Mawdryn’s Purge – Gorgon Crystals warband

For the Gorgon Crystals Inquisitor campaign at Asgard Wargames, I’ve pulled together a few warbands from my own collection to count as ‘house’ warbands. These are for folks who want to play but don’t have the minis to dive straight in.

You can see all the house warbands here.

Warband overview

Inquisitor Gregor Mawdryn is an Ordo Hereticus Inquisitor with hardline, no-nonsense puritan views, and has raised many eyebrows in the Onus Conclave for his proposed ‘solutions’ to problems. The last Inquisitor to accuse him of radical methods was burned at the stake on unrelated charges of heresy – or so the circumstantial evidence says.

Mawdryn has heard tales of a ghost ship in the system of Haimm leaving a plague of madness in its wake, and reports of disturbing warp-tainted artefacts finding their way into the hands of Emperor-fearing Imperial citizens. Although this is a regretful turn of events, there are protocols and organisations in place to cleanse the heresy from these places. Mawdryn’s interests are not in the carcass, but the circling vultures.

He has gathered a group of loyal frateris militia to serve with him in Haimm, spurred on by the fiery rhetoric of Redemptionist Zuul and attended by an eerily silent Sister Censorum. They are not here to destroy the warp-tainted artefacts, although that is a pleasing secondary objective, but rather to destroy any of those looking to take these artefacts for their own means. Radicalism is a cancer, and it must be purged.

Leader – Inquisitor Gregor Mawdryn

Mawdryn’s hardline puritan ideology has always kept him at arms’ length from his peers, pushing him further from the Imperial heartlands and into the less-trodden fringes. Although initially outraged, Mawdryn has found a home among the outskirts, rubbing shoulders with the downtrodden and having room to carry out his work away from the watchful eyes of the Conclave.

He learned to survive on little, and his fiery rhetoric attracted a gaggle of strange and esoteric followers to his cause. Although poorly armed and barely competent, what they lacked in skill they made up for in faith and fury – a powerful trait that Thrones can’t buy alone.

Although a member of the Ordo Hereticus, he does not prioritise the destruction of heretical items. It is far better to use them as bait to lure in rivals and radicals – those who have let the question “But what if..” linger too long in their minds. It are these thoughts that are the true heresy – a cancer that Mawdryn has vowed to purge wherever he finds it.

The warp-tainted artefacts that have appeared in the system of Haimm are the perfect storm – powerful, dangerous creations of unknown providence will attract all manner of hopefuls and heretics foolish enough to think they can control what they don’t understand. These ‘crystals’ will have their time in the sun before being destroyed one way or another – this is the way of things – but those who stray from the path may take their heretical thoughts elsewhere to infect others. This cannot be allowed to happen.

On the battlefield, Mawdryn is a fearsome combatant who doesn’t rely on complicated equipment to carry him to victory. With hotshot laspistol and shock maul, he can carry on fighting long after his opponents’ have jammed, broken or run out of ammunition. In a pinch, he can activate his refractor field to protect him from incoming damage, and his skills are focused around buffing his comrades to keep them in the fight.

Mawdryn’s followers are not complex, but they are numerous. He can always bring at least one extra body onto the field of battle than his opponents.

Sister Censorum Ivixia

The Order Censorum, a secretive wing of the Orders Famulous of the Adeptas Sororitas, are deployed when tact and diplomacy have failed, but not to the extent that the Orders Militant are required. They are experts in revisionism and purification, using a variety of unsavoury or unorthodox measures to ensure everything is how it needs to be.

There are rumours that Mawdryn once had close ties with the Order, giving him direct exposure to the murky waters that power Imperial society and maintain the status quo. Others say that Mawdryn was instead on the receiving end of a Censorum decree, and managed to persuade Sister Ivixia to join his cause instead. Whatever the truth, Sister Ivixia has remained tight-lipped (moreso than usual…) about her relationship with the hardline Inquisitor – appearing without fanfare whenever there are materials hazardous to the heart of soul of the Imperium that must be removed as quickly and totally as possible.

She carries a thermal lance to carry out her work, with a sidearm stubber and ceramite armour for backup. Although a fearsome weapon, her priority is the destruction of documents, articles and artefacts that could tempt a person to corruption, and its long reload time could mean she only gets one shot.

Brother Zuul

Brother Zuul is a Redemptionist – an extreme and unforgiving doctrine of the faith in which redemption in the eyes of the God-Emperor can only be found in death. He also desires to bring redemption to others, finding the sin of heresy particularly offensive and seeking any opportunity to bring the Emperor’s final judgement to them.

He is the closest thing to a second in command to Mawdryn, and he finds Zuul’s tireless fervour particularly useful when encouraging another wave of die-hard purge brothers to charge headlong into gunfire.

In the field, he’s an absolute mad lad with an eviscerator. He’s unsubtle, vocal, and bloody-minded in the pursuit of his goals (which rarely deviate from ‘kill all heretics’). Sometimes it’s nice to play a character that isn’t burdened by nuance.

Brother Jean-Luke and Brother Mungo

Maniacal cultists in service of a demagogue – what’s not to like? They’re recruited in their dozens, dredged up from the silt of society and given holy purpose. The Brothers of Mawdryn’s Purge are mere fuel for the holy fire – they’re enthusiastic, numerous and ultimately expendable.

These two were some of the first Inquisitor models I ever built, back when Games Workshop still did a parts order service. Many of the original batch have since been stripped and reused for parts (I went through a phase of only using Green Stuff as an adhesive…), but these guys have proudly been pressed into service as cultists of every colour – chaos cultists, renegades, heretics, genestealer cultists, frateris militia, concerned citizens, and now redemptionists.

It’s also a testament to how well certain 28mm ranges scale up – Jean-Luke on the left uses plastic Ork arms, which are remarkably well scaled for Inquisitor. Mungo on the right is wielding an Inquisitor revolver that is exactly the same size as the new plastic stub guns from the Necromunda Palanite Enforcers.

Brother Marvin and Brother Grunvald

More cultists! This time built out of random pieces from the bits box. Marvin only has one Inquisitor piece – the head. His arms and body are from a 28mm plastic Ork and his lower half is Green Stuff.

Grunvald on the right is similar – only the shotgun and head are from the Inquisitor range, the rest of him is Ork parts, random 40k gubbinz and putty.

We don’t expect much from cultists in the game (which is why Mawdryn can start with extra bodies on the table compared to other players) but they are thoroughly entertaining to play both with and against. They’re easily put down and aren’t competent enough to be a reliable threat, but their optimism and pure dumb luck is often more than enough to make them a match for many foes on the battlefield.

Other warbands

You can see all the house warbands here.

Dune’s warband – Gorgon Crystals warband

For the Gorgon Crystals Inquisitor campaign at Asgard Wargames, I’ve pulled together a few warbands from my own collection to count as ‘house’ warbands. These are for folks who want to play but don’t have the minis to dive straight in.

You can see all the house warbands here.

Warband overview

Interrogator Ezekiel Dune is a radical member of the Ordo Xenos, extremely tired with the hardline “all xenos are bad” position, and considers it a waste of resources to direct hatred equally among all xenos species. Far better to understand that while humans are still obviously superior, not all xenos are bad – most are, but some are helpful, even vital to the continuation of mankind’s survival.

The warband sits under Inquisitor Amadeus Xerxas, a respected member of the Onus Conclave, which gives Dune considerable clout among his peers. Dune’s inner circle is very small – he trusts very few people to accompany him on his missions, but still keeps a large portfolio of underlings and informants (Dune is actually the key quest-giver for our Dark Heresy campaign!) to keep him informed.

Dune is pursuing the Gorgon Crystals as he has a hunch they are connected with a long-lost and incredibly dangerous xenos race. He intends to move in quickly, weigh up the potential benefits for containing and studying the artefacts compared to the damage they will inevitably cause, and act appropriately.

Leader – Interrogator Ezekiel Dune

Dune is a hands-on investigator who began life as a ‘disappearer’ for an undercover agent of the Inquisition. His skills in acquisition and disposal became invaluable to his handlers, and found himself taking on far larger ‘projects’ than he originally signed up for. One task even involved a deep undercover operation in the Imperial Navy, where Dune assumed the identity of a Naval Officer for almost a decade.

As he gained the trust of his masters, he would be provided with strange and exotic tools to aid in his work – some he later found out to be of xenos origin. By the time he met the person at the top of the food chain – Inquisitor Xerxas – he was already deeply involved in the work of the Inquisition, and his promotion to Interrogator was simply a formality.

This introduction to the Holy Ordos has given him a practical outlook on the xenos he deals with. Yes, xenos are obviously abhorrent and must (eventually) be purged from the galaxy – but that’s not something he can realistically pursue in his lifetime, so how useful can they be before they must be destroyed?

Dune dresses as fit for a battlefield as for a bar fight. He likes to keep a low profile and keep his pockets full of dirty tricks and strange technology he has acquired over the years.

His preferred sidearm is a toxin-laden splinter pistol and uses a wrist-mounted Aeldari shimmershield to keep himself safe from incoming fire.

Smuggler hecate Trellio

Trellio is an ex-Guardsman turned smuggler turned Inquisitorial agent. She was drafted into the Kreato PDF as a tracker and tunnel fighter during a bloody civil war, and used her knowledge of hidden routes to earn a few Thrones on the side.

Trellio earned Dune’s trust helping an acolyte cell deal with a biological agent, apocalypse cult and rogue Titan all at once during the Kreato Affair. She has been a valuable aide ever since – having plenty of contacts within the underworld to acquire whatever is needed at a moment’s notice.

In the field she specialises in close quarters combat, falling back on her tunnel fighting days of striking from the shadows and staying forever on the move. She has a mean left hook (courtesy of a rebel officer’s chainsword) and a selection of ammunition types to suit all situations – scatter, flashbang and Emperor’s Wrath.

Kroot Bounty Hunter Omar Anoke

Anoke is one half of the Onus Headhunters – a pair of infamous bounty hunters known for returning the head (and only the head!) of their quarry. While his counterpart is human, Anoke’s xenos nature is kept hidden from prospective employers.

Dune and Anoke go back decades when Anoke was just a sparrow and Dune’s face only had a fraction of the scars is has now. They crossed blades in a manufactorum alley on the station of Mercy in a case of mistaken identity – each taking the other for their quarry.

It transpired the person Dune had been sent to ‘disappear’ had also been the one responsible for the enslaving of Anoke’s kindred when he arrived on Mercy looking for work. They struck a bargain – Dune infiltrates the slaver’s inner circle and kills him, and Anoke gets to clean up the body.

This relationship helped spark Dune’s curiosity into the usefulness of certain xenos, and he has called upon Anoke’s tracking skills for various missions ever since. Anoke is more than happy to accommodate his requests – Dune only ever needs his help to track down particularly crafty foes, and crafty foes have the tastiest flesh…

On the battlefield, Anoke is stronger and faster than he looks – his avian ancestry earning him a speed and agility that helps him run rings around his opponents. His sixth sense and natural athleticism gives him the drop on his foes, and his long rifle is anything but the primitive slug-thrower it appears…

Arbites-Proctor Martellus

Martellus had always been fascinated with ancient warfare throughout his Schola Progenium days, and pursued the rank of Proctor to better practice it. He had been working on a set of theoretical tactics for better fighting in heavy armour called Hoplomancy and was desperate for an excuse to put those theories into practise.

He was deployed to Port Precipice on Daphnia to help quell an insurrection from an upstart planetary defense force. The PDF there had used heavy glow staves to help encourage the underhive mutant population to stay in the underhive, and Martellus realised these would make for the perfect final piece to his Arbites puzzle.

What began as an insurrection turned into a bloodbath. The insurrection was a cover for a biological attack vectored through the water supply – a great xenos beast had been smuggled in and slain up-river, tainting the water with chemicals that sent anyone who drank it into a mindless, raging thirst. This atrocity became known as the Tides of Madness.

With high command in disarray from the insurrection, he lead squads of Arbites and loyalist PDF troopers street-by-street, utilising his experimental phalanx tactics to great and deadly effect.

He was subsequently assigned to the Kreato Affair to advise their commanders on their own uprising, and found himself working closely alongside Trellio and more of Dune’s acolytes. The line of work was appealing to Martellus, and in exchange for helping Dune out with some muscle and tactical thinking, Dune helped make all the problematic paperwork from the Tides of Madness just disappear…

OTHER WARBANDS

You can see all the house warbands here.

The Crimson Wake – Gorgon Crystals warband

For the Gorgon Crystals Inquisitor campaign at Asgard Wargames, I’ve pulled together a few warbands from my own collection to count as ‘house’ warbands. These are for folks who want to play but don’t have the minis to dive straight in.

You can see all the house warbands here.

WARBAND OVERVIEW

The Crimson Wake are a band of Chaos-worshiping mutants, traitors, and heretics dedicated to the spreading of anarchy and disorder, particularly when it comes to undoing the works of the Emperor’s most Holy Inquisition.

They are followers of Chaos Undivided, worshiping the Big Four as a pantheon to be worshipped equally as different emanations of the same universal force. That force is not inherently good or evil, it is simply the natural order of the universe – disorder and entropy.

This gives them the flexibility to have a variety of gifts from different patrons to make them interesting to play with and against, and allows them to pursue their goals through a whole plethora of means. Direct or subtle, explosive or sneaky, nothing is off the table with the Crimson Wake. Plus, who doesn’t enjoy having a good ol’ fashioned group of unpredictable baddies in their lineup?

Uh oh, it’s the Crimson Wake again. What are they up to this time?

Leader – Arch-heretic Lurz Karo

Karo is the leader of this particular Crimson Wake warband with a personal interest in the warp-tainted artefacts he’s heard are being unearthed on the fringes of Imperial space. Whatever culture made them had such effortless command over the warp and its energies, Karo wants some of it for himself.

He was once a planetary governor sick of his lot and the filth he had inherited, and engineered an atrocity as a way of “starting again”. His former Imperial masters didn’t take kindly to this, but the voices that spoke to him from a spooky mask he found told him it was a great idea.

Now he’s embraced Chaos Undivided, he can orchestrate all the renovative activities he desires. Already a keen swordsman from his days as an upstart young noble, he grew his oratory skills as he grew into his birthright of power.

He is a strong all-rounder on the battlefield with a collection of tricks up his sleeve (and hooked onto his belt), including deadly ammunition types and shrunken head grenades.

Traitor Guardsman Dmitri

Dmitri, like many in this particular Crimson Wake cell, is ex-guard. He served as a forward scout, but his reconnaissance become more and more brutal until even his own brothers-in-arms refused to go out on patrol with him. He began to hunt alone, delighting in the terror he could cause. It was only a matter of time before forces of the warp began to pay attention

Unlike the other Crimson Wake cell members however, he has not been physically changed by the fickle forces of Chaos, and instead gifted something to enhance his terror tactics. An unassuming iron horn engraved with “Balaghron”, the name of a terrible warp predator, that when pressed to his lips expelled the most fearsome cacophony he’d ever heard.

On the battlefield, he acts as ranged support – running and gunning with his powerful hellforged lasgun. Once per game he can also unleash Balaghron’s horn, causing everyone within earshot to make a Willpower -30 test or be stunned for D3 turns.

Traitor Guardsman Kraw

Kraw only has vague memories of his past as an underhive bounty hunter before being conscripted into the Imperial Guard to fight a war he can barely recall. Facing a Chaos incursion, he was exposed to a massive burst of warp energy when a creature from the Immaterium teleported into him. Rather than exploding into shreds of torn flesh, the two beings somehow melded together, and Kraw emerged unscathed but horrendously mutated.

His former squad turned their guns on him, abhorred by the abomination he had become, but their las rounds passed straight through him. He fled, protected by his new-found powers, thanking the warp for getting him out of that terrible war.

Kraw is a gunslinger affected by uncontrollable dimensional shifting. At the beginning of his turn he makes a Willpower test. If he passes, he is slightly phased out of reality, giving him forcefield armour against conventional attacks and making him incredibly difficult to detect – the perfect tool for a sneaky gun fighter!

Unfortunately it is rather unpredictable, and Kraw often finds himself without his phasing when he least expects it…

Mucus the Ancient

Mucus was discovered by the Crimson Wake being worshipped by a corpse grinder cult in an underhive abattoir. His appearance matched numerous reports across the sub-sector that spanned hundreds of years and doesn’t appear to have aged. Mucus himself has little memory of anything at all, but possesses incredible knowledge and wisdom accrued over centuries – the kind of dichotomy that only raw Chaos can gift.

It is theorised that he was once three individual entities, perhaps a Navigator or Astropath, as Mucus does not seem to perceive time in the same manner as humans do. It can often lead to him making strange or contradictory decisions that initially seem to be blunders, but end up being works of incredible foresight.

On the battlefield, Mucus is an unstoppable killing machine. His daemonic armour shrugs off attacks from most conventional weapons and his warp-infused strength can tear opponents apart in moments. He is, however, in three minds about anything, which can delay or obfuscate his decision-making – sometimes leading him down a path that seems wasteful, ineffective or downright stupid to his team mates.

There is, of course, always a reason. It just might not manifest in these human’s regular life spans.

Traitor Guardsman Tlaxcala

Tlaxcala was once a plasma gunner for the Imperial Guard before he was struck with a psychic bolt from a Tzeentchian sorcerer. His body mutated in horrible ways, stretching and elongating, melding with his weapon.

His blood boiled away in his veins, replaced with white hot plasma from his gun. The Changer of Ways had replaced his blood with plasma, and he found he could fire his weapon indefinitely – a valuable asset to the Crimson Wake.

His plasma blood has the additional advantage of splashing on anyone who attacks him in melee, eating through armour and dissolving weapons.

Traitor Guardsman Zenkhang

Our final Crimson Wake member is Zenkhang – a scrounger, fixer, and sole survivor of a platoon wiped out by a strange wasting disease. He attributed his predicament to good fortune and strong constitution, but after picking through the bodies for valuables and a new pair of boots, happened across a strange and disgusting-looking knife.

Little did he know at the time that he’d been hand picked by Grandfather Nurgle to carry a new and exotic disease further afield. Whenever a foe is struck by the blade, they find themselves hacking and coughing, arteries clogging and lungs filling with fluid with every cut made.

In combat Zenkhang is a good all-rounder – his shotgun is great at close quarters, enticing enemies to charge him to avoid his withering hail of fire. Once they’ve taken the bait, he can switch to his unassuming knife and infect his opponent with its corrupting edge – a virulent disease so powerful it can lay low any size foe given enough time.

Other warbands

You can see all the house warbands here.

Inquisitor Vanth and retinue – Gorgon Crystals warband

For the Gorgon Crystals Inquisitor campaign at Asgard Wargames, I’ve pulled together a few warbands from my own collection to count as ‘house’ warbands. These are for folks who want to play but don’t have the minis to dive straight in.

You can see all the house warbands here.

Warband overview

Inquisitor Vanth and his retinue have been skulking the sector for decades. He is one of the most influential Inquisitors in the Onus Region, despite having no seat on the Conclave there. He subscribes to the radical Xanthite ideology – that the best weapon against Chaos is Chaos itself – and seeks to gather resources and knowledge to harness Chaos to the best of his ability.

He surrounds himself with loyal Imperial soldiers, each hand picked for their unique abilities, before scrubbing their old identities and bolstering his ranks of anonymous soldiers. He watches individuals from afar, sometimes for years, before engineering accidents or shifts in administration that put these warriors under his employ with no trace of where they came from.

Vanth rarely deals with anything personally – his warband (lead by the fearsome Colonel Chase Vaux) are often the first and last thing his enemies see – but the Gorgon Crystals have piqued his curiosity too much. Xenos artefacts capable of manipulating the warp around them? Those sound too dangerous to be allowed in anyone’s hands but Vanth’s…

Leader – Inquisitor Tarik Vanth

Vanth rarely puts himself in harm’s way, preferring to send his loyal foot soldiers to deal with the hands-on elements of his operations. When Vanth deems it necessary to personally intervene however, he does so with many radical and dangerous tools at his disposal. As daemonic entities are his main concern, he has equipped himself with the finest daemon-slaying weapons he could lay his armoured hands on.

He has a hand-held scanner for rooting out warp taint, backed by his own considerable psychic powers to cloud, control and delude the minds of lesser mortals. On his shoulder is an MIU-linked psycannon for tearing up heretics while keeping his hands free for postulating and planning.

Finally, he wields a terrifying daemon weapon – the spirit of a hungering warp predator bound to a finely-balanced sword. Vanth spent decades hunting down the perfect daemonic entity to bind to his will – a creature of such malice and spite that it craves the flesh of daemons above all others – a perfect tool in the hands of a daemon hunter.

Colonel Chase Vaux

Vaux is Vanth’s right hand man (and not just because of his huge right hand). He was once a Cadian war hero who lead a beleaguered defense force and successfully repelled a daemonic incursion, but was considered “over exposed” to the daemonic taint by his superiors and sentenced to death. Vanth staged a dramatic intervention, saving Vaux’s life (and eskills) and earning his unswerving loyalty.

In battle, Vaux is a beacon of stoicism. He strides towards the foe, bolt pistol raised, placing his shots carefully and purposefully. He prides himself on his marksmanship, and believes that no foe is too large or too powerful to shrug off a Kraken Penetrator bolt round to a particularly sensitive spot. Go for the eyes!

Specialist Foric Scylan and Trooper michael grey

Vanth’s foes are legion and his problems are numerous. He needs suitably skilled warriors under his command to take full tactical advantage of any given situation.

Scylan is a demolitions specialist – he can take out anything with any amount of explosives, knowing exactly where to place his charges to wreak maximum carnage. He lost his leg to a Chaos spawn – he wore a brace of shaped charges around his ankle and fed himself to the monstrosity, destroying it from the inside out.

Trooper Grey is a psychic anomaly – a Pariah. Through a fluke of birth he was born with an anti-warp gene, and is a metaphysical black hole for psychic powers, daemonic entities and other warpcraft. He is practically invisible to creatures of the warp, and absorbs psychic attacks to those in his immediate radius – a powerful tool in the hands of a daemon hunter.

Unfortunately this power comes with the utter inexplicable revulsion his fellow man feels around him, and many Pariahs are killed early in their lives from the hatred and fear that people feel around them. Luckily for Grey, Vanth discovered his secret before his superiors did, and recruited him into his ranks to utilise his unique powers for the benefit of the Imperium.

Trooper Gene Ric and Sergeant Hugo Honeis

Every away team needs a medic, and Honeis fills that role in Vanth’s retinue. He was once a lowly militiaman conscripted to fight off a Chaos uprising on his homeworld, and Vanth was leading a retaliation force that ended in disaster for him. Vanth was wounded and dragged to a civilian triage, where Honeis treated him alongside other dead and dying citizens.

Most other physicians were dead or had fled the horrors the incursion brought, but Vanth was impressed at Honeis’ commitment to the wounded that Vanth brought him on board his escape shuttle before the city was purged with fire from orbit.

Trooper Gene Ric is unique in Vanth’s retinue in that he doesn’t possess any specialist skills, knowledge, or martial prowess, nor saved Vanth’s life in unlikely circumstances. He is, however, a statistical anomaly in so many Munitorum reports that he caught Vanth’s eye.

Trooper Ric is lucky – as in, really lucky. Lucky enough to escape certain death an implausible number of times and have even Inquisitors discussing his merits with increasing incredulity. An individual as lucky as him couldn’t be natural… could it?

Rather than have Trooper Ric captured and pulled apart by Magos Biologis for study, Vanth swooped in and added him to his retinue. It wasn’t hard to find him of course, Trooper Ric seemed to be in exactly the right place at exactly the right time…

Other warbands

You can see all the house warbands here.

Diamond’s Interests – Gorgon Crystals warband

For the Gorgon Crystals Inquisitor campaign at Asgard Wargames, I’ve pulled together a few warbands from my own collection to count as ‘house’ warbands. These are for folks who want to play but don’t have the minis to dive straight in.

You can see all the house warbands here.

Warband overview

The mysterious wealthy benefactor “Diamond One” has taken a personal interest in the discovery of the strange xenos artifacts on the shores of Port Impetus. He has arrived on the fringes of Imperial space and found himself remarkably at ease with the criminal underworld there, allying himself with a guild of Chrono-gladiators called the Deathclocks to support and protect him on his adventures.

His motives are selfish – he wants the crystals for his own gain. There are rumours he is connected to the Precipice Dreadquill, a mass-produced serial literature portraying exaggerated, censored, or romanticized versions of events from across the sector. Although illegal to possess, it doesn’t stop the Dreadquill from finding its way into the hands of millions of labourers. Such a readership would be very interested in the story of the Gorgon Crystals…

Leader – Diamond One

Little is confirmed about Diamond One’s identity other than rumours (possible put about by himself). He is reputedly attached to the Precipice Dreadquill, perhaps in an informant or administrative role, and he shares many similarities with a scion of the Shultz household on Daphnia who went missing several years ago.

He has a clearly defined sense of right and wrong, and is very popular with the workers, labourers and underhivers. He has little time for discussions of lawfulness however, and is happy to break all manner of laws to achieve his goals.

Lightly armed and armoured, he relies on his wit and speed to see him out of a sticky situation. He carries an esoteric mix of equipment – an Eldar shuriken pistol and a hand-held archeotech device that operates like a (slightly) more controlled displacer field.

This acts as a regular displacer field that doesn’t activate in response to attacks, but is manually activated instead. The user can roll two scatter dice to pick the direction, so with some luck allows them to travel in the intended direction!

Chrono-gladiator Aries

Aries is an ageing chrono-gladiator – a cybernetic pitfighter fitted with a device that will explode and kill him after a period of time. The only way to set back that timer is to kill, so a chrono-gladiator lives expressly to butcher others in bloodsport matches in an effort to stave off death for another day.

Aries’ history in the arenas has earned him many years of respite, but his clock still ticks. Diamond One’s proposal was too good to be true – in exchange for protection in an upcoming expedition, Diamond One would not only pay enough to retire on, but would perform the necessary surgery to permanently halt Aries’ deathclock so he could achieve the one thing no chrono-gladiator ever could: die of old age.

On the field, Aries is uncomplicated. His twin chain claws and combat drug injectors have felled larger opponents than him in the arenas of Mercy, and each claw is fitted with a small ranged weapon – just in case.

Guilder Romaan Fetch

Aries’ support staff and pit crew comprise of a collection of mechanics and labourers to keep his systems functioning (chain claws don’t have opposable thumbs), and Fetch is the smartest of the bunch.

He’s often tagging along closely behind his master patching up bullet wounds or blown power conduits, or persuading stubborn security spirits to allow access through doors or crates where brute force would be inappropriate.

His equipment is practical and reliable – a lasgun with underslung grenade launcher and a variety of grenades (photon flash, haywire and frag) to suit an ever-changing battlefield.

Guilder Max Rockatansky

Rockatansky is the other human element of the pit crew, able to provide a bit more muscle when rites of percussive maintenance are required. He specialises more on the ordnance side of things, and keeps the crew’s weapons firing true.

He mounts a chainblade under his lasgun for close encounters and a krak grenade for unscrewing really tight nuts.

Clamps

via GIPHY

Everyone needs a friendly piston-assisted clamping buddy for all your hauling and clampage needs. Clamps is mostly machine, with a pair of magnificent squeezers for carrying, lifting, bending and.. uh.. clamping.

Being lobotomised, he doesn’t suffer from such trivial things as fear or self-preservation, and his reinforced interior provides him excellent protection against cuts and scrapes.

Inquisitor FAQs

With the Gorgon Crystals campaign kicking off recently, there are a lot of questions about a 20-year old discontinued game with weird rules and tricky figure scales. Here are some answers.

What is Inquisitor?

Inquisitor is a narrative skirmish wargame, focused primarily around the conflicts of the Holy Inquisition, either amongst its own ranks or against the enemies of mankind. Unlike the core game of the Warhammer 40,000 universe, it is not about the front-line of mud and gas and behemoth engines, but is instead set amongst the internal and domestic complexities of the Imperium – shadow wars where good, evil, right and wrong all merge into indistinct shades of grey.

If you have read the Eisenhorn series, you will already be familiar with the concept of an Inquisitor and his closest allies striving against these more subtle (but no less dangerous) threats to the Imperium, with their reward often to die alone and unremembered by the billions of citizens they may have saved from the encroaching dark.

Inquisitor is your chance to tell the dramatic, daring (and sometimes clumsy) stories of these unsung heroes.

How does it play?

Players have a warband of 2-4 models and play out a narrative scenario arbitrated by a Games Master (GM). The scenarios are typically part of a linked narrative devised by the GM, and the players’ warbands have conflicting goals and ideologies on how best to resolve the scenario, usually resulting in violence and thrilling heroics.

The Inquisitor rules allow the characters in the game to try to do just about anything, and the GM adjudicates how these are resolved. Players roleplay a character from their warband, nominate their actions, and make dice rolls to see how well things happen. The next character in the Initiative order then takes their turn, and so on. 

Inquisitor is a game of tension, risk, and close calls, followed by explosions, violence, and pushing people off buildings. While the players do have objectives to achieve and there can be winners and losers, the main aim of the players is to use the rules and miniatures to create a compelling story on the tabletop that is retold countless times for many years after!

Why 54mm?

While Inquisitor was originally released at 54mm, smaller 28mm Inquisitor (INQ28) has become highly popular in recent years. Both scales are equally valid and should both be encouraged! Inquisitor presents a fantastic gaming and modelling opportunity whatever size your models may be.

The larger size of 54mm models allows more detail, is strongly associated with the game and can be a welcome contrast from the impersonal little grunts that die in droves during games of WH40K. These differences can help set the rather unique tone of Inquisitor.

A more in-depth study of the merits of both scales is here:

What does it cost?

Games Workshop released the rules for free in 2004, rehosted here:

A warband is typically 3-5 models, and although an official Inquisitor miniature might set you back £20 on eBay, the huge number of 3rd party miniature companies and the rise of 3D printing means you can put a warband together for very little.

Ebay is a good place to trawl for cheap minis, you can often get more common figures like Slick Devlan, Eisenhorn and Preacher Josef for £10-15.

If conversion is your thing, you can often pick up cheap toy soldiers and add 40k bits to make them fit in – special shout out to the Russian ‘Tehnolog’ range who produce a range of minis of varying quality but the inarguable cost of around £8 (including postage) for 5 minis.

Games Workshop’s scale creep has been a boon to 54mm modelling too – Ork arms have always been a reliable fallback, but the Primaris and Necromunda ranges also have perfectly scaled arms, hands and weapons to use.

I’ve done some scale studies on 3d printed 54mm weapons here:

Extensive 54mm/1:32 scale mini manufacturers are listed here:

Inquisitor campaign: The Gorgon Crystals

“Beware the dead, even as you fear death. For the God-Emperor protects us after death, but that which slumbers eternal may rise again.”

-From the journal of Acolyte Mora ‘Darksight’ Valerius

For the attention of the conclave of Asgard

Dissent stirs on the fringes of civilised space. Mines have gone silent. Warp-infused artefacts have washed up on the shores of Port Impetus amid reports of madness and violence.

With so much conflicting information, the Holy Ordos have dispatched their finest agents to contain and control what they can, and to eliminate what they can not.

The Inquisition is not the only organisation to have interests here – members of the Adeptus Mechanicus, Rogue Traders and agents of the Arch Enemy have all been reported converging on the cursed system of Haimm, eager to find the source of the artefacts for their own purposes.

The shadow war for the Gorgon Crystals has begun.

The Gorgon Crystals

The Gorgon Crystals is a short Inquisitor 54mm campaign held at Asgard Wargames. It is being run by me and a few assistant GMs.

I have plenty of spare warbands for other players to run around with, so the intention is to get people into the game as quickly as possible without asking them to invest in a bunch of 54mm figures.

The campaign structure

The Gorgon Crystals campaign consists of three parts:

  1. Prologue – Introductory games to set the scene across a 2-4 week period to give players time to build warbands.
  2. The Investigation – Four scenarios played over two weeks (Wednesday and Friday evenings). Complete objectives and gather evidence to uncover the secrets of the Gorgon Crystals.
  3. The Finale – One large game to determine the outcome of the campaign, played with warbands who complete the most objectives

Players don’t need any models or knowledge of the game to play. Pre-made warbands are available for those who want to take part in the campaign without investing in minis, and every game will allow players to drop in or out as they wish.

The narrative nature of Inquisitor requires a certain level of continuity, and although the campaign is designed so you don’t need to attend every scenario, it’s helpful for the GM to know who is likely to be playing in advance. It’s first come first serve, but priority will always be for those who build their own warband or book a slot in the scenario.

Scenario format

Two scenarios are played each week – a Primus and a Secundus. These scenarios are from the same stage of the investigation but from different theatres of conflict. 

Each scenario has three objectives – one for each faction: Puritan, Radical and Selfish. Objectives are often conflicting (even with warbands of the same faction), but they can also overlap with other faction objectives, meaning it can be wise to seek impromptu alliances or backstab erstwhile colleagues to complete your goals.

Completing an objective gives you a boon you can utilise in your next game. Completing a Primus objective also earns you a piece of Vital Evidence – those warbands with the most Vital Evidence will play in the finale. Completing a Secundus objective will guarantee you a place in the next Primus scenario.

Would you like to know more?

Keep an eye on the Gorgon Crystals tag – there’ll be battle reports, scenarios and more as the campaign progresses. Hit up Dreadquill on social media and come say hi!

Orthesian Herald 17 – The Conclusion and the Cutlass

PreviousSession 16: Terrors of the Gallionic Passage
First: Session 1: The Unbroken Resolve and All Those Who Sail Therein

+++++

[Image from the internet, artist sig in bottom right]

Proximity alarm! Augers detect plasma drive activation 8 VUs off starboard side and closing!

Last time our intrepid explorers translated safely into the Gallionic system and straight into an ambush at the hands of Captain Firmstep.

Privateer Captain Firmstep – art by Stanislav Galai

Captain Firmstep, flying the armoured Heimdall-class transport ‘Foregone Conclusion’ moves into weapons range, clearly signalling his hostile intentions while the crew of the Unbroken Resolve scramble to power up all defensive systems after translation.

The other vessel, the smaller and more nimble Viper-class raider ‘Sulphur Cutlass’ lurks on the peripheries on the battle.

As a side note, both vessels used the newly-developed (at the time) Grimdark Ship Name Generator as a naming tool. Some are great, some are odd, all are Grimdark.

While the Conclusion and the Cutlass drop countermeasures and graviton flares to baffle the Resolve’s sensors and targeting solutions, the Resolve respods with defensive measures of their own.

Thanks to the Expanded Space Combat Actions, there are now some extra options the crew can pursue in between moving, shooting and intimidating the crew to move faster and shoot better. One of those is Flak Storm.

Extended Action – Flak Storm

The point defence gunners receive the order to go weapons free, saturating all the space around the ship with a thick wall of gunfire – the storm of flak scattering debris and shattering asteroids, making it difficult for enemy gunners to draw a bead on the ship. This action is a desperate one, as the wanton and unsustainable waste of resources has a lasting effect on the crew.

Command or Intimidate: Impose a -5 to all enemy BS tests targeting your ship next turn, plus an additional -5 per Degree of Success. Reduce your own Morale by D5 each time you perform this Extended Action, regardless of the success of the test.

The Conclusion peppers the Resolve while the Cutlass gets a little too close
Crushing the cutlass

Astropath Gil utilises some extended actions from the Navis Primer, namely Control the Weak Mind. A powerful psychic technique that no Astropath should be without – with a Psyniscience -40 test he can target a nearby enemy vessel and telepathically control some of the gun crews to fire on erstwhile colleagues.

Not only do you pick an enemy’s weapon component and immediately resolve it against a target of your choice, but the weapon component can’t fire next turn as the crews are too busy reloading!

Astropath Gil Virgant

With the Cutlass’ void shields down (and it foolishly closing range), the Unbroken Resolve was free to open fire with its powerful close-range macrocannons. A disgustingly good round of shooting left the Cutlass crippled and most of its components unpowered or venting air into the void.

With very little left to contribute and the Resolve now engaged with the Conclusion at close range, the Sulphur Cutlass disengages and skulks away into the darkness.

Having lost both the shooting game and the numbers game, Captain Firmstep turns to his ship’s own speciality – prepare to board!

The Conclusion is only a transport, so not designed to threaten the players’ own ship very much in terms of armour or armament. It did pack an unpleasant surprise, however – a barracks full of void-hardened warriors, a Tenebro Maze arrangement of interior corridors and a talented Captain to buff the crew.

They got a +30 to any attempts to repel boarders, meaning the Captain would have to work extra hard to cause their crew concern.

Voidmaster Zill and Von Gunn lead a Hit and Run attack around the outside of the vessel, crippling their plasma drive. Gil gets spooky and summons a Dark Labyrinth, making their own ship’s interior impossibly complex to navigate to boarders, giving them a buff during boarding actions. It all seemed for naught after the first dice roll.

In the opposed test, the Captain rolled a critical success, the crew of the Conclusion rolling a critical fail. We did the numbers.

The Captain lead a boarding party that butchered over 15,000 crew in one hour of the boarding action. Down to the last ~200 or so crew, the unsurprisingly threw in the towel and surrendered to the gore-soaked boarding party of the Orthesian Dynasty.

After a rousing speech about how lucky they are to be shown mercy, the Captain orders the survivors to be absorbed into their own crew to bolster casualties. Captain Firmstep however, is nowhere to be found…

New ship sheets

This space battle prompted a discussion about ship character sheets. The rulebook rightly describes the ship as a character in its own right, shared between the players, but we felt the default ship sheet wasn’t nuanced enough to cover the myriad components, knick-knacks and acquisitions the players would come across.

So we made our own!

Click for the full PDF

Removing the massive ship image and shuffling the tables round a bit gave us loads of extra room to play with. The reverse is a bunch of space for cargo and acquisitions – you don’t need to print it off double-sided, but we found that we used the reverse to track all the players’ booty anyway, so it just made sense.

Get the PDFs here.

Cleaning up and clearing out

After exploring the bloody remains of the Foregone Conclusion, the crew agree there isn’t much to be done about the vessel. Legally Firmstep is a pirate, so nobody would come looking for their ‘legitimate salvage’, but they didn’t have the manpower or inclination to tow it back to Mercy themselves.

They agreed to grab what they can (the Captain pinching Firmstep’s heraldry hauberk), make a few calls to Captain Acheron at Mercy and get on with the expedition.

Into the black

The Captain prefaces the unknown warp journey with another rousing speech to the crew, congratulating them on overcoming the heretic Captain Firmstep. The crew had taken a hit to Morale in the fight, and this was just the ticket to artificially inflate their sense of self-worth before their sacrifice on the altar of the unknown.

Set a course for Sigma-459!

We use our own warp travel rules, which is a blend of the core rules (too simple) and the Navis Primer rules (too complicated) with another dozen or so warp encounters added to the table. Take a look:

As the Navigator is played by an NPC, the players take it in turns to roll for warp travel, using Mahd’Naz’s Navigate (Warp) stat of 50. They are allowed to use their own Fate Points to re-roll, knowing full well the consequences of failure…

They make an accurate estimation of 35 days and as its a brand new warp route, roll ‘Indirect Path’ for the Route Stability, adding +1 day to the journey.

They successfully translates in, failing by less than a degree, and avoid all but the worst of the warp travel encounters (ie, they take a bunch of Insanity Points from seeing their dead relatives at the foot of their bunks, but that’s par for the course right?).

In it for the long haul

To spruce up long travel times, I’ve started writing in mini-encounters, moral quandaries or opportunities for advancement for some minions, often prompted by players’ desire for not-quite-as-shit scrubs. One such instance was when the Captain wanted to train up Felicity, one of the more proactive armsmen, personally training her to be an assassin.

The premise was simple – if the captain can pass a relevant check every week (Weapon Skill, for example), his personal tutelage has paid off and she can slightly bump her stats in that area. She won’t be wearing rags for long!

To help them claim ownership of their space, I’ve also started asking them to build the world in their image, starting with their quarters. The Captain described his quarters as a neat and tidy office space, filled with books of tactics of admirals of old. In the chaos of universe, this is his haven of stability. He also has an expanding trophy cabinet (Thanks, Firmstep!) and you could bounce a penny off the bedsheets. And, naturally, a glass of amasec is always ready on his desk.

The Zoologist

For Voidmaster Zilla, he was presented with a conundrum involving his Xeno-arcanist:

The Dynasty’s paper-pushers have flagged up erroneous expenses with your cut of the profits. Several large purchases have been made under your name, more so than the usual Telasco’s bar tab, and after doing a little digging you discover your xenoarcanist “The Zoologist” has been making a number of covert purchases. When you confront them about this, you discover they have been building a library of proscribed, illegal or otherwise morally dubious books and tomes about xenology and alien culture.

If the Zoologist is allowed to continue his studies, he improves his Forbidden Lore (Xenos) to +20.

Unfortunately for our Voidmaster, he failed to locate any trace of what the Zoologist was spending his money on, so he assumed it was booze and/or space floozies. The mystery continues unsolved!

via GIPHY

The sketchy Astropath

For the Astropath:

You have an interesting and somewhat valuable collection of something in your quarters, what is it? (One of them goes missing, a junior has pawned it for gambling)

The player tells me he has a collection of sketches made during meditative trances, most are strange but important to him. One of his Juniors tries lying to him (a bold strategy for a bunch of telepaths), which results in his gambling privileges revoked.

Still causing problems

For the Explorator:

A senior Engine Priest has reported some strange goings-on in some of the crawlspaces. Apparently some of your Engine Crew have made copies of the Cilice Gin Distillery and have set up a bootleg still in some of the less-used areas of the ship. Not only is this a flagrant misuse of Dynasty property, but an incorrectly-assembled is an explosion waiting to happen, and encourages the most heinous crime of all amongst your underlings: innovation.

Freeman wastes no time in locating the secret Gin still, storming in with Engine Guard. He flogs everyone responsible, scrutinises the construction and takes it all apart. He decides to keep the details of the entire debacle to himself.

Everything filters upwards of course, and when the Captain inevitably finds out about an entire work gang being publicly flogged under orders from Master Freeman, he wants to know why. Freeman is inexplicably evasive about the entire situation, keeping the plans for himself, leaving everyone with a sour taste in their mouths.

I’m sure elements of trust between the crew and Freeman’s Secret Projects(tm) will never come up again…

Gil uses The Tower to find out about Factor Silica

Gold in them thar cargo holds

Finally, the Captain was presented with a (mild) moral quandary. After raiding the estates in the Golden Valleys of Cilice, the crew had found themselves with an awful lot of miscellaneous booty once belonging to faithful Imperial servants that Brother Espin would appreciate returned to him. Alternatively, Orthesian adepts on Mercy could slowly tap the reserve, laundering the goods through Mercy’s infamously untraceable markets and turn a few pennies for the Dynasty.

The Captain mulls it over and elects to pass – keep hoarding the loot. Don’t sell it, but don’t tell Espin we’ve got it. I’m sure he’ll never find out…

More Auction Intel

And finally, Gil tasked his new intelligence gatherer, The Tower, to scrounge up some more intelligence on some of the potential auction-goers. This time it was Factor Silica, emissary of Varnstrom Industries, the largest Adeptus Mechanicus conglomerate in the subsector.

Factor Silica – by artist Blazbaros

Intel: Presiding mostly in Imperial space, Varnstrom Industries are the largest Adeptus Mechanicus conglomerate, owning more than half the ruling sects and having the controlling share of the forge world ‘Forlorn Hope’.

Reason for attending: They are staunch traditionalists and loathe to see Adeptus Mechanicus secrets being traded so carelessly between undesirables.

Not a lot to action at this point, but knowing that they’re going head-to-head with the biggest cog the Mechanicus can throw at the problem, they’ll need something extra special to win that ship.

With our journey coming to a close, it was time to make one final translation into realspace and arrive safely at our destination.

Or so they thought…

+++++

Orthesian Herald 16 – Terrors of the Gallionic Passage

+++++

What could go wrong?

Last time we were mid-warp on our voyage to the unknown – the Void Sea. This had a small stop-off at Gallionic, an “entry point” to the Skylar’s Lie domain, catalogued as such due to its proximity to other systems and relatively calm warp currents.

Many Domains in the Nomad Stars have these entry points, and navigating across the sector is quicker (and usually safer) to hop from entry point to entry point. However…

An alarming turn of events

Beat to quarters! Boarding alarm! The canteen on Deck 7C has been breached!

It quickly becomes apparent from the horrified screams over the vox that there has been a daemon incursion in the canteen. Almost a dozen souls were lost before they were able to seal the bulk head.

Voidmaster Zilla in the top right, the Covenant in the bottom right.

The crew waste no time investigating. Missionary Lyoness brings two of her newly-minted retinue, the Covenant, that were rescued from the pilgrim ship “The Penitent Traveller” and then armed by the generosity of Brother Espin. The Captain brings along his new military-grade cyber-mastiff, Seymour, and an apprentice officer named Felicity.

Freeman wants in on the meatshield action and brings along a few engine adepts, only to have them terrified to death nearly instantly.

They hear a throbbing, rhythmic noise coming from inside the canteen…

“We’re here for a health and safety inspection, we heard you had an infestation of lesser daemons”

Von Gunn wins the initiative roll (hah, sucker) and kicks the door down to the canteen. Inside they are faced with a canteen ablaze – flames lick the walls and in the centre are half a dozen crewmen wreathed in warpfire, forced to dance along to the awful sound created by a pair of writhing pink creatures – Pink Horrors of Tzeentch.

Despite their ever-shifting nature, they both seemed to be carrying music instruments that were creating the terrible noise, and as they flicked and twirled their rubbery fingers about, forced the terrified crewmen to dance along to their sadistic music.

A Horror of Tzeentch

The horrors hurl balls of iridescent warpfire at the opening, pinning many of the crew. Those who aren’t pinned return fire, the Astropath enjoying his new killer combination of magically guided aim and overcharged plasma pistol.

Everyone down!

The captain issues his orders:

The Captain charges into glorious melee combat in a bid to break the impasse. He spits prayers of the Emperor’s Mercy as he strikes down the terrified crewmen, unable to control their own bodies moving to the foul music.

Sorry lads. This’ll hurt me more than it hurts you.

He then promptly catches fire.

Freeman blasts the Bongo Horror (new band name, I call dibs) and it melts into a puddle of warp-riddled goo, before changing hue and reforming into a pair of blue horrors. Gasp!

Horrors are some of my favourite lesser daemons because of their weird mechanic of spawning two slightly smaller variations of themselves on death. They are weaker and do slightly less damage, but now the number of targets has gone up…

Meanwhile, under the will of the pulsing music, the firedancing voidsmen charge the canteen opening and engage the retinue. To make them interesting enemies to fight, I used regular voidsmen stats but gave them Unnatural Toughness, a 20% forcefield and flaming melee attacks. Their objective was to gum up the players while the Horrors continued to lay down warpfire attacks, and it seemed to be working.

A few Brimstone Horrors crawl out of the flames of the perimeter of the canteen, eager to contribute to the weird dance party. They spit a few tiny fireballs and are extinguished pretty quickly by the crew.

With most of the Firedancers dealt with, there was the matter of the Burning Captain (new band name, I call dibs). Missionary Lyoness leaps into action, using her surprisingly impressive Strength of 50 for a 90-year-old to cover the distance, and helps put the Captain out while struggling with the final few Firedancers.

One of the Covenant, Beef Loaf (they’re all named after Ancient Terrain Hymn-writers) is killed by warpfire from the Horrors. Her name will be etched into a shrine when we’re done cleansing this horrid place.

The Captain is struggling from a few turns of fatigue from being on fire, so Lyoness (the closest thing to a healer the group has) stabs him in the neck with some stims to keep him awake. Once more into the fray!

Stay still, this won’t hurt much…

Meanwhile Von Gunn has puts the killing blow on the Fiddler, who splits into two blue horrors. Freeman moves into position to try out his illegal plasma gun ‘salvaged’ from the Grin Estate on Cilice. It’s like a regular plasma gun, except it shoots it’s plasma in a 30 degree cone like a flamer, doing plasma gun damage over a flamer-wide area. Yikes.

Better not put anything beloved in the way of that!

Oh no! Something beloved was in the way of that!

After some heated discussion about whether a cone exists in three dimensions or not (GM’s note: it absolutely does), Freeman accidentally catches Seymour in the blast of the plasma-flamer while trying to obliterate the last two horrors, much to the gasps of horror from the rest of the team.

Seymour the dog catches fire, and the whole incident was put down to a gross miscalculation of angles, because surely there’s no way the Explorator would be callous enough to fire the weapon again, knowing the Captain’s cyber-mastiff is definitely in the blast radius.

Oh, okay.

RIP Seymour. Your time on this crew was short but sweet.

Seymour is reduced to slag from the plasma blast, taking a considerable chunk out of the canteen and obliterating what was left of the horrors. The crew are genuinely stunned.

After heated discussion about what constitutes an accident, the Captain agrees to forgive Freeman’s transgressions (he did kill the final few daemons, after all), but he promises never to forget.

Licking their wounds, both emotional and physical, the crew return to the last few days of their warp journey.

Through the fire and the flames

Lyoness leads a team to consecrate the canteen. It’s beyond repair, so they replace it as a shrine to Saint Drah’Gunforz, the patron saint of fire and flames. They move an organ from the church deck down to the canteen and appoint someone to play hymns during the day, just to make double sure the daemons don’t return.

Out of the frying pan

You translate safely into the Gallionic system, your vessel adrift in a sea of rocks. Augers show high concentrations of atomic material contained in the asteroids 

The yellow light of Gallionic’s sun fills the bridge with its warmth. The drifting sea of rocks and radioactive haze throws strange lights through viewports – An eerie yellow patina, like drowning in a jaundiced ocean.

Proximity alarm! Augers detect plasma drive activation 8 VUs off starboard side and closing!

Bridge officers raise void shields and order deck crews to battle stations. There is an incoming vox from the unidentified vessel:

“This is Captain Firmstep of the Foregone Conclusion. You have trespassed on a trade route that is legally mine and I consider your ship forefeit. Surrender it to us and we’ll let you live.”

The Captain, normally a beacon for diplomatic behaviour and etiquette during confrontation, takes the vox directly and responds:

“You caught us at a bad time. We had to flee our last engagement, we’ve had a bad warp jump and someone just shot my dog. Prepare to die.”

+++++

Orthesian Herald 15 – A New Heading

+++++

The roar of the crowds is electricity in your bones and the air is heavy with the smell of blood and recycled sweat.

You are in a private balcony overlooking the main Bazaar arena, a wide sandy pit several hundred metres across. High above is a great plexiglass dome, through which the statue of the god-emperor is haloed by the rippling fury of the Telos star.

The crowd encircling the arena is cheering on a cybernetically-enhanced gladiator as he twists the head off an Ambull, holding it up for all to see.

Chief Wrecker Davit holds up a hand at the spectacle and grins at you with golden teeth. A boy in silk pours more wine into your goblets.

”So what do you say? Do you want to play a game to win your ship parts, or perhaps you’re looking to sell? The arenas are always looking out for new and exotic attractions.”

Previously we left our intrepid heroes in the Mercy Bazaar Arenas to do battle over.. uh.. an arena. A Resolution Arena ship upgrade for the Unbroken Resolve, to be precise, and without the funds to acquire it at present, they agreed to do battle in one of the most infamous blood sport arenas outside of Imperial Space.

We open with Von Gunn, Gil and Freeman back-to-back in the sandy arena to the sounds of crowds baying for blood. They were facing three Chrono-gladiators of the Deathclocks Guild, and they had particularly nasty statlines…

Chrono-gladiators of the Deathclocks Guild
WSBSSTAgIntPerWpFel
 4823(6)38(6)325426313622

Wounds: 16

Skills: Awareness, Intimidate +10

Talents: Ambidextrous and two-weapon talents, Autosanguine, Crushing Blow, Fearless, Swift Attack

Traits: Unnatural Speed, Unnatural Strength x2, Unnatural Toughness x2, The Ticking Clock, Natural Armour (3)

  • Poison talons: 1d10+8 R, Pen 3, Toxic
  • Electro-flails: 1d10+12 I, Pen 0, Flexible, Shocking
  • Pneu-mattocks: 2d10+10 I, Pen 0, Primitive, Unbalanced, Unwieldy
  • Chain axes: 1d10+14 R, Pen 2, Tearing
  • Cutting claws: 1d10+10 R, Pen 0, Fast

Ticking clock: If a Chrono-gladiator kills, they gain +1 Unnatural Strength and become immune to Fatigue for d5 rounds. Any further kills increase the duration by d5 rounds. If after 5 rounds it does not kill again, it takes 1 level of Fatigue and d5 Explosive damage to the body ignoring Toughness and Armour. This happens every 5 rounds.

on with the show
Awful deja-vu…

Our heroes make the first move, with the Chrono-gladiators trailing in the initiative roll. A combination of Von Gunn’s bolt pistol prowess and Gil’s psychic guidance of his plasma pistol sees off the chrono-gladiator with the shield before it even takes a step forward. It drops to its knees, a smoking stump where its head should be.

Explorator Freeman makes a mad dash at the gladiator with chainsaws for hands, and everyone is stricken with a sense of awful deja-vu.

They exchange blows, parrying and rolling under each other’s deadly swings, but Freeman is caught across the face by one of the biting blades and drops to -2 Critical Damage.

Gil suffers a net loss

While his combat-heavy comrades are distracted with their own problems, our Astropath is charged by the net-wielding gladiator. The combination of shock net and poison talons drops Gil to -2 Critical Damage. Unfortunately for the gladiator, that isn’t enough to stop him…

Gil unleashes a devastating psychic attack, overwhelming what little is left of net-guy’s brain and gaining total psychic domination over him. He forces him to run as far away from Gil as possible, and Von Gunn heroically plugs him in the back of the head with a twin shot from his bolt pistols. Go long!

Things don’t go quite so well for Freeman. He loses his battle with the Señor Chainsword as its whirling teeth pull two of his four legs clean from their sockets. He falls to the arena floor, burning a Fate Point to avoid death but is definitely out for the fight.

For those at the back keeping count, Freeman has now officially lost the most limbs in the party (3 in total).

As Chainsword Hands raises his arms to deliver the killing blow, Von Gunn explosively separates his arms from his shoulders with clinical precision. The final Chrono-gladiator falls to the ground and the crowd is beside itself with excitement.

After a quick patch-job on Freemen (he has a box of legs on the ship), Chief Wrecker Davit thanks for them for entertainment, and promises to uphold his end of the bargain. The Resolution Arena will be installed on the Unbroken Resolve.

Returning to Espin

You take a short shuttle ride from Mercy to Brother Espin’s vessel – a bloated, gilded pilgrim transport ship twinkling in the light of Telos. It looks like a hunchback baron cradling a hoard of gold.

Cathedral spires extend from its spine and every inch is covered in stained glass, ornate gothic pillars and hand-carved statues of every Saint in the Imperial Creed. Shuttles scurry about like insects feeding their queen .

The hangar bay stinks with the raw musk of human existence – there are sleeping cubbies set into the walls, hammocks hang from the gantries high above your heads, and canvas shanties exist around the peripherals, despite the constant roar of shuttles dropping off pilgrims and supplies. You have no doubts the rest of the ship is in a similar situation

An old man in rags and a long, scraggly white beard is sitting in a circle of cushions on the hangar floor, pouring tea. Half his head is metal plate, and votive symbols are braided into his beard. You know him as Brother Espin.

Brother Espin (courtesy of Fantasy Flight Games)

Brother Espin was thankful for their efforts, and payment was presented as promised for clearing out the space port on Cilice. The Captain had alternate plans – he negotiated for free rights to use the space port instead of payment, something that will sting their bottom line in the short term but will keep their hands free for gin-related shenanigans in the long run. Very cunning!

Espin also offered some new ship components. They could pick two from:

  • Good Quality Barracks (-1 Space, +1 Morale)
  • Good Quality Voidsman’s quarters (Raider size, -1 space, +1 Morale)
  • Best Quality Temple-shrine (+D5 Morale)

They opt for the Barracks and the Quarters, estimating two days to fit their fancy new digs. They beg their leave of the Brother and return to Mercy proper to begin the refit. The crew are particularly thankful to no longer be topping and tailing.

Mercy Longshore – courtesy of FFG
Dabbling in the background

I had learned from my mistakes regarding the Endeavours system in Rogue Trader – less is more. Please let me know in the comments below if you’ve had it work for your own groups, but it wasn’t a good fit for ours.

I still had another idea to try – Background Endeavours from Into the Storm. A formalisation of the Profit Factor acquisition process, but something that can be done once and forgotten about so the players can get on with the adventuring and swashbuckling while the proles do the legwork.

This was a perfect opportunity, the players wanted to rebuild the Cilice Gin distillery from afar and reap the rewards in the future. Time for some numbers!

Background endeavours are split into two parts: the Captain yells at some hirelings to do a job, and the GM calculating how well the job went. Broadly speaking, the players make a few dice rolls and forget about the Endeavour until the GM tells them enough time has passed for the project to have passed or failed.

Players’ section

  1. The Endeavour is outlined by players and GM – what resources they’ll need and the quality of peon needed to perform the job. They already had the resources they needed (most of an abandoned distillery) and just needed a crew – they acquired Good Quality Hirelings, in this case Tavish Contractors.
  2. The GM comes up with a rough time estimate – about 2 months in this case.
  3. Players contribute supporting skills. Freeman provided a chemical analysis of samples found on Cilice (with a Chem Use test) to avoid the fairly obvious horrendous side effects and adds +3 Degrees of Success (DoS) to the Captain’s Command check. Zilla provided fly-by records of the valleys and space port, adding +1 DoS. Lyoness gave a stirring (if somewhat threatening) speech with an Intimidate test, adding +4 DoS to the overall pool.
  4. The Captain makes a Command check to see how well the hirelings perform. He gets a bonus for all the skills his crew have contributed. He (unsurprisingly) succeeds with 8 Degrees of Success.
  5. Retire and enjoy a glass of (currently) the last Cilice Gin in the universe.

GM’s section

  1. Make a Success roll. This is a flat 50/50 chance, modified +/- by the Degrees of Success/failure of the Captain’s command roll and the quality of Hirelings. These rolls are done between games and noted down to bring up at a future session when Success or Failure can be reaped. In this case, I rolled a 10 (super success!).
  2. Check how long it takes. Regardless of success or failure, you roll on a ‘time taken’ table to see how long it’s taken your hirelings to do the job. Sometimes successful endeavours can take much longer than estimated, while failed endeavours can be over very quickly. I rolled 73, meaning it took 125% of the estimated time. 75 days for the job to get done!
  3. That’s it! When the time is up (day 216 shipboard time) I’ll let them know and they can add +2 Profit Factor to their character sheets.

The intention is to keep the story moving forwards while earning money in the background. We’ll come back to this in about.. ohh.. ten episodes time or so.

Auction on the horizon

Last time we also discovered the latest hot topic: an auction being held by the Obsidian Emporial for a rare class of light cruiser in a few months’ time. They had three bits of concrete intel:

  • Up for grabs was a Secutor-class Monitor Cruiser. A substantial upgrade from the current ship – oodles of space, plenty of weapon hard points and a good blend of defense and manoeuvrability. Perfect for longer, more dangerous voyages into the unknown!
  • The Obsidian Emporial auction house will not accept money alone, they are looking for something unique or priceless to win their interests.
  • There will be a number of other rivals vying for the ship – determining who they are and what they have to offer will help the team greatly in their run-up to the auction.
Whatever you want, Leo Getz

With the Auction at the forefront of their minds, the crew wanted some more intelligence on other organisations attending. Time to lean on their old pal, Leo Getz.

After another chastisement from filling their astropathic relay with reams of garbage, Astropath Gil finally gets the message through to Leo. It’s not his Juniors’ job to sift through his manic mountain of thoughts – edit them down!

Brain still aching from mental castigation, Leo comes up with the goods. Two Rivals, both with printed out contact cards so the party can keep some vague centralised notes on the myriad NPCs they’re encountering, and some additional information about them.

Each contact has some generic intelligence about their organisation, their reason for attending, what they intend to offer at the Auction, and additional (sometimes scandalous) information.

Each session I’ll be offering an opportunity for Leo to siphon a bit more for current or new contacts, drip-feeding the information rather than dumping it all at once.

Lord-Admiral Bastille VIII of the Bastille Dynasty

Image courtesy of FFG

“A martial man, conducting the affairs of his House as though it were a private navy. There are dozens of sour rumours swirling around the circumstances of his inheritance of Warrant of Trade and his poor relationship with the Imperial Navy. “

The Herald of Fane, Fane Disciples

(image: Marko Djurjevic)

“Intensely secretive and uncommunicative sect of Adeptus Mechanicus, devoted to the works and discoveries of Magos-Illuminate Zeriander Fane.”

Next stop: Nowhere

We had a mission: Gather something unique for the auction.

We had a time frame: Several months.

We didn’t have a heading. The Captain addressed all the potential plot leads from previous sessions and decreed them to all be equally worthy, therefore unworthy of a unique offering to the Obsidian Emporial.

The Captain cast his gaze across a map of the Nomads. So many worlds already discovered.

He stabbed his finger in the centre, a minor warp storm called the Void Sea. He asked “What’s here?”. I referred to my notes – I had only written one line:

“Here there be monsters.”

That was enough for the Captain. He ordered an immediate survey to find an unexplored system of interest in the Void Sea and to chart a course to it. We had a heading!

Final arrangements

The only thing remaining was to pick up any last-minute essentials from Mercy-mart for the voyage. The Captain acquired a Bullpup Cyber Mastiff (from Dark Heresy’s Book of Judgement) which is a bigger, meaner version of a cyber mastiff. Zilla acquired a single-shot grenade launcher to help deal with Really Big Problems.

Cast off!

Morale is high, plunder is in sight and with only one day to the warp point, everything seems to be going the Crew’s way! Nothing can dampen their spirits! All they need to do is a cheeky short hop to Gallionic, just a mere three days in warp, what could go wrong?

*Rolls*

001: Daemonic Incursion!

+++++++