What a turnaroud! Our final week ends with the biggest comeback we’ve seen, with the Calorie Crooks jumping from last to first place in a single evening, guaranteeing themselves a position in the finale.
Apotheosis week has been kind to the Order as well, with their pole position from a successful rescue, shoot-out and downtown dust-up. The Mayhem gang maintained their lead, and the Iron Rovers managed to claw the necessary Rep out of the Inheritors’ weird, clammy hands in the final few games of the Turf War. A 3-way Border Dispute was always going to be messy…
With Apotheosis rules in full swing, the only thing for our gangs to do was duff each other up until four remained. The most significant effect this had was for Calorie Crooks who managed to steal Rep from all their games, and combined with a series of very good Cool checks in some shoot-out scenarios, managed to grab 12 Rep in just 3 games. The Top Dogs have been decided, all that’s left is the showdown…
All to play for: Apotheosis is a series of climactic battles designed to turn the tables on the bigger gangs. The 4 Gangs with the highest Rep at the end of this week will enter into a 4-way Showdown to determine the Lord of the Callowdecks.
A gang with a lower Rep than their opponent rolls 2d6 for Bottle checks and discards the higher number
A winning gang with a lower Rep than their opponent steals 1 Rep in addition to any other Rep rewards for that scenario
A losing gang reduces their Turf size by 1 to a minimum of 1
Juve of the week 8
It’s the final Juve of the Week for the Callowdecks and we have some candidates that personify the campaign in totality – two angry lads with shivs just trying to make the world a better place.
Juve of the week will return for one last special edition when the dust has settled, but until then let’s look at this week’s contestants on Who Is Knifiest:
Jim ‘Jimmy Two-Knives’ Bean made his final week a particularly spectacular one. In a shoot-out with the Order, he came toe-to-toe with a chain glaive wielding madman who whispered something about offering eternal knife.
Perhaps it was the multiple head injuries taking their toll, but Jimmy charged the demagogue with a vision to taking him out, but caught a chain glaive to the face instead.
Captured after the game, Jimmy now languishes in a stinking Order jail for the crime of bringing a knife to a gunfight.
Mincemeat is a new contender to Who Is Knifiest but has proven his worth. In a showdown between his own Leader and the punchy Inheritors Leader, Mincemeat intervened when his hammer-hefting boss wasn’t producing results.
In a stunning round of combat, the baby-faced Juve hit and wounded with all attacks, and when all the Leader’s saves came up snake eyes he kerb-stomped him with a flourish, causing the Inheritors to break and costing them the Rep needed to stay on the Leaderboard.
As always with Juve of the Week – will you vote for effort or for achievement?
Vote for your favourite Juve of the Week on both our regular vox channels:
Public service announcement, sponsored by Distilled Mayhem
“Resident idiot Juve last seen charging down the leader of the Emperor’s Sole gang, swinging knives wildly.
The Distilled Mayhem gang are offering a reward for the safe return of this stupid but weirdly endearing Juve who arrived to a shoot out without anything to shoot with.
Or at least we want his knives back.
They were pretty nice knives.”
The Order of the Emperor’s Sole have released a statement:
“To all heathens and false-claimers of the Callowdecks, the scoundrel and drunkard known as Jimmy “Two Knives” was recovered from the field of glorious battle. Even though the heathen reeked of Amasec he has been granted mercy by my own blessed hand, as even though he was clearly out matched, unskilled and unworthy to fight the Emperor’s chosen sons, he did engage in pure, glorious and divine melee combat and for this his wounds were treated and he has been given “food” and shelter. For a suitable donation, the Order under my blessed command will make sure this man returns to his “family” healthy and in one piece. Do not dally however, the Emperor’s mercy does not last long”
Rumour in the underdecks is the going rate for Jimmy Two-Knives is 80 Credits – will Distilled Mayhem pay the ransom in time for the showdown?
Fashion Corner – King Beeflump III of the Calorie Crooks
A rarely-seen sight in the Callowdecks, the Leader of the Calorie Crooks made a smashing return to form. His twin power hammers and spooky smile make him look as deadly as he is.
Fighting was bitter, and we saw several shoot-outs, a downtown dust-up, a game played entirely in the dark and a three-way Border Dispute that lasted almost five hours!
The fighting was harsh as everyone battled for a chance at the coveted title of Lord of the Callowdecks.
shoot out – calorie crooks vs iron rovers
Downtown dust-up – Iron Rovers vs The Order
In the dark – calorie crooks vs the inheritors
Rescue mission – Iron Rovers vs The Order
Shoot out – Distilled Mayhem vs The Order
shootout – distilled mayhem vs iron rovers
Border dispute – Iron Rovers, The Inheritors and Distilled Mayhem
Two down! Blackstar Hunters have officially retired this week due to commitments elsewhere and the Dreadquill House Gang 16th Law have stepped down. It would be difficult arbitrating the finale if the Arbitrator also had a horse in the race.
This is also the penultimate week before Apotheosis, so the gangs were dropped hints about what was to come. The finale will be an epic multi-brawl between the top four (!) gangs, no-holds barred, last-gang-standing fight to the end.
There is everything to play for to get into the top four gangs!
This week’s event shook things up for our gang but made it a little easier to get any last minute kit for the finale. D3 random fighters at the beginning of each game from every gang had to test Leadership – if they failed, they would be stricken with Insanity! This lead to some interesting tactical changes mid-way through some games, as well as some valiant sacrifices from some gangers deemed not worth saving from themselves.
On the up side, they got a boost to Rare Trade rolls, so they couldn’t say the Arbitrator was not merciful…
Whispers of the warp: The Callowdecks is giving up its riches… at a price. Forgotten things that slumbered are now waking, haunting the dreams of those that have ventured too far.
Rarity of all Trading Post items is reduced by 2
At the beginning of each game, randomly select D3 fighters in yoru crew and make a Leadership test for each. If they fail, place an Insanity marker on them as the voices in the walls become too much to bear
week 7 juve of the week
It’s a battle of madness for this Juve of the Week! Our event ‘Whispers in the Warp’ meant fighters had the chance to start every game with a touch of Insanity. Not much concern for the strong-willed among us, but for Juves who’ve had one too many head injuries, this was going to be a hard week for them…
Let’s see who was a few bullets short of a bolter this week!
Godfreed the Mad found himself facing off against two Goliaths in a darkened alley – not a pleasant place to be. Luckily, he’d seen things in the darkness he’d attributed to the Emperor and found himself afflicted with a bout of madness.
Such angry gnashing of teeth and stammering prayers had (apparently) caused the rival Goliath juve to panic and fire their only bullet at his team-mate.
Naturally he missed and jammed his weapon, earning ire from all those involved, so Godfreed hacked him apart in close combat. A devastating blow to both the Goliath team’s dignity and the poor juve’s skull.
Pup the Mad was afflicted with a case of the terrors at the beginning of a three-way Archeo-hunt – the least useful time to have a wayward juve shooting your team-mates in the back.
The Goliath Leader had a plan – when he showed a brief moment of sanity, he pumped the little guy with combat stimms, sending him into a frothing frenzy and aiming the mad lad towards the Emperor’s Sole Leader.
Actual achievement is overlooked in favour of effort, right?
Vote for your favourite Juve of the Week on both our regular vox channels:
Fashion corner – Hector the Crusading Step of the Order of the Emperor’s Sole
The newest Champion for the Order (and the longest title of any ganger to date) – an angry chap with a pair of flails and Crushing Blow. He’s yet to bloody them on the bonces of heathens, but we’re sure it’ll be impressive when he does.
This week saw a Shootout between the Rovers and the Order, with the Order having a great bout of luck with their Insanity rolls. We had a three-way Archeo-Hunt between the Order, Rovers and Boom Slag Belles, and another three-way Spook Harvest between the Sarin Sirens, Calorie Crooks and Distilled Mayhem.
Spook Harvest – Distilled Mayhem, Calorie Crooks and Sarin Sirens
Lots of gangers got very high on Spook including the Sarin Siren Juve ‘Rimes’ who became convinced that she was the living embodiment of the Emperor somewhere between her third and fourth huff of that sweet, sweet powder.
Eventually ‘Turner’ took one sniff too much and she had to be put down by a quick hose of Cassidy’s chem thrower. So that’s yet another death for the Sirens to mourn.
With the purchase of a new ganger to replace Turner, the sirens are right back to square one except for the rep they have picked up!
This week saw some grudge matches played out on the broken hull-plate floors of the Callowdecks – some shootouts between rival juves, a rematch between old rivals and a new stompy Brute has entered the field.
After this week, 16th Law will turn down the chance of being in the Showdown – being part of the Turf War has been great fun, but the finale will need an Arbitrator! Hopefully we’ll see them again in another Turf War soon.
It’s also been a bad week for pets – the Inheritor’s spider, “Numbers”, got torched, Mayhem’s pooch got blasted by las-fire and the Iron Rovers got to field their first pet, a sumpkroc named “Dog”, for all of a single game before the Inheritors cut it down with massed small arms fire.
This week’s event introduced some extra creds for tipping off House Agents with useful intel about 16th Law, potentially earning a gang extra cash as a Leader’s Post-Battle Action. They’ll surely need it for the next two weeks…
We also agreed to increase the campaign’s length by 1 week due to scheduling conflicts.
Extra Time… For Some: The treasures of the Callowdecks attract many interested parties, some more profitable than others. Some agents of a Noble House have been spotted nosing around 16th Law’s turf and are willing to pay handsomely for any information of their recent activities.
The campaign is extended by 1 week
16th Law receives half income from the Working the Turf Post-Battle Action
All gang Leaders (except 16th Law) may make a special Post-Battle Action this week:
Valuable Information: if you pass an Intelligence test the Agents compensate you 2d6x10 Credits
Week 6 Juve of the week
Juve of the Week is a little unusual this week as we have an honourary Juve vying for the title. There were strong contenders – Jeacock the Gammy was looking to make his third appearance by gunning down an Iron Rover Champion in a Shoot Out, and Job ‘Tentacle Wrangler’ showed enthusiasm but was ultimately shown the door against Mayhem’s leader with a servo-claw. We’re running short on Juves…
Dog is no ordinary Juve, but he lived like one (and most importantly, died like one) and earned a place at the Emperor’s kibble bowl.
He lived only one game, but lasted long enough to vault two ravines on a 6+ and charge down a corridor of Van Saar laser death to save his master.
He would have gotten away with it too, were it not for some cheap resourceful tactics by the Order sending the Rovers’ Champion to the doc. When they only had the cash to save one, Dog gave his organs willingly to save the team’s Champion (who had gotten himself crushed by walls again).
Jimmy Two-Knives found himself in a predicament, but rose to the challenge in a way only a Juve with Two Knives could. Jimmy had not been paying attention in Knife School, where he would have learned that the trend of the campaign was More Knives > Fewer Knives.
He bravely charged down the Inheritor’s newest toy, an Arachno-Rig, knives blazing. Unfortunately the giant cyber-spider had three knives, and made very short work of the spunky young go-getter.
Will we see him return from recovery with a third knife? Only time will tell…
Vote for your favourite Juve of the Week on both our regular vox channels:
The Leader of the Iron Rovers, Muzzle is more steel than man. Part from his massive biceps, part from all the metal plates in his head from stray fire. It turns out that many gangers would kick a dog when he’s down.
We had two Shootouts and another three-way Escape The Pit with the Inheritors, Iron Rovers and the Order, and rounded the week off with a Stand-Off between the Inheritors and Distilled Mayhem.
Shootout – 16th Law vs The Order of the Emperor’s Sole
shootout – iron rovers vs the order of the emperor’s sole
Escape the pit – the inheritors, Iron Rovers and the Order
shootout – distilled mayhem vs the inheritors
Don’t forget to follow us for more updates and to vote for your favourite Juve of the Week on both our regular vox channels:
Last week was Respite (so no Mercy Crier), earning our gangs valuable time to recover their fighters and consolidate their earnings. A much needed break in the conflict for some and a teeth-gnashing stay of hand for others.
The gangs have split into three broad groups, owing to a combination of bad luck and real world commitments. 16th Law and Distilled Mayhem are the forerunners, with the Order and the Inheritors placing in the middle of the table. Next week’s event should even the scores out a little…
In another week of firsts, two new scenarios had been tried out by our gangs – Archeo-Hunter and Monster Hunt – both with high stakes and high rewards. Both 16th Law and the Inheritors faced off against the Monster and were battered by tentacles and fled the field, so the monster still stalks the sump.
This was coupled with the week’s event ‘Dwellers in the Depths’, making every scenario very deadly for the unprepared.
Hunted by Ghilliam: Haunting the dark spaces and abandoned holds of great vessels are the Ghilliam – debased, insane mutants and carrion eaters that have made the Callowdecks their new hunting ground.
All scenarios this week use the ‘Horrors in the Dark’ special rule from the Forgotten Riches scenario
All scenarios this week must have a Beast’s Lair token. Any fighter who kills the Beast’s Lair gets D3 additional experience.
wEEK 5 JUVE OF THE WEEK
Juve of the Week is producing more interesting results as the weeks go on – either all our juves get turned into Swiss cheese early in a game or they continue to go on to do great deeds and thrilling heroics.
Honourable mention goes to the newest (and last) addition to the Order, who on his first game huffed a big bag of Spook, gained a psychic power and was immediately gunned down at point blank range by a Boom Slag Belle. Such is life!
Jeacock the Gammy has booked a place at the Emperor’s table, even if he’s not quite ready for dinner yet. A devastating attack launched by Nox’s chem-thrower of the Boom Slag Belles left four of Jeacock’s comrades seriously injured in one fell swoop.
Jeacock passed his Nerve test for the devastation wrought on his brothers, bravely pulled himself to his feet and opened up on Nox with all the spunk and vigour one would expect from the Emperor’s Finest.
He was promptly vaporised in a ball of white-hot plasma from Nox’s wingman shortly afterwards, but it’s the thought that counts.
Job of the Inheritors proves himself to be ever resourceful, and in a Monster Hunt scenario against 16th Law found himself up against not one but THREE Beast Lair tokens thanks to some suicidal juves from the opposing gang.
With a Tactics Card played from the Van Saar deck that allowed him to Rapid Fire three times, he needed a string of sixes to hit and wound. His successes were met with a rousing cheer from all (including a few weak hoorays from his battered gangmates on the floor).
Vote for your favourite Juve of the Week on both our regular vox channels:
This week is the Leader of the Boom Slag Belles – Scarlett. She is pictured here in a rare moment of self preservation, firing her combi-bolter/needle rifle at foes from a comfortable piece of cover.
In a practically guaranteed act of victory, in a Spook Harvest scenario she charged down the Cardinal of the Order, expecting to slice him to ribbons with her power sword. It didn’t quite go her way, and a duff set of rolls meant Scarlett sat the rest of the game out, nursing her ego and wondering where it all went wrong.
The Inheritors and 16th Law locked horns in a Monster Hunt scenario, neither walking away with the prize. The Order joined in next, with a three-way for control of a vault in Archeo Hunter.
The Order and Boom Slag Belles faced off in a Spook Harvest scenario, with the Inheritors and Distilled Mayhem facing off in a Shoot Out to round off the week.
16th law vs inheritors – Monster hunt
Inheritors, 16th law and the order – archeo-hunt
The Order vs boom slag belles – spook harvest
Inheritors vs Distilled Mayhem – shoot out
Facing off down a creepy corridor of the Callowdecks, six gang members and one cybermastiff locked eyes and prepared to draw.
The Inheritors and their humiliated ganger were quick to go for their guns, but the liquor fueled the men of Mayhem to get the first shots off.
The Inheritors had a fairly easy start to the showdown, pinning all of the opposition and wounding the cybermastiff, but the wily pooch quickly recovered from its flesh wound and bore down on the Van Saars as grenades rattled and rumbled throughout the corridor.
The Inheritors were quickly forced to pull back when the vicious bite of the cybermastiff took out one of their gang, effectively leaving them outnumbered two to one.
Lacking the means to go on under the weight of numbers, they scattered into the night whilst the members of Distilled Mayhem stood victorious, gaining massive reputation.
The Inheritors gained one reputation while Distilled Mayhem cleaned up a cool-keeping five!
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Unstoppable! Distilled Mayhem may have arrived late in the Turf War but have exploded into second position. The Cawdor gang holds firmly onto third place after a run-in with the Inheritors and 16th Law during the week.
This Cycle saw our first four-way gang brawl – 16th Law, Distilled Mayhem, Boom Slag Belles and Iron Rovers duking it out in a three-hour scenario of Escape the Pit. It’s a great mission for getting Rep quickly, as the Mayhem gang found out!
In another Callowdecks premier, Mayhem are the first gang to pick up a pet – Chaser the cyber mastiff has quickly earned himself a number of kills in as many games.
In our last week before Respite, the event was ‘Mark the Maps’, increasing the chance of a gang gaining Turf at the end of each game.
Any game you had fighters still standing at the end, you had had a 3+ chance on a D6 to increase your Turf by 1. Any scenario that already had Turf as a reward meant you automatically confirmed to gain a Special Territory!
Turf Rush: As the Callowdecks are explored by daring souls and plucky Juves, its vastness becomes increasingly apparent – gangs will need more forward bases if they are to plunders its wealthiest depths.
If your gang is still on the board at the end of the game (ie does not Retreat and is not wiped out) roll a D6. On a 3+ increase your Turf Size by 1.
If the Scenario already includes Turf rewards, defer to those instead. However, during the Post Battle Sequence, you automatically pass the roll to generate a Special Territory, even if it wasn’t one to begin with.
Week 2 Juve of the Week nominations
Juve of the Week had some tough competition, unfortunately mostly from the same gang! The Order had two great entrants, but only one could be picked.
The narrow miss for nomination was a Juve dragging a loot crate to the extraction point in Escape the Pit, but taking a pot shot at the 16th Law Leader as he went, expecting nothing.
Instead he hit, wounded, and Out of Actioned the Leader with a permanent hand injury!
Hosanna won her nomination following the popular trend of Two Knives > Anything Else. After being blasted to bits, crawling through a duct into pure darkness and with two flesh wounds to her name, she still managed to find the Iron Rovers leader and administer a Humiliating Lasting Injury.
She figured “If I have to die, I’m whittling my name into this jerk’s unspeakables first…”
Renart the Fungal‘s watch has finally ended. After heroically gunning down a 16th Law ganger and taking a bolt-shell for his teammate, he crawls to his Cardinal for aid.
First result: OUT OF ACTION. But wait, don’t you get an assist for his Leader being within 2 inches? Yes! Second result: OUT OF ACTION.
No matter, surely his Lasting Injury won’t be that ba-MEMORABLE DEATH.
Renard was (apparently) decreed to have performed with adequate valour, and the Cardinal carried out the Emperor’s Mercy upon him. With a chain glaive.
Truly a blessed relief we can all wish for in such tumultuous times.
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This week is the Leader of the Order of the Emperor’s Sole – the Cardinal of the Divine Arch. Resplendent with a chainglave, grenades and a variety of ranged weapons, he’s a cheap and cheerful solution to a problem so many gangs of the Callowdecks are facing – having too many team-mates.
The Order faced off against 16th Law and the Inheritors in one night, and later in the week was a four-way rumble between Iron Rovers, Boom Slag Belles, 16th Law and Distilled Mayhem.
16th Law vs The Order
In a bid to try out the Escape the Pit scenario, 16th Law and the Order agreed to give the scenario a bash with some of their fastest crew. Two teams versus each other versus the walls – what could possibly go wrong?
Four-way Escape the Pit
Don’t forget to follow us for more updates and to vote for your favourite Juve of the Week on both our regular vox channels:
The first of our Callowdecks battle reports is a brawl between an Orlock gang “16th Law” (my own gang) and a Van Saar gang “The Inheritors“. We agreed on the ‘Stand-Off’ scenario to test our gangs out, using all the default rules for deployment and battlefield setup.
We rolled a 1 for determining how much cover there was going to be, and it wasn’t pretty. This was going to be a bloodbath…
With custom gang deployment, we both secretly picked equal gang sizes. The Inheritors (top of the board) had two gangers, a juve, a leader and a champion. 16th Law had a leader, three gangers and a juve.
Although we’d played a few times before this was the first campaign game we’d both played, so we were both very conscious about lasting repercussions. I didn’t really pay attention to the victory conditions of the scenario, which is one of the biggest learning points I took away from this game, so the outcome was more luck than tactics.
The dice fell for Priority and the game commenced.
I use similar tactics for Necromunda as I do for video games – run forwards as fast as possible at get as much ground as you can early on. We House Ruled that the cover terrain would nearly always confer a better cover save than corners, so that was going to be my preferred sniping spot.
The 16th Law Leader snapped a shot off at the Van Saar twin plasma-pistol wielding Champion in the opening move and took him Out Of Action immediately. We both gained a new-found respect for bolt weapons.
Both gangs exchanged small arms fire, and both the Inheritors Leader with grav gun and my own ganger with a grenade launcher failing to find targets.
A few small arms attacks hit home – the 16th Law grenade launcher finds himself Seriously Injured by a las carbine and his buddy is pinned. A 16th Law bolter ganger finds a mark on another Inheritors ganger but only manages to pin him.
Mumps decided to earn some hero points, opened his door and fired on the Van Saar leader to no avail. He got himself charged by the rival juve and we both became very excited. Two Juves Enter, One Juve Leaves.
Both juves failed to hit with any attacks.
From what was very promising opening turn, things had gone downhill quickly for 16th Law…
The Inheritors Leader lands a terrible blow with his grav gun, Seriously Injuring the bolter ganger in the middle of the map. To make matters worse, the Inheritors Juve sees off the 16th Law Juve, proving himself to be King Juve of this map.
The grenade launcher ganger was recovered in the previous turn by his helpful buddy, and all three remaining 16th Law fighters withdraw out of line of sight.
I could pretend it was a cunning feint to lure the Inheritors into a trap, but really I just didn’t want any more of my guys squished by the grav gun.
The Inheritors Juve moves to flank the remaining 16th Law fighters but finds himself eating frag grenade in an unprecedented useful shot from the grenadier.
The Inheritors leader follows the same path to get an easy flanking shot with his grav gun, and the other Inheritors gangers keep taking pot shots at whoever they can see.
In the final throes of the combat, the Seriously Injured bolter ganger crawls back to his buddies and they help him to his feet, narrowly helping him avoid rolling on the Lasting Injuries table.
At this point, I figured discretion was the better part of valour, and opted to withdraw my gang and concede victory to the Inheritors. I’d rather live to fight another day than risk anyone valuable getting ground into paste.
A tense game but very enjoyable! It was only during the wrap-up that we worked out that the victory conditions were for taking out opponents and less about last-man-standing. We added up the points and it turned out to be a 3:1 victory to 16th Law!
After that totally intentional victory, we reflected on what had happened. Grav guns are great, bolters are great and juves are adorably sucky. Amusingly, Mumps was the only person to have any permanent injury – he got the “Humiliated” result on the Lasting Injuries table, so his opponent Job got the title “Job the Humiliator”. A title I hope comes back to bite him another day…
Last time on the Herald, our players landed an incursion force on the storm-wreathed world of Cilice Prime, stole a Taurox pulling the universe’s last known supply of Cilice Gin, leveled an estate with its guns and psychically commanded an army of cannibal abhumans to fight itself. They were left with a few more marks on the map, a full tank of gas and a compulsion to loot.
Rain lashes down, running across the uneven valley floor into a deep, dark river. Patches of fungus seem to be growing quite contentedly by the side of the road, and every now and then you catch a glimpse of more figures in the rain that scurry away to hide as you thunder past in your Taurox.
The ugly palace-fortress of the Glaw Estate begins to emerge from thick curtains of rain. A massive construction that was probably once quite beautiful, now layered thick with armour and crumbling weaponry.
The Grin Estate was now swarming with loyal armsmen and technomats brought down from the orbiting Unbroken Resolve on heavy halo barges. They were on hand to ruthlessly loot the estate of its worldly belongings and reinforce the Explorer’s immediate retinue.
The Missionary, Lyoness, hand picked a few more of her covenant to join her. She decided that her Covenant were named after ancient Terran saints, famed for their war-hymns. We are joined by Zeppelin, Ziggy, Iggy and Acey-Deecey.
We fill out the Taurox’s capacity with Master Zilla at the controls and Von Gunn on guns and thunder off into the rain.
The Glaw Estate
No messing about this time. With the Astropath firing off his psychic mind scan (much to the surprise and discomfort of everyone trapped in the little metal box with him) and ascertaining the resistance was next to none, the Captain gives the order to ram the front gates.
There is clearly nowhere near the level of intelligence as in the Grin Estate, and whatever wretches are still present in the estate scatter and flee at the big angry gunbuggy. The team slowly and cautiously make their way to the lower levels.
They discover tread marks and scraps of pilgrim robes around the Glaw Estate leading down to the vaults. There is also a lot of broken religious iconography around the place, unusual for a criminal organisation.
It’s dark, and the vaulted ceilings carry their voices out into the darkness. They occasionally spot more of the abhumans, but they always stay just out of sight and weapons range. The Explorers decide it’s best not to waste the ammunition.
They arrive at the vault, a similar size and makeup to the one from the Grin Estate. It is air tight and sealed from inside. Oggy-Bong fires up the lascutter. The players had had a sinking feeling since they arrived, and the “YOU HAVE ALERTED THE HORDE” noise was palatable. Oggy-Bong shouts over the gunfire it will take just over a minute for him to get the door open.
Liquid hunger pours from the darkness, dressed in rags and purple flesh.
This section it was time to play hard and fast with the rules. If they were able to beat a target’s TB of 3, they killed it. I put a little marker down on the board to represent a body, and the model gets brought on from another table edge in subsequent turns. Weight of numbers and the press of bodies in a confined space would be the main threat.
We had a few extra Armsmen in tow this game – this is just beyond the upper limit of how many player-controlled models I would prefer to have on the board to keep things flowing smoothly. The Astropath player’s actual real-life brother was in the area that day though, and rather than delay the game or leave him out while his brother rolled dice, I offered him a place in the session.
The wretches came in waves, crashing against the bulwark of the Orthesian Dynasty. Everyone played their part in sinking bullets and plasma into wasted flesh, dropping the wretches left and right. The bodies begin to pile up.
After a turn or two, it becomes apparent this might not be sustainable for six turns – they would either run out of luck or ammunition. Freeman decides the best course of action would be to plug his potentia coil into the operational lascutter and turn it up to 11.
Against tricky odds, he superjuices the lascutter, knocking a few turns off the clock as poor Oggy-Bong clings on for dear life.
The team spread out, trying to cover as many entrances as possible. Von Gunn and armsman Felicity cover the top left corridor. Felicity finds out she is entirely superfluous and there largely for moral support. The Captain and Thud guard the bottom left entrance. Astropath Gil and Voidmaster Zilla take up centre stage, using their ranged weapons to most effect. Lyoness and her Covenant of mad chainsaw-wielding warrior women lock down the uh.. everywhere.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the board:
Dedicated melee character Captain Orthesian discovers the hilarious repercussions of combining a low movement speed with a force field that teleports you randomly away from trouble whenever you are hit. The Captain spends most of this game charging into combat, getting fingered by some hungry schmuck with a pointy stick and his displacer field panics and throws him 2d10 inches in a random direction to repeat the process. I even had to add a new tile to the board just to encompass the distance moved.
Hearty chortles and slapped thighs all round, except the Captain.
It was coming up to the final turn, and things were turning sour. Ammunition was running low, the Captain was not in the melee enough to make his power sword’s presence felt, and the Covenant were looking battered and bruised.
Iggy falls to the wretches. They tear off her hand and begin to drag her into the darkness. Lyoness is having none of this nonsense and hurtles off to save her. Iggy’s life is saved, but she might NEED A HAND from now on.
The last few inches of vault door are carved apart by Oggy Bong. As the thick blast door slams inwards, internal lumens activate, blasting the darkness with holy light. A mighty Imperial Aquila, polished to within an inch of its life, is emblazoned on the opposite wall of the vault. Its blessed light shines through the darkness, the wretches recoiling in fear and awe at the sign of the God-Emperor. They had done it.
You head into the vault, down the stairs and underneath the shining Imperial Aquila. The air is stale and tastes of death.
In the vault proper you see a congregation of Imperial worshippers in a circle lying dead on the floor, each executed with a las round to the back of the head. There are no signs of a struggle.
A senior priest is propped up against a baroque mobile shrine on tank treads, a las wound through the side of his head and a laspistol in his hand. A hand-written note is placed neatly in front of him that simply reads “Without the dark there can be no light. Emperor forgive me.”
There was no doubt that this was the Imperial Mission that Brother Espin requested they find. They said a small prayer and got to the important task of looting the vault for everything it was worth.
Gold and jewels as far as the eye could see, painted chalices, stained glass windows and ornamented priestly robes – everything in the vault looked like it would have been donated to (or taken from) churches across Imperial space. The Missionary said a small prayer to the lost and opened her loot sack wide.
Standing proud of the jewels was a display case holding an arcane-looking weapon – a bolter with built-in stake thrower. A Condemnor-pattern boltgun (page 81 of Faith and Coin) with a crowssbow mechanism designed to fire holy bolts inscribed with runes of banishment and exorcism. Valuable in its own right, but in the hands of a daemon huntress…
The mobile shrine-canter had build-in loud-hailers and incense burners and a simple movement-slave module so it can trundle along behind its owner. It has a shrine on the front clearly meant to hold a large weapon, but was currently empty. A dusty book sits nearby, most of its pages missing or faded, but it talks of a lost relic – an archeotech power hammer called Piety’s Charge that once belonged to a lieutenant of Saint-Admiral Troubadous. According to the book, it was last seen on the world of Sobek in the Heathen Trail…
Mount up, move out
The Captain calls in support, comfortable that his armsmen can strip it of all its worth now the Explorers have had their pick of the prize. He makes sure to instruct them to take the big shiny Aquila as well, it would look excellent above the desk in his quarters. They make tracks for third palace, the Fallaset Estate.
Some lore checks are rolled on the way over. The Fallaset dynasty still exists, unlike the owners of the other estates, but the short-tempered Rogue Trader in charge is content to fritter away his finances on expensive hunting expeditions and exacting revenge on those who slighted him.
They made their wealth on the beast trade – capturing, killing and processing exotic beasts and vermin from across the Nomads for research, materials or blood sport. I’m sure that information won’t be important.
The Fallaset estate is abandoned, the only sign life is the greenery growing around where the roofs have caved in. The front door is ajar.
Inside, they find remnants of wretches, most brutally torn apart. They come across large footprints, and eventually, a gaping hole through the floor of the estate leading all the way down to the vault level. The team gird their loins and carefully make their vaultward.
They see the vault in the distance – it has been brutally torn open from the inside. The Captain thinks he knows what did this, so he begins issuing orders to-
ROLL FOR INITIATIVE!
The rumbling beneath their feet crescendos in an explosion of sodden dirt and marble. Two massively built creatures burst from the floor, encased in insect-like armour with hugely oversized arms tipped with iron-hard claws. Ambulls!
Von Gunn: “Permission to freak out and shoot my nearest team-mate?”
Von Gunn: “Sorry sir, I failed my Fear check. Eat shit, Freeman” *blam blam blam*
I love the Fear tables, and the look of panic that washed across everyone’s face when Von Gunn (gun by name, gun by nature) failed his shock test so badly against the incoming creatures of the deep that he would be randomly assigning a target. The party’s greatest asset in a combat swiftly became their biggest threat. Another reminder to people that Willpower should not be your dump stat.
Luckily for Freeman, this was one of the statistically few times Von Gunn actually missed a target, much to my disappointment.
The team open fire, splitting their efforts against both Ambulls. One had popped up quite some distance from the group as I had openly rolled a random direction for the beasties to arrive. The Ambull are insanely powerful and distressingly fast for their size, and could comfortably splatter a player character in one round if the dice are in their favour. To counter this viciousness, I wanted it to seem as fair as possible as to who would get picked on. If someone died, it would be on the dice, and not me.
Lyoness and her Covenant (minus Iggy, who was back on the Resolve getting her hand seen to) opened up with their flamers, dousing the poor creature in so much hotsauce that practically takes it out of combat for the rest of the session. Lyoness jams her weapon from over-enthusiastic flaming, but the damage is done.
Her and her Covenant spend the remainder of the combat enthusiastically carving it up with chainswords, rarely dealing enough damage to hurt it properly, but enough to keep it busy.
Back on the other side, all the armsmen panic and open up, bouncing their lightweight shot and autopistol rounds off its hard carapace. With Von Gunn a gibbering wreck for a few turns, they would need some thrilling heroics to deal with this Ambull before it finally got its shit together and landed a hit on someone.
Freeman: “I roll Acrobatics to do a sick flip and land on its back like in Starship Troopers”
GM: “Well shit, that’s probably going to be super hard as you don’t have Acrobatics or-”
Freeman: “001. Critical pass”
So our spider-legged techpriest sails through the air with the greatest of ease, doing a sick flip and planting himself firmly on the beast’s back. He plunges his power axe into the thing’s neck and it screeches in pain, thick ichor dribbling out onto the floor.
The armsmen panic, and one of them accidentally shoots the Captain in the back while he’s trying to stab the Ambull.
Luckily the displacer field activates and teleports the captain a LONG way away. Good news for not getting shot, bad news if you’re a melee character trying to stab a giant alien beastie to death.
Von Gunn finally comes to his senses and blasts the first Ambull through the eyeholes. It screeches and collapses. Freeman massively flubs his Agility check to get out the way and is crushed by the corpse. The dice giveth, the dice taketh away…
Zilla and Gil have been contributing, but not in a noticeable way. Zilla’s fancy autogun doesn’t cut the mustard against brutes with a high Toughness Bonus, and Gil’s only chance is to use his plasma pistol on Maximal, only getting to fire every other round. Great IF he hits. Which he never did this combat.
Von Gunn turns to see a flaming wreck of a creature being carved up by angry ladies with chainswords. Lyoness has backed off and is shouting moral encouragement after realising just quite how much damage one of those fists do. (It’s 1d10+10 with Swift Attack) Von Gunn takes aim and uses double shot to crack its skull wide open.
With the sound of steam escaping from betwixt toasted carapace like a lobster in the soup, the final Ambull comes crashing to the ground. Everyone breathes a sigh of relief while doing a quick check on everyone’s health. The Captain sets his sight on the vault doors, wide open and inviting, and congratulates everyone on a good fight.
The Astropath uses the dying moments to use Sensory Deprivation on his brother who shot the captain in the back with Felicity. All’s fair in love and war, eh?
It is 1pm in the afternoon on the Celestine Wharf. It is raining, and the river carries the strong sense of mould. This man-made dead end of foul-filmed water is shadowed by the close press of warehouses from which loading spars spill their rusting chains to water at high tide.
The docks here are long unused and its bays are crammed with rusted cargo barges, while its warehouses are reputedly the haunts of dregs and gangs.
You had spotted some scum unloading cargo from an armoured motor-skiff on the corner of one of the docks. Questions turned to threats, and when the team’s face draws a hold-out dueling pistol worth more Thrones than the entire cargo of the ship, avarice overcomes the thugs.
At the boiling point of the exchange, you hear a deep guttural roar from around the corner of a warehouse.
“WHO’S ASKING QUESTIONS ON MY WHARF?”
an investigation on the wharf
Alongside the adventures of the Orthesian Dynasty, I also have a long-running game of Dark Heresy that meets up once every 6 weeks or so to continue a five-year-long campaign that has spanned multiple planets, systems and characters in an investigation into the cursed Samarra bloodline.
They are currently in the province of Syracuse Magna, a rotten, sodden place where the criminals act like nobles and the nobles act like criminals. You might have seen a previous session on the Canals of Syracuse Magna.
I have used scenery in Dark Heresy before, but this was the first time I’ve used a full-blown game board to represent our scraps. They probably taken an extra hour so to resolve (2-3 hours per fight), but as we get together for an 8-hour session every month or so, we think this is an acceptable use of the time. It’s a great scene-setter and we get to have wild fun swinging off the scenery and lobbing firebombs around.
The previous session ended on a “Roll for initiative!”, so we were launching straight into a combat. It gave me time to set up the board before people arrived, so I could get everything just so. It meant, however, I needed some more watery terrain tiles to better represent a wharf rather than the canals from the previous game.
Building the wharf
Luckily a lot of my work was already done for the canals fight, so this would just be set dressing. I still had a lot of tiles from TTcombat left over, so I upon them with a coping saw to make some different levels of tile. I had lots of ‘plain’ boards, now I wanted some fancy piers, loading spars, rickety wooden structures, that sort of thing.
I cut a large U-shape out of the centre of this one so it would still tessellate with the other tiles, but would still be obviously a loading dock.
I picked up a bumper pack of balsa wood from ebay for a tenner a while back, and pressed a lot of it into service to make the docks. I really, really like working with balsa wood, and will likely find some more excuses in future to use them…
Less practical was my cobblestones. In a moment of panic before the first session I bought some foam and hand-carved the cobblestones with a bunch of broken biros. This had some pretty awful effects on my hands as I whinge about here, but I didn’t really have any alternative to continue the style for these new tiles.
Luckily there was way less coverage required as most of the tile were covered with loading bays or wooden decking, so I only had to do one A4 sheet rather than the five I did for the first project. I had also picked up some pricey textured plastic A4 sheets with cobblestones on, that I had originally planned on covering the entire boards with.
This, unsurprisingly, turned out woefully impractical and hella expensive, so it was used whenever I couldn’t be bothered to cover another small section of hand-drawn cobblestones and to add a bit of variety.
I also had a fewer smaller tiles that I had planned on using as risers, placing them on top of existing tiles to create height variance and all sorts. They weren’t appropriate for the dock, but I figured I might as well sort them out alongside everything else, as future Rob will inevitably have other bullshit to sort out at the last minute.
Then it was on to building docky bits!
I really enjoyed this part. There is/was a potential for combat to occur in the Sinks, a section of District 13 that is several metres underwater from flooding and mudslips, so the Sinks residents have rebuilt their shanties on top of the old town. I had a million and one large-scale projects I wanted to do for those, but I couldn’t justify it just yet as I wasn’t sure if the investigation would even go there at all.
As with everything I make, versatility is a must. I have too many large scale project ideas to allow myself to run away with something that will only get used once.
These dock parts were assembled entirely from PVA, balsa wood and wooden cocktail sticks for pinning. They needed to be both docks (for the Wharf fight I knew I had planned) and usable as other things in a pinch – rotten scaffolding around a large church or walkways on the submerged parts of town were just a few ideas I came up with.
These were painted in the same way as my other wooden sections to keep some semblance of uniformity. They were undercoated Black first, then given a dusting with a reddy-brown rattlecan. Everything was then given a drybrush with a light brown – I often forget what I used previously so this time it was Zandri Dust. The final highlight was a light edge drybrush with Rotting Flesh (which I’m not sure of the modern equivalent) – a very light brown with a greenish tinge.
Both the stone sections and wood sections were given a final light drybrush with Rotting Flesh instead of a light brown or white. The themes for Syracuse Magna are entropy and decay, so it was only fitting that everything was painted to look like it was dying.
All together I’ve got quite a haul! My favourite part is how compact it all becomes once its disassembled – way easier to store and with so many more permutations than a regular solid board.
Showdown on the wharf
It would be mean to not have some kind of battle report on this lovely set of scenery, wouldn’t it?
Although highly inaccurate, and based off more what I can remember from the pictures taken, here’s more or less how it went down.
Pictures vary in quality and subject matter because I asked my players to take photos too, as I always forget to do so about halfway through the game.
The scene is set, including some Blood Bowl goblins one of the players was dropping round for me.
The players will enter from the right. The Undertow thugs are already present on the Wharf, unloading their cargo from a motor-skiff. The players don’t know (or care) what’s in the cargo currently. Probably criminal stuff. Didn’t matter – it wasn’t pertinent to the investigation. It was time for beef.
Had some pretty harsh light streaming in through the one window. There were five thugs present on the Wharf already, and the roar came from the Wharf Boss who was coming in from the left top corner of the board (from around the warehouse) with another two thugs.
The party is investigating some brutal inhuman murders caused by some strange undead killers in bird masks, and a few leads pointed to there being some answers around Celestine Wharf.
The party had just stepped off a boat from further up river, where they had had to make a hasty retreat from a bar fight that went sour. The Cleric drowned someone under a table, the Adept got off her face drunk on mudder’s milk and the Arbitrator killed their only witness with a throwing axe.
The previous session ended with the scum spotting some criminal activity down the wharf – just some crims doing crim stuff. The Cleric was draped in the passed-out Adept and was till picking chunks of her vomit out of his beard when the Scum strolled straight up to the criminals and demanded to speak to the person in charge.
“Hello fellow criminals, what a good day for crime”
Being criminals, they were more than happy to roll on their boss in exchange for cash. The Scum was upset at that concept so drew his duelling pistol and repeated his question. The sound of players rolling eyes was audible.
Initiative was rolled. The Scum went first and, as a man of his own flexible word, plugged the first criminal clean in the head.
As the Wharf Boss took his turn, the gravity of the situation sunk in. He’s a Named Character with a big-ass axe. Better not let him… axe me a question.
The thugs here weren’t prepared for a brawl, so only had what they were carrying on them. A handful of autopistols and shotguns, one of them carrying firebombs as backup. Their plan was to pin and disrupt everyone until their Boss could get round to axing them to kindly leave.
The rest of the team were following up the rear. In the picture below, we have the Guardsman, the Arbitrator, the Techpriest (who was the Cell’s Primus – their elected leader), the Cleric (represented by fabulous cardboard cutout) and the Adept.
Take cover! Shots ripple across the Wharf as everyone takes their bearings. There was a lot of cover further up the board, but brings you closer to the Wharf Boss. The thugs closer to the water’s edge were squishier, but there was less cover.
The team fan out, taking shots with their lovingly-cared-for weapons and pinning/wounding in equal measure.
After the Scum plugged the first thug he was having a chinwag with, the other thug returned the favour. The Scum took a grazing hit and dived behind the nearby crates for cover.
The Arbitrator battles with his low Willpower and being constantly pinned, while trying to lay down covering fire of his own.
The battle lines are drawn, and nobody seems willing to break cover to close the gap. The Wharf Boss realises going across open ground would invite every single player who knows how Bosses work to concentrate fire and bring him down before he can get the opportunity to burn a few players’ Fate Points.
He doubles back behind the warehouse and heads up the ramp to go across the roof. His minions lay down covering fire.
Dice are used to represent people who are wounded. I don’t bother tracking anyone unless they’re hit, at which point they’re assigned a numbered dice and a number on my sheet.
I found this was a good compromise of personal book-keeping, ensuring some information was guarded from players to avoid metagaming, but also so players could see at a glance who had been hit. They might not know the severity of the hit unless they ask specifically (with suitable Awareness/Medicae checks), but they definitely know which baddies are bleeding.
The Boss’s minions take the high ground.
These guys aren’t stupid. Cover is their friend, and laying down suppressing fire helps out their mates on the front line.
The Guardsman had spotted something like a trench, so dived into it and pretty much stayed there for the remainder of the game, slotting fools with his Sollex-Pattern Deathlight Lasgun (tips for pros: this shit does 1d10+5 damage. It’s every las-weapon-lover’s wet dream).
The squishy Techpriest stayed back to administer military-grade combat drugs to get the Adept up and running again, and the Scum took up a position on the stairs to keep the pressure on any Undertow who got any funny ideas about melee combat.
The Arbitrator was spending much of his time pinned or behind cover (Willpower as a dump stat will keep you alive, but not contributing). She was still technically blackout drunk, but the cocktail of Adeptus Mechanicus combat drugs was keeping her coherent for about 20 rounds.
She then launched her coherent plan:
“I draw and throw as many firebombs as I’m allowed to”
We then discovered the exciting combination of having lots of grenades and having a Strength Bonus of only 2. We have an enthusiastic pyromaniac who can’t throw very far.
Cue one long-range missed firebomb later, and the first of the Undertow’s shipments has gone up in flames. Let’s hope there isn’t anything flammable in there…
Using the commotion as cover, the Wharf Boss uses the patented Gears of War roadie-run to cross the platform and make his way over the warehouse, hopefully getting a jump on someone.
The Adept, high on life, sprints across the board (now bottom right behind the cotton wool) to join the Guardsman in his new cover. Naturally, this meant it was time to lob more firebombs.
The poor Undertow thug who had been shot in the face in the first exchange was now on fire. He screams and rolls around for a bit, but ultimately decides to take a dip in the scum-lined waters.
The no-man’s land was now empty, and barring the efforts of the mad Adept, it had become a long-range shooting match which the Undertow were not convinced they would win. Time to cheat.
The Wharf Boss, “Massive” Masslow, injects his combat drugs and becomes subject to Frenzy. With a mighty bellow, he screams down the warehouse firing his massive revolver.
The revolver pings off some nearby cover, but the Arbitrator still decides that discretion is the better part of valour, and hopes that hiding behind the container will make the big bad guy go away.
The Wharf Boss charges down the ramp and takes a couple of huge swings with his Great Weapon. Everyone knew this could hurt, but when the dice came up as near maximum damage, the Arbitrator started sweating when 26 damage knocked him down to -3 health. Medic!
Now it was the Undertow’s time to respond. As all their assets were up in flames now anyway, collateral damage was not something that bothered them any more. They have firebombs of their own, and started blindly hurling them wherever they heard gunshots.
It was at this point that the crates were revealed to be packed with high-grade Obscura, and as the highly-illegal narcotic was wafting across the dock, several members of the party were succumbing to feelings of light headedness and pink elephants.
In a shockingly accurate toss, the firebomb lands between the Guardsman and the Adept, catching them both ablaze. The Guardsman prefers his chances in the toxic soup than with the flames, so goes for a paddle.
Not pictured, but entirely relevant, was the Adept also leaping into the water and clambering back out on a nearby dock, face to face with poor headshot-burning-guy from the first turn, who had taken a dip to cool off as well.
Both dripping with stagnant water, they face down. He grins. His pair of punch-daggers glinting in the half-light. The Adept grins. She draws her fishing wire (?!?) and shouts “I see you’ve played knifey-fish wire before!”.
I’m sure it would have been epic if it had been pulled off, but the Adept’s attempts to parry the pair of punch daggers with a length of wire Jackie Chan-style ended with her in negative hitpoints, just as the comedown of the combat drugs was hitting her and the effects of the Obscura were taking hold.
It was in everyone’s best interests, including hers, that she passes out for a bit.
At this point the Arbitrator is panicking as Masslow looks to take another swipe and finish the job. Luckily for our brave law-maker, our friendly neighbourhood criminal was on hand to make a placed shot into combat and literally explode the Wharf Boss’s head like a grape, pushing him into -12 damage.
As most of the remaining Undertow see their boss explode, they recognised it was time to make a move. The rest of them fleed, apart from one on the stairs who was looking for an opportunity to get some wholesome stabbing in before he had to run. Unfortunately the Guardsman snuck up behind him and critically bayonetted him in the butt, killing him instantly.
All in all a fantastic game which will no doubt be reminisced about in drinking halls for years to come. Here’s to the next one!
Storm-ridden Cilice Prime is circled and shrouded by swirling clouds and hurricanes. Beneath the storms, the peaks and valleys of Cilice’s jagged surface form a stark, beautiful landscape that was once dotted with the proud structures of a colony founded under the authority of Rogue Trader Van Arkiel.
There are is very little life recorded as native to Cilice bar its simple fungal life used in the production of Cilice Gyn. Continual gales carry the harmless spores far and wide amidst lightning and frozen hail.
This was to be our first game not at full party strength. The players for Von Gunn and Lyoness couldn’t make it this session, but they gave their blessing to go ahead and investigate the planet. Last session Von Gunn got pretty badly banged up, so we figured he would be back on the ship recuperating. Lyoness would be tending to his wounds and helping herself to the rubbing alcohol.
The Captain, unwilling to do too much without his bolt pistol-wielding murder-machine and ultimate anti-daemon tool, agreed that this would just be a ROUTINE CHECKUP on the planet.
With the decision made, the remainder of the party boarded an Aquila lander, along with a Junior Astropath called Fez, our two heroic armsmen from the Geist Incident Kettlehead and Felicity, plus three additional armsmen to make up the numbers.
Of course they needed names, so they were dubbed Cram, Thud and Oggy-Bong.
Zilla, Captain, Freeman, Gil + Junior, Kettlehead, Felicity and 3 armsmen – Crad, Thud and Oggy Bong. I had been assembling these guys between sessions, knowing we would need more armsmen reinforcements at some point. There’s a Meanwhile on the Bench article if you’re interested in their construction.
Port Van Arkiel
As you descend through the howling winds and driving rain, you make out a large cluster of structures on the equator of the planet, built into a mountain and across an natural arch rock formation high above a valley below. The structures resemble a space port and dotted evidence of industry – this must be the colony of Arrogance
Strangely, the surrounding golden valleys are also strewn with massive installations – huge, fortified palaces set deep into the mountains and overlooking vast areas of cultivated land. It’s clear that civilisation here flourished outside of the colony.
The constant storms imposed a -20 to any Pilot (Fliers) test that Zilla was required to do. It’s just as well they took the fancy ship rather than the hovering brick, as Zilla scraped a few passes on the way down.
The space port is built on a great arch of stone, whittled out of a mountain by the howling winds. You set down on one of a dozen landing platforms for heavy barge landers, suspended on carved columns of stone hundreds of feet in the air.
The buildings of the port are wide, squat affairs, hugging the ground like limpets against the tide. Rain blasts across the landing platforms and the wind sails underneath, threatening to hurtle you off to to the jagged valleys hundreds of feet below you.
The colony of arrogance is built into the mountain – its spires jutting from the rockface like snapped bones poking through broken flesh.
No sign of life
The crew disembark. There was no transponder handshake, no automated acknowledgement of their arrival, and no delegation waiting to welcome them to the port. Nothing but the rain.
As they squint through the deluge, Zilla notices what remains of heavy lander on one of the adjacent platforms – the only sign of machinery at all on the space port concourse. The Explorator also whips out his auspex and runs a few scans – the source of the emergency distress beacon was also present on the space port, pointing towards a conning tower in the opposite direction.
The Captain orders two armsmen to stay by the Aquila lander and begin marching towards the adjacent heavy drop ship.
On an adjacent landing platform is the skeleton of a heavy lander, designed to drop large amounts of supplies and people, stripped of paneling and moving parts. There is evidence of a surprising amount of ornamentation and Imperial iconography, although much of it has been torn off or defaced.
After some investigation, it seemed much of it was stripped by hand, and there was evidence of teeth marks around much of the paneling. It was in a similar state to the carcass of the Stiletto Station from the previous session.
The cockpit has been stripped back to its bones – anything of material or technological value has been ripped out in a crude manner unbefitting of such a noble workhorse of a machine. The ship’s logs indicate it arrived here a few months ago, approximately the same time Brother Espin suggested his missionaries would have arrived.
Freeman set about claiming whatever was left in the cockpit, and with some good Trade (Voidfarer) checks found the black box of the lander. It was the voice of someone unfamiliar:
“… leaving some of the mercenaries and able-bodied missionaries to guard the lander ….. No signs of the colonists … Missionary-Superior wants to investigate … palatial estates … answers there … waste of time … nothing here … no sin goes unpunished in the God Emperor’s eyes …”
The team conclude this must have belonged to the Missionary that Brother Espin asked them to find. Given the lack of signs of struggle, they weren’t going to find any more evidence here. It was time to check out the distress beacon.
The conning tower
You see a conning tower, sporting a wide metal dish and vox-spires at the far end of the space port, some 200 metres away across the rain-lashed concourse.
The building is a standard modular imperial hab-block, modified for environmental conditions. It, like every other building of Arrogance, looks like it has been here for decades.
The door is reinforced plasteel but its locks have been removed or forced a long time ago and now swings freely.
While some of the crew head inside, it was now our Astropath double-checked his Mind Scan ability, reminding everyone (including myself, damn his eyes!) that he can detect everything living within a kilometre radius. He rolls something disgusting and looks at me proudly.
Gil: “I see everything”
Well there goes the element of surprise I guess.
GM: “There are dozens, perhaps a hundred, of bestial minds closing in on you. Their thoughts are simple and primal, but you make out an absolute emotion that unifies them: hunger.”
While this was resolving itself, Freeman and Zilla were investigating the conning tower.
Inside is dark, lit only by the bunker-like windows looking out onto the space port landing platforms. It is a welcome relief from the storm outside.
Most of the vox-consoles have been ripped apart and stripped back – scavenged for Emperor-knows-what. The only thing remaining is an emergency transponder unit, crudely wired into the vox-spires and powered by a jury-rigged Imperial power pack.Behind it there are dozens more power packs, all burnt out. The one plugged in is new
Common Lore (Navy/War)+20 test revealed the serial codes match that of an Imperial heavy barge lander
Gil is about to alert the team to his brain-discovery, when their comm-beads crackle to life to the sound of a salt-of-the-earth armsman:
“My Lord! I swear I saw something moving in the rain… I… By the Emperor!”
As the sound of gunfire blossoms across the concourse I ask everyone to ROLL FOR INITIATIVE.
With the crew in the centre of the board investigating the conning tower, they realised they were being set upon from two sides by pale figures in the rain. With a sheer drop off the edge of the concourse, they were going to have to push through their assailants if they were to emerge victorious.
The rain imposed a -20 to all Ballistic Skill and Awareness tests, but that didn’t phase the crew much. They took up defensive positions and prepared to repel their attackers.
The figures in the rain are mostly human, although barely so. Their lean forms are emaciated sinew and lean muscle, stretched thin under leathery purple skin.
Their eyes have become wide and furtive under the darkened clouds and barely contain the gnawing, piercing hunger in their wretched souls. They wear torn clothes and heavy rags, some seem to be dock officials, others are dressed in the heavy boiler suits of labourers.
The armsmen, Freeman and Zilla all take one side, while the Captain, the Astropath and his Junior take the other. They open fire with a fusillade of shot and plasma, scoring hit after hit and blowing them apart in equal measure. These creatures were dogged, but they weren’t tough.
The problem became apparent during the second round. Plasma pistols can annihilate their target very easily on their Maximal setting, but leave you vulnerable the following round as they recharge. It was time to draw blades and engage!
Another thing became apparent very quickly – the models on the board were not the only enemies in play. As the horde was whittled down, more clambered over the lip of the concourse, or poured in from further away. Ammunition suddenly looked like it might become an issue.
The Astropath, try as he might, was struggling to hit anything after last game’s impressive fare. His Junior, on the other hand, was slotting fools left and right. At one point our Astropath was seriously considering casting Mind Cloud on his Junior just so he would stop showing him up.
The Captain picked up an extra sword on Mercy a few sessions ago, and this was his first opportunity to actually use them, much to his delight. He wasn’t present for the Geist Incident, and the servitors on Stiletto Station were always too far away for him to engage. With a blood-curdling cry he leapt into action, leaping into the biggest mob and cutting a few down.
With a laugh of victory, he cried “Let’s see them get past my parry!”
And then the third issue arose.
The first pathetic swipe from one of the wretches hit, but before you make a test to Dodge or Parry, you have to make your Forcefield check if you own one. The Captain does own one, a highly amusing one at that, which has not come into play for quite some time.
The Displacer field activates at the broken fingernails of a starving wretch, blipping him temporarily out of existence and reappearing somewhere else. This time slightly further away from everything…
This continued for much of the battle – the Captain attempting to engage multiple opponents, only for them to issue a combat cuddle and he would bloop away somewhere useless. Utterly hilarious for everyone except him.
Speaking of combat cuddles…
Explorator “Legs” Freeman sprints off with something ludicrous like a 40 metre charge range and engages some of the hungrybois. He mocks them with his 11 damage soak, practically impervious to their broken teeth and sharpened bits of metal. That is until…
“Can you give me an Opposed Strength check please?”
“A what now?”
Turns out a good way of taking out a character with a lot of soak is to drop lots of enemies on him and get grappling.
Combat cuddle engage! The more pile on him, the more Fatigue he gets, the harder it is for him to break out of the grapple. Fatigue doesn’t care about your 11 Soak. It wasn’t long before Freeman was unconscious on the floor, being dragged away by hungry hands.
In the background you can just about make out a few downed armsmen. Although the wretches numbers were dwindling, they had a few prizes and were trying to flee with them.
Unfortunately Freeman is super heavy, so Zilla and Felicity manage to blast enough away to make the rest flee. The Captain and the Junior see off their side of the combat and rush to save Kettlehead.
In the melee, some of the characters were too busy prioritising targets near them that poor Cram is downed and dragged off by the wretches. The Captain issues an immediate moment of silence, and despite the crew’s protests that he’s probably still okay and we should look for him, declares Cram dead and he died an honourable death (hopefully).
The rest of the wretches flee, leaving their prizes behind. Gil snags one of them with a Dominate power, strutting him back and slapping some zipties over his emaciated wrists. While the horrid thing thrashes round like Gollum with a rope round his neck, they all scratch their heads as to what they’re going to do with him.
They bundle everyone into the back of the Aquila, stabilising the wounded armsmen where they could. They wouldn’t return to the planet again without the rest of the party.
They throw the wretch in the Brig onboard the Unbroken Resolve, and Gil sets his Juniors on the task of Mind Probing him to break his primitive psyche wide open so we can have a good ol’ prod at it.
Meanwhile, the Captain issues a command to Zilla – hop in an Aquila and do a fly-by of the port and surrounding areas. He didn’t want to be blind next time they went down.
Zilla makes a pass of the colony, very very narrowly avoiding crashing in the storm by using ALL of his Fate Points. All of the wretches in the port had disbanded, and his flight augers (as blind as they were in the storm) weren’t picking up life signs.
He headed over towards the surrounding area, known as the Golden Valleys, where there were a number of large palatial estates constructed outside of the colony – huge, fortified palaces set deep into the mountains and overlooking vast areas of cultivated land.
On the approach, warning runes blared across his console. Automated AA turrets had picked him up and locked on! A stream of heavy bolter rounds whizzed past the cockpit, and although it was still too rainy to draw a bead on his assailant, he decided discretion was the better part of crashing in hungryboi town in the middle of a lightning storm and pulled away, returning to the Unbroken Resolve.
A mind is a precious thing to waste
By now, the Juniors had metaphorically peeled back the layers of the wretch’s mind and were having a good old poke around inside his psyche. It was primitive, bestial and above all, hungry. It would be dangerous to stay inside it too long, as such a mind so far from sanity would certainly have consequences to a “sane” individual over prolonged exposure.
They do glean some interesting insight though, the wretch was part of a band or group salvaging the port. Despite it’s apparent degradation, it still retained some semblance of conscious thought – an overwhelming sense of religious guilt about its actions, and its loyalty to a leader called Glaw.
With all the cards on the table, it was time to draw the session to a close. They would regroup, resupply and rest up for next game, bringing their A Game (and a full team) to the next brawl.
In the last exciting installment of the Orthesian Herald our band of dashing explorers had just seen off a minor warp incursion in the underdecks of the ship, assisted by the courageous actions of a few humble armsmen. What better time for a spicy meme.
They only had a few days left in the journey to the Cilice system, where they were to locate Brother Espin’s missing missionaries and assess the condition of the colony.
With a minor hiccup in translating back to realspace (oooh the map goes this way up), the Dynasty find themselves in the star-blushed system of Cilice.
Lay of the land
The light of Cilice washes over you.
Fresh, clean sunshine bleeds through the viewports as the heavy warp shutters roll back up and the bold light of the Cilice star washes over you. You get the sensation of a tide having just gone out, revealing new sands and strange flotsam from the waters.
On the bridge, a nervous clapping of backs and thankful nods are exchanged between the petty officers. On the rest of the ship voidsmen utter prayers of thanks as they begin their first shift of the new day.
A passive sweep of the system is underway but you don’t need augurs to note the incredible cosmic phenomenon in the skies ahead – a beautiful plume of cobalt blue fills the void above the sun, a brilliant smear of light.
It is a gas giant in the outer reaches that is slowly losing its essence to the void. It paints a vibrant blue trail of glittering star stuff across the Cilice skies as it travels its orbit. That must be the Teardrop, and its brilliance lights up the voids. You must be the first humans to set eyes on this in tens, if not hundreds, of years.
Less is more
Cilice gave me a lot of introspection to do.
I really enjoyed writing the content for the Cilice system and the encounters that would unfold. What I hadn’t taken into account is whether that content would be any fun to actually play. Although I got a taste of it early on, it wasn’t until we had played a few sessions in Cilice that my lack of content editing skills were becoming more apparent – there was simply too much stuff. Too many distractions, too many side encounters – all theoretically serving the purpose of giving the players things to do between ‘big’ encounters, but in actuality only watering down the proper encounters and bogging down the momentum of the game.
This was also my first big realisation that the current method we had for creating endeavours wasn’t viable for our group. I pride myself on coming up with new ways to entertain, trying out new mechanics and shifting gear up or down to see what works. I can also hold my hand up and say that much of it doesn’t work very often, and this was one of those times.
There was just simply too much.
On paper (aha) everything seemed fine – there was a checklist of things and the rewards garnered for doing so. I’ve had success with this system with a different (and smaller) group, and they liked the nitty gritty of additional sub-objectives and balancing Achievement Point losses and gains across different endeavours. Not so much here. With more cooks in the kitchen, decisions are made slower, and much of the “to-do” list is left by the wayside in favour of accomplishing the main goal.
I’m not bent out of shape about having to discard content for the game. I can always re-use the content later, after all. I’m upset that I didn’t see how obvious it was from the start, and I should have pared this mission down to its core essentials – six players easily come up with filler and activities by themselves, I don’t need to demand they jump through six additional hoops per objective.
Humble pie was served with a healthy dollop of modesty custard.
Exploration and scanning
Tucked away in the rulebook is some light rules for dealing with scanning systems. Your ship’s augers can reveal hella information. It takes D5 hours upon successful translation to run a passive auger sweep, which would reveal the following:
Adeptus Mechanicus Shrine-Altar, nestled among some wreckage
A strange energy signature among the wreckage of some ruined vessels
Cilice and an orbiting space station. Weak vox traffic is being transmitted across the system.
A trio of small planets in a tight orbit around the sun
With a Scrutiny+Detection test, you can further refine the results to give you clearer information. With ol’ Keen-Eye Gil, this test was smashed, revealing additional information about the system features.
Teardrop: Low harmful emissions and radiation, safe to approach, needs focussed augury to determine true nature
Shrine-Altar: Presence of active void shields
Energy signature: Similar to a plasma drive signature but without any atomic decay or fluctuation in emissions. Defies classification
Cilice and station:Vox signal originates from surface of Cilice, no response traffic. Void in augur results of surface – malfunction or interference? Active voids on station. Clear signs of life on Cilice.
Pearls: Extreme temperatures on planets’ surfaces, chances of life are negligible. Appears to be evidence of plasma drive activation, but temperatures make further data scrying impossible, would need to get within active range.
The crew picked up some plasma drive emissions in the inner cauldron of the system – a modified frigate engine typically found on warships and an adeptus-mechanicus pattern transport. The extreme heat of the solar zone prevented any further readings.
The decision was made to head straight to Cilice, swinging by the Pearls for a quick drive-by auger sweep.
A trio of small planets locked in a tight orbit around the white Cilice star in the inner cauldron. Initial augur readings suggest they contain the only obvious mineral wealth in the system, but surface temperatures are registering at over three hundred degrees on each.
The extreme temperatures have made long range auger sweeps of this solar zone difficult, but as you near you pick up the distinctive plasma drive emissions from a pair of vessels. The frigate is flying a souped up drive most commonly utilised by Navy escort vessels. The other ship, the transport, bears the tell-tale markings of the Adeptus Mechanicus
Your long-range vox burbles into life.
“Unknown Imperial vessel, this is Captain Lydia Avag of the warship Scream Claw, under contract from Blackbriar Corps. Identify yourselves or we will be forced to intercept”
This was intended to be an interaction encounter. I had stats for both ships in case things got a bit fist-fighty (players, amirite?) but I was anticipating some peaceful resolution, perhaps ending on amicable terms, splitting the contract or even hiring Captain Avag to assist with their own mission.
Captain Orthesian opens a return vox: “If you would like to survey the system go right ahead. We’re going about our business and you can’t stop us. Orthesian out.”
*tears out several pages of notes*
The team decide they’ve had enough of exploring this overpopulated system and go straight for Cilice, stopping off at Stiletto Station en-route.
The long, spindly station lurks in high orbit above the storm-wracked world of Cilice, hanging like in the air an executioner’s blade, poised to fall on a word.
According to your logs this was once the staging ground for all traffic on and off-world, but now it is utterly silent save for an ice-blue miasma that still flickers around it.
A Common Lore (Tech) or Trade (Voidfarer) test revealed additional information about the weird forcefield surrounding the station:
This looks like void shield tech, but being projected from the station to the surface below. This also seems to be the focal point for whatever is baffling auger sweeps of the planet below. These are definitely the Occlusion shields that Brother Espin spoke of.
They pile into an Arvus Lighter to investigate, bringing along Alyss, an extra Covenant, two engine adepts, Felicity and Kettlehead.
The station is visibly fragile, huge chunks are missing, but seemingly not from weapons fire. There are no lumens active around the station and it is producing no vox traffic. The only thing that seems to be active are the occlusion shields.
You stand in wretched darkness, the only illumination provided by the waning daylight filtering into the outermost areas through frosted viewports. The grav-plates appear to be operating normally and although there is pressure in the hull, the oxygen content is not suitable for unaided breathing.
Investigating the shield
Freeman sets his Engine Adepts to work immediately. They seek out a working console and inload as much data as they can about the station. The whole thing has been gutted, the only remaining systems are the shield emitters and a generator at the centre of the station. Onwards!
The station is hollow, fragile eggshell, much of its interior has been gutted for parts. All that remains is a fractured hull straining to maintain pressure and a cobweb of corridors and walkways that were once part of a bustling trade hub, now stand alone and isolated from the floors they connected to. It is eerie seeing a station in this condition – it is like a corpse that has had the flesh picked cleanly from its bones.
You have to traverse a hollowed-out area to reach the shield generator, perhaps a floor or two above you and at least 50 metres away. The station continues up high above your head, disappearing into darkness criss-crossed by the bones of corridors. Below you are more disparate walkways, ending with the floor of a warehouse several storeys below.
This was intended to be a semi-teamworking encounter, working out the platforms would get weaker the more they crossed it, so trying to organise the best sequence of Explorers to cross the chasm.
Of course this was very quickly abandoned once everyone remembered the abundance of gear everyone carried, and the Explorator’s ability to traverse sheer surfaces with ease. Ah well. Here’s the Encounter anyway:
Crossing the chasm
As you carefully make your way across the precarious walkways, the metal arounds you groans and quivers with every footfall.
Unstable structure; Roll initiative – everybody needs to make a Navigate (Surface), Climb or Agility test to navigate the brittle internal structure of the station. Add +1 to the table for every player to have crossed the hollow already. Fail to pass one of the above tests, consult the chart:
1-3 DoF: Dust falls slowly from the walkway above as it creaks ominously, but the structure holds
4 DoF: A section of metal piping clatters to the deck, the sound of its impact echoing down the tunnel
5 DoF: The walkway beneath your feet buckles as you stumble, weakening it but not causing a collapse
6 DoF:You crash to the deck as a section of plate gives way! You fall 1d10 metres (1d10+distance Impact damage ignoring armour) onto a walkway below
7 DoF:The walkway crumples underfoot with disastrous effect, pitching you down several floors into a gutted section below – 2d10 metres
8+ DoF: With a sudden tremor and whine of metal, the entire stretch of deck gives way, tearing like wet tissue paper and dropping you straight down into the hollow. The tremor ripples down the walkway and threatens to take others with it! Two people either side of the player have to take an Agility check at -20 or -10 or also tumble downwards 2d10 metres (roll separately)
Accessing the shield room
The Explorator zipped across the gap, firing a zipline back for the rest of the team to traverse. There were some close calls (The Explorator used 2 Fate Points in the process) but all the team got across with no issue. The Captain commanded Kettlehead and Felicity to stay behind and guard the Arvus. Lyoness makes the executive decision that she’s Too Old For This Shit and stays on the safe side of the chasm with Alyss and her extra Covenant cultist. They pop open the emergency wine and send the others on their way.
The door to the Generatorium is made of heavy materials, designed to withstand a generator explosion. The only way through is to hack (or blow up) the keypad. The port on the keypad is degraded and plugging in risks feedback damage. Freeman commands his Adept to get to it, he suffers massive feedback damage and burns out his MIU link.
The door hisses and chugs, but slides obligingly open. Inside a handful of emergency lumens give the cathedral-like space an blood-red glow. In the centre of the space is a huge, rumbling arcane Generatorium that spits lightning to arc coils high above. As you take in the spectacle, one of you feels something crunch underfoot.
A dozen or so skeletons, their clothes and flesh long-gone. Some of them look like they have been blown apart.
As they pick through the massacre, Gil spots something out the corner of his lack-of-eyes:
Two gun servitors on long pneumatic arms extend from the walls of the generatorium and take aim.
Everyone scrabbles for weaponry and dive for cover, wondering why they hadn’t been shot at yet.
You barely make out the sound of heavy weaponry failing to cycle. These defenses ran out of ammunition a long time ago.
You see a console bank is on a raised pulpit above the generatorium, cables and wires snaking away from it through the air.
Freeman: “I love corroded ports. 11/10 would stick my MIU in.”
Freeman and Zill ahead up the pulpit to have a good ol’ fiddle while the rest of the gang spread out in the Generatorium examining the walls and ceiling and generally looking busy.
As he begins fiddling, red runes flash across the console. Heavy stubber servitors on gravitic couplings descend silently from the ceiling.
Roll for initiative!
The battle begins in earnest. The Explorator calculates he needs to acquire 20 Degrees of Success on Tech Use tests to deactivate the security systems. In the mean time, everyone get killing servitors!
D3 would arrive at the beginning of every turn, as rolled randomly by a different player.
As the first servitors descend (as represented by the weaponless plastic guys in the highly professional maps photographed) the Astropath opens up with his shiny new plasma pistol, entirely slagging the first one within reach. Von Gunn gets busy with his bolt pistols, shooting the leg off one as it descends, but not stopping it from cranking up its heavy stubber and sending a stream of angry, inaccurate lead towards our heroes.
While the team in the Generatorium do their best to lay the hurt on the descending servitors, Alyss and her cultists find their wine time RUDELY interrupted by angry gunbois from the darkness above them. She cranksup her flamer from Medium Rare to Well Done and lets loose while her Covenant pile into the nearest servitor with tooth and chainsword.
The team in the Generatorium were doing well too. Von Gunn was racking up his expected kill-count and even the Astropath had put away a surprising number of defence servitors. There was even a little pool of angry molten gun-bot forming in front of him where they kept descending and he kept slotting them.
The Captain, on the other hand, was very much struggling. The map was about 100 metres across, so he could only move about 5 ‘lines’ of paper per turn. For a character who specialises in Melee, he struggled not being able to slice things up a lot, and was constantly off-set by his Refractor field activating at awkward times and resetting any progress he had made towards an aggressor.
By now, Freeman was only a turn or two away from shutting them down and the servitors were threatening to overwhelm them. The team had killed everything within close range, and although the servitors were inaccurate, all it would take was one or two Heavy Stubber rounds and a character could be taken out of action dangerously quickly.
Von Gunn finishes off the last few in his corner of the map that his bolt pistols can reach, then decides its time for some thrilling heroics.
He grabs one of the gravitic coupling lines dangling from the ceiling and heroically swing across the map!
As he does so, one of the servitors pulls a 001 out of the bag and clips Von Gunn. This was an awful reminder for many people about Von Gunn’s staying power – he’s a murder machine but super fragile if things go poorly. He falls to the ground in a mess of Critical Damage.
The Explorator plugs the final codes into console and all the servitors power down, mid-stride and mid-swipe in close combat. The players are not buying any of my bullshit – while Von Gunn is receiving emergency first aid, they double-tap every single standing servitor. “I’ve seen enough spooky films to know where this is going” *BLAM*
The console allows unfettered access to the Generatorium’s controls. You can activate, deactivate or modulate the occlusion field from here. Turning it off would allow auger scans of the areas it protects, but would render those areas vulnerable to the ravages of Cilice’s storms.
After some discussion, the Captain decides to send a standard introduction vox to anyone listening on the planet’s surface, and warns them that they will be turning off the shield for a few minutes to scan the colony with the Unbroken Resolve’s augers.
As they don’t receive any vox message back asking them not to, the Captain gives the order to Freeman to Press The Button.