The Hag Coven

This is another Vestitas hex encounter, this one taking place along the river between Brandt’s Landing and the near-openly Chaotic city of Imberkavitas. Chaos is more thick on the ground here, and blatantly corrupt creatures like the hags can prey on the weak without even hiding their actions.

Summary: A coven of three hags lives in the depths of a swamp and make chimeric abominations who go on periodic excursions to nearby villages to harvest them for body parts, vital ingredients in the abominable brews that the hags use to sustain their enhanced psyker powers.

Hook: A chimera with a dog’s head, frog’s body, and bat’s wings pounces upon a fishing boat fishing in shallow swamp waters. The fishers shout “oh, gods, it’s one of them!” and attempt to flee. The chimera fights until it has at least -5 critical wounds before attempting to flee. In the likely event that it is killed, it melts into a foul black ichor when slain. If the party inquires as to what ‘one of them’ meant, the fishers (presuming their survival) explain that people from the handful of fishing villages that dot the area are semi-regularly slain by these things and their corpses dragged off into the swamp. A party of a half-dozen hunters from the villages was assembled and set off into the swamps, and was never heard from again.

Exploration: A variety of chimeras can be encountered in this hex, each one randomly selected from the five of the original frog/dog/bat, a huge snake with a human’s head and razor sharp teeth, a huge centipede with a wolf’s head, a four-foot lizard with two pairs of raven’s wings instead of legs, and an owlbear. There is only one of each type of chimera, and once one has been slain, it will not appear again.

The party can immediately begin tracking the creature, as it has left tracks behind as it waddled through the swamp. Tracking a frog through a swamp is a Hard(-20) Survival check.

Alternatively, the party can visit one of the local fishing villages and make further inquiries. A successful Challenging(+0) Inquiry check will glean them the identity of the one survivor of the chimera attacks. His disposition is a sour 40 to begin with, and getting him to open up requires a successful disposition test, so he might need a bit of persuasion. If the players get him to talk, he’ll tell them about how he and the others followed a winged baboon deep into the swamps and were ambushed by several of the monsters. They were able to escape into the trees and use their autoguns to start wearing the chimeras down, but a trio of hideously aged women with remarkable agility, strength, and durability arrived and struck them down with fire and blood. He was the only one to escape. He knows where the ambush happened and can give directions good enough to make the Survival check to find them merely Challenging(+0). The village will also confirm that heavily wounded chimeras do retreat. The hunter can also guide the party there directly, but it requires a disposition check with a -30 modifier. He provides a +20 bonus to assisting with any Survival checks made to track the creatures in the swamp.

If the party sets out into the marsh to try and track the chimeras from scratch, it’s a Very Hard(-30) Survival check to do so, but even on a failure they will run into a chimera. It’s just that it’ll ambush them instead of being tracked back to its lair, making a Stealth check opposed to the party’s Awareness and attacking with a surprise round if it succeeds, or without one if it fails. A chimera attacking the party while they track it is fighting to try and scare them away from its territory rather than because it’s been assigned to hunt them down, which means it will retreat as soon as it starts taking critical wounds. A live chimera of either the frog/dog/bat, snake/human, or wolf/centipede varieties requires a Hard(-20) Survival check to follow, but the owl/bear or raven/lizard requires only a Difficult(-10) Survival check to track. The difficulty on all of these is reduced by 10 if the party has gotten directions from the hunter in the village who survived the expedition. On a failure, the party has lost the trail and must start from scratch, rolling the Very Hard(-30) check and getting ambushed on failure until they run out of chimeras to be ambushed by.

Confrontation: After succeeding on the Survival check to track the chimeras, the party will come to the same clearing that the hunter had been to before at which point all surviving chimeras will attack from stealth (rolling Stealth versus Awareness to try and get the drop on the party). Once there are two or fewer chimeras remaining, the night hag, shadow hag, and whisper hag will appear at the edge of the fight and begin supporting the chimeras with their psyker powers. The hags will retreat once they are heavily damaged (meaning, more wounds than twice their T bonus), and if two hags have retreated due to damage, the third will retreat as well regardless of health.

Upon retreating, the hags will hide in their cavern and drink invigorating brews to restore any lost wounds. This means they will spend a full action (half action to retrieve, half action to drink) drinking the brews when they arrive in their cavern, which may give a free attack to anyone who has pursued them directly. When confronted in their cavern, they will fight to the death.

The chimeras are completely obedient to the will of their hag mistresses and cannot be negotiated with, but the hags themselves can be. The whisper hag is clever, the night hag is aggressive, and the shadow hag is confident. Their starting disposition is only 25, and if one of them hits zero, she will attack (even if she’s confident or clever rather than aggressive) and the other two will follow suit. All three of them must individually roll a successful disposition check before the coven will be convinced to do anything. The hags want steady access to more victims for their brews as well as to protect their territory so they can harvest the non-human ingredients as well, and will consider alliance with anyone promising to preserve this, especially against the encroaching Imperial threat.

Rewards: There were three brews of invigoration in the cavern. If the hags have not drank all three then the left overs are free for the taking. Each one instantly heals any non-critical damage taken, but deals 1d5 Corruption in exchange.

The hags maintain a grimoire that contains the secrets of various concoctions that make it easier to channel psychic energy in specific ways. Examining the grimoire carefully inflicts 1d5-3 Corruption (to a minimum of 0) and allows a Challenging(+0) Forbidden Lore (Heresy) test to comprehend its secrets. If successful, any time you are in swamp terrain and have access to a fresh and mostly intact human corpse you may concoct a brew by making a Difficult(-10) Survival check. The brew may either be one of invigoration, which works as above, or else a brew of blood, fever, or madness, which grant one power from Biomancy, Pyromancy, or Divination, respectively, as well as +1 Psy Rating when using powers from the associated psyker discipline. You must meet the prerequisites for any new powers gained. The effects last for 1d5 days, and you cannot benefit from the effects of more than one brew at a time. Each of these three brews causes 1d5 Corruption the first time it is imbibed, but not subsequent times.

Learning the secrets of making chimeras from the book requires a Very Hard(-30) Forbidden Lore (Heresy) test and also inflicts 1d5-3 Corruption (minimum 0) for each attempt, successful or not. If successful, and if you have the Endurance Biomancy power (including from a brew of blood), you may create a loyal chimera so long as you have the appropriate component animals to work with. Non-human animals may be found in appropriate terrain with a Challenging(+0) Survival check. Each chimera you create causes 1d10 Corruption. If you have the Prescience power (including from a brew of madness) and/or the flame breath power (including from a brew of fever), you may grant your chimera the associated powers. Otherwise, your chimeras do not have these powers.

Chimeric creatures are not to be confused with the APCs.

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