The Banshee

Here we have another Vestitas encounter. This one takes place within the Imperial territory of the map, and concerns a vengeful sorceress who is slowly slaughtering the town’s rulership one by one.

Summary: A fishing village is haunted by a sorcererss who manifests herself as a banshee spirit and comes to claim the life of an unlucky villager once every few nights. The Lord Mayor is in a panic as to how to deal with it, particularly seeing as how the spirit can walk through walls and is impervious to normal weapons, so his PDF goon squad isn’t even going to slow it down if it comes for him.

Hook: The villagers all shut and lock their doors at night, and any house or inn the players are staying at will demand they stay inside, not open any doors or windows, and do their very best not to breathe too loudly until dawn. When asked for details, their host will divulge the banshees haunt on a successful Routine(+20) Inquiry check. If the players are low subtlety acolytes or high subtlety heretics, the Lord Mayor may have contacted them directly to plea for help against the clearly supernatural banshee.

Exploration: A Difficult(-10) Forbidden Lore (Heresy) check will reveal the nature of the banshee, that being that she is a disembodied spirit of a sorceress using her incorporeal form for nefarious ends. A Psyniscience check to find the source of the psyker powers made during the day, when the banshee isn’t manifesting, is Difficult(-10), but at night it is Ordinary(+10). A success at any time (and regardless of whether players have succeeded on any other check) will lead them to the house of the sorceress on the edge of the village.

A Challenging(+0) Inquiry check as to who in the village might be particularly disgruntled will turn up four candidates: Hannette, Rhia, Canto, and Uri.

-Hannette is the actual culprit, her husband was put to death by the Lord Mayor for petty theft. She works as a hedge apothecary for the town now, and her kappa-level psyker powers manifested when she was experimenting with herbal concoctions and created a primitive form of spook that boosted her effective power level by several ratings. She takes a dose every few days to manifest the banshee spirit. The process is draining, and she has two levels of fatigue the next morning, which do not go away until she rests again the following night. An Ordinary(+10) Insight check or a Challenging(+0) Awareness check will allow a player to notice her fatigue if they speak with her the night after a haunting. She has a clever personality and the players must test Subtlety upon meeting her. If they pass and come off as regular Imperial citizens, her Disposition is 35. If they fail as acolytes, her Disposition is 15 as she is deeply distrustful of Imperial agents. If they fail as heretics, her Disposition is 45 as she is still somewhat suspicious, but significantly less so of those branded heretics. Acolytes or heretics who maintain a high subtlety through a cover story disguising themselves as a heretic or acolyte (respectively) and pass their subtlety test will have starting Disposition as though they are what they’re pretending to be.

-Rhia is an ex-lover of the Lord Mayor’s who attempted to blackmail him and spent five years working a hard labor sentence on one of the plantations owned by the Mayor’s friends. Rhia has a submissive personality and a starting Disposition of 25. Her reputation is damaged beyond repair by the Mayor’s enmity towards her, the stigma of her labor sentence, and the sordid nature of her affair with the Mayor.

-Uri has never married and keeps to herself in a generally strange and reclusive manner. Uri has a confident personality and a starting Disposition of 35 and simply dislikes married life and has little place in Imperial society with neither husband nor wealth.

-Canto is a violent drunk who gets into fights often enough to be despised by basically all of his neighbors. Canto has an aggressive personality, a starting Disposition of 40, and is just a hot-headed asshole who thinks he’s owed more respect than he is. If the players have succeeded on their Forbidden Lore (Heresy) check, they will know that a male is unlikely to manifest as a female spirit, which makes Canto a low probability.

Any of the four will only cooperate with investigation with a successful Disposition check. They won’t refuse to talk at all until Disposition hits zero, but if interrogated about the banshee, if the Disposition check fails, they’ll answer with vague condemnations about how the town has it coming rather than actually answering any questions. On a successful Disposition check they will be more cooperative, but only Hannette is actually responsible and has anything to confess to. Rhia will claim that she would never kill plantation workers, which the banshee has, Uri will state that she doesn’t want to harm anyone, just wants to be left alone, and Canto will say that if he wanted to give the Lord Mayor a piece of his mind, he’d do it with a rifle like an honest man. All three are telling the truth and an Ordinary(+10) Insight check will confirm this. After this successful Disposition check, each of the three non-culprits will give the name of the other two as well as Hannette.

If the players succeed on a Disposition check to get Hannette to talk, she’ll confess. When not high on her herbal spook, she’s basically helpless against all but the least combat-oriented players, so if the players get a confession out of her and want to stop her rather than ally with her, she can be arrested or terminated on the spot. Hannette will gladly coordinate with anyone who’s willing to advance her vendetta against the Lord Mayor and his friends.

The banshee strikes 1d5 nights after the players arrival, with a result of 1 meaning the night they get there (if they arrive during the night, there is an ongoing haunt at the time) and then again every 1d5+1 nights thereafter until she’s stopped. Hannette is tormenting the village’s wealthy owners and will strike at family members, beloved pets, and workers at the plantation, depopulating them two or three at a time to slowly bleed the plantation owners white looking for replacements while driving them mad with grief at the loss of their family. She also occasionally strikes at judges, PDF troopers, and long ago killed both the town’s Arbites, in all cases just to demonstrate to the Lord Mayor that she can’t be stopped and that his approaching doom cannot be deterred.

If the players ally with her and demand she step up the schedule of her vengeance, she’ll comply. Otherwise, she’s currently reached the phase where she’s killing the plantation owners themselves, destroying the Lord Mayor’s friends one by one, and if she’s let loose long enough to get through all of them, she’ll start targeting his household next, beginning with his servants just to let him know that she’s in his house, then moving through pets, then family members, and finally the Lord Mayor himself.

If the players patrol for the banshee at night, they need a Very Hard(-30) Awareness test to spot her while patrolling the village in general, but if they catch on that she tends to hang around one plantation for a while before moving on to the next, it’s an Ordinary(+10) Awareness test to find her at the plantation where she last struck. It may take several stake outs before they spot her, since she doesn’t attack every night.

Confrontation: Upon encountering the banshee, a Challenging(+0) Psyniscience or a Difficult(-10) Awareness test will allow a player to recognize her as Hannette’s disembodied form if they’ve seen Hannette before. Hannette’s ghostly form is incorporeal and thus almost impossible to damage. Her attacks ignore damage reduction from armour, but not from Toughness bonus or traits like Daemonic.

When confronted as a banshee, Hannette is both enraged and confident in her invincibility, and will fight until she’s lost half her wounds. At this point she will attempt to flee into the hills and lose the party so that she can return to her body. If the party succeeds on a Stealth check opposed to her Awareness to make her think she’s escaped when she hasn’t, they can follow her home and catch her in her weak, corporeal form. The party can also simply pursue and kill her banshee form, since it is not especially swift. If Hannette’s banshee form is killed, her body becomes inert and lifeless and her corpse will be discovered in her house by the villagers 1d5+1 days later. If Hannette successfully escapes an encounter in which she takes half or more of her wounds in banshee form, she will not assume banshee form again until after the players leave. If the players assume she is beaten when she doesn’t reappear and leave, the Lord Mayor will notify them when she strikes again unless they are either known to be heretics or have left him no means of contact (and they don’t have mundane methods of contact the Lord Mayor could find out on his own, like owning an apartment or running an office in Grey Harbour).

Rewards: As an ally, Hannette will not leave the village without first completing her revenge on the Lord Mayor unless the players succeed at a Hard(-20) Disposition check. After completing her revenge she will still require a Disposition check, although it will be unmodified. She flees after taking at least half her wounds in damage and will not engage any enemy whose shown the ability to harm her banshee form unless successfully threatened with a Challenging(+0) Intimidate check.

Hannette did not keep any kind of grimoire or diary. If she is slain, the secret of her banshee spook herbs is lost with her, but it can be rediscovered by examining the ingredients kept in her house and making a Hard(-20) Forbidden Lore (Heresy) check. If Hannette is an ally, she will willingly divulge her recipe. Either way, a Difficult(-10) Survival check is needed to gather the herbs. The herbal spook will grant one Fate Point that must be spent immediately or else be lost, and if the user already has a psy rating, the psy rating is boosted by 1 and they gain a random power from the spook table.

If the village’s leadership is cleaned out, it will need to be replaced, and Imperial leadership is disorganized enough that anyone of proper birth can install themselves as leaders and no one will bat an eye. This includes any players with the Highborn status and any contacts they have amongst the nobility. A player gains 1d10 Influence for being the village’s master and 1d5 for being friends with the village’s master, and any of them can levy the town by permanently sacrificing two points of Influence to automatically succeed on an Influence check in the town. The town can provide anything that’s common or cheaper, any solid projectile weapon or service that’s average or cheaper, and any medical care, low-tech weapon, or basic armour that’s scarce or cheaper.

If the Lord Mayor isn’t killed, but the players successfully deal with his banshee problem, he will be duly grateful to them. They gain 1d5 Influence each and he will owe them a favor, which can be used to levy the town once. If the players levy the town in this manner, they do not lose Influence, as the Lord Mayor is the one pulling in favors. The Lord Mayor will also remember this favor indefinitely, and it can be cashed in for things of roughly equivalent value, although almost everything he has available is something he could levy from his village (including things that can be secured with Influence checks which aren’t gear, like support for a noble house asserting their control over Grey Harbour).

 

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