Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Running out of order - Session #19

Most of our players couldn't make this session (holidays and some movie or other called "Avengers" was released - pah - I'd gone on teh first weekend...*I* didn't dirsupt the game... ;) ) so we decided to play a "flashback" set during the ten days of Warp travel between Footfall and the rendeavous with the alien Stryxis at the end of the last game.
We got to "peep behind the veil" at what Mord does to keep the ship running.  Prior to the Warp jump there was a suspected problem with the Gellar field and due to it's importance Mord went to investigate personally (with a coterie of priests and servitors).  Everything checked out OK but we got to see how Mord "relates" to his underlings.  Personally I'm glad he's not my boss..... And we also took the chance to think about how Mord relates to the Machine god, especially as he is delving into areas of research and technology that other tech-priests might consider heretical....

After translation into the Warp Mord decides to have his form further enhanced and sorted the aquisition of a second mechendendrite - this time a heavy lifting servo-arm (see Dark Heresy: Ascension). During the procedure a subordinate tech-priest, Thom-Alpha-5, comes to Mord to advise that there has been a problem with some of the salvage they brought on board from Footfall (to breakdown and use for raw materials & parts); life signs have been detected within.

Mord heads to the cargo bay (with entourage) to examine the issue: the salvage is apparently a section of the outer hull of an Imperial vessel, about the size of a modern day tower block. Mord orders further auspex sweeps and summons Lomar to help as it's more his area of expertise.  Lomar arrives with a squad of armsmen and calls in some voidsmen to try to shed some light on what sort of ship it may have come from.  Its hard to tell as its such a small section and imperial ships can be pretty generic (coming from similar Standard Template Constructs) but it's certainly Imperial in origin and either from a Warp capable tranport or a non-warp "system" ship. There are no identifiable markings.

The tech-priests indicate that there are multiple life signs aboard but the ship segment has no power.  Mord and Lomar lock down the cargo bay, remove all non-essential staff and take a combined squad of tech-priests and armsmen into the wreck to investigate. Sending "Scully" (Mord's Servo-skull familiar) forwards where possible they scout out the hull, going deeper and deeper within.  Mord occasionally has to exercise his new Servo-arm to rip open sections of bulkhead to progress through the darkness.  The only light is that which they have brought in and the party are moving slowly in a staggered line.

Suddenly a shriek cuts the air from the back of the party (the poor guy playing Mord practically jumped out of his skin and had a "bit of a turn"...) - I made the players make Fear checks that they both failed.  "Something" with a blade or sharp claws had taken down one of the tech-priests at the back of the group. Very shaken, Lomar & Mord order the team to group up and send Scully ahead, above them into a access tube.  He soon reports back that a growing number of life signs are rapidly heading their way, from all directions....

A horde of Ghiliam (twisted "once humans" and mutants who infest the crawl spaces and hulls of ships like vermin.  See Dark Heresy: The Inquisitor's Handbook for details) swarm at the group from all dierctions and combat is joined.  Mord overcomes his fear and starts crushing the creatures around him with his Servo-arm while fending others off with his shock-staff.  Lomar relies on his trusted Ripper pistol to dispatch a number but can't shake his fears. The tech-priests and armsmen fend off a number too (the armsmans' shotguns making quick work of many of them) but a few crew are lost in the battle.  After a while the effective, if manic, defense breaks the horde and they flee back into the bowels of the wreckage. Thom-Alpha-5 reports from outside the vessel that as they have now identified the Ghiliam he has detected a single, static life sign different to all the rest.  The Explorers decide to investigate further but Lomar calls in a second squad of armsmen to follow them in and mke sure they aren't ambushed again.

The climb up the wreck is slow and arduous but the team are not bothered by further Ghiliam. Eventually they reach the room containing the unique life sign.  The place appears to be the Ghiliam's "nest" and is a fetid, dirty pit of a place.  Scattered with rags, mess, excrement, scrap and the remains of other, weaker Ghiliam (the canabalistic mtuants are their own main food source) the scene is pretty horrific - once again we called for Fear tests and Mord failed pretty famously, becoming paranoid and very jumpy for the rest of the voyage.

In the centre of the room is some form of large, oopen-topped, casket or crate, set on a plinth or table of some sort.  The Ghilliam appear to have decorated it as some form of rudimentary shrine.  Scrimshawing sigils and messages in their dark, corrupt, tongue and festoning it with trinkets and "offerings".  Lomar approaches and, pistol in hand, peers inside.  Laid within is the body of a Space Marine, one of the holy avengers of the Emperor; the Adeptus Astartes.  He is clad in battle damaged red and black power armour and bears a bolt pistol, chainsword and combat shotgun.  Lomar summons Mord who investigates the armour, identifying that the Marine within is alive but in self-induced suspended animation, his suit is still powered and has integrity, but is battle damaged (as noted by Lomar) and has been rebuilt or repaired from salvaged parts. The explorers arrange for him to be removed in secret and secured in one of Mord's chambers while some medicae staff can attempt to resucitate him, while Lomar's teams continue to purge the remains of the Ghiliam.

Some time passes and Mord & Lomar agree that they ought to advise Darien of their "find" and he is enthused with the prospect of meeting one of the god-emperor's "sons" in person.  They head to the chamber to find the 8ft tall marine, now stripped of his armour, awake and crushing the indpipe of one of the medicae who revived him.... Darien and Mord talk him down, whilst an orderly manages to get a sedative into him (should have knocked out a bull elephant but it just makes him a little sleepy).  He is Brother Sebastion "Bastion" Khaine of the Angels Sanguine and he tells Darien, Mord & Lomar that they may be permitted to transport him...

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

A brief layover in Port Wander then off to Footfall in a new (old) ship (sessions #17 & 18)

Whilst en route to Port Wander Darien takes a break from his reading of the Red Book of the Haxtus to discuss the captaincy of the Penance of Iocanthos with Scythia.  They agree to keep the death of Cobolt under wraps for now and promote Killroy, the first officer, to the role.

Upon their arrival in port Mord slips off to deliver his package.  The gentleman he meets scans the item and is aware that he investigated it but doesn't seem to concerned.  He asks Mord why a Tech priest would not report or act on something so apparently heretical?   Mord replies that he is only concerned with technology not the strictures or rules of the priesthood.  The man shows him out but anticipates that they will meet again...

Ramirez meets Darien and Theata while Lomar goes off to check how his "work crews" got on.
The "work crews" as we cme to refer to them were an idea suggested by Lomar's player after they had left Port Wander but it was too cool to ignore so we retroactively added it in as a Background Endeavour (see Rogue Trader: into the Storm for rules on how to run background endeavours).

In the player's own words: Lomar is specifically qualified to help hunt down dangerous creatures. As he lacks some of the relevant skills, and because the creatures in question are well above the ability of one man alone, he must do this sort of work with teams. Lomar is planning on taking one of these teams to scout out the Emperors Bounty. Workers have been on there for months and Lomar is going to search out for any remainng mutants onboard. I expect many may have been taken out as part of the refurb, but just in case Lomar will take a team of professionals to assess the scale of the mutant presence. Once he has an understanding of their number and strength he will make a decision in each case whether to leave the mutant alone or to capture them. Captured mutants of a worthwhile value will be given options to either serve the family, or to be dropped off at one of the planets the Baccharus family now own which included mutant numbers. Bacchus has superb storage facilities on baord but that vessel is away. Highly valuable psykers are the prime target, and Lomar is very qualified to deal with them. If any can be found then then will be given employment opportunities to serve in the house and to have a better life than the one they currently have laid out before them. The Emperors Bounty will be purged as much as is possible and the mutant hordes within either captured, shipped off, permanently removed or offered a way out in employment.

Back at the mansion Ramirez Connery, the bondsman who runs things for them at Port Wander, updates them on events:
  • Lomar's teams were a success and a number of twists and dregs were routed out.  Some were known felons who were turned in for bounties, some paid passage to be smuggled out of the system and others have entered service with the House, including a small cadre of unsanctioned psykers and Wyrds
  • Schofield, Darrien's sister has passed through on her way to the Majestic Labour
  • Ramirez has recieved word that Darien is to take command of the Emperor's Bounty, appoint a command crew and set sail to meet up with Baccharus and the Majestc Labour at Footfall
Theata finds new orders from his House; they have have arranged a new commission for him - he is to be the primary Warp Guide on a newly commissioned vessel: the Emperor's Bounty....Theata spins it to Darien that he will insist to his House that he acts as Warp guide, if he wants him and will demand the station if need be.

Over the next few days Darien makes various arrangements to form his officer cadre:
  • He asks Scythia to be his High Factorum - she is shocked and honoured and accepts.  The ex-Administratum adept she had suggested for the role will become the Ship's Purser instead.
  • Deatrix accosts Darrien and demands to be the Choir Master he agrees at once and she stomps off, content.
  • Darien offers Lomar the role of Master-at-arms, he is unsure but says he will always do what the House requires of him, but it is for Baccharus to say as he is sworn in service to him.
  • The Death Cultist Que'toh is appointed as "Master of Whispers"
  • When Mord returns from surgery to replace his flesh arms with two new good quality bionics, Darien asks him to take on the role of Enginseer Prime, which he accepts
  • Darien officially appoints Killroy as the master of the Penance of Iocanthos and it begins it's new "milk run" from Port Wander to Fervious.
The Emporer's Bounty gets underway.  As they leave Darien is approached by Father Aubray, the Ship's Confessor (as an ex-mechanicus monitor cruiser the shrine to the Emperor is comparatively small and is staffed by a small group of minor clergy, Frater Militia and Mendicant monks).  Aubray is a practical and pragmatic man who still wears his old Guard fatigues (after having "found his faith in the field" and serving as a Confessor to his fellow infantrymen).  He asks if he can say a benediction over the vessel as they set forth and Darien agrees. Later they share a drink and the Father fills Darien in a little about his past and the Eccelsiarchy contingent aboard.

Theata discovers that one of the subordinate Navigators aboard is his "betrothed" a corpulant female navigator by the name of Lucretia Xan'tai.  She seems to be perpetually bored and has a harem of young human males.

Theata takes the ship to Footfall in a quarter of the time expected but on route the crew is shaken by the appearance of "ghost ships" around them.  Darien shows his command mettle by calming the situation and the rest of the voyage is uneventful.

When they arrive at Footfall they are hailed by the Majestic Labour and Darien takes a shuttlecraft across to the "flagship". There is no official welcome and the ship seems to just be "business as usual".  Darien and his entourage head to the bridge where they find Klyto.  Surprisingly he shows what passes for respect towards Darien and indicates that his father & sister are ensconced in Baccharus' dining hall.  The Explorers head there.  A debauched "regency" style banquet is in full swing and it appears that Schofield has brought a coterie of sycophantic hangers on with her (or picked some up en route).

Schofield is giggly, girly and very much a daddy's girl. It appears that she is pandering to his worst excesses and  Baccahrus constantly interrupts Darien to tell him some other trivial anecdote about something his daughter has done. His plan, possibly suggested by Schofield, is that Darien will remain in command of the Emperor's Bounty while she, as heir, stays near "daddy-kins" on the Majestic Labour. They will travel together as a flotilla - Darien refers to his father as the "Lord-Admiral" which he appears to approve of highly.

Baccahrus gives his tacit approval for Lomar to be instated as Darien's Master-at-arms, if for no other reason than it gives the Lord-Admiral someone he trusts aboard his son's vessel.

The Lord-Admiral has a new scheme - they will soon leave Footfall to rendeavous with some aquaintances of his who may have details of an opportunity that they will trade with the House. But before they leave port Baccahrus wants thenm to negotiate some contacts that will help sell on/exploit/fence whatever the opportunity is...

The Explorers assess their options for who to approach.  They figure they could seek a deal with one or more of:
  • House Krin (see Dark Heresy Main rule book and Rogue Trader: Edge of the Abyss) - a mercantile noble house
  • The Beast House (see Dark Heresy: Disciples of the dark gods) - illicit traders of Xenos creatures with previous connections to House Baccahrus
  • The Kasaballica (see Dark Heresy: Book of Judgement and Rogue Trader Edge of the Abyss and Hostile Aquisitions) - Calixian crime syndicate and significant player in the Cold Trade
  • The Logicians (see Dark Heresy: Disciples of the dark gods) - Tech heretics with connections to Mord
They decide to approach House Krin and negotiations eventually bear fruit.  However the representative they speak with, Quaestor Papyrus, insists on accompanying them on their endeavour (along with entourage) to "protect his investment".
Meanwhile Lomar has been called away to an emergeancy on the Majestic Labour; one of the beasts has escaped.  He drags Mord along (although he offers frequent protests) and they organise a search of the ship.  Due to his role as Twist catcher, Dungoof makes a reappearance and joins the serach teams. The creature is the Lord-Admiral's favourite Ambull (see Dark Heresy: Creatures Anathema), a female named Jordan. Dungoof and Lomar eventually corner it but are interrupted by a dark, armoured and winged humanoid shape. The new assailant attacks them and the Ambull and they retaliate but the armoured figure escapes.  The Ambull is however, safely recaptured. And when told the news the captain did exclaim (to graons and laughter "Jordan's Alive!" ;) (gotta love Brian Blessed....)

The flotilla translates to into the Warp and emerges, some ten days (ship time) later to meet the Lord-Admiral's contacts; a Stryxis caravan...

Expect the unexpected - Que'toh

After the introduction of the Fervian Death Cult Theata's player came up with, what I considered to be, a fun idea.

Darien was very aware that to rise in ranks in the cult a member had to fight and defeat a higher ranking member, and as a "Hum-phree" he was essentially a target for all the lower ranked "Chee-kens" on board the ship - especially as Scythia, in her wisdom had agreed with the Fervians that they would supply additional manpower to help crew the recomissioned Emperor's Bounty...Thus Darien had taken to wearing his fine looking, blue enameled, carapace armour at all times and is prone to jumping at shadows.
With this in mind Theata's player was reminded of the original Pink Panther movies and Clouseau's butler/manservant Kato. Thus came the concept of Que'toh.  Darien was almost constantly accompanied by two "faceless" masked Death Cultists - what if one was a player character? What if Darien's player didn't know, until such time as he lept out and attacked his master "for practise"?

So we rolled up a Dark Heresy Assassin and dropped him into the campaign. His initail "surprise attack" caused shock, groans and honest laughs. Essentially he is an alternate character for Theata's player (much like Dungoof and Mord) and mostly played for comic relief but he has been given the role of "Master of Whispers" aboard the Emperor's Bounty if only to keep him occupied and out of Darien's hair.....

A visit to Archaos (sessions #14-16)

The Penance of Iocanthos arrived on Archaos (see "The Brutal Lament" for details) and the Explorers, with an entourage of exotic Death Cultist body guards, met Darien's old friends & family in a state reception, organsised to welcome home the "adventerous noble scion".

Darien's mother's ladies-in-waiting hastily whisked off Captain Cobalt to "make her more suitable" as Darien's intended bride.  Lynara was somewhat concerned but Darien encouraged her to put up with them and try to enjoy the pampering.

At the lavish function Darien met Duke Thomias Jerom Newton, Magnus Machenko's alledged co-conspiritor and source of the astropathic messages they had intercepted. They traded barbed comments but didn't "make a scene".

It appears that Darien's younger sister, Schofield, has left the planet, en route for Port Wander, leaving at about the time Darien was kidnapped by the Fervian cultists. They also learn that Darien's mother is also due to wed (Lord Gold, head of House Vansire and speaker of the Planetary Senate, esentially the de facto Imperial Govenor).

Cobalt was eventually re-introduced to the welcoming party (which was now well into it's 2nd day) but Mord soon realised she has been partailly lobotomised by the implantation of Cortex bionics.  She is now compliant, giggly and (currently) phobic of starships.

Lomar recieved an astorpathic message from Master Baccharus informing him that as Darien was believed lost at the hands of the cultists he has been disinherited. Lomar is to return to the Majestic Labour as soon as he is able. 

The Explorers discuss what the "disinheritance" may mean - as far as Darien is concerned he may not be the "heir" (a level of responsibility he wasn't hugely keen on anyway) but he is still a member of the House and has responsibilities and duties to execute. It also casts a shadow on the necessity of the wedding; the Penance is legally and officially leased to them now and Darien has no inheritance to speak of.  Darien is determined though; he gave his word and is prepared to honour it, but he wants Cobolt returned to her former state.

Mord then recieves a cryptic invitation to meet with a "Dr Smythe" he goes downhive to meet with the mysterious man and discovers a well dressed gentlemen who seems to know a lot about technology but isn't one of the Adeptus Mechanicus.  He also seems connected to the underworld connections who smuggled Mord out of the Calixis Sector originally.  Mord suspects that he is a member of the Logicians (see Dark Heresy: Disciples of the dark gods). Smythe asks Mord to do him a small favour - if he delivers a package to an aquaintance of his on Port Wander he will supply Mord with data and technical specs for a number of obscure and "lost" devices.  Mord agrees.

Our Explorator isn't the only one who recieves an invitation.  Theata is summoned by representatives of his House and Darien gets a request to meet with an individual claiming to be connected to the Holy Inquisition.  After the missive he received on Port Wander Darien feels he cannot refuse.  Lomar won't let him go alone though (especially after his previous abduction) and accompanies him, along with a cadre of Death Cultists.

They head downhive and meet up with an apparently learned sage & adept, Verunde Macabre, who alledges that he used to work in the employ of the Inquisition, in particular he worked for an Interrogator named Jareth who was in the service of Inquisitor-Exorcist Mordant Crimson (see Dark Heresy: Disciples of the dark gods pg 180).

Jareth has heard of Dariens studies and wishes to entrust him with something to assist him.  They are led into Macabre's study where they discover a collection of artifacts, texts, objects and curios, some alien, some archeotech, some of cultist origin, many forbidden or heretical.  Macabre says that this is his role now, to act as curator and archivist of this collection. He takes them to a plinth and with reverence hands overa  small bookbound in red leather.  He tells them that this is "The Red Book of the Haxtus".  The Haxtus are a noble family of Archaos, generally known for their debauchery and allegations of heresey.  One of their number, some few hundred years ago, had rebelled against his clan and entered into service with an Inquisitor. This book was a journal he wrote about his time in service and the things he learnt, encountered and discovered.  Verunde now entrusts it to Darien.

Theata meets with the local office of his House and is queried as to why he is still with Darien - their house contract is not for the Penance, nor with the Fervian Dairy Syndicate.  He is therefore told he must return to the Majestic Labour with all haste.  They will arrange travel for him.  He decides he has no choice but to accept - his House is more important than his ties to individuals.

Darien and Lomar leave Verund's home but on their way back up hive they are accosted by Hive dregs.  The fight never really goes against the explorers and the hive scum's leader sues for peace.  He tells them that they were only there to try to take them to a meeting with one of his contacts.  Darien and Lomar are intigued and go with them.

They are eventually taken to an underhive bar and introduced to a gunslinger and desperado named Quint. He explains that he too is in the service of Mordant Crimson and that he knows Jareth well.  He also believes Jareth to be corrupt and possibly a heretic, in fact some two centuries ago he accused him of such but the allegations were successfully defended, he (Quint) was demoted and he swore to one day prove that he was right. He also tells Darien that Baccahrus was involved and that the investigation is the reason he left the Imperium. To this day Quint believes the granting of the Baccahrus Rogue Trader Warrant was part of an elaborate cover up. He also believes that "Newton" may be one of Jareth's cover aliases.

By the end of the day everyone had returned to the Erronius estate.  Darien discovered he had a visitor and also that Scythia had been trying to get hold of him from the Penance.  The visitor turns out to be his "Thronemother" - a sister of an Order Famulous who works to guide and assist the House.  This is the new sister, his previous Thronemother having passed away since he left the sector.  She discusses his forthcoming wedding and gets out of him the detail of what has happened to Captain Cobolt.  She agrees that the marriage is "unsuitable" with the captain in her current state and offers to have her spirited away so that Darien can attempt to have the implants removed  and her restored to her former self.

Mord examines the device that Dr Smythe gave him - it appears to be human tech (it appears to be a rod that interfaces with a standard Servitor data port) but it is not from a current Adeptus Mechanicus Standard Template Construct - Mord believes that it is a lost & ancient design from the Dark Age of Technology but it has been manufactured recently....

The Explorers reconvene and swap tales (leaving out plenty of detail and generally skewing things certain ways).  Theata proposes that he returns to the Majestic labour on Darien's behalf to explain things to his father (not mentioning that his house is sending him) and that he'll be leaving in the morning. Darien protests but eventually concedes.

They then speak with Scythia who advises that the Fervians are demanding that they get underway to take delivery of a new milk shipment. Darien explains that the captain is incapable of command and they agree that the First Officer, an ex-naval man by the name of Killroy, take command for the time being.  Mord and Darien then hit upon the idea that Mord joins the ship uses the medicae facilities (and the time away on the journey) on board the Penance to try to remove the Captain's implants.  Scythia sends a shuttle to collect them and Darien contacts his Thronemother to arrange the abduction/collection of the Captain.

Mord packs and he and Darien meet the sister and return to the Penance. Darien speaks with Scythia and returns to Archaos in the early morning (Archaos time) and decides to wait up to see Theata off.  He does so and is then attacked by Que'Toh, one of his Death Cultist guards.  The guard explains that he is committed to regularly testing Darien's defences to ensure he is ready for combat but until now Darien had been seeing enough danger without additional "surprise attacks".

Theata takes a shuttle to the transport waiting for him, is shown to the sparse passenger berth and settles down with a book. He very soon discovers that his House has booked transport for him on the Penance (as it was teh first vessel leaving Archaos with Port Wander on it's itinary)....but he decides to remain as a passenger and enjoy the opportunity for a bit of peace and quiet with no work.

Over the next few weeks Darien works the social circuit working to charm away the rumour mill and spread his own derogatory rumours about Newton.  His mother, Lady Tsatsa Erronius, questions him about where his fiance has gone and the conversation breaks down - his mother summons him to her office that night.

Meeting his mother that evening Darien discovers another side to her.  She is well read, studious and intelligent - explaining that the noble life tends to lead people to dabble in various activities for enjoyment and to ward off the boredom of such a lengthy, rejuvenat extended, existence.  For her it wasn't drugs or pleasures it was study - including texts that some may have been considered heretical (she alludes that it was to better understand or relate to his father and to share his interests). They discuss his father and why he left - she's not aware of the details other than he felt it was his only choice, and he's not returned since. That was over 100 years ago. Darien (and his sister) were concieved using "some of himself that he left behind".

Mord realises that he doesn't have the surgical skill necessary to remove the captain's implants so employs the help of the ship's new chief Chiurgeon.  While Mord passes his rolls to assist the surgeon fails and the captain dies on the operating table.  Mord tells Scythia who instucts him to keep it to themselves (she will deal with the Chiurgeon).  Mord sends Astropathic messages to Darien and Theata to advise them that the captain's dead and it wasn't his fault!  The Penance's Astropathic choir send Theata's message then later recieve it again and it is delivered to him aboard the same ship...
Darien is shaken by the news - he never loved or felt attracted to the captain (being used to teh idea of an arranged marraige for political or diplomatic reasons) but in his words she was "significant" to him. He continues his charm ofensive over the next few weeks, but somewhat more subdued than before. Eventually Newton encounters him at a party and they trade words.  Newton says that working together they could gain more than alone.  Darien asks why he started the rumours and Newton's response was "It brought you here." The Thin White Duke eventually walks off with the parting words of "Enjoy your reading material."

The Penance returns to Archaos with a full cargo bay and collects Darien.  Theata makes himself known and recommends that they charge more for passage in future if his House, with their limited budget, selected their ship. Lady Tsatsa wishes her son farewell and gives him a letter to pass on to his father.  Darien responds that it was finally good to meet "her".

Monday, 28 May 2012

Fervian Death Cult Elite Advance Scheme

With the events of sessions #12-13 and Darien's accidental enrolement within a Death Cult, and their likely continued involvement in the campaign, I decided we'd best have an established Elite Advancement scheme for any player who wanted to join.

The cult is one of many that have originated on the isolated feudal world of Fervious (High Gothic: Vasenrule). It is connected to the Dairy farmers but is not exclusive to them, nor is it the only death cult that is connected to the Syndicate.

The cult is called "The Uniq" and, as far as most observers are aware membership is open to any who can defeat, and kill, a current member in ritual combat. The winner usurps the rank of the defeated member and thus this is also the method of promotion within the sect. It appears that there are three ranks: Chee-ken (rank & file member), Hum-phree (cell leader) and Ern-eee (high master). Darien is currently, for all intents and purposes a Hum-phree.

Restrictions: Members of existing cults or sects (priests, redemptionists, other death cultists, tech-priests etc) cannot join and a prospective member must ritually defeat an existing member in order to enter into the ranks of the cult.

Advance cost: 200xp

Effect: You gain the Secret Tongue (Death Cult) (Int) skill, Melee Weapon Training (Primitive), Thrown Weapon Training (Primitive) and access to the following Advances:

Cipher(Death Cult)(Int)
Cipher(Death Cult)(Int) +10
Cipher(Death Cult)(Int)
Forbidden Lore(Death Cult)(Int)
Forbidden Lore(Death Cult)(Int) +10
Forbidden Lore(Death Cult)(Int), Cult Rank: Hum-Phree
Forbidden Lore(Death Cult)(Int) +20
Forbidden Lore(Death Cult)(Int), Cult Rank: Ern-Eee
Logic (Int)
Secret Tongue(Death Cult)(Int) +10
Secret Tongue(Death Cult)(Int) +20
Secret Tongue(Death Cult)(Int), Cult Rank: Hum-Phree
WS30, Melee Weapon Training (any). Cult Rank: Hum-Phree
Exotic Weapon Training (Chain-sticks)
Lightning Attack
Swift Strike, Cult Rank: Ern-Eee
Quick Draw
Sure Strike
WS30. Cult Rank: Hum-Phree
Swift Strike
WS35, Cult Rank: Hum-Phree

Special: The following items of gear are of common availability to members of the cult:

Armour: Fervian Banded Armour (Body, arms & legs, Primitive, AP3)
Weapons: Long-sabre ( Melee (two handed), 1d10+2R, Pen 2, Balanced, Primitive) Chain-Sticks (Melee, 1d10+1I, Pen 0, Fast, Toxic, Primitive), Throwing Stars (Thrown, 5m, S/-/-, 1dR, Pen 0, Primitive)
Gear: Caltrops (Dark Heresy: Inquisitor's Handbook pg 102), Powder bombs (Dark Heresy: Inquisitor's Handbook pg 103),

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Darien and the Death Cult (sessions #12-13)

After the events of the previous session Darien Erronius, our player chracater Rogue Trader had been captured by persons unknown.

We bagan the session with Darien being interrogated, he is almost naked, has had his bionic arm brtually removed and is subjected to debilitating heat and frequent beatings, often without word or question. When he is questioned (by a female spokes person who is dressed in masculine armour and atire similar to that of an old Terran Samurai) she accuses him of taking something of theirs, but is not specific as to what.

Meanwhile Scythia (standing in as High Factorum of the Penance of Iocanthos) needs someone in authority in the House to authorise repairs, resupply and recruitment for the Penance.  She ends up with Theata who does his best to resolve the issues,  She is not at all happy to hear of Darien's fate.

Lomar and Theata both blame Mord and give him quite a hard time over his "cowardice".  He responds that he issued a warning; how was he to know Darien would stay and fight?  The logical thing would be to avoid conflict and run. Any fault should be laid at the feet of the Rogue Trader...
Darien's questioning continues and he learns that this group are in the employ of Fervian Milk & Dairy Farmer's Syndicate and they want the return of the Penance. They also give him regular doses of Styger milk (see Dark Heresy: The Inquisitor's Handbook for more details) to help keep him alive.
Back at the Baccahrus mansion the Explorers receive a ransom note; The Penance and her captain within seven days or Darien faces the consequences.

Mord, Lomar and the Bondsman, Connery, make enquiries and determine that a Fevian ship is due to arrive at Port Wander in seven days and that they believe they may know the industrial unit aboard the station where Darien is being held.

Darien uses the time of his captivity to continue his manic scrawling and note taking, scratching into the walls of the rooms where his is chained if need be.  When this is dicovered he finds that he is supplied with paper and calligraphy sets instead...

At his next meeting with the cult spokesperson temperes begin to fray and he challenges her to a duel - which she accepts. From then on he was treated better - given a bed to sleep on, improved food etc. He began to feel like a condemned man.

Theata went to the Imperial navy to ask for the legal precedents about who owned the Penance.  The adjutant he (eventually) spoke with decided that it wasn't a clear cut case and impounded the ship pending a full investigation (which was estimated to take 100-300 yrs..).

Meanwhile Rahip was sent to make enquiries with mercenary brokers for prices/availability and Mord went back to the High Magos to seek her help - she said it was outside her sphere but that she'd entreat the Machine god on their behalf.

Deatrix was sent to send an update to the Lord Captain via the choir on the Penance but found that it was already locked down by the Imperial Navy. Theata then had an idea to broker a deal with the syndicate - what if House Baccahrus could tranport their products for them deep into the Koronus Expanse, leasing the Penance from them for the purpose? He arranges a meet for the following day.
The Syndicate representatives listen to the deal and agree - their issue is the percieved loss of face of Captain Cobolt "giving away" their ship. They can see the benefits of the business deal but cannot ignore the "insult".  They therefore demand that the Captain be brought to them when they seal the deal so that one of their order may execute her. Theata agrees.

Mord is sent to the Penance to bring the Captain to the mansion only to discover that she has already left the ship to find Theata and demand answers.  Mord hurries back to the mansion to find she has just arrived and Theata has risen from his bed to meet her. The Navigator explains what he has negotiated (side steping the whole execution issue with some clever word play) and the Captain is placated.  She stays at the mansion that night.

Darien is told that the Hum-Phree (the syndicate spokesperson) will permit him to hold his challege until after his release but Darien says he is ready there and then.  A ritual dueling circle is drawn, Darien's sword is returned to him and they engage.  The battle goes to & fro, her Lathe forged blade (see Dark Heresy: The Inquisitor's Handbook for details) is able to resist the power field of his sword. Eventually though his skill exceeds hers, striking her first in the torso then in the leg, which renders her unconscious.  Darien then delivers the killing blow; severing her head.  The remaining syndics treat him with respect, clothing him, presenting him with her sword and quartering him in the "tea room" where he was previously brought to meet her.

The meeting goes ahead the following day.  When it becomes clear what the syndicate wants the Captain is enraged but Rahip restrains her.  The Dairy Spokesman who brokered the deal insists (against Darien's protests) that the captain is handed over to them and that he (Darien) kills her (as by ritually defeating the Hum-Phree he is now part of their cult). Darien argues that no "face" has been lost as no one outside of the house and Syndicate know what happened.  The spokesman challenges Darien, who accepts and they duel then and there.  This fellow goes down much easier but not before cracking Darien across the face with his chain sticks (taking him to one wound - but mercifully all the Styger milk he'd been drinking left him essentially immune to it's poisons) after losing his sword to Darien's blade.  Darien then strikes him twice; the second blow causing him to immolate (as now seems to be the norm....). Having defeated the spokesman Darien insists that honour/face is satisfied and the deal concluded.

Finally upon return to the mansion they find the brown robed scribe who had delieved a message for Darien to Theata waiting for them. Theata passes over the message and the scribe says his master has heard of Darien's studies and wishes to offer materials which may assist him.  Darien opens the message, sees a single stylised capital I and says he cannot refuse....

I deemed that the deal that was brokered earnt a gain of +1 Profit Factor and also that Darien is now a member of a Fervian Death Cult....

The journey of the Penance (sessions #8-11)

We'd cut our teeth on seven sessions based upon printed adventures, now it was time for 100% original content. This is where, as a GM I feel much more comfortable; I can write *for* the characters rather than taking something existing and modifying to fit.

And so the Explorers set off aboard the Penance of Iocanthos....or at least they set out in real space to find a suitable Warp jump location.

Now Theata (our PC navigator) had worked out a suitable Warp route from this lost and obscure system back to Port Wander (and had really done extremely well on his roll) so was keyed up to guide the Penance back home. Unfortunately the Penance's Navigators were froma rival family and wouldn't concede control.  Added to this was the fact that they wouldn't/couldn't use Theata's naviational instructions (as shared with the Emperor's Bounty and Majestic Labour)as they were written in his family's language and ciphers. A political game ensued while Darien was finding similar issues with the crew accepting him, in particular the High Factorum showed him thinly veiled loathing. Only Mord appeared to be accepted "off the bat", having worked with the crew on the Penance's emergeancy repairs and gaining respect from his knowledge and success in assisting them. The charm and negotiation skills of the players eventually won the day in respect of the Navigators and they were eventually underway with Theata as temporary Warp Guide.

After their translation into the Warp the Captain organised a grand formal dinner to officially welcome Darien's party. It was a good opportunity to showcase the key NPCs aboard the ship and it culminated with the sharing of a "Cup of friendship" - apparently a standing tradition aboard. Everything went fine until Darien took the cup and drank.  Immediately he began to hallucinate or (as he thought at the time) see clearly for once, and fled screaming from the scene, followed by Lomar and Mord.

Darien was eventually cornered and subdued by Lomar who was able to identify the symptoms of Black Janix Venom (see Dark Heresy Games Master's kit for details). Mord was then able to analyse the poison in Darien's system and fabricate an antidote.

While Darien was resting in the infirmary the missionary Sister they had brought from the Majestic Labour found the data slate Darien had been working on and saw his "heretical writings" and reported it to the Penance's confessor.  He (Father Nimmo) and the High Factorum raised a squad of armsmen to arrest the "heretic". However Darien was warned of their arrival and he and Mord (who was attending him at the time) fled to the lower decks meanwhile Theata tried to placate the situation by saying that the slate contained encrypted navigational data. Unfortunately he then had to back track as Darien, bless his simple and honest mind, had admitted to writing the symbols.

Darien and Mord were ambushed by the armsmen and officers but Master Erronius was able to reason with the confessor to at least allow him to hear his case. Exceptional sweet talking and an arguement based upon the cryptic nature of the information on the slate won over the Father (to the High Facotorum's chagrin) and the data slate, now sealed in a box warded with purity seals and hexagrams, was returned to Erronius.

After all this Deatrix, the astropath from the Majestic Labour, came to the explorers with details of an astropathic message she had helped to send (as part of the Choir).  The messge wasn't sent by her so she doesn't understand the symbolism used but she *knows* it relates to them. Mord spends the next 40-50 hours trying to crack the code. Mord also conducts some investigations of his own, questioning the servants from the night of the meal and discovering that the cup bearer is missing.  Upon gaining entrance to the crewman's quarters he discovers he has been murdered. An investigation of his room reveals no further details.

Once decoded the Astropathic message seems to implicate Magnus (the ship's High Factorum) and Darien (eventually) has a vague recollection that they met at university and dueled,  Darien easily beating him. The message implies that Magnus has an associate back in the Calixis Sector and that Darien is a mutual enemy...

A further Astropathic message is received, this time intended for Darien himself.  The news is brief but not good, things are not going well back at the Dark Frontier and the suggestion is that someone back in the Imperium is spreading malicious rumours to discredit the house and their business dealings.

Lomar and Mord get to work on further investigations, indentifying the crewman who arranged the sending of the Astropathic message as a Midshipman Oswald.  They interrogate him and he eventually further implicates the High Factorum.

Meanwhile Darien is working to improve morale aboard ship, with some success. But things take a slight shift when He, Mord and Theata seperately recieve visitations from the "ghost" of Vyn. She tells Mord that she remembers him now and that is sorry. She discusses the secrets of the Warp with Darien and tells him she may know someone who can help him in his studies.  Finally she accuses Theata of being the reason she died, she believes he could have saved her.

With the evidence pointing to the High Factorum the Explorers challenge him.  He professes his innocence and demands a duel with Darien in defence of his honour.  It is arranged for the following day.

Most of the ship's officer Cadre assemble to watch the event.  The two unarmoured deulists facing each other in the ritual duelling circle.  Darien with his Powersword, Marcus with his ancestral chainsword.  Marcus lunges, unprofessional and brazen.  Darien feints, strikes and immolates him in a single blow.  A sudden hush decends on the assembled throng.

The Captain was upset about Magnus' death, although she accepts the evidence against him she still blames Darien for his "execution" and avoids him where possible. Scythia (Klyto's apprentice) then took over the role of High Factorum, supported by Darien, further frustrating and annoying the Captain (she basically implied that it could be interpretted as a Baccahrus plot to subvert her ship from her).

An astropathic response to the cryptic message Deatrix intercepted was then recieved.  Mord spent a few days translating it and discoved that it implies that the other party involved is a "Duke T J Newton" who lives on the planet Archaos.

While on board ship Darien also resolved some disputes between the folk they had rescued from the Dark Frontier and are transporting, as passengers, back to Imperial space.  It won him a lot of kudos in both their eyes and those of the Penance's crew.

The ship eventually translated from the Warp - quite far out from the system - so it takes another week or so of real space travel before they arrive in Port Wander. Darien recieves word from his father that he needs to investigate the rumours that are damaging their endeavours - their bondsman on Port Wander, a man by the name of Connery, has been leading the investigation so far.  Coupled with this various minor edicts and bylaws of the Adeptus Mechanicus (essentially red tape) has prevented an Explorator mission from being launched to examine and exploit the Dark Sun.
The crew arrives at the station and the Baccahrus delegation (with the exception of Scythia who begs permission to remain on board the Penance to oversee the repairs and resupply) goes  to the mansion house the dynasty maintains onboard the station.

Theata goes to the "Gilt Processional", the huge market place where anything and everything is sold, and negotiates the purchase of a repository of knowledge about Xeno lore (essentially a
Xenos Librarium ship component (from Rogue Trader: Hostile Aquisitions)) in order to better research details of the Dark Sun.

Mord and Darien go to see the chief Adeptus Mechanicus on the station.  She's very "alien" having heavily modified her form with mechanicus implants and is rumoursed to seek out and horde heretical artefacts, but is popular as she holds open "audiences" with any who wish to recieve her blessings or advice (see Rogue Trader: Into the Storm for details).  Mord explains the situation with progress on the Explorator mission being blocked.  He makes quite and impression and she promises to personally resolve the matter.

On the way back to the mansion Theata is approched by an ink-stained scribe carrying a message for Darien.  He takes the message and heads "home". Likewise en route back to the mansion house Darien and Mord are ambushed by two assailants clad in Samurai-like armour.  Mord spots them and calls out a warning allowing them to react in time but then he runs, heading for home and leaving Darien to his fate. The two attackers ignore the tech-priest and turn on Darien.  The battle drags out - they dodge Darien's blows and he parrying theirs (destroying two of their swords in the process).  The "samurai" then resort to chocking gas bombs (which don't appear to affect them) stunning Darien long enough to grapple him to the ground, eventually rendering him unconcious....

In the meantime Lomar has been making enquiries and has discovered that Magnus was a member of The Machenko Dynasty (see Dark Heresy Main Rule book) a mysterious Great House of the Calixian Nobility. Secondly he discovers that, as suspected, Captain Cobolt is Master of the Penance of Iocanthos but not the owner.  It's unlikely that she had legal title over the ship and couldn't "trade" it to House Baccahrus. He also discovers that the "syndicate" that owns the Penance is "The Fervious Milk and Dairy Farmers Syndicate". Fervious itself is a Feudal World in the Calixis Sector but some still refer to it using it's old name of Vasenrule. The entire population of Fervious inhabits one sprawling shanty city and this has spawned a very violent and callous culture where murder is an accepted form of despatching rivals and as a way gaining wealth and influence (see Dark Heresy: The Inquisitor's Handbook for more details).

So we enter session #12 with the group's Rogue Trader and de facto leader unconscious and possibly a captive of persons unknown, but the main suspects being a Calixian Death Cult in the employ of aggressive dairy farmers...