Masks of Chaos – part 2

Part 1 – background – is here.

Part 2 – Grey Mountains/Peru – is here.

Part 3 – Nuln/New York – is here.

Part 4 – Altdorf/London – is here.

I’ll initially be posting rough summaries of the chapters to make sure I have the new names, locations and overall structure correct.

THE WISSENLAND GREY MOUNTAINS (Peru)

The Grey Mountains

Four years before Elsner’s death in Nuln. I’ll be using the 4th ed start date of 2511, so this means 2507.

BACKGROUND

A Danger Forgotten

The Father of Maggots is an aspect of Slaanesh driven by hunger, specifically consuming the fat of sentient creatures. It plagued the Grey Mountains and surrounding area thousands of years ago, by infecting the local dwarves and humans with its daemonic larvae, its ‘maggots’.

A larva would infest a mortal and then live in its host’s stomach, turning them into an unintelligent beast – a karusiri (lit. living hunger in Khazalid) – that constantly thirsted for fat from people. The larva would extrude its tongue up the gullet of its host and out of their mouth where its barbed teeth would burrow into a victim and inject caustic chemicals to dissolve their body fat. It would then suck up the fat and store it, swelling its host’s stomach almost to bursting, to take back and feed to the Father. While living in its stomach, the larva bestowed its host with amazing strength and regenerative abilities, allowing them to live for centuries.

The mortals managed to trap the Father in a prison-tomb and sealed it with magical runes of inlaid gold. As the prosperity fell in that part of the Grey Mountains, bordering what would become Wissenland, and the aggression of the local orcs rose, the dwarves and humans moved away and forgot the Father and its prison.

The mercenaries

Avarice Rewarded

Over 400 years ago, at the tail end of the centuries-long Age of Three Emperors, a group of mercenaries, driven from battle in the lowlands, stumbled on the long-lost ruins. They looted some of the gold runes, weakening the ward and allowing the Father to release a handful of its maggots. Some managed to infect the mercenaries and turned them into karusiri, which spent the following centuries mindlessly preying on locals for their fat and feeding it to their Father by regurgitating it through a crack in the ward of his prison.

The Prodigal Son

In 2507, Sir Auguste Lacasse was the eldest son of a wealthy noble family in Bretonnia, and even more of a wastrel, drunk and womaniser than the rest of his family, which is saying something. Maëlle Wervik seduced him and lured him into worshipping the Bloody Tongue. When he realised what a mistake he had made and tried to flee, she and her acolytes caught him and tattooed the sign of the cult on his chest in a ritual that allowed Slaanesh, or at least a tiny aspect of the chaos god, to possess Lacasse at its will.

Access Denied

For the last few years Lacasse has been a roving agent for the cult, even as the god’s corruption rots his flesh from the inside. In 2506, Slaanesh sent him to the Grey Mountains to restore the intelligence of the karusiri and with them release the Father of Maggots. However, the ward on the prison prevented their Chaos-corrupted bodies from even approaching the prison, let alone being able to damage the ward.

The Honeytrap

Next, while Slaanesh urged the karusiri to breed more of themselves with the Father’s larvae, Lacasse went among the locals and tried to persuade them that there were riches to loot in the ruins. He hoped treasure hunters would damage the wards as the mercenaries once had and thereby release the Father of Maggots. Having been the territory of the karusiri for centuries, the region had an evil reputation with the locals, who all refused to go near it.

Map of Wissenland in the Empire
Chapter map

Thwarted, Lacasse has now written to various news sheets and universities in the Empire to recruit non-local treasure hunters without the same qualms and fears. He has agreed to meet a select few (the PCs and Jakobus Elsner) in Meissen. With him goes one of the karusiri as bodyguard, Ludwig Mendler, who has regained his intelligence for the first time in centuries, but can barely restrain his bestial hunger.

Dangerously Mistaken

The increased numbers of locals turned into karusiri and their victims has led Jakobus Elsner to believe a Chaos cult is murdering locals and that Mendler is a leading member of it. He has followed Lacasse and Mendler to Meissen where he learns of their attempts to drum up support for an expedition to some long-lost ruins and decided to join it to learn more.

CAMPAIGN SUMMARY

Meissen

  • The PCs travel to Meissen to join Lacasse’s expedition. Along with Lacasse and Mendler, Jacobus Elsner is the only other expedition member, present under the pseudonym Jeremias Hueser.
  • Meet in the Silberkelch district at the Countess’ Jewel, where Lacasse and Mendler are staying.Suspicions about Lacasse and Mendler are aroused due to Lacasse’s conflicting anecdotal and physical evidence.
  • Lacasse lies and says there is no more space at the inn so he has booked rooms for the other expedition members at the Silver Lode Inn near the west gate.
  • Hueser/Elsner invites PCs for a drink after the meeting and reveals his real name and further evidence to support those suspicions.
  • Asks them to meet Professor Norbert Sandmeier, a historian from the University of Nuln now employed in Meissen as a tutor, scholar and researcher (genealogy, deeds and the like) for the local nobles, guilds, etc. He has offered to join the expedition as he has historical documents relevant to it, but Lacasse has refused to let him join. Elsner is due to meet with Sandmeier the next day.
Silver Lode Inn, Meissen
  • The Countess’ Jewel
    • Mendler’s room is sparse and unlived in, with only the Golden Mirror under his mattress. Mendler stands impassive for hours watching over Lacasse passed out in his room.
    • Lacasse’s is a mess with evidence of moonflower abuse.
  • Prof Sandmeier believes Lacasse wants to loot the ruins without any archaeological rigour and that the ruins may be ancient dwarfish, which could cause problems between the present humans and dwarves.
    • His student, Trine Ritzer, is working on a translation of The Final Confessions of Kaspar Fiedler, but is upstairs in the attic retrieving an artefact – the Golden Ward – from storage, when the PCs arrive.
    • Mendler is attacking her when they start talking to Sandmeier and depending on their speed, either leaves her dead having consumed her fat, or is caught in the act.
      • If the PCs are slow, he then sneaks down to attack and convert Sandmeier to a karusiri while the PCs are upstairs trying to find Ritzer.
    • Upstairs or down, chances are they’ll fight Mendler the karusiri.
  • Back at The Countess’ Jewel, Lacasse is in his room high on moonflower, semi-undressed so his cult tattoo is visible.
    • Feigns innocence of Mendler’s nature for as long as possible, even after torture.
      • Truly heinous pain or magic will cause the aspect of Slaanesh to possess him and attack.

Kelgard

Nilda the hedge witch
  • Head to Kelgard to take a little-used track west into the mountains.
    • Rumours of goblin attacks on this and surrounding farmsteads are actually the karusiri, but the absentee lord, Count Pfeifraucher, disbelieves his steward, local boy Ritter Viktor von Brauchitsch.  However, the count has sent a detachment of men-at-arms to help with the non-existent goblins. They are struggling to protect locals from the escalation of disappearances and deaths caused by the karusiri.
  • Nilda, a respected local hedge witch, spoke with Elsner before, but is now in hiding among the fishing folk of the nearby mountain lakes.
    • She can reveal folklore about the origin of the Father and how “spells worked in gold” imprisoned him, and the history of the karusiri
    • At this point, local karusiri attack!

The Ruins

  • Journey to the ruins
    • The feral karusiri: feeds on one of their pack animals while the PCs sleep, then attacks.
    • The farmers attacked: Jürgen and Dominik Peiser attacked by karusiri. Dominik injured. Jürgen trigger happy with old crossbow.
    • Fellow travellers: Peter Venhaus is an old karusiri while Nadja Quell is a recent convert. They are fed and going to the ruins to feed the Father.
  • The ruins are on a dead, difficult-to-reach plateau. Ruins of outer wall, blowflies and the stench of rotting meat.
    • A karusiri (or Venhaus and Quell from earlier if they survived) feeds its god through the crack in the warded pyramid, then goes to join the others nesting in the charnel pit.
  • Inside the Walls: Carved stone heads of humans and dwarves with mouths stretched open in pain or hunger channel the winds into eerie howling.
  • Loose flagstone covers one of the chimneys:
    • The chimneys: 15ft/4.5m deep, most covered by well-fitted flagstones in the plaza. At the bottom, a tunnel angles at 60° down into the main tunnel network, 100ft/30m below the ground.
      • The tunnel network
  • The pyramid: Expertly crafted, but ancient and unmaintained for millennia. Steps are chest height and narrow.
    • The crack runs across the top, just wide enough to slip a hand inside. The smell of foul corruption wafts up, as do hundreds of flies and a wet, oozing, bubbling sound from far below.
      • The Father of Maggots
  • The charnel pit: 15ft/4.5m across and 10ft/3m deep, filled with rotting human remains, from ancient to recent.
    • An opening is just visible past the corpses that leads down into the tunnel network.
Larva of the Father
  • The tunnel network: Low ceiling (all fours), foul smells, filled with flies, jagged shards.
  • The chamber: 20x20ft/6x6m, foul bedrolls, the sleeping karusiri from above.
    • OPTIONAL: The karusiri’s treasure worth [Masks suggests the equivalent of $3m, which would be around 12,500 GC. This seems far too much for starting PCs in WFRP]
  • The pyramid’s base: has a tunnel running around it with gold runes inlaid into the inner wall. These are continuous apart from where the mercenaries prised off the Gold Ward four centuries ago.
    • The Bundle of Rags: a larva attempts to animate a desiccated corpse covered in long-decayed clothing.
    • The pool of filth: A thin crack is in the pyramid wall where the mercenaries defaced the ward. It runs top to bottom and then widens across the floor where it deepens to a wide pool 10ft/3m across and waist deep filled with rancid white fat that holds three larvae. The missing piece of ward in the wall is at the mid-point of the pool.
    • The fat is flammable and burns off in an hour, but emits thick, black smoke.
  • Repairing the ward: Just requires hammering in the missing piece. Once done so, the Father of Maggots is contained and the karusiri start to wither away.

Next week, I’ll do the same format for Nuln/New York.

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