the depth of the tale by a few layers. I set up Wyndham and Nicodemus as an inversion of sorts to Theoden and Grima Wormtongue from Lord of the Rings…in this case the Lord was actually crazy while the adviser was just blindly loyal and trying to keep things together.

Plus, I added the layer of the lost friend that they were seeking being the one ultimately responsible for it all: The death of Dr. Hapgood, the villagers killed by Wyndham’s men and ultimately the death of Wyndham himself. A hint was dropped here as to the secret past of Roger Therrien, and there’s a good chance that Conners will return. Roger and Conners kinda remind me a bit of Rupert Giles and Ethan Rayne from “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”.

Once more, Christina gets the Righteous Rage in the Boss Fight…good timing. My friend Tommy is really liking playing Jonathan as a support guy while his extras (and Wild Card sister) do all the really heavy lifting. It was a good session, and adding the extra layers really took the adventure that extra step.