“South Coscarla’s knee deep in blood and there’s worse than my sins going on out in the black of the night.”
–Hosteller Maxus Drayelok
The Coscarla Division is a sub-district of Hive Sibellus on Scintilla, capital world of the Calixis Sector. It is located in the Landward Quadrant of the Lower Mid-Tiers of the Mastraven Zone. Built in the remains of what was once the splendor of the House Coscarla Estates, the district is a seventy kilometer square conglomeration of warren-like tenement-habs and their attendant infrastructure that has grown up between the vast ruined arches and fallen statuary of its noble past.
The Coscarla was until recent years a relatively prosperous midhive district, predominantly populated by indentured labor classes, but has since suffered deprivation, disaster and a loss in status thanks to a series of misfortunes and incidents. Primary among these have been the damage caused buy unrestrained wildfires during the recent Rienholt Blackouts (the Coscarla being one of seventeen effected hive zones), although the long term withering of the fortunes of the Tantalus Combine had begun to have significant adverse effects long before that calamity.
The Coscarla Division currently awaits Administratum revaluation of its status (projected due process time until preliminary ruling: 37 years standard), but unsubdata indicates over 60% of the Coscarla is now effectively a waste/scav zone and the viable population is now confined to smaller subzones clustered around transit and utility access points. The division’s population is also in catastrophic decline, its infrastructure remains effectively crippled and lawlessness, poor social cohesion and poverty all exponentially increasing year on year.
A Dying DistrictEdit
The Coscarla Division lies in the shadows of the mighty spires of Hive Sibellus. It is a run down and decaying place, dying from slow urban decay and held hostage to a nameless fear that the inhabitants dare not speak of. A criminal and heretical conspiracy has taken hold of Coscarla, slowly killing its people from within while the district itself festers with no outside aide. In Coscarla, the workers shuffle from place to place, wary and tired eyes keeping watch for murderers in the shadows. At any time, but especially at night, one may end up in a violent confrontation with local criminal gangs, corrupt enforcers, murderous dregs or even a barroom brawl.
The journey into Coscarla takes several hours by transit rail car. One must change rails repeatedly into increasingly dilapidated and vandalized cars. As one progresses, they will pass from the relatively open spaces and clean air of the government district, down and across whole hive levels, passed collapsed finery and the fallen architectural splendors of the “good of olden days” and through vast steel sky vaults filled with endless rows of hab-stacks and kilometer after kilometer of thunderous manufactora.
The further one goes the more depressed, ill-maintained and decayed things become; these are the lower stretches of the mid hive, beyond these no transit rails run. Beyond this outer circle is the underhive where no law holds sway. Long stretches of the journey are spent in the stale tainted air of the wormhole-like tunnel passageways within the Hive’s thick supporting bones and in the nameless black voids of deserted spaces between, the car’s lights flicker and fail regularly. Coscarla lies at the end of his journey, the worst-looking district of them all.
The Sights and Sounds of CoscarlaEdit
Coscarla has the feel of a buried and abandoned city, shrouded in darkness beneath a steel sky. It is a cold and empty place, where whole tenements and hab-stacks are blacked by fire, or stare silently with a hundred vacant smashed-window eyes, while ancient and seemingly purposeless columns and arches of black granite soar high into the darkness.
The power supply is poor and the streetlamps along the main thoroughfares flicker and cast a pale twilight, while refuse and debris clogs the alleyways where shapeless and half-hidden forms of dregs (and perhaps worse) haunt. The skyline near the southern portion of the district is crisscrossed by the overhead rail lines of Sibellus' mass transit network, which clatters and sparks intermittently through the cycles. Far above, in the high shadowed skies, the periodic exhalations and clamor of the hive’s vast air processing network is muted into distant thunder, the action of which materializes later at ground level as squalls of sudden chill wind, and even the occasional curtain of dirty rain lasts too briefly to wash the grime from the streets.
There are people living in Coscarla, thousands of them in fact, but they are so swallowed up by the vast and darkened spaces around them that they seem very few, nor do they linger outdoors, rushing silently to their destinations with their collars turned up and their heads firmly down. They are disheveled, threadbare and have the look of frightened men and women, determined to get on with life the best they can.
As the night cycle comes on, the whole district takes on a truly nightmarish aspect as the power fades, the light level falls and the inhabitants scurry to place bolted doors between themselves and the night. Now the darkness becomes total and oppressive, the hab-stacks stand like cyclopean tombstones in some immense graveyard. Such light that remains comes from patches of luminous mold growing in the cracks of the rockcrete buildings, radiating a faint and eerie glow, and the few harsh pools of illumination found around locales such as the Workers’ Union and the transit railhead, seem like mere faltering islands of light amid an abyssal sea.
The Shadowed MassesEdit
The inhabitants of the Coscarla Division are a sorry and diminished lot, worn down by poverty, uncertainly and, more recently, ruled by fear. Most would be described as “unskilled labor” by work designation; poor families, the old and the infirm. They have been living on a reduced food supply and with failing utilities for some time and consequently are a gaunt, often sickly and half-starved lot. They are not evil, nor are they complicit in the troubles of the area, but they are trapped in the Coscarla through a mix of poverty, legal constraint (many are still bound by a worker’s indenture to the Tantalus Combine) and by virtue of simply having nowhere else to go.
The people of Coscarla are afraid; this it not simply a matter of their economic plight as they are used to hard times (even though these are harder than most), they are genuinely fearful of what is going on around them. They fear the narcogangs and the violent strangers who have started coming and going in the area. They fear what will happen should the Tantalus Combine abandon its involvement with them entirely. They fear the dregs and the vermin prowling the derelict habs in ever-greater numbers. But most of all, they fear what is happening in the night with increasing frequency, red-eyed shapes glimpsed moving in the darkness and another citizen added to the roster of the missing by morning.
Most of Coscarla’s residents will react poorly to threats and intimidation (imposing a –10 penalty to Tests made to interact with them), but will open up considerably if a little cash is spread around around. A few circumspect bribes in the right place will do wonders (worth an additional +10 bonus or +20 bonus on interaction Tests).
As a marker for working out such bribes, a monthly wage for a common hab-laborer (if they are lucky enough to draw the work shifts with Tantalus) is about 25-30 Thrones.
The Filthy Streets and AlleysEdit
The only practical way to get round Coscarla is on foot. Whilst this in itself doesn’t present a problem on the main thoroughfares which, while strewn with old rubbish and abandoned debris, are broad and built to accommodate far more foot and road traffic than they now handle. Away from these broad streets, the side alleys and gantry walks between the stacks are a different matter, and many are choked with old refuse, scorched wreckage from the blackout fires and worse.
The footing is treacherous and you never know when you’re going to stir up a nest of vermin or if that bundle of rags you accidentally tread upon will turn out to be a maddened dreg. Anyone moving at any speed faster than a “careful walk” through the worse areas must take a Challenging (+0) Agility Test or they will loose their footing, or perhaps some other unpleasant incident occurs. Dregs and vapour rats have been known to prey on those who are not too careful.
There are only two viable ways in or out of the Coscarla Division: the intermittent transit rail service and a single main exit to the hive’s arteria network, through which heavy goods, vehicles and a few battered looking quad-wheelers pass very infrequently.
Murder Most Foul and a MysteryEdit
Saul Arbest is a man who is dead. His body was found on the Sibellus railway. This is not in itself an uncommon occurrence, but the circumstances of his death have cued investigators onto a larger conspiracy going on within his home district of Coscarla. In life Arbest was a solid worker but a man on the slide, laid off from his indenture to the Tantalus Combine, without work and without a future, he drank too much, used his mouth too freely and paid a very heavy price.
Saul had been missing for about ten or twenty days before he turned up dead on the Sibellus transit rail, initially thought to have died of drug overdose. Under forensic examination, however, his showed extensive signs of surgical tampering and illegal organ-grafting indicative of heretical science. His examiner, Medicae-Interrogator Omardha Sand, has taken on the case personally.
He was survived by a single sister, Lili Arbest.
Medicae-Interrogator Omardha Sand
"Yes, well I’m afraid the great chapters of the Astartes and the Blessed Choirs of the Saints Militant are all busy right now, so you’ll have to do..."
Interrogator Sand is a senior agent of the Inquisition, scholar and medicae. He is operating under the seal of a Legate Investigator of the Holy Ordos. He comes across as a superior and somewhat jaded man. Recently, he has come across the body of Saul Arbest of Coscarla and his investigation of the corpse revealed numerous hidden organs and heretical science. He has taken it upon himself to assemble a team of Acolytes to investigate whatever heresy is lurking within Coscarla, root it out and purge it.
A Sorry Mess of AffairsEdit
Coscarla is in the condition it is in due to many factors, not the least of which is the management of the district by the far-removed Tantalus Combine. A collection of several minor houses of Sibellus nobility, the Tantalus Combine has seen a sharp decline due to competition with the Skaelen-Har Hegemony. Having fallen from power, the Tantalus Combine sold much of the contracts and physical holdings in several districts in which they held sway---Coscarla being one of them.
Since their fall from grace and the uncontrolled wildfires during the Rienholt Blackouts, Coscarla has suffered. Gangs, violence and all manner of other criminal activities have become commonplace amidst the rising homeless population and degradation of the district's infrastructure. While the Tantalus Combine has not abandoned them completely, their current standing doesn't put them in nearly enough power to do anything to improve the district.
Recently, however, a new darkness has crept into the district. People are abducted from the streets at night and whispers of red eyes in the darkness keep the fearful population hiding in their homes when the lights go out. Unprotected by its own corrupt enforcers, the population is preyed upon by this evil, which has taken considerable steps to hide itself. The people believe Coscarla is a cursed place now, haunted by red-eyed wraiths that prowl at night.
The truth of the matter is grave. Coscarla now houses a small group of hereteks known as the Logicians. They are fourteen strong; twelve of them have replaced the local enforcers and their leader is a dark and twisted woman known only as the Churgeon. Firmly entrenched in the district, they have begun to abduct people in the night for her twisted experiments, turning them into monstrous techno-horrors and Body Snatchers. They have the gangs of the streets working for them, and Warden Locan, the only remaining enforcer, is under their control.
They have taken up residence in the Tantalus Alms House, where Director Sybas Moran, the fourteenth of their number, hides in plain sight as an Administratum adept. Here, the horrible laboratory of the Churgeon is hidden away and she toils unceasingly to bring about a horrible end for the district, all in the name of progressive research. It is only a matter of time now...
Welcome to the Night CycleEdit
When the night cycle kicks in and the district’s power fades down to emergency levels, those not within their homes behind locked doors and barred windows now have a new range of problems. Outside the immediate areas of lamp light or the pools of illumination provided by a few buildings that have their own power supply, it is almost pitch black and Perception and Awareness Tests (such as finding your way if lost), as well as attempts at gunplay and the like all suffer a –30 penalty.
Moving around in the night also has the chance of attracting some very unwelcome attention. For every hour that anyone spends outside and away from the light, they risk a 20% chance of being pounced upon by 1d5 Body Snatchers. The Body Snatchers will retreat if met with stiff resistance, retrieving their fallen comrades and vanishing into the dark.
The Body Snatchers
The Body Snatchers are the result of the Churgeon’s failed experiments in synthetic grafted control organs and made from hive workers stolen in the night. They are partly clad in tattered clothing and their waxy flesh writhes and pulses unnaturally beneath their almost translucent skins. Their joints and fingers have been re-enforced with metal bracings to stop their overpowered flesh from tearing itself apart and their heads have been encased in taunt, stitched-shut masks through which implanted augmetic eyes glow a dull red. As the adventure begins, the Churgeon has ten Body Snatchers, but can conceivably make more from fresh victims if needed and time allows.
The Night is Dark and Full of TerrorsEdit
The reason why so many of the Coscarla’s residents disappear during the night is because that is when the Churgeon unleashes her squads of Body Snatchers. These dark tech-augmented servitors, created from her victims, target and abduct members of the citizenry and take them to the Churgeon’s facility (concealed within the Alms House) for experimentation and organ harvesting. Waste biomatter and failed experiments are then (horrifically enough) disposed of by “recycling” them into the Alms House’s food handouts. The Churgeon’s experiments are reaching a critical stage and she has increased her quota to four victims per night, as a result the situation is starting to spiral out of control for Moran, and the fake enforcers’ abilities to control or cover up.
They have prepared for the eventuality of being discovered. Should any of the Churgeon’s Body Snatchers or the enforcers be battled or killed, or the suspicion of the Logicians is aroused for any reason, Moran will order a lockdown until further notice. When this happens armed guards will be placed on the transit rail and access to the arteria will be completely blocked. All wire voxlines in the area (save for the one in the enforcer station) will be cut, effectively sealing everyone in the district in.
The Logicians will then conduct their own investigations into who has come to oppose them. Given the Logicians’ resources, they effectively “are” the local law enforcement. The face that they can use Luntz’s criminal contacts and informants to track down nearly anyone in the district, it will only be a matter of time before their foes are discovered.
Once this has occurred, the Logicians will firstly seek to move covertly against them and will seek to capture rather than kill them outright---at least while this seems a viable option. The reasons for this are twofold, firstly the Logicians’ (justified) paranoia works against them---despite their obvious power, they are completely outnumbered by the local population and Moran is under no illusion that the balance of terror they have created will not last long if they have the enforcers opening fire into crowds or setting loose the Churgeon’s playthings in broad daylight. Secondly, they will not be content just to kill the interlopers, they will want to find out who sent them and all that they know, and at the Churgeon’s hands this will not be a pleasant experience.
If the Logicians take the offensive in this way, Moran will coordinate matters from the Enforcer Station, leaving the defense of the Alms House to the capable hands of the Churgeon and her creations. Once the Logicians have identified their targets and where they might find them, they will wait until the next night cycle to send out the Body Snatchers. Such a hunting party will contain enough Body Snatchers, one for each individual target, and will be lead by a plainclothes enforcer armed with a silenced weapon and a dark vision visor. The hunters will stalk and try to overwhelm their targets with brute force, as long as they can avoid crowds in doing so.
They plan to use ambush tactics and capture their foes alive. This capture team will retreat if they take heavy causalities, attempting to take their fallen with them. If they fail, they will escalate matters and try again on a subsequent night. However, if their entire force is overwhelmed, they are obviously betrayed by Luntz or become the subject of a mob attack, then Moran will instigate their destruction protocol instead before dissolving their operation and escaping in an armored cargo hauler (with enforcer escort) he has concealed for this purpose out in the waste zone of Northern Coscarla---killing anyone that gets in the way.
Countdown to Destruction
It has always been the Logicians’ plan to cover their tracks with an act of mass murder by a biological weapon in the shape of a concentrated plague bacillus. This will only occur during the adventure if they feel that their whole operation is threatened or if their position in Coscarla has become untenable.
Their original plan (once their work in the Coscarla was completed) was to taint the Alms House’s last food handout with a dilute solution of the plague bacillus, which would have the effect of a widespread contamination (the infected also becoming carriers) providing a suitable delay while the Logicians could escape. However, if they feel the game is up in Coscarla, their method will be far cruder and blatant. Any surviving Body Snatchers will be dressed with bandoliers of plague vials, hidden under dreg’s clothing. They will then smash the vials systematically in the entryways of hab-blocks, public buildings and the like, causing a huge diversion while the Logicians flee. If this attack occurs, then burning the Body Snatchers (preferably from a distance) is the only even vaguely safe means of counter attack.
The Transit RailheadEdit
The railhead consists of three raised metal transit rails, held up a hundred meters off the ground by an ornate skeletal framework of riveted girders and beams. A cluster of huge metal platforms, winches, hoists, gear houses and signal boxes make up the embarkation area, while a score of wide, metal spiral staircases and gantries provide access to the division’s ground level. Clearly built to accommodate thousands of passengers at a time, the railhead now has a barren and empty look. Rust and decay clings to everything, windows are smashed, the paint flaking and signs that once contained inspirational slogans for the workers that passed this way have all been vandalized and torn down.
The railhead’s control room has been sealed closed and the process is now entirely automated. A public wire voxterminas has also been deliberately vandalized and smashed.
Hab-Stack 717 is a boxy, grey tenstory block decorated with arched window surrounds and stacked tiers of carved scarab blazons. The stack sits about twenty minutes walk along one of the main roadways from the square. It can be identified by what’s left of the roadway signs that haven’t been vandalized or burned with a Routine (+20) Intelligence Test, or by getting directions from the locals. Despite a generally dishevelled appearance, it seems outwardly to be in as good an order as any in the area.
Inside, the main entrance doors have been broken open and much of the foyer has been vandalized and thoroughly scavenged. The elevator doors are stuck open, displaying a black void, the only way up is by a stairwell decorated with damaged murals depicting active and happy workers, stylized representations of hive nobles dispensing bounty from on high and icons of the city’s powerful.
Aside from some muted noises from behind a few shuttered doors, the whole building seems empty, silent and devoid of activity. Anyone may take a Challenging (+0) Perception Test or a Routine (+20) Psyniscience Test. Succeeding at either will confirm that a definite abiding sense of dread hangs over the place, uniquely strong compared to most places within the district.
The only notable current resident is connected to the recent murder of Saul Arbest. The door to Sault's chamber is ajar and the lock is broken. It is a simple eight-meter-by-eight-meter box chamber with a water closet and a single arched window. Now, the sole occupant is the frightened sister of the victim, Lili Arbest, who plans to leave Coscarla as soon as possible.
Lili Arbest is the sister of the now-dead Saul Arbest. Lili is a young woman grown old with worry before her time. She is a skilled worker who fears to leave Coscarla before the mystery of her missing brother goes unsolved. Despite this, she is still making plans to escape the district before she herself falls prey to whatever darkness now lurks in its shadows. Lili is a resident of the same hab-stack her brother lived in and can be found there.
Lili is clearly thought well of by those that know her. As such, it is difficult to get information on her from the streets, as people will not wish her any ill (consider this a Difficult (–10) Charm, Inquiry or Intimidate Test). If one can allay the fears of those they are plying for details, they will discover that Lili is a young widow, her husband having died in the blackout fires a year ago. She is a literate and skilled worker, with no ties to hold her in Coscarla but her brother. Some wonder why she has remained in Coscarla so long.
Lili's level of cooperation with any who are investigating her brother's death will depend entirely on how they treat her. She is intelligent and believes, quite rightly, that she is in immediate danger and that her brother is most likely dead. She will respond better to the truth than some fabrication. If presented with proof of her brother’s fate she will be appalled but satisfied to know the truth, and open to any questions if told that the ones responsible will be dealt with. If she is threatened, overtly lied to, or withheld from information, she will say no more than she must in order to get away and flee if she feels threatened.
She didn't know her brother was gone until days afterwards, due to being worn out from work. Saul had been drinking heavily, drowning his sorrows and sleeping it off. She looked everywhere but could not find him, and that is when she knew something terrible had happened. She was frightened to report him at first, but she saw Warden Locan on his own and told him. He threatened her into not speaking of it again, especially to the enforces, but she noticed how distressed he looked.
Lili has made up her mind to leave due to all of the vanishings and her frustration at how nobody will talk. She does not know who took Saul, only only that she is in dire peril and there is nothing left for her but “evil” in Coscarla now. She can, if helped, tip someone in the direction of Evard Zen, one of Saul's drinking buddies. She saw him at the Templum when she went to light a candle for her brother's soul.
The Southern SquareEdit
The Southern Square operates as the hub of this portion of the Coscarla Division, it is bounded at one side by the railhead and several broad roadways radiate out from it, populated by hab-stacks and the numerous important locations of this adventure. The square’s most singular feature is a fifty meter tall granite statue of a winged felid. The statue is millennia old and headless, a testament to when this entire region was once a single great noble’s estate.
The Trade MarketEdit
Occupying the area of the Square furthest away from the Enforcer Station, this ragged sprawl of stalls, pedlars, openair cook shops and scavenger piles is now what passes for open commerce in southern Coscarla. At any time during the day cycle, fifty to a hundred hab-citizens, as well as reclaimators, dregs and a handful of cocky gang blades, will congregate here to do business. The goods on offer are such things as salvaged and ill-repaired household items, patched clothing, and food rations supplemented with barely edible cooked vermin. Not much of decent worth can purchased here, however information can be gathered from the people. About an hour of listening and questioning is enough to allow for an Inquiry Test.
The markets are also notorious for their occasional dangers or odd sights. These might include a chance encounter with a group of surly gangers looking for someone interesting to bully and rob, a display of heavy handed enforcer tactics, a robbery from one of the stalls or a hysterical woman screaming for a child or husband vanished in the night.
The Arteria ExitEdit
Southern Coscarla’s other exit point to the rest of the hive is a yawning roadway tunnel entrance, wide enough to fit two huge macrohaulers through at once. During the night cycle, the arteria exit is blocked by two automated steel and mesh gates which drop down to cover the tunnel’s lower half. The only control system for the gates sits safely inside the Enforcer Station.
Sikes is a reclaimator from out of the district (from the deep underhive if truth be told) and he, his two “apprentices” and their crudely augmented vermin hound have set up a stall filled with all manner of refuse, buddle rags, scavenged tech and meager goods in a burned out technomat’s shop, just off from the trade market. Sikes is an itinerant scavenger; a wily, mercenary character and has lived this long by keeping his eyes and ears open. Sikes is an outsider to the district, making his living parasitically from its troubles, however, there is a good deal more to him than meets the eye. He sees much and hears much, giving him quite an edge in the district. A rather curious individual, he seems to know too much of everyone else's business. He has an idea about what’s going on even if he hasn’t got the full story. Sikes has discovered some good salvage in Coscarla, however, with developments being what they are, his self-preservation instinct is kicking in and he feels that he should be moving on soon.
He is a shrewd faced, sharp-eyed man of indeterminate middle age. He has the greyish pallor and colorless hair of the true downhiver, and his wiry build is hidden beneath layer after layer of scavenged clothing. He is also covered in a seemingly disordered jumble of harness pockets, tool belts and bags. He perpetually carries a pump shotgun dangling on a sling underneath one arm and is a good deal more spry and dangerous than he looks.
Sikes is quite willing to barter information for cash---he will give nothing away for free. He is a skilled liar when he needs to be and not easily intimidated (he will meet threats of violence in kind). In order get anything useful out of him, a Challenging (+0) Barter or Charm Test is called for; if anyone were to sweeten the deal with cash, trade goods or a few choice purchases, they may have a +10 or higher bonus to this Test as the GM feels appropriate. If the money keeps flowing, Sikes will keep talking---he has a talent for crouching pertinent facts and leading statements in rambling anecdotes or rhetorical assertions, saying much without seeming to say much at all.
If questioned about Saul Arbest, Sikes will venture that he knows Arbest’s sister was looking him (she came to him and made inquiries herself about her brother), and if the interested party pays well, he will tell them where they are likely to find Evard Zed, Saul’s old drinking partner, at the Templum, “Hiding under that worthless preacher’s skirts, that’d be my reckoning.”
As for what Sikes has for sale, he has a small quantity of arms and ammo. He will sell five stub pistol rounds or shotgun cartridges for a Throne (and has a total of 30 of each ammo type for sale). He also has a battered looking stub revolver for ten Thrones and his “star buy, one careless owner, regrettably now defunct”, an old autopistol with a rebuilt grip and two clips for 40 Thrones.
The Coscarla HostelEdit
This crumbling tenement building of knocked through dwellings is marked by the cracked paint of the sign above the door as the “Coscarla Hostel" and is the only option in the area for a paid night’s lodgings. Even compared to the rest of the area, the hostel is in an awful state, the walls are blighted with damp, the plaster peeling and the furnishings covered with patches of mold and unidentifiable stains. The hostel’s proprietor is a bulbousheaded, sickly looking man with large bloodshot eyes and pale clammy skin, perpetually drenched with sweat, who calls himself Maxus Drayelok. Despite his fawning pretensions of grandeur, his only workforce consists of his seemingly mute, withered-looking wife---a minor mutant with a skeletally-thin build and a badly malformed right hand.
Drayelok offers his twelve double rooms at a rate of a half-Throne a night---“light and bedding generously included"---and at the moment, save for the occasional overspill from the Workers’ Union, he gets very little trade, which is perhaps just as well.
Hosteller Maxus Drayelok
Hosteller Maxus Drayelok is the proprietor of the district’s only hostel. He is a gaunt, tattered figure and his establishment sinister and dilapidated. Anyone with an enforcer, Arbites or criminal background can make an Ordinary (+10) Scrutiny Test to realize, with certainty, from his appearance and mannerisms that Drayelok is a drug addict, and far on along the path to ruin, barely in control of his cold sweats and twitches.
Drayelok is addicted to spiral black, a particularly potent variant of obscura. Drayelok is in debt to Luntz at the Workers’ Union and he will inform the gang boss of anything he can find out about his guests. He has developed one particularly unpleasant sideline however, and in league with several of the area’s vilest and most far-gone dregs: he has taken to murdering any guests that his paranoid mind takes issue with and robbing them to fund his drug habit. Anyone who stays in the hostel for more than one night are likely to have some unwelcome callers.
Room Service at the Coscarla Hostel
In the dead of the night cycle, if Drayelok has determined to kill and rob one of his guests in their beds, he will open the back door for his “friends”. A number of dregs (equal to the number of people lodging at the hostel +2) will stalk up the stairs, the lead one having been given a pass key to the upstairs doors by Drayelok. The dregs will attempt to be stealthy on the way to the rooms, but will attack savagely and recklessly when the time comes---more than willing to batter down doors if needs be. The dregs will only retreat if half of their number are killed or incapacitated.
Sleeping guests may take a Challenging (+0) Awareness Test to detect the dregs approach as they mount the rickety stairs and fumble at the locks. If the guests are surprised, the dregs will get a free round of attacks as they try and murder them in their beds, gaining a +30 to hit any surprised guests in the first round of combat.
If the dregs are defeated, Drayelok will shut himself behind the flimsy door of his office, weeping until someone comes for him, while his wife will flee into the darkness, not to be seen again.
In his capacities as informant, addict, trafficker with dregs and nocturnal murderer, Drayelok knows a surprising amount about what’s really going on. He will volunteer none of it unless forcibly interrogated or pleading for his worthless life (a Routine (+20) Intimidation or Deceive Test in this circumstance). A success will get him to admit that terrible things are going on in Coscarla. The dregs that work for him are frightened to leave their bolt holes in the dark hours because of red-eyed "body snatchers" that carry men and women off. He doesn't know where. Under severe duress, he will admit that even Luntz, the narcoboss currently ruling the roost at the Third Workers' Union won't let his men out far after dark unless they go together and well armed, and that somehow, the local enforcers are involved in it. Anyone who speaks up about the disappearances vanishes themselves.
The Enforcer StationEdit
A squat, rockcrete pillbox three stories high, the enforcer station sits in a permanent state of shuttered lockdown. Most of the division’s real enforcers are now dead and those on display are in fact Sybas Moran’s men. Only their figurehead leader, a broken obscura addict named Locan, survives from the real Magistratum force to maintain a façade of normality with his distant and uninterested superiors.
There are twelve enforcers at the station, stone killers all. Locan, when not passed out in an obscura-fuelled haze in his chamber in the station, can sometimes be found wandering fitfully around the market area or drinking alone in the Third Workers’ Union. The false enforcers limit themselves to brutally enforcing order over the area of the Square and making periodic sweeps, killing vermin and dregs when they grow bored. Any attempts to get information out of them will be firmly and flatly rebuffed.
The current batch of enforcers have an evil reputation with the hab-citizens and a Routine (+20) Perception or Awareness Test will notice that the two-man foot patrols that pace the Square occasionally are given an abnormally wide berth by the wary proles.
But this public face is merely a clever façade. The enforcers are not your standard corrupt officials in positions of authority; they are actually agents of the Logicians. Importantly, while the enforcers represent a direct danger to anyone if they suspect them, they are mindful of the deception they must maintain and so the enforcers will not openly come after strangers or suspicious individuals, unless they themselves are foolish enough to give them an excuse by overt law-breaking or firing first. They instead prefer to rely upon using the Body Snatchers to ambush their victims at night.
Warden Locan is a simpering, middle-aged man and the corrupt enforcer officer nominally in charge of maintaining order in the Coscarla. Abandoned to this “graveyard posting” by his superiors in the Magistratum, Locan is an obscura addict, a shadow of his former self and long since compromised by the local narcogangs. He is now under the direct control of the Logicians and his troopers replaced with their own, making him the only real enforcer left, though the only reason he is alive is to maintain a façade of normality with his distant and uninterested superiors. Locan, when not passed out in an obscura-fuelled haze in his chamber in the station, can sometimes be found wandering fitfully around the market area or drinking alone in the Third Workers’ Union. Torn between his addiction and his terror, he will make a poor show of the pretense of normality if encountered.
The Southern TemplumEdit
This small chapel to the Imperial Creed is the domain of an alcoholic wreck of a preacher called Fayban. Inside the icons and statuary are alight with hundreds of tallow candles, all lit by the lost and the desperate, each one for a vanished friend, family member or a scream heard in the night. This is perhaps the truest and most visual indicator of just how bad things have become in Coscarla.
Preacher Fayban is a wine-soaked, disheveled and thoroughly useless religious minister of the Imperial Creed living in Coscarla. He rarely leaves his small templum and conducts faltering services for the faithful. Sorrowful, maudlin and broken in spirit, he is wilfully ignorant of the extent of the suffering and fear around him.
When Coscarla burned in the blackout a year ago, the other Templum clerics went to help the victims and died for their faith, however, Fayban stayed behind and his conscience has been eating him alive ever since. Now a new terror has come and Fayban’s wilful ignorance and cowardice has come to the fore again. He rarely leaves the templum and never goes out at night. He is a weak man and his current state would strike anger into the heart of any true member of the Ecclesiarchy that encounters him.
Evard Zed is one of many drunkards in Coscarla; another victim of the district’s economic woes. Zed was one of Saul Arbest’s drinking cronies. He was with Saul on the night that he vanished and holds some of the secrets of Saul’s disappearance. He is currently laying low spending his time in the templum, helping out and hoping to go unnoticed.
Zed is a man plagued by his conscience, and once he is identified and questioned, getting him to unburden his soul is a Routine (+20) Charm or Intimidate Test. A success means that he sobbingly relates his story. He and Saul were drinking in the Third Union when a gang blade took an issue with Saul, who was being particularly loud and running his mouth. The blade went and cut Saul just a bit to intimidate him. No longer wanted at the Union that evening, they left; Zed headed straight for home, but Saul desired to go to the Alms House to see if he could get something for the cut. Saul and Zed parted, and that was the last time Saul was seen on the streets.
The Third Tantalus Workers’ UnionEdit
The Workers’ Union hall is a bar and venue that was provided by the Tantalus Combine for the use of its workers, a common practice that attempts to empty their indentures’ pockets of what little coin the masters have paid them. The establishment has suffered greatly under its current sponsor, the Sibellan narcogang syndicates. Vandalized, brutalized and bullet-ridden, the bar is not a welcoming place for the Acolytes, filled with nervous gang blades, morose drinkers and smashed-up addicts. The only regular clientele are the gang boss "Chord" Luntz and his crew who use the upstairs rooms in the hall as a base of operations. Various drifting scum, gangers and recidivists regularly come to arrange deals with Luntz.
The Workers’ Union is not a place to gather rumors or ask direct questions, as the clientele and staff are well aware of what Luntz would do to them for talking to strangers. However, some time spent here and a successful Challenging (+0) Inquiry Test will find out that the hall is clearly being used as a centre for illegal drug distribution, a narco-boss called "Cord" Luntz is in charge and for whatever reason, he is not a happy man. A failure on this Test could be enough to start a potentially lethal bar fight (and the questioner's behaviour might do this anyway regardless). Such fights are common in the Union and unless someone makes a point of storming Luntz’s operation on the upper floor, no particular repercussions will ensue.
"Chord" Luntz is a hatchetman for the narcogang syndicates. He is in Coscarla to take the syndicate’s due from the Churgeon and has a dozen stubjacks and gang blades at his beck and call. Privately he has is own reservations and fears about the Churgeon’s other activities (and worsening death toll), and is taking out his anger on the patrons of the Third Worker’s Union Hall, where he and his gangers have taken up residence.
Luntz knows this should have been a sweet deal for him as the supply of sophisticated chemicals from the Churgeon has brought him huge profits. However, as time has passed the deal appears to have soured; trade is drying up because word is getting out that Coscarla is a “bad place to do business” and Luntz is beginning to realize that he is trapped in a situation where things could easily turn for the worse. The Churgeon represents something far worse than he is used to dealing with and, with Moran’s killers posing as enforcers, Luntz knows that he (and his crew) are outclassed and outgunned.
A Devil's Bargain
If word comes to Luntz that anyone has proven particularly effective in “dispatching” gangers, Drayelok’s murderous dregs, or (better yet) disposing of some of the enforcers or Body Snatchers, Luntz might approach them to do a “job” for him. Luntz is looking for new blood for hire and wants them to kill the Churgeon at the Alms House. He believes this “decapitation” of the top boss will allow him to make a clean break with his ill gotten gains and his skin intact.
Luntz will pay the anyone 500 Thrones each for the task and arm them with shotguns and as much ammo they can carry for the job. Importantly, he will also give them a copied passkey that allows entry to the Alms House’s rear service door, as well as several other locks in the place. Luntz can also arrange for the enforcers to be “occupied” by diversions if needs be. He will tell them all he knows, which isn’t much: he knows his end of the deal, which he was put on to by “high grade players in the narco-syndicates” and he’ll tell them how badly things have soured over time. As for the Logicians, he knows the organization's name, but nothing beyond the fact that they’re some kind of “tech cult” and “highly connected.” He knows that they are up to something at the Alms House and he believes that that is the cause of the night cycle disappearances. In addition, Luntz knows that Moran and the enforcers are stone cold professionals, mercenaries would be his guess; the expensive kind. He has met the Churgeon only once and she scared the hell out of him.
The Tantalus Alms HouseEdit
Provided in Coscarla’s better days as a display of the Tantalus Combine’s power, benevolence and largesse, this large building is fronted with green marble, decorated and over-sculpted, prominently displaying the Combine’s crest of a gilded scarab before a crossed pair of burning torches. The building’s ground floor is made up of large refectories, a lecture hall, kitchens and store rooms, while its upper floors comprise a medicae wing and offices. Like the rest of Coscarla, the building has become dilapidated and run down, most of its services have been closed down and its staff reduced to a single director---an adept called Moran, who has but two juniors and a few servitors to help him. Once a day, at the mid point of the day cycle, the refectory serves a bowl of protein gruel and a hunk of starchbread from its soup kitchen (until its vats run dry) to all that can provide a valid citizen pass or pay the demi-Throne for the meal.
While these food handouts are vital for the community, Moran himself and his attendants are not well liked, both because Moran is a cold and authoritarian figure and because they represent the Tantalus Combine---who are to be blamed for much of Coscarla’s woes. Those with connections to Coscarla’s darker side also suspect that there is a link between Moran and the narcogangs, imagining petty corruption, pay offs or drug running involved in the food shipments to the Alms House, accounting for some covert comings and goings between the Alms House, the Enforcer’s Station and the Workers’ Union.
The truth of things is much, much worse than is commonly suspected: Tantalus actually suspended alms shipments months ago and covertly the Logicians and the Churgeon moved in. The building is now a front for the Churgeon’s work, its upper floors a chamber of horrors and the contents of the gruel are best not described…
Though they may not guess it, venturing to the Alms House is walking straight into the heart of the cult's activities and a terrible danger for those who grow too curious or knowledgeable.
Director Sybas Moran
Director Sybas Moran is the director of the Tantalus Alms House. Moran presents himself as a cold but efficient adept, administering a dwindling supply of alms and assistance for the good of the workers on an ever-decreasing budget. In truth he is a practiced deceiver and ruthless killer, but one on who the mask of charity is wearing thin. An senior agent of the Logicians, Moran would rather see the Churgeon’s work done and the Coscarla choking on its own dead, so he can move on to greener pastures.
Moran and his enforcers are trained professionals, not insane fanatics, and if the Alms House is destroyed or the Churgeon is killed (or has fled), he and his men will seek to cut their losses and attempt an escape. In doing so, they will set fire to the Station House and flee through the arteria network in an enforcer halftrack unless stopped.
Within the Belly of the Beast
The Alms House is a large and ornate building, its architecture and scale designed to impose and leave those who humbly enter its halls with no doubt as to the power and wealth of the Tantalus Combine. The building is fronted and tiled inside with a funerary green marble, the ceilings are high and vaulted, and the walls studded with mouldings and statuary. Now largely disused and abandoned, tiles cracked and statues vandalized, the building’s scale and largely empty rooms are filled with dust, leaving it with a haunted, desolate feeling.
The rooms of the second floor, beyond locked doors and outside of public scrutiny, are in a worse condition with broken and overturned furniture, scattered papers, torn draperies and the occasional old bloodstain from the Logicians’ unobserved takeover.
The third floor, originally set up as a small medicae facility for the Combine’s workers, is where the Churgeon has her lair and is a place of unspeakable suffering and horror. The air is filled with a coarse disinfectant reek, barely covering the stench of blood. The lights flicker and the filthy walls and floor are sticky wet in places and covered in drag marks, blood splatters, desperate scratches and hand prints.
Security and Dispositions at the Alms House
During the day cycle the Alms House maintains a deception of normality, Moran and his two aides carry out the business of the food distribution, aided by the kitchen servitors, while the upper floors are barred and off limits. During the night cycle, Moran (unless called away) and the others sleep on the second floor, while a Body Snatcher patrols the ground and second floors once every hour. Each night, two to six Body Snatchers are sent out to “collect” the night’s crop of subjects, while the remainder await, hooked up to chemical canisters, on the third floor. The Churgeon and her two homonculites do not sleep.
There are a number of ways that the one can gain entrance to the Alms House: they could break in, use a passkey (all of the Logician agents carry such a key) or even try and hide among the crowd entering for food and conceal themselves till later.
Most of the internal locks and the rear door use the same passkey (unless otherwise noted) and attempting to overcome these sturdy mechanical locks is no easy task---treat this as a Challenging (+0) Security Test. Forcing the lock---treat this as an “automatic hit” attack against an object with a combined Toughness & Armor value of 10, thus requiring a total of 12 or more points of damage in one hit to break it---although this second option is likely to be very noisy, especially if it takes the Acolytes numerous hits to break the lock.
When moving round the Alms House, stealth is likely to be the order of the day, fortunately the building’s solid construction, general abandonment and layers of dust make this fairly easy. Anyone wishing to move stealthily must make an Ordinary (+10) Silent Move Test Opposed by Awareness (35) for any patrolling guard in a position to discover them.
The Ground FloorEdit
The Main Portico and Reception Chamber
The main entryway is made up of a set of high bronze doors, flanked by wide marble columns; these doors are open during the day cycle and barred shut from within during the night. Within, the wide lobby is covered by a mosaic floor featuring the icon of the Tantalus Combine, now mostly obscured by a thick layer of grime and dirt. A wide archway to the left leads to the refectory area, while its parallel, to the right, leads to the lecture hall. Directly across from the entrance, two inward curving stairways ascend to the landing on the second floor and beneath them a high marble-faced reception desk stands, bracketed by two tall and grim statues depicting robed adepts holding burning torches aloft. Day or night, the waning light from lumen globes mounted within the statues’ torches is the only source of light, casting long shadows across the dirty floor. Behind the desk a doorway leads to a disused office and storeroom and off to one side, is a locked cage elevator.
When food is being handed out, one of Moran’s men poses as an adept at the desk and checks citizens for their identity or takes coin, before allowing them to pass into the refectory for meals. At all other times it is deserted.
The Refectory Wing
This long, square hall is able to seat up to a hundred at a time on long, battered tables set with miss-matched benches and chairs. The walls are lined with inspirational scripture and scenes. Food is served through a series of metal hatches from the kitchens. A large cracked mirror has been set into the wall beside the hatch---an Ordinary (+10) Perception Test will reveal that this mirror is a relatively recent addition.
Breaking the mirror will reveal that it is two-way glass and that a false compartment has been set into the wall, forming a compact booth. Inside there is a scanning device and a small portable cogitator. A Routine (+20) Tech Use or Common Lore (Tech) Test will reveal these to be a bioauspex, set to take readings from those who pass by the mirror, while the cogitator contains medical and personnel files for the Tantalus Combine’s workforce. Note that the cogitator’s liquidcore data cell can be removed for evidence.
The Lecture Hall
Conceived so that the workforce could receive edifying instruction on the value of unquestioning obedience and the joy of tireless toil for their masters, this austere auditorium has long been entirely disused and has no viable light source still working within.
The Kitchens and Stores
The kitchens and stores are dusty, dirty and entirely unsanitary. The main storeroom contains surprisingly little by a way of food except for some stacked crates of protein concentrate and a vat of fungal medium. An area has been set aside with a supply of concentrated military-style rations, complete with is own sets of cutlery and utensils; these (unlike the rest of the kitchen) are scrupulously clean. The main kitchen area is dominated by two huge soup vats with gas burners underneath, beside which a pair of ancient and decrepit looking servitor drones sit deactivated when not in use.
A locked pair of metal doors lead from the back of the stores to a yard at the rear of the Alms House (locked with the standard passkey), whilst a pitch-black lift shaft leads upwards. There are several side doors from the kitchen leading to small storerooms and pantries, a palpable smell of blood issues from one of them.
The Protein Store
Entered through the locked side door from the kitchens, this box room contains a series of stacked, metal drum canisters and smells heavily of blood. If these heavy canisters are pried open, they will reveal a thick, clotted red liquid whose coppery stench will be overpowering. Close inspection will reveal codes and dates stamped onto the sides of them. An Ordinary (+10) Intelligence Test will realize the code patterns tally with the cogitator data from the hidden room, for any who have found it.
Any who discern the true nature of the contents of the canisters are subjected to a Fear Test.
The Second FloorEdit
The Landing and the Empty Offices
Accessed either as the first stop upward on the elevator or from the landing, the majority of this floor is made up of a series of unused offices or austere (former adept) chambers dived into corridors by thin partition walls. Many are filled with scattered papers and three have been used as quarters by Moran’s aides. The cage elevator from the lobby stops on the landing and, behind a locked side door, a staircase leads from the end of the landing to the wards on the upper floor.
The Director’s Chamber
Accessed from an ornate locked door off the landing, Moran has maintained a pretense of normality in this room and the imposing chamber has been maintained in a pristine condition. The room is dominated by a large mural of the Tantalus Combine’s symbol on the paneled wall behind the director’s marble-topped desk.
The desk contains a functioning auto quill, neatly stacked layers of clean parchment and a small (deactivated) matriculation engine of nickel-plated metal. The desk draw is locked (only Moran has the key) but easily forced open with a Routine (+20) Strength Test. Contained within are several bound parchments, some dataslates and a laspistol with a spare charge pack.
A quick scan of the dataslates from the desk (taking about five minutes) and a successful Ordinary (+10) Search Test, will reveal a receipt acknowledging of the director’s request to the Tantalus Combine to suspend normal food shipments some thirty days ago.
A small side door from the chamber leads to a sleeping cell that Moran has kept like a soldier’s billet.
The Alchemistry Lab
What was a washroom area at the very end of the floor has been converted into an alchemistry lab and is filled with benches stacked with bubbling glass crucibles, sparking apparatus and whirling centrifuges, tended by at all times by one of the Churgeon’s Homonculites, which will attack intruders remorselessly until destroyed.
This is the lab where the Churgeon’s cover business as a dealer in illegal formulas and reagents for the narcogangs is carried out. The apparatus is delicate---stray shots or smashed vessels might result in a fire or even perhaps a small explosion.
The Third FloorEdit
The Medicae Wards
Two medical wards dominate the third floor, with the main cage elevator from the lobby ascending to a central reception point between them. Curtains of semi-transparent rubberized slats hang at the entrances to the two wards, while the lights overhead flicker and pulse slowly, as if power was being bled away. On the other side of the ward reception area a blank armored door has been fitted recently (the previous door lies on its side nearby.)
The two wards are draped with crude partitions made from plastek sheeting and torn cloth, behind which twenty blood spattered gurneys are hidden from view. Eight of the gurneys are currently occupied by the dead bodies of the Churgeon’s mutilated victims, covered by sheeting. The sight of what has been done to these unfortunates is truly horrific, beyond any “normal” violence or sane mind. A shelf along one wall holds jars of harvested organs and limbs in fluid suspension, while in the far corner a lone “survivor” can be found. This comatose man has fresh surgical scars on his chest and is hooked up to arcane looking machinery and drip fed chemicals, while a cogitator next to him chatters and spools a printed sheet into a waiting hopper.
The Armored Door
The armored door is icy-cold to the touch and is featureless except for two diagonal metal notches at waist height---the lock. A special encoded accessor key is needed to gain entry and these can only be found in the personal possession of the Churgeon, Moran and the Homonculites. Getting through the door by force would need heavy weapons, explosives or cutting equipment; alternately someone could wait for something to come out and then wedge it open, as the heavy pressurized door swings very slowly.
The Operating Theatre
Beyond the armored pressure door is the Churgeon’s domain. It is a large chamber made from knocking down several partition walls and crudely sealed off with tape and sheet metal plating. An open lift shaft, covered by a grate, sits off to one side. The room is icy cold and a heavy mist of vapor hangs above the floor. The walls are lined with a tangle of hissing and crackling machinery, lit by corposant arcs of energy, rack upon rack of bubbling sample tanks, containment vessels and bewildering alchemical apparatus.
One whole wall is given over to a series of hanging canisters---the Body Snatchers are hooked up to these between missions. The opposite wall holds a single large transparent chamber, filled with a clear fluid in which floats a large whitish mass. The thing in the chamber is being tended by a Homonculite. The fleshy mass is a large, forbidden bioconstruct that pulses with strange, unknown life.
The center of the chamber is dominated by a large operating table, surrounded by all manner of strange instruments, flashing cogitator displays and armatures ending in clusters of blades, manipulators and drills. It is on this table that the victims of the Churgeon are strapped down and laid open and where the true horrors of her work are done.
“Foolish meat! In coming here you have only hastened the harvesting of your unworthy flesh!”
A terror has come to Coscarla. Using the destitute and fearful populous as a shield and a ready supply of “material” when needed, an individual going by the name of “the Churgeon” and her lackeys have set up a hidden medical facility to conduct horrific and forbidden experiments. In order to mask their activities, the tech cult has infiltrated and secretly usurped control of both a local Alms House and the area’s enforcers to further their ends, and is supplying chemical serums to criminal narcogangs in order to induce their complicity in the cult’s dark plans.
The Churgeon is a renegade techadept in the employ of the heretical cult known as the Logicians. She is a biosculptor whose particular area of interest is the creation of (illegal) alchemical serums and artificial organs to augment human biology. She requires live human subjects for experimentation and the downtrodden people of Coscarla have proved a ready source of victims. She has no care for the lives of her servants or for those her macabre experiments kill or mutilate, and already her servants have “vanished” scores of Coscarla’s people. Once the Churgeon’s current round of tests are concluded, she intends to cover her tracks by releasing a biological agent to mimic the effects of a plague outbreak, killing perhaps tens of thousands of people in the process. She has done it before, and if not stopped, shall do it again.
The Churgeon is a narrow and impossibly tall figure, shrouded in black robes edged with a blood-red cogtooth pattern. Perched on her back is a heavy mass of burnished metal, surrounded by dozens of twitching mechanical limbs, like some obscene clockwork spider. Very heavily augmented with cybernetic systems and implants, her only visible living flesh is beneath her cowl: the rictus-like mask of a living woman's face stitched to the metallic skull that houses her living brain. Glowing lenses burn behind the woman's dead face. Long since having left sanity behind, she doesn’t recognize her own sadistic and macabre compulsions, believing them to be purely scientific in motivation. While she makes for a vicious and tough combatant, she has no interest in physical struggle and will seek to flee to continue her work if seriously threatened.
The woman known as the Churgeon is more machine than human and is quite insane. She is hidden behind the scenes of the Alms House where she works her profitable alchemistry to win over the compliance of the narcogangs so that she may continue her murderous experiments uncontested. The spate of disappearances in the district are largely down to her need for fresh test subjects, and her appetite for new stock is beginning to prove hard for her lackeys to hide.
The Churgeon’s principle goal has been the perfection of a genetically stable, biocultured neural control graft-organ which would enable the Logicians to rapidly create armies of obedient soldiers and servants from healthy human stock. If perfected, the subjects would retain their memories and skills (unlike common Imperial servitors), but be entirely controlled by their parasitic implants, which would also be able to override and regulate their pain receptors, as well as some other useful tricks. Unfortunately the tissue rejection factor has been a huge problem, killing the vast majority of test subjects or at best destroying their higher brain functions entirely---although these were successful enough for her to create the Body Snatchers. Even the better ones (such as the unfortunate Saul Arbest) have proved unreliable, suffering slow deaths and regressions after periods of functionality.
The Coscarla, with its ready supply of good quality subjects, provided an excellent opportunity to carry out a large study on rejection factors and, although the fatality rate has been huge, the raw data gathered has been very promising. If the Churgeon escapes, sooner or later she will move to the next stage in her experiments.
The Churgeon is obsessed, far from sane and at a critical juncture in her work. If intruders are detected in the Alms House, she will dispatch any remaining Body Snatchers to deal with the problem and vox Moran and the enforcers to come and assist her. She will not, however, stop her work, no matter how badly things are going until she is forced to by intervention.
The Churgeon distains physical confrontation and if attacked, will detach her “scalpel familiar” from her back and call on the Homonculite tending the nearby biotank and any remaining Body Snatchers in the chamber to dispose of her attackers while she attempts to withdraw to the rear of the room, giving her the opportunity to take shots at the interlopers with her laser. If it looks like the fight is not going in her favor, she will quickly program the machinery to overload (this will take two combat rounds) and flee down the waiting lift shaft, her internal maglev system allowing her to escape swiftly and safely down the shaft.
Viewing the Churgeon at her work in her chamber of horrors requires a Fear Test.
The Scalpel Familiar
Detached from its mistress’s back, the scalpel familiar is a spiderlike construct of glittering metal with scores of whip-thin metal limbs, most ending in some sort of drill, needle or blade, and is controlled by the Churgeon. Its body is a human skull equipped with dripping hypodermic fangs and multifaceted lenses for eyes. It moves with shocking speed and will bloodily dismantle anything it can get its blades into in a shower of gore. Despite possessing no visible living components, it will scream like a child and bleed heavily when destroyed.
The Churgeon’s two Homonculite assistants are gholems---biological constructs built using forbidden science from vat-grown flesh and stolen human organs. They are horrifically distorted creatures to look at, with cancerous weeping flesh, cataract-white eyes and emaciated bodies studded with gurgling pipes and chem-implants. They have no real free will or capacity for original thought, but their viciousness and cruelty is no mere accident of their twisted creation.