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(Being a series of quick game notes trying to account for the events of many sessions of playing through The Enemy Within using the Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 1e rules.)

Session 21

Death on the Reik

  • Martin [Scout]
  • Wilfried [Fence]
  • Larry [Bodyguard]
  • Othmar [Charlatan]
  • Wilhelm [Wizard]
  • Gottlieb [Bounty Hunter]

Seeing a goblin guard in the front hall of the structure on his way back to the party, Martin and the group hide in the bushes at the edge of the forest across from the tower. They formulate a number of plans on how to approach the tower and deal with the unknown number of foes in attendance (12 to 20 perhaps, based on footprints, plus at least a dozen more wolves?).

As the night darkens further and plans are still not agreed upon (walk up to the front door and ask to see Etelka?), the goblins start to show up and mill about in the yard between them and the tower – many from up the hill towards the mines, but also from the tower itself.

Finally, their leader (one Gutbag Stoat Throttler as they would later discover) steps out of the tower and rallies the goblins to raid another farmstead towards Grissenwald. He is an unusual figure of a goblin, dressed in an expensive human-sized red dress, and wearing a gem-encrusted tiara.

With the raiding party’s departure, only a few goblins returned to the tower – seemingly those too injured to take part in the attack. However they also were keeping a much better watch… Gottlieb and Martin moved up quickly and silently to the doors to make sure that no one would get a chance to bar them out of the tower and quickly engaged the few recovering goblin guards.

Dispatching the already wounded guards proved fairly simple, and the group quickly ransacked the tower searching for Etelka or whatever happened to her.

Within the tower there were a few remaining injured goblins, two very freaked out farmers (Gurda and Hanse), and Dumpling Hayfoot, a halfling cook. Dumpling was Etelka’s cook, and is some upset that she left and let her “pet goblins” take over the place and left her alone with them. According to her, Etelka had left several days ago (a week, perhaps?). A weaselly looking human had called upon her a day before with a letter. He and Etelka then left to “go up Norn’s River to get some bear pills” (which they properly translated as up the Narn river to the Barren Hills). But first they were going to stop in at Kemperbad en route.

The only room in the whole tower that wasn’t completely trashed was the study (the goblins had even managed to break into Etelka’s laboratory and Gutbag had taken up residence in her bedroom).

Unfortunately, in the laboratory the goblins had managed to set off some sort of explosion and had also released a sample of purple mould that had then colonized and grew to the spore stage. The spores covered Wilhelm and both drained him of magical energy and took root in his lungs…

In Etelka’s bedroom they broke into the goblins’ clan treasures (piles of ill-gotten crowns, shillings and pennies, as well as every piece of Etelka’s silverware from around the house and her personal jewelry (rings, ear-rings, and perfume bottles). In a secret compartment beneath they found a red cloth bag containing a gold necklace and bracelet, and a silver signet-style ring bearing the device of a red crown.

In the study they found many books about goblins and their kin, but also a grimoire of magical spells. The locked desk contained a potion of healing, and a letter…

At this point figuring that they are running out of time before the goblins return and being pretty sure that Etelka is heading into the Barren Hills (as marked on the map they had found back in the black observatory), they abandoned the tower and made haste for Grissenwald.

At the outskirts of town they attract some dwarven attention in the slums of Khazid Slumbol – but they make it safely through the town gates as the sun rises, and raise the alarm that goblins are attacking the local farmsteads and not the dwarves.

Taking the coach back to Nuln to fetch the Bawdy Countess, they then head back downriver to Kemperbad where their connections don’t provide them with any help regarding Etelka and her companion. So they pay the toll and head up the deep ravine of the river Stir.

Under Larry’s captainage, four days travel up the Stir brings them to a pair of massive standing stones carved with strange sigils that overlook the river.

The next day the find the carcass of a horse bobbing downriver. Pulling the body up to the Countess, they find it still has its packs attached to a pack saddle. Within they find waterlogged iron rations, sodden clothes, and a sealed oilskin package bearing the same red crown device as the silver signet ring found in Etalka’s bedroom. The packet contains a rough map of the Empire with two points circled – one being a location in the Barren Hills (appearing to be the same spot as circled on the map they found in the black observatory – although a little more precise), and the other definitely being the black observatory itself.

A further days travel brings them to the twin falls where the Narn joins the Stir. In the pool beneath these two thundering waterfalls is a landing stage and a set of ingenious locks to move boating traffic up and down to continue along the Stir.

At the landing stage they meet a couple of women, who describe the inn at the top of the locks, but when they hear that the group is transporting iron ore, they insist that they come to the village of Unterbaum instead of going up to the inn at the top of the locks. Astrid and Birgit lead the group into a cave behind the landing (which has the group expecting some foul sorceries, ambush, or other monstrosities). At the back of the cave is a set of stairs that lead all the way up to a small track into the woods and the idyllic village of Unterbaum.

Unterbaum is exactly the kind of village to freak out adventurers in a grimdark environment. Friendly, quiet, without crime or taint of chaos – quick to offer food, drink, and comforts to travellers.

The village buys the group’s available iron ore at a premium, and Voster the village Elder along with Corrobreth the Druidic Priest cordially welcome them and offer what they know of the Barren Hills and Etelka Herzen.

It seems that at some point a few hundred years ago during an incursion of chaos the firmament above conspired with the forces of chaos – for days the sky screamed and the chaos moon howled and spat its evil upon the land. The Druids built a stone circle around the places where the moon’s foul expectorations landed. But the land was blighted for generations, and around Devil’s Bowl, where the largest piece landed, strange unnatural growths now appear.

A week or so ago, another group travelled past here, up the Narn, and into the hills straight towards the Devil’s Bowl – led by a fair haired woman and a dark-haired man.

Corrobreth the druid suggests that they travel with him in canoes up the Narn towards the hills. He needs a new supply of the healing herb Gesundheit, which grows in that region, and can guide the group to the Devil’s Bowl.