Being a resume of the Dark Heresy scenario
based on Xenos novel by Dan Abnett
The scenario begins with Acolytes being inducted into the service of an unknown inquisitor, and urgently transferred out of Calixis Sector – unknown to the Acolytes – to Scarus Sector (Helican subsector). The Acolytes are not given any information whatsoever regarding their next assignment, however they are more than less sure that they are not being driven into a trap.
In a few weeks of warp travel their ship Regal Akwitane under command of the Trade Master Golkwin emerges in the subsector, and for a few days more the ship remains on the orbit of Gudrun without any explanations given for the Acolytes. Afterwards, the ship travels to the orbit of planet Hubris. As she reaches the orbit they are given the details of their next task. The Acolytes are given general information on Hubris, and then they are briefed by their new mysterious inquisitor (who doesn’t reveal his name or appearance at the moment, and he points out that he wants to be addressed simply as the “Inquisitor”) on the Acolytes’ next assignment. For last six years the Inquisitor has been on the trail of certain heretic called Murdin Eyclone. A few days ago a message from Eyclone has been decrypted by Inquisitor’s team, and it became known that the latter had planned to move to Hubris to presumably deliver some unknown act of terror (which has been expected from Eyclone for almost a year). Unfortunately, however, the decrypted message was already two months old, so the Inquisition didn’t have time to deploy its forces on Hubris to meet Eyclone there. Last time Eyclone has been sighted at Thracian Primaris. By now it is known that Eyclone is already on the surface of Hubris and has been seen moving towards the Processional Two-Twelve (P2-12) hibernation tombs.
It came also to the attention of the Inquisition that Eyclone has got to Hubris easily bypassing planet’s defences, and even more, the ship that has delivered him three days ago on the surface had entered and left the atmosphere as an unidentified vessel, and no efforts have been made by the planetary authorities to investigate into the matter. These authorities have also missed a relatively extensive traffic of unidentified astropathic communication.
The Acolytes are temporarily issued a guncutter (with a servitor pilot, if need be), and a null rod (one for a party), and then they are requested to go to the surface of the planet immediately and hunt down Eyclone and his band of followers by the name if the Emperor.
As far as the intelligence goes, Eyclone and his men P2-12 are already somewhere on Hubris to trigger the thawing process. The Acolytes are given a pict of the their quarry, and other additional information is transferred to their personal data slates. Acolytes’ orders are as follows:
– track down Eyclone and his men (dead or alive) at any cost;
– prevent or revert (if possible) the thawing process.
The Acolytes are expected to depart in ten minutes, in an Aquila Lander (see Apocryphy Vehicles p.19) bound to Hubris. They are given the heat gowns, which they are expected to wear when on surface. The descent goes without any specific problems. However, if there are pilots amongst the Acolytes, and they pilot the Lander, they automatically detect another spacecraft moving through the atmosphere, heading in the direction of the hibernation tombs.
The Acolytes may either ignore this, or follow the vessel. The vessel doesn’t respond to any radio hails. Succeeding on a [?????} test with two or more degrees of success, allows to follow the vessel unseen for a few hundred kilometers.
The vessel is actually the orbital pinnace intending to carry Eyclone to safety after he sets off the thawing process. It is not too heavily armed or armoured, and is barely a match to the firepower of the Acolytes’ Aquila Lander.
Once that pinnace detects the chase, it will do its best to flee the area, and to avoid any dogfight. However, it will shoot back if attacked.
If there is no pilot among the Acolytes, then the Aquila Lander will be piloted by a mere pilot (or even servitor?) with very modest stats (for the purposes of the dogfight). Although, even in this case the NPC pilot is allowed to roll the test to notice the pinnace.
If the Acolytes didn’t pay attention to that suspicious spacecraft at all, or did not pilot the Lander, succeeding a [???????] test will allow them to intercept a coded message from that pinnace (provided they listen to radio). It will take a successful Cipher test to crack it, however, it is impossible to do that immediately (it will require at least a few days depending on the resources and skills available). The only thing that possible to establish immediately upon a Cipher test, is a time lag of a few seconds. A minute later, it will be possible to intercept other message from the surface (it is coded as well). The successful Cipher test will reveal that it is coming from the coordinates at which the P2-12 is located.
As an outcome of this Episode, the Acolytes may either:
– destroy the pinnace thus cutting the ways of retreat for Eyclone;
– get behind the pinnace or miss the whole pinnace thing, in which case they will have to deal with it later on the roof of Processional Two-Twelve (P2-12).
Going to P2-12.
Once down, the Acolytes find themselves at the Tomb Point, and they enter into contact with tomb custodians, who are ready to transfer the Acolytes by rail to P2-12.
On a successful Inquiry test, when talking to the custodians accompanying them it is possible to learn some bits of information on the facility: a) currently there are almost no custodians at the P2-12; b) P2-12 houses 12,142 members of Hubris ruling elite, sleeping in hibernation until the Thaw.
Upon entering the P2-12, the Acolytes discover the dead body of a custodian near the entrance. Upon successful Awareness test, the Acolytes may notice that the water is dripping off the walls. Additional degree of success will allow to notice that in occasional tombs the bodies may be seen stirring. Upon Tech-Use (or other?) test the Acolytes will understand that the temperature is above any acceptable levels usually used in hibernation facilities. Tech Priest Acolytes will point that out automatically. Two degrees of success will mean that the Acolytes know that this kind of rude rousing is lethal if applied after long-term hibernation, like the current one. And this is not to mention the suffocation hazard, as the caskets the sleepers are stored in are hermetic.
After examining the locking mechanisms the Acolytes will notice that these are not the conventional locks, and they could be opened via some centralized means. They may want to search for the control room to open the caskets and free the awakening sleepers.
Before doing this, the Acolytes must realize that doing so will purchase Eyclone more time to effect his plans, maybe even trigger more revival processes elsewhere. Second, the Acolytes are allowed the [???????] test to understand that a mere opening of the caskets will not save the prisoners, as the necessary resuscitation teams are not present.
In any case, however, the Acolytes are free to stop chasing Eyclone and go to search for the control room. The room is rather easy to find, but the Acolytes will need a successful Tech-Use test to open the caskets. Failing this test or acting without it, the Acolytes may imply tinker with various controls with a 15% chance of opening the caskets.
The caskets will open and the bodies will eventually pile over the floor, moaning, agonizing and dying slowly. The Acolytes don’t have necessary equipment and skills to save them. In addition to that, the Acolytes witnessing such nightmare will have to roll a Willpower test or gain 1d5 Insanity points. The Acolytes will have lost enough time for Eyclone to finalize his objective, reach the roof safely and wait for the orbital pinnace which may or not arrive. In this case, the roof hatch will be Overwatched by Eyclone and his men, meaning more pain for the Acolytes.
Going through the complex, the Acolytes will eventually come into first combat with the Eyclone’s men. There will be 8 of them plus one for each Acolyte present. Upon successful test the Acolytes may notice that their opponents seem to be a bit out of their minds, as if acting under some kind of hypnosis.
It is possible to capture them for future interrogation (see below). Examining their corpses will not reveal anything of importance.
If the Acolytes didn’t search for the control room to release the sleepers, the next encounter will be the combat with Eyclone and a few of his men. Eyclone will participate in the combat, shooting from afar, and shouting obscenities at the Acolytes, while his henchmen will approach the Acolytes to the front. Eyclone doesn’t intend to fight to the death here (as he is not cornered yet), and when seeing that his men suffer casualties, he will run into the darkness. The Acolytes should roll an Intelligence test to recognize their quarry.
If Eyclone is cornered or otherwise seriously threatened, he will fight and use his Psychic powers. If things go badly for him, as a last resort he will release the worm-thing from his finger. The worm-thing is not dissimilar to Sinophian Boreworm (see Creatures Anathema, p.62), however it will grow to larger proportions once exposed to the air.
During this combat, however, it is still possible to kill or capture Eyclone, although rather unlikely. If he is killed, then the Acolytes will have to ensure that he is transported back to their ship. In this case the Acolytes will be able to count on their master’s special gratitude. If he is killed, Eyclone’s body will be deposited in the mortuary for later examination.
In any case, they will still have to deal with Hubris authorities, who will first have to convinced that the atrocity could not have been avoided (this episode is described below).
If Eyclone is still alive by this time, the Acolytes will eventually find the cryogenerator. A few tests will be required to find the maintenance door, to identify that it has been pried open, and that this is a cryogenerator of the P2-12.
Once inside the Acolytes will have to navigate through very uncomfortable cryogenerator maintenance chambers and corridors. Using Tech-Use skill (Tech Priests gain a +20 bonus for that test), it is possible to find the control room. There, a very complex machinery is located. On a closer inspection and subject to an Intelligence roll, it is possible to identify that this is the main control room, from where Eyclone has triggered the revival process. An additional successful [???????] test will tell the Acolytes that the one who has done this, has a lot of resources, either from the off-world, or somewhere among the locals, as it is next to impossible to figure out how the whole system functions.
A Search test will discover a box, containing various electronic parts and a lot of cables. On a successful Tech-Use test it becomes evident that some vital part is missing from its socket therein. It looks like something angular, non-standard in shape. One more success will reveal that this object has its own power source. Two successes will reveal that the whole box is a series processor. Three more successes will indicate that this is not standard-made, however, most likely not Xenos.
After ten minutes or so, a group of Eyclone’s gunmen enter the chamber. An Opposed Silent Move test is needed to hear them coming.
Eventually, the Acolytes will reach the rooftop of the P2-12, following Eyclone’s steps. What happens there will depend on the Acolytes’ previous actions.
Before the Acolytes start the showdown with Eyclone at the rooftop, they will be able to detect a strong astropathic signal coming to Hubris. Their data slates (or vox devices) will record it, and later examination (upon a successful Cipher test) will reveal that this one coded much stronger than the previous messages they may have received while descending from the orbit, and that it is coming from unknown location, with a twelve and a half minute lag. This detail will be important later.
If Eyclone has got there well before – if the Acolytes searched for the control room to open the tomb caskets – the latch will be Overwatched by Eyclone and his five (?) men. If the Acolytes didn’t destroy the orbital pinnace beforehand as well, it will reach the rooftop in 10 rounds. A few more rounds will be needed for Eyclone to board up, and afterwards the pinnace will fly away into the night. If they have destroyed the pinnace earlier, it is not coming, obviously.
If Eyclone just barely managed to reach the rooftop (if the Acolytes didn’t search for the tomb control room previously) the roof latch will not be Overwatched. However, once the Acolytes get to the rooftop, a furious battle will ensue. Eyclone’s fighting pattern is as described above. He will not surrender, although he still can be captured if incapacitated and his psychic powers blunted.If intact, the pinnace will arrive in 20 minutes (this is only relevant if the Acolytes retreat from the frontal assault and prefer to overcome Eyclone by some other slower means).
As noted above, it is possible, however, that Eyclone will be able to board the pinnace and escape safely. Although this is the worst possible (and seemingly unlikely) case, the scenario is by no means “lost”, or should be considered off-rail. Obviously, the Acolytes will have to prepare a very detailed report on how Eyclone did manage to escape, and then they will be subjected to some sort punishment (the least thing should be the reduction or suspension of their monthly wages for a certain period of time). The mission, however, continues, as they will be requested to continue their investigation to collect clues as regards Eyclone’s possible destination, his mission on Hubris and any other relevant information.
Soon after the fight, the custodians led by a very annoyed Nissemay Carpel, the High Custodian with his retinue will find the Acolytes, and declare that they are under arrest.
Here the Acolytes will have the following options:
First option (if the Acolytes wish to hide their identities, or simply forget of their inquisitorial powers – this happens sometimes): give up, surrender their weapons and follow Carpel in handcuffs to be incarcerated pending further investigation by Hubris authorities. After three hours of incarceration, the Acolytes will be thoroughly interrogated, and after more five hours the Acolytes will be dragged to Carpel’s office for further questioning. There the Acolytes will have to defend themselves against the charges. Questioning at Carpel’s office is described below.
Second option seems much more reasonable: to identify themselves as the inquisitorial task force. Carpel will be shocked to hear this, and he will definitely demand documentary evidence. If the necessary documents are produced, the Acolytes will have to roll Intimidate with a +60 bonus (implying almost automatic success, but some things like “00” still happen sometimes). Without these documents they lose this bonus and they will have to roll under their unmodified Intimidate skill. If the test is failed, Carpel will insist that the Acolytes are subdued. In this case, the Acolytes will have to try to establish a direct link to their master to prove their identity.
Third option would be to start a gunfight with Carpel. In this case the Acolytes are in deep trouble, as first they will have to survive, and second they will have to account for their actions (their master is by no means radical and tends more towards Amalathian ways). Still, this is an option.
If the Acolytes identify themselves as the representatives of the Inquisition, but do not show aggression, Carpel will be shocked (as noted above), however, he will politely ask the Acolytes to submit a detailed report on the happenings in the P2-12. As the High Custodian, Carpel will be mostly interested in identifying a person responsible, namely, who is actually to blame for that holocaust, and he would like to have it in writing. Preparing and submitting a standard account on their mission should take no more than four hours, however the Acolytes should point out which details they do omit, if any. A test may be needed too, if they want to weave in some bits of lies or “untruth” therein to make it look credible. After the report is submitted, the Acolytes will receive a summons to the Custodial Hall (Carpel’s office), located at the Sun Dome early next day.
The Acolytes, however, are either free to co-operate with Carpel and any custodians, or they can deny his request at all. Carpel will be seen to contain a lot of anger inside him in this case, but his fear of the Inquisition is reasonably far greater, so he will retreat. Afterwards, the Acolytes are free to move further, however, local authorities (and custodians in particular) will not prove to be too co-operative when asked. Early next day they will still receive a formal summons to the Custodial Hall, which they are still free to disregard (which will not be taken well by Carpel, and the latter will do his best to make the Acolytes’ lives more difficult while on Hubris, and preferably elsewhere).
Custodial Hall hearing.
If they have accepted the invitation, early next day the Acolytes will be present in the Custodial Hall in the Sun Dome for something one could rather call trial than hearing. Majority of Hubris non-dormant officers will be present there, as well as some dormant nobles who have been hastily aroused to be present at the event.
First, the Acolytes will be informed by Carpel that every one of the P2-12 has died during that night. What happens next will depend on the Acolytes’ reaction.
If they say nothing to defend themselves, or say something irrelevant, or even do not sound convincing at the eyes of all there gathered – they will be deemed guilty of the whole tragedy of the last night, Eyclone being conveniently forgotten. At least one Fel test will be needed, as well as all applicable social skills will be required for the Acolytes to defend. In any case, even without successful rolls and availability of skills good roleplaying should b rewarded.
Afterwards, if the Acolytes are found guilty, Carpel will detain the Acolytes pending the official investigation by the planetary authorities, for the purpose of which he will inform the planetary government. Further, if the Acolytes still do nothing, their investigation will already be seriously hindered due to the time wasted. Eventually, however, they will be freed by their inquisitor, but most likely they will be discharged of their mission (it is up to GM whether to continue the game with this kind of Acolytes).
On the other hand, the best way for the Acolytes to get through this hearing unscathed, would be to describe their intent to stop Eyclone from reaching other hibernation tombs. Second argument would be that Hubris was actually defenseless by not paying attention to unidentified spacecraft entering and leaving the atmosphere of their planet, and ignoring coded messages. As before, the Fel test could do the trick, but good roleplaying is always an option.
After the Acolytes leave Carpel’s office, they will get a message on their personal data slates, with further instructions from their inquisitor. The instructions will request them that they continue the investigation with respect to Eyclone (whether he is dead, captured or got away). The Acolytes will be informed in those instructions that Eyclone was actually a “facilitator”, an instrument in someone else’s hands, plotting some other greater scheme he was the part of. It is not truly known why would Eyclone want to trigger this kind of atrocity, but apart from simply doing something evil, no matter how evil, it didn’t serve any obvious purpose. Therefore, the Acolytes next assignment would be to find connections between Eyclone and his masters and colleagues. Once found, the Acolytes are requested to capture any of them for further interrogation.
From here on, the Acolytes are free to pursue any line of investigation they want. They have the following leads (each one should be judged whether it is applicable or not, of course):
Eyclone’s corpse, which will be deposited in the mortuary;
mysterious box found at the P2-12 cryogenerator control room;
interrogation of any survivors of the Eyclone’s band of followers;
closer examination of the coded astropathic message the Acolytes have received before confronting Eyclone at the rooftop of the P2-12.
Examining corpses will reveal the following information (subject to relevant tests of course).
Eyclone’s men are most-likely off-worlders (judging by their skin colouration). Their clothing is blank, any tags or labels are either torn away or burnt. On one of them fresh scars could be found, as if someone used melta-torch to remove the tattoos. The other one has traces of a surgical removal of certain markers from his body.
Eyclone himself features the Seraph of Laoacus mark above his left buttock. Behind his left ear is a skin inlay in the form of Buboe Chaotica. He also has six laser scars, which might have been used to burn other marks off his body. Additional test reveals an artificial nail on his index finger – an implant with a small catch under the quick.
Eyclone’s effects also include certain items of interest (amongst other things): a small data slate with a difficult password, and a toothpick (which could give hint as regards the small catch in his artificial finger).
Once the implant is triggered a worm-thing goes out, and a combat ensues, with Surprise.
Taking the box to the technomagi will reveal that they don’t know anything of that, and no more. Therefore, as the logic dictates, this box doesn’t belong to that place. Technomagi and the local Adeptus Arbites will want to have it, and the Acolytes are free either to give that item away, or to deny their request – to keep it as an evidence.
Any Psyker would feel some uncertain psychic resonance coming out from that box. The Psyker can use his or her powers to subject the box to an auto-séance, provided necessary conditions and time are available. Doing so is a dangerous business, and could result in a bucketful of Insanity and Corruption points, if the tests are rolled badly. In the best case – just a few more Insanity points and no Corruption. The overall result of an auto-séance would be the detection of some unspeakable evil emanating from the box, never seen before by the Psyker, plus some strange word “daesumnor”, written on some unspecified door. A man with blank eyes will be seen as well. Checking on the word “daesumnor” will not immediately provide any feasible results.
Interrogation of any Eyclone’s associates.
This will reveal that these people do not seem to remember their action on Hubris. The last thing they remember they were on their home worlds. They don’t know Eyclone (truth), they are extremely shocked and they are unable to provide any help.
As noted above, the Acolytes will most likely have access to certain coded messages they have received en route to the surface, as well as not long before the showdown at the rooftop of the P2-12. Now that they have more time to examine them closely, they can try to crack the code themselves (that’s where the appropriate skills will become extremely useful). If they fail miserably, or if they simply don’t have the necessary skills to do it, they could deliver that message to their orbital ship for processing. This method would work, but there are issues: a) there is a small chance their message could be intercepted, and b) it will be more time-consuming. Third option would be to find co-operation in the Sun Dome. This might not be the best option, and the Acolytes should better understand this (roll an Int test – [Logic?], if they don’t get it themselves), as there might be enemies in the Sun Dome anywhere.
One way or another, the Acolytes will not be able to crack the transmissions fully. There are certain bits of information they could gather, as follows.
First, the message they have received before confronting Eyclone had a considerably large lag time: twelve and a half minutes, while those exchanged between the orbital pinnace and (presumably) Eyclone from the surface had only a few seconds lag. If they seem to ignore that fact for too long or if they even seem to forget it, a successful Int test (Logic skill?) will help give them a hint that this message originated from within the radius of twelve and a half minutes multiplied by the speed an astropathic message usually travels at. It will be now just a technical matter to establish nearby systems within this radius. These would be Thracian Primaris, Kobalt II and Gudrun. Common Lore [?] test or a few hours sitting in a local information centre will be needed to gather knowledge on these systems.
Second, upon rolling real good under their Cipher skill, they could decode some notion used in the message, something referred to as “The Pontius”, and that this something is about to be delivered. Checking against local authorities will help establish that this communication was inbound, to a certain location in the Sun Dome. Using Inquiry and other relevant skills (and roleplaying, of course), the PCs will know that the location in question is Thaw-view 12011, on the west side of the dome, in an aristocratic district.
If however, the PCs are unable to get that “The Pontius” clue, their Inquisitor will contact them via the data slate message and request them to investigate the Thaw-view 12011, and take actions if necessary. He will also request them to search for something that could be named Pontius.
[SIDEBAR] It should be noted, however, that the PCs might not be experienced enough to possess the necessary skills to get the information on Thaw-View 12011 themselves. In fact, they are not yet the fully fledged inquisitors themselves, so they do not have the vastness of resources, knowledge and information sources as their master doubtless has. On the other hand, the PCs work as the operatives of the Inquisition, not inquisitors as they are. So it’s more than natural to have their inquisitor ask them to investigate Thaw-View 12011, paying special attention to anything named “Pontius”.[/SIDEBAR]
The PCs are allowed to pursue other lines of investigation, but eventually they should be railroaded to Thaw-view 12011.
Finding this location doesn’t present any difficulties. Upon arriving there, the PCs will be faced with the active auto-defenses of Thaw-view 12011. Security skill will be needed there to shutdown them. Sneaking in might also work. In any case, the PCs will have some reasonable chance to enter Thaw-view 12011 undetected, in which case the inhabitants will be surprised and dealt with much more easily. On the other hand, if the PCs are detected by the auto-defenses (or cameras), the inhabitants will have some more time to repel the PCs’ attack.
Once inside, a furious combat with its inhabitants will ensue. They are well armed and rather skilled.
As an outcome of this fight, the PCs may capture at least one survivor, who will happen to be Saemon Crotes, the trade envoy for the bonded Merchant Guild of Sinesias, coming from Thracian Primaris. He doesn’t know Eyclone. If he hears the word “Pontius” he will die immediately due to an artificially induced stroke. If there are no survivors, the PCs will find the documents of Saemon Crotes stating the above information.
Moreover, if the word “Pontius” is mentioned once inside the building, the outside shutters of the Thaw-view will explode, exposing the PCs to the blizzard and extreme cold of the outside world. The PCs will have very little time to escape the room, otherwise they are frozen to death.
Now that the traces of their quarry are more or less efficiently covered, the PCs will most likely lack any other ready clues. They are free, however, to sum up what they would have up to that moment, as well as to spend considerable time to search various information banks for anything related to the word “Pontius, The”. Such search will result in a humongous amount of first names, surnames, company names, etc. which will be by no means possible to investigate one by one.
There are, however, certain facts, that might lead lucky and skilled PCs to a hint that one Pontius Glaw, late for 200 years already, is far too convenient to be counted amongst the dead, especially considering his ill reputation he established prior to his official demise.
These facts are as follows:
1) House Glaw is a major shareholder and investor of the Guild Sinesias, located at Gudrun (remember that coded astropathic message radius?).
2) One of junior siblings of that family has ruined his life and turned to a darker path, and eventually becoming a follower of Chaos. 200 years ago his coven was proven to be purged by Absalom Angevin.
As noted above, these facts are only accessible to rather experienced PCs, who possess the necessary knowledge. If they do not know this (which is most likely the case), this information will be transferred to them by their Inquisitor, with a request to continue their investigation on Gudrun, and it is imperative to start with the Regal Bonded Merchant Guild of Sinesias and the House Glaw. Essene sprint trader under command of a veteran trader Tobius Maxilla will be arranged for the PCs in due course. It will take two weeks to travel to Gudrun via the Empyrean.
Travel to Gudrun.
The PCs don’t have any information as regards Maxilla’s nature of business, nor they can be a hundred percent sure of Maxilla’s loyalties. Maxilla, however, seems to get closer to the PCs, to get their attention, as if he is trying to befriend the Inquisition. He is polite and co-operative during the journey. Nothing special happens during the travel.
When the Essene transfers to the real space near Gudrun, Maxilla informs the PCs in an anxious tone that that Batllefleet Scarus spacecraft are currently on the orbit, and that a founding celebrations are taking place on the surface. But what actually surprises Maxilla, is that he just received a communication from the local Navy that the Essene is going to be inspected. A Navy pinnace has already been seen approaching.
Being an honest merchant who hasn’t been searched probably for several centuries (or so he claims), Maxilla politely asks the PCs to be present when the Navy enters the ship. He doesn’t request any actions from the PCs, but having the Inquisition present, Maxilla hopes, that will make the Navy think twice before roaming the vessel mindlessly and at least to respect the procedure. The GM has to make it look like just a simple (maybe even just random, or ambient) encounter, and not like something plot-oriented, in order to neutralize any possible PCs’ suspicions.
The PCs are free either to fulfill his request, or to decline. In the former case, the Navy pinnace will soon dock in, and the airlock will open. Inside, the PCs will see a dozen of people in black Navy armour, with the crest and sector symbol of Battlefleet Scarus (a very easy Common Lore Imperium test), with lowered visored helmets, armed with naval standard issue short autoguns.
Their apparent leader will come out, and will approach Maxilla first. The PCs will have a few moments to notice (a normal test) that the detachment obviously lacks usual naval discipline, probably due the fact that the inspection procedure is pretty routine, and they only wish to finish it soon. Further, the PCs will notice that certain formalities appropriate during the inspection are omitted. For example, the leader will not have identified himself, or presented his warrant of practice, he will seem not to know what kind of documents are actually requested from the shipmaster in this case. A test may be needed here as well to notice this, however, clever PCs might already start suspecting something from the moment the naval officer doesn’t introduce himself to the shipmaster (in this case the test will not be necessary). Another thing to notice will be that there are barely enough of the naval officers present to search the ship of the size of the Essene, and that they are lacking necessary equipment to do this the way it is usually done.
As soon as the PCs identify themselves as the representatives of the Inquisition, a furious fight will ensue immediately.
If, however, the PCs decline Maxilla’s request, or they fail to notice any wrongfulness in the behavior of the naval officer, an inspection will start. The presumed naval officers will start searching first the passenger quarters, demanding everyone to state their name and business, and checking the cognomen devices. Their goal is to find any inquisitorial presence on board, eliminate them and any witnesses, and escape. Therefore, as soon as they find the PCs, a fight starts automatically.
One way or another, this should be a heavy fight for the PCs, and the fake naval officers will fight to the death.
Searching the corpses will not yield any information as regards the attackers, or their masters, other than they look like absolutely genuine Navy (which should give a hint as regards the scale of their adversaries’ enormous capabilities).
Capturing the surviving naval officers will provide that they are actually green recruits of 50th Gudrunite Rifles, who have deserted their units a few days ago. They will seem to be unnaturally reluctant to tell why did they actually abandon their units. If pushed, and applying the Interrogation skill, it will let know that it seemed to them like an absolutely natural desire to desert, and board the orbital pinnace. As The GM should know, Eyclone used his strong psychic abilities to manipulate the recruits, and deleted any associations with him from his head, and set a fail-safe mechanisms, similar to the one in Crotes’ head before. If asked about Eyclone or the Pontius, they will die the way obviously Saemon Crotes did before.
Searching the pinnace, will tell that it is a usual pinnace of the Navy (yet another clue as regards the capabilities of their quarry).
After the fight their Inquisitor will demand a full but brief account on what has happened. After he hears this, he will suggest that this might have been an attempted assassination (if the PCs somehow would not have figured that themselves), and his next orders will be to make the assassination attempt look successful. To that end, the Inquisitor will demand the PCs to take cover as a trade delegation from Sameter, coming to Gudrun to earn some profit during the founding festival, while the Essene will remain in orbit. To be more specific, they will pretend to be the traders in gene-fixed cereals (using Xenos culture), that could be easily managed by many local landowners now that the workforce is depleted due to the founding of the 50th Gudrunite Rifles.
They will take a transport (the same Aquila Lander, perhaps?), with its transponder codes changed to match their cover story. Discretion will be obligatory from now on for the PCs – they are not allowed to identify themselves as the operatives of the inquisition, unless in extreme circumstances.
There will be no problem for them to enter the atmosphere and land at Giova Field, a spaceport near Dorsay, the northern capital.
Inquiries at Dorsay.
Once at the Guild Sinesias (that functions basically as an all-purpose general sales agent for any off-world traders, and that has, yet unbeknownst to the PCs, connections to the house Glaw), the PCs will require as many inquiry and social interaction skills as they have. First thing, they will be requested to state their guild responser, which is, lest they forget, the late Saemon Crotes, and their business on Gudrun. If Crotes is mentioned, and the PCs don’t succeed on their conversation-related tests, their guild counterpart will enquiry further on Crotes. The PCs might have difficult time answering his questions, as they will not most likely have too much information on the subject.
Provided everything proceeds well and without violence from either part, the PCs might enquire, whether House Glaw could be interested in trade negotiations with their pretended Sameter trade delegation. It will not be a problem, and the guild representative Macheles they spoke to, will readily agree to arrange for a meeting with the House Glaw next day.
Other means to contact the House Glaw would be to search the local information bank (for a fee at least – as the PCs are not allowed to blow their trade delegation cover), and establish the address. This is, however, is not the best option, as they will lack necessary recommendations (from the guild, for example), which will make the whole business more difficult for them.
When the PCs leave the Guild, they will receive a message from Maxilla, stating, he had done some probing based on the transponder codes provided to him by their Inquisitor, and found out that the ship that took Eyclone’s Gudrun-Hubris run is at anchor here – one Rogue Trader Scaveleur under command of Effries Tanokbrey, who is already planetside.
From now on, the PCs will have at least two leads: Tanokbrey and the House Glaw.
As regards the first one, they will first have to locate him on the planet. One of the options to do this is to send him a vox-drone to go looking for him. There are, however, other options. One way or another, they will eventually locate him in a tavern, in the company of a few rough-looking individuals. He is not inclined to speak to anybody, and is not interested in business. If pressed, he and his companions will react violently, while his main goal would be to escape. If, however, he is captured and is Interrogated, he will tell that he remembers that he indeed did a Gudrun-Hubris run, but he does not know Eyclone, and most interesting, he cannot specify any howsoever convincing reason for making such a run. He was actually manipulated and treated as the fake naval officers before.
If they have used the lead with Tanokbrey, and asked some questions regarding Eyclone, next night they spend in a their hotel (or wherever they wish to rest), they will be attacked by Commodus Voke’s stormtroopers, as Voke thinks that the PCs are just a trader delegation from Sameter. Everything will be very quickly and professionally done, the stormtroopers will crash into the windows (if they are), at the same time blowing out the door, while Voke and Heldane will use their very strong psychic abilities to subdue the PCs. It could be played out as an “honest” combat between the inquisitor and the PCs, but preferably, they should better immediately understand that they are greatly outnumbered and outclassed by their opponents. When (if) the PCs are subdued, Voke show them his inquisitorial rosette, and will demand them to tell everything they know about Tanokbrey, and everything else they know about the subject. The PCs should better identify themselves as the inquisitorial operatives, otherwise they will be blindfolded and taken to an unknown remote location of Voke’s, and simply tortured (maybe even killed) for the information. On the other hand, if they reveal their identities, Voke will be very surprised, and will immediately do some checking. After that, they will interact much better way, however, Voke will be very reluctant to believe that it is really a decent way for an inquisitor to act under disguise, like the PCs do.
Voke’s intention is indeed to gather information on Tanokbrey, and everything else that might concern his person. From his part, he provides the PCs with the information, that he too conducts an investigation of some off-world cult, which has led to an umbrella organization located somewhere on here, on Gudrun. He too, will be very concerned with the House Glaw and Pontius Glaw in particular, even though the latter is dead for two centuries. Voke has already thoroughly searched the Glaw estates many times, the Glaw themselves have provided all assistance he requested, but found nothing. He will provide them with the map of the House Glaw he managed to re-create, and the map issued to him by the House Glaw. He failed to see any discrepancies between the versions, so far. Checking against Logic (and Scrutiny, perhaps), the PCs might discover certain weak spots, where the certain places on the map do not fully overlay, giving a hint that there might be some uncovered areas.
Apart from the map, Voke will provide the PCs his direct vox link, which could be used in the case of emergency, although he doesn’t expect the PCs will discover something he didn’t.
In game terms, an encounter with Voke has three purposes.
First, to allow the PCs to have some more consequential evidence on the possible involvement of the House Glaw in some yet unidentified heretical activities, share some information they have figured out themselves, and perhaps with Voke’s help to get some missing links in the information bits to make any conclusions, the GM might seem appropriate.
Second, to give them the direct Voke’s vox link.
Third, to make the PCs acquainted with the paths of the puritan inquisitor, and, perhaps, make them think perhaps that their Inquisitor might tend more towards radicalism, which is a rather dangerous path.
The Glaw estate.
Next the Guild Sinesias will arrange for the PCs travel to the House Glaw, and they will accompany them on their trip. The journey lies outside Dorsay, and proceeds without any troubles.
Once there, they will be greeted amongst many other guests of the House Glaw, and a banquet will be prepared to honour the guests. During the feast, the PCs should have the possibility to meet, speak to and maybe scrutinize other guests of the House Glaw. If the PCs behave themselves and do have the necessary social skills, they will be able to learn a few facts that really could be of interest (GM should ensure that these facts are thoroughly mixed with a lot of presumably useless info):
– Dazzo, the ecclesiarch used to conduct certain activities on the world of Damask, namely he had had links to a local missionary order sponsored by the Glaws;
– Oberon Glaw is inclined to talk to Dazzo, while Urisel Glaw is first interested in Gorgone Locke, the rogue trader.
After the banquet, the PCs will be accommodated in their suite, consisting of separate rooms. Once in their suite, they could easily check against their Tech Use (or Security?) skill to detect any hidden vox and pict devices. The room actually appears to be full of them. It will take more tests to neutralize these devices. If they don’t do so, the House Glaw will be fully aware of the PCs activities and of every sounds they produce (even in the toilet room). If not, then House Glaw will potentially lose a lot of valuable information. The functionality of the said tracking devices will mean significant difference, when the PCs will roam the Glaw estate, as described below.
The PCs may just go to sleep, or they may want to wander in the House Glaw, searching for any clues they could find. Simply roaming the estates is prohibited, and if discovered, the PCs will be politely escorted back to their suite. The PCs may try to combine their Concealment and Silent Move skills and move unnoticed if they are good enough. Doing so safely will require a lot of efforts on their side, and their best bet to discover something interesting would be to double check the maps Voke has provided them with. Rolling a Logic test will help come to a conclusion that on the Voke’s map there are no underground levels mapped at all.
If they don’t have these maps, they still have a chance to find the hidden areas. In the latter case, however, they may need to do more work, like bribing or subduing the guards or whatever else they may come up with to search the House Glaw on their own. For example, one of the things that might attract the PCs attention (better with the appropriate skills) is that any vents and other technological pipes and pathways that could potentially lead to or from the underground levels are either permanently sealed or have some very tough-looking electronic locks. In any case, they could come to a conclusion that they haven’t seen any underground facilities of the House Glaw (or entries thereto), which is, rather strange, considering the sheer size of the House Glaw.
As ever, they can always start a gunfight, and force their way through, but this will most likely lead to a disaster, as the automatic security systems of the House Glaw are numerous and fully functional. Yet, if used with care, even violence could be an option there, but the PCs should better know what they are actually doing and want to achieve this way, and what evidence do they have to start acting this way.
One way or another, the PCs will be interested to get to the underground levels through one of the available entries, bearing electronic locks. There are certain facts that should be taken into account, in this regard.
First, after the PCs have been left to their own devices in their suite, the House Glaw staff have started looking after and listening to every word that the PCs say between themselves. So, if they start discussing any possible ways to enter the underground levels, or behaving like they are not the traders, or worse even leave the room with a purpose to search the mansion unseen without deactivating the tracking systems beforehand – the House Glaw will immediately know that the PCs are not who they pretend to be, and they will be prepared to meet them warmly at the underground levels.
Second, the PCs will have to move unseen. This means they could either move in the shadows, or, for example, they could “borrow” the uniform of one or more too inattentive House Glaw guards.
Third, when they reach any of the underground entrances (there are a few of them on the territory of the estate), they will have to deal with the lock. The best “cinema-like” option would be to use the word “daesumnor”, if they remember it (which is, alas, unlikely). Second option would be to use the Security skill. Failing with many degrees of failure will trigger the general alarm. Third option would be to try to bash it (that’s too loud). Fourth one – is to steal they access keycard.
Once they enter the levels, their data slates (or vox links?) stop receiving signal from the surface, signifying, that the area is fully shielded against any electromagnetic interference, meaning that they are cut off from the surface (the PCs will know that as soon as they access their vox links, and not earlier). If psykers try to use their powers there, they will find it impossible (or extremely hard?) to do, as the area is shielded against psychic powers as well.
If the PCs have entered the underground levels unseen, navigating the levels, will reveal at least two locations: Urisel Glaw’s secret room, where he talks to Gorgone Locke, discussing the delivery of some very precious cargo from certain “saruthi” (Xenos knowledge will provide some information on them). And second – a chamber containing the Pontius (an egg-like object with intricate electronic circuitry), inside of a jeweled prayer box, on an altar. Succeeding on an Int-related test, the PCs will recall that this object could most likely match the cavity of an enigmatic box discovered in the P2-12 earlier.
Other object of interest are certain tablets of no visible purpose lying here and there in the room where the Pontius is stored. Appropriate knowledge skills will identify these as the of xenos origin.
In either case, if the PCs make themselves visible, a fight will erupt, and their opponents will first reach for a an alarm button. Regardless of the outcome of the fight, the GM has to make sure, that the PCs know that “the Pontius” thing is somewhere there. For example, if they don’t find that altar with the box thereupon, let some NPC yell upon seeing the PCs something like “You have come after the Pontius? Die, scum!”.
The fight could end up differently. First, the PCs will either be able to escape the underground levels, run to the surface from the definitely overwhelming odds, and then either hijack a vehicle from the House Glaw hangar (leading to a fierce vehicle vs. vehicle chase and dogfight) or get lost in the surrounding woods. In any case they could always use their vox to send Voke their distress call, although the help will not come immediately. Once in the safety of Dorsay (or out in the woods), a next part of the adventure will await them.
On the other hand, if the PCs are subdued by the guards, they will be imprisoned in one of the House Glaw cells, to be later used as the fighting slaves at the arena. They will be stripped of their belongings, and issued primitive weapons to fight the arena beasts. From that moment on, the PCs main concern would be to escape the prison alive, and preferably have access to any vox link to inform Voke (or even their master Inquisitor) of their situation.
Once on the arena, they will be all thrown to fight a few carnodons, until either of them (PCs or carnodons) are dead. The carnodons are chained to the ground so that they could not jump over the arena borders, and they are obviously very hungry. In this situation, the best PCs bet would be to cut the carnodons’ chains with every effort they could muster to hopefully wreak as much havoc as possible on the tribunes through berserk carnodons. After the havoc is wrought, the PCs could hope to force their way either out of the House Glaw, or to search for their belongings, or kill a few guards to collect their weapons and armour.
Another option for them would be to use their Psychic powers to leave the arena or their cells, as these areas are not psychic-shielded, unlike the underground levels, where the Pontius is contained.
And finally, they could try to break free when accompanied to the arena, although this might not be the best option.
Fighting carnodons “honestly” is a recipe for the suicide. The supply of carnodons is virtually infinite, and the PCs are not intended to be left alive after all.
Out of the frying pan.
Once outside, either after being prisoners of the House Glaw, or escaping them – the PCs main concern will be to reach Dorsay and contact Voke or their Inquisitor to describe what would have happened to them. In either case, Battlefleet Scarus (Defence of Stalinvast) and its stormtroopers will be engaged to lay waste to the defenses of the House Glaw and capture as many Glaws as possible. If the PCs remain near the House Glaw, the PCs could even participate in that large-scale operation, called Pacification 505. If not, they will be later informed that Oberon Glaw, ecclesiarch Dazzo, Gorgone Locke (and other most important people) have not been seen amongst the captives nor the dead after the battle. They are presumed to be dead after escaping on a few orbital craft, which have been proven to be destroyed by Battlefleet Scarus.
If the PCs were idle during the banquet, and provided they at least tried to search for anything of importance, they will be able to find some dataslates, confirming that the House Glaw was sponsoring a missionary order on Damask, and that there is some subject referred to as the “true matter”, however no explanations are given thereof. After doing some deciphering work, it will also become known that the delivery of the Pontius to Hubris has been aborted (due to an unspecified reason) immediately before Eyclone has started his job on Hubris, thus rendering his “feat of arms” absolutely purposeless right from the start.
Doing some more Search and deciphering (if the PCs did not overhear the Glaw’s conversation during their travels in the underground), will also yield that the Glaws intended to purchase something from some “saruthi”. Researching on saruthi will reveal that they are a xenos breed outlying the subsector, in an uncharted space. The conclusions are up to the PCs to make.
If they fail miserably, have their Inquisitor send them to Damask in a few weeks to continue their investigation with the local population (and make sure to retain some XP for that kind of inability or the bad luck of the PCs’).
Battlefleet Scarus considers its business done (perhaps rightly so), and Voke is absolutely sure that the case of the House Glaw is now closed. He spends most of his time torturing out any information he could from the captives (Urisel Glaw is amongst them), however that yields almost nothing. One thing that becomes clear after those extremely harsh interrogations is that the “true matter” makes them worthwhile.
And in a few days the Helican Schism begins in the subsector: cults suddenly activate, civil war starts on a few hives, some of them are lost to a yet unidentified viral toxin, even Battlefleet Scarus suffers casualties due to an internal fight caused by a very strange mistake. It should best be noted that a significant portion of the fleet under command of captain Estrum suddenly leaves the orbit and quickly enters the warp in pursuit of an imaginary foe. Later is becomes known that this portion of the fleet is under command of Admiral Estrum. The GM must make sure, however, that this fact although is to be brought to the attention of the PCs, no emphasis should be visible there. The best option would be to mention this fact (however outstanding it might be) amongst other events of the Helican Schism.
definitely These events should be run in a narrative mode, while the PCs spend time in Dorsay resting, healing, training, spending XP, re-stocking supplies, buying new guns, etc. for a couple of weeks.
One way or another, the PCs will want or will be requested to go to Damask to continue their investigation. Their assignment would be to enter into the contact with the local population, in order to find as much information as possible as regards the missionary order sponsored by the Glaw. The PCs are now allowed to act without hiding their true identity, although discretion is advised.
Travel to Damask goes without any problem. However, once on the orbit, the PCs will quickly discover that the planet does not respond to any radio communications. This seems strange, as according to the archives, Damask is although scarcely populated, is nonetheless known to harbour at least five population centres and two large mines. From the orbit the PCs could find some townships as known to them thanks to the information given to them, and land their guncutter there. If they do not expressly specify that they use a discreet approach during descent and landing, they have a chance to be spotted by the locals. If they do, they could easily find a suitable spot and stay unseen. It should also be made clear to them that moving across the planet on the guncutter will make them visible to any and all radars (although no obvious threat is spotted so far). Maxilla will be told (and the PCs will be informed accordingly) to withdraw to a concealment orbit behind the local star, if any ship enters the real space from the immaterium. A code word for Maxilla to use in this case will be “Sanctum”.
First population centre they identify on their map is Gillan’s Acre. Finding and reaching it is no problem, however the town appears to be deserted. The only thing of interest is a marker flint stone with certain Chaos symbols inscribed thereon. A test will identify them as belonging to Slaanesh.
While going around the town the PCs will eventually come into contact with a few survivors who have escaped the mines at the Flaming Hills. The survivors will find them, and the PCs will have to choose how to behave with them. Provided no violence erupts (the survivors are more scared than determined to fight, though), the talks will start. One of the complications will immediately appear that one of the survivors willing to talk doesn’t actually speak the usual Low Gothic, but some ancient dialect of it. A linguistic test will be imperative here, otherwise the PCs will get a very limited amount of information. In the latter case, after a few prolonged mumblings they will learn that there is something to the south from there. Combined with some surface scans (with the help from Maxilla on the orbit), it will be possible to identify the active volcanism in there, about seventy kilometers to South. According to their maps, it is known that a North Qualm settlement is supposed to be there.
If the PCs manage to find common language with the man calling himself Rhizor, he will explain that there originally were five settlements and two mines, dedicated to serving the God (presumably and rightly so the God-Emperor). Then four years ago, a mission of ecclesiarchs came to the planet to educate the settlers. Amongst them, there were also certain workers, who seemed to be either geologists or mining engineers. They have settled around North Qualm (he says it’s seventy kilometers to the South), and in about a year more ships followed, and strong males from the settlements were forcefully recruited to work the mines. Those who resisted were killed, and the priests didn’t seem to mind. If asked, he will recognize the name Dazzo. Rhizor will also be willing to show the PCs a secret entrance to the mines.
At the end of the conversation Maxilla will transmit the word “Sanctum” and proceed to hiding. Returning to their guncutter, it will be possible to establish that a dozen or so large ships have emerged from the immaterium near Damask. A few tests will show that these are Imperial Navy ships, under command of captain Estrum.
If the PCs choose not to interrogate Rhizor and the others, and/or start the hostility with the rest of the survivors (due to whatever reason), they will deprive themselves of a very valuable piece of information (above). The battle would not be lost for them, however, but they will have to spend more time searching the planet surface, stumbling upon other settlements in the similar state as Gillan’s Acre. More tedious scanning will be needed, but eventually they will be able to detect certain activities near North Qualm.
North Qualm is a former mining community, being very close to the active volcano. Slave workers toil in the mines under the watchful eye their tormentors (the PCs could be in the position to suspect that apart from Dazzo there are also the Glaw and the others involved, although they don’t have yet the idea of the purpose of that whole enterprise).
The PCs could survey the location from a few hundred meters. There is a mine entrance, a few warehouses and ruined buildings, a landing pad with a makeshift building near it. The whole place is surrounded by a tall fence, and there are security systems on the perimeter, but luckily for the PCs they are in very bad shape due to almost constant volcanic activity, which makes them very easy to disarm (Security test). Psykers, if present, will also feel that the place is enclosed in an extremely potent psychic aura, which will most likely blow their cover, if they remove the null rod (which is, hopefully still on them), or stray out if its range (which is quite easy when moving fast). In any case, if they are foolish enough to approach the site on their guncutter, they are detected automatically.
From this point, the PCs are running the risk of being spotted. If they are, then proceed mutatis mutandis to the All Hell Breaks Loose section below.
Provided the PCs manage to stay in cover, they will be able to look at those present there. There are a lot of guards, and dozens of filth-caked workers, eventually bringing out some plastic wraps on the stretchers from the mine entrance. At some point they will identify a Chaos Space Marine walking the site, who seems to be very angry. It is obvious for the PCs that going there with all guns blazing is a recipe for a suicide, even without the Chaos Space Marine. When the PCs will witness him, they will have to roll a Fear test.
As there is no Maxilla on the orbit now, and the link with their Inquisitor unavailable, from this point, the PCs will have to act for themselves. Apart from running into the wilds, scared, they may want either to try to enter the mines to investigate the activities there. If they wish to enter the mines, it is obviously impossible to go there via the main entrance, so they will have to try any secret entrances. If Rhizor somehow is unable to offer his help, the PCs will have to search the surroundings themselves. Needless to say, certain skills will be needed for that. Or, the PCs may want to sneak into the buildings to search them. Third, the PCs may want to observe the situation a little longer.
Going into the mines.
With the help from Rhizor, it is no problem to find the entrance. Without it, the PCs will have to use their wilderness-related skills to find it. Without it, they will have just to roam around for a while, running a risk of being exposed. Failing that, there is no chance for the PCs to enter the mines using a secret entrance.
Once inside, the PCs will have to navigate a complex system of tunnels (skills might be useful for that). A successful Awareness test will be needed in order to notice that the surface of the tunnels under the mud cover consists of some stone tablets of very strange geometric proportions: their angles do not seem to match 360 degrees, although they fit each other perfectly. The PCs will have to roll a test in order to find this out, otherwise they will only notice that the tablets are just strange to look at (without any explanation as regards this strangeness).
Eventually, the PCs will encounter the workers. They are only seem to be afraid of the PCs, and prefer to run away if the PCs are hostile towards them. They are not eager to talk, although successful tests could make them more sociable. They could tell that there are a lot of guards everywhere; that they are excavating these stone tablets which are treated like an extremely precious cargo by their tormentors.
Sneaking into the buildings.
Marine and Glaw argument.
If the PCs choose to observe first, before moving anywhere, they will witness a very unpleasant conversation between Oberon Glaw and the Marine outside the makeshift building. The PCs will be able to overhear some parts of it, if they listen properly. Judging by this, the PCs will get an impression that:
the Glaw and the Marine have some kind of a pact between themselves;
the Marine doesn’t seem to be satisfied by its fulfillment.
After a few moments of heated arguments, the Marine will try to start a fight with the Glaw, only to be interrupted by a very strong psychic blast (a Psyker, if present, could roll a test to identify its source – Dazzo). Dazzo will be seen to approach the Marine, a telling him to refrain from violence in the future, while the Marine will move back away before him, most likely affected by the tremendous psychic blast. With that, the discussion will end.