This Vestitas encounter is nominally about a Tzeentch cultist who invades people’s dreams looking for nightmares about their secrets being revealed. The thing he uses that information for is political blackmail, and my favorite part of the whole thing is how you can help him win election against the village mayor. It’s a shame we didn’t start this project a couple of months earlier, or we could’ve lined this one up with the US presidential election.
This is also our thirteenth Vestitas hex encounter. Spooky!
Summary: A Tzeentch cultist has been using a ritual to make the dreams of other inhabitants of his village manifest directly in the Warp, where he can interact with them, with the goal of finding out information he can use to blackmail them and then use his web of blackmailed minions to install himself as mayor. Nightmares dreamt into the Warp have been following the cultist back into the Materium, wreaking havoc for as long as they last.
Hook: The players may have been directed here by the authorities at Imberkavitas to investigate the killings. They may also just stop over for the night while exploring the area or heading someplace entirely different. If this is the case, a nightmare attack during the night will hopefully prompt further investigation. The Tzeentch cultist is quite busy and the attacks occur nightly, so if the players stay the night, an attack will happen. A Challenging(+0) Psyniscience check made anywhere in the village will also detect the strong presence of psychic activity here, and lead the party towards the house of the Tzeentch cultist.
Exploration: The nightmares leave tracks just like anything else, so in the wake of an attack, a Challenging(+0) Survival check can be made to track them back to the Tzeentch cultist’s house. For every hour that passes between the tracks being left and when the players begin following them, a -10 penalty is applied to the check. The village is a high traffic area and tracks don’t last long here, so the best time to track is undoubtedly immediately after the tracks are left. Psyniscience is equally effective at all times, a Challenging(+0) test will lead the characters straight to the dreamer’s house, and if it is night time and the dreamer is actively walking through other people’s dreams, the Psyniscience test to find him is Routine(+20), however it will also deliver two results, that of the dreamer’s location, and that of his present target’s location.
If the players don’t make any effort to conceal their investigation, then after 1d5 days or the night after narrowly avoiding an unpleasant fate on account of them, the dreamer will attempt to invade the dreams of one of the players in order to find out what they want and determine any weaknesses. The dreamer has no choice but to reveal himself during the encounter, since the target will be aware of everything that happens in their own dream, so any player whose dream has been invaded will immediately recognize the dreamer. This might discourage the dreamer from invading their dream in the first place if the players know his face but haven’t been overtly hostile so far. Any character with Psyniscience trained can make a Routine(+20) check to locate the dreamer’s physical location while their dream is being invaded, and for this reason the dreamer will avoid invading the dreams of anyone he knows to be a psyker.
This dream invasion will allow the dreamer to learn things like the target’s background and relationships by observing the locations and characters of the dream. For example, a character with the Imperial Guard background is more likely to have a dream taking place in a Guard barracks. The dreamer will use this information to supplement his own real life investigations and will disseminate any helpful information via anonymous notes to local gossips in order to get the players out of town as fast as possible, and if the dreamer has a full day to investigate after a dream invasion the party’s Subtlety drops by 1d10 as a result.
Over the course of the investigation, players might also interrogate victims, who are all government officials, and some of whom have recently withdrawn their support for the current mayor. The way the village’s election system works, if enough of the current government withdraws their support, there is an immediate, popular election for his replacement (this isn’t super unusual for the region, even Imperium villages and towns will often have democratic local government because the Imperium can’t be bothered to impose dictatorship so long as the taxes keep coming in). Only one more withdrawal of support from any major government official is required to provoke the election. It’s not a big leap to think that the guy currently campaigning to replace the mayor might be behind the dream shenanigans that are provoking re-election. A successful Challenging(+0) Interrogation check on any of the blackmailed officials will also get them to reveal that they’ve seen the mayor’s rival in nightmares they’ve had about a dirty secret getting out, and soon after the rival began blackmailing them with those very secrets.
Confrontation: The dreamer isn’t very powerful outside of his ability to invade dreams, and even that is helpful primarily because people tend to have nightmares about dirty secrets being discovered. If confronted physically, players are more or less guaranteed physically. If they interrogate him, his starting Disposition is 35 and he has a clever personality, but his Disposition will drop down to 15 if he knows the players are chasing him down. He can’t be talked out of his ambitions altogether, but if offered another town to rule he’ll gladly ditch this one altogether and take it. It doesn’t even require a Disposition check.
Convincing him to leave this town to attempt his coup at another does require either a Disposition check if the players wish to retain him as an ally or an Intimidation check if they just want to get rid of him (and being that they are physically confronting him and there is very nearly nothing he can do to fend them off or escape them, players are likely to have a hefty situational bonus to an Intimidation check). Either way, if convinced to leave for another town, he will indeed head downriver towards Grey Harbour and set up shop at the first vulnerable town and begin using his dream invasion powers to set up a web of blackmail there.
Players can also just help the Tzeentch cultist get the last withdrawal of support he needs, and then help him win the election. Treat this as a social interaction with the town itself, which has a confident personality and starts with a Disposition of 25 (not so much because they dislike the Tzeentch cultist as because they like their current mayor). Each interaction skill test requires the full day, but only for the one making the test. Others can make their own tests on the same day. There’s a full seven days to make skill tests in before the election is held and the town makes their Disposition check. On a success, the Tzeentch cultist has been elected mayor. On a failure, the current mayor has been reaffirmed and his position cannot be challenged for another year. The Tzeentch cultist will bide his time for now. Either way, he won’t be making trouble in the immediate future.
Rewards: The Tzeentch cultist can pass his ability to invade dreams on to anyone who already has the Warp Perception power. With a successful Challenging(+0) Willpower test, anyone who knows this secret can invade the dreams of anyone within ten kilometers who is presently asleep (unless the sleep is dreamless, but the target does not have to be dreaming right this moment to prepare the Warp to receive their dreams). If they fail the Willpower test, they’re locked out of that person’s dreams for the night. Successfully invading someone’s dreams allows the invader to observe and interact with the dream. There is no way to prevent the target from perceiving the invader’s presence, as the target knows everything that happens in their own dream. Concealing the face will have no effect, but while images come through clear in dreams, words are much less so, so the target will not know the invader’s name.
If the players either make friends of the mayor under attack or help the Tzeentch cultist install himself as mayor, they get 1d5 Influence each for their trouble. They can also levy the village for 2 points of Influence to automatically succeed on one Influence check in the village. The village can provide anything that’s common or cheaper, any solid projectile weapon or service that’s average or cheaper, any medical care, low-tech weapon, or armour that’s scarce or cheaper, and any drug or consumable that’s rare or cheaper.
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