Saturday, October 15, 2016

Strigastadt VIII

Tonight's game was with a smaller crew than we're used to, yet it was quite eventful! It turned out to be a super long play report, so maybe grab a cup of tea before you dive in. :)

Belina the (mutant) printer [Jackson]
Barbarus the aspiring chicken farmer [Also Jackson]
Roxanne the wrecker [JT]
Cecilly the acrobat [Alex]

The session started with some upkeep / long-term plans. Cecilly is rounding up acrobats, jugglers, and other performers in a scheme to establish a sort of street performers' union backed by the protection of the Stone Cats. She found a few acquaintances willing to join if the Stone Cats established their reputation a little more solidly (Roxanne: "So we're a clown gang now?"). Work was also done to take control of the Belltower, former hangout of the Blind Vipers and crossroads of two inter-building bridges, where Cecilly hopes to establish a sort of soft toll checkpoint. The resident old bell-keeper resignedly sighed and ignored them as she went about her work. The plan is to have a rotating cast of performers that'll play and encourage donations (the gang keeping part of the profits), all while subtly keeping track of the movements of notable folks. Roxanne is working as a laborer until she finds employment as a bodyguard, and Barbarus (halfway healed from the saw-blade trap in the Grey District) managed to find a chicken farmer to apprentice himself to so he'll have expertise when his grand vision of maintaining rooftop coops outside the Roost is finally realized.

Included in the group Cecilly has recruited so far is Raga Sigisdotr. She's known for her imaginative portraits, and plans to ply her trade below the Belltower when that gig gets going. She mocked one Drosta Sibrosky, maker of accurate but dull portraits. She's a bit jealous since Drosta has recently been patronized by Sigga the Wolf.

Regarding the captured Red Demon Knives of Terror... All four agreed to join the Stone Cats, but two deserted the moment eyes were off them. Roxanne rewarded the other two for their loyalty with silver, and is supervising while they help to restore the Belltower, cleaning scorch marks off walls and putting doors back on their hinges.

The Belltower
While going about these tasks I mentioned that there's a feast-day on the full moon in four days' time (now two), the Stormlord's Feast. In honor of Thegthiec, god of storms, vengeance, and vice, the festival involves a great deal of feasting and general excess. Many groups buy out whole bars to provide free drinks to passers-by, including the Hargrave Guards, the Watchers, the Velvet Knights, and many other groups. Even the stingy and unloved Brinston Boys participate, trying to buy the love of the common folk. It'd be a great opportunity for the Stone Cats to earn some goodwill.

The feast-day has drawn the following people to Krüger so far:
Burgrave Aderfeld, who has dominion over several boroughs, including Krüger. Lady Hargrave and Lord Brinston owe fealty to him.
Lord Hammerfist, who has set up just across the bridge from the Belltower.
Hama Thurison, seer of some renown. Able to part the veil and see Truth, for a price.
Chiongo the amulet maker, reputable dealer in amulets to ward off the evil eye and other fell sorceries common folk are powerless to resist.

An amulet for every curse!
The priesthood of Thegthiec has jurisdiction during the feast-day, so until midnight people avoid conflict at all costs, as the priests are known for quite imaginative punishments. The minute after midnight though, a handful are occasionally inspired to honor Thegthiec's vengeful aspect, settling old scores. Barbarus has contacted the Righteous Banner and they're musing over a possible assassination overnight to make use of this cover... Mork requested Barbarus gather information on Lord Hammerfist and Lord Brinston as potential targets while they think it over.

The feast-day has also brought in various sorts looking to profit off the crowds, including several folks peddling a variety of drugs on Coalstreet, below the Roost. Apparently they felt it reasonable to sell there since it's not in any active gang's territory. The party set out to correct that misapprehension. Muscling them out, they made clear Coalstreet is Stone Cat territory, though the act was of mixed popularity with the common folk.

Speaking of reputation, Cecilly was accosted by members of the Watchers while she was out and about. Looking for a brawl, they called her out as a member of the Stone Cats, talking shit and threatening the upstart gang if they ever came back into Watcher territory. Cecilly escalated things with a well-placed throw, knife stuck quivering in a door frame inches from the lead thug's eye, and a retort that perhaps it is they who should learn some respect. Bellowing obscenities the two men charged, mistakenly unintimidated. Not two steps later Cecilly whipped another knife into the front dude's belly, drawing him up short while his friend charged. Distracted by the pain, the wounded guy threw his dagger with all his might at Cecilly, intending to then flee while his friend did the dirty work. Unfortunately he botched his throw, instead burying the dagger in his friend's neck. Cecilly's next throw was rather more effective. She left the bodies bleeding in the street as the bootsteps of the Brinston Boys fast approached. So, the Stone Cats have some more rep, but are definitely known for extreme violence at this point, which'll certainly impact local relations...

Constable Peters
That reputation came into play not long after. On Coalstreet a tipsy whiskey-jug wielding man with rusted helmet and cuirass introduced himself as Constable Peters, drunkenly demanding they come along quietly. Despite his several unsubtle attempts to elicit bribes, Cecilly and Belina actually agreed to spend a night in jail for appearances' sake. Constable Peters is a bit incompetent, a bit corrupt, and does not have much in the way of backup, so he wasn't gonna push his luck with these violent criminals. Locking them in his 'jail' (spare bedroom) he burbled to himself contentedly as he walked off. Belina: "I search under the bed for something useful"... One critically failed luck check later, a dead body was found under the bed instead. Rolling up an NPC and it turns out to be... a signet-ring carrying scion of Lord Hammerfist with several knife-wounds in the back (but a curious lack of blood puddle). A bit of panicking later (Belina: "What if he's a serial killer?!"  Cecilly: "Nah, too incompetent") they pounded on the door and demanded Constable Peters return, who in turn began panicking after assuring himself it was quite impossible they could have smuggled in a dead body while he arrested them. In his panic he decided to throw the body out his window into the canal below (in broad daylight), but Belina and Cecilly eventually managed to convince him to instead go straight to Lord Hammerfist, and claim they found the body in an alley outside. Belina ran off with the signet ring to fetch him while Cecilly stayed behind and made sure Constable Peters did not follow through with his earlier plan (though he did try hard to convince her). On the way over Belina spotted a contingent of 16 of Lord Hammerfist's men heading towards Constable Peters' place at a brisk pace. She hailed them, told her version of events, was clapped in irons, and taken along with.

When they arrived Cecilly immediately betrayed Constable Peters, telling the true version of events. Belina agreed, changing her story (she claimed Constable Peters had threatened them if they did not lie). The leader of Lord Hammerfist's men said this was consistent with what they had heard, which was that the scion was seen entering the building with Constable Peters and then screams shortly afterward. Sadly, Constable Peters collapsed into drunken sobbing and was unable to defend himself coherently. After the questioning of bystanders as to the party's involvement corroborated their story, the PCs were let off the hook for now...

Roxanne and Belina lingered afterwards, managing to sneak a look at some letters on the Constable's desk. One was half-finished and told of his encounter with a man dressed in the livery of the Glass Street Merchant Consortium led by Greta the Pious. He said the man was emerging from the sewers, surely up to shady business, and that he suspected the Consortium was up to something nefarious related to their recent expansion and extensive hiring of guards. The letter was addressed to Lady Hargrave. Unfortunately the men noticed Belina reading the letter and snatched it from her, kicking them out while they continued their investigation. Belina decided to follow up and report the letter to Lady Hargrave, in case the Hammerfists were intent on covering up that particular clue. On the way over Sigga the Wolf was seen escorting the portrait artist Drosta Sibrosky toward the South side of the borough. Sigga directed them to the guard house where Belina's story was rejected by a sleepy-looking guy with "You better be happy I am a deeply lazy man, I ought to lock up a filthy commoner like you for libel of an upstanding member of our merchant community, but I ain't feeling it right now. At least not if you get out of my sight before I come to my senses..."

Sigga the Wolf - Leader of the Hargrave Guards
Converted mini I made from several others
The party in no way believes Constable Peters did the deed, so the mystery remains unsolved for the moment...

The next day, Raga Sigisdotr reported to Cecilly that the Hargrave Guards had put up wanted posters for the arrest of Barbarus, Celeste, and Leonora on charges of theft and murder (reward of 20 silver!). She says she recognizes the uninspired but unfortunately accurate (as if from life!) artwork of Drosta Sibrosky, and warned Cecilly to tell her friends to lay low. She also mentioned gallows had been erected in the market square...

Later that day, the long-imprisoned former leader of the Blackbirds was hung with little fanfare. Barbarus decided to lay low in the Roost until night, when he'd take a boat over to the Grey District and lay low with the Rat King. Unfortunately, just after nightfall a force of the Hargrave Guards stealthily crossed the rooftop below the Roost, intent on his capture. Noticing them before they got too close, Barbarus hastily descended the chain to the rooftop garden on the other side, intending to use the crops as cover as he fled. As he opened the door to the farmer's abode (where there are stairs down into the building) he came face-to-face with two more guards taking that route. Turning heel and fleeing through the garden towards the Sarcophagus bar, Barbarus quickly plotted a route down to the sub-street tunnels and out to the docks. One crossbow bolt narrowly missed him as he burst through the door, and another nicked his cheek as he sprinted across the bridge on the other side. Baseball-sliding under confused soldiers of Dame Nimeria, Barbarus managed to outdistance his pursuers, using his mental map from his days as linkboy as guide.

Barbarus managed to make it out onto the night-darkened docks where he quickly decided stealing a rowboat was safer than hoping to hide among the crates and fishy cargo. As he rowed away lantern-light splashed across the docks and shouts were heard; they knew where he had gone. Heaving a sigh of relief he rowed into the fog... Me: "Ok, but since it's night-time and you're entering the Grey District I'll just check in case there's an encounter as you head over..." aaaaand of course the cruel dice gods spoke. Halfway across the river pale eyes reflected the bright moonlight. Webbed claws parted the water as several shapes swam towards the rowboat. Barbarus reversed course and frantically rowed back the way he had come, but not before the claws reached the boat. One reeking form pulled itself onboard, wielding a rusted meathook as it made for him. Mouth full of needle-like teeth its scaled form inspired terror. The meathook bit deep into Barbarus' thigh, but he managed to boot the thing back into the water and maintain his footing on the rocking boat. More forms pulled their way onboard as he desperately resumed rowing, one lunging forward and taking his left eye with a vicious bite. Barbarus' only hope was making it back to shore and the tender mercies of the Hargraves before he bled out, so he stoically shrugged off the pain and rowed harder. The bloodstained would-be chicken farmer miraculously made it just to the docks (the two guards panicking at the monstrous shapes and firing upon them) but unfortunately his foes were too numerous and intent on feasting upon his flesh, managing to bite into him and pull him down into the icy waters to his doom...

So ends Barbarus. 

The doom of Barbarus
(image by Pasi Juhola [src])
The Hargrave Guards turned over the Roost looking for the other two wanted murderers, but fortunately neither Celeste nor Leonora were there at the time.

On the plus side, the party accomplished several goals during the session! The Stone Cats are now locally known (though currently of ill-repute), the Belltower is now under their control, a murder mystery has begun, the local constable is out of the picture for the time being, and a feast-day is coming up. A possibility for next session was discussed, that looting over in the Grey District may turn enough of a profit that y'all could sponsor a truly glorious night at the Sarcophagus during the Stormlord's Feast, thereby throwing money at the problem and trying to buy the goodwill of the locals (one of the main reason factions sponsor festivals honestly). Laying low in the Grey District seems like a good idea considering the heat those wanted posters are bringing.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Strigastadt Play Report VII

And with this, the blog is finally caught up! Previous play report: [link]

Last week's session summary:
Roxanne [JT], wrecker
Tom [Mackenzie], fungus farmer
Ludovica [Lauren], apprentice alchemist
Leonora [Bart], spy
Cecilly [Alex], acrobat
Zamara [Heather], initiate of Zig
Belina [Jackson], mutant printer

The party returned to the borough Krüger on the inhabited side of the river, seeking to recuperate from wounds the Vorn Owls inflicted as well as establish themselves as a proper gang. Lo Ren Zao was left in the Rat King's care as he underwent a transformation... In Krüger Cecilly gained patronage for her performances from one Count Marshhold, a smiling but somewhat creepy noble who has recently moved back into Strigastadt, apparently at the behest of his relative Greta the Pious (leader of the Glass Street merchant consortium). Zamara worked hard at gaining new converts to the following of Zig, and Tom focused on setting up his mushroom children... He's rented a basement in the building below the Roost and tucked them away there, with plenty of organic material for sustenance, including a slain Vorn Owl and former comrade Chuck Chuckleston, with the hope the fungal creatures will use the bones as a framework to grow protectors. Only time will tell!

While going about their business, the party ran into a gang wearing puffed-and-slashed red coats, bolo knives, and pompadours, who called themselves the Red Demon Knives of Terror!!!1!  They apparently laid claim to the area around Coalstreet, where the Roost is, and were shaking down the nearby shrines for protection money. Cecilly artfully backflipped in front of them and offered the services of the "Stone Cats Entertainment Troupe" to their leader Udhidg, who was well pleased at the prospect. Udhidg said she expected a performance in two days at... looked around, and pointed at the Sarcophagus, declaring that's where they'd set up their HQ. Cecilly bowed out, and the party began their plans...

The Stone Cats?
Two days later, after the Red Demon Knives of Terror attacked and took over the Sarcophagus bar and called out the people hiding in the Roost to fight (Barbarus - "Nobody here but us chickens!"), the plan was carried out. Leonora had procured a large quantity of wine which was drugged by concoctions procured by Ludovica. Belina, Roxanne, and Cecilly worked out a routine to put on while the others served the drinks, with knives concealed. After most had drunk and were starting to act woozy the performance reached its apex and the party sprung into action. Belina attempted to stun the sober Udhidg with her fungal eye but Udhidg shrugged off the effects. Then a bolt of yellowish energy was cast and people started stabbing... Two of the Knives were defenestrated and a surprisingly tough Roxanne managed to avoid being crushed by Udhidg's meteor hammer. The inhibited Knives finally surrendered after half died, but one lieutenant managed to escape out into the night (to which the party said good! Let the tale be told the Stone Cats have arrived to stake a claim). Those who surrendered were told to join or die, but immediately passed out due to the drugged wine, so time will tell whether they'll convert or desert.
Udhidg's Meteor Hammer

The party's rendition of the Red Wedding took most of the evening, but the Stone Cats did subsequently lay claim to the Sarcophagus and the rooftop farm outside, and are eyeing additional strategic assets to gain control over, such as the old Belltower where the Blind Vipers used to reside. The party is still debating the uniform for the Stone Cats, in order to fit in with the other Krüger gangs. :)  I'm looking forward to seeing how it'll play out next time!

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Strigastadt Play Report VI

Previous play report: [link] first: [link]

Session summary:
Belina (Jackson), printer
Celeste (Heather), fisherwoman
Jafar (Mason), apprentice sorcerer
Leonora (Bart), spire polisher
Lo Ren Zao (JT), initiate of Otun
Tom? (Mackenzie), fungus farmer
Zabina (Lauren), Sewer Militia recruit

After discussing plans for returning to the inhabited side of the city, the party spent the night on the upper floor of King Murod's building. After the party heard distant animal screams in the night, a messenger from King Murod appeared, requesting their presence. He informed them that the immediate area was controlled by Vorn Owls [taken in a half-ass manner from Fire on the Velvet Horizon, which I highly recommend], terrible predators that kill all that moves after sundown, and warned them to avoid the streets at this hour. The party offered to remove the threat for King Murod, who was skeptical they could do so and survive. The party bargained him up to offering four secrets of their choosing if they managed to succeed. I think the party decided the threat from the Vorn Owls was being exaggerated due to the rodent nature of the Rat King and his allies. Anyhow, the next morning they set off to take care of the threat before returning to the inhabited side of the river.

Situated in a tower overlooking King Murod's building, the Vorn Owls' roost was difficult to access. The party decided to scale the thick ivy covering the walls as the most expeditious way to the rooftop tower. Lo Ren Zao beseeched Otun, to strengthen the vines and ease their climb. Unfortunately Otun misunderstood and instead blessed them with blooming rose bushes entwined through the ivy. Beautiful, but unfortunately the thorns did not help. Jafar bravely volunteered to climb the two stories with a rope in tow, but had abominable luck and fell, injuring his pride as well as body. Eventually a rope was secured and the party found themselves at the door to the Vorn Owls' tower. Zabina cleared the vines covering the doorway and quietly entered...
The Tower
The first floor of the two-story tower was windowless and empty apart from huge owl-pellets littering the floor and a central spiral staircase. Breaking one pellet open Zabina found the skeleton of a curious creature, horned, clawed, and about 1.5' tall. Leaving the find behind, the party formed a column to storm the second floor. Lo Ren Zao and I believe Zabina led the way, and were engaged immediately after clearing the stairs by huge owls in a room with broken windows and nests of strange materials. Unfortunately when they attempted to cry out, no sound issued forth, and the rest of the party was none the wiser, save for Jafar watching from outside and working his sorcery upon the owls now visible as they dive-bombed his companions. Lo Ren Zao was hit several times by raking claws and fled down the stairs, and Zabina retreated as well when a pool of water spread on the floor next to her, reflecting unseen stars, from which a black tendril emerged. One owl and the tendril pursued and the owl was almost immediately downed by the combined firepower of the seven party members arrayed in front of the stairs, now including Jafar who rushed inside to assist. The tendril took a little longer, but was eventually hacked into and forced to retreat back up the stairs. As they finished it off another such puddle opened just inside the door, though this tendril fared little better than the first. After the tendril retreated the pool remained, and no more owls pursued. Experimentally the owl body was dropped in, which passed through the surface and disappeared as it arced away. Deciding to stay inside until the pool disappeared, the party had a few moments of rest while they regrouped. Belina and Celeste (I think) led the way on the second charge, and were immediately attacked by an owl surrounded by a crackling sphere of red energy, which burned them as it passed by. After a couple passes it flew out a window, but unfortunately for it was brought down by copious crossbow fire before it could reach the roof. It did, however, absorb one of Jafar's sorcerous bolts, seeming to consume the energy as it locked eyes with him.

At this point I think the party decided the 6 owls unaccounted for had fled, and started looting the nests. A fistful of gems were found in a nest of baubles, and two nests of torn papers yielded several juicy bits of information. Some figurines were also recovered, though regrettably no more stone cats. Deciding to leave the tower behind, the party was immediately ambushed by the remaining owls, who had been waiting on the tower's roof. First another owl enveloped in a red sphere swooped down, burning several. Another hexed Tom, who's vision degraded into symbols - instead of seeing objects, Tom instead saw the representative word. Like CELESTE for his ally, and BLOOD BLOOD BLOOD for the wound that shortly afterwards was rent in her side [spell adapted from a curse found in Fire on the Velvet Horizon]. Jafar and Lo Ren Zao ran inside to the second floor, not wanting to be part of the melee after already being wounded. Zabina bravely batted away owls but soon after was afflicted by the symbolic curse as well. Leonora scaled the ivy covering the tower in an attempt to reach the owls above. Belina rained crossbow bolts upon the owls with her repeating crossbow until her face was enveloped by small shadow-birds cawing loudly, effectively blinding and deafening her as she took out her shield and attempted to protect herself from unseen threats. Celeste was wounded and knocked unconscious, bleeding profusely while the battle raged around her. Lo Ren Zao again called upon Otun, who caused the roses to fling their thorns at one owl, downing it under the assault. Slowly the owls below were felled, though not without significant injuries to the party. Leonora managed to assassinate one owl still casting from the rooftop, and finish off another. Jafar and Lo Ren Zao unfortunately were not as safe as hoped, as one owl swooped in to assault them. A murderous struggle ensued, with it first biting off Jafar's middle finger on his left hand, then slashing through and permanently disabling his left arm, then (as Jafar hid behind Lo Ren Zao) slashing into and temporarily disabling Lo Ren Zao's left arm, then (as Lo Ren Zao and Jafar hid behind Leonora) ducking blows and biting off Lo Ren Zao's manhood, and absorbing a desperate last bit of sorcery from Jafar before finally falling to a blow from behind from Zabina. Jafar managed to bind his wound before bleeding to death, and Tom managed to staunch Celeste's bleeding as well, and somebody bandaged up Lo Ren Zao before he bled out. Shaken, the party still managed to emerge triumphant (though missing bits).

The Rat King was surprised they returned alive, doubly so they had succeeded. He now owes the party four secrets, yet to be determined. Lo Ren Zao, his faith shaken by the events, forswore Otun and pledged his loyalty to King Murod, agreeing to be transformed into a "more perfect form". What manner Otun's disfavor will make itself known has yet to be determined... Jafar and Celeste will take several weeks to heal in the Roost, and Jafar is considering making inquiries into having his arm replaced by one vat-grown from demonflesh by a diabolist. Tom learned some information regarding the tiny mushroom people he "rescued" from the fungus-infested place they burnt down, and is considering supplying them with organic materials and the skeletons of the owls in order for them to grow fungal protectors based on those frames. Jafar has gained enough knowledge to become a full-fledged sorcerer, so Belina has apprenticed herself to him. Other party members are interested in establishing themselves as a gang known as the Stone Cats, so that's another thing that may be pursued next session.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Death & Dismemberment

Speaking of characters getting disfigured, I figured I'd share my Death & Dismemberment chart. I found most charts insufficiently generalized for my purposes, so created my own. So far it's worked well, dishing out non-lethal wounds at times but never feeling safe to roll on.

Mechanics explanation - similar to WFRP, once characters are reduced below zero grit they roll on the below chart, adding one for each negative number they've reached. I.E. at -2, if they rolled a six, they'd get to 8 on the below chart. I've got a custom hit location die I use for the fights, so we know what's being hit for armor and wound purposes, which has arms, legs, torso, and head on it in varying proportions.


2 - Adrenaline rush
   - Advantage on next roll of choice
3 - Jagged wound
    - Scar (-(1d4-2) Cha if on face)
4 - Sub-part damaged (finger, eye, etc)
      - save or permanent inhibition
      - 3d4 weeks normal healing
5 - Part damaged
    - Pain Check at advantage or pass out
    - Bleed (2d4 + con mod rds till death)
    - Scar (-(1d4-2) Cha if on face)
6 - Sub-part destroyed (finger, eye, etc)
7 - Part disabled
     - Pain Check or pass out
     - Bleed (1d6 + 1 + con mod rds till death)

     - save or permanent inhibition
     - Scar (-(1d4-2) Cha if on face)
     - 3d4 weeks normal healing
8+ - Part destroyed
        - Pain Check at disadvantage or pass out
        - Bleed (1d4 + con mod rds till death)

        - 3d4 weeks normal healing

After battle checklist:
     - Armor damaged?
     - Scars?
     - Healing times?

Divine healing halves recovery time.

Quick NPC version:
2-4 part damaged
5-6 part damaged and they're down
7+ dead

Strigastadt Play Report V

The next session was a bit unproductive as far as play goes - due to people's schedules coinciding and other factors we had a full eleven players show up, so things kinda ground to a merry halt. They still managed to explore a little more of the fungus building (this time without any incidents of infection) before deciding it was too dangerous and expending a considerable amount of oil in order to burn it to the ground as the Rat King requested. More strange fungal creatures were encountered, and Tom the fungus farmer smuggled out a colony of tiny fungoid creatures who appeared inquisitive and non-hostile. Tom's mushroom children have been the subject of some debate, some characters advocating throwing them back on the blaze when first discovered, and much trepidation shared amongst the rest of the party.
Mushroom children
Awesome illustration by Emma Lazauski,
a print hangs on the wall next to our play table.
 The remainder of the session was spent investigating the second floor of the Rat King's building, the use of which has been given them in return for their services. Aside from skeletal cats trapped in a barred room, the place boasts a bedroom, small ballroom (trapped), kitchen (to be converted into alchemical laboratory), and a shelved collection of geological samples. Some minor treasures were recovered from the place, and the party spent the night in relative safety. Several party members spent time trying to trade secrets with the Rat King, but unfortunately he knew most those offered him. Jafar did trade a secret unknown by the group for information, but it remains to be seen if he will share...

Monday, October 3, 2016

Strigastadt Play Report IV

Part of my ongoing series of posting older play reports in order to catch up. Only a few more now!

A largely different group of players returned to the Grey District the next session, following up on the previous session's lead, flasks of oil and a sack of cats in tow. As they entered the building, cinnamon-scented miasma began filling the street, burning exposed skin. They quickly filed in and beelined it to the chamber from where the drums had sounded last session, bursting in to find swarms of rats and several circles of white mice already formed. The poor cats were released and simply cowered before the massive quantities of huge rats, their exit barred by the party. As they considered their next step, a voice from deeper within commanded them to halt their futile struggle. Surprisingly the party complied, and as mishapped humanoid figures lit the candle sconces in the room, a voice from the silhouette of a throne began to speak. Thusly they met Rat King Murod, lord over secrets, darkness, and that which crawls, and also a rather small mouse atop a rather tall stack of books. The party immediately offered assistance to the Rat King, who considered, and then requested they raze the neighboring building infested with fungus, in exchange for a safe place on the second floor of his building and passage through his territory. They agreed and set forth into an underground tunnel in order to avoid the cinnamon gas. With them went Nimblet, a small white mouse with a telepathic link to the Rat King, who could respond to simple questions by an agreed-upon system of taps. Nimblet rode atop the head of Chuck Chuckleston the militiaman as they proceeded into the dark tunnel.

Chosen servants of the Rat King (Mirliton miniatures)

In the fungus building they fought fungal hounds, spore-spraying rubbery beasts vaguely in the shape of canines, and were forced to retreat when two party members were injured and one began hallucinating. Unfortunately the burlap masks they had fashioned themselves were not quite sufficient to prevent all the effects of spore inhalation from the many bizarre growths. When they tried to return to the Rat King's abode from the tunnels they were barred entry, for fear of infection... 

Worried now, the party struck deeper into the abandoned borough looking for a clear passage to the surface, which led to a Scooby Doo like chase scene as they sprinted from one threat to the next in increasing desperation, fending off grease dogs just long enough to bar a cellar door, walking through a trap with rusty knives, and running from several other strange creatures. Chuck Chuckleston was seriously wounded at this point, but still up and moving. Nimblet had fallen unconscious from spores earlier. Belina the printer was feeling the effects of spores as well, and worried about the rusty knives that had fallen on her head, slicing up her shoulders. They finally ran into a room that had light coming from the cracks in the door, but was also inhabited by a figure in archaic dust-covered armor, who rose from a slumped position and bared its blade. The party ran over to the door while Leonora the trader nervously placated the being, offering it a gift of terrified cats since that's what was at hand. Not sure what to think, the figure stood still long enough for them to frenetically rip the boards off the door and sprint out into daylight and freedom.

Avoiding a seeming trap in the street and vaulting a mouldering barricade, the party nearly made it back to the docks before giant wasps descended upon them from above. They made a good show of it and drove them off, but not before Chuck Chuckleston was struck down by a barb through his upper arm. After several inexpert attempts the bleeding was stopped as he was at death's door, and the party loaded him into the boat to take to Mad Marge, a dockside healer whose services they could actually afford. Unfortunately, several failed rolls later, Chuck Chuckleston expired upon the bloodstained bench in her shack. Mad Marge came out and shook her head sadly. Nimblet soon followed. With heavy hearts the remaining party members carried the body back up to the Roost (the Blackbirds' hangout), for future burial.

This is when the party learned about Strigastadt burial laws! By ancient law, any who die within Strigastadt's limits are to be interred in the walls of their dwelling, after certain rites are performed, and optionally after they've been exposed at a tower of silence. Those that live in Strigastadt are compelled to defend it in death, their bodies or spirits animated when invasions threaten. The party was like "Oh, that's why Strigastadt is haunted as shit!" and discussed plans to instead dump his corpse in the river. They were afraid the fungus that had infected him earlier would bloom from the walls if they buried in the Roost. Which 100% would have happened. But instead he was thrown in a back room until a consensus could be achieved. Meanwhile Belina was suffering fevers and her forehead began to swell with something underneath...

Chuck Chuckleston?
Art by the awesome Sam Bosma!