The Lord Mayor’s Son

Summary: The Lord Mayor of a town on the Grey River has become obsessed with reanimating his son, a captain in the PDF expected to go into politics once he was out of the prime of his youth. He was killed when he personally led a platoon of his men to crack down on a riot in the slums, and it turned out to be an ambush. His order to the rest of his company for backup was overridden by the PDF colonel stationed there, who feared that the rest of the company would be lost along with the captain and his platoon. Now the Lord Mayor desires only two things: To have his son returned to him, and revenge on the colonel, and he’s willing to turn to Chaos to get it. His son’s body has rotted away to a few bone fragments and dust, but the mayor has preserved his son’s brain and heart and believes he can use them to reanimate his son into a body assembled from corpses pulled from the cemeteries of the town he rules.

Discovery: There is no immediate sign of anything wrong in the village, however anyone who makes a Difficult(-10) Psyniscience check will detect the presence of Warp spookiness emanating from the tower of the governor’s mansion. An Ordinary(+10) Inquiry check as to odd happenings in the town will turn up that there’s been grave robberies recently, with entire coffins carted off in the middle of the night. The PDF haven’t been able to catch those responsible. If the party patrols for suspicious behavior at night, they may also stumble across the grave robbers at night.

Exploration: The grave robbers can be found in the middle of the night. They’re a trio of PDF paid off to rob graves instead of catch grave robbers and an alcoholic patrol sergeant they stash in one of the town pubs before going out to do their dirty business. Of the three PDF, Scab is anxious and cowardly with the submissive personality, Able is the greedy ringleader (though he bears no higher rank in the PDF) and possesses a confident personality, and Hons is cautious, pessimistic, and mainly here so that someone with half a brain is around when the shit hits the fan, and has a cautious personality (given in the table below).

Skill Modifier Effect
Charm +0 +5 x DoS
Command +10 +10 x DoS
Deceive -20 -10 x DoF
Inquiry -10 -5 x DoF
Intimidate +10 -5 x DoF
Scrutiny +0 N/A

All three of the PDF begin with a Disposition of 25 if found on the job, but 35 if the party is approaching them when they aren’t doing anything suspicious. The PDF’s Disposition is a 15 if they know the party work for the Inquisition. A party that is, in fact, aligned with the Inquisition will need to make a subtlety check, and if they fail, the PDF’s Disposition is appropriately lowered. However, the party gets a +20 bonus to the check provided that the party has been here for less than 24 hours. These grunts have poor odds of sniffing out any Inquisition agents making even the slightest efforts to hide their presence, but the Lord Mayor has as good a chance as anyone and will pass the information on to his lackeys (along with dire threats as to what will happen if the Inquisition finds out what they’re up to, whether or not they’re cooperative).

Regardless, if the three are captured, Hons will pass information on what the PDF knows to the party without a Disposition check under the condition that they not harm him or his friends for their involvement. Hons knows perfectly well this is an unenforceable and likely ignored demand, but if they’ve already been caught, then all he can really do is extract a promise and hope it’ll be honored. Otherwise, a successful Disposition check is required to get anything from the three, made at a -20 penalty if Hons and Able are involved (the panicky Scab will be easier to interrogate, but only if Hons and Able aren’t around to tell him to shut up) unless the party has convinced the trio they are not Inquisition agents. The party must convince the three PDF of this once they’ve been captured and an interrogation has begun even if the three didn’t know before, because who else would it be (this applies even if the party are actually working for Chaos)?

Any effort to get the three to cough up any information outside of an interrogation takes a -30 penalty, or -40 if they suspect the party are Inquisition agents. All three of them damn well know that they could be in very deep trouble if word of what they’re doing gets out, and they’re pretty tight-lipped on the subject in casual conversation.

Able, Scab, and Hons haul intact coffins into their squad chimera and drive them to where the Lord Mayor’s hunchbacked servant meets them at the end of a secret escape tunnel built beneath his manor, where the servant hauls the coffins out of the chimera and onto a cart with the trio’s help before hauling the cart into the secret tunnel. The chimera trundles through town at patrol speeds so as to avoid arousing suspicion, which means keeping up with it is no trouble, and it is a Simple(+20) Stealth check to stay out of sight while following it. If the PDF suspect they’re being followed, they’ll point their turret at the interloper and demand they state their business sneaking about at night, threaten to arrest them, but avoid actually doing so at all costs if they have coffins in the back.

If, while on patrol, Able comes to the conclusion that a party member has seen the coffins or knows about them (despite his bravado, he’s pretty nervous about it – one failed Deceive check will do the trick), he’ll order an attack, Scab will begin blasting away with the multilaser turret in a panic, and Able will demand Hons bring the chimera around to face front so that Able can blast the “criminals” with the forward-facing heavy bolter. If Hons fails to get the chimera facing an enemy for two rounds in a row, Able will pop out to man the pintle-mounted heavy stubber instead. If the vehicle takes some damage to the rear but still has over half its total integrity, Hons will try to reposition the chimera so that only the side or preferably the front are available targets, and so long as he hasn’t decided to drive away from the fight, he will pursue anyone Able claims is onto them so that Able and Scab can gun them down. If the chimera has taken rear damage and Hons is trying to reposition the chimera, but this is impossible because there are (visible) enemies on all sides, or if the vehicle has lost more than half its total integrity from any source of damage, or if any amount of damage gets through the chimera’s front or side armour, Hons will drive the chimera away from the battle, possibly over Able’s objections.

Bringing accusations against the three to the local PDF lieutenant or to the Lord Mayor will result in a lot of stern promises to look into things, and the three will even be taken off the streets for the night patrol for a few days (hopefully long enough for the party to leave), but nothing will actually happen. If the party appear to be agents of the Imperium and have straightforward means of random Imperial offices getting in touch (a home office in Grey Harbour or something), the PDF lieutenant will mention that nothing ever really came of the Lord Mayor’s investigations into the three about two weeks after the party have left. If the party aren’t easy to contact but happen to wander back into town, the PDF lieutenant will tell them as much then, although again only if they appear to be Imperium agents.

If strangers show up at the Lord Mayor’s manor asking/demanding to be let in, the Lord Mayor will turn them away unless they have some Imperial credentials. If a member of the party is Highborn, if they are openly agents of the Arbites or especially Inquisition, or if their antics so far have given them a reputation for fighting Chaos across the region, the Lord Mayor will feign a mild pleasure in receiving them at his manor, and tell his servant to clean the place up for the guests. This is, of course, code for “hide all the blatantly heretical experiments in the North Tower.” The Lord Mayor has a confident personality, a starting Disposition of 35, and will claim that the North Tower is empty due to ongoing renovations, and do everything in his power to keep the party from entering. If the party becomes noticeably suspicious, the Lord Mayor will feign breaking under pressure and admitting to keeping a few villagers kidnapped from town captive there to torment them for personal amusement (if the party are working for the Arbites, he will claim the captives are criminals). It’s an indecorous hobby, but not one the Inquisition has any reason to care about, nor the regional governor in Grey Harbour, and so long as the captives are criminals, the Lord Mayor is legally allowed to punish them as he sees fit, so the Arbites don’t have to care, either. He will insist that only he may enter the tower and view the captives.

The hunchbacked servant feigns a submissive personality, but is actually clever. His starting Disposition is 25. Many of the townsfolk think of him as a mutant for his deformity, but the Lord Mayor sheltered him and has given him a life of stability and even some amount of luxury. He eats well, sleeps in soft beds, and doesn’t have to work all that hard, all things considered. As such, the servant is quite loyal. Any attempts to get him to betray his master incur a -20 penalty to the check, including Disposition checks to get him to cough up valuable information. If the party are guests, but he suspects they are here to investigate the North Tower, he will attempt to kill any party member he manages to get alone, preferably taking them by surprise. He may even attempt to attack two party members if both of them appear weak and under- or unarmed. He will not try to attack three or more party members in the same place. If the party members are uninvited intruders, the servant will shout for assistance from the PDF squad guarding the manor before either attacking or fleeing.

Confrontation: If the party members absolutely insist on breaking into the North Tower, the Lord Mayor will gather up the PDF squad defending his manor to have them arrested and executed post-haste. The Lord Mayor reacts this way whether they are undeterred by his lie about the torture manor, if they ignore his protestations outright and just break in, or if he catches them sneaking around (in which case he will presume they are here to break into the North Tower, or at the very least that they are snooping about in general and might end up snooping in the North Tower eventually).

The experiment in the North Tower is in its final stages. The body has been assembled, stitched together, and had all the proper seals and sigils inscribed upon it. The Lord Mayor now requires only a convenient storm to strike the lightning rod and bring life to his creation. The only reason for his ongoing grave robbing is in an effort to find better parts for the monster, seeing as how he has nothing better to do while waiting around for lightning to strike. The weather and timing of lightning strikes being largely a matter of GM fiat anyway, you can feel free to have such a storm be raging as the party enters the manor (however they end up doing so) and have the creature be reanimated at whatever suitably dramatic moment presents itself. If the party take longer than one night to investigate, lightning will strike after 1d10 nights have passed if it is the rainy season, 2d10 nights if it is the cool season, and 5d10 nights if it is the dry season.

The creature, once reanimated, is initially confused, panicked, and barely verbal from the overload of reanimation. He has an aggressive personality and a Disposition of 25. Any failed interaction, including Disposition checks, Charm checks, Intimidate checks, etc. etc. will cause the creature to fly into a rage and attack in blind fury, becoming frenzied as per the talent and attacking whoever happens to be nearest. He will end his frenzy out only when his father takes a full action to calm him (the Lord Mayor will do this immediately on his next turn unless the creature is attacking people the Lord Mayor wants dead anyway) or he runs out of living targets to attack. The calming of his father will work automatically, and running out of living targets to attack will cause him to begin attempting to resist the frenzy as per the standard rules, although there’s probably nothing worthwhile for him to wreck in that situation, so it’s safe to assume he successfully calms down after some number of rounds. Reanimating the creature won’t cause the PDF to turn on the Lord Mayor, not even if commanded to do so by higher powers in the Imperium, but if the creature attacks them, they will retaliate.

If the Lord Mayor successfully calms his creature and his PDF appear to be losing their fight with the party, the Lord Mayor, his son, and his faithful servant will flee together. The Lord Mayor will not abandon his son, but will abandon his servant if extracting him from the fight looks risky. Assuming the servant isn’t killed in the fracas within the next few rounds, he will pass through grief, then rage, and swear revenge on the man he once called master.

If the PDF repel the party but have seen the creature rise, the Lord Mayor will either order the creature and his servant to attack them if there are few left or else flee with them if there are still at least four left, out of fear that they will leak his secrets to the authorities in Grey Harbour. As the party will have already left in this situation, assume the PDF are successfully killed if there are three or fewer of them remaining, or else that the Lord Mayor, his son, and his servant all successfully flee.

If the Lord Mayor’s son is destroyed, he will flee and swear revenge on the party in addition to the PDF colonel in Grey Harbour. If the Lord Mayor is destroyed but his son survives, he will flee into the wilderness and begin plotting to take control of the village, his birthright, by any means necessary.

The party will have almost no time at all to explain that they’re secretly Chaos worshippers and are totally on board with facilitating the Lord Mayor’s revenge plot between discovering said plot and the Lord Mayor assembling the PDF to have them killed. If the PDF are far enough away that they manage to get it out in time and they succeed on a Disposition check to get him to believe them, or if they kill the PDF, disarm the Lord Mayor, and sit him down to explain things, the Lord Mayor will be grateful for any assistance. Depending on season (see above), it is only a matter of time before his son is successfully reanimated, at which point the two of them will begin plotting revenge on the PDF colonel in Grey Harbour. This makes the both of them automatic long term allies throughout any Chaos-aligned party’s dealings in Grey Harbour, and they are perfectly willing to help the party achieve their own goals in the city as part of the process, with one exception. The Lord Mayor himself is amicable to causing general havoc in the city, but his son is not. While he’s certainly willing to sacrifice a few bystanders to his revenge on the colonel, he still sees it as his duty to protect the city, and will be strongly opposed to any plan involving general havoc and mayhem. He can be talked into tolerating it, but only with a successful Disposition check at -10.

Once outside the haze of his initial reanimation, the Lord Mayor’s son will have a Disposition of 25, +10 towards anyone his father is on good terms with, and another +10 for anyone involved in reanimating him (which would probably put them on good terms with his father, which means anyone who helped reanimate him probably has a Disposition of 45 right off the bat). He retains his aggressive personality.

Rewards: As mentioned, the Lord Mayor and his son can easily become allies in Grey Harbour for a Chaos-aligned party. The Lord Mayor will remain behind to manage the village, while his monstrous son will be a direct ally to the party in the city.

If the Lord Mayor is killed, the town is left leaderless, and the party may install any Highborn allies they have (or any Highborn party member) as leader. Being installed as leader directly gives a character +1d10 Influence, and having a prominent ally installed as leader grants +1d5 Influence. The town is generally helpful from now on, and all characters get a +10 bonus to Influence checks made for goods or services from the town, and can reduce their Influence by 2 to automatically succeed on an Influence check for any goods or services the town can provide by using a favor from their friend and/or puppet the Lord Mayor to levy 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, drugs or consumables, low-tech weapon, or basic armour that’s scarce or cheaper.

Looting the North Tower for heretical writings turns up rather a trove on the subject of reanimation. By taking the preserved brain and heart of a dead person and stitching them into an assembled corpse, they can be reanimated, however many of their faculties will be altered based on what bodies they’ve been sewn into. Learning the ritual at all requires a Challenging(+0) Forbidden Lore (Heresy) check, or failing that a Very Hard(-30) Scholastic Lore (Occult) check. If the Lord Mayor has made alliance with the party, he can mentor an aspiring reanimator, granting a +20 bonus on the check to learn the ritual.

Attempting to reanimate someone in this manner requires at least one corpse no more than 72 hours decayed, however preservatives used for funerals can stretch the timeframe of usable corpse parts out for months or even years. With only one complete corpse, reanimation requires a Very Hard(-30) Forbidden Lore (Heresy) check, or failing that a Hellish(-60) Scholastic Lore (Occult) check. A character with Medicae trained may assist, but may not make the check themselves. Each additional complete body still in the initial stages of decay grants a +10 bonus to the check, to a maximum of +30. Failing this roll still reanimates the dead body, but they take 1d10 permanent damage to their Intelligence and Willpower for each degree of failure. If this reduces either stat to zero, the reanimation fails completely and the brain and heart are destroyed, preventing any further reanimation attempts.

Reanimating someone into a body whose parts have all been chosen purely for overall freshness will result in someone with a hideous visage, near-crippled motor functions, and impaired perceptions. Someone with reanimated in such a body has Strength, Agility, Toughness, Weapon Skill, Ballistic Skill, Fellowship, and Perception scores of only 1d10+5. Only Intelligence and Willpower from before reanimation are retained. Instead, a body can be chosen for a specific, more useful part.

Instead of using a corpse for whatever works, only the best parts can be selected, for example, the eyes, specific internal organs, cords of muscle stripped out and stitched into another’s skin, etc. This will give the body an extra 1d10+5 in the relevant attribute. The parts must be harvested from a body which, in life, had a relevant attribute equal to ten times the number of d10s it will grant to the reanimated body, plus ten. For example, when attempting to upgrade the reanimated body from 1d10+5 to 2d10+10 Toughness, a body must be found which in life had at least 30 Toughness. Upgrading again to 3d10+15 would require at least a 40. The reanimated body is very likely to have much lower scores than that of the best bodies it is comprised of – death takes a toll. Most common bodies harvested from any old graveyard will have parts from corpses that have a 30 in any given attribute, easy. Throughout the whole graveyard for your average village, maybe one or two bodies will have a 40 in a single randomly determined attribute. Major cities will have 40s in most attributes and two or three 50s in random attributes (a part harvested which originally had an attribute of 50 would grant a 4d10+20 to the reanimated corpse, which would, on average, produce about a 40 – a prime candidate for harvesting). Of course, you could also find a living person with the requisite attributes and make a corpse of them.

Adding in such body parts requires a Difficult(-10) Medicae test with a penalty equal to the bonus the body gets on the roll for that part when upgraded. Using the example of going from 1d10+5 Toughness to 2d10+10 Toughness, that would impose a -10 penalty, completely cancelling out the bonus of a medikit, going from there to 3d10+15 would impose a -15 penalty, and so on. Failing such a check destroys the part involved. Parts must be added in sequentially, so the body to be reanimated cannot be upgraded straight from 1d10+5 Toughness to 3d10+15 Toughness. First it must be upgraded 2d10+10 Toughness.

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