(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.)
Something Rotten in Kislev
- Nate [Witch Hunter] – I 64
- Gottlieb [Witch Hunter] – I 63
- Larry [Mercenary Captain] – I 58
- Othmar [Assassin] – I 56
- Wilfried [Templar] – I 53
- Karl [Artillerist] – I 45
Finally coming around the great hill upon which Bolgasgrad squats, the road links with the Kislev road at a bridge over the partially frozen Lynsk river. Bundled up against the frigid winds, an official climbs out of the bridge watch station and shakes the circus down – one Katya Villanova, chief border inspector.
“Welcome to Bolgasgrad. Your papers please?”
Once she inspected their travel documents and looked over the circus wagons (and got nose-to-nose with the bear), she gave them the Bolgasgrad spiel.
“You are aware that Bolgasgrad is a free city, with its own laws? Good. Most of our laws are identical to the Tsar’s laws. We respect your status as Imperial & Estalian citizens; you’ll find life here is pretty much like outland Imperial colonies. . .” (smiles) “only better, of course. But a few warnings are in order:
“The laws against disturbing the dead have been extended to protect the animated dead that guard our town and perform other useful tasks. It is a crime to interfere with them. If you have strong feelings about necromancy, it is best that you keep them to yourself. There’s no law against free discussion, but the people of Bolgasgrad have had enough of preaching from outsiders.
“The only temple here is that of the Ancient Allies, but you are free to practice your own faith in private. You’re welcome to visit the temple, but we expect you to abide by the restrictions it places on non-believers.
“All are welcome in Bolgasgrad for one week. You will report to me each day, either here at the bridge, or after dinner at the Prince’s house. For a longer stay, you will need the Prince’s permission; appointments are arranged through me.
“You’ll find that the citizens ofBolgasgrad are proud of their town, and interested in keeping it clean and quiet.
This badge” – (points at her black fur hat which is adorned by a bronze crest of Bolgasgrad – a bear rampant holding a log) – “means that I am an officer of the town militia; our duty is to keep the town as the citizens like it. Anyone wearing this badge is entitled to the full co-operation of all citizens and visitors.
“I have to make certain things clear because of the circumstances. I hope you do not feel intimidated or insulted. If you are courteous and civil guests, you will find Bolgasgrad an excellent host. There are no taxes or tolls on entering.
You will almost certainly need a meeting with the prince in order to arrange for a time and space for your performances. Once you have found accommodations, come see me and we’ll see what we can arrange. Enjoy your stay.”
Entering the freezing city, they find zombies pushing snow off the streets and an otherwise fairly quiet city – in the coldest part of winter the townfolk are glad to hide in their homes and only go out when they need to. The zombies also make for a decent delivery infrastructure, which in turn reduces how often people need to leave their homes and for how long.
Liberally using and hinting at the passphrase they need to contact Julius Olvaga (assuming that he is operating under a pseudonym in Bolgasgrad), they take the advice they received in Kislev and head up the hill to the Stork and Stoat – a fine little inn from which they can see the back of the Prince’s manor.
The inn is run by Daryenka Alendrova and her cheerful daughters, who are chock full of fanciful rumours and “information” acquired from townsfolk and travellers and no doubt accented by their own boredom. They whisper about the eccentric Alexis Chokin III being “put away” by his father, the prince; speculate about the daemons that provide the magical power to fuel an army of the walking dead. Once they have acquired rooms and asked about the space around the inn where they might be able to set up the circus, they head down the hill to “The Other Side”.
Essentially, the Other Side appears to exist purely to get all the walking dead / zombie / death puns out of the way. “Wouldn’t be able to run this place without them… dead useful!”; “A bit on the slow side, not a lot of sparkle… a very grave demeanor.”; “Tried to have them clean the floors too, but they kept kicking the bucket!”
But no bites using Julius Olvaga’s passphrase – but they are told that if they are looking for someone not local and not part of the cult of the Ancient Allies, then they should go visit Vladimir Slepov, the local wizard – who’s house is incredibly simple to find, just look for the slightly crooked “wizard’s tower”.
Vladimir takes no time to see through the party’s stories and slips off at one point to get tea for everyone (and to sense their magic), and then fills them in on what little he knows of the Ancient Allies – ‘Never have anything to do with an oath curse, Vladimir,’ my old teacher said. ‘Tricky business, a lot of fiddling and interpretation.’ Besides, cults and gods – you never know when priests are putting words in their mouths to suit their own purposes.’
However, he is in favour of the modern-thinking necromantic ways of the city. At least this way Bolgasgrad can not only defend itself against chaos instead of begging for the Tzar’s help, and Alexis Chokin III even lead a massive raid against the forces of chaos and returned with MORE troops than he left with.
He fills the group in on the history of Bolgasgrad, the three princes Chokin (Alexis I died a decade or so ago – in fact if you really are worried about that, ask the good doctor Gapon!), and he offers to help the group in any way they need as long as it doesn’t put his head on the chopping block. He seems far more interested in seeing what they are up to than he is in doing anything about it.