Fridays Unleashed 3-6-2015

In the Iron Kingdoms Unleashed Roleplaying Game Adventure Kit scenario Hogwash, the bog trog Lurk and the farrow Knor are bitter enemies, having nursed a grudge against each other for several years. So, what’s the source of this animosity? As shown in this fiction vignette, once they were both members of a bone grinder hunting party (one of the many new adventuring companies featured in Iron Kingdoms Unleashed), but now the farrow is out for cold blood.

“I will take one. The others can go to Morrg,” Lurk said, pointing at the three razor boars at his feet. The vicious beasts lay on their backs, legs bound with stout rope. Capturing them had been difficult, and two farrow had been gutted in the attempt.

“No,” Knor said, shaking his head. “We paid for three, not two.” The farrow bone grinder stepped closer to the bound razor boars and crossed his heavy arms over his chest.

The fin atop Lurk’s head quivered in irritation, and the bog trog uttered a low hiss. “It was my magic that allowed you to capture them, Knor,” Lurk said. “I want my due. The big one.” The razor boar’s bones and viscera would make for potent fetishes.

“You will be paid a share, as agreed,” Knor said flatly. The bone grinder waved forward six slaughterhousers. “Bring the boars,” he told the big farrow.

The slaughterhousers picked up the razor boars, two to each beast. The boars squealed and pitched about violently, trying to slash the farrow with their tusks, but the chase had exhausted them and they soon quieted.

Knor led the farrow and their precious cargo away, leaving Lurk staring after them. The bog trog reached down and pulled a serrated gutting knife from his belt. He pointed the knife at the departing farrow.

“I will have my due, Knor,” he hissed softly.

* * *

The farrow encampment was quiet. Knor had let his warriors drink themselves unconscious to celebrate the capture of the razor boars. Lurk moved swiftly among the darkened huts to the pen holding the bound beasts.

The boars were asleep, and Lurk hopped over the low fence and into the enclosure, gutting knife in hand. He moved quickly to the largest of the boars and opened its throat with one deft slash. The beast came awake as its blood spurted into the mud, and it began to thrash. Lurk threw his body on top of it, holding it down until its death throes subsided. The other boars had not awakened, and the farrow huts were still dark.

Lurk plunged his knife into the dead boar’s belly and ripped downward, spilling the creature’s entrails in a steaming pile on the ground. The ripe stench of blood rose up from the viscera. It smelled like life; it smelled like power. He worked quickly, cutting free the parts of the beast he wanted and stuffing them into a sack.

“Lurk!” a gruff farrow voice called out.

Lurk’s head snapped up and he saw Knor standing outside the pen, looking drunk and a little off-balance. The farrow’s long, curved knife glinted in his right hand.

“I’ll grind your bones into paste, bog trog,” Knor said as he stumbled forward.

* * *

The farrow encampment was many miles behind Lurk, but he could still hear Knor’s pained bellows. He’d cut the farrow bone grinder deep—nothing fatal, but Knor wouldn’t be chasing him for weeks. Lurk reached down and stroked the gory fetishes hanging from a rawhide strap around his neck. He felt their power thrumming through his fingers—the razor boar had possessed a strong spirit.

Lurk glanced behind him. He’d left the thick forest where Knor and his farrow dwelled. Ahead stretched a dense swamp. He needed new allies, but Ashiga would provide; it always did. Lurk slipped silently into the dark water and disappeared beneath the surface, leaving only a single ripple to mark that he’d been there at all.

More than any of his allies, Lurk is looking out for himself. In the eyes of the bog trogs this isn’t a bad quality, but it can put a strain on relationships with those who don’t share the same view. Fortunately for Lurk, he begins the Hogwash scenario with a decent Deception skill as well as the Conniver ability, which allows him to reroll failed Deception rolls. As he gains experience, Lurk can delve deeper into the craft of the Mist Speakers, gaining abilities and skills that can make him a valuable ally who aids those around him (but—let’s be honest—to his own ultimate gain), or he can hone his Bone Grinder craft to capitalize on the natural resources of everything his comrades kill.

Having a pregenerated character with two spellcasting careers may seem like an unusual choice, but Lurk showcases how a career’s spell list can have an incredible impact on how a career plays in game.

For players interested in taking Lurk down the path of offense, the Bone Grinder career offers the most opportunities to deal damage. Its spell list contains numerous spells that deal impressive amounts of damage, like Flesh Eater and Rift. Flesh Eater is more than simply a powerful offensive spell, though; if it destroys a living target, Lurk regains health as the body is consumed! Rift is similarly powerful, able to catch multiple targets in its large area-of-effect. Best of all, the area-of-effect remains in play for a round as rough terrain, perfect for slowing down the charge of farrow brigands out for blood.

By following the path of the Mist Speaker career, Lurk becomes an impressive and deceptive advisor to his chosen companion. The Advisor ability allows him to increase the command range of an ally next to him—perfect for allies with Battle Plans—while the Devil’s Tongue spell increases his Deception skills even more. Suddenly, it’s a lot easier to convince those allies to do what he wants.

At the end of the day, Lurk is a monster, but at least he’s on your side. . . for now.