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!

+++++++

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.