Fireside Downs

Now that we’ve committed ourselves to doing just one slice of the project until it’s done, it’s getting a little hard to figure out what to say about it for the intro. “You know that thing we said we’d do? We’re doing it.”

Fireside Downs is a muddy mess of twisting alleys and ramshackle buildings. Almost every house is a shack constructed from some combination of scrap wood and scrap metal, and what few properly constructed buildings do exist are the workshops and fisheries that provide what tiny amount of prosperity the Downs have and the pub where they piss it all away. The Downs are thoroughly infested with crime and cultism, and on the outskirts stands the stone Monastery of the Faceless, who claim that facial features are a mutation the Emperor cursed humanity with to punish them for the Horus Heresy. The faceless cultists wear featureless masks and frequently proselytize in the Downs. Those who join are never heard from again, but are presumably one of the cultists wearing the masks. The cultists have steady access to food and shelter, which is where most of their recruits come from. The Downs are also the heart of the Kingsmen, the local gang who trade with smugglers from the Enclave and Imberkavitas and keep the obscura trade running. Fireside Downs borders Winter Harbour on the north, where a bridge connects them to the Oldtown island.

Fireside Downs Smugglers Den
Discovery TN: +10

Lead: Fireside Downs is crawling with obscura addicts. Finding the supply is as easy as shaking them down until one of them tells the characters where the nearest den is located. Trouble is, there are several dens in Fireside Downs.

Investigation: Each smuggler can be interrogated as a Challenging(+0) Interrogation test and if the characters pass, he will point them towards another den rolled on the chart below.

Confrontation: There are five obscura dens, one spook den, and the bosses’ headquarters in Fireside Downs. Whenever characters uncover a den by making an Inquiry or Interrogation check, roll 1d5 on the table below. If you roll a den they’ve already cleared, go down the chart from the result you rolled one entry at a time until you find one they haven’t (this is the only way to find the spook den and headquarters).

Roll Den
5 Obscura den operating out of pub. Smuggler guarded by two thugs and contains four violent obscura addicts who will join any fight started but will not interfere with social interactions.
4 Obscura dealer operates out of shanty set up on a corner. Has a single thug nearby to dissuade robbery. If characters get violent, thug will attempt to keep them busy while smuggler flees.
3 Obscura den operating out of small tenement building. Three regular thugs and one thug with shotgun stand guard. Building is otherwise deserted.
2 Obscura dealer operating out of shanty set up on beach. Unarmed, will flee if attacked and surrender if cornered.
1 Obscura den operating out of abandoned church. Smuggler is guarded by a single heavy.
X Spook den operating out of a dilapidated charms store which sells “blessings of the Emperor.” Smuggler has no guards. Unless characters specifically wait until shop is vacant, the shop also contains one spook witch. Spook witch will attempt to leave as soon as characters show any signs of hostility towards her or smuggler, and will become violent if targeted.
X Headquarters. There’s a front and backdoor leading to a large area scattered with sleeping pads and litter, with a bathroom off to one side. The front and backdoors are both guarded by standard thugs. A trapdoor leading to the basement drug den is where the kingpin hides with two more thugs wielding shotguns, a spook witch, and two obscura addicts. The obscura addicts will not join the fighting unless targeted directly, but the spook witch will join as soon as violence begins. If the party succeeds on a Very Hard(-30) Interrogation check, the kingpin will reveal the location of every other smugglers den in Brandt’s Landing, obviating the need for investigating any of them. He will additionally tell the party that the Martinian family is connected to the spook trade and that there’s a mutant enclave who helps them smuggle the ingredients for spook through East Vale. Defeating the kingpin is worth 1d5 influence, or 1d10 if he’s recruited.

Fireside Downs Witch
Discovery TN: -10

Lead: People in Fireside Downs go missing sometimes. That’s just a fact of life. However, it is also a fact of life that sometimes if you go looking for them you will find them before something terrible happens to them, so people do look. Specifically, a lot of people in Fireside Downs are currently looking for people who vanished after spending more and more time with the faceless cult that operates a (theoretically Ministorum-approved) monastery on the riverbank.

Investigation: There is no investigation phase per se, because the monastery’s location is publicly known. The characters might reasonably not want to go into a place that’s technically run by the Ecclesiarchy guns blazing and so might take a more diplomatic approach, though. The Faceless cultists won’t let anyone past the monastery courtyard unless they’re here for a service, in which case they’ll be permitted to enter the main vestibule and get a long sermon about how the Faceless is omnipresent, always watching over his faithful, and that people are too caught up in their distinctions and their ego and become selfish and cruel, betraying their true nature of cooperation and compassion. The lecture is given by a different cultist each time (if the characters come more than once), but all of them give a near identical sermon. If the characters happen to come by in the dead of night, they might pass a Challenging(+0) Awareness test to hear muffled shrieks of pain coming from the monastery’s mostly soundproofed basement. An Ordinary(+10) Psyniscience check when near the monastery will also reveal that there is a very powerful psyker down there. A Very Hard(-30) Awareness check while in the monastery will reveal that one of the cultists is one of the missing people, despite the fact that newly anointed cultists are under a vow of silence for six years and all the cultists wear masks.

Confrontation: The monastery’s cellar is a dungeon where the cultists and new recruits are kept. The new recruits are locked in cages and tortured nightly until either they learn to embrace the pain as pleasure and are made into proper cultists or else they die under the ministrations. This latter one is more common when the Thin Man is visiting. The recruits, being locked in cages and in various states of torture, are not a threat at all, but there are four faceless cultists and the faceless witch at work on the recruits. The faceless cultists will immediately attack anyone who violates the sanctity of their cloistered shrine. If the acolytes arrive at the monastery at night, roll a 1d100. On a 00, the Thin Man is here in addition to the faceless cultists and witch, and the characters are probably going to die.

Defeating the faceless witch completes the mission and is worth 1d10 Influence if credit is taken with the authorities. The faceless cultists require a Very Hard(-30) Interrogation test to get any information out of. Two of them are distant cousins in the Martinian family (which can be ascertained just by removing their mask with no interrogation at all), and they’ve joined the cult in hopes of promoting themselves past what their blood would grant them. The Martinian family is aware of the cult and quietly condones its operations so as to serve as an outlet for scheming cousins and nephews who might otherwise try to exterminate the main line of succession. The faceless witch is the high priestess of the Thin Man, who the faceless believe to be the ultimate god of their cult. The faceless witch herself requires an Arduous(-40) Interrogation test to get her to talk (or rather, write). She knows the Thin Man is merely a harbinger for another evil, greater still, an evil whom he is preparing the way for. The faceless witch does not know exactly what must be done to prepare the way for the arrival of this greater evil, but she knows that it will require many devoted cultists to achieve.

The avatars of the faceless witch will go on being sustained by the Thin Man even if the witch herself is dead. The captured faceless know of the East Vale witch, the Red Row witch, and the Wrenwrick Crik witch, and if successfully interrogated will tell the characters. The characters can then visit these locations immediately, without having to find or investigate a lead. The faceless witch additionally knows the Winter Harbour witch and the Winter Estates witch if the characters manage to overcome her monstrous interrogation penalty or recruit her.

The cellar also has a pentagram portal inscribed on it already which can be used to enter the Fireside Downs Chaos Landing.

Being Captured: It’s possible that one or more characters will end up captured by the Cult of the Faceless, either during an attack on this monastery specifically or any other confrontation with the cult. Many of the lawless who act as the lower echelons of the cult, providing obscura and spook addicts who serve as their lowest-level recruits, will also sell captured enemies to the cult for indoctrination. So with a handful of exceptions, most enemy encounters might kidnap characters instead of killing them if there’s a TPK.

Being kept in the monastery cellar at all calls for a mundane Fear(1) test. Being tortured by one of the regular cultists is a mundane Fear(2) test dealing 1d5 R damage. Armour will have been stripped away but most characters’ Toughness bonus should absorb most of that. Being tortured by the faceless witch is a supernatural Fear(3) test that also deals 1d5 R, and being tortured by the Thin Man is a supernatural Fear(4) test that deals 1d10 R. Since the witch and Thin Man are supernatural, they inflict corruption points whenever a character fails a Fear test from them. A character can also embrace the torment and gain corruption as though they’d failed even if they pass (and they do not suffer the other ill effects of failing a Fear test), and they can do this even for the cultist tortures or the Fear(1) test from being brought to the cellar. This is how cultists reach high corruption scores without being driven completely insane (though many of them do end up with insanity scores of a little over 60, just enough to be immune to the Fear tests from the faceless witch).

The Cult isn’t really equipped to keep powerful, competent agents captive longterm. Their usual captives are weak, scared cult recruits. It is an Ordinary(+10) Security check to get the locks open without keys, a Routine(+20) Sleight of Hand check to pick a cultist’s pocket for the keys, and an opposed Stealth vs. Awareness check against a cultist to sneak out once free. In social interactions with the faceless, the disposition of the faceless starts out at an abysmal 10. The personality of the faceless is Submissive or sometimes clever, but efforts to use Command or Intimidate, the faceless’ normal weakspots, take a -30 modifier if the characters are imprisoned (a 0 disposition submissive will just leave the room anyway, so Command and Inquiry are the only ways to get a faceless to actually release a character).

Fireside Downs Default Encounter

Child beggars surround the acolytes asking them for any money they have to spare. It’s a Plentiful(+20) Influence test to find the money to satisfy them and make them go away. A Scarce(-10) Influence test will give the beggars an extremely generous gift, enough to keep them all fed and sheltered for the rest of the day.

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