Sunday, 26 August 2012

IKRPG! Life in Khardov, Part 3 : House Ryumin

Last post, I covered the industrialist Drago Katzoff, but now it's time to move on to another of the great Kayazy Lords of Khardov; Lady Stefani Ryumin, the queen of coal and owner of over half the mining network in the city.  She is well loved by her workers, and is renowned for paying vastly above the standard wage for her miners, as well as providing excellent healing and financial support for injured employees.

Of course, she can afford this because she has the majority of the street gangs of Khardov in her back pocket.  She pays the workers, and the gangs take a large sum of it back and pay Ryumin to distract the Olcheniy, who she also unofficially controls, towards their rivals.  Despite all this, Ryumin remains behind the scenes and (relatively) quite a minor Kayazy - a fact which can only be by choice.

On the (even more) illegal front, Ryumin is also both a Thamarite Priestess and an Infernalist, and has a booming trade in souls from people all across Western Khador.  People come to her to make contact with Infernals, and the Infernals grant her power to keep the souls coming.  This dark trade claims dozens, if not hundreds, of Khadoran souls a year and does drastic damage to the Khadoran war effort.

Stefani Ryumin
Stefani Ryumin was born into a fairly rich family who have lived in Khardov for several generations, and is used to having money around her entire life.  Despite this, she had a natural affinity with the "low" members of society, preferring the company of non-humans and commoners and, when she inherited a small mining operation, she used the knowledge she gained to encourage more and more workers to join her business, slowly edging out her competitors as more and more of their employees moved over to join her.

With apologies to the sculptor for the shitty paint job...
Now, Lady Ryumin controls the majority of the mines in the surrounding area and large foundries where the ore is smelted.  They are hubs of activity all throughout the night, and it's rare to find an area of her territory that doesn't have some people about or, if you're that way inclined, noise to cover illicit activities.  She has also set up underground temples throughout Khardov where Thamarites can worship in peace.  These also have the upside for Ryumin of giving her both safe refuges AND a ready supply of reinforcements across the city.

In a fight, Ryumin is touchingly pathetic, having no combat or spellcasting abilities to speak of.  Of course, would-be vigilantes don't fight Ryumin herself, they fight the two spectral Umbral Enforcers who follow her around to keep the Infernal's investment alive.  While she flees, these two monsters attack assailants under cover of invisibility with whips that can fly through flesh and bone to attack the soul directly - anyone who is killed by them quickly discover their souls have been kept from Urcaen and at serious risk of being taken by the Infernal Reavers.

Rorvag Rockbiter
A childhood friend of Stefani Ryumin, Rorvag was hired as soon as she took over her first mine as a foreman, and has been working for her ever since.  Now, he is responsible for the day to day workings of her business, as well as leading the protection of the mines from rogue Shaft Wights and saboteurs from other Kayazy with mine workings in the city.

Oh yeah, and he's a Trollkin.
While he's a dab-hand with his greatsword and customised cannon, Rorvag's biggest asset is his leadership - he is respected and admired by those he leads, who know he is the first in to any situation and the last out, trusting on his natural resilience to see him through.  He is, however, easy to avoid - unless someone threatens Stefani directly, he sticks to defending his mines, and certainly won't come to the aid of any of the other lieutenants of House Ryumin.

Having grown up on the streets of Khardov, Braz knows his way around the city like no other, as well as the methods of every major criminal player in the area.  He came into contact with Ryumin after she came to power and had started trying to make her mark as a Thamarite priestess among the criminal gangs.  He decided to make money by setting her up with gangs, and she decided she'd pay him to be her contact with all of them.  After five years, their relationship has settled into a routine - he collects the gang's protection money to give to Ryumin, and keeps her up to date with new players in the area.

He also looks like Yoda as made by Dark Crystal-era Jim Henson.  Which is badass.
Braz doesn't fight, he assassinates, he steals and he uses the gangs jockeying for his favour to fight for him.  His knack for stealth and love of torture and cruelty means that anyone who comes in to fight him head on will be led into a maze of traps and dead ends that would make Jigsaw jealous, none of which will kill his prey quickly.  Of course, his only loyalty is to money, so it's possible to buy your way out of the deathtraps once you get in, but he doesn't publicise that...

Jaime O'Harenhal
A Thurian mercenary, Jaime has fought in the Scharde invasions, multiple border skirmishes (on every border), the invasion of Llael (on both sides), as an enforcer in Five Fingers and on several missions into the Thornwood and the Sharde Isles which he refuses to talk about.  Now, he's covertly in the employ of Ryumin as the leader of the Olcheniy, the Kayazy-funded city guard.  While he generally does his job well, he's also turned the city guard into what amounts to enforcers for Ryumin, driving out or crushing all street crime that isn't directly in her pocket.

It's Rutger Shaw-lite!  Woo!
Jaime is an excellent combatant with at least two decades of military engagements that he's willing to admit to.  On top of that, he's a practised commander at the unit level, and has the resources of the Kayazy and the Olcheniy at his immediate disposal.  While he is single-handedly a dangerous foe, when he brings his allies, he's almost unstoppable...

And that's the second of the Kayazy Houses my players will be fighting!  Next up, House Ygevny, the alchemists...

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

IKRPG! Life in Khardov, Part 2 : House Katzoff

So, last time I gave an overview of the factions of Khardov, and now I'm going to go into more detail about each of the groups in turn (and throw in some pictures, too!).

House Katzoff is responsible for almost a third of the manufacturing in Khardov, specialising in Steamjacks and with a sideline in gun manufacturing.  Naturally, as you might think, House Katzoff has a lot of military contracts, and Katzoff himself has re-invested the money from these into muscling out his competition by funding assassinations, corporate espionage and even the occasional legitimate business practices.

Like all good successful Kayazy, House Katzoff is involved in various less-than-legal activities.  Drago Katzoff himself is personally involved with a series of brothels throughout Khardov and works with his bodyguard and confidante, a woman known only as Madame Blaustavya, to keep them running.  While this isn't illegal in itself, these are used as a front for assassination, blackmail and gun running.  And there's probably a lot of shady backroom deals done there, too.

Drago Katzoff
Drago Katzoff is a Skirov industrialist who has moved to Khardov to make his fortune.  Over the last few years, he's gone from obscurity to being the premier producer of military-grade mechanika in the area, and has made a rather impressive pile of gold in the process.  He's a true poster child for Khadoran capitalism, and one of the rags to riches stories that other young Khadorans are already told of.  In every way, Drago Katzoff is a gentleman, a patriot and an inspiration to the nation.

He has the fu manchu goatee of smarminess.  I hope my players hate him as much as I do.

Drago Katzoff doesn't exist.

Three years ago, the man who would be Katzoff was known as Drogo Musevni, an Umbrean Greylord working in Llael.  During a mission to infiltrate an organisation known as the Free Umbrean League, he discovered that his personal views and the organisations' were in alignment, and he slowly found himself being indoctrinated into the group.  After revealing his current situation to the League's leadership and offering his services, they "disappeared" him, and a new man was born.  Now, "Katzoff" makes a fortune to send back to his new masters, as well as the occasional "missing" shipment of warjacks and weaponry.

Katzoff also has a few tricks up his sleeve to surprise anyone who tries to take him on in anything other than the sneakiest of ways.  His new persona is not known as a spellcaster, and he carries a magical Orgoth weapon known as Ironhater, a sword that can take control of any cortex nearby, sapping the wielder's strength to force a steamjack to act well beyond it's operational parameters.  In essence, the first people who try to attack him will discover a man who, far from being a simple aristocrat, is close to being a full-fledged warcaster...

Madame Blaustavya
Not much is known about the woman who calls herself Madame Blaustavya, except for her legendary beauty and grace.  It is believed that she was the daughter of one of the workers in one of Katzoff's factories, and that she was noticed by the lord when she came back from her stationing with the Winter Guard.  Although originally taken as a personal escort, she quickly proved both her intelligence and ability in combat, and was elevated to the position of overseer of the brothels in Khardov.

She'd be so much hotter if I could paint well.

Not only is Blaustavya a naturally competent fighter, but Katzoff has also brought in multiple fighters from across Western Immoren to train her in varying fighting styles.  This, combined with Vashyyr, her mechanikal Nyss Claymore, has made her a deadly assassin and bodyguard for the Kayazy lord.

Andrei Drogovya & Odei Thunderforge
The joint heads of House Katzoff's foundries, Drogovya and Thunderforge are responsible for a large number of the technical improvements that have come out of Khador in the last few years.  While they aren't party to the more illicit workings of House Katzoff, they are still committed to the cause, and will fight to defend their foundries if an errant group of players try to move in.

Thunderforge is the little one.  Glad I could help.

To a greater (in Drogovya's case) or lesser (in Thunderforge's case) extent, both of these mechaniks have suffered injuries in the line of work.  Thunderforge suffers from terrible burns down the left hand side of his body from a smelting accident, and Drogovya lives in a mechanikal suit that powers his replacement arm and leg, which were lost in the line of craftsmanship when a warjack fell on him.  While many would think this would prove they were poor mechaniks, they see this as proof that they have made mistakes they have clearly learnt from.  Their version seems to be the right one, as little setbacks like losing two limbs seems to have only sharpened Drogovya's mind to further heights of genius.

Actually fighting these guys will be a masterclass in unpleasantness, as they both pack some kind of flame thrower - Thunderforge has his arc welder, and Drogovya has an in-built flame belcher on his mechanikal arm.  While they may not be the greatest combatants, they DO threaten burning their opponents to death.  Which just isn't a nice way to go.

Well, there's a slightly more in depth look into House Katzoff, the house that shouldn't exist.  Next up, I'll be looking slightly more in depth into House Ryumin, the house of whispers.

Thursday, 2 August 2012

IKRPG! Life in Khardov, Part 1 : Overview


So, I've not been posting much recently, and that's MAINLY because I'm coming very close to getting every model I own painted for the first time in...  Ever.  Still, I've also been working on my IKRPG campaign, and I'll be posting up details of the factions, their machinations and some of the intrigues that go on between them.

As you'll quickly discover from the faction overviews I'm about to write up, Khardov is a shitty, shitty place.  After the Conquest was finished, the lower classes of the city experienced a surge of patriotism that softened the sheer number of deaths from people who froze, starved and got caught in accidents building the thing, but that wave of joy has passed and the grim reality that many of their friends and families were lost on something that didn't even bring Cygnar under Khador's control is slowly setting in.

Fuelling this fire are the three major Kayazy merchant houses of the region.  While they are not provably doing anything illegal (any more than the other twenty two in the city), they are using the unrest to be slightly more blatant in their crimes.  The players - a unit of Winter Guard veterans - have been sent in by the Prikaz to bring down the Kayazy from the inside, while still maintaining a veneer of plausible deniability for the Khadoran government if it all goes wrong.

House Katzoff
Headed by lord Drago Katzoff, House Katzoff is responsible for a large amount of the Warjack production in Khardov.  Under the command of Crew Chief Andrei Drogovya and the Rhulic Mechanik Odei Thunderforge, the Katzoff foundries churn out new 'jacks by the dozen, and even have a side business building bespoke steamjacks for wealthy clients to perform a variety of functions, from construction to combat.

House Katzoff is also the legitimate front for the Free Umbrean League.  A group of terrorists who want the now united Umbrey to secede from the new Khardic Empire under the leadership of Vladmir Tzepsci.  Drago Katzoff (formerly Drogo Musevni) uncovered them as a young Greylord and, rather than taking them down, was indoctrinated into their beliefs and used "liberated" Llaelese coin to pay his way into a new life.  Now he uses his connections to funnel both funds and supplies to the League - anything from a few hundred Horns to a shipment of Warjacks - and must be stopped.

As a side business, Katzoff also runs the majority of burlesque houses and brothels in the city.  Under the watchful eye of the woman known only as Madame Blaustavya, pretty young girls are taught several trades - dancing and loving being the two most well known, but also including stealth, assassination and an ear for incriminating information that could be used against clients if they become a problem.  Anyone can hire a girl from Blaustavya for the night, and requests for sex and murder are about equally common...

House Ryumin
The mining company created, owned and aggressively expanded by Lady Stefani Ryumin, House Ryumin is responsible for over half of the considerable mining network that sprawls out beneath the city.  Under the watchful eye of the Trollkin Foreman Rorvag Rockbiter, worker safety is a priority, and Ryumin herself is well loved for her insistence on paying higher than average wages to her men, as well as her total disregard of race - Gobber, Trollkin and Iosan are just as good as human to her.

No one's that philanthropic in Khardov.  Stefani Ryumin recoups her money in two ways.  Firstly, Ryumin is a Thamarite, and has purview over most of the Thamarite Septs in Western Khador.  Infernalism, sacrifice and just good old fashioned sadism are not unknown to her, although she sees nothing wrong with this - her subjects offer their bodies and souls willingly, and she merely accepts them.  Among the pacts she currently has, she has at least two bound Infernal Soldiers and contact with the ghost of the mine's previous foreman, who has control of the Shaft Wights in the area (rumours that she directs them to attack other mining operations are, of course, totally impossible to prove).  People pay her vast amounts to grant their wishes, even if they are unaware she only acts as a front woman for things that shouldn't exist...

Secondly, and on a far more mundane level, Ryumin quickly muscled a Thurian by the name of Jaime O'Harehal in as the de facto leader of the Olcheniy - the mercenary city guard of the Khardov Kayazy.  If a criminal gang wants to continue their muggings and extortion on the citizens of Khardov, it pays her a cut of their taking through Braznaggalakam, the Gobber "king of thieves".  Every so often, when a gang fails to make it's payment, or if the notoriously unpredictable Braz takes a dislike to them, the Olcheniy get an "anonymous" tip of a gang's hideout, and the general citizens of the city get to hear about how Ryumin and her men took down another gang that prey on the weak like monsters.  Truly, Ryumin is a hero of the Empire.

House Ygevny
Lord Kerwyn Ygevny is different from the other two Kayazy Lords of Khardov.  Unlike the rest, he doesn't own huge swathes of property, or employ hundreds of people, but he doesn't have to.  Ygevny mechanika is considered some of the best in Khador, and his apprentices can command the kind of prices some Mechaniks get for full warjacks.  He also employs a series of skilled Alchemists who, under the supervision of Borosh "The Alchemist" Gostaff, manufacture curatives and other potions to support his day to day business.  He is never seen without the gunmage Jynnasa, his bodyguard and (reputedly) the only person he considers as brilliant as he is.

Of all three of the Kayazy Lords, Ygevny is both the least and most motivated by greed when it comes to his crimes.  Alone amongst his peers, Ygevny doesn't care about money - he is both a very old man, and has contracted Rip Lung - everything he does is a desperate attempt to keep himself alive a while longer.  At best, Ygevny has made contact with one Doctor Arkadius, and is supplying him with homeless pulled off the streets so he can experiment on them.  To this end, Arkadius has supplied a farrow named Gron to his estate, both to keep him safe, and to keep him under control.

At worst, Ygevny is a practicing Necromancer.  While he is not an arcanist himself, he has access to enough relics and forbidden knowledge to ressurect crude thralls, and most of his time is spent experimenting with undeath in an attempt to keep himself alive.  While he is mostly lucid, fear of Urcaen has pushed him beyond the bounds of sanity, and he is a danger to himself, the city and the Empire.

There are also several "neutral" factions in and around the city which the players can either ally with, use or come into conflict with as they see fit.  This is what I have so far, but I'll probably add more...

The Rusalka Kids
Led by Madelyn Fernassi and composed entirely of Tordorans and Thurians, the Rusalka Kids are Khardov's premier river pirates and smuggling crew.  With a reputation for punctuality, reliability and discretion, the Kids are used by everyone with a cargo that needs to be shifted without the rest of the city knowing.  While Fern handles the bulk of the transactions herself, she also occasionally delegates to her lieutenant, Grant MacRoth - who speaks with her total authority.

The Chosen of Morrow
The city is going to hell and, to some people, that seems more literal than others.  Led by Father Konrad Vorisk, the Chosen have taken to cleansing the streets of Khardov with sword, bullet and spell.  Criminals, Thamar worshippers and even some more extreme Menites have all been killed in the Chosen's crusade, and soon even the members of the Olcheniy and Winter Guard garrison who agree with their methods will have to start hunting them down.

The Ex Crew
Khardov is a mining town and, where there are mines, there will be Shaft Wights.  What seperates the Shaft Wights of some little mining town on the border and Khardov is, apart from numbers, that they're being controlled by an outside influence.  Specifically, the dead miners still follow the ghost of Marek Danislav, the old foreman, and Danislav will happily talk to the few people willing to converse with the long dead.  It's possible to negotiate with him for both safe passage through the mines (if you don't mind the smell) and even possibly valuable items that his crew have found.

The Winter Guard Garrison
The Garrison in Khardov is an interesting exercise in incompetence and general lack of motivation.  With the Olcheniy tackling most of the unsanctioned crime in the city, and Kommander Matvey Constantin being paid an impressively large and regular bribe to drink fine Uiske and ignore the sanctioned "disturbances", the Winter Guard spend most of their time pretending to drill and generally doing nothing.  Still, the majority of the garrison want to do something, and their clear itching for a fight will either be a great asset or a huge hindrance, depending on who gets to them first.

The Retribution of Scyrah
Several years ago, a small contingent of Mage Hunters took up residence in a disused mine shaft just outside of the city limits.  They primarily spy on the inhabitants and commit small acts of sabotage in arcanists workshops but, as the years go on, they're getting bored and their leader, Tybias, Shadow's Bane, is gradually getting them riled up to start actively killing mages.

Over the course of the next few weeks, I'm gonna post up about each of these in more detail, and really get into the specifics of each character and group.  This is primarily so I have a decent frame of reference, but I hope some of you people in Internetland get something out of this, too! :D