Owlbear and Wizards Staff 2018

525d4e50-a112-11e8-81c9-1b431fd718bc-rimg-w400-h400-dc1c1c1c-gmirA day after the events at Owlbear and Wizards Staff, I’m still coming down from the excitement of it all. Set in the welcoming town of Leamington Spa it promised a day packed with RPG goodness with a bus load of games on offer. The weekend started for me on the Friday night with a visit to a local boozer followed by the delights of Warwick Spice (just to be clear it’s a restaurant with amazing food), the whole evening hosted by the affable emcee Matt Broome. With great company all around I had a chance to catch up with some older gaming pals (I’d like to say old friends because it feels like they are, but I’ve only known most of them 12-18 months!) and meet twitter folk face to face for the first time.

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Matt couldn’t believe the size of his poppadom! Great food, great company in Warwick Spice.

The day itself started early with RPG folk descending on The Band Factory, a rehearsal venue not far from the town centre but free of musical aspirants for the day. The space was perfect, well lit with good sized tables and facilities. Drinks and biscuits were readily available with a load of tasty samosas shipped in at lunchtime. I didn’t have to take more than a step or two to bump into someone I knew.

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GM Lee playing us like a fiddle

I was playing Dungeon Crawl Classics in the morning session, expertly GM’d by DCC Judge Lee Nielson. Lee was well at ease with the system and quickly had us up and running through the 0 level funnel. But rather than being the usual fantasy peasants we were ordinary people from the 70’s somehow transported to fantasy land. My characters were a plumber (Mario of course), a taxidermist and a minister… other’s included a corny radio DJ, a drug addled hippy and a retired ex-SAS dude. It was a lot of fun imagining how these characters could rationalise the crazy fantasy world they had been transported to, and how they would feel having seen three of their fellow time travellers slaughtered by alien lizardmen. Lots of scraps and a few traps saw our numbers decimated until we came to the final encounter and bravely won the day. Great game, great GM, great players.

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The Aliquam Martialis – Howard (hidden by my girth), Lee, Turan, Matt and Paul

After a chilled lunch spent chatting to some top gaming folk it was onto the afternoon session where I GM’d my Lamentations of the Flame Princess home-brew The Greater Share of Honour, set on the eve of the Battle of Agincourt. It’s a game I’ve ran a number of times at cons and it always seems to go down well. I had an great group of players who really engaged with the game and took to their characters with gusto – I had little doubt they would be able to carry out the King’s orders. On this occasion I struggled to fit the game into the 3hr 30 minute slot, hopefully we’ll be able to pick it up and complete it on Roll20.

There were a ton of other great games on throughout the day – like with most cons I wish there was some time trick we could do that would allow me to play in every game – I’m certain everyone there felt the same. Some of the other games being run included Mutant Crawl Classics, Startrek Adventures, WFRP, Monster of the Week (with the Hookland setting), Space 1889, Genesys, D&D 5e, Shadowrun, HeroQuest Glorantha, Runequest, Numenera, Call of Cthulhu, Fate, Elite Dangerous.

The day ended with a gathering of DCC/MCC GM’s – you wouldn’t want to bump into this lot down a dark alley!

DCC Crew

Now the countdown begins, only 364 sleeps until the next one!

Better Than Any Man: Adred’s head

As we’re getting into the thick of BTAM, here’s the standard spoiler alert; this post has spoilers, if you think you might play BTAM at some point go and read something else (like my Advanced Fighting Fantasy: Gallows End to Hellwinter session report).

Surrounded by the misery and suffering of the refugee camp outside Karlstadt the adventurers consider how they might gain access to the town (their mission being to kill The Seven and take their heads to Wurzburg). Like the thousands of people in the camp who are fleeing the advancing Swedish Army and desperately seeking shelter in Karlstadt and protection from The Seven, there only seems to be one way in. Present yourself before the gates before the one known as The Watcher.

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The party spilts to enquire around the camp and pick up some further rumours while avoiding the Burgerfriendensmiliz, the town militia who take a dim view of armed travellers. Miklos’ attention is drawn to a woman who is preaching portents of doom (like anyone around here needs reminding), who with her eyes rolling in her head shouts “the Insect God will devour humanity!” Miklos approaches and learns the woman, Solla Zurzen, once resided in Karlstadt and curses the one known as The Mother. “She killed my cat and has taken children, Ulrike Lamprecht is evil!” Unfortunately Solla is able to recall little about her Insect God prophecies as she made them in a trance like state. She does point out the swarms of insects that seem to be everywhere…

Meanwhile Maldron is approached by a worn and world weary thug who asks if he and his friends are looking for work. He tells the fighter that his boss has observed the group and believes they could help each other out. If so, Maldron should find his companions and meet him under a nearby tree in one hour.

Desperate MotherNot far away a despairing woman asks Hemming for help. Through her tears she introduces herself as Clora Machholter and asks will Hemming and his accomplices to save her daughter Lena who has been kidnapped. She found a note at the place she had left Lena for a short and shows the parchment with the demand for 1000 pieces of silver to be dropped at the Braasch farm a few miles away. The money was to be in bags on a mule, the deliverer then leave the farm and a couple of hours later the child would be on the mule. Despite pleading and making offers that showed the extent of her misery and desperation Hemming and the Black Dogs remained focused on their task – finding a way into Karlstadt.

After meeting the thug under the tree the Black Dogs are taken to meet Adred Jaeger, the leader of the self-styled Jaegerstruppe. Jaeger’s criminal business is prostitution, taking advantage of desperate women in the camp and the adventurers take an immediate dislike to him. However, an interesting offer is put on the table; if the party can kill Gabi Tabbecker, the leader of another gang in the camp that deals in smuggling and protection, he will show them a way into Karlstadt. With little to lose at this time the party approach the Tabbecker tent accompanied by one of Jaeger’s thugs Paolo.

It becomes apparent that Tabbecker is just as unpleasant as Jaeger, taking advantage of the refugees, however she is the lesser evil and because they talk to her first she makes a counter offer. Bring her the head of Jaeger and she will give them a safe route into Karlstadt. With the adventurers having taken such a dislike to Jaeger they take this offer and stealthily return to the Jaegerstruppe camp.

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Sniping from the outskirts of the camp Miklos and Balock kill Adred Jaeger with their crossbows and it doesn’t take much for Hemming with his magic missiles to take down and scare away the remaining Jaegerstruppe. They plunder the camp and take Jaeger’s head back to Tabbecker.

True to her word she rewards the PC’s by taking them to a farmstead half a mile north of Karlstadt which gives entrance to one of the old smuggling tunnels into the town…

 

Better Than Any Man: Karlstadt… finally!

Tech problems seem to be quite prevalent right now and our new player @doc_griffiths  was only able to join us briefly before broadband issues kept him away for the evening. Still, Karlstadt won’t save itself, and so our four stalwart adventurers continued bravely on (beware BTAM spoilers from here on in)

BTAM Insect BiteBeaten and bruised from their fight with the bandits they decided to rest for a couple of days in Thungen, and were most put out to learn that the locals were not as appreciative of them getting rid of the bandits as they’d hoped. Perhaps it was the avoidable murder by the bandits of one of the children that left them a bit cold… The lack of a heroes welcome was made all the worse when Balock was bitten by a rather unpleasant insect which had quickly injected something into his knee – something was moving around in there. It was only through some careful and well timed application of healing magic by Miklos that his knee was saved… it could have been very nasty!

Wilricus Elbinger, a transient Alchemist and his family fleeing from Gemunden (a village in the path of the Swedish Army) stopped at Thungen and after some haggling with the Black Dogs offers to sell them a batch of healing unguents. A fairly chipper fellow, he didn’t budge too much on the original cost of his wares and was somewhat put out by the direct and unsubtle threats levelled at him by Hemming: “There are bandits in the forest and you want your family to be safe…”. The tight-fisted group let some essential healing ointments slip through their fingers as Wilricus quickly fled Thungen.

wagon_backFeeling their time could perhaps have been better spent but somewhat rested the adventurers decide to get back to their main mission. Rumours that The Seven do not allow any implements of violence into the town of Karlstadt lead to the group spending some of their cash having a false bottom installed in their wagon. They hide their main weapons and proceed on an uneventful journey to the town armed only with side weapons.

Approaching from the east they see the thousands of refugees desperate to find a way into Karlstadt crowded on the bank across the River Main. A sorry sight indeed, the camp consists of makeshift tents and hovels, a large part of the population crowded into this small area with no sanitation, little food and even less hope. Maldron barters with the ferry man and gets some information about Karlstadt… the laws of The Seven, their mysterious creatures and the control they place on entry into the town itself.

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Unsure how they may find their way into Karlstadt they PC’s form a plan – to speak to those who may have left the town and discover what they can.  Taking the ferry across the river, the adventurers are surrounded by desperate souls as soon as they touch land and have to force their way through the crowd. They have been warned to avoid the Burgerfriedensmiliz, the local militia under the control of The Seven, and so keeping their heads down gather some rumours about Karlstadt and the surrounding area.

  • The Seven have headquarters in Goblin Hill, southeast of Hammelburg…
  • There’s a giant cat seen near the swamp…
  • The Seven were once eight…

With the Swedish Army bearing down, how are the party ever going to be able to complete their mission?

The Greater Share of Honour

This is generally the blurb I give players ahead of running this game online.  There’s not a great deal for them to do ahead of the game, other than read this and if they get a chance checkout the free Lamentations of the Flame Princess art free rules from here.

While the scenario is based on a historical event I make no pretence at historical accuracy or knowledge – I’ve just put together what I think will make a good game. Players take on the role of a member of the Aliquam Martialis, Henry V’s enforcers, a medieval Military Police trusted to root out enemies in his court in times of peace, and to keep his soldiers in line in times of war. The Aliquam Martialis were present when Mortimer told of the Southampton Conspiracy, then rounded up the traitors and arranged their executions. They tracked down and executed Sir Ralph Ferrand and his smugglers who were providing supplies to the besieged French garrison at Harfleur. And they have kept the army in line on the exhausting march from Harfleur to Calais.

What is known about the Aliquam Martialis:

  • They are a group of talented individuals that have learnt to work together despite some differences, when set a task they achieve it with ruthless efficiency (usually!)
  • Every member has a loyalty and devotion to their King and country which goes beyond duty

The Aliquam Martialis are:

Aubrey Emor (Level 2 Fighter)

A highly capable rugged warrior who has fought long an hard to establish herself in a male dominated army. Many foes have died knowing they underestimated her strength and ability as a fighter.

Ithel Coedffriend (Level 2 Specialist)

Growing up in the valleys of Wales Ithel grew to love nature. Such was his affinity for the wilderness and nature that he found himself taking care of the forests of various Lords. His ability as a scout and tracker led to his recruitment in the English army and subsequently his involvement in the Aliquam Martialis.

Lady Angmar Grey (Level 2 Specialist)

Daughter of Richard Grey, the 4th Baron of Codnor, Lady Angmar Grey was consigned to a life of subservience as the wife of an old fat noble for political reasons. In her mid-teens she took matters into her own hands and fled to London where she was able to develop skills both as a thief and spy, at first underground, then more openly once her reputation was established. Lady Angmar Grey is as proficient with a blade as she is burglary, assassination or mixing with Lords, Ladies and Royalty.

Old Letholdus (Level 2 Magic-User)

A grumpy old mage who is careful to hide his abilities and rarely shows them. Letholdus understands that most folk are scared of magic – in fact most do not even believe in it. Religion is the dominant force in the lives of most people take a dim view of magic, told by priests that it is the work of the devil. In LotFP Magic-Users do not have the same armour and weapon restrictions as in other OSR games; Letholdus wears chain armour and carries a sword.

Sister Wulfled (Level 2 Cleric)

The appointed leader of the Aliquam Martialis, largely due to an overwhelming loyalty to God and King and a proven history of rooting out the Kings enemies. In LotFP Clerics are not restricted to non-edged weapons, so Wulfled carries a sword and shield.

Well’ard Harold (Level 2 Fighter)

A hardened veteran, Harold has never settled down, but instead served in various militia and took part in the Battle of Bryn Glas in 1402, the Battle of Pwll Melyn in 1405 and the Battle of Bramham Moor in 1408.

Better Than Any Man: An abject lesson in OSR reality or how to nearly get your asses handed to you on a plate

We were so close to a full house of players this week, unfortunately The Captain was unable to join us. Still, the four PC’s should be able to handle the handful of remaining bandits after their encounter last session, right? Right?

The situation they are in is this: having been hired by Adelbert Klepzig, a villager from Thungen to hurry to said village and dispose of the bandits that were keeping the town hostage (by keeping their children incarcerated in a nearby barn and threatening murder on them), Balock (), Hemming () and Maldron () had headed to Thungen. They hired a wagon ride from the reticent local hunter Fridericus, having traded their horses for his wagon. A plan was formulated to take the wagon into Thungen posing as merchants to draw the bandits out (rather than, say, liberate the children first); of course this plan, like many PC conceived plans (including many of my own) went to crap, with combat breaking out and a number of bandits finding themselves taking an express coach to meet their maker.

Seeing his compadres being hacked down this way one of the bandits (we’ll call him Krugar), maybe following orders, stops half way between the inn and the barn holding a small head, clearly that of a child. The threat is clear – stop what you’re doing or more kids will end up like this.

Fucked up for sure. So what to do? This is how it went down.

5092bc62d6b359ca1194c8e34d6934abBalock cut one of the horses free and began chasing down Krugar, hoping to beat him to the barn. I had everything worked out beforehand… it was 600 yards to the barn, the bandit was half way at 300 yards. Krugar could cover 40 yards per round and Balock on horse could cover 80. If he had just ridden like that he would have just arrived at the barn before the bandit. However, I didn’t tell him that and offered the option to push his horse… with some justification from @Benelio Balock had some riding skill so pushing his horse worked like this:

  • Success of 1-3 on 1d6 means the horse covers 120 yards instead of 80
  • Failure of 4-5 on 1d6 means the horse pushes back, is pissed off and only covers 40 yards
  • Failure of 6 on 1d6 means the rider falls of the horse taking 1d4 damage

Balock had some luck catching up with the bandit, but unfortunately fell off a couple of times meaning the bandit reached the barn before him.  Battered and bruised Balock reaches the barn after the bandit has joined his friend inside (along with all the children!)

kick-in-doorAs Balock sets off after the bandit Hemming and Maldron, along with Captain Hermann, decide to tackle Dittmar and his remaining thugs who are hiding in the inn, while Fridericus starts reloading his musket to take another shot at the bandit. The Fighter and Magic-User storm inside the inn to find the common room deserted excepting the barman who pops his head over the counter and tells them that Dittmar is upstairs. Hemming screams threats into the inn in an attempt to weaken the resolve of any bandits laying in wait. They kick open another door…

Meanwhile Miklos (), who has been absent while trying to help the distraught Mathilda, arrives at the edge of the village on horseback. He sees Balock speeding off after the bandit and Maldron and Hemming entering the inn. Clearly something is going on… making a snap decision Miklos heads off after Balock, but after taking a tumble from his horse decides to head for the inn where he can see a man loading a musket looking in Balock’s direction. He regains his horse and charges at the man, not realising it is their ally Fridericus and with a strong blow smashes his skull with his sabre. He is about to head off after Balock when he notices Dittmar on the balcony of the inn.

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Back inside the inn Maldron, Hemming and Captain Hermann explore the rest of the ground floor rooms with Hemming entering into a desperate melee with one of the bandits. Unable to help Maldron runs up the stairs and finds the room Dittmar occupies. Dittmar shouts a challenge – the first person through the door will get their head blown off!

0c9d44b244436193a29c278202a85364Hemming finishes off his opponent, running his rapier through the bandits throat… blood spurts from the wound for a few seconds as the man’s eyes lose focus and are still. Hemming then joins Maldron and Captain Hermann.

Then a load of crazy things happen at the same time. Maldron grabs the body of the dead bandit from the ground floor, intending to use it as a meatshield, while outside Miklos, having spotted Dittmar on the balcony with a pistol pointed into the room, rides carefully underneath the balcony. However Dittmar hears him and takes a shot – but misses! On cue Maldron and Hemming barrel into the room and Maldron throws the body at Dittmar. This is enough to put him off balance as he pulls out his second pistol.

The body crashes to the floor, just missing Miklos who is getting ready to prepare a spell. Charging at Dittmar, Maldron tries to wrestle him to the ground but loses his balance and Dittmar defly sidesteps causing Maldron to tumble over the balcony, the sound of a crunching bone coinciding with him hitting the packed earth below. Dittmar turns on Hemming, points his pistol at his chest and pulls the trigger. However the shot only lightly wounds Hemming who strikes back at Dittmar with his rapier, missing the cunning rogue.

Miklos then puts his plan into action and casts the Command spell, telling Dittmar to sleep. A powerful adversary, nevertheless Dittmar is unable to resist Miklos’s righteous, god given power and collapses to the floor, momentarily asleep. Hemming takes the opportunity to plunge his rapier into Dittmar’s eye, bringing his reign of terror to a satisfactory end.

At the other end of the village Balock’s horse comes to a halt outside the barn and Krugar orders him to throw down his weapons and dismount the horse otherwise another child will be killed. Balock’s brain goes into overdrive as he tries to incite the distant villagers to rise up and save their children, all the while stalling for time as he can now see the others riding towards him, but still some distance away. Eventually he concedes to the bandits and drops his sword, kneeling on the ground. Feeling the cold hand of death touching his shoulder as Krugar steps up behind him, no doubt planning on slashing his throat he tries to trick the bandit by looking to one side and shouting “the villagers!” (or something like that). Krugar, caught of guard falls for it and quickly turns to look while Balock pulls out his dagger, intent on backstabbing the scoundrel. Unfortunately he is too exhausted to use stealth and enters a grim combat with Krugar. As the second bandit approaches to help kill Balock, the cunning thief takes the opportunity to run into the barn and bars the doors shut.

Seeing the rest of the party bearing down on them the two remaining bandits flee for the nearby woods, reaching them before Miklos can strike them down cavalry style.

And so the session draws to a close. The children are saved, the bandits dead or fleeing and Thungen is once more free (until the Swedish army arrive of course…) The Black Dogs are able to heal a little and decide to wait a day or two before carrying on. They talk now to the locals and find a little more of the events in Karlstadt and the names of the Seven.

This was another session taken up entirely with a big combat encounter – I hadn’t really expected that to happen, but even with things moving on at a fast past it took some time to resolve. It also showed quite clearly how deadly combat in this game can be, just a few bad dice rolls can bring a PC to only a handful of hit points and close to death.

Better Than Any Man: Save the Children!

Disclaimer: may contain BTAM spoilers

After a couple of sessions struggling on as a desperate duo, Maldron and Balock are joined by a recovered Hemming, his magical aura intact after a disturbance in the ether. Resting overnight in the village of Zellingen, Maldron and Balock are pleased to see Hemming catch up with them, sure they will need some extra muscle with a side helping of sorcerous power (people loved sorcerous power in 1630’s Europe).

feasting-peasants-in-a-tavernThe next morning was spent debating their strategy and questioning the hapless barman about Thungen and Karlstadt.  They consider the Thungen situation – a small village taken over by a band of ruthless bandits who are able to force the locals to assist them in waylaying travellers because they have taken all of the village children hostage and are holding them in a barn. Or take on The Seven, the Sorcerers in control of Karlstadt and the cause of much concern in the area.

The Black Dogs decide to head onto Thungen. An observer might be tempted to think they are putting off the Karlstadt situation despite being instructed to deal with The Seven by Nicklaus Stein, their Black Dogs contact, and a potential reward of 10000 silvers from the Prince-Bishop of Wurzburg for the heads of The Seven.

A plan is formed; hire a wagon and head into Thungen with Balock and their NPC assistant Captain Hermann of the Wurzburg watch hidden by straw, and Maldron and Hemming acting as vulnerable merchants. Draw out the bandits, kill them all and save the children. What could go wrong?

After trading a wagon for two horses with the local hunter Fridericus, they persuade him to drive the wagon to Thungen as part of their ruse. With some other small preparation they head out to the small village, and within a few hours are approaching the place. Bird noises are heard and scouts spotted, so the Black Dogs know they have been seen and the bandits will be preparing a warm reception for them.  Shortly they see the village ahead; a tavern, the blacksmith and a few houses with the barn a couple of hundred yards beyond. Two men can be seen standing outside the barn.

mr-n-t-hicks-as-claude-duval-1850-lithographBelieving the Blacksmith Trubald to be a potential ally they approach his workshop, but two brigands come out of the tavern and walk alongside the wagon. Sensing imminent hostilities Hemming takes the initiative and fries the pair with screaming skull death magic attacks. All hell breaks lose, other brigands run out of the building and engage in combat and their leader Dittmar leans of the tavern door and takes a shot at Hemming.  The Swedish Sorcerer responds by hitting Dittmar with more screaming death skulls – for the minimum amount of damage, lousy dice! Maldron, Balock and Captain Hermann all join the fray with heads rolling and brigands dying.

A voice halts their action and they look up to see Dittmar on a small balcony at the front of the tavern. He draws their attention to one of his men who stands half way between the village and the barn, holding up what looks to be a small severed head… Dittmar’s vicious reputation is well deserved it seems.

Is it possible for The Black Dogs to stop Dittmar’s henchmen from killing more of the children in the barn? We’ll find out next time…

Better Than Any Man: So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, goodbye

Now that we’re back onto the main BTAM plot the usual Spoilers ahead alert applies. This session Balock (played by @Benelio) and Maldron (played by @TonyLayter) were once more at a point of indecision. Where to next? What to do next?

Following last weeks happenings Captain Hermann of the watch suggested they follow up the job of bringing the heads of The Seven to the Prince-Bishop Franz Von Hatzfeld for which there is a substantial reward. They start the day questioning locals about goings on in the area; what do they know about The Seven and Karlstadt and where have all these damned insects come from? While checking out the details on the town noticeboard they see another job about a bandit problem in Thüngen. With the rest of the party unavailable for duty they decide to chase down Adelbert Klepzig at The Iron Pig Tavern.

Wurzburg Thungen Notice 2

Adelbert is an intense fellow, clearly not a man of any significant means. Tempting the adventurers with booze, but not yet cheese (that will be after the job has been agreed), he tells them that the small village of Thüngen has been taken over by vicious bandits led by a ruthless cur going by the name of Dittmar. The bandits are waylaying travellers heading east with the help of the villagers; of course the poor inhabitants are not doing this willingly, Dittmarr and his gang are holding their children hostage with a threat of killing them if they don’t comply.  They have already killed Thoffson the Dane because he raised an arm against them.

Adelbert doesn’t have any family, but is concerned about his business suffering – he offers 50 pieces of silver to rid Thüngen of the bandits and hints that the grateful villagers will likely give a further reward. Unable to bear the thought of these children suffering the battled hardened Black Dogs take up the offer (with a round of cheese to seal the deal), but first decide to visit the Marienburg Fortress to speak to the Prince Bishop about The Seven.

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At the foot of the bridge crossing the River Main they meet Captain Hermann again who introduces them to Captain Wilfred Linden, a member of the Prince-Bishops guard. Captain Linden, a cocksure but clearly capable soldier is unconvinced of their credentials and ability to aid Wurzburg and the Prince-Bishop until they reveal their Black Dog tatoos. They are taken into the fortress past other guards, training soldiers and then Von Hatzfeld’s security. Their weapons taken from them they wait a couple of hours for their audience.

wu_marienberg450When they finally meet Franz Von Hatzfeld they discover he is a typical noble, arrogant, self-assured and easily bored. However they learn a little more of the threat in Karlstadt and why The Seven must be killed, their heads mounted on the walls of Wurzburg to show the invading Swedes the good folk of Wurzburg will not tolerate the devils work. They also discover that Von Hatzfeld places no value on the lives of the folk of Thüngen, and that each day a few merchants take goods to the refugees outside Karlstadt. As soon as the Prince-Bishop agrees to hire them for the job, he is disturbed by a servant who whispers in his ear, and as a result quickly concludes his business with the Black Dogs. He asks them to attend him on the field to the south of Wurzburg where the witch trials are being held; their loyalty to the cause of killing creatures of evil will be tested there.

2_the-last-witch-beheaded-in-europeMaking their final preparations to leave the town the troubled duo find that in response to their request for assistance from Franz Von Hatzfeld they have been allocated Captain Hermann who seems happy to accompany them and get away from the confines of the town. Before they can leave they take a reluctant final trip to the witch trials to witness the horror and brutality suffered by the poor women accused of witchcraft. As they approach, one of the victims, Alfrida Turmgever, is brought forward accused of dancing naked in her home and consorting with animals by Petran Longingbruck, a Burhger of the town. Knowing that he has no choice a conflicted Maldron carries out the Prince-Bishop’s order to execute the woman, and he swiftly beheads her, a quicker and more merciful death than she would have suffered at the hands of these more ‘civilised folk’.

Disturbed by the encounter Balock and Maldron, accompanied by Captain Hermann leave Wurzburg, glad to put the place behind them. They are lucky to be travelling by horse, one an old nag provided by Adelbert Klepzig so they can quickly reach Thüngen, the other acquired by Hermann from the watch stables. Anticipating reaching the village of Zellingen before dark they travel for a few hours, the stunning countryside a balm for the misery of Wurzburg. However, there seems to be no escape from the plague of insects that seems to infest the area.

Passing a farm off the road, a field of wheat between themselves and the small farmhouse, Balock notices a hand protruding from wheat and a head that seems to be looking at them strangely. Their curiosity piqued and never shy of getting into trouble, they decide to investigate and discover that to their horror the head and hand are severed and impaled on poles, then they see other body parts of different sizes similarly impaled and blood pooled beneath each. Trails of blood lead to the door of the farmhouse. What the hell is going on here they ask…

b7b7fc9c95649b40898f8d69d571243aThe noise they make searching the barn gives the insane Swedish soldier inside the farmhouse a chance to don his breastplate, grab his sword and load and prime his musket. When they open the door it’s no surprise that Maldron has his arm nearly taken off by a musket ball. A quick retreat and they fall back on the tried and tested method of setting the wooden farmhouse alight, waiting for the maniac to run out where they can more easily deal with him. Their plan works to a point, but the Swede climbs out of one of the boarded windows around the back. A fight ensues and despite the Swede being a brute and a capable fighter they are able to quickly dispatch him. The farmhouse on fire they decide to make a quick withdrawal in case other Swedish soldiers are nearby, and after grabbing the breastplate, sword and musket, head off to the village of Zellingen.