The Wrathbreakers have survived a deepfolk ambush and returned to the bay where they left their ship, only to find it scuttled and their crew missing or dead. A ship floating at anchor in the bay suggested that the deepfolk who pursued them had come by sea, and ambushed their own ship while they fought the Spider God. Answers could be found on that ship, and revenge.

They retreated from the shore to plan, but they had little time to prepare. It was midday, and if deepfolk were on the ship at anchor they would likely have taken at least some of the crew of the Wages of Sin captive – if the Wrathbreakers did not take the ship before evening at least some of their crew would be on the breakfast menu. The Wrathbreakers were injured and exhausted but they had no choice but to quickly prepare and spring an ambush of their own.

Blood and fog

They chose a simple strategy. Itzel used her magic to repair one of the damaged longboats from the Wages of Sin, where it lay rolling in the spume of low tide. The party took some time to rest, and after a few hours Bao Tap conjured a fog that slowly filled the bay and obscured their passage. He also attempted to summon a giant squid/crab monster to aid in their attack, but failed and instead only managed to draw a swarm of small squid/crab parasite creatures. This swarm crawled over the bow of the ship as the Wrathbreakers carefully climbed up a rope ladder to the stern. The rope ladder appeared to have been left hanging over the side by whoever was in possession of the ship, probably in expectation that the Wrathbreakers had been slain and the bay was safe.

On the ship itself the Wrathbreakers began their attack. They found two deepfolk standing around a warming brazier on the forecastle, confirming that the ship was under the control of a deepfolk raiding party. Bao Tap’s swarm grabbed these two and dragged them overboard to devour before they could raise the alarm, and as they did so Xu and Bao Tap began to set up an ambush at the top of the stairs to the deck. Ella crept cautiously into the sterncastle and Itzel dropped a rolling ball of lightning into the hold. The deepfolk came swarming up the stairs to attack the intruders and were cut down en masse as they emerged from belowdecks.

There were no serious fighters left on the ship, only a few Grigg archers and some goblin skirmishers, and the Wrathbreakers slaughtered them without mercy. In the belowdecks area they found a young human deepcultist who they kept alive, and within a couple of minutes the ship had been secured. In the hold they found the crew, chained together to locking pins inside large, empty cargo containers. The ship’s party of marines, three soldiers and a captain, had been hung from the walls and cut into parts for food; one, still alive, was obviously being harvested piece by piece. Calim healed him as best he could and they cut the others down for a proper burial. They freed the crew and gathered their story.

The Rake’s Progress

With the deepfolk dead and the crew freed the Wrathbreakers were able to learn what had happened. They found two of their own crew among the humans they freed, survivors of the attack on the Wages of Sin who had been brought on board to be interrogated and devoured. They learnt that the ship had been attacked in the night, the crew captured and the ship scuttled. They had quickly told the deepfolk where the party were going, and those who had not been eaten immediately had been locked in the hull with the crew of the larger ship.

The crew of the larger ship, the Rake’s Progress, told the Wrathbreakers that they had set off from Alpon 7 days ago, carrying a cargo of large boxes that had been brokered by a human who took ship with them. On the third day out, once far from their origin, they had been swarmed by deepfolk from belowdecks – the deepfolk had been hiding in the boxes. Easily defeated in the attack, the crew had been forced to watch as their four-person marine squad was tortured and eaten in front of them. They had then been warned that the same fate awaited them if they did not sail the ship as they were told. Thus they had brought the ship to this secluded bay, and been chained in the hold to await their fate as the deepfolk went about their business.

They turned their attention to the human deep cultist they had captured. He was young and scared and very confused, and eager to tell them his story and try to escape a horrible but just death. He had joined the cult a year ago and was still a new member, who did not even realize that the cult were working with deepfolk. He was not sure why he had joined, and upon interrogation the Wrathbreakers realized he was another person who had been brainwashed into joining the cult by the subtle rituals of deep magic. He had been taking a peripheral role in cult activities, learning vague platitudes about the brighter future they planned for the world, until a week before when the cult had suddenly sprung into action. The capture of the ship had been rushed: the cult leaders had disappeared and then returned with the cargo, and had pressed him into joining them even though he was new. It was only was they were at sea and the trap was sprung that he realized what he was involved in, and by then it was too late to escape. The Wrathbreakers learnt that this was definitely a rushed mission, suddenly and hastily organized by the deep cult in Alpon and rushed into action the moment the party had set off by ship for the Spider God.

They could not interrogate the deep cult cell’s leader to find out how the cult knew about the Wrathbreakers’ mission, their possession of the artifacts, or their destination, but upon reflection they realized that one person had helped them to find the location of the Spider God and provided them with the anti-fey poison that seemed to have no effect: Kyansei’s lover, Wei[1].

They pressed the crew into service, turned the ship around, and rushed back to Alpon for a reckoning.


They did not return directly to Alpon, but to a small town to its south. From there they traveled overland to Alpon, smuggled themselves into the city, and took lodging in a rundown hostelry far from the academic part of the city. Once they were ready they forced their captive cultist to let them into his lair, on the promise that he would survive their wrath, and launched their raid.

It was easy – the cult’s leader was dead in the great forest, they had the layout of the building, and they knew what Wei looked like. They caught her on her way out and bound and gagged and paralyzed her before she could kill herself or cast any spells. Finally they had a prisoner with some degree of seniority within the cult. Better still, they discovered that she had no magical power – she really was just an archaeologist, who had joined the cult out of desire and interest. A non-magical true believer! The perfect weak link.

Under interrogation Wei told them the story they had expected. She had been working in the academies in Alpon looking for hints of ancient secrets for the cult, when one of her friends told her about Kyansei’s mission to find the cause of the blight up north. Thinking this sounded like a signature of one of the artifacts, Wei took up the job of Kyansei’s research assistant. When she heard about Kyansei’s adventures and past she realized she might have a chance to learn a lot more than just the location of an artifact, so she slowed down the drip of information about the blight, insinuated herself into Kyansei’s bed, and started learning all she could about the Wrathbreakers. Their arrival in Alpon had been an unexpected but perfect opportunity. Kyansei was about to set off on her mission to the north, and once she was gone Wei would send a team of deepfolk to ambush her and destroy all knowledge of the blight. Then she would organize a team of cultists from Leminog to go and explore the area she had researched for Kyansei, hopefully to uncover an artifact. When she discovered the Wrathbreakers were off to kill a Spider God she saw a perfect opportunity to get the rest of the artifacts – go there, wait for them to either die in the battle or come out badly injured, kill them and steal the artifacts. To help this happen she used her position of trust to prepare a poison that would make a fey god stronger, and once the Wrathbreakers set off she organized the ambush. Unfortunately she had not expected them to go by sea, and had to rush her plans to ambush them, which meant the team she sent was under-powered compared to the team that they would have met if she had a chance to ambush them overland.

Wei’s plans had failed but her pride did not. She regaled the Wrathbreakers with angry speeches about how the world would be a better place once the deepfolk achieved their purpose – that once they had the artifacts they would build a better world, with her taking a central place of power in it. She was unrepentant, arrogant, and horrific. Knowing she had planned an ambush for Kyansei, Itzel used her magic to warn Kyansei to avoid the trap, and then they turned their attention to their captive.

Did they have any other use for her, and how were they going to kill her? Should they keep her alive until they were ready to raid the cult headquarters in Leminog? Should they hand her over to the city authorities? They now believed it was time to reveal the facts of the cult and its horrible plans to the human world, and begin sending warnings to all cities about the risk of a cult of deepfolk collaborators in their midst. But then what? Leminog to kill the cult or the far north to find the artifact Wei sought? Decisions needed to be made, and soon, before the cult moved on its mission to raid the site of the Blight and find the artifact. The final showdown was near, and although they did not know exactly what rode on their decision, they sensed that some great fate rested on it. In the dark skies above them the Seven Children of Rage circled slowly towards their alignment, and Wrathbreakers prepared for their fateful decision …

fn1: Tip for newbie GMs, if you want to hide a traitor in plain sight, describe them as the slightly lust-addled and largely objectified nerdy side-piece of a major NPC, make sure they’re a young woman, and be sure to throw in a few ribaldrous jokes about how her “mouth is always full” and “we don’t really talk too much, she’s too busy”. It works a charm, no one suspects she’s a secret spy for an evil death cult! They’ll even let her brew them a “poison” for their enemies which actually makes those enemies stronger, tell her partner all their plans on the assumption that the secret will be safe, and then spend half a session wondering how they got caught out!