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

Mawdryn’s Purge – Gorgon Crystals warband

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

You can see all the house warbands here.

Warband overview

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

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

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

Leader – Inquisitor Gregor Mawdryn

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sister Censorum Ivixia

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

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

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

Brother Zuul

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

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

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

Brother Jean-Luke and Brother Mungo

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

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

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

Brother Marvin and Brother Grunvald

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

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

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

Other warbands

You can see all the house warbands here.

Dune’s warband – Gorgon Crystals warband

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

You can see all the house warbands here.

Warband overview

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

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

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

Leader – Interrogator Ezekiel Dune

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

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

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

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

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

Smuggler hecate Trellio

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

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

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

Kroot Bounty Hunter Omar Anoke

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

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

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

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

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

Arbites-Proctor Martellus

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

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

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

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

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

OTHER WARBANDS

You can see all the house warbands here.

The Crimson Wake – Gorgon Crystals warband

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

You can see all the house warbands here.

WARBAND OVERVIEW

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

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

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

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

Leader – Arch-heretic Lurz Karo

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

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

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

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

Traitor Guardsman Dmitri

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

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

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

Traitor Guardsman Kraw

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

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

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

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

Mucus the Ancient

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

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

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

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

Traitor Guardsman Tlaxcala

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

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

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

Traitor Guardsman Zenkhang

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

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

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

Other warbands

You can see all the house warbands here.

Inquisitor Vanth and retinue – Gorgon Crystals warband

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

You can see all the house warbands here.

Warband overview

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

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

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

Leader – Inquisitor Tarik Vanth

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

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

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

Colonel Chase Vaux

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

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

Specialist Foric Scylan and Trooper michael grey

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

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

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

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

Trooper Gene Ric and Sergeant Hugo Honeis

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

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

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

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

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

Other warbands

You can see all the house warbands here.

Diamond’s Interests – Gorgon Crystals warband

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

You can see all the house warbands here.

Warband overview

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

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

Leader – Diamond One

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

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

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

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

Chrono-gladiator Aries

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

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

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

Guilder Romaan Fetch

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

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

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

Guilder Max Rockatansky

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

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

Clamps

via GIPHY

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

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

Inquisitor: Gorgon Crystals warbands

The Gorgon Crystals Inquisitor campaign is almost upon us, so let’s look at the house warbands on offer for our players.

Players are encouraged to build and use their own warbands, but for those who don’t have enough minis to fill out a roster (or are just starting off) – there’s plenty to choose from.

Warbands have a variable size depending on the access to resources their leader has. Although players will typically be taking the same number of miniatures into their games as each other, having a large warband to pick from gives you a tactical advantage (but the unfortunate agony of choice!).

Every warband will have its own feature article on them, but for now they’re all listed here for posterity.

The Crimson Wake

As seen in the first Prologue mission, the Crimson Wake are a collection of Chaos Undivided mutants, traitors and heretics dedicated to disruption, anarchy and undoing the works of the Holy Inquisition.

Lead by Arch-Hertic Karo Lurz, they predominantly recruit ex-guardsmen and ‘useful’ mutants into their echelons, but they are not above using swathes of expendable goons to achieve their goals. Their ‘gifts’ are sometimes aligned with individual Chaos gods, such as Zhenkang’s plague knife or Mucus’ immense strength and lust for blood.

Their detailed article is here:

Diamond’s Interests

Diamond One, the callsign of a mysterious benefactor arrived at Port Impetus with a vested (and well-financed) interest in the Gorgon Crystals. Originally from Daphnia, it is rumoured he is part of the infamous propaganda machine The Precipice Dreadquill, but such hearsay is quickly dismissed as fanciful.

He has allied himself with a guild of chrono-gladiators, the Deathclock Guild, lead by the fearsome Aries. Not only do such deep pockets need careful protection, but Diamond One has promised the cybernetic warrior reprieve to permanently pause his built-in death clock if he can help Diamond One secure a crystal for himself.

They are accompanied by Aries’ pit crew, as the lack of prehensile thumbs makes repairs and refuelling quite tricky for the ageing chrono-gladiator.

Their detailed article is here:

Interrogator Dune’s Warband

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

He is joined in battle by trusted agents from all walks of life that he can rely on to watch his back and carry out orders without hesitation.

Their detailed article is here:

Mawdryn’s Purge

Inquisitor Tanik Mawdryn was exiled from the Onus Conclave for his highly questionable methods of intelligence gathering – burning a hive city for suspected heresy on circumstantial evidence. He wandered the fringes of the sector, gathering a group of zealots and fanatics to his cause.

He has also recruited the silent help of Sister Ivixia of the Order Censorum, a radical sect of the Orders Famulous dedicated to deleting mutation and corruption from high Imperial society with extreme prejudice, specialising in the annihilation of texts and artefacts. The fact Mawdryn attracts genetic deviants to his cause desperate for redemption in the eyes of the holy Emperor is not an irony lost to him, and Sister Ivixia is a powerful encouragement tool for joining his ranks.

Their detailed article is here:

Vanth’s Warband

Inquisitor Vanth is a radical member of the Ordo Malleus – barely tolerated by the Conclave if not for relentlessly producing results against the forces of Chaos. Subscribing closely to Xanthitism, Vanth wields a daemon blade that hungers for the flesh of other warp entities, and boasts his own considerable psychic prowess.

He is joined by loyal, die-hard bodyguards recruited from various ranks and regiments of the Imperial Guard, hand picked for their skills, force of will, or – in the case of the pariah Trooper Grey – an accident of birth.

Their detailed article is here:

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.