Orthesian Herald 17 – The Conclusion and the Cutlass

PreviousSession 16: Terrors of the Gallionic Passage
First: Session 1: The Unbroken Resolve and All Those Who Sail Therein

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[Image from the internet, artist sig in bottom right]

Proximity alarm! Augers detect plasma drive activation 8 VUs off starboard side and closing!

Last time our intrepid explorers translated safely into the Gallionic system and straight into an ambush at the hands of Captain Firmstep.

Privateer Captain Firmstep – art by Stanislav Galai

Captain Firmstep, flying the armoured Heimdall-class transport ‘Foregone Conclusion’ moves into weapons range, clearly signalling his hostile intentions while the crew of the Unbroken Resolve scramble to power up all defensive systems after translation.

The other vessel, the smaller and more nimble Viper-class raider ‘Sulphur Cutlass’ lurks on the peripheries on the battle.

As a side note, both vessels used the newly-developed (at the time) Grimdark Ship Name Generator as a naming tool. Some are great, some are odd, all are Grimdark.

While the Conclusion and the Cutlass drop countermeasures and graviton flares to baffle the Resolve’s sensors and targeting solutions, the Resolve respods with defensive measures of their own.

Thanks to the Expanded Space Combat Actions, there are now some extra options the crew can pursue in between moving, shooting and intimidating the crew to move faster and shoot better. One of those is Flak Storm.

Extended Action – Flak Storm

The point defence gunners receive the order to go weapons free, saturating all the space around the ship with a thick wall of gunfire – the storm of flak scattering debris and shattering asteroids, making it difficult for enemy gunners to draw a bead on the ship. This action is a desperate one, as the wanton and unsustainable waste of resources has a lasting effect on the crew.

Command or Intimidate: Impose a -5 to all enemy BS tests targeting your ship next turn, plus an additional -5 per Degree of Success. Reduce your own Morale by D5 each time you perform this Extended Action, regardless of the success of the test.

The Conclusion peppers the Resolve while the Cutlass gets a little too close
Crushing the cutlass

Astropath Gil utilises some extended actions from the Navis Primer, namely Control the Weak Mind. A powerful psychic technique that no Astropath should be without – with a Psyniscience -40 test he can target a nearby enemy vessel and telepathically control some of the gun crews to fire on erstwhile colleagues.

Not only do you pick an enemy’s weapon component and immediately resolve it against a target of your choice, but the weapon component can’t fire next turn as the crews are too busy reloading!

Astropath Gil Virgant

With the Cutlass’ void shields down (and it foolishly closing range), the Unbroken Resolve was free to open fire with its powerful close-range macrocannons. A disgustingly good round of shooting left the Cutlass crippled and most of its components unpowered or venting air into the void.

With very little left to contribute and the Resolve now engaged with the Conclusion at close range, the Sulphur Cutlass disengages and skulks away into the darkness.

Having lost both the shooting game and the numbers game, Captain Firmstep turns to his ship’s own speciality – prepare to board!

The Conclusion is only a transport, so not designed to threaten the players’ own ship very much in terms of armour or armament. It did pack an unpleasant surprise, however – a barracks full of void-hardened warriors, a Tenebro Maze arrangement of interior corridors and a talented Captain to buff the crew.

They got a +30 to any attempts to repel boarders, meaning the Captain would have to work extra hard to cause their crew concern.

Voidmaster Zill and Von Gunn lead a Hit and Run attack around the outside of the vessel, crippling their plasma drive. Gil gets spooky and summons a Dark Labyrinth, making their own ship’s interior impossibly complex to navigate to boarders, giving them a buff during boarding actions. It all seemed for naught after the first dice roll.

In the opposed test, the Captain rolled a critical success, the crew of the Conclusion rolling a critical fail. We did the numbers.

The Captain lead a boarding party that butchered over 15,000 crew in one hour of the boarding action. Down to the last ~200 or so crew, the unsurprisingly threw in the towel and surrendered to the gore-soaked boarding party of the Orthesian Dynasty.

After a rousing speech about how lucky they are to be shown mercy, the Captain orders the survivors to be absorbed into their own crew to bolster casualties. Captain Firmstep however, is nowhere to be found…

New ship sheets

This space battle prompted a discussion about ship character sheets. The rulebook rightly describes the ship as a character in its own right, shared between the players, but we felt the default ship sheet wasn’t nuanced enough to cover the myriad components, knick-knacks and acquisitions the players would come across.

So we made our own!

Click for the full PDF

Removing the massive ship image and shuffling the tables round a bit gave us loads of extra room to play with. The reverse is a bunch of space for cargo and acquisitions – you don’t need to print it off double-sided, but we found that we used the reverse to track all the players’ booty anyway, so it just made sense.

Get the PDFs here.

Cleaning up and clearing out

After exploring the bloody remains of the Foregone Conclusion, the crew agree there isn’t much to be done about the vessel. Legally Firmstep is a pirate, so nobody would come looking for their ‘legitimate salvage’, but they didn’t have the manpower or inclination to tow it back to Mercy themselves.

They agreed to grab what they can (the Captain pinching Firmstep’s heraldry hauberk), make a few calls to Captain Acheron at Mercy and get on with the expedition.

Into the black

The Captain prefaces the unknown warp journey with another rousing speech to the crew, congratulating them on overcoming the heretic Captain Firmstep. The crew had taken a hit to Morale in the fight, and this was just the ticket to artificially inflate their sense of self-worth before their sacrifice on the altar of the unknown.

Set a course for Sigma-459!

We use our own warp travel rules, which is a blend of the core rules (too simple) and the Navis Primer rules (too complicated) with another dozen or so warp encounters added to the table. Take a look:

As the Navigator is played by an NPC, the players take it in turns to roll for warp travel, using Mahd’Naz’s Navigate (Warp) stat of 50. They are allowed to use their own Fate Points to re-roll, knowing full well the consequences of failure…

They make an accurate estimation of 35 days and as its a brand new warp route, roll ‘Indirect Path’ for the Route Stability, adding +1 day to the journey.

They successfully translates in, failing by less than a degree, and avoid all but the worst of the warp travel encounters (ie, they take a bunch of Insanity Points from seeing their dead relatives at the foot of their bunks, but that’s par for the course right?).

In it for the long haul

To spruce up long travel times, I’ve started writing in mini-encounters, moral quandaries or opportunities for advancement for some minions, often prompted by players’ desire for not-quite-as-shit scrubs. One such instance was when the Captain wanted to train up Felicity, one of the more proactive armsmen, personally training her to be an assassin.

The premise was simple – if the captain can pass a relevant check every week (Weapon Skill, for example), his personal tutelage has paid off and she can slightly bump her stats in that area. She won’t be wearing rags for long!

To help them claim ownership of their space, I’ve also started asking them to build the world in their image, starting with their quarters. The Captain described his quarters as a neat and tidy office space, filled with books of tactics of admirals of old. In the chaos of universe, this is his haven of stability. He also has an expanding trophy cabinet (Thanks, Firmstep!) and you could bounce a penny off the bedsheets. And, naturally, a glass of amasec is always ready on his desk.

The Zoologist

For Voidmaster Zilla, he was presented with a conundrum involving his Xeno-arcanist:

The Dynasty’s paper-pushers have flagged up erroneous expenses with your cut of the profits. Several large purchases have been made under your name, more so than the usual Telasco’s bar tab, and after doing a little digging you discover your xenoarcanist “The Zoologist” has been making a number of covert purchases. When you confront them about this, you discover they have been building a library of proscribed, illegal or otherwise morally dubious books and tomes about xenology and alien culture.

If the Zoologist is allowed to continue his studies, he improves his Forbidden Lore (Xenos) to +20.

Unfortunately for our Voidmaster, he failed to locate any trace of what the Zoologist was spending his money on, so he assumed it was booze and/or space floozies. The mystery continues unsolved!

via GIPHY

The sketchy Astropath

For the Astropath:

You have an interesting and somewhat valuable collection of something in your quarters, what is it? (One of them goes missing, a junior has pawned it for gambling)

The player tells me he has a collection of sketches made during meditative trances, most are strange but important to him. One of his Juniors tries lying to him (a bold strategy for a bunch of telepaths), which results in his gambling privileges revoked.

Still causing problems

For the Explorator:

A senior Engine Priest has reported some strange goings-on in some of the crawlspaces. Apparently some of your Engine Crew have made copies of the Cilice Gin Distillery and have set up a bootleg still in some of the less-used areas of the ship. Not only is this a flagrant misuse of Dynasty property, but an incorrectly-assembled is an explosion waiting to happen, and encourages the most heinous crime of all amongst your underlings: innovation.

Freeman wastes no time in locating the secret Gin still, storming in with Engine Guard. He flogs everyone responsible, scrutinises the construction and takes it all apart. He decides to keep the details of the entire debacle to himself.

Everything filters upwards of course, and when the Captain inevitably finds out about an entire work gang being publicly flogged under orders from Master Freeman, he wants to know why. Freeman is inexplicably evasive about the entire situation, keeping the plans for himself, leaving everyone with a sour taste in their mouths.

I’m sure elements of trust between the crew and Freeman’s Secret Projects(tm) will never come up again…

Gil uses The Tower to find out about Factor Silica

Gold in them thar cargo holds

Finally, the Captain was presented with a (mild) moral quandary. After raiding the estates in the Golden Valleys of Cilice, the crew had found themselves with an awful lot of miscellaneous booty once belonging to faithful Imperial servants that Brother Espin would appreciate returned to him. Alternatively, Orthesian adepts on Mercy could slowly tap the reserve, laundering the goods through Mercy’s infamously untraceable markets and turn a few pennies for the Dynasty.

The Captain mulls it over and elects to pass – keep hoarding the loot. Don’t sell it, but don’t tell Espin we’ve got it. I’m sure he’ll never find out…

More Auction Intel

And finally, Gil tasked his new intelligence gatherer, The Tower, to scrounge up some more intelligence on some of the potential auction-goers. This time it was Factor Silica, emissary of Varnstrom Industries, the largest Adeptus Mechanicus conglomerate in the subsector.

Factor Silica – by artist Blazbaros

Intel: Presiding mostly in Imperial space, Varnstrom Industries are the largest Adeptus Mechanicus conglomerate, owning more than half the ruling sects and having the controlling share of the forge world ‘Forlorn Hope’.

Reason for attending: They are staunch traditionalists and loathe to see Adeptus Mechanicus secrets being traded so carelessly between undesirables.

Not a lot to action at this point, but knowing that they’re going head-to-head with the biggest cog the Mechanicus can throw at the problem, they’ll need something extra special to win that ship.

With our journey coming to a close, it was time to make one final translation into realspace and arrive safely at our destination.

Or so they thought…

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MOTB: Asteroids

Finished product first!

Big rocks – mankind’s oldest foe. As much a threat to planetsiders as to voidsmen, and despite space being really really big and really really empty, they do have a tendency to turn up in space battles quite a lot.

Given our Rogue Trader campaign is heading back out into the wilderness, we’re likely to come across all kinds of really big rocks. Why not put a few together?

I wanna rock

I’d recently acquired some cork for basing materials. When it comes to cork, a tip I received from a local hobbyist was to pop to Wilko and buy a few place mats and tear them up rather than pay loads for ‘hobby’ cork. It all comes from the same tree!

This was a quick turnaround for construction, so for all my shame I was unable to get any WIP photos of them pre-primed.

Cork is lovely to work with – you can simply gouge chunks out of it with any implement (even fingers) to create great texture. The smaller rocks were made from scraps from the larger ones, carefully vetted to avoid any flat edges.

For the big lads I glued a few slabs of cork together until they were an inch or so thick. Once thoroughly dried, I set about carving huge chunks out of them to create more realistic shapes. Again, great care was taken to avoid any obvious flat edges or glue marks. You can kind of see the ‘grain’ of the cork in the top left asteroid of the photo above, so I was keen to avoid any more of that.

In action!

The support struts were a mix of cocktail sticks for the thicker rocks and lengths of paperclip for the smaller ones. I bent a right angle at the bottom of each paperclip so there was more surface area connection, then padded it out with green stuff anyway. I build for table-play, not dis-play. Aha.

Finally, I applied plenty of textured paint into the nooks and crannies that still had grain on them.

Celestial bodies

Painting giant space rocks was, you’ll be surprised to hear, incredibly straight forward.

Primed black, drybrushed grey, then washed with Nuln Oil. Another few lighter highlights were drybrushed on, ending in almost pure white at the very top.

I did actually (for once!) look up reference images, as I couldn’t remember if asteroids were brown or not. (They’re not)

Finally, using the end of a cocktail stick, dabbed some white dots in a random pattern to simulate the infinite vastness of space (and break up the dodgy sanding job I did on the bases).

Very happy with how they came out! It’s definitely a technique I’m going to replicate in the future. I notice TTCombat has a new ‘modular space station‘ kit that is awfully tempting – perhaps some space stations built into asteroids? Or perhaps.. *gasp*.. a scale model of Mercy?

Omnissiah protect us, for that would be a mighty construction project…

MOTB: Gloomhaunts

Finished product first!

Originally introduced for Dark Heresy, the Gloomhaunt is a classic fantasy beastie effortlessly inserted into the abandoned corridors, dank caves and hissing service tunnels of the 41st millennium. I needed some winged beasties for our Dark Heresy campaign for the Beast House section and thought Gloomhaunts would fit perfectly.

As they’re ambush predators they’re not much of a threat if you catch one of them sneaking up on you, so I’d need a bunch of them assembled in case I needed a swarm for some of the higher power games, like Rogue Trader or Wrath and Glory. They’d even be interesting carrion creatures for our games of Necromunda, so having a few singles and some swarm bases would be helpful for ease of play.

Bats out of hell

The project kicked off with remembering I had almost a dozen classic warhammer fantasy plastic bats – the same bats that came in the ‘fantasy swarms’ box, with bats, rats, spiders and snotlings. They’re an easy start – an all-in one mini that I just need to horrify up a bit.

The official artwork for the Gloomhaunt shows them more like angry Golbats than regular winged rodents, so I wanted to do away with any of the obvious bat-like features on the body. I ground down the face, carving a hole in the body where the new mouth would be.

I trialled a few types of mouth – top left was the fiddliest experiment with tiny bits of thin wire and a very dainty face. I settled on gluing snipped up bits of paperclip haphazardly around the holes I carved, then greenstuffing a mouth-hole over the top. You could call them lips I suppose, but my partner referred to them as ‘gross flying foreskins’ so clearly the transformation from bat to horrible xenoform was complete.

Many of their pre-moulded plastic bases had snapped off over their 20+ year incarceration in the bits box, so they all got a bit of paperclip at varying lengths for a stand, attached to a mesh/plasticard base to fit the aesthetic of the Beast House.

I might need them as single opponents or massive swarms, depending on the game system and power levels, so I made two ‘swarms’ of multiple Gloomhaunts on a single base.

Other than the fiddly part of attaching tiny chunks of paperclip, the conversion was relatively straight forward and I was looking forward to getting them painted up!

Painting the swarm

I started with a brown undercoat, then the bodies were drybrushed and washed to give a light brown fur texture. The wings vanes were painted dark grey, drybrushed and washed again for a dark, bat-like wing leather.

The flesh around the face was painted in a flesh tone, the teeth picked out in a bone colour and the whole lot given a heavy crimson wash inside to emphasize the horrible fleshy maw that clamps around the head of the unwary.

A heavy application of gloss varnish in and around their toothy maws helped give them a freshly-squeezed-ganger-head look.

The bases were drybrushed silver (straight over the brown undercoat) and given a healthy brown wash. Then, my favourite part, a liberal application of both Blood for the Blood God and Typhus Corrosion to give it that grimy meat-processing facility aesthetic.

The teeth and claws were carefully highlighted with a light bone colour to finish them off. Cheap and cheerful, I was impressed with how well they came out. For the cost of some superglue and a few evenings, I suddenly had a swarm of flying critters I could use to harass a party of any size in basically any indoor evironment.

They might not be particularly dangerous one-on-one, but the first time someone gets one of these horrible flappy bois latch onto their head, you bet players will start checking ceilings a lot more in future…

Did you hear that? Must’ve been a rat…

Orthesian Herald 16 – Terrors of the Gallionic Passage

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What could go wrong?

Last time we were mid-warp on our voyage to the unknown – the Void Sea. This had a small stop-off at Gallionic, an “entry point” to the Skylar’s Lie domain, catalogued as such due to its proximity to other systems and relatively calm warp currents.

Many Domains in the Nomad Stars have these entry points, and navigating across the sector is quicker (and usually safer) to hop from entry point to entry point. However…

An alarming turn of events

Beat to quarters! Boarding alarm! The canteen on Deck 7C has been breached!

It quickly becomes apparent from the horrified screams over the vox that there has been a daemon incursion in the canteen. Almost a dozen souls were lost before they were able to seal the bulk head.

Voidmaster Zilla in the top right, the Covenant in the bottom right.

The crew waste no time investigating. Missionary Lyoness brings two of her newly-minted retinue, the Covenant, that were rescued from the pilgrim ship “The Penitent Traveller” and then armed by the generosity of Brother Espin. The Captain brings along his new military-grade cyber-mastiff, Seymour, and an apprentice officer named Felicity.

Freeman wants in on the meatshield action and brings along a few engine adepts, only to have them terrified to death nearly instantly.

They hear a throbbing, rhythmic noise coming from inside the canteen…

“We’re here for a health and safety inspection, we heard you had an infestation of lesser daemons”

Von Gunn wins the initiative roll (hah, sucker) and kicks the door down to the canteen. Inside they are faced with a canteen ablaze – flames lick the walls and in the centre are half a dozen crewmen wreathed in warpfire, forced to dance along to the awful sound created by a pair of writhing pink creatures – Pink Horrors of Tzeentch.

Despite their ever-shifting nature, they both seemed to be carrying music instruments that were creating the terrible noise, and as they flicked and twirled their rubbery fingers about, forced the terrified crewmen to dance along to their sadistic music.

A Horror of Tzeentch

The horrors hurl balls of iridescent warpfire at the opening, pinning many of the crew. Those who aren’t pinned return fire, the Astropath enjoying his new killer combination of magically guided aim and overcharged plasma pistol.

Everyone down!

The captain issues his orders:

The Captain charges into glorious melee combat in a bid to break the impasse. He spits prayers of the Emperor’s Mercy as he strikes down the terrified crewmen, unable to control their own bodies moving to the foul music.

Sorry lads. This’ll hurt me more than it hurts you.

He then promptly catches fire.

Freeman blasts the Bongo Horror (new band name, I call dibs) and it melts into a puddle of warp-riddled goo, before changing hue and reforming into a pair of blue horrors. Gasp!

Horrors are some of my favourite lesser daemons because of their weird mechanic of spawning two slightly smaller variations of themselves on death. They are weaker and do slightly less damage, but now the number of targets has gone up…

Meanwhile, under the will of the pulsing music, the firedancing voidsmen charge the canteen opening and engage the retinue. To make them interesting enemies to fight, I used regular voidsmen stats but gave them Unnatural Toughness, a 20% forcefield and flaming melee attacks. Their objective was to gum up the players while the Horrors continued to lay down warpfire attacks, and it seemed to be working.

A few Brimstone Horrors crawl out of the flames of the perimeter of the canteen, eager to contribute to the weird dance party. They spit a few tiny fireballs and are extinguished pretty quickly by the crew.

With most of the Firedancers dealt with, there was the matter of the Burning Captain (new band name, I call dibs). Missionary Lyoness leaps into action, using her surprisingly impressive Strength of 50 for a 90-year-old to cover the distance, and helps put the Captain out while struggling with the final few Firedancers.

One of the Covenant, Beef Loaf (they’re all named after Ancient Terrain Hymn-writers) is killed by warpfire from the Horrors. Her name will be etched into a shrine when we’re done cleansing this horrid place.

The Captain is struggling from a few turns of fatigue from being on fire, so Lyoness (the closest thing to a healer the group has) stabs him in the neck with some stims to keep him awake. Once more into the fray!

Stay still, this won’t hurt much…

Meanwhile Von Gunn has puts the killing blow on the Fiddler, who splits into two blue horrors. Freeman moves into position to try out his illegal plasma gun ‘salvaged’ from the Grin Estate on Cilice. It’s like a regular plasma gun, except it shoots it’s plasma in a 30 degree cone like a flamer, doing plasma gun damage over a flamer-wide area. Yikes.

Better not put anything beloved in the way of that!

Oh no! Something beloved was in the way of that!

After some heated discussion about whether a cone exists in three dimensions or not (GM’s note: it absolutely does), Freeman accidentally catches Seymour in the blast of the plasma-flamer while trying to obliterate the last two horrors, much to the gasps of horror from the rest of the team.

Seymour the dog catches fire, and the whole incident was put down to a gross miscalculation of angles, because surely there’s no way the Explorator would be callous enough to fire the weapon again, knowing the Captain’s cyber-mastiff is definitely in the blast radius.

Oh, okay.

RIP Seymour. Your time on this crew was short but sweet.

Seymour is reduced to slag from the plasma blast, taking a considerable chunk out of the canteen and obliterating what was left of the horrors. The crew are genuinely stunned.

After heated discussion about what constitutes an accident, the Captain agrees to forgive Freeman’s transgressions (he did kill the final few daemons, after all), but he promises never to forget.

Licking their wounds, both emotional and physical, the crew return to the last few days of their warp journey.

Through the fire and the flames

Lyoness leads a team to consecrate the canteen. It’s beyond repair, so they replace it as a shrine to Saint Drah’Gunforz, the patron saint of fire and flames. They move an organ from the church deck down to the canteen and appoint someone to play hymns during the day, just to make double sure the daemons don’t return.

Out of the frying pan

You translate safely into the Gallionic system, your vessel adrift in a sea of rocks. Augers show high concentrations of atomic material contained in the asteroids 

The yellow light of Gallionic’s sun fills the bridge with its warmth. The drifting sea of rocks and radioactive haze throws strange lights through viewports – An eerie yellow patina, like drowning in a jaundiced ocean.

Proximity alarm! Augers detect plasma drive activation 8 VUs off starboard side and closing!

Bridge officers raise void shields and order deck crews to battle stations. There is an incoming vox from the unidentified vessel:

“This is Captain Firmstep of the Foregone Conclusion. You have trespassed on a trade route that is legally mine and I consider your ship forefeit. Surrender it to us and we’ll let you live.”

The Captain, normally a beacon for diplomatic behaviour and etiquette during confrontation, takes the vox directly and responds:

“You caught us at a bad time. We had to flee our last engagement, we’ve had a bad warp jump and someone just shot my dog. Prepare to die.”

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Orthesian Herald 15 – A New Heading

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The roar of the crowds is electricity in your bones and the air is heavy with the smell of blood and recycled sweat.

You are in a private balcony overlooking the main Bazaar arena, a wide sandy pit several hundred metres across. High above is a great plexiglass dome, through which the statue of the god-emperor is haloed by the rippling fury of the Telos star.

The crowd encircling the arena is cheering on a cybernetically-enhanced gladiator as he twists the head off an Ambull, holding it up for all to see.

Chief Wrecker Davit holds up a hand at the spectacle and grins at you with golden teeth. A boy in silk pours more wine into your goblets.

”So what do you say? Do you want to play a game to win your ship parts, or perhaps you’re looking to sell? The arenas are always looking out for new and exotic attractions.”

Previously we left our intrepid heroes in the Mercy Bazaar Arenas to do battle over.. uh.. an arena. A Resolution Arena ship upgrade for the Unbroken Resolve, to be precise, and without the funds to acquire it at present, they agreed to do battle in one of the most infamous blood sport arenas outside of Imperial Space.

We open with Von Gunn, Gil and Freeman back-to-back in the sandy arena to the sounds of crowds baying for blood. They were facing three Chrono-gladiators of the Deathclocks Guild, and they had particularly nasty statlines…

Chrono-gladiators of the Deathclocks Guild
WSBSSTAgIntPerWpFel
 4823(6)38(6)325426313622

Wounds: 16

Skills: Awareness, Intimidate +10

Talents: Ambidextrous and two-weapon talents, Autosanguine, Crushing Blow, Fearless, Swift Attack

Traits: Unnatural Speed, Unnatural Strength x2, Unnatural Toughness x2, The Ticking Clock, Natural Armour (3)

  • Poison talons: 1d10+8 R, Pen 3, Toxic
  • Electro-flails: 1d10+12 I, Pen 0, Flexible, Shocking
  • Pneu-mattocks: 2d10+10 I, Pen 0, Primitive, Unbalanced, Unwieldy
  • Chain axes: 1d10+14 R, Pen 2, Tearing
  • Cutting claws: 1d10+10 R, Pen 0, Fast

Ticking clock: If a Chrono-gladiator kills, they gain +1 Unnatural Strength and become immune to Fatigue for d5 rounds. Any further kills increase the duration by d5 rounds. If after 5 rounds it does not kill again, it takes 1 level of Fatigue and d5 Explosive damage to the body ignoring Toughness and Armour. This happens every 5 rounds.

on with the show
Awful deja-vu…

Our heroes make the first move, with the Chrono-gladiators trailing in the initiative roll. A combination of Von Gunn’s bolt pistol prowess and Gil’s psychic guidance of his plasma pistol sees off the chrono-gladiator with the shield before it even takes a step forward. It drops to its knees, a smoking stump where its head should be.

Explorator Freeman makes a mad dash at the gladiator with chainsaws for hands, and everyone is stricken with a sense of awful deja-vu.

They exchange blows, parrying and rolling under each other’s deadly swings, but Freeman is caught across the face by one of the biting blades and drops to -2 Critical Damage.

Gil suffers a net loss

While his combat-heavy comrades are distracted with their own problems, our Astropath is charged by the net-wielding gladiator. The combination of shock net and poison talons drops Gil to -2 Critical Damage. Unfortunately for the gladiator, that isn’t enough to stop him…

Gil unleashes a devastating psychic attack, overwhelming what little is left of net-guy’s brain and gaining total psychic domination over him. He forces him to run as far away from Gil as possible, and Von Gunn heroically plugs him in the back of the head with a twin shot from his bolt pistols. Go long!

Things don’t go quite so well for Freeman. He loses his battle with the Señor Chainsword as its whirling teeth pull two of his four legs clean from their sockets. He falls to the arena floor, burning a Fate Point to avoid death but is definitely out for the fight.

For those at the back keeping count, Freeman has now officially lost the most limbs in the party (3 in total).

As Chainsword Hands raises his arms to deliver the killing blow, Von Gunn explosively separates his arms from his shoulders with clinical precision. The final Chrono-gladiator falls to the ground and the crowd is beside itself with excitement.

After a quick patch-job on Freemen (he has a box of legs on the ship), Chief Wrecker Davit thanks for them for entertainment, and promises to uphold his end of the bargain. The Resolution Arena will be installed on the Unbroken Resolve.

Returning to Espin

You take a short shuttle ride from Mercy to Brother Espin’s vessel – a bloated, gilded pilgrim transport ship twinkling in the light of Telos. It looks like a hunchback baron cradling a hoard of gold.

Cathedral spires extend from its spine and every inch is covered in stained glass, ornate gothic pillars and hand-carved statues of every Saint in the Imperial Creed. Shuttles scurry about like insects feeding their queen .

The hangar bay stinks with the raw musk of human existence – there are sleeping cubbies set into the walls, hammocks hang from the gantries high above your heads, and canvas shanties exist around the peripherals, despite the constant roar of shuttles dropping off pilgrims and supplies. You have no doubts the rest of the ship is in a similar situation

An old man in rags and a long, scraggly white beard is sitting in a circle of cushions on the hangar floor, pouring tea. Half his head is metal plate, and votive symbols are braided into his beard. You know him as Brother Espin.

Brother Espin (courtesy of Fantasy Flight Games)

Brother Espin was thankful for their efforts, and payment was presented as promised for clearing out the space port on Cilice. The Captain had alternate plans – he negotiated for free rights to use the space port instead of payment, something that will sting their bottom line in the short term but will keep their hands free for gin-related shenanigans in the long run. Very cunning!

Espin also offered some new ship components. They could pick two from:

  • Good Quality Barracks (-1 Space, +1 Morale)
  • Good Quality Voidsman’s quarters (Raider size, -1 space, +1 Morale)
  • Best Quality Temple-shrine (+D5 Morale)

They opt for the Barracks and the Quarters, estimating two days to fit their fancy new digs. They beg their leave of the Brother and return to Mercy proper to begin the refit. The crew are particularly thankful to no longer be topping and tailing.

Mercy Longshore – courtesy of FFG
Dabbling in the background

I had learned from my mistakes regarding the Endeavours system in Rogue Trader – less is more. Please let me know in the comments below if you’ve had it work for your own groups, but it wasn’t a good fit for ours.

I still had another idea to try – Background Endeavours from Into the Storm. A formalisation of the Profit Factor acquisition process, but something that can be done once and forgotten about so the players can get on with the adventuring and swashbuckling while the proles do the legwork.

This was a perfect opportunity, the players wanted to rebuild the Cilice Gin distillery from afar and reap the rewards in the future. Time for some numbers!

Background endeavours are split into two parts: the Captain yells at some hirelings to do a job, and the GM calculating how well the job went. Broadly speaking, the players make a few dice rolls and forget about the Endeavour until the GM tells them enough time has passed for the project to have passed or failed.

Players’ section

  1. The Endeavour is outlined by players and GM – what resources they’ll need and the quality of peon needed to perform the job. They already had the resources they needed (most of an abandoned distillery) and just needed a crew – they acquired Good Quality Hirelings, in this case Tavish Contractors.
  2. The GM comes up with a rough time estimate – about 2 months in this case.
  3. Players contribute supporting skills. Freeman provided a chemical analysis of samples found on Cilice (with a Chem Use test) to avoid the fairly obvious horrendous side effects and adds +3 Degrees of Success (DoS) to the Captain’s Command check. Zilla provided fly-by records of the valleys and space port, adding +1 DoS. Lyoness gave a stirring (if somewhat threatening) speech with an Intimidate test, adding +4 DoS to the overall pool.
  4. The Captain makes a Command check to see how well the hirelings perform. He gets a bonus for all the skills his crew have contributed. He (unsurprisingly) succeeds with 8 Degrees of Success.
  5. Retire and enjoy a glass of (currently) the last Cilice Gin in the universe.

GM’s section

  1. Make a Success roll. This is a flat 50/50 chance, modified +/- by the Degrees of Success/failure of the Captain’s command roll and the quality of Hirelings. These rolls are done between games and noted down to bring up at a future session when Success or Failure can be reaped. In this case, I rolled a 10 (super success!).
  2. Check how long it takes. Regardless of success or failure, you roll on a ‘time taken’ table to see how long it’s taken your hirelings to do the job. Sometimes successful endeavours can take much longer than estimated, while failed endeavours can be over very quickly. I rolled 73, meaning it took 125% of the estimated time. 75 days for the job to get done!
  3. That’s it! When the time is up (day 216 shipboard time) I’ll let them know and they can add +2 Profit Factor to their character sheets.

The intention is to keep the story moving forwards while earning money in the background. We’ll come back to this in about.. ohh.. ten episodes time or so.

Auction on the horizon

Last time we also discovered the latest hot topic: an auction being held by the Obsidian Emporial for a rare class of light cruiser in a few months’ time. They had three bits of concrete intel:

  • Up for grabs was a Secutor-class Monitor Cruiser. A substantial upgrade from the current ship – oodles of space, plenty of weapon hard points and a good blend of defense and manoeuvrability. Perfect for longer, more dangerous voyages into the unknown!
  • The Obsidian Emporial auction house will not accept money alone, they are looking for something unique or priceless to win their interests.
  • There will be a number of other rivals vying for the ship – determining who they are and what they have to offer will help the team greatly in their run-up to the auction.
Whatever you want, Leo Getz

With the Auction at the forefront of their minds, the crew wanted some more intelligence on other organisations attending. Time to lean on their old pal, Leo Getz.

After another chastisement from filling their astropathic relay with reams of garbage, Astropath Gil finally gets the message through to Leo. It’s not his Juniors’ job to sift through his manic mountain of thoughts – edit them down!

Brain still aching from mental castigation, Leo comes up with the goods. Two Rivals, both with printed out contact cards so the party can keep some vague centralised notes on the myriad NPCs they’re encountering, and some additional information about them.

Each contact has some generic intelligence about their organisation, their reason for attending, what they intend to offer at the Auction, and additional (sometimes scandalous) information.

Each session I’ll be offering an opportunity for Leo to siphon a bit more for current or new contacts, drip-feeding the information rather than dumping it all at once.

Lord-Admiral Bastille VIII of the Bastille Dynasty

Image courtesy of FFG

“A martial man, conducting the affairs of his House as though it were a private navy. There are dozens of sour rumours swirling around the circumstances of his inheritance of Warrant of Trade and his poor relationship with the Imperial Navy. “

The Herald of Fane, Fane Disciples

(image: Marko Djurjevic)

“Intensely secretive and uncommunicative sect of Adeptus Mechanicus, devoted to the works and discoveries of Magos-Illuminate Zeriander Fane.”

Next stop: Nowhere

We had a mission: Gather something unique for the auction.

We had a time frame: Several months.

We didn’t have a heading. The Captain addressed all the potential plot leads from previous sessions and decreed them to all be equally worthy, therefore unworthy of a unique offering to the Obsidian Emporial.

The Captain cast his gaze across a map of the Nomads. So many worlds already discovered.

He stabbed his finger in the centre, a minor warp storm called the Void Sea. He asked “What’s here?”. I referred to my notes – I had only written one line:

“Here there be monsters.”

That was enough for the Captain. He ordered an immediate survey to find an unexplored system of interest in the Void Sea and to chart a course to it. We had a heading!

Final arrangements

The only thing remaining was to pick up any last-minute essentials from Mercy-mart for the voyage. The Captain acquired a Bullpup Cyber Mastiff (from Dark Heresy’s Book of Judgement) which is a bigger, meaner version of a cyber mastiff. Zilla acquired a single-shot grenade launcher to help deal with Really Big Problems.

Cast off!

Morale is high, plunder is in sight and with only one day to the warp point, everything seems to be going the Crew’s way! Nothing can dampen their spirits! All they need to do is a cheeky short hop to Gallionic, just a mere three days in warp, what could go wrong?

*Rolls*

001: Daemonic Incursion!

+++++++

MOTB: Dinosaurs!

Finished product first!

The Beast House project for our Dark Heresy campaign is going well. I’ve got the House part sorted, now I just need the Beasts. Time to hit the thrift shop!

Yeah Boye!

Boyes is one of my favourite shops – it’s a big homeware/haberdashery place filled with all kinds of strange and wondrous things. It’s great for craft and cosplay and you can pick up tinnies of spray paint for a fiver. It also has a toy section, which often has gems that spark joy…

I want dinosaurs in all my games, but I don’t fancy shelling out £40+ for a GW carnosaur (even though they’re super pretty), so £1 per big dino seemed very reasonable. I could justify a big spend if it was the centrepiece of an army, but for a one-off battle or two, this was way better value for money.

I bought the three big lads at the back for £1 a pop, and a handful of smaller pack hunters for 50p each, the whole lot setting me back the price of a southern pint. Very reasonable!

they do move in herds

The club-tailed fellow was used first for Rogue Trader in a very elaborate conversion, hopefully I’ll get that one written up when I catch up on Orthesian Herald. For Dark Heresy I needed some more reasonably-sized dinos though, so those allosaurs were first.

The paint job leaves much to be desired, but I was repainting them anyway so I wasn’t overly fussed. I was pleasantly surprised at how much detail the sculpts had though, which would lend itself quite pleasingly to washes and drybrushes later on.

The plastic is quite rubbery, you get a good bit o’ flex in these lads, and the mold lines took quite a bit to remove. They were 50p each though, and I got far greater quality than I expected for so little money.

It was only after pinning them to their bases I realised just quite how large they were compared to regular humans…

I was going for a gladiatorial arena-style base, so sandy with splashes of gore. A liberal helping of textured paint went on the bases and a quick blast with some red primer and they were ready to paint!

Red ones go faster

They looked better than I could have imagined after their initial paint job was covered over.

This is just a once over with some red car primer from Boyes again. They actually looked like real models!

I wanted a striking look, so a lighter tummy and dark stripes along the back. Who knows what kind of strange world they herald from where this is their natural camouflage, but sure as hell looks cool!

I started with a light red drybrush over the skin, then a crimson wash over the top. A much lighter reddy orange drybrush on the extremities picked out the details. The stripes were a dark grey, washed black and drybrushed with a lighter grey along the spine.

The claws and teeth were picked out with a bone colour and a light sepia wash, and a sandy hue applied to the base. The best part was a liberal application of Blood for the Blood God technical paint, which is swiftly becoming my most relied-upon paint for the Beast House project!

Pack colours

These guys were really good fun to paint – it’s been a while since I’ve just painted an animal, and the texture of the minis really took to the washes and drybrush so all four were done over the course of two short evenings.

Let’s see some pictures!

MOTB: Ogryn Servitor

Finished product first!

So a new Necromunda campaign has begun in earnest and the Dreadquill blog has been lacking over Christmas, so what better way to get back into the swing of posting than with a glut of Necromunda related goodies?

Last year I posted some WIPs of an Ogryn Servitor kitbashed from a bunch of parts I had lying around, and it remained base coated for several months (mostly because I didn’t want to tackle painting yellow. Over Christmas it got the paintjob it deserved.

The inspiration is, hopefully, obvious. It needed to be High Vis to give it that utilitarian look and offset the weird grimdark parts of it. Yes it’s a lobotomised mutant with a flamethrower and crushing claw, but it’s designed for carrying your luggage.

Gratuitous use of hazard stripes was also a must – how else are people going to know it’s dangerous and shouldn’t get too near?

I experimented with a new chipping technique I’d seen on some Primaris marines on instagram. Paint squiggly brown/black lines and highlight the lower part with your edge colour, giving them a sense of depth. A right royal pain in the arse to do, but overall I think it came out quite well.

The rest of the model I wasn’t too fussed about, so I experimented with a few other techniques. I’ve avoided drybrushing for years, preferring the time-consuming method of wet-blending instead. This year I’m trying to push my techniques a bit more (as well as save time), so the old drybrushes have been pulled out of storage.

The metal had been painted brown, with copious stippling of orange and strategic washes in the recesses. Orange stippling was used on some of the other metally-but-not-quite-metal parts too to simulate rust, something I experimented on with my original necromunda bases.

As this was a mini of new techniques, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to try my hand at marble for the first time. A recipe I found involved lots of wet blended colours going on first (ranging from dark grey up to nearly white) in swooping patterns, then cracks painted on with black and highlighted up again.

I feel indifferent towards it? Maybe I’ll try a different marble colour next time – black and green has always been a favourite of mine.

Overall I’m very happy with how it came out. I found myself very uninspired getting him started off, but once the yellow went on the rest just fell into place.

Watch out for him opening an archeotech vault near you!

MOTB: Warp Geists

In a previous episode of the Orthesian Herald, we had our band of noble scallywags have their first bad warp jump coincide with their first daemon encounter.

I wanted to make some Ebon Geists – an interesting warp predator from the back of the Rogue Trader core rulebook. They’re not affiliated with any of the four main Chaos gods, so I felt easy throwing them at the party without any of our 40k veterans being able to guess what they were up against.

They had a spooky introduction, as the crew were responding to a faulty life support conduit deep in the underdecks of their ship. When the wall of ice from a leaking pipe came to life and shredded an armsman like an egg slice, there was considerable panic.

They were assembled from some parts of spirit hosts I had from my bits box, as well as a healthy helping of weird Chaos tentacles and probably a Tyranid bit or two to bulk them out.

They were assembled in an evening with copious amounts of plastic glue, so it didn’t hugely matter if things didn’t line up.

They needed to be painted up super quick, as I was playing on the same day as I finished making them!

A white undercoat followed by a number of different washes did the job. Blue all over, with a black wash towards the extremities and a crimson wash in the centre.

They had a good going-over with a grey-blue drybrush with a very fine drybrush of white at the extremities and they were done! I painted the bases to match my other minis, and the black rim around the edge to tidy them up was still drying as I read the intro to the game. Close call!

In the game they were quite brutal – a combination of Phase and Warp Weapon meant they could move about quite freely and harass players at the back of the group who thought they’d be away from melee range.

They were the cause of our first limb-loss as well, with one of them pulling our Explorator’s arm clean out of its socket with an unexpectedly deadly strike.

All in all I’m very pleased with how they came out for a few hours of kitbashing and washing – our players got their first taste of the warp and I managed to satiate my GM’s bloodlust for a little longer!

I’ll definitely be making some more of these guys for future though, I don’t think two alone can threaten the party any more…

MOTB: Ogryn servitor WIP

Our Necromunda Callowdecks campaign has been great fun, and it’s presented me with a bunch of cool new modelling challenges too.

One of those challenges was to produce a ‘robot automata’ model as represented in the ‘Archeo-hunt’ scenario. Basically you use a big stompy robot that stands in the middle of the map and gangs have to fight for control over it, guiding it to a vault to break it open and steal the goodies inside.

It hilariously recommends using the Ambot model, recommending it as ideal to represent the automata. A bit dry, considering (at time of writing) they’ve not even announced the Ambot model (despite us knowing it exists from a grainy image in one of the Gang War books) let alone have it available for sale.

Official, yet unattainable

Additionally, one of the generic Brutes you can purchase is an Ogryn Servitor, complete with plasma hand for when you don’t just want to knead and punch something until the consistency of skittles is achieved, but you also want to set it on fire too.

Time to crack out the bits box.

This guy was going to stand in as both ‘generic automata’ and ‘Ogryn servitor’, so the weapons needed to be generic enough to represent whatever was on those stat lines. In this case, it was big hitty hand and melta gun/plasma cutter, so something suitably shooty in the other hand.

The base was the last plastic Ogre Kingdoms mini I had in my possession from the Bag o’ Doom and it was heavily soiled in thick paint. I’m lazy, so I just scratched most of it off with a knife. Finished, not perfect!

The face piece was from a plastic Lord of the Rings armoured troll helmet turned upside down, the belly plate from some Ork vehicle.

The arms came from a bunch of toys that were recycled from a friend’s old office space – they were going to be thrown out, so he harvested all their tech arms and donated them to my bits box. I couldn’t tell you where they were from – perhaps transformers? Regardless, they’ve been too big to use on most projects I’ve done so far, but they were the perfect size for this one.

Cables were made with trusty guitar wire, the thickest I could find. I’ve not tried bass guitar wire yet, but I’ve got a few more beep-boop projects ahead, so there’s still time!

The Ogre Kingdoms range come with adorable little Sinbad slippers, which wasn’t quite the aesthetic I was going for. I shaved the toes down and stick on some heavy shoulder pads from Anvil Industries to give them a reinforced look. A searchlight from an Imperial vehicle sprue finished off the Angry JCB look I was going for.

All told I’m very pleased with how he came out! Considering he was nothing but a bunch of weird bits and cables for a long time, I’m excited to slap some paint onto him. I’m not super excited about the prospect of painting so much yellow, though…

And he’s undercoated!

MOTB: Gun servitors

Finished product first!

Last week I built some friendly beep-boops out of odds and ends from my bits box, this week I got round to painting them.

Hellgun beep-boop

These guys were a cheap and cheerful colour scheme – undercoated black, base colours layered on and washes applied. The metal was simply Leadbelcher with a black wash followed by a brown wash – no extra highlights applied. It was particularly harrowing to not go back and highlight it, but it probably saved me an entire evening’s work.

Heavy bolter beep-boop

The heavy servitors were painted to look more ‘official’ – they would be Navy-issue battle servitors, so needed a uniform on the lower half, along with some heraldry to make them look a bit fancy. The paper was just a bone coloured paint with a sepia wash (really loving the sepia wash at the moment, might even start preferring it to Agrax…)

The final touch was the Mechanicus heraldry on the shield. The cogboys keep the servitors going, even if they’re loaning them out to others. I wanted something to visually tie it back to my tech gang 16th Law as well, so the red and white helped.

Heavy stubber beep-boop

For the more ‘civilian’ models I originally had them in dark grey, but quickly got bored of that as everything I paint is dark grey these days. One of my gaming circle had just finished painting up some Poxwalkers in Convict Orange, and I really liked the contasting colours, so tried to do something similar.

These were just an orange base, washed black and highlighted again with the same orange. I drew the line at highlighting more – finished, not perfect!

Heavy flamer beep-boop

Who doesn’t like fire? These servitors were my first experiment with multi toned flesh. Ironrach Skin was used as the base, washed with Athonian Camoshade to get a sickly hue and highlighted with Ironrach again.

Some crimson washes were dabbed liberally around painful areas where metal meets flesh, then another highlight of Ironrach on extreme edges. Quite pleased with how all that came out!

Very happy with how all my beep-boops came out. I don’t have any more Goliath bodies to make more big servitors, but I’ve got quite a few odds and ends to make little ones. Perhaps some combat servitors are on the distant horizon…