Our little band of heroes is currently in Averheim, in the Empire. Let's introduce our posse of hardy stalwarts:
Rudiger Adler - ruggedly handsome in an earthy sort of way, Adler is a former Outlaw, and now works part-time as a Thief, while being in the service of the elven lord Aelric. Rudiger deserted from the Count's army following a battle with orcs in the Black Fire Pass. Rudiger is looking for his brother, Ralf, who seems to have disappeared in Averheim.
Magnar - a Dwarf of ill-repute, it is rumoured he was drummed out of dwarf society due to certain 'irregularities' during a Blood Bowl tourney, but we do not speak of it. Magnar and Rudiger were outlaws together before arriving in Averheim.
Aelric - an Elf, an aristocrat and a budding Wizard. Aelric has the advantage of being good looking and having his own house and a butler. We generally leave him to do most of the talking and answering the hard questions that sometimes arise from the town authorities.
Thorik - a Trollslayer, Thorik and Magnar knew each other back in the Blood Bowl days, and may have been involved in the same 'misunderstanding' that led to Magnar's banishment, but we do not speak of it. Thorik is busy trying to get himself killed as quickly as possible.
Drandruel - an elf Sergeant and former Mercenary, she hails from the Great Forest. Although still young, she has seen service in Tilean armies. She does not speak much, but has mentioned she has ambitions to become a Knight. She is arguably our best fighter, but always seems to be somewhere else when the blood starts flying.
Due to suspicions that some members of the City Watch might be moonlighting as bandits, the party was hired to provide security at a garden party and exhibition staged by Frederick von Kaufmann, to show off some artefacts gathered by an expedition he sponsored to the Southern Continent, including a gold plaque and a strange green mask. In a previous session, someone used alchemical magic to break up the garden party, steal the mask and the plaque, and release a griffon from its cage into the Count's maze, where it killed a couple of guests and almost did for Magnar and Thorik. Rudiger, meanwhile, prudently hid under a hedge, having learned his lesson about violence during an earlier encounter with bandits (when he was shot in the face).
The griffon having been slain by the City Watch, Aelric, Rudiger and Drandruel investigated the crime scene while the two dwarfs were carted off bleeding to the temple of Shallya for healing (and an eating competition). The investigators that stayed behind discovered some kind of envenomed throwing star had been used to enrage the griffon before it went on the rampage. They also found traces of a form of quicklime solution that had been used by an intruder with clawed feet, a small intruder, one with fangs. Said intruder was also seen by a drunk outside, leaving the crime scene, shrouded in a dark cloak. Could this be the mysterious Hooded One, allegedly muscling in on the protection racket at the docks?
While waiting for the dwarfs to recover, Adler went to see Captain Marcus Bauerfast, the City Watch officer who seems to have become our contact in the Averheim law enforcement fraternity. Adler wanted to find out who the mysterious female witch hunter was, the one we'd seen him leave with at the garden party. Bauerfast seemed oddly ignorant of her whereabouts, but we got her name, Adele Ketzenboom. Apparently she's bad news, and we should stay out of her way. This probably means we'll almost certainly end up doing anything but.
We then consulted Konrad Mauer, a white wizard who, when not picking fights with aristocrats, is investigating murders down at the docks. Luckily, he seems to be even more paranoid than we are, and following a pooling of information, deduced that we could be dealing with rat men (note: Warhammer afficionados will know them as Skaven, but in our game they have a very low profile, and this was the first time the characters had heard of them - in a world populated by orcs and undead, the public is strangely sceptical about the existence of chaos rat men).
Suspecting the Skaven would have another go at the racketeer Frederick Grosz, we went by his house to see if he was interested in protection, only to discover he had gone to Aelric's house, to tell us he was leaving town and request armed escort to the town gates. Still, a job's a job, and after the usual haggling session, we walked Herr Grosz to the town gates and saw him on his way. Adler then popped by his house again, to break in and rifle through his things in search of valuables and information on his racketeering business. Sadly, there was neither, although Adler and Magnar are working on the beginnings of a plan to fill the protection business vacuum that the recent murders and the sudden departure of Grosz has created.
I'm going to skip over our luncheon with von Kaufmann, probably because Adler missed some of it, and was also chatting with Drandruel about her plans to join the knighthood, and I shall move forthwith to the resumption of the investigation in the docks (still, very surprised was I that von Kaufmann was happy to stump up lunch, accommodation for the dwarfs at the temple of Shallya and pay us our full fee for the wreck of a garden party and failing to kill a rampaging griffon).
We then worried away at the docks like a dog with the body of a mangy rat, going down the sewers, setting traps, and generally getting filthy. There were traces of Skaven activity, including a discarded throwing star, foot prints, more disappearances and the scent of quicklime which they may have been using to disguise their scent. After two days knee deep in excrement (it is WFRP after all), we finally got a break by picking up a trail that led us to a tanner's yard by the river We bumbled into the tanner's yard, not really expecting to find anything that useful, and promptly discovered a pit full of bodies, including several citizens who had been relieved of their lives and their hearts.
"So," we said to ourselves, "here's a rum turn." We sent the Trollslayer round the front of the tannery while the rest of us went in the back and burst in. A big mistake that was. We were facing a massive, four armed rat man the size of an ogre, plus three of his smaller brethren who were armed to the teeth. While the Trollslayer burst in the front door, everyone else was paralysed with fear. The big rodent took out Thorik in pretty short order, Magnar and Aelric tried to flee, and Adler climbed onto the roof, where he found himself eye to toe with another rat creature.
Chaos, literally and figuratively, ensued. Aelric had been casting spells at the rat ogre with seemingly little effect. He and Magnar managed to escape over the wall of the tannery before the raging monster could get to grips with them, while Adler scuttled over the roof, dropping down to the front of the tannery. With no sign of Skaven there, he crept in and relieved them of the gold plaque they had stolen, and some kind of silver bell clapper, before dragging the unconscious Thorik out with him into the street.
By this time curious crowds were gathering, causing the Skaven to slip away unseen. The City Watch duly arrived, followed by Mauer. Upon closer examination of the scene, it seems as if the hearts of 13 humans were needed to enact a ritual to enchant the bell clapper for some nefarious purposes. Adler was not able to identify his brother's body amongst the dead, although one body was wearing a coat belonging to said fraternal relation. The wounded Thorik went back to see his friends at the temple of Shallya to have his spleen re-stitched. The party kept the gold plaque, and omitted to mention its discovery to anyone (including our patron von Kaufmann) before Magnar had a chance to melt it down into ingots. I can't for the life of me remember what happened to the clapper, as it was getting late, but I think we left it with Mauer. And that, bar the obligatory wine and cake back at Aelric's house, was that.