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.


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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.]



About andrewmclaren26

Weekly Roleplayer, Wargamer when I can
This entry was posted in Dark Heresy, Dark Heresy Season 3 and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to DH3.10: Cogitator

  1. Shaun says:

    Yeah… that is a inbuilt flaw, I imagine that Dark Heresy is designed for groups of players who will endlessly jaw-bone to get every possible raise on a skill roll before rolling dice. That kind of system wouldn’t suit every group.

    Either that, or we just don’t have the space for the right min-max builds in a four strong party, since there really isn’t a space for a non-combat specialist in the team.

    As for the Wheelbarrow, I bet you wish there really was a wheelbarrow, Mola, because you could use the cover.

  2. Al says:

    The “roll” to flim-flam the servitors was rerolled and both failed by 3 degrees. The hope there was to disable at least two. It seems to me that “skills” are underpowered (or over-penalized) compared to combat where you effectively get to “re-roll” until your wounds run out.

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