DH3.11: (Not)Alien

This adventure is – possibly – designed to link us to the final arc of the Drusus heresy. Or not. We finished the Drashkon/False Prophet scenario in the first hour, and even after shopping still had half the session left. So the unpleasant Extricator Voss got to strut his stuff as a kind of provocateur (but what was the point?) and we got to start the DH version of Alien.

 

The Cudgel of Drusus makes rendezvous with Vaarak aboard the Debitar Lost. Vaarak introduces Explicator Voss, a trusted lieutenant, sound man, and all-round exemplar of the Inquisition. Voss puts us through a full debrief, very much like an interrogation.

[Grimm has his suspicions but is distracted by the expected cost of melta ammunition.]

At its hiatus I plead for a chance to re-equip and Vaarak allows us planet-side.

[Time to re-equip! The Acolytes have only another month’s back-pay but are able to sell Augmeticks (just the eyes they were given, the GM disallows the ones they looted) for 425 each. It pretty much all goes on ammo and grenades. For example Jahr’s monthly stipend is 80 Thrones and one Krak grenade costs 100 Thrones.]

 

Aboard the Debitar Lost, the second law reigns

The small, automated Debitar Lost keeps us in comfort: but it is the blank comfort of the uninformed. Vaarak and Voss sequester themselves, guarded at all times by a pair of Sororitas guards, in the medicae area. We can only imagine that the remains of the ‘Prophet’ are being closely examined. All we really know is that we are headed through the deep void.

Alarms sound! As an Acolyte that at all times meditates on the Throne’s service, I am first out of quarters. Zarkov follows me. We arrive at the source of the alarm – the medicae chamber 1A – to find our path blocked by the pair of sisters. Behind them, the door to 1A has been impelled out into the crew-way somehow.

 

Something large and strong hints its presence

Grimm and Jahr, armour-clad, join us a few minutes later, and I ask for admittance. They give ground and we hurry in.

“Something has pulled the hatch right off, and thrown it down” – Zarkov

“Not good” – Grimm

Inside, blood runs across the deck and smears the bulkheads. Vaarak seems mortally-wounded, but Zarkov stoops quickly to his aid. Voss’ body seems to have ended up flung into a corner. The centre-piece of the examination-room is ‘Prophet’ Cambyses’ corpse: the head has completely disintegrated and large, naked and bloody prints suggest that a thing has been summoned out of Cambyses’ flesh. A small medicae servitor hovers nearby.

Fear test!

Mola – now with Fear resistance – makes it easily, the others are OK as well.

“Life still flickers! Servitor – assist me! And someone check Explicator Voss!” – Zarkov

Without undue haste I check Voss’ corpse – to find that he is beginning to come round! He struggles to his feet, despite an obviously broken leg.

“You fools – why… Wha…” – Voss

I admire his staunch courage. Then I admire his unassisted nose-dive into the floor as he loses consciousness again. We pick his unconscious form up and stow it on a medicae bench. Shock has set in and Voss will need some attention soon.

Grimm and Jahr set out on the trail of bloody prints, while I return to Zarkov’s side. It seems that most of the blood comes from Vaarak, who has had his gizzard slit open. Zarkov and the servitor work to restore plasma to the esteemed Inquisitor.

Alarms continue to sound around the Debitar, and I head back to our quarters. As I assemble gear and don armour, Zarkov voxes me.

[Zarkov believes there will be something to find, and turns up a cracked data slate. But Mola can inform him that the examination must have been recorded by a pict-stealer and vox-recorder. Zarkov’s fresh search finds it easily.]

 

The Acolytes confirm the danger and Grimm’s sanity reels

The four of us rendezvous at our quarters. I have confirmed they are clear with the Auspex, and Zarkov plays the contents of what he has found back to us.

Vaarak and Voss indulge in an autoseance on the corpse, trigger a ward spell placed there by Drashkon or the Magos, and suffer the consequences as a Daemon bursts out, cuts Vaarak horribly and hurls Voss to one side: then the recording goes blank.

Willpower test!

Mola Zarkov and Jahr are OK but Grimm [even on reroll] fails and picks up 5 insanity and a few corruption.

 

For reasons best known to the railroad gang, Voss reasserts himself

One of the few ship’s petty officers taps on our hatch and summons us to Voss’ presence immediately.

Explicator Voss is cross. He now condescends to brief us on the facts we have already ascertained. As he delays us reiterating these facts, klaxons sound once more and an emergency message voxes, calling aid to the Enginarium.

 

The enginarium suffers severe damage and vital crew are lost

We race there, but too late of course. By the time we trace the source of explosions the reactor is powering down and three of the ships’ four engine seers are dead, horribly.

Amid leaking plasma conduits, Zarkov communes with the spirits of the Debitar and assures us we are in no danger.

[Apparently there is a ‘ship’s wright’ skill for knowing what’s wrong with a ship. None of us have ever seen it listed in skills. I’m not making this up. This is DH and par for the course.]

 

Voss demands that minions become monitors

A fresh hail across the ship’s vox frequencies has myself alone running back to the medicae quarters. The other three are slower and need to protect the Debitar’s vital essences.

Voss has assembled two sisters, including the senior, Sr. Leona; Bosch the captain; the chief chirurgeon; and the last engine seer.

Voss demands a survival plan. It is not my place to wonder why he has not simply summoned this up from his own resources, but my data slate is ever to hand.

[Mola ad-libs without asking for a roll. It seems safer because the alternative is probably being asked to roll on some unheard-of skill.]

Initially my plan is to evacuate and simply wait in void-suits, forcing the daemon to become visible as he clambers out over the hull in search of prey. Voss and Bosch deny this request.

I ask that all four sisters stand guard, and Sr. Leona is willing to agree that all four will guard this medicae chamber, which at least preserves the chirurgeon and Vaarak… and Voss. The remaining officers and crew, other than the engine seer, are to retreat to the bridge and guard themselves. I and the engine seer will advance to the enginarium where repairs can be begun and all four of us can defend the seer. Everyone is to remain on vox.

 

Cambyses makes a last and human farewell

The pair of us make it back to the other Acolytes without being ambushed by the daemon. The seer – we still don’t know his name – sets about his mystical affairs, and we stand watch.

A short while later, the air shimmers and the shade of Cambyses, though more human in appearance than when we saw him alive, appears to us.

“It is called Aranea, herald of the final change. Magi of House Drashkon implanted the spell in my body. Aranea is a master of guessing its prey’s plans. It is fast, agile, smart and favours ambush over stalking. Though it has strong Psyker weapons, it prefers the Warpfire blades. It is merciless: it will stop at nothing. When it strikes it will strike hard, then flee to regenerate any damage.

“All I ask is that once Aranea is defeated you commit my mortal flesh to the void” – Cambyses

That’s where the session ended. The ship is not as large as the Nostromo but on the other hand the daemon is probably going to be able to disappear at will. Stay tuned as we Acolytes blow our newly-acquired armaments in a fight for survival!

This was a very un-fun intro to an Alien-ripoff scenario. I have a nasty feeling Voss is just there to allow the GM to play an asshat. He is well protected by the Inquisition’s rep and the very real power of the Sororitas. Way to get player engagement, scenario writer!

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DH3.10.5: Prophetic

 

Welcome back! We paused last session in mid-combat. While attempting to crack House Drashkon’s cogitator, Acolytes Grimm, Jahr, Mola and Zarkov have been set upon by a wandering security patrol. Low on ammo and with Jahr badly wounded, they have only two factors in their favour: there is plenty of cover in the cogitator room; and, Mola placed herself behind the patrol so as to attack from two fronts.

We rejoin the battle. Initiatives are Mola, Grimm, Zarkov, three Guards, one cannon- and flamer-armed Servitor, and Jahr.

Combat continues 

Round 5: Outside in the circumnavigatory passage, Mola drops back, keeping her huge riot shield up. Two unwounded guards swap order of march with the servitor, leaving them close to the room and the servitor clanking towards Mola. The badly wounded guard waits to take shelter behind the servitor.

Inside the cogitator room, Grimm and Zarkov move to firing positions at the doorway, and Jahr shifts to where he can cover the doorway with his heavy stubber.

Round 6: Mola falls back still further – the servitor’s flamer has a range of 30m and a shield won’t help! Grimm and Zarkov shoot: [both score RF! Zarkov uses up a reroll] the badly wounded guard falls and the servitor (still a target owing to its hulking size) is stunned. The two remaining guards return fire with combat shotguns, scoring hits but not injuring either Acolyte. Jahr has now set up ready with his stubber, in cover.

Round 7: Mola fires her plasma pistol, [RF, 25 damage and 6 pen] destroying the servitor. Grimm drops right back into the room and good cover; Zarkov retreats back out of line of sight. Their plan is coming together!

Round 8: Mola ruins the plan by sprinting forward, to within 10m of the guards.

“I’m closing in” – Mola

“That crazy one is back!” – Guard, swinging round and shooting

“Mola you’re drokking what???” – Grimm, aghast

“She got balls!” – Jahr, approving

The shot slams into Mola’s shield and through, but is stopped by her elite carapace armour. The other guard races across the doorway, takes a hit in his right arm, and drops his shotgun. Jahr moves forward, closer to the doorway.

Round 9: Mola’s next shot misses and she moves back a few metres. Grimm and Zarkov return to the doorway. Zarkov [reroll] hits the guard facing Mola. The guards both draw chainswords, and leap to attack Zarkov – but miss. Jahr charges into combat with his power blade and fells the most wounded guard.

Round 10: Mola calls on the remaining guard to surrender, [GM tests WP, fails by 3 drops] and the chainsword is reluctantly dropped.

Combat ends

Information is obtained

“The Imperium welcomes all turncoats…” – Mola

“Who recant sincerely” – Grimm

“Now, to assist us in keeping you alive [getting two raises on Deceive] you can assist us in turn. We need information” – Mola

Although this security guard has nothing much to add to Zarkov’s attempt on the cogitator, he does provide us with vital information on the Prophet.

We learn that the huge, Warp-infected creature we slew in the operating chamber was the Prophet! Moreover, the guard will help carry the enormous (and messy) remains to the elevator, which in turn has a slide-control so that we can lug the guts to the neighbour alley behind the mansion.

As Zarkov works into the cogitator [4 raises] the guard also explains that below us are a series of cells, where lie the wretches doomed to serve as test subjects for the Magos’ mad heresies. Grimm is sore tempted to shut power off and release them, but I point out a few drawbacks to the plan.

“I’m in! I’m recording the heresies of Drashkon now. Plenty to damn the house for good” – Zarkov.

“Oh, and there’s a full history of Molokor Cambyses, the Prophet. I’ll transcribe it later, but essentially he is fully to blame for the heresy here – not the false St. Drusus” – Zarkov

 

The Acolytes extricate and the mission winds up

Some time later [GM asks for Agi tests to judge the actual ‘get massive messy corpse into Rhino’ and the results are positive] I navigate the Rhino to the now-familiar cantina and ‘arrest’ Thebe again. By that time Zolokov is expecting us.

From there, we exit the usual city gate where once again Grimm’s Arbiter procedure works [Grimm makes another great roll].

We hand the guard over to Zolokov for further debriefing and probable re-indoctrination, but in return, are handed an urgent message from Vaarak. It seems there is to be no down-time!

As the sloop Cudgel of Drusus wefts swiftly back to Scintilla, Zarkov puts together more of the captured guard armour. Now all four of us may have the best armour.

And in the sloop’s cool-store, the corpse of the Prophet awaits the attentions of the Inquisition.

 

Apparently we hit all our marks on this leg of the adventure and received 700xp. It was what it was. We congratulated the GM on improvising a way of exiting the house with a massive payload – not something the writer gave any thought to.

Personally I enjoyed driving the Rhino around: Mola hasn’t used her ground vehicle driver ability since our first adventure around the Gilded Cathedral. Picking up the plasma pistol finally decided me on which career path Mola should take, as well.

 

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DH3.10: Cogitator

 

Welcome back! We begin with the combat that had just begun as last session closed. Deep inside House Drashkon’s underground sanctum, a Warp-infected hunchback giant (‘hunchback’) has rushed to within 8 metres of Jahr and Mola in his initial challenge. The three Acolytes not on Frenzon have just survived a Fear test.

Combat begins

Battle layout: This is a broad oval with only one exit: the ante-room the Acolytes just came in from. There is no cover other than the large heavy-duty operating table that the wretched warp-infected hunchback giant erupted from, which is well behind the giant in relation to the Acolytes.

Initiatives:

  • Hunchback
  • Mola
  • Grimm
  • Zarkov
  • Jahr

 

Round 1: The hunchback’s Psyker curse causes a ring of fire to erupt, encircling the Acolytes!

Mola Grimm and Jahr deliver grenades – Grimm landing his last Krak grenade in the hunchback’s gaping mouth! Zarkov also delivers a good shot with his Mauler bolt-pistol. The frag grenades appear to do no damage. Mola steps back to give Zarkov better line of sight and stay within reach of him.

Round 2: The hunchback’s wounds begin repairing. Ghostly apparitions appear, racing around the chamber and howling, enforcing:

Willpower checks! To the GM’s disappointment everyone is fine.

Meanwhile the hunchback appears to blur a little [-20 to BS, though +10 for size].

Mola jabs a Stim dose into herself and draws a regular Stub-Auto with Manstoppers chambered. Grimm quick-draws and fires his bolt-pistol, landing a shot that seems to score. Zarkov switches to semi-auto with the Mauler and lands two solid hits. Jahr draws his heavy Stubber and steadies his aim.

Round 3: Healing a little more, the hunchback hurls four orbs, each like a screaming green-black face. [Rolls WP to hit, misses all but Grimm, Grimm dodges on reroll] They miss!

Mola fires on semi-auto and lands one telling shot, Grimm likewise and again two of Zarkov’s do some damage. Jahr’s Stubber roars but all shots go wide.

Round 4: Healing a fraction more the hunchback fades from view as its appearance blends in with the surroundings. [-30 additional BS penalty] Howling winds lift it partly off its feet and knock Zarkov flat.

Mola lands another telling shot and draws her Carnodon. Jahr’s next burst results in another round landing.

Round 5: Screaming in fury:

                “The Prophet will destroy you all!!!” – hunchback

…The hunchback hurls a fireball into the centre of the burning circle: it cannot be dodged without hurling oneself through the wall of fire: but the extreme armour of the Acolytes results in mere minor damage to Zarkov and Mola. At the same time though, all guns jam.

Mola realizes her Carnodon has just jammed as she brings it up – she moves closer to Zarkov and asks for his Machine Blessing. Grimm struggles to free his bolter’s action. Zarkov unjams his piece and fires, again doing some damage. Jahr juggles with then drops his Stubber.

Round 6: The hunchback has become opaque once more, but stays on the offensive – he tries another fireball and fails!

Waiting for Zarkov, Mola draws her final grenade. Zarkov feels lucky and scores Righteous Fury on a massive scale: the hunchback explodes messily! The flames fade away.

Combat ends.

 In the operating chamber, the Acolytes plan their next combat

We take care of our wounds and our guns and soon have both in order. A search is instituted as Jahr tends the belt-feed of his Stubber. I find nothing, and Zarkov declares that even the Medicae gear is spoilt beyond use.

It is time for some strategy to find any secrets this level holds.

After a short discussion as to ways and means, we split into two uneven sides. Jahr will attack the two guard servitors in the circle passage from one side using the berserk power the drug Frenzon grants, and we will shoot the other from the other side. Our signal will be a flash grenade. We synchronise chronos.

The Throne smiles on us and my plan works as well as might be supposed. One servitor is truly blinded, and it is that one that Jahr charges.

 

Combat begins

Battle layout: we are back in last session’s circular passage which runs right around the inner core of rooms, which in turn surround the dread operating chamber of last combat. Two servitors – very heavily armoured, and armed with flamer and shot cannon – guard one of the inner doors. The passage is about 5m across, so plenty of manoeuvring room.

Round 0: Mola succeeds in her Int [for timing] and BS [to pitch a flash-bomb just right] and the servitors make Tough tests against blinding. One fails. Jahr, who is advancing from that flank, charges it and rams his power blade into its left arm, severely damaging it.

Initiatives:

  • Mola/Zarkov
  • Jahr
  • Grimm/Servitors

Round 1: Jahr further damages his opponent’s left arm – oil is really leaking out.

Mola steps to point-blank range and targets the non-blinded servitor on the other flank, shooting it in the head with her Carnodon. Further back, Zarkov misses but Grimm hits twice to good effect.

The non-blinded servitor turns its flamer on Mola, the obvious target – but she dodges [on reroll] what would have been horrific damage. [The GM neglects to mention the flame reaches further than standard: it has a 30m range!]

Round 2: Jahr continues to berserkly stab his opponent, and his Crippling Strike talent wreaks minor damage [a Rk1 is advanced to a Rk 4].

Mola snap-shoots and falls back, drawing another flash grenade. Zarkov’s Mauler round chews through the servitor’s head, exploding it so effectively [RF – 32 damage plus 4 pen – Rk10 crit] the thing drops immediately. Grimm swings around, checking in case a security patrol has emerged from further away.

Round 3: Mola’s throw is off, landing behind the servitor and not affecting the ongoing one-sided melee. Jahr misses, but does not blame Mola.

Round 4: The servitor can finally see! But with wear and tear from the damage, can hardly swing its clumsy flamer as club. Jahr now severely damages its other arm [Rk5 crit with crippling strike].

Round 5: Jahr causes the servitor to short-circuit in some way [stunned] and the fight is effectively over since everyone else can now safely shoot it.

Combat ends

Spotting a Cogitator, Zarkov and Mola feel their goal is near

To our complete surprise, Zarkov opens the door the pair were guarding. [First multi-raise success on security!]

“Oh – it wasn’t locked then? That was lucky!” – Grimm

This is the beating heart of House Drashkon, I realise as we cautiously peer beyond the door. Dumb servitors are slaved to tasks tending generatorium-style banks of machinae, while further to the left, we can glimpse at least two sentinel servitors guarding a glowing green force-field around a glittering gold-and-ebon cogitator. There are four guardians in all, I see.

We pull back and Zarkov and I discuss ways and means. At length he proposes [makes an Int check which means a specific idea appears in the book] that he shut down the servitors one by one.

I agree, though with the proviso that Jahr and I retrieve our full security regalia and accompany him.

[This may not have been the best plan even though it appears in the book. Zarkov makes his first attempt by the necessary margin, and one sentinel is shut down. But he fails the next by 3 drops or worse, and all the three attack berserkly!]

 

Their cunning ruse leads to combat, inevitably

After a nasty scramble to get clear, I look back – to find that Jahr has charged into combat! I roll a smoke grenade in, as does Grimm, and Jahr stumbles out, clearly burned badly. I shoot my last Stimm into him.

“It won’t cure the wound, but you won’t notice you’re wounded” – Mola

[I think it is a matter of initiative timing that pushes Jahr into charging. Or he wildly overestimates his melee ability. He is definitely not still berserk.

The barbecue, which I’m skipping over, involves an interesting discussion about these heavy guard shields and area effects. That becomes very relevant later.]

After than it becomes a simple time and motion exercise. The servitors are all coded to attack frontally, and we are all faster afoot. We retain a respectful 30 or so metres distance and keep a continuous volume of fire. Grimm uses a combat shotgun to good effect, and Jahr still has his heavy Stubber. At length, all three break down enough that we finish them.

[The GM agrees that there is no need to play it all out. He also agrees, somewhat generously, that we still have reserves of ammo at the end.]

Jahr is helped to some extent by Zarkov’s medicae skills [restores a rank of crit back] and we return to the cogitator chamber.

 

In the nick of time wandering monsters prevent the plot moving forward

After several attempts – and an enraged but ineffectual dumb servitor – Zarkov extracts information from them that leads to the force field’s power box. He has his usual luck opening the cover.

“Jahr, time for your lock pick” – Mola

Jahr’s power blade, wielded delicately, persuades the plate off. But at that moment Zarkov catches the sound of the elevator in operation.

 

After a frantic few seconds’ planning I rush around to the circumference security station, before the elevator can arrive. [Mola is very fast.] Laying down amidst the bodies I pull the shield over myself and ready my Carnodon. I report.

“The elevator is ascending… coming up from below” – Mola, sotto voce

Three security guards and a servitor emerge and curses fill the chamber. We wreaked great slaughter here. In the chaos they do not count bodies and therefore miss the fact that there are too many guards. They move out, urging the servitor to its best speed.

“They are moving out. Away from the cogitator” – Mola, sotto voce

Once they are well clear I get quietly to my feet and follow them, whispering a coordinated plan from well behind the patrol.

 

Combat begins

Battle layout: although Mola’s original plan is to attack them well away from the room where Jahr is resting – such as the opposite side where the entrance to the operating chamber is located – by the normal accidents of GM narration and miscommunication, the battle ends up at the cogitator chamber. There is plenty of cover, the only downside is that quite a lot of it is sensitive machinery and there is no exit.

Jahr is well back among power stacks with Stubber ready, Grimm and Zarkov in easy distance of the repowered force field, also ready to fire.

Initiatives:

  • Mola (when she arrives)
  • Grimm
  • Zarkov
  • Guards
  • Servitor
  • Jahr

Round 1: The servitor reaches the doorway. Grimm and Zarkov’s shots fail to make any impression and they retire. The guards, who are well in cover behind their metallic friend, urge it on. The servitor stops and scans for targets.

Round 2:

“I vill choin you” – Mola in a fake Drashkon accent, closing rapidly

[The security guards make their intelligence test – ‘aren’t you a little short for a Stormtrooper?’ – but instead of immediately resigning to take up the life of a bouncer, react suspiciously.]

Mola raises the plasma pistol but fumbles a little and the shot burns one in the leg, instead of taking his head off as she intended.

Grimm manages a hit on the servitor [reroll] but his and Zarkov’s shots make no impression on it. The servitor fills the doorway while the three guards are deeply confused, since a plasma pistol is the sidearm of a sergeant.

Round 3: Mola pulls back and hunkers down! The unwounded pair fire, but as she predicted the shots simply bounce off the shield.

Grimm and Zarkov flee outright to cover behind the forcefield. The servitor attempts to acquire a target, and Jahr obliges by opening up with the Stubber. No damage.

Round 4: Mola resumes firing and shoots the wounded guard again. Her pistol arm is now a target, but the guards hit the shield anyway. 

Grimm’s gun jams, but Zarkov unjams it.

Much to Jahr’s relief the servitor wheels back out, towards Mola.

+++++++++++++++++++++Paused until next session!+++++++++++++++++++++

The session’s book is written by someone who really, really thinks that Acolytes need to be in combat at all times. You think that’s combat? But wait, we’ve got more combat! 

In a dungeon crawl like this, supplies inevitably run low and the odds tip in favour of the defence. Next session we see if Mola’s ‘wheelbarrow’ tactic pays off at all.

[‘Wheelbarrow’ is a term I’ve borrowed from wargaming: originally describing an army you need to be so ballsy to play you need a wheelbarrow to cart your balls around in.]

 

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DH3.09: Circling

 

Welcome back!

I could sum this session up into one sentence – in Jane Austen style – with many clauses – which is to say we did not progress very far.

But that’s not how we roll! So we rejoin the four Acolytes: Grimm, Jahr, Mola and Zarkov: and their Canopus Guard by the name of Sank: as they finish goggling down at a large enclosed operating chamber, where a red-robed priest does un-nameable alterations to a huge warp-infected humanoid.

++++++++++from the data slate of Quintilla Mola++++++++++

An impromptu ambush is staged

We pull hastily back into the passage letting onto to the mezzanin: Grimm and Zarkov have caught the approach of security guards. Unwisely, Zarkov lingers to peer around the corner: and his probing lens is instantly seen!

[The session kicks off with Awareness checks, which is exciting, and both characters get 3 raises. Mola usually dominates this area with her 65 Awareness but in a sign of things to come, muffs the roll. Zarkov decides to wait to count guards and our GM rolls a critical success for the guards.]

There are two but they come on apace! We pull back even faster, to the place where we know Jahr can use his combat abilities: the guard station we began with.

“We have a few seconds before they catch us. Lay down like corpses and ambush them” – Mola

Sank promptly, then the others and I myself, lay us down in what cover we can find from the ruin of the sentinel and the desks. The two guards enter and are killed instantly by our barrage of fire.

“That was our most successful ambush. Ever. By a large margin” – Mola, slightly awe-stricken

“In the name of the Emperor, I commandeer these grenades… lessee what we got… frag? No, flash and hmm… smoke. They’ll do” – Grimm

“You know, among all these sets of armour I may be able to assemble one complete undamaged suit” – Zarkov

Zarkov is better than his word: he assembles a suit for Jahr, and another spare. Of superb and light crafting, it is even better than the borrowed Arbiter armour I wear, so I change to this new set. I sling the combat shotgun in its scabbard and Jahr shows me how to hang the chain sword.

“We look the part. We may achieve some margin of surprise like this” – Mola

[Zarkov has the crafting skills to refit armour. It is 7 points all over, for those of you who care. This elevates Mola into relatively survivable territory, just as well since she is now up front with Jahr]

 

The Acolytes arrive at a cunning plan

We retrace our steps, though I have it in mind that the obvious way down is the goods elevator we found earlier. Sure enough, we find no new options.

“I have a plan, as option A. We head down and kill everything” – Mola

“Bit subtle, but I like it” – Sank

“We could pose as guards plus guarded, tell people ‘the boss wants ‘em’ and see how far we get” – Zarkov

“So that’s option B. Votes?” – Mola

So we proceed with my plan. Jahr and I stand to the fore of the elevator cab, so that when the gates open we will appear as security guards, at first glance.

It works reasonably well.

 

Combat begins

Surprise round: The elevator gates open onto another security station. This has a full detail of five security guards, a sergeant, and a combat sentinel. They don’t immediately react. The station has the same sort of two-desk layout, offering minimal cover.

Jahr and Grimm send Krak grenades at the sentinel, Grimm getting Righteous Fury with his on a reroll. This seriously damages it, and by the time Zarkov hits it in the arm it is out of action. Only Mola does not attempt a shot at the monster: she steps to some cover behind a desk, drops the combat shotgun (which is just for show) and shoots the nearest guard with her Carnodon pistol.

Initiatives:

  • Grimm
  • Sank
  • All Guards
  • Jahr
  • Mola
  • Zarkov

Round 1:  Grimm now lifts his bolt pistol and double-taps the wounded guard. Sank, on Mola’s left and Grimm’s right, turns his Hellgun laser on the same man, who falls.

There are four guards and a sergeant: they all raise combat shotguns and spread out, firing, save for one near the back who shoots and fishes out a grenade. Mola Grimm and Jahr are all front targets and Jahr is slightly hurt.

Jahr charges a convenient guard and slams his power-blade home. Unexpectedly, Mola drops her Carnodon on the desk and joins Jahr in combat, waving the chain-sword in dangerous fashion. [With its quality she has a bonus to hit, which does not make up for her incompetence and general lack of WS.]

Zarkov remains at the elevator gates so they can’t close, and shoots the sergeant twice in the leg.

Round 2: Grimm hurls another Krak grenade at the sergeant and with a second RF takes the man’s head off. Sank steps to cover near Grimm and misses his snapshot.

With a shout to withdraw and tell the Magus, the rear guard hurls a smoke grenade. But it is wild and merely masks Mola and Jahr and screens Zarkov’s view. And with their fervent loyalty [Fearless talent] all except the man in melee remain there firing. He pulls back. The two able to fire do so and Sank is hit twice, Grimm once.

Jahr and Mola follow the retreating guard up, but fail to do anything other than prevent him fleeing at pace. [A ‘disengage’ only gets 3m] Zarkov uses IR to scan and shoots an unwounded guard.

Round 3: Grimm and Sank fire with virtually no effect: it seems the tide is beginning to turn.

The guard in melee disengages again, and the nearest, who is now flanking Jahr, wounds him. Grimm and Sank take no damage.

Jahr wheels on the shooter and stabs him three times, killing him outright. The power blade causes the man’s suit to explode, wounding Jahr a little further. Mola, still swinging her blade at great peril to herself, walks after the retreating guard. And with a miss from Zarkov the round ends.

Round 4: Grimm and Sank shoot the next guard along, rocking him [1 Fatigue] but their tactics are mirrored by their two opponents. The desk disintegrates and Sank is knocked down bleeding out!

Jahr decides a change of tactics is called for:

“Mola! Switch with me!” – Jahr

Jahr charges the retreating guard [who is now far enough away for a charge to work] and the guard dodges his swing!

Mola moves swiftly back to the corpse of the guard Jahr just killed and kneels, dropping the chain-sword and fishing for a shotgun. She notices that the sergeant’s headless corpse has a holstered pistol.

Zarkov makes his last shot count and the wounded guard falls.

Round 5: Calling on Sank to ‘stay with me buddy’, Grimm quick-draws another Krak grenade he got from somewhere, and [reroll] injures the remaining unwounded guard. His opponent returns fire to some effect.

The other guard keeps retreating but Jahr stays on him, and takes his leg off with the power blade.

Mola slides through ponding blood, over to the sergeant’s corpse, and draws the pistol: she does not recognize its type. Zarkov quick-reloads and with a snapshot, takes the remaining guard’s leg off. Unbelievably the guard remains standing, but is stunned and a sitting duck.

Combat ends

 

Aftermath: Words for the fallen and the plan reknitted

The next round or so is spent finishing off stunned or unconscious guards, and looking for more lethal grenades than flash or smoke (without success). Grimm checks on Sank but all life has fled.

“That’s a damn shame, he was someone we could really work with” – Grimm

“I’ll say a few words. He was a fellow guard” – Jahr

“Hey, Mola, I think that’s a plasma pistol!” – Zarkov

After drooling over the pistol for some time, the lads get back to business. Zarkov tends to Grimm and Jahr’s wounds. Mola tallies Stimm and Frenzon doses: she has Stimm and Zarkov can inject two Frenzon shots.

There’s not much talk about the fight. Just enough to let Mola know something.

“So you are saying I was wasting my time trying to help, because your mastery is at the point where it makes no difference how many surround you?” – Mola

“Yeah and those guards had mastery as well so you weren’t really helping. But it was funny. Except for the times you waved that sword up near my face” – Jahr

“Ah well, no harm done. I may try the plasma pistol if I have to get through massive armour again” – Mola

“But you don’t know how to use it” – Grimm

“Step to point blank range, press trigger, how hard can it be?” – Mola

 

The Acolytes fruitlessly circle their objective

We form up in a loose group around Zarkov: Jahr and I in front once more. The guard station lets out to a circular passage. Initially we test a few doors, but come to where a pair of servitors are guarding a door. Retreating, we try every inner-facing door in an attempt to find a way into the central operating area.

[Zarkov is now the only character with Security, and rolls spectacularly badly. You would think that with about eight doors he would roll under 40% at some stage. But you would be wrong. One roll is 99 and another is 00, and those aren’t outliers.]

“You know I think I have a way of getting in” – Jahr, gesturing with power blade

Eventually we have worked out way right round to the other point where the servitors can be seen, and all we have to show for it is a weird manufactory where hiero-techs loads strange augmeticks unto transport crates. It is too incense-filled to allow me to see if some way lets into the inner areas. [Yes, Mola’s Awareness is still not happening this session]

 

 

Then carve their way to the beast within

The only other thing out of place is one particularly cunningly-worked lock on an inner door.

“Jahr, let’s go back to your plan. Power blade here” – Mola

As Jahr’s blade finally caves the door in, we hear a dreadful sound, as of someone getting their throat torn out!

The room we have gained is most definitely the operating chamber we viewed from above: bright and tiled, but smeared now with blood and machine-oil ichor. An immense hunched humanoid looms above a broken operating table, pieces of red-robed Magus around it. Zarkov stabs Jahr with the first Frenzon injection.

Fear checks!

The Acolytes are all hardened by Into the Breach talent but still need good clear raises. Zarkov only just makes WP [reroll] and gains 2 insanity points. Grimm [reroll] makes it and Mola also makes it easily. Jahr is auto-immune to fear now that he has Frenzon coursing through him.

As we involuntarily pause to take the dreadful scene in, the Warp-infected creature bellows and charges!

++++++++++data slate paused++++++++++

This was a full-length session, obviously: combat, followed by more combat, in trad dungeon crawl style. It went a few minutes more than described here but I’ll collate the combat into one scene next time. Stay tuned!

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DH3.08: Security

Three Acolytes – Grimm Mola and Zarkov – manage to get themselves invited into House Drashkon on the trail of the false Drusus, and they bring along a wily Canopus Guard named Sank, who has a way with locks.

Hardly have they settled in the luxurious quarters allotted than they are exploring the immediate environs, discovering two possible leads for hidden heresy: one in the parlour and one in the shrine. Neither are easily persuaded open so they retire to quarters.

++++++++++Mola’s data slate resumes++++++++++

The acolytes’ discussion is interrupted by reinforcements

Discussing which of the two may be the more feasible, we are knocked up by a soft-spoken servant.

“We received a message of sorts for Mistress Mola: can she contact the unwell comrade. Apologies if that has become somewhat garbled at third hand” – House Footman

Therefore dressed once again as Arbiters we find ourselves once again “arresting” Thebe in the lower-level cantina. Once seated in our Rhino she explains.

“I have been doing some scouting of House Drashkon’s exterior. I noticed you left this big truck outside? – Thebe

“Yes, they wouldn’t let me drive it in through the front doors for some reason” – Mola

“Even though there’s plenty of room in there” – Zarkov

“Well, I picked up some vox signals off the Rhino. Someone’s trying to contact you” – Thebe

“Hey, what… well what do you know, the vox unit here does have some calls on it. From Zolokov… yeah we really should check in” – Grimm

“Before that, let’s just run through signals with Thebe here” – Zarkov

[Zarkov sets up some easy code phrases or words so that Thebe can vox us without giving the game away. The GM hand-waves this as done.]

Once Thebe has been “released” – this time with a much less aggressive incision dressed up to look like a severe cut – Grimm voxes Zolokov. The import of the Lieutenant’s information is that:

  • Jahr has recovered and wishes to join us. They don’t have a suit of Arbiter armour large enough for him, so he’ll be wearing his Guard armour, suitably repainted.
  • Vaarak’s cogitator specialists recovered information from the Oracle’s equipment. We now have a new menace to the orthodoxy to hunt down: the Prophet of St. Drusus. No description, but a Drashkon affiliate.
  • Regular vox chirps are to be sent through to Zolokov so that he knows we are still in action and safe.

We pick Jahr up at the same gate we entered. [Grimm makes a near-miss on Fellowship which is good enough to get Jahr in.] I drive the Rhino back up to the mansion, and somehow manage to excuse Jahr’s appearance to major-domo Balthazar. [Mola makes a straight Fellowship check and has both Deceit and Charm.]

 

The parlour games come to a halt

By an easy majority we opt for the parlour first. After the evening meal, retiring for drinks makes a plausible reason to gather there.

Unfortunately Sank and Zarkov are foiled by the pict-stealer guarding the lock. [Z fails by 5 on reroll which is judged not a disaster, just not successful.]

Zarkov repairs himself to the Mechanicus shrine while we others discuss the next option.

 

An ingenious ploy introduces house security

Time moves on, but at length, I propose that we create a diversion using ‘barbarian is drunk’ which Jahr is quite happy with. Sank is seen disappearing into the shrine’s depths as the “drunken” Jahr puts his helmet over the shrine’s skull-sentinel.

[The plan kind of compressed into one scene, where I’d originally thought it was two, but it made no real difference.]

Security is very swift! A large sentinel – though not as large as the full combat example at the entry gates – and squad of five guards arrive. They escort us politely back, not knowing that Sank is hidden away with Zarkov. They are all very heavily armoured, and the sentinel has a flamer and shot cannon.

 

In the shrine, Zarkov and Sank investigate

Unseen in a private alcove, Zarkov and Sank tackle the code-locked prie-dieux. [Z makes 2 raises on tech and Sank helps.] The piece swings back, revealing a steep slope down, then a circular stairwell plunging deeper!

Light can be seen faintly emanating from below, and Sank can hear a faint, regular and mechanical sound.

About 50 metres down, the stair comes to an end at an arched entrance. The entrance is warded by a pict-stealer on a swivel: it is this that is making the noise. Beyond is a smallish chamber and on the far wall a ship’s hatch style of exit, and a keypad and vox-hailer arrangement.

Zarkov and Sank retreat and report back to quarters.

 

Equipment montage!

It’s time for the GM to ask what weapons we are bringing. Later, Grimm’s player and I regret not thinking harder about grenades.

Except for Jahr and Sank, we all just bring our usual handguns. Jahr brings grenade launcher, stubber and power blade; and Sank brings his Hellgun laser.

 

The acolytes penetrate in full force

My plan is the one we put into practice, some short while later. Zarkov uses his precision laser to jam the pict-stealer at one end of its short arc: which leaves it watching elsewhere as the others steal across to the keypad. I remain alert there.

Within a very short time Sank has plumbed the keypad’s mysteries and the hatch swings open.

Party order: Sank, Mola, Jahr, Grimm, Zarkov

And not far in – in fact at the first corner – Sank proves my wisdom at setting him in front: he signals that we are about to face a security detail.

 

Combat begins

Round 0: Jahr steps around the corner and pops a well-aimed grenade over a table and among three security guards and one security servitor. The blast slightly injures two of them.

Round 1: The guards are surprised! Sank, Mola, Zarkov Grimm and Jahr (in that order) do their best, but the only real effect is from Sank, who has a Krak grenade and damages the servitor with it; and Jahr who draws his power blade and charges a guard, stabbing him in the well-armoured head.

Initiatives: The security detail goes between Sank and Mola’s turns.

Round 2: Sank repositions himself, and is promptly blinded by a flash-grenade one of the guards throws. One of his detail moves to an Alarm Button on a desk. The remaining guard draws his chain-sword and misses Jahr. The servitor has an easy target: Mola was sheltering behind Jahr as she traditionally does, and is left exposed by his charge! But the flame spouts well above her head, charring the ceiling and triggering sprinklers. Zarkov lasers the alarm button [on reroll] removing that threat. Jahr injures his opponent’s left arm [and uses Crippling Strike to make the crit worse].

Round 3: Jahr is surrounded by all three guards, but parries one sword, breaking it. He is uninjured. The servitor now opens up with shot-cannon and misses. Bits of ferrocrete shower around, but the water pouring down from the sprinklers douses the dust out of the air. Grimm’s return fire manages some damage to one of the servitor’s legs [coupled with the krak grenade damage that is now a rank 2 crit] and it falls! Jahr finishes putting his injured opponent down and with two further strikes stuns a second guard.

Round 4: The servitor fires from prone and its shot-cannon jams. The remaining fully active guard backs off rapidly, drawing his combat shotgun. Mola kills the stunned guard with her last Carnodon round. [Not much wrong with previous shots but damage has been minimal, and these lads have 12 between armour+Toughness!] Jahr closes on where the last guard is standing near the fallen servitor – but rams his blade into the servitor, and black smoke billowing out signals it has been taken out of commission!

Round 5: The last guard fires on semi-auto and misses. Sank, finally able to see, shifts into position. Mola and Zarkov walk forward, reloading. Grimm advances out of cover and gets to point-blank distance from the guard. Jahr gets two good hits on that same guard, injuring him.

Round 6: Sank rushes to melee, bayonet at the ready, and the guard swings his fire on the new target: but misses. Mola fires into melee [as usual but concerned at the damage the Carnodon might do to Jahr or Sank, taking the -20 penalty] and stuns the guard. Zarkov gets a good hit, virtually removing the man’s right leg, and Jahr finishes him off.

Combat ends

 

The acolytes behold a dreadful operation

Muttering about the rich loot – each has augmetick eyes – we press on, exploring what seems to be simple but extensive barracks and meditative cells. Until we find the observation mezzanine!

This fully enclosed viewing course, protected by plasteel and completely bulletproof, runs above a broad operating theatre. The chamber is dominated by a red-robed priest of some kind, operating on a gruesomely huge and disfigured figure. The figure appears to be conscious and perhaps begging mercy of the priest. Or possibly taunting him. For as Zarkov and I can see, the Warp is embedded in the creature’s vast torso, and tentacular appendages extend from it!

While we cannot be sure, a heavy good lift does seem to run down to that level, and ought to offer a way down!

++++++++++Data slate paused++++++++++

Once again a dire shortage of fate points saw us folding our tents early and leaving the next stage for next session.

The highlight of the session was easily Jahr’s combat abilities. His player has spent a lot of builds getting to a very effective melee fighter and it shows.

While the high total of the opposition’s armour+Tough is a concern, I did enjoy the tough fight. “It’s only going to get worse” the GM assures us last thing.

The lowlight was once again depending on 50-50 sort of rolls to gain any access.

So next session we will attempt to tackle the red-robed Priest, who just might be the Prophet. Stay tuned!

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DH3.07: Arbiters

 

+++++++++++++++++From the data slate of Quintilla Mola+++++++++++++++++

Equipping themselves with local Arbite gear

Our triumphant and swift penetration of the command centre no doubt led to the swift collapse of local opposition. In our wake, a more thorough search has opened Arbiter Precinct 98’s lockers.

This becomes relevant a fortnight after the last report filed. Lieutenant Zolokov, who survived the fierce fire-fight, needs to know what means we have decided on.

Indeed the fortnight has not been wasted updating training manuals! We – or I should say I – have amassed a small amount of information about House Drashkon, which seems the key to the false Drusus. This nouveau-riche and heretic House, which worships Mars Mechanicus if anything, has made its wealth through unswerving Augmetick sales. They are secure in the Hive, and we will need a disguise that covers Zarkov, myself and Grimm.

Jahr is still recovering, and from what little Zolokov lets drop, it seems he “blames us” for advancing without him: he may sign on with the Canopus Guard and send Vaarak his resignation. (Or, I warn Vaarak, they may report him dead in combat and give him another guard’s papers.) If that be so, then it is no loss: any Acolyte that places comradeship above service to the Throne does not deserve service.

So the disguise that we agree with Zolokov is the excellent Arbite armour and everyday clothing stored in the lockers, along with IDs, local Data Slates and standard Arbite police weapons: combat shotgun, shock maul and clear-plas riot shield. A bandage around the jaw covers Zarkov’s obvious differences. We can strip the tags off, and paint over the Rhino’s service sign: and enter the Hive as disaffected Arbiters.

“So for us to succeed in the mission, we will need to lie” – Mola

“OK” – Grimm

“Yes” – Zarkov

“Just make sure we are all telling the same lies” – Mola

+++++++++++++++++the Arbiters for this session+++++++++++++++++

Grimm, an actual Arbiter, standing well over 6’ and with jaw and shoulders to match

Mola, a willowy 5’10, and has managed to avoid death in melee, that one time

Zarkov, a creepy 6’ something though his normal posture suggests otherwise, with no strength to speak of and has one of those creepy breather masks on his face

+++++++++++++++++and now back to the session+++++++++++++++++

And some Augmetick doodads and a Baldrick

Zolokov commits to Zarkov’s keeping a small case found in the command centre: it contains two sets of Augmetick eyes. Each is a work of dark craft and will fetch a fortune in the “right” quarters.

“Corporal Sank found the way to open the case. He has skills that are… useful in scavenging and adapting local resources” – Zolokov

“Luvly boy. We need someone like him. We’ll take him” – Grimm

“Err… an honour to serve the Throne…” – Sank, possible a distant descendant of Bdr Beaumont

“Fall in then you ‘orrible shower” – Grimm, immediately morphing into a Sar’Major

The Acolytes penetrate the Fenksworld Hive

We are delayed a little at the Hive entrance, and for a few seconds I fear the plan will collapse before we begin. But then Grimm shoves his head up out of the Rhino and grumbles something in Arbiter slang about watches and shifts and changes, and the Hive guards let us roll in.

[Deceive gets a real workout this session. Mola actually has the skill but it’s not her night for those rolls. Instead Grimm rolls an 06 on unskilled Deceive, which is one raise on his feeble Fellowship, and gets the team into the Hive.]

“I’m taking us downwards, where less scrutiny and more villainy can be found” – Mola

Inside, we see more patrols than this level of a Hive would warrant – though lacking professionalism. Grimm’s guess is that many of the Arbiters we can see, as we roll downward seeking a place of subterfuge, are makeshift locals pressed into service. They probably know the law less well than his cursory study of the data slate has prepared his knowledge.

“So you do read then” – Mola, sceptically

“I’m not some weird barbarian, of course I can read. I just don’t, as a matter of sound policy since all reading leads to impure thoughts.” – Grimm

“Pah! You speak as though heresy leaps off a page like a contagion!” – Mola

“And it doesn’t?” – Grimm, sarcastically

“I’m living proof of that!” – Mola, stifling a corrupted titter

 

And gather information

The Rhino at last finds a home in an abandoned warehouse, large enough to make any level of interrogation feasible. Though of course, we don’t have to use Grimm’s normal approach to witnesses. All we need is a more or less corrupt middleman or fixer, who would like to make a profit off the sale of Augmeticks. The money, or the presence of such a treasure, should enable us to make contact with Drashkon.

Once secure, Grimm and I, as a pair of foot-patrolling Arbiters, get the layout of the vicinity. The fanactic followers of the false Saint can be seen everywhere, running the Hive. They are even willing to challenge us! But between us, we handle the threat.

[Mola uses Fellowship/Deceive while Grimm resorts to trusty old Intimidate! – We didn’t roleplay this which would have been boring for Zarkov’s player. But it does set the pattern of good cop: bad cop.]

Grimm’s plan is to arrest someone, bring them to our base, and shake them down. A local cantina holds a likely target: a woman peddling information or the like to a couple of ne’er do wells. Grimm sends the latter two packing and we escort this woman away to answer some questions.

[Mola gets 6 raises on Perception to spot a good place and target.]

 

And an ally?

But we do not need to work on Thebe – for so she is known – for long. Something in my manner – probably my burning love for service in Emperor’s name – tells her she can trust me. Soon, she has agreed to work for us and receive money and a way out of here, rather than a bullet.

[Quite a few rolls here – Grimm has Scrutiny which is handy, but Mola turns on the Charm (another skill she owns) and with a reroll gains Thebe’s attachment. The GM manfully avoids yet another yuri situation, though he does comment on this being a bit of a theme for Mola.]

Grimm sends Thebe away to begin the transaction – after punching her very hard in the face, with his Arbiter gauntlet.

“She got taken away for interrogation by Arbiters – it had to look convincing!” – Grimm

“You’re so mean!” – Mola, displaying some actual emotion

“Hey, I numbed her up first, and gave her two painkillers for when it wears off” – Zarkov, blasé as usual about meat getting spoiled.

[It is actually Thebe that hands the team the inside dirt on Drashkon, but I’ve given the intel to Mola earlier on because it didn’t make sense that 2 weeks of Scholar research turns up zilch.]

 

They enter House Drashkon

The day comes when we are sent an invitation to enter the House. We have examined the outside from a respectful distance by then of course. So far as we know, the Lord is away and we are to meet the Major-domo, Balthazar. So, Augmeticks distributed, we roll up to the gate.

[I won’t go into the ‘distribute and hide the Augmeticks’ because it will distract. It afforded me the opportunity for a little innocent humour which had Grimm’s player walking away to recover from and disrupted the game for a few minutes. Let’s just say, we have the Augmeticks hidden, OK?]

Grimm dismounts and speaks to the Guard (and enormous full combat Servitor) at the gate, and we are allowed in. On foot, which is a tiny bit frightening.

And soon find some leads they lack the skills to develop

Balthazar descends from the mezzanine of the great entry hall and greets us graciously. Very graciously, considering he must know we are least either mendicants or thieves, and probably both. He offers us accommodation, but says any deal must await the Lord Drashkon. We take rooms in an upper floor.

After some light and permissible exploration, Zarkov offers the Mechanicus temple to our attention, and as a second option, the “parlour” where Lord Drashkon reads and passes the time. Both have certain indications of secret panels and possible heretical altars.

But the temple’s secret panel is warded by a cogitator, which requires the correct incantation be punched into its code. And the parlour has a pict-stealer warding a hinged section of the drinks cabinet. We retire to think and prioritise our efforts.

[By this time we have blown all our fate points on rerolls and it seems a good idea not to try without.]

+++++++++++++++++data slate paused+++++++++++++++++

So the session was called a little early, but good timing since I had a long drive the next morning. The highlight was – setting aside the jokes about hiding Augmeticks – getting an ally for the plan to more or less work, without needing to use our Baldrick. We still have Sank (aforesaid Baldrick) with us, because we are well aware we lack a Scum for snooping and picking locks etc. But we would rather blunder around and more or less get it right on our own, than have the GM step in with an NPC.

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DH3.06: Fanatic

 

Welcome back! Our last shortened session paused where the Acolytes had a chance to take stock and decide whether to “surf” on the wave of incoming Canopus Imperials to move closer to their main objective, or stick with their allies.

Our experience with DH mass combat rules and the hint last week from the GM convince the three of us that turn up – players for Grimm, Zarkov and yours truly playing Mola – that we should press on. 

In probably the smartest call of the night the GM rules that Jahr has remained with the Guards to lend them his melee expertise. We pick up with the next move from the three that have decided to press on.

+++++++++++++++++From the data slate of Quintilla Mola+++++++++++++++++

Reaching the Arbiter station

Jahr seems very intent on lending the weight of his stubber fire to the Canopus Guard, but we  other three use their weight of numbers to cover our rush to cover against the nearer of the three ancillary buildings.

It is an Arbiter field command station and Grimm’s preferred starting-point. Some 50m beyond it a massive ziggurat-like fortress rises, surely the command centre of this sector. It is there we trust to find at least a lead to the false St. Drusus.

“Got a feeling the Arbiter and Command blocks will be linked” – Grimm

“Agreed!” – Mola

The command fortress is well defended by sandbagged stubber emplacements atop and razor-wire sandbag lines below. Short of an AFV, we need an indirect approach.

Grimm voxes Lt. Zolokov – now in near proximity – and with our allies up to date we turn to find Zarkov has abandoned his pretence of unlocking the station door.

“We have two light charges left. We need in. Let’s blow the lock” – Mola

Sturdy material these doors! It takes both our charges, leaving us with none. And our allies used all their charges.

[Shaped charges are underwhelming in DH. You roll d10s and account for Penetration, but a poor roll won’t do more damage than, say, a powerful handgun. As will be seen later.]

The Acolytes search, finding keys and a code

The station door lets directly into the main receiving chamber, and from there we proceed to the holding cells, in manner a gallery that runs the width of this building. The stench of stacked bodies penetrates even my filtration plugs. Many were Arbiters: the tattoo of Precinct 98 is clear on the higher-stacked.

“They held out here, I guess, but the fanatics were too many” – Grimm

At rear – and this is the final chamber – a duty desk, showers and lockers. The desk lock seems surprisingly tricky [it isn’t but the theme of the evening is ‘can’t roll Security’] so Grimm’s handcannon persuades it open. Fishing through the broken Amasec flask we retrieve access codes for a vehicle and a bunch of keys.

The Way is covered – by stubber fire!

There is no secret under-tunnel, so we have now to consider the distance across the Way to the large hangar-like building across there: versus the easy distance from the gun emplacements covering the Way from the command ziggurat.

 

A quick sprint leads to a hangar

Back at the barricade and bunkers, the firefight continues. Reinforcements issue from the command ziggurat, and we time our run to coincide with their passing our position.

In theory the gunners ought to hold fire for hitting their own troops but in practice my sprint across alerts them and stubber rounds pock the Way around Grimm and Zarkov as they join me.

[The GM buys my opinion that Mola has surprise and since she clears the entire 30m distance in one round, she cannot be a target. Z and G have a run of 18, so take two rounds. No rounds strike home.]

 

“Unlocking” requires some skill, or a volume of fire

I report that the first personnel hatch is locked, and so is the first vehicle bay door. Zarkov tries his best on both [fails on reroll] but with time pressing Grimm resorts to his handcannon again.

[A single round of semi-auto handcannon fire does very similar damage to a shaped charge. Three rounds later the door’s lock collapses.]

 

Inside, Grimm creates terrain advantage and butchery follows

Far along the vast hangar, we can hear militia spilling down from their stations above. The dim orange light above prevents us from seeing any detail that far away. But the hangar is littered with crates and vehicles – or their stripped remains – and it seems we may have the advantage of awaiting them in cover. We can turn their fanaticism against them.

Then Grimm’s quick eye for terrain improves our position still further! Aiming carefully with his hunting rifle, he explodes the light source. Now we are in the dark with our photo visors and IR equipment, and they are entering a chaos of cover with no visual equipment.

Acolyte Hit/Shot taken Kills Of kills, number butchered heartlessly once helpless
Grimm 7/7 3 2
Mola 6/6 4 3
Zarkov 6/8 3 0

 

Defence evaded, the Acolytes seize an AFV

Suffice to say that the advantage is fully with us, we use several Frag grenades, and the last remnant are glad to find that we have eluded them. They depart out of the shattered door, to join the less-frightening firefight beyond. By the sounds of the gunfire it has gotten close indeed.

Meanwhile I have succeeded in stripping the tarpaulin from the only intact vehicle. To our delight it proves to be an Arbiter riot vehicle, unfamiliar to me but surely matching the access codes we retrieved. And so it proves.

After some minutes, a Rhino erupts onto the Way

It takes me some time to understand the controls. [Mola has drive land vehicle but not the specialist skill for AFV, and her check to familiarise is an 00. After a few minutes stand-down a second attempt makes it with a raise.] In the meantime, Zarkov has assessed the gun and grenade-launcher system, and Grimm has reloaded all weapons and searched the storage bays in the vehicle. He tells us it is a Rhino “peace wagon” and the grenade system is probably to disperse crowd control gas. [Actually the GM tells us this, but it’s a nice piece of colour.]

At length the engine rumbles to life and I have it rolling forwards. I smash through crates, stripped vehicles, and finally one of the vehicle bay doors, and swing it hard right and around towards the ziggurat!

Behind us, the firefight continues. The defenders are fanatics and show no sign of giving ground: which suits Lt. Zolokov perfectly, I am sure.

 

The barricade is stormed and a door persuaded open

The Rhino’s pintle-mounted stubber comes into its own. In Grimm’s hands it silences the defending emplacements long enough for him to hammer the sandbags of the wired barricade.

[If you have the option, use a heavy stubber loaded with manstopper to attack sandbags! Their full-autofire and extra Pen guarantee damage through the sandbag’s 8AP. I suspect the module bent the rules to allow manstopper rounds but in our favour.]

I have not even needed to slow the Rhino and it lurches and bucks over the entrenchment. I have no idea if any defenders were behind it, for I swing the thing around the far side of the ziggurat, seeking a soft opening.

There is but one way in: an access tunnel leading to a solid-looking door. But the stubber can target it! Grimm’s last dozen or so rounds riddle the lock area and it sags open.

 

Upon the stair, the Acolytes find their sanity… tested

We disembark and – with due caution – sweep inside. There are no foes, merely a stair running helix fashion up, around a central pillar. We mount.

A noise behind us as the door attempts to close – without success, of course. Then horror strikes!

Willpower test!

  • Grimm: fails (on reroll), reeling, backs away, +1 insanity, -10 to all rolls once active again.
  • Mola: OK by some raises
  • Zarkov: fails, freezes, no action, +3 insanity, -10 to all rolls once active again.

[The attack is of ‘worst fear’ – for example Mola fears her hidden Corruption be detected, Zarkov fears being defrocked.]

I reach the top of stair, where lies another solid door. After a short delay Zarkov joins me, then Grimm. Much to my surprise – and probably his own – Zarkov manages this lock swiftly and quietly.

 

Amidst flickering cogitators the deluded heretic awaits death

Cogitators flicker all around the room, providing what light avails. Trapped amidst a volley of feeder and psyker tubes, a vast tub that was once human speaks.

“I knew you would come. You behold the Oracle of St. Drusus. My master fell silent but left word.

“Once I was of the House Drashkon, but from illness, later madness, I fell victim to therapy such as this.”

“He may genuinely believe he follows St. Drusus. Let us hear what he has to tell us” – Mola

“I have a remedy, and it comes with bolt rounds” – Grimm

Once Grimm has put this wretch out of his misery – a fate he welcomes – I operate controls enough to open shutters and gates to the benefit of our allies, and Zarkov takes a feed in.

“He was an illegally-augmeticked Psyker!” – Zarkov

+++++++++++++++++data slate paused+++++++++++++++++

That was a good time to pause. A session with little interruption from cross-talk – but plenty of laughs. The GM did a good job keeping the long main combat ticking along and making calls on the fly about what the militia could and could not attempt, and what could and could not be done with heavy ammo. Full credit to Giant Lego for providing most of the scenery, it really helped. 

Next session we search further, seeking the false St. Drusus. Stay tuned!

Posted in Dark Heresy, Dark Heresy Season 3 | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments