Inquisitor Battle Report: Dog-watch Nights

We enjoyed our second scenario of the The Gorgon Crystals campaign run at Asgard Wargames this week: Dog-watch Nights.

+++++ Message Incoming +++++

It is the late hours of the night shift on Port Impetus – the Dog-watch – and you are pursuing leads on smuggled xenos artefacts salvaged from the wreck of a merchant vessel, The Sojourner. 

The port is rocked by an explosion. Reports filter in, scattered at first, but the picture builds quickly – a warehouse on the docks has been bombed. It is supposedly a Cold Trade hideout, a likely location of the smuggled xenos artefacts, and the reports of madness and violence that follow confirm your suspicions.

You scramble together a team, knowing you have only a few minutes on site before the Adeptus Arbites arrive to shut the entire investigation down.

+++++ Message ends +++++

Setting the scene

Three warbands are close enough to the warehouse to investigate before the Arbites lock down the area. A small gang of Longshoremen deploy on the board too – a collection of criminals and bored voidsmen on shore leave – who set off the explosives hoping to get their hands on some valuable artefacts. They should provide a nice buffer between the players and reinforce the idea that the warehouse is in a densely populated area.

The game takes place during the Dog-watch – the night shift – which is quiet by dock standards but still noisy enough to reduce hearing distances by half. Dimmed global lighting and crimson emergency lumens from the warehouse floor mean standard Detection tests for spotting people.

Diamond One sets up over the entrance to the warehouse, the Longshoremen ready to pick over their spoils
Objectives

There are six loot tokens on the board, inside which are three xenos artefacts and three empty loot tokens. To find the artefacts, characters must pass a Sagacity -20 test on a loot token, then roll a D6. On a 4-6 the token is empty, and it is removed from the board. On a 1-3 there is an artefact inside! Remove the token from the board and replace it with a crystal.

Like the previous scenario, the crystals give off a horrifying warp-taint, capable of worming its way into the strongest of minds. Anyone picking up a crystal must pass a Willpower test or roll on the Hallucinogen table.

The Arbites are mere minutes away. The players have less than a dozen turns to complete their obejectives before they’re forced to evacuate the scene.

Setup of the six loot tokens

Objectives

All the campaign scenarios use a rough ideology aligment to determine scenario objectives. They are designed to be conflicting, but not mutually so, and can change between scenarios. They can’t see the objective before choosing, however, so players are not necessarily aware of other players’ goals.

Puritan: Ensure no other parties escape with artefacts.

Radical: Recover more artefacts than are destroyed or captured by other parties.

Selfish: Recover an artefact.

The artefacts themselves are fab resin scenery from Bad Squiddo Games, and I did a Meanwhile On The Bench for them here.

Warbands

Three warbands arrived to loot the bombed warehouse, plus a small contingent of NPC longshoremen played by the GM.

The Crimson Wake

The Crimson Wake are a house warband, you can see a detailed overview for them here. We are joined by the Traitor Guardsmen Tlaxcala, Dmitri and Kraw.

Tlaxcala has an implant plasma gun and his blood has been replaced by burning-hot plasma, making him a foe to not underestimate.

Dmitri has a hell-forged lasgun and a gift from his dark patron, the Balaghron Horn.

Kraw is a gunslinger with an uncontrollable dimensional shifting – something that grants him forcefield armour and makes him harder to detect, but he can’t regulate when it happens.

The Crimson Wake have had a run-in with the crystals previously on the Sojourner and wanted more, so were pursuing a Selfish objective – pinch an artefact for themselves.

Diamond’s Interests

From left to right: Clamps, Diamond One, Guilder Fetch (and medicae skull)

The first outing of Diamond’s Interests – these guys are another house warband, and their overview is here.

Clamps is a cargo-lifter servitor – possessing immense strength and industrial skeleton reinforcement, plus a big ol’ pair of clamps to clamp things with. He’s not smart, fast or capable of thinking for himself, but he’s got a heck of a punch.

Diamond One is a wealthy noble scion with an esoteric collection of xenos and archeotech miscellany, including a shuriken pistol and a custom displacer device that he can manually activate.

Fetch is tech support – he brings all the tools necessary to open doors and repair things, plus his trusty lasgun with underslung grenade launcher and all manner of grenades – frag, flash and haywire to suit his needs.

Diamond One is eager to get his hands on some of the much-lauded xenos artefacts, so is pursuing a Selfish agenda.

Arbitrator Havelock and Corporal Salem – the Mysterious Strangers

The mysterious strangers are back, this time with a different contingent than the expeditionary force on the surface of Asteroid 825-79C. The same strange medicae skull has followed them however, and unconfirmed reports suggest the warband have been conversing with it. Tech heresy perhaps? Rumours abound that the mysterious strangers are actually in service to a radical Inquisitor, but these rumours are so far unfounded.

Raiding the warehouse for the mysterious strangers are Senior Arbitrator Lucius Havelock and Corporal Rynn Salem of the Bastille XIV Regiment. The first is an ex-Arbitrator (retired or volun-told?) with all the associated trimmings – shotgun, shock maul and stiff upper lip. Corporal Salem is the fire support, toting a drum-fed boltgun.

Although they didn’t experience it firsthand, their warband’s previous encounters with the xenos artefacts have left them concerned about letting them fall into the hands of fools. They are pursuing a Puritan objective – don’t let anyone escape with an artefact.

Deployment

I tried something new for deployment – the intent was to eliminate the first few turns of walking towards each other and Pausing For Breath round corners. We were on a time limit, both in game and out, and I wanted to jump straight into the action.

Players can deploy characters anywhere on the board, but they are placed slowest speed first. I figured this gives faster characters opportunity to counter-deploy and react to their surroundings better. It certainly worked for getting characters into the thick of it!

Warbands broadly deployed close to one another with the Longshoremen setting up on the east side entrance to the warehouse.

Clamps deployment

Clamps deploys in the centre of the board, round a container from one of the central loot tokens.

Fetch sets up on the outskirts of the warehouse to the north, overlooking Clamps.

Diamond One deploys above the ruined east entrance to the warehouse, directly above the Longshoremen.

Kraw deploys directly next to the second central loot token.

Tlaxcala and Dmitri set up centrally only a stone’s throw from Kraw. They appear intent on holding down the centre of the warehouse.

Arbitator Havelock sets up on the other side of Dmitri’s container – it was going to get real bloody real quick.

Finally, Corporal Salem deploys above the ruined west entrance overlooking the warehouse.

With everyone deployed in tinderbox proximity, it was time to let the sparks to fly.

Game On

Arbitrator Havelock has pressed forward to the centre of the warehouse, confident that Corporal Salem has him covered. Dock alarms wail and the crimson glow of emergency lumens flood the warehouse.

In the distance he can hear the excited chatter of local dockers, and up close he can make out the heavy footsteps of Military-grade combat boots. He peers round the container to get a better look…

Mutants in the warehouse!

Kraw’s spider senses tingle and he checks his surroundings – he spots an all-too-familiar sight of a lawman’s silhouette cut against the crimson lights.

“They’re already here!” He hisses, squeezing off a pair of manstopper rounds against the Arbitrator. They explode off his shoulder, biting deep through his carapace armour. The gunshots ring out across the warehouse – if the warbands weren’t aware of other parties present, they were now.

Dmitri presses himself up against the container, peeking round but not spotting Kraw’s target. Havelock grimaces in pain as his master’s medicae skull goes about its duty, knitting his torn shoulder back together.

On the other side of the warehouse, Diamond One moves through the archway to get a better view of the gunshots he just heard. Below him are the chattering Longshoremen, somewhat more alert since the sound of gunfire.

He comes out to a ruined balcony overlooking the east side of the warehouse and crouches behind some crates, readying his splinter pistol. There are far more people here than he’d expected, and even with the help of the Deathclocks Guild he’d hired, he didn’t fancy his chances. If only there was some way to-

Hello there! A loot token right next to me? Don’t mind if I do…

I’ve got a bad feeling about this…

In a single action, Diamond One busts open the crate and finds a xenos artefact. In a subsequent turn, he bundles it up under his arm (passing his Willpower test to avoid a hallucinogenic effect, darn it!) and makes a break for where he came in.

The Arbitrator player lets out a quiet “Well, shit.” as he realises his Puritan objective has already been failed. Time for plan B…

Grigori and Ashford head south

The Longshoremen split up into two parties – Drummer and Staz heading north, while the other three head south. The southern party, lead by Captain Ashford, edge towards the sound of gunfire.

Drummer and Staz check out their first loot token, oblivious to Tlaxcala peering through the broken window and Clamps round the corner

The northern party stumble across their first loot token and Staz sets to work rifling through it for goodies.

Clamps had been inloaded with a layout of the warehouse prior to arrival, so he knew his way around. He’d been given a simple directive – clamp anything that isn’t Deathclocks Guild property or their employer.

He hears excited cackling from the longshoremen around the container and lumbers into combat, clamping excitedly.

CLAMPS

He takes First Mate Drummer by surprise, but that isn’t enough to land a blow against him. Drummer deftly dodges his clumsy swipes, returning the favour with his sabre and causing a few glancing blows.

With Clamps unable to hit and Drummer unable to hurt, this started to look like a stalemate.

Die, mutant scum!

It takes Havelock no time to identify these mutants as Chaos-worshipping scum – the worst kind of mutant – and charges at Kraw across the bulkhead floor. His shock maul is held in his off-hand as his right arm is still too torn up to hold a weapon, and he can’t land a solid blow against the jinking, flickering Chaos cultist.

Dmitri takes advantage of the distraction and flanks the Arbitrator, peppering him with lasfire from his hell-forged lasgun. A series of duff damage rolls mean the attacks bounce harmlessly off Havelock’s carapace armour, giving Dmitri a slight sense of panic.

“Dmitri! Get the tooter!”

Kraw recognises quite quickly that even a disadvantaged Arbitrator is still an Arbitrator and doesn’t fancy his chances, so he backs out to try and bring his pistols to bear again.

Dmitri decides to play his trump card, and reaches for his Balaghron Horn.

It takes him the best part of two turns to finally equip and toot his horn, meanwhile Kraw and Havelock skip around one another in a deadly dance.

INCEPTION NOISE .MP4

The horrifying toot washes over the warehouse, and characters from all over clap hands to ears to keep the ghastly noise from bursting their eardrums. People all over the board get stunned, including Salem (who hadn’t accomplished anything at this point anyway)and a few Longshoremen.

Our major players, particularly the Arbitrator, were entirely unaffected. Kraw uses the distraction to scamper off into the warehouse, while Havelock slowly turns round.

While Clamps and Drummer were distracted with one another, Staz finished searching his loot token and found nothing. He figured the First Mate was under no real threat from the jumped-up JCB so began clambering up some nearby crates to get a better view of his surroundings.

Then the toot happened.

“Man down! I’ve been tooted!”

Dmitri’s Balagron horn booms across the warehouse – Drummer and Clamps are unaffected, but Staz falls to his knees and clutches his head, blood streaming from his nose.

While he’s stunned the cunning Tlaxcala waits in the wings, steadying his aim with his implant plasma gun.

Guilder Fetch had been keeping an eye on proceedings from afar and decided it was time to strike. He’d kept a photon flash grenade loaded in the underslung launcher and dropped it right behind Clamps’, attempting to stun Drummer. The tricky sod passed his Initiative test, so Fetch shouldered his lasgun and fired into combat.

What’s a bit of friendly fire between friends?

Nutmegged!

In a burst of effectiveness, Fetch threads the needle beween Clamps’ legs and catching Drummer square in the groin. He hits the deck, stunned. Clamps wastes no time in taking advantage of the situation and plows both clamps down straight into Drummer’s torso.

What follows is a Critical Injury to the groin as Drummer is raised into the air and juiced – all his fluids squeezed from his lifeless corpse, somewhat like that poor Ork from the intro of Dawn of War 1.

Ah, zog it

Not content with merely clamping Drummer instantly to death, he hurls the body like a ragdoll at the stunned Staz. Fortunately for Staz, Clamps’ aim isn’t all too good, so Drummer’s body bounces off the wall and lands on the nearby container with an awful wet thud.

Champin’ for a clampin’

Back on the western conflict, Kraw has used the Death Toot as a distraction to slip out from underneath the Arbitrator’s nose and past two unsuspecting Longshoremen.

Kraw on the run

Dmitri and the Arbitrator exchange shots at close range – both digging small chunks out of each other, but not substantial enough to tip the conflict one way or the other.

The characters can also hear the sounds of the real Arbitrators in the distance – they only have a few turns left before they’ll be overrun by the law.

“Dead or alive, you’re coming with me”

With the Arbitrator’s objective unattainable thanks to Diamond One’s stroke of early-game luck, Havelock decides Dmitri is his silver medal. He spots Corporal Salem is (finally) in position to contribute, and gives him a definitive hand signal.

Caleb opens up with his bolter, blowing gread wads of flesh from Dmitri’s stomach. He unceremoniously slumps over, rancid blood pooling around him. As loathe as Havelock is to administer assitance to an agent of the Archenemy, he instructs his medicae skull to perform life-saving duties on Dmitri. You can’t interrogate a corpse, after all.

The sound of a plasma weapon firing ripples out across the warehouse, followed by the sound of hacking, phlegmy laughter. Tlaxcala’s aim was true, and vaporised Staz’s head with a well-placed shot from his plasma gun.

Knowing the Arbites would arrive before he could get a second shot off, Tlaxcala slinks back into the shadows and off the board, cackling away to himself.

Kraw tries to make his getaway through the same route as the Longshoremen – Grigori barely notices the unsubstantial blur moving past, but Captain Ashford is wiser. He opens up with his own twin revolvers, plinking a few shots off Kraw’s boney extremities.

POW!

Kraw about-faces and blasts Captain Ashford off his feet, knocking him back through the ruined walls of the warehouse. Grigori decides discretion is the better part of valour and disappears back through the hole they came from.

The strange electrical drone continues to carry out its nefarious task. It was noticed by some characters but they weren’t able to capture it to discover its secrets. What is its purpose?

Dead or (mostly) alive, you’re coming with me

Determined not to leave with figurative or literal empty hands, Havelock cuffs the freshly-stabilised Dmitri and begins to drag him off. He has a date with a couple of knuckles in a nearby alleyway that Havelock is keen for him to be punctual for.

Unless…

Pulp Fiction briefcase moment

Before the Arbites arrive, Havelock couldn’t resist poking his nose into the one untouched loot token the Chaos cultists had been so keen to get their hands on. Inside is an artefact of strange provedence and unknown power – it radiates warp energy, making him stick to his stomach to even lay eyes on it.

Whatever it is, it’s bad news.

He’s presented with a conundrum – make off with a tool of the enemy, or make off with one of the enemy.

He quickly decides that the warp artefact is a matter for the (proper) Arbites and he can get some quick answers from his new Chaos acquaintance.

He drags off Dmitri, beats him to near death (again) and leaves him bleeding in the corner of a manufactorum nearby. Dmitri thinks he’s escaped death a second time, Havelock knows better…

In the closing actions of the game, Fetch gets greedy and pops open another loot token. This final crystal proves to be his undoing – as he touches it, an ice cold sensation shoots up his arm and swallows his conscious thought. He goes to scream but no words come out, and collapses on the floor.

Just in time for the Arbites to arrive…

Roundup
The closing scene of the game

Diamond’s Interests snagged a crystal early on, completing their objective. Unfortunately the Crimson Wake were fighting a battle on all sides from the beginning and never got their hands on one of the xenos artefacts and left the board empty handed.

Although the Arbitrator and Corporal failed to prevent anyone leaving the board with a crystal, they did manage to cart off a heretic with valuable information, so they were awarded a Vital Evidence as recompense!

The deployment for this game was a gamble – I’d never tried it before, but I think it worked very well. I wouldn’t want it for every scenario, but for close quarters ones like this I think it worked really well.

Typically you could spend several turns of characters walking cautiously towards each other, pausing for breath around corners, generally taking a while to get to the Good Stuff. This way we had action from the first turn, as our characters had already pre-sneaked their way into the optimal positions of carnage. Definitely one to try again!

Week 1 end results

Week 1 of the Gorgon Crystals campaign draws to a close and the Vital Evidence is tallied up – everyone has one piece of Vital Evidence except the Crimson Wake with zero. It’s neck and neck, but the campaign is yet young, and there are plenty of opportunities for that gap to widen.

Watch out for the next scenario, The Stone Baron, coming soon!

Inquisitor Battle Report: Forsaken Quarry

Inquisitor forsaken quarry mining colony board

The Gorgon Crystals, an Inquisitor campaign run at Asgard Wargames kicked off last week with our first scenario, Forsaken Quarry.

+++++ Message Incoming +++++

Asteroid 825-79C – an unassuming ball of rock in the outer reaches of the Haimm system, swaddled by dust storms that rage across its surface. There is just enough atmosphere to support a small mining colony nestled on a rich vein of industrial metals. 

The colony has recently gone silent. 

This is not an unusual occurrence among the outer reaches – pirates, rogue asteroids, and civil disobedience are but a few reasons a mining colony might be lost, and all these beneath the interests of the Holy Ordos and their counterparts. However, this colony went dark shortly after an escape pod landed on Asteroid 825-79C, tracked from a ghost ship called The Sojourner, hours before the vessel was destroyed by the Imperial Navy. 

In your line of work, there are no coincidences. Investigate the quarry where the escape pod reportedly landed.

+++++ Message ends +++++

Setting the scene

Four warbands approached the quarry, acutely aware of the clarion call that such an opportunity presented to other interested parties. They didn’t know each other would be there, but they all had the impression they wouldn’t be the only ones at the crash site.

A violent dust storm raged across the quarry, reducing all line of sight to one quarter of a character’s Initiative. They also knew their time here was limited – the dust storm would soon pick up, reducing visibility to zero and forcing everyone into shelter.

Objectives

For the campaign, all warbands are provided with the scene-setting text (the message above), plus an objective roughly aligned to an ideology – Puritan, Radical and Selfish. These objectives would be known only to those players, and other warbands’ objectives can only be guessed at (or interrogated in the field!).

They are designed to be conflicting, but not mutually so. They may require creative thinking on the player’s behalf to complete, and the are sometimes unrelated to the ‘obvious’ objective on the board. The objectives for Forsake Quarry are as follows:

Puritan: Take readings of whatever was in the escape pod, then destroy it.

Radical: Take whatever was in the escape pod.

Selfish: Capture a local for interrogation.

The crystal(s) are fab resin scenery from Bad Squiddo Games, and I did a Meanwhile On The Bench for them here.

Warbands

We had four warbands on the board for this scenario, plus three NPC miners who had taken a slight turn for the worse after prolonged exposure to the strange xenos artefact in the crashed escape pod.

Vanth’s Warband

From left to right – Trooper Ric, Colonel Vaux, Sergeant Honeis

One of our house warbands – you can find more details on them here.

Whereas other warbands were limited to two agents, Vanth’s warband were allowed a third, as two of them were played by plucky guardsmen (and not psychic monstrosities, alien bounty hunters or bionic swordsmen). Little were we to know at the time that one of those plucky guardsmen would end up being MVP, but more on that later.

Vanth, unsurprisingly, would be pursuing a Radical agenda, so instructed Colonel Vaux to recover the artefact for study.

Haimm mercenaries

From left to right: Sophia, Esmeralda

Esmeralda “Spark” and Sophia “Ember” are part of a small band of mercenaries that operate out of the Haimm system. They were originally pilgrims whose ship dashed upon the rocks, leaving them abandoned on one of the wasteland planets in the outer reaches. They were hideously burned and mutilated from their experiences, but somehopw survived and prospered, rebuilding themselves (quite literally in Esmeralda’s case) as mercenaries and bounty hunters.

Sophia is the de facto leader, and oldest of the three triplets (the third is toting a flamer), and more of a generalist in combat. She has a variety of tricks and tools to help her take down her quarry, including web shells for her shotgun and a poisoned blade. Esmeralda is mostly bionic, giving her increased speed for getting within sword-hitting range. Her huge blade is mono-edged and can (and did!) easily bisect a person in a single blow.

It’s rumoured that they are acting as agents for a powerful Household, which would explain their interference in matters of the Inquisition, but these rumours are so far unfounded.

As these characters have encountered these artefacts before, they want to find out more about its effects and confirm they are from the same origin, so are pursuing a Selfish goal to capture a local for questioning.

Dune’s warband

From left to right: Omar Anoke, Interrogator Ezekiel Dune

Our second house warband – better pictures and more details on Dune’s warband here.

Dune is investigating the crash site personally, with help from his old hunting partner Omar Anoke. His natural stealth and sixth sense should help them track down the source of the mining colony’s silence.

While considered a radical by many of his peers, Dune is still gathering information before forming an opinion on the xenos artefacts. He believes the best data can be gathered from the artefact’s effects on those it comes into contact with, so he is pursuing the Selfish objective to capture and interrogate a local.

The mysterious stranger(s)

From left to right, Shé’Vanti “the wind that stalks the void” and House Agent Devram Korda

The shop warband! A pair of mismatched characters supposedly under the orders of a shadowy overseer. I actually know very little about these guys – a rarity for games these days! I suspect their motivations will be unveiled as the campaign progresses…

One is an Aeldari, perhaps an outcast or pirate, called Shé’Vanti “the wind that stalks the void”. The other is a sketchy House Agent called Devram Korda – a powerful telekine and perhaps the leader of this warband? All will be revealed, I’m sure…

We do know that for this game, they were interested in containment. Such power shouldn’t be in the hands of mere Mon’keigh, and were approaching with a Puritan mindset – identify and destroy the artefact.

Deployment
Inquisitor forsaken quarry mining colony board

Shé’Vinda and the Korda set up in the top left of the board, intent on using the outpost as cover to strike from. Vaux takes his men and deploys in the top right, near some rock formations and ruins. Dune is in the lower right, with plenty of barrels and mining equipment for cover. Finally, Sophia and Esmeralda deploy in the bottom left, praying the dust storm will cover their advance until they can get within striking range.

The board is populated with three (ex?)miners from the colony, driven mad from exposure to the warp-tainted crystal – Clevis (pictured above), Kingbolt and Axle (pictured below.

They don’t have much left in life other than guarding the crystal. They love the crystal, and will do what they can to prevent it falling into enemy hands. They’re frenzied, so operate at half Speed until they see an enemy.

Until then, they’ll wander aimlessly with the help of a scatter dice until they see or hear some commotion, then they’ll rush to defend the crystal.

Game on

The howling dust storm keeps our characters cautious -everyone advances slowly towards the centre of the board. They know this is the crash site, and they know other parties are likely in the area, but they don’t know specifics.

At this stage, it’s ask questions first, shoot later.

“This way… I can cut us an entrance”

Esmeralda and Sophia advance quickly, eager to cover the open ground. Through the busted wire-link fence they can just make out the hulking figure of Axle – a miner who has mutilated his flesh with obscene carvings that strain a lingering eye. They had seen this kind of activity before on the Sojourner – they knew what they would be up against.

“Recon only – only fire on my mark”

Vaux gives the order to his men to advance, using the cover of the rock formations and ruins to mask their advance.

Shé’Vanti makes it to the ruined hab, a brief respite from the dust storm, and a good vantage point to strike from.

Anoke spots a strange light in the dust storm – arcs of electricity coming from a tentacled drone on the outskirts of the outpost. A strange sight out here. It has piqued his avian curiosity and he stalks after it.

“OH MAN, I LOVE THE CRYSTAL.”

Axle and Kingbolt meet in the middle, thanks to some surreptitious scatter dice rolls. They talk loudly and enthusiastically about their love of the crystal – enough to alert anyone nearby of their intentions to aggressively defend any action against the xenos artefact.

Anyone observing at this point would notice the crash site had all but disappeared into the dust, the only thing remaining of the pod had been salvaged for scrap, or used to erect the makeshift shrine that the crystal sat on. There would be no doubt – the crystal was the main attraction.

All the players were in place – Dune had moved into position behind the mining carts in the top right. Tensions mounted as to who would make the first move. Nearly all warbands were aware of the miners at this point, but none were aware of each other.

Blissfully unaware of the mounting tensions, however, was Anoke. He was having a wonderful time chasing the weird sparky tentacle thing that just drifted away from him whenever he neared it.

Shé’Vanti eyes up the grotesque mutants around the crash site, illuminated even through the dust by the baleful glow of a xenos crystal. He would bide his time and wait for an opening.

Perfect! Kingbolt and Axle both drift away from the crystal in their turn, leaving a clear run at the artefact. Shé’Vanti didn’t know what it was, but sensed an unmistakably foul warp presence surrounding it. Whatever it was, it was better out of the hands of the Mon’Keigh.

He breaks cover and sprints for the crystal.

Go go go!

Trooper Gene Ric spots a blur through the dust storm, moving through the sand as if it wasn’t there. A sharp, gaunt face is illuminated by an awful glow that gives him a feeling like lead in his stomach. He couldn’t identify the target, but knew it wasn’t human. He quietly whispers to his commanding officer for backup…

“Uhh… boss? What’s fast and pointy and purple all over?”

Dune, however, is not off to quite as fortunate a start. Narrowly avoiding a wandering Clevis, he now has Axle bearing down on him too, but this one spots him from behind cover and bellows with rage.

In a snap, Dune’s splinter pistol is raised to eye level and a burst of monomolecular toxin-laden shards sink deep into the target’s flesh – more than enough to slow or stop an ordinary target of this size.

This appears to be not be an ordinary target.

On the west side of the board, Esmeralda slices an opening in the wire link fence and grabs a handful of tanglefoot seed pods from her pouch. Her arm was good, but the seeds are caught by the wind and land short of the target.

No matter, we’ll disarm this creature the old fashioned way…

Anoke, oblivious to his comrade’s imminent angry danger, chases the strange flashing lights further into the storm. A new figure emerges from the dust – it looks like a guardsman aiming a lasgun directly at-

“Hey what’s going on over he-“

A burst of lasgun fire is heard above the howling winds of the dust storm. Gene Ric’s grouping is phenomenal – two to centre mass, one to the head. Anoke is knocked to the ground, stunned.

House Agent Devram Korda

The mysterious House Agent moves into the outpost, accompanied by his medicae skull. With the Eldar in his sights, begins to chant under his breath, summoning the will needed to cover his escape. Nobody has seen him yet – and he intends to keep it that way.

“Hands where I can see ’em, xenos scum!”

Vaux is quick to move on the sounds of gunfire. Following the lead from Trooper Ric, he strides forward to take control of the situation. Bolt pistol levelled at the strange figure’s head, Vaux recognises it for what it truly is – Aeldari filth.

With gunfire from his own men and howls of rage carried over the wind, he didn’t want to get involved in a fire fight with a number of unknown assailants. The Aeldari obligingly raised its hands, stepping slowly away from the crystal.

Little did Vaux realise the treacherous xenos sent a subtle hand signal to the hidden House Agent in the derelict hab…

WHAM! Well, sorta…

Korda focused all his will, intending to hurl a pallet of detritus at Kingbolt and/or Vaux. The fickle powers of the warp bled through his fingers, barely able to move the pallet more than a few feet. He takes a deep breath and redoubles his efforts – clearly proximity to this artefact is causing more warp disturbance than anticipated.

Sneak attack!

Gunfire and screams are on the wind – Esmeralda and Sophia move in. They need to take one of these locals in for interrogation, but realise on closer inspection this was not such an easy task. They appear incredibly resilient and largely impervious to pain – not to mention equipped with fearsome implanted mining equipment. That would have to change…

With Sophia dancing round acting as a distraction, Esmeralda begins the arduous task of disarming the miner – quite literally. Called shot after called shot against the implant rock drill leaves Kingbolt with little but a gory, sparking stump – spewing blood and engine oil.

Although this tactic saves them from an unpleasant impaling, it doesn’t seem to slow down Kingbolt, and they have to change up their tactics.

Sophia moves behind the mutant miner and begins severing tubes and tearing out implants. Kingbolt roars in fury, but with only one arm and hazy vision from blood loss, finds it near impossible to land a blow.

Although pinned, it doesn’t keep him down for long

The beast bears down on Dune, thundering towards him with rockrete mallet raised above his head. His splinter rounds either bounce off his makeshift armour or fail to deliver their deadly toxin. Dune was running out of options, he couldn’t go toe to toe with such a monstrosity…

Dune rolled a headshot, followed by a 10 on a D10+2 weapon (A Lucky Hit!) and rolled a 9 on the followup damage. 21 damage from the splinter pistol, piercing an eye lens and delivering the toxin directly to the brain.

The miner slumps unceremoniously to the ground. Everyone around the table is in absolute awe. Absolute madman.

Thinking on his feet, Dune assesses his surroundings.

“Are those carts moveable?” The player inquires. I don’t need to know where such lines of questions are going to know that the answer is always “Yes.”

Superminer Sweep! *Airhorn noise*

Dune unceremoniously wheels off the braindead miner, completing his objective to capture a local for interrogation (it didn’t stipulate alive – they’ll probably scoop his brains out and run it through the brain-o-matron to see what he knows).

Dune, Clevis, Shé’Vanti and the House Agent all lined up

Back in the standoff, both Vaux and Shé’Vanti had been oblivious to the approach of the third miner. While his two colleagues had been shot through the face or hacked apart, he still had full control of his faculties.

Roaring into action, Clevis charges towards the nearest target to the crystal – the Eldar – and lands his bladed hammer square in the xenos’ chest. The force of the blow breaks nearly every bone in his body, sending him spinning into the dust storm, and taking him out of the game in one brutal blow.

After seeing the Aeldari get hammered out of existence, Vaux makes a play for the crystal. As he touches it, he feels the insidious whispering of the warp trying to worm its way inside his skull, but he shakes it off.

Gently cradling the crystal in his power fist, he issues the order to withdraw. Honeis, having finally rolled enough actions to get into the action, is now requested to leave the action.

A pulse of telekinetic energy blasts Vaux off his feet, colliding into Honeis on the way. The House Agent’s fingers still smoking with wisps of psychic energy.

Both are knocked sprawling on the ground, almost 20 yards from where they originally stood.

“Ow…”

The crystal embeds into the sand, unfazed by the assault.

Omar Anoke might just have enough turns left in the game to recover from being stunned…

In the final moves of the game, it remained unclear how things would resolve for the main conflict over the crystal. Sophia and Esmeralda had all but torn apart Kingbolt, hacking his other arm off and knocking huge lumps out of his breathing apparatus, leaving him a wheezing (yet somehow still alive) mess.

Clevis, enraged that his precious crystal has been taken, charges round the corner to confront Vaux, who is still prone on the floor. The House Agent is making moves to withdraw, knowing there is little more he can do to resolve things in his favour.

With Clevis’ hot breath practically in Vaux’ face, it looked like Vaux was in trouble. As Clevis raised his hammer to bring it down on Vaux’ prone body, another crack of Gene Ric’s lasgun stops him in his tracks. A trio of lasbolts slam into Clevis, the third one a clean headshot and blowing out his sand lenses and breathing apparatus, stunning him for a turn and giving Vaux a chance to react.

There was only one sensible thing left for Vaux to do. The pro gamer move, monkey steals the peach.

Rising from the floor with a powerful Shoryuken, Vaux strikes his foe squarely between the legs, punching his pelvis into his throat and sending Clevis sprawling.

With Trooper Ric’s uncanny aim as cover, Vaux regains his footing and makes for the crystal one final time. It is entering the final turn – the dust storm threatens to engulf the entire outpost, and they only have a few moments before visibility is reduced to zero and everyone is forced to withdraw with whatever they have.

Korda is dragging Shé’Vanti off the board, leaving empty handed. Dune has escaped with a captive, completing his objective, and Anoke recovers and stalks off after him. Sophia and Esmeralda have disabled (read: hacked enough lumps out of) Kingbolt to take him in for autopsy/interrogation but decide to make one final play for the crystal, hoping to keep it out of Vanth’s hands.

As Esmeralda rounds the barrels, stepping over the mashed groin of Clevis, she comes face to face with Vaux – the crystal resting on the ground between them.

Just as she begins to make her move to recover it, a third and final salvo from the now-unstoppable Trooper Ric bounce off Esmeralda’s bionic bonce. The headshot stuns her long enough for Vaux to snatch the crystal up, giving his men a hasty order to retreat (and several commendations for marksmanship for Gene Ric).

The dust storms drew in as the final play of the game was made – Vaux escapes with the crystal, earning a completed objective for Vanth’s warband.

And it was all over!

Roundup

Three out of four warbands completed their objectives, earning themselves a piece of Vital Evidence to contribute towards earning their place in the campaign finale.

A tense, exciting opening game, with plenty of thrilling heroics and unbelievable dice rolls. The players are excited for the next one, which is a measure of success for me!

Questions still remain however – who are the mysterious strangers? Where did the crystals come from? And what was that odd electric tentacle drone that kept itself to itself on the peripheries of the conflict?

They’ll just have to play on and find out…

MVP

We couldn’t wrap up this battle report without a special mention for undoubtedly our Most Valuable Player – Trooper Gene Ric.

Just an Average Guardsman(tm) with one or two luck-related special abilities, Gene Ric surpassed all of our wildest expectations. Given that his counterpart, Honeis, managed to run around a bit, equip medkit, then re-quip lasgun, Gene Ric absolutely carried the team.

Every opponent he levelled his lasgun at was slotted in the head by at least one round, always putting his target down with the first round of shooting. Incredible marksmanship like that must surely earn some kind of commendation…

Catch our next scenario here:

Dog-watch Nights

Inquisitor Battle Report: Death of a Vagabond, part 2

I’m running an Inquisitor campaign, The Gorgon Crystals, at my FLGS Asgard Wargames, and this is the second Prologue mission.

The setup is the same as the first mission, designed to introduce new players to the game with pre-made warbands and set the scene for the campaign. Although there will be many different versions of the events that happened on board the Sojourner, these will all just be part of the usual rumour, speculation and conflicting reports the Inquisition has to deal with.

Setting the scene

Our two warbands were meeting in the cargo hold of an ore hauler, the Sojourner. The cargo crews had built a city of sorts among the ore, and it was among these ruins our explorers would come to blows.

Upon arriving, the warbands find the crew butchered by their own hands – some had clawed the skin from their flesh in a horrendous bout of insanity. The cause for this wave of madness wasn’t clear, but drag marks, manic wailing and strange energy readings indicated the source was in the cargo hold.

Full scene-setting details are in Part 1 here.

The Warbands

We once again had two players, both new to the system, and a pair of deranged crewmen NPCs who are defending their junk totem in the centre of the cargo bay. Both players were using pre-made warbands, picked from a roster of 5.

The warband of Colonel Vaux

From left to right: Sergeant Honeis, Colonel Vaux, Trooper Grey

The radical Inquisitor Vanth is not one to miss an opportunity like the Sojourner. He is, of course, too busy to attend himself so sends his right-hand man, Colonel Chase Vaux, and a pair of guardsmen to back him up.

On the left is Sergeant Hugo Honeis, first-rate medic and vital to the survival of the team. He has been called upon countless times to patch up whatever’s left of Vanth’s warband after a run-in with his usual foes. Colonel Chase Vaux is in the centre – a steely-eyed sharp shooter armed with bolt pistol and power fist. Finally is Trooper Michael Grey, an unassuming guardsman with autogun and a secret power – traces of the Pariah gene. Vanth seeks out pariahs for his warband, and has ordered Grey along on the expedition. Whatever they find on the Sojourner, Grey’s powers against the warp and daemonkind would certainly come in useful.

Trellio’s hired help

From left to right: Conan, Trellio and TJ Razor

Hecate Trellio is an ex-guardsman turned smuggler, with dubious links equally to the Inquisition as to the criminal underworld. In this instance, she has been ‘requested’ by a former Inquisitorial associate to investigate the Sojourner and bring back whatever she can. Speed is vital, so she has rounded up two hired thugs from Port Impetus to help her – Conan the Unkillable and TJ Razor.

Conan was born in a hive city and brought up a criminal racket called the Red Hand Gang. His pigmentation mutation was largely overlooked for his convenient ability to see in the dark (although he has to wear special shades to see in the daylight), but none were prepared for his final party trick – regeneration. After ‘dying’ too many times to be believable, he moved to the fringes of space to make a living as a nigh-unkillable mercenary.

Razor was born into servitude in the belly of a great voidship, falling in with a labour gang called the Pursers Grim. His survival skills were sharpened as keenly as his knives, and his skills are highly sought after for those who need something dealt with quietly.

The investigation begins

Once again, our warbands start on opposing corners of the map with the objective in the centre. Unlike the first Prologue mission the map is dense with terrain, making progress along the ground safer but slower, whereas taking the high ground across the platforms would be quicker, but far more exposed.

Vaux’s warband on the left, Trellio’s warband on the right

Trellio’s mercenaries quickly move to cover, scanning the terrain ahead of them for the origin of the insane cackling they can hear. Trellio spots a pair of crewmen covered in dried blood on the central tower, the base strapped with metal like a bizarre totem pole.

She taps her microbead and informs her colleagues of the situation while TJ Razor sprints ahead.

Even in the guttering emergency lumens, the remaining crewmen can be seen welding chunks of metal to the loading tower, talking to themselves in a lilting cackle, occasionally breaking into wails of laughter. Trellio takes no chances, signalling both to her team as hostile.

Vaux’s warband are less fortunate with their initial checks – identifying the sound but not their source. They clamber up gantries and cautiously head to the centre, double-checking corners and scanning horizons for movement.

Trooper Grey mounts the base of a ladder, intending on taking the exposed catwalk directly to the centre.

Hearing the green light for a kill shot, Conan gets over-exuberant with mounting the walkway. He learns the importance of a Risky Action check, and clotheslines himself in the gut trying to leap onto the platform (right next to a perfectly good ladder).

Pretending not to notice Conan’s performance, Trellio scales the catwalk and crouches behind some railings. She clocks both crewmen and a mysterious third party – a military figure in dark uniform shouldering a rifle at the crewmen. She keeps her head down to see how it plays out.

The crystal is revealed! As Trellio squints through the gloom, she notices a sickly purple glow emanating from a cluster of crystals in the centre of the totem tower. The crewmen seem to be coveting it, talking to it as an exhausted father would a newborn.

An ill wind surrounds it, and staring too long strains the eyes and gives an overwhelming sense of nausea.

As Trellio looks on, Trooper Grey executes his orders. He squeezes his autogun’s trigger. Hot lead spatters the metal totem, chewing through the padded work gear of the crewman and biting into his gut.

The sound of gunfire is punctuated with the sound of manic wailing. Everyone hears and quickens their step.

Sergeant Honeis shoulders his lasgun and sets his sights on the second crewman. He looses a burst of fire but they patter harmlessly off the totem around his target. He curses under his breath as the crewman dips out of sight, hammer raised, screaming into the darkness.

The first crewman bounds towards his aggressor, dropping his welding torch en route from a heavy blow to the arm. Grey keeps his cool and keeps plugging shots into the mad deckhand until he stumbles and falls to the ground.

As far as she could tell, the dark-uniformed guardsman (and, presumably, whoever else was with him) hadn’t noticed her or her team yet. Trellio sneaks over to the vacated welding torch to see if there is a cunning distraction she could concoct with it, but locks eyes on the prize instead – a trio of incredible, glowing, nausea-inducing xenos crystals.

Meanwhile TJ Razor has secreted himself into a perfect striking position on the other side of the loading bay. TJ takes a huge huff on his inhaler of Spur, readying himself for a few turns of thrilling heroics.

The raging crewman on the walkway hasn’t noticed TJ at all, more predisposed with Sergeant Honeis peppering him with las fire. The crewman looses an unhinged laugh and bounds from platform to platform trying to close the gap.

Honeis realises the sudden danger of his situation and snaps his rifle to his cheek. The crewman was moving too fast to get a clear shot , ducking and weaving behind railings and exhaust stacks. The crewman leaps from the final platform…

Meanwhile, Vaux has moved into a central position and takes cover behind some low crates. He has been kept appraised of the unfolding situation by his inferiors, and has chosen this moment to place his considered shots.

Slowly and purposefully, he raises his bolt pistol to eye line and squeezes. The bolt rounds explode across the crewman, carving out huge chunks of flesh with every round. He is knocked from the air mid-flight and tumbles to the ground.

TJ Razor finally makes it to where the crewman was, only to see him tumble to the ground below. Not wanting to waste an opportunity, he leaps onto the wounded crewman, knife flashing in the lumen-light.

The blade plunges deep into the crewman’s shoulder, blood pouring from the wound. The crewman’s struggles bleed away in moments, leaving a lifeless body on the floor.

With all the enemy guns seemingly pointing everywhere except her, Trellio makes a break for the crystals. She thumbs a few snapdragon shells into her shotgun in case she needs to make a quick getaway, but Grey is too busy finishing off the crewman on his platform.

Conan, having spent the entirety of the game failing to climb ladders or roll more than 1 Action at a time, suddenly finds himself with a glut of energy.

With all four Actions being rolled every turn until the end of the game, he throws himself onto the platform and lays down a punishing hail of fire in Grey’s direction.

Vaux takes cover behind the crates and squeezes off a shot at TJ Razor, who returns fire with a throwing knife. Both marksmen fidget around cover, trying to land a definitive shot without revealing themselves.

TJ’s microbead pipes up – Trellio shouting over the sounds of gunfire and boots pounding on metal. She had secured whatever they’d come here to find – it was time to evac.

Protected by the withering covering fire from Conan, Trellio effortlessly covers the distance between her and the evac point. She makes off with the prize, ensuring she hands in the three two crystals to the appropriate authorities, as requested.

The last few warband members take a final few pot shots at one another to cover the retreat, but the scenario is over – victory goes to Trellio’s warband.

And yet…

With Trellio’s warband in hasty retreat with the crystals, Vaux and his team take a few moments to pore over the carnage the crewmen left behind. They discover the crystals were only one set of a much larger shipment – a shipment that is now conspicuously absent.

Scavengers must have made off with the other crystals, and with Port Impetus being the nearest convenient fence point for stolen xenos artifacts, it seems that they might have a much larger problem on their hands…

What next?

Thanks to our players and to our gracious hosts, Asgard Wargames! We’re pretty much done on prologue missions now, maybe squeezing in another if there is more interest among new players, but otherwise it’s on to the main event! Watch this space…

Inquisitor Battle Report: Death of a Vagabond, part 1

All the essentials

I’m running an Inquisitor campaign, The Gorgon Crystals, at my FLGS Asgard Wargames. The campaign will run over two weeks and comprising up to six scenarios, with a prologue period of almost a month to introduce people to the game and help build warbands.

We played our first prologue scenario this week – Death of a Vagabond.

++++Message Incoming++++

“We have received reports of a vagabond-class merchant vessel, the Sojourner, on a collision course with Port Impetus. It is non-responsive to hails, and at least one scavenger crew has boarded the Sojourner and not returned.

The Imperial Navy has been dispatched to intercept and destroy before it reaches Port Impetus, but the question remains: what happened on board the Sojourner?

Assemble an insertion team to investigate before it is destroyed and report your findings. Emperor protects.”

++++Message Ends++++

Setting the scene

Our two warbands were meeting in the cargo hold of an ore hauler, the Sojourner. The cargo crews had built a city of sorts among the ore, and it was among these ruins our explorers would come to blows.

Upon arriving, the warbands find the crew butchered by their own hands – some had clawed the skin from their flesh in a horrendous bout of insanity. The cause for this wave of madness wasn’t clear, but drag marks, manic wailing and strange energy readings indicated the source was in the cargo hold.

Environmental conditions

Emergency lumens still flicker here and there from fading batteries – it would require an Awareness check to successfully see another character.

Warbands

We had two players for this prologue game and some NPCs – a pair of deranged crewmen who had taken to building a pile of miscellaneous junk in the centre of town. One player used their own warband, the other was from a selection of pre-made warbands I had put together to introduce people to the game.

The Crimson Wake

From left to right: Zenkhang, Karo and Kraw

The Crimson Wake are a group of traitors, scum and heretics that have banded together to pursue whatever power is fueling the unrest in Haimm. They don’t care what it is, they just want to pinch it and use it for their own ends.

The first is Traitor Guardsman Zenkhang, an ex-soldier blessed with a strong constitution and a warp-tainted Plague Knife. The second is Arch-Heretic Lurz Karo, an ex-planetary governor who plunged a city into the abyss to further the whims of his dark patrons. The third is Traitor Guardsman Kraw, a gunslinger with an uncontrollable ability to phase in and out of reality.

Haimm Mercenaries

From left to right: Esmeralda, Sophia, Maxwell

This band of mercenaries were once part of a pilgrimage beyond Imperial space, but their vessel was torn apart by the gravity riptide of Haimm and they were stranded. They rebuilt themselves (literally, in some cases) as mercenaries capable of any job, and on the fringes of civilised space, there were plenty of jobs for those who needed to slip between the cracks.

First is Esmeralda, a bionic woman with a powerful terror-sword, a semi-powered two-handed weapon easily capable of cleaving a man in two. The leader of the group is Sophia, packing a sawn-off shotgun pistol, duelling blade and hidden conversion field. Finally there’s Maxwell, the team’s ranged support. His scoped rifle has put many holes in many heads.

The investigation begins

Our warbands begun at opposite corners of the table, with a pair of maddened crewmen in the centre to act as a buffer.

It is eerily quiet, without even the familiar hum of a plasma drive, and both warbands advance cautiously.

Zhenkang takes point for the Crimson Wake

Maxwell takes up an observation point in some ruins to the north of the clearing, picking out two figures in the gloom ahead. They seem to be dragging detritus onto a central pile – perhaps some kind of storage? It’s not clear. They also appear to be talking to themselves and covered head to toe in dried blood.

Poor crewmen, just want to make their awful sacrilegious totem in peace

Esmeralda wastes no time closing the gap between her and her prey. Maxwell had tagged two potential hostiles around the storage pile, and Esmeralda was having none of this ‘potential’ nonsense.

Maxwell sees Esmeralda moving up and places a shot straight into the crewman’s gut with his suppressed rifle. He rolls around in agony, wailing to himself. Someone’s sure to have heard that…

Meanwhile, the Crimson Wake have been taking an uncharacteristically cautious approach. Lurz wants whatever has turned these crewmen mad, and isn’t that fussed as to how he gets it.

He gives the nod to Zhenkang who unleashes a hail of lead from his shotgun, striding across the barricades and open ground, firing wildly from the hip. He’s having such a good time.

Gunfire fills the hangar bay. Sophia recognises the familiar sound of a pump-action shotgun – something none of her comrades carry – and identifies a third party threat. She microbeads a warning to her team – expect a fight.

Maxwell spots a strange purple glow emanating from the top of the garbage pile – a collection of crystals that churn the stomach to look upon. The crewmen seem to have been building this totem in reverence of the crystals – nobody has any idea what they could be, but it is undoubtedly the source of the crew’s madness.

With the objective revealed, Sophia breaks cover and sprints for the detritus heap in the centre. Maxwell covers her advance by putting a rifle round through the hip of the second crewman, who had been left bloodied by Zhenkang’s shotgun assault.

Esmeralda charges the crazed downed crewman, bisecting his top half from his bottom half in a single swing of her terror-sword.

Sophia scrambles up the side of the garbage heap to come face to face with a masked man covered in symbols of the Arch-Enemy. His mouth twists into a grin, warmed by the purple glow of the crystal, and bares jagged teeth.

“Oh, how I’d hoped I wouldn’t be the only one!”

Kraw had finally drawn a bead on Esmeralda, loosing off shots with his revolvers but unable to stop the relentless charge of the sword-wielding mercenary. Kraw’s dimensional instability had helped him avoid detection, but it didn’t help him against an overhead blow from Esmeralda’s terror-sword. A huge gash across his chest sends him sprawling to the ground.

Karo and Sophia pause, eyes locked, trying to guess the other’s intention. They both lunge for the crystal, Sophia’s hand grasping it first. Karo lurches awkwardly to one side, his play for the crystal was a fake!

She finds herself staring down the barrel of a mid-magnum stub revolver, just in time to hear the hammer crack against the firing pin.

An incredible burst of light erupts from Sophia’s chest. A concealed conversion field, undetected until now, exploded into life. The stub round’s kinetic energy reborn as a burst of sound and light, protecting Sophia and dazzling everyone unfortunate enough to be looking at her.

Karo raises his arm just in time, but Kraw and Zhenkang receive the full concussive blast, leaving them gasping for air. Maxwell had sighted up Zhenkang ready to land another shot only to have his optics fried by a sudden burst of light. He cursed, knowing full well what had happened, but was powerless to do anything about it.

Sophia raises her sawn-off, aiming for centre mass. Karo’s erratic movements throw off her aim and she tears a hole from the cloth on his arm. His twisted smile writhes into a manic grimace, his crooked teeth like a tray of used needles. He feints again, this time thrusting his sword straight towards Sophia’s face.

Her reflexes fail her, and she feels the cold steel inside her cheek, cutting a jagged tear from mouth to ear. Pain overwhelms her and she drops to a knee, spitting blood and broken teeth.

Her vision sharpens enough to see the red-robed figure of Karo escaping across the hangar floor, purple glowing crystal under his arm, with Zhenkang in tow. She makes a quick headcount, her senses still spinning. All her team were alive, but that flickering guardsman Kraw was nowhere to be seen.

Karo had escaped with the crystal, but Sophia was sure it wouldn’t be the last she saw of him.

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!

+++++++

Mercy Crier 8: Apotheosis

What a turnaroud! Our final week ends with the biggest comeback we’ve seen, with the Calorie Crooks jumping from last to first place in a single evening, guaranteeing themselves a position in the finale.

Apotheosis week has been kind to the Order as well, with their pole position from a successful rescue, shoot-out and downtown dust-up. The Mayhem gang maintained their lead, and the Iron Rovers managed to claw the necessary Rep out of the Inheritors’ weird, clammy hands in the final few games of the Turf War. A 3-way Border Dispute was always going to be messy…

With Apotheosis rules in full swing, the only thing for our gangs to do was duff each other up until four remained. The most significant effect this had was for Calorie Crooks who managed to steal Rep from all their games, and combined with a series of very good Cool checks in some shoot-out scenarios, managed to grab 12 Rep in just 3 games. The Top Dogs have been decided, all that’s left is the showdown…

All to play for: Apotheosis is a series of climactic battles designed to turn the tables on the bigger gangs. The 4 Gangs with the highest Rep at the end of this week will enter into a 4-way Showdown to determine the Lord of the Callowdecks.

  • A gang with a lower Rep than their opponent rolls 2d6 for Bottle checks and discards the higher number
  • A winning gang with a lower Rep than their opponent steals 1 Rep in addition to any other Rep rewards for that scenario
  • A losing gang reduces their Turf size by 1 to a minimum of 1

Juve of the week 8

It’s the final Juve of the Week for the Callowdecks and we have some candidates that personify the campaign in totality – two angry lads with shivs just trying to make the world a better place.

Juve of the week will return for one last special edition when the dust has settled, but until then let’s look at this week’s contestants on Who Is Knifiest:

Jim ‘Jimmy Two-Knives’ Bean made his final week a particularly spectacular one. In a shoot-out with the Order, he came toe-to-toe with a chain glaive wielding madman who whispered something about offering eternal knife.

Perhaps it was the multiple head injuries taking their toll, but Jimmy charged the demagogue with a vision to taking him out, but caught a chain glaive to the face instead.

Captured after the game, Jimmy now languishes in a stinking Order jail for the crime of bringing a knife to a gunfight.

Mincemeat is a new contender to Who Is Knifiest but has proven his worth. In a showdown between his own Leader and the punchy Inheritors Leader, Mincemeat intervened when his hammer-hefting boss wasn’t producing results.

In a stunning round of combat, the baby-faced Juve hit and wounded with all attacks, and when all the Leader’s saves came up snake eyes he kerb-stomped him with a flourish, causing the Inheritors to break and costing them the Rep needed to stay on the Leaderboard.

As always with Juve of the Week – will you vote for effort or for achievement?

Vote for your favourite Juve of the Week on both our regular vox channels:

Public service announcement, sponsored by Distilled Mayhem

“Resident idiot Juve last seen charging down the leader of the Emperor’s Sole gang, swinging knives wildly. 

The Distilled Mayhem gang are offering a reward for the safe return of this stupid but weirdly endearing Juve who arrived to a shoot out without anything to shoot with.

Or at least we want his knives back.

They were pretty nice knives.”

The Order of the Emperor’s Sole have released a statement:

“To all heathens and false-claimers of the Callowdecks, the scoundrel and drunkard known as Jimmy “Two Knives” was recovered from the field of glorious battle. Even though the heathen reeked of Amasec he has been granted mercy by my own blessed hand, as even though he was clearly out matched, unskilled and unworthy to fight the Emperor’s chosen sons, he did engage in pure, glorious and divine melee combat and for this his wounds were treated and he has been given “food” and shelter. For a suitable donation, the Order under my blessed command will make sure this man returns to his “family” healthy and in one piece. Do not dally however, the Emperor’s mercy does not last long”

Rumour in the underdecks is the going rate for Jimmy Two-Knives is 80 Credits – will Distilled Mayhem pay the ransom in time for the showdown?

Fashion Corner – King Beeflump III of the Calorie Crooks

A rarely-seen sight in the Callowdecks, the Leader of the Calorie Crooks made a smashing return to form. His twin power hammers and spooky smile make him look as deadly as he is.

Other highlights

Fighting was bitter, and we saw several shoot-outs, a downtown dust-up, a game played entirely in the dark and a three-way Border Dispute that lasted almost five hours!

The fighting was harsh as everyone battled for a chance at the coveted title of Lord of the Callowdecks.

shoot out – calorie crooks vs iron rovers

Two Goliaths roll cool checks at each other for 26(!) turns before the Rovers break and the Crooks butcher them.

Downtown dust-up – Iron Rovers vs The Order

Downtown dust-up, now with new civvie models!

The citizens of Mercy were delightfully unpredictable

This was a common sight – Civvies running for their lives

Iron Rovers took some hits early, but when both gangs were making Bottle checks they ground down the Order by attrition

This guy took a shining to Pooch and kept shooting in him in the back for the whole game

The final shot of Muzzle taking out the remaining Cawdor ganger. No civvies dead and only two fleeing meant the Rovers gained the full reward for victory

In the dark – calorie crooks vs the inheritors

The gangs could only target each other in 3″ or if someone had recently fired a weapon… bad news for both teams!

The Inheritors spider-bros out in force but struggling in the pitch black

The Inheritors Champion slotting Goliaths whenever he could see them

When the inheritor’s grav gun is on the field, this is a very common sight

Mincemeat deals the killing blow to the Inheritor’s leader, breaking the gang and scooping Rep for the Calorie Crooks

Rescue mission – Iron Rovers vs The Order

In our first (and only) stealth mission, the Order burst in the first door they find and gun down the Rovers heavy bolter champion

Before the others get a chance to react, the Order sweeps the rest of the Rovers off the board, leaving Muzzle alone to guard the hostage

The Rovers reinforcement arrives… on the other side of the map. The Rovers flee the field and the Order get their captive back.

Shoot out – Distilled Mayhem vs The Order

The Order are fortunate enough to have their Leader, a blunderbuss and a plasma gun in their line-up

Did we mention that every ganger in Distilled Mayhem packs blasting charges?

Jimmy charges but gets put down and captured. The Leader goes on to clean up the rest of the Mayhem gang now they’d run out of explosives.

shootout – distilled mayhem vs iron rovers

Distilled Mayhem bring their new bouncer to a shootout

Ogryn-servitor “Bouncer” with Flamin’ Moe in one hand (counts-as Arc Welder)

Iron Rovers learn a valuable lesson in not bringing any guns to a shoot-out and get flattened by the Bouncer

Border dispute – Iron Rovers, The Inheritors and Distilled Mayhem

Three gangs have a dispute over the bar

The Rovers’ luck was against them the whole game

Distilled Mayhem’s gang icon is well-themed

The Inheritors’ Champion guarding their stash

The brutal 3-way lasted 5 hours and only two Inheritors gangers were left standing

Mercy Crier 7: All That Glitters

Two down! Blackstar Hunters have officially retired this week due to commitments elsewhere and the Dreadquill House Gang 16th Law have stepped down. It would be difficult arbitrating the finale if the Arbitrator also had a horse in the race.

This is also the penultimate week before Apotheosis, so the gangs were dropped hints about what was to come. The finale will be an epic multi-brawl between the top four (!) gangs, no-holds barred, last-gang-standing fight to the end.

There is everything to play for to get into the top four gangs!

This week’s event shook things up for our gang but made it a little easier to get any last minute kit for the finale. D3 random fighters at the beginning of each game from every gang had to test Leadership – if they failed, they would be stricken with Insanity! This lead to some interesting tactical changes mid-way through some games, as well as some valiant sacrifices from some gangers deemed not worth saving from themselves.

On the up side, they got a boost to Rare Trade rolls, so they couldn’t say the Arbitrator was not merciful…

Whispers of the warp: The Callowdecks is giving up its riches… at a price. Forgotten things that slumbered are now waking, haunting the dreams of those that have ventured too far.

  • Rarity of all Trading Post items is reduced by 2
  • At the beginning of each game, randomly select D3 fighters in yoru crew and make a Leadership test for each. If they fail, place an Insanity marker on them as the voices in the walls become too much to bear
week 7 juve of the week

It’s a battle of madness for this Juve of the Week! Our event ‘Whispers in the Warp’ meant fighters had the chance to start every game with a touch of Insanity. Not much concern for the strong-willed among us, but for Juves who’ve had one too many head injuries, this was going to be a hard week for them…

Let’s see who was a few bullets short of a bolter this week!

Godfreed the Mad found himself facing off against two Goliaths in a darkened alley – not a pleasant place to be. Luckily, he’d seen things in the darkness he’d attributed to the Emperor and found himself afflicted with a bout of madness.

Such angry gnashing of teeth and stammering prayers had (apparently) caused the rival Goliath juve to panic and fire their only bullet at his team-mate.

Naturally he missed and jammed his weapon, earning ire from all those involved, so Godfreed hacked him apart in close combat. A devastating blow to both the Goliath team’s dignity and the poor juve’s skull.

Pup the Mad was afflicted with a case of the terrors at the beginning of a three-way Archeo-hunt – the least useful time to have a wayward juve shooting your team-mates in the back.

The Goliath Leader had a plan – when he showed a brief moment of sanity, he pumped the little guy with combat stimms, sending him into a frothing frenzy and aiming the mad lad towards the Emperor’s Sole Leader.

Actual achievement is overlooked in favour of effort, right?

Vote for your favourite Juve of the Week on both our regular vox channels:

Fashion corner – Hector the Crusading Step of the Order of the Emperor’s Sole

The newest Champion for the Order (and the longest title of any ganger to date) – an angry chap with a pair of flails and Crushing Blow. He’s yet to bloody them on the bonces of heathens, but we’re sure it’ll be impressive when he does.

Other highlights

This week saw a Shootout between the Rovers and the Order, with the Order having a great bout of luck with their Insanity rolls. We had a three-way Archeo-Hunt between the Order, Rovers and Boom Slag Belles, and another three-way Spook Harvest between the Sarin Sirens, Calorie Crooks and Distilled Mayhem.

Spook Harvest – Distilled Mayhem, Calorie Crooks and Sarin Sirens

Lots of gangers got very high on Spook including the Sarin Siren Juve ‘Rimes’ who became convinced that she was the living embodiment of the Emperor somewhere between her third and fourth huff of that sweet, sweet powder.

Eventually ‘Turner’ took one sniff too much and she had to be put down by a quick hose of Cassidy’s chem thrower. So that’s yet another death for the Sirens to mourn.

With the purchase of a new ganger to replace Turner, the sirens are right back to square one except for the rep they have picked up!

Shoot out – Iron Rovers vs The Order

This alleyway ain’t big enough for the two of us…

Godfreed cleans house and the remaining Rover retreats

Archeo-hunt – Rovers, Order and Boomslag Belles

Three gangs, two beep-boops, one vault

The newest member of the Order fails his Insanity check and blasts his boss

The Vault has its own guardians…

The mad Order ganger fails again, flees and is flamed *into* the flaming pit

The Order get sandwiched between two hungry gangs

The gangs call a brief truce to take out the Automata

The Order are wiped from the board, and the bottling Rovers declare a ceasefire with the Belles to get access to the Vault

Betrayal! The final Rover charges a Belle to remove her from blocking the Vault in his final turn!