Savage Malifaux Session 12: The Necropolis

Guided by the prophecies of the Tyrant of Winter, the heroes are exploring the Necropolis underneath Malifaux City for an ancient device that could allow the Tyrant Plague to ascend to godhood.

After defeating the zombies at the Necropolis entrance, the heroes have two options – a staircase down to the south and a passage west. Taking the stairs, they begin a thorough exploration of this section of the Necropolis. Bernard comments loudly as they proceed through the tunnels, chattering about everything he sees. Zai periodically summons a water gamin as a scout to proceed through the tunnels.

The Necropolis is strange; twisted columns and unnaturally-curved archways lead to passages lit with glowing green flames that give off no heat. Passages turn abruptly into dead ends for no discernable reasons. Here and there niches hold skulls, only a few of them appearing human. After a time of exploration, the heroes reach a section of collapsed wall revealing a narrow passage to a chamber beyond. Zai summons a water gamin to investigate the room, and it quickly returns. “Boss, there’s a big ol’ box in there and a couple statues and some really weird stuff on the walls.”

“Good work,” intones Zai. Providence immediately wedges her way into the room. There she finds a box made of stone bound with metal. Flanking the box are two bronze statues, eight feet tall, and each carrying a chain with a ball on one end and a spike on the other. On the walls are strange mandalas with the suggestion of thorned vines. Anna Mae peers into the room and suggests that the mandalas and therefore the room are ancient Malifaux work, while Providence inspects the statues. Bal also enters the room but lingers cautiously near the door.

After a long pause, Providence touches one of the statues and casts object reading from her new grimoire. She scans backwards in time, reaching a point approximately six months earlier when the wall crashes inwards and two humans enter the room. The humans, having bashed the wall in with hammers, walk over to the chest. As they reach for the chest, Providence’s view is obscured by black and white confetti and a loud roaring fills her ears. When the image clears, she sees one of the humans dragging the bloody body of the other back through the crack in the wall. Scanning further back in time reveals nothing.

Curious, Providence pokes at the statue’s chain, but it is entirely rigid as though welded. After a careful examination of the chest, she finds that caution has the better of her natural curiosity and exits the room with Bal. The heroes continue through the labyrinth and, some time later, find a large room that appears to have been fitted out as a laboratory for a Resurrectionist. Pieces of bodies and bits of flesh lie scattered in the room. A rack of surgical and sewing instruments lies on one wall, while another has a bench of alchemical equipment and shelves of vials and beakers containing mysterious substances. “Hey, it’s a human factory!” exclaims Bernard.

Zai summons a metal gamin and has it test the substances; to her disappointment, none of them are corrosive. Anna Mae checks for books or notes, but finds nothing. Zai scoops up random tools for her stage magic kit, and the others scrounge anything they think might be useful. Zai also takes a couple of severed fingers from the floor, and the heroes proceed.
An hour later, Anna Mae notices a faint glow from a pile of rubble in a corner of the passageway. She heads over to the pile and the others follow. She moves one of the rocks in the pile and discovers a small Soulstone, which she pockets after a brief glance at the others. The heroes continue for some time until Bal hears a noise in the corridor ahead and motions them all for silence.

Zai orders her mannequin to poke its head around the corner and the entire group hears a “Hey, what’s going on there?” from a human voice. Bal takes up a firing crouch with Tawny.  A hail of bullets flies down the corridor, punching multiple holes through the mannequin, which drops to the ground, inert, wood splinters flying in all directions. Seeing that the approaching people are hostile, the group falls back up a short staircase and takes position to ambush the attackers. Zai casts an illusion of her mannequin at the bottom of the stairs as a distraction and it is greeted by another hail of gunfire. “Just a fake, boys!” a voice cries out.

Bal ducks around the corner and sees a cluster of men in ragged clothes with revolvers and knives at the base of the stairs. He blasts them with Tawny’s shotgun and rifle barrels, shredding one of the men and nailing another through the chest. “Take cover, boys!” shouts one of the survivors. Before they can, Providence pops around the corner and puts a bullet through another man’s eye, and then pulls power from his departing soul to fuel her magic.
Bernard yells at the remaining men “I’m going to eat your friends, mate! They look delicious!”, thoroughly unnerving the survivors. Zai summons a whiskey gamin, which rolls down the stairs spewing moonshine. Bal kills another man with Tawny, and Bernard charges down the stairs.

One of the last two men yells, “I’m gonna gut you, Gremlin!” at Bernard. Bernard simply steps up and punches him in the throat, killing him. Zai explodes her whiskey gamin, staggering Bernard and finishing off the last human. The heroes collect the guns and knives from the fallen and move on.

A short time later, Providence triggers a pit trap, and Bernard, paying no attention to his surroundings, falls in as well. Fortunately, neither is seriously hurt, and Bal quickly lowers a rope for them to climb up. A few minutes later, the passage opens out into an enormous room crisscrossed with staircases. Three exits lead from the room, two guarded by moving bronze statues, and six glowing runes are embedded in the walls.

Zai summons a metal gamin. “Why don’t you take a stroll down that way?” she suggests.

“How long should I keep strolling, boss?”

“Until something exciting happens.”

The gamin heads into the passage and disappears around a corner. After a long wait, Zai feels the energy from her spell dissipate as the gamin un-summons itself. Providence decides to explore the corridor, and enters it with Bal. They determine after a fair stretch that this passage leads to a large complex, and return to the rest of the group without event. There they find that Zai has been entertaining Anna Mae and Bernard with magic tricks.
Deciding that the guarded passages are more promising, the group begins an investigation of the runes. Anna Mae determines that each glowing rune is a single Malifaux letter, and each is a different color. Working her way around the room, she finds the letters T O G O U L.

“What’s a togoul?” asks Bernard.

“Sounds like some sort of infection you get in the swamp,” suggests Zai.

“I’ve never had a togoul, and I’ve lived in the swamp all my life!” protests Bernard.

Examining the rune, Providence concludes they are likely connected in a single spell that spans the entire room. She approaches the “L” rune and casts her Object Reading spell. As her vision fades into the spell, she observes the light on the rune fade. Moving back through time, she sees the same sequence repeated many times over the last six months – a human approaches, touches the “L” rune, then goes to the “O” rune and touches that, then disappears upstairs for a bit, then comes back down and touches the “U” rune, then disappears back upstairs. Each rune darkens as it is touched. Providence reports this information and Anna Mae suggests that, based on her knowledge of Malifaux culture, the letters are probably more significant than the numbers.

Providence touches the “O” rune, then ascends the stairs and touches the other “O” rune with her Object Reading power. The rune darkens and then lights back up, there is a gong sound in the room, and all four statues briefly look at Providence. However, Providence is able to observe the other half of the process and sees that the order to touch the runes is L O G O U T. She does so, and the statues freeze at attention next to the exits. After a quick check for traps with a gamin, the group heads south and downstairs.

After an hour of peaceful exploration, Bernard and Anna Mae trigger a pit trap, falling into a hole filled with flames. Providence and Zai react quickly, summoning a water gamin and an ice pillar; neither extinguishes the fire, but the pillar provides hand-holds to allow Bernard and Anna Mae to escape relatively unharmed. Providence patches the two up and the group continues to explore. Around an hour later, they hear a clattering sound. Zai recognizes it as the sound of skeletal feet on stone. “Skeletons!” she hisses. The heroes take up stealthy positions, and hear the footsteps slowly stop just around a corner ahead. Bal curses under his breath and leans around the corner, firing Tawny’s shotgun barrel into a skeleton, who reels backwards into its five companions.

The skeletons charge around the corner right into Bernard’s fist; the gremlin rocks the skeleton back, but another swings a sword at him and stabs him through the arm. A third skeleton swings at Bal but misses, and then the remaining three fire crossbows. One hits Bal and deflects off his armored coat into the wall, causing him to duck and yell. Anna Mae steps up and fires over Bernard’s head, killing one skeleton and sending the one behind it reeling. Zai summons a round metal gamin, and Providence reaches for Bernard. She casts “Instill Youth” and de-ages Bernard, removing his wound. “I’m young and virile!” cackles Bernard.

From his crouch, Bal seizes the sword from the fallen skeleton and slashes it upwards, shattering another of the undead. Providence attacks with her own rune-carved sword and crushes another skeleton. Zai bowls her gamin into the skeletons, requiring them to dodge out of the way. Bal moves in and slaughters another of the undead with his borrowed sword, and the last skeleton swipes at Zai’s gamin. Anna Mae finishes the last skeleton with her tri-barrel shotgun pistol.

The heroes continue their exploration until they hear strange thumpings from ahead and see torchlight. They move in to peer around the corner, only for Bal to slip and fall flat on his face in plain view of the… partygoers? A strange gathering seems underway in the Necropolis, with men in fancy dress dancing with undead showgirls, a zombie band, and socialites perusing trays of hors d’oeuvres. “Oh, my friends! We’re not too late! Yes? Yes?” exclaims Zai. “Our costumes are on point!” This bluff seems successful, as the party continues unabated.
One of the gentlemen moves over and says, “Well, aren’t you the pretty one! Shall we dance? Love the mask.”

His dance partner approaches and extends an undead hand to Bal. “I hope you are better on the dance floor than you are walking in corridors.” She twirls him into the throng and asks, “So, are you a student at Transmortis too?”

“Maybe in a past life,” mutters Bal, and his partner giggles.

A lab-coated gentleman proffers a tray to Anna Mae and asks, “Would you care for a canape?” Anna Mae accepts one but stealthily tucks it into a pocket. Providence steps up and immediately takes one, and asserts it is delicious.

Zai spends some time chatting up the partygoers, and determines most of the living are students at an institution in the Necropolis called Transmortis University, apparently some sort of necromantic educational facility.

Working their way through the crowd, the heroes find an exit leading south and descend into a lower level of the Necropolis. They continue their explorations until they hear the approaching sound of metal feet. Providence quickly uses her Warrior’s Gift spell to grant Bernard the ability to pre-emptively strike at any opponent who approaches, while Zai peers around the corner with a mirror from her stage magic kit. She reports this and Providence proposes, in a whisper, “I can cast an ice pillar in their midst once they get a bit closer. Raise your hand if you think that’s a bad idea.”

“I don’t know that it’s a good idea, but I also don’t know that it’s a bad one,” mutters Anna Mae.

“Look, if it’s got flesh, I shoot it,” says Bal. At that point, the armored constructs round the corner, raising swords over their shields. Anna Mae freezes and ducks into an alcove, while Zai summons an ice gamin and Providence drops an ice pillar into the center of the construct formation, sending them smashing into the walls. Bernard swings with his right fist and, just for a moment, triggers his jetpack with his left hand; his rocket-boosted punch knocks the head clean off one of the enemy.

“That’s what you get!” yells Bernard, apropos of nothing.

Bal races into the corridor, then yells, “My powder’s wet, boys, you’re on your own!” diving to the floor. Providence casts Warrior’s Gift again on Bernard, giving him the ability to retaliate when someone misses him with an an attack. Bernard promptly finds an opening between the shields of two constructs and punches one’s leg off, sending it crashing to the ground in a shower of sparks. Bal stands up and dusts himself off, looking a bit sheepish, then blasts another construct with Tawny’s shotgun barrel. Anna Mae attempts to distract the constructs with a detailed discussion of early Malifaux poetry, while Zai sends her gamin in to explode among the three remaining constructs, destroying all of them.

A short distance up the corridor, Bal feels a strange pull to enter one of the side chambers. Deciding to go with it, he enters, and sees the source of the pull – a long-handled hammer partially embedded in the floor. The hammer’s head is graved with runes that glow with an eldritch blue-green fire. Even as Anna Mae recognizes the weapon as ancient Malifaux workmanship, Bal lifts it easily with one hand. “Got myself a new toy,” he grins. Providence rushes up and touches the hammer, casting Object Reading, which, curiously, the hammer seems to resist. 100 years of time scanning reveals that exactly nothing has happened until Bal just picked the hammer up.

Bal has a strange sense in his mind, and states it out loud. “This here’s my relic hammer. Yeah.”

Zai recognizes the term. Relic hammers were forged in the war against the Tyrants. They were designed to fight the forces of a specific Tyrant, although which is not clear from the markings on the hammer.

“That’s weak,” says Bernard, and punches the hammer. A wave of force knocks him back into the wall of the chamber. “Yeah, that hammer’s weak,” he continues when he gets his breath back. “If it were me, I’d have punched me through the wall.”

“We’re making so much noise,” worries Anna Mae.

After another hour of walking, the heroes turn a corner and crash directly into a dozen dog-sized rats. Two immediately bite Providence and Bernard, but only Bernard is injured. Providence immediately summons an ice pillar at the corner, blocking most of it and exploding two of the rats into her and Bernard’s faces. Bernard licks the rat remains. “Gross!” he yells, surprised at the foul taste. Providence takes a lick as well and spits it out. Bernard thinks about the taste for a minute and realizes the rats are diseased.

Zai throws a dagger through the gap between the ice pillar and the wall and strikes a rat squarely between the eyes, killing it. Bal shoots another with Tawny. Bernard continues shaking and spitting out rat blood. Anna Mae takes a turn with her rifle and shoots another rat dead. One of the rats squeezes its head through the gap and bites at the confused Bernard, but cannot quite reach him; the remaining rats begin gnawing on the pillar itself. Providence fires wildly and grazes one of the gnawing rats, then Bal shoulders everyone aside and slams the rat attacking Bernard with his new hammer into the floor.

Shaking off his confusion, Bernard steps up and punches a rat left-handed, sending it slamming into a wall and dropping to the floor dead. With most of their number dead, the rats flee. Providence dismisses the ice pillar and the group proceeds further into the Necropolis.

The group approaches another torch-lit space, proceeding very cautiously. The corridor opens into an immense cave, within which is an insanely complex device like nothing any of the heroes have ever seen. The arcs and curves of the machine seem to bend in ways that human eyes cannot follow. Working on the machine are four small children guarded by another dozen rats, and supervised by a strange man. Looking closely, Anna Mae sees that the man’s skin seems to be shell over a swarm of writhing vermin. The man sees the heroes and cackles, “I’ve been expecting you…” and runs out the door.

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