+++++ 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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-
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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).
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.
The crystal embeds into the sand, unfazed by the assault.
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!
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…
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: