The Expedition Campaign took place on Sierna.
Player Characters Edit
|Hans Schulz||Tom||A consummate scientist willing to compromise principle in the name of discovery and eager to advance his profession beyond his suspect past. He is attached to the expedition not only as its resident scientific expert but as the leader of a secondary project to field-test a weapon prototype for the Knights Mercantile.|
|Stewspoon Startlesnort||Andersen||A berserker whose prime physique and superior combat abilities make him a tactical asset to the expedition, marred only by his cretinous intelligence and childish disposition; where the warriors of legend take their fill of wine and women, Startlesnort is content with his beloved pet goat.|
|A native raised in the shadow of the new colonial establishment, expert in the arts of stealth, tracking and ambush but also an able translator and thereby the party's bridge with the indigenous peoples. Accompanied in all things by his warhound, Diesel.|
|Rosheen Darkwater||Seth||The young scion of a legendary line of assassins, attached to the expedition to provide expertise in targeted operative elimination during the party's encounters with various leaders. Her operational efficacy is diminished somewhat by her intense fear of the dark|
|Cayde Morn||Prijatelj[CONFIRM]||A former agent of The Nine, a notorious criminal syndicate in which he served as a universal operative (i.e. each of the Nine's eponymous operative classes). Cayde's defection to the Knights Mercantile brought him into contact with a young Mickey Finnegan during a deep cover operation in the officer's school where Finnegan was then a cadet.|
|Mickey [Redacted] Finnegan||Sean[CONFIRM]||A military officer who left his economically and socially depressed homeworld for opportunities with the Knights Mercantile, accepting his first independent command as the expedition's combat leader, a post to which he lends the startling charisma of a blustery drunk.|
Important Non-Player Characters Edit
- Richard Caldwell, Schulz's handler and bodyguard, assigned to him by the Knights Mercantile to ensure the completion of his secondary objectives.
- Father Wendell, a Kirvan missionary who provided a generous purse to the expedition in return for protection and an exclusive license to proselytize to the natives.
- Brother Felix, Wendell's bodyguard and a Kirvan Repentant. A heretic, criminal or enemy combatant "reformed" by the church.
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Fight for the Watchtower Edit
The party set out from the regional colonial capital at the head of a freshly supplied and manned expedition. After a march of two weeks, they came to the edge of the Knights Mercantile maps. The last expedition to penetrate this unspoken boundary had ended in death and disorder when it attacked a native village, leaving Kris as the only survivor (this incident was part of the current expedition's reason for including Finnegan and hiring thirty professional soldiers).
The hunter, familiar with the terrain, led the way to an ancient watch-tower claimed some years ago by a retired mercenary and his family. When Kris and his late comrades had first met him, the merc boasted that his home was untouchable, shielded from the natives by local superstitions. The broken door of the tower and the dried blood that coated its ransacked interior suggested otherwise. In the ensuing search of the tower, Rosheen discovered a crawlspace and, far along its claustrophobic length, the cadaver of the old mercenary, apparently unlooted. The dirt on which the body lay was loose, as if cast there by shovellers — the stonework appeared to extend below the surface and bore strange symbols. Though desiccated by the heat, the body was untouched by animal life, not even set upon by the flies that swarmed throughout the jungle and that had tormented mule and man alike during the preceding weeks.
Kris, perhaps surprised by the grisly welcome, elected to relieve himself at the perimeter of the clearing in which the tower stood. There, he saw a rustling shape, roughly the dimensions of a crouched man, moving through the forest. As his faithful warhound barked at the intruder, the form retreated, leaving Kris to report the development to his comrades. Finnegan ordered a regular patrol of the clearing, while Kris decided to refresh his bearings. He, Rosheen and a page boy set out on horseback for the nearby village whose inhabitants had massacred the first expedition.
Kris and Rosheen stopped at a ridge overlooking the village, separated from the squalid collection of huts by a gently flowing river along which stood several spikes, upon which sat the shrunken heads of Kris's former companions and, somewhat fresher, a woman and two children — the mercenary's family. Many of the huts were in disrepair, some singed, as if unrepaired since the first attack two months before. Inspecting the individuals moving among the huts, Kris saw neither children nor the elderly, only a forlorn collection of men and women in their prime. Upon seeing the small stone sigils that marked certain obviously abandoned huts, Kris concluded that plague had struck the settlement.
With the hour growing late, the trio rode back to the tower. Midway, they saw a purplish smoke rising into the air, emanating from a thick copse of trees atop a hill in the distance. From their own position, the rest of the party saw the same smoke — Startlesnort, in a moment of clarity, declared it a signal fire. Finnegan, less insightfully, remembered the fires used by the communist guerillas of his homeworld and began to shout about the fifth column.
Kris, Rosheen and their page returned safely just as night fell on the tower. The expedition, anticipating hostile action, settled into defensive positions. The soldiers pulled into the tower proper, taking firing positions on the second storey and inside the makeshift earth barricade raised during the day beside the tower's side entrance to hold the expedition's mules and horses. Schulz positioned the electric cannon prototype in the main entrance, supporting it with pike-wielding soldiers (who gave the unstable machine a wide berth) before moving to the second storey with explosives in hand. Kris joined him there, ready to shout down to the attackers. The party's conventional field gun was positioned in a break in the tower wall, loaded with grapeshot and covered by the remaining riflemen. While Finnegan and Cayde hung back in the center of the tower's ground level, Stewspoon moved beside the field gun and Rosheen crouched by the main entrance.
The attackers announced themselves with agonized screaming as one of their number found Schulz's traps. The rest remained silent as a heavy smoke rolled toward the tower from all sides. An arrow struck one of the men at the electric gun, sending him sprawling. More arrows flew toward the tower, striking stone and dirt. Rosheen moved past the electric gun and out of the tower — as she stepped into the smoke, a wooden blade cut the air just above her head. She rounded on her attacker, opening him with a flick of her kukris.
At Finnegan's order, a volley tore from the second storey and into the smoke, cutting down one archer and wounding two others. Schulz added his own command, to fire the electric gun. Rosheen dove back into the tower an instant before electricity arced into the smoke, igniting it as the air ionized with a deafening clap. Several forms were silhouetted momentarily by the conflagration before collapsing into ashes.
At the side entrance, arrows fell again on the fortifications, glancing only once against one of the men at the corral. The return fire felled another archer. Across the tower's span, at the break in the wall, another wooden blade struck, finding its mark in the chest of one of the expedition's soldiers, who fell instantly. A man, larger than any Kris and Rosheen had seen at the village, clambered onto the wall, heaving beneath heavy pelts. Stewspoon struck back with his spiked chain, catching him at the legs and pulling him prone. While the berserker shouted for his goat to savage the tribesman and Cayde missed his shot, Rosheen avenged the soldier with her second kill.
The final assault on the corral came from men with flaming spears — two missed entirely, and two struck the nervous mass of mules and horses behind the soldiers. Though the spears struck true, the flame did not catch. In answer, Schulz, deducing that the attacker at the wall break had been the village champion, told Rosheen to bring his head to the top of the tower. Kris held it aloft and threatened the survivors with the same fate. Demoralized by the thunder of the carousel rifles and the explosive power of the electric gun, the villagers fled.
Morning came without further incident, and the party buried its two dead, Ricky "Multiverse" Jenkins and Karl the artillery grunt. They found no sign of the fallen natives, but for the now headless champion who had penetrated the tower and the strewn ashes of the electric gun's victims. Father Wendell gave a sermon and consoled the men while the party planned its next move. Rosheen set the soldiers to digging up the loose dirt in the crawlspace as Schulz and Cayde strategized a more forceful journey into the village.