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Damned Cities: The (not so) subtle approach


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#1 Darth Smeg

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Posted 21 May 2011 - 12:08 AM

My players never cease to amaze me. I really don't need to come up with challenges for them, just stick them in a room with a few random strangers and I'm sure they'll get themselves in no end of trouble anyway.

So the Acolytes arrive on Sinophia, and start off pretty much on-track, visiting the murdersite of Bal Grey, asking questions and whatnot. The Psyker has a very bad feeling about the Folly, and messing around in the cellar they find the hidden room used for the binding ritual.

So they decide to get rooms at the Turning Hand. On the way there, I let the paranoid Assassin experience the funky shadow in the window-which-then-cracks as per the suggestions of Gregorius in this thread. Then it starts going downhill.

Having procured rooms at the hand, they proceed to walk pas the bar into the back of the establishment, towards their rooms. They are then seen by a soothsayer, who freaks out and runs away wailing and yelling "you bring doom", again as per suggestions from same thread. Course, my players think this is very suspect and decide to stop her. She dodges past the arbitrator and runs for the door, still yelling "Get away from me! Ah, your path is written, your destiny is doom".

So the Psyker decides to Dominate her. I blink. Twice. He rolls. He fails his opposed WP test, but does manage to manifest some phenomena. The soothsayer now claws her head, yells something about withes, "in my head" fget out you demons, and runs out. The baarkeep looks on, shocked, as they all run after her. The arbitrator with the bionic legs catch up with her easily and rugby-tackles her to the street, psyker running after while shocked bystanders look on this spectacle. The woman goes into shock, and is carried, bruised and bleeding back to the Hand. The barkeep protests, the few other patrons leave. They bribe him, and tell the Sister Sororitas to take the woman to her room, and to calm her down. The barkeep relents.

The sister has specialised in combat skills, and is about as useful with people-situations as a condom machine in the Vatican. She slaps her around a bit, then decides that being a soothsayer she is most likely a witch, and kills her. I blink. Three times. The other players say "WHAT?!?!?". But of course, there is nobody there to stop her. So now they have a corpse to get rid of and lots of people wonder what happened to Sophia, the nice old lady who used to read fortunes at the Hand....

Later, when I thought things could not get more out of Hand (bad pun intended) they were summoned to the Rag Court. Things started out amicably enough, but after a while the Psyker got a little nervous/fed up with Tibers threats and ravings, and decided he needed to Dominate him. I blinked. Only once, this time. So he did. The other Rag Kings found it a bit strange that the brute suddenly seemed to agree with these strangers in front of them, and that he even offered to show their "new friends" to the door.

Of course, once there, the psyker idles with Tiber in the doorway as the others make it around the corner. He then manifests Shape Flesh and flies straight up into the rainy night. Once out of sustaining range of Dominate (8m) Tiber regains control and starts shouting his hate and cries of betrayal, witchery and death as the Acolytes hurry into the night.

Soooo... what fallout is to follow, I wonder. The kings don't like each other, and some might even find the psykers actions amusing. Or they might be scared of the cursed witch (he did not identify himself as sanctioned, or a servant of the throne).

What do you think should happen?


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#2 The Laughing God

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Posted 21 May 2011 - 12:17 AM

They have made enemies of the Rag Court and some of the general public around the Turning Hand. They will have trouble getting answers on the streets and especially in the Sinks will not be safe anymore.

Skarmen is laughing his ass off with this bumbling kind of investigation. The only help they may now still be able to secure is from the Quorum.


Show me ... everything!


#3 Storhamster

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Posted 21 May 2011 - 12:23 AM

I would seem that your players are about to become friends with death. Psykers are hated when they don´t use their powers, but when one dominates one of the rag kings the **** should really hit the fan.

The other kings should be terrified that such a character is running around in their turf, the psyker knows who they are, where they are and may very well decide to destroy them. The rag kings should ally to try to eliminate this threat.

Your players should find out that being all alone without allies in a very hostile place where everyone exept Constantine hates them is a very bad idea. Given that even to nobles are indebted to the rag kings and other criminals there really is no where to run.

Deadly ambushes, straight up kill squads and general ammo shortage is the least of what they should suffer for their choices. Always remember that your players are on their enemies home turf and the criminals will fight dirty. Bombings, toxic gases, floodings and other creative ways of killing well armed people should be employed.

They are all alone and there are 150 million people on that planet who would kill them simply because the rag kings tell them so, and they will be more afraid of the rag kings than some far away inquisition.



#4 Gregorius21778

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Posted 21 May 2011 - 02:24 AM

Hi Darth,

nice to hear that some of the stuff I once wrote is put into use, thanks for that .

@The mess your pc made
Your "Sister" is zealot, isn´t she? And the psyker is a bit mindless. What was he thinking what would happen? Oh dear... well, time for a little extra fun.

@The reaction of the public
In and around the Hand, all tests for social interaction and regular investigation should receive a -10 or perhaps even -20. Besides this...it is a wide city and the people of Sinophia are morose and tend to care the most for themselves. Not to much of a problem, I would say.

@The reaction of  Tiber
This certain rag-king is described as a revengeful, violent brute who is the epitome of "rule by violence". In order to keep his standing, he HAS go after the psyker. The other rag-kings might not do a thing, so. After all, the Honor of Tiber is his personal affair. But since this action "betrayed" them as well, they will receive no cooperation from the Rag-Court and further investigations might be hindered. People will not want to talk to them.

As for Tiber himself, I would rule that the will order numerous attempts at the live of the Psyker. I would even say that he will find and hire an unsanctioned psyker to "fight fire with fire". Tiber will prefer to get the Psyker "alive, but unconscious". But the hunters he sends will not risk their own live and will kill the Psyker instead of delivering him. After all, "we only where able to kill him" is a better rapport then "we failed".



#5 Darth Smeg

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Posted 21 May 2011 - 11:05 PM

@Gregorius: No no no, thank YOU! :)

And thanks for the input everyone, It has set my evil little mind working. Muhahahahahahaha


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#6 Gregorius21778

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Posted 22 May 2011 - 04:46 AM

Hi Darth,

if you want to pick up my "send a psyker after a psyker" suggestion, I´ve a further suggestion.

Please see:
http://www.fantasyfl...=3&efidt=494692



#7 Darth Smeg

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Posted 22 May 2011 - 05:21 AM

How can I not, when you wrote all that just for me :)

I may have to tweak him a little, though, or at least play him veeery sneakily, as my players are some seriously overpowered Rank 8 Munchkins.

But I've put myself in the mindset of one of the most powerful men on the planet, a vengeful, hateful madman who rules through force and fear, who can allow no insult to go unanswered. Then figured Dominate is worse than ****. I think there is NOTHING this man will not do in order to punish the ones responsible.

This will hurt


Tarald - The Dark Lord of Smeg

You're not drunk if you can lie on the floor without holding on

 

My House Rules for using Only War (and more) for Dark Heresy games


#8 Gregorius21778

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Posted 22 May 2011 - 07:06 AM

Hmm.....rank 8.....no, they will eat ol´Hezzlesham alive... hmm...



#9 Darth Smeg

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Posted 30 June 2011 - 08:23 PM

My players are coming to regret messing with the undertow. But as unfair as life is, it's mostly the other players that have been feeling the pain, and the Psyker has escaped relatively unscathed. So far.

The first response was a straight-forward ambush by mercs. The players were returning from a visit to the Enforcer General, and had not bothered to hide their movements. So the mercs prepared an ambush on the way back to the Folly. They chose a place were the road was narrow and winding, and where they could conceal themselves. The players failed their awareness rolls, and were surprised as a bulldozer-like construction machine crashed into the side of their transport, lifting and rolling it upside down, and into the wall of the building along the road.

They had no choice but to exit the vehicle, and emerged straight into a prepared crossfire with some suppressive fire, automatic fire, aimed sniper shots and thrown firebombs from the rooftops on all sides. They actually survived this encounter without burning any FatePoints, but is was a close call.

The second response was more devious, and required some more planning. A few days later, the acolytes receive word that another murder has taken place, body torn apart, blood everywhere. But this time there is signs of sorcery or occult rituals present to. The Arbites have secured the area, and the players are invited to investigate.

"The Meniril docks are some distance upstream from the mouth of Drusus' Flow, not far from the Celestine Wharf. This strip of foul filmed water is shadowed by the close press of warehouses, from which loading spars spill their rusting chains to water at high tide. The canal reeks of effluence, and its shallow docksides are choked with the filth and rotting sea detritus of decades of neglect. Rickety piers of rotted wood and rusty metal slabs run out into the moving waters of the canal, and moored to one such canal is a rusted cargo barge guarded by an armoured Arbitrator. Standing on the wharf are another pair of arbitrators, looking around in the rainy gloom with a detached and morose look on their faces."

An Arbitrator is standing vigil at the pier, securing the scene. Another is holding the man who found the scene. He point to the boat, and says he just took a look down the open cargo-hatch, and saw the bloody remains and scary symbols.

The ship is a smallish, flat cargo hauler, with an enclosed cargo hold with a large metal hatch, that is now held open by a chain and winch. In the hold can be found the remains of an occult sacrifice, the bloody and dismembered victim still lying scattered across the room, a large pentagram (or other symbol) painted on the floor. There are some strange machinery connected to various paraphernalia along the wall, suggesting some mechanical/sorcery foulness.

This is, of course, a trap. The murder is staged, the victim is not torn apart, but cut to pieces. There was part of a ritual conducted here, made to Weaken the Veil. But no further sorcery was performed, and a forbidden lore (occult) test revealed that many of the markings on the walls are "wrong", or made by amateurs or people who don't know what they are doing. The murder, ritual, machinery is all just bait, to lure the acolytes into the hold, and to keep them busy.

Meanwhile, they are watched. There are eyes in all the buildings around, on both sides of the canal. When the time is right, and the targets are down in the cargo hold, the Trapmaster presses the button. A small explosive destroys the chain holding the hatch, which falls closed with a loud crash. A split second later, explosive charges attached to the ships hull, below the waterline, explode, letting water rush into the hold. The water shoots into the hold at high pressure, letting everyone make hard Agility tests or be thrown to the floor. The rope-ladder hanging from the deck above is cut by the hatch, there is no easy way out. And the ship is sinking.

The Acolytes eventually managed to get out of the ship, but now discovered that swimming with armour and weapons is Very Hard (-30). And that it might have been a good idea to invest some XP in Swim. The assassin dropped all gear, and managed to reach the surface in nothing but his underpants. The one-armed arbitrator praised the emperor for having the foresight (luck) to bring a rebreather. The Sister Sororitas found that power armour and heavy bolters are poor protection against drowning, and the Psyker made some nice Phenomena manifesting his flyer trait.

As they surface, they are met with sniper fire. The tech priest was very happy that he had remained on the docks, just sending in servoskulls to analyse the situation, but was not so happy to learn he was the only target for the snipers as the ship sank and until the others emerged from the water.

That's where we left things last session. So now they're all alone in enemy turf, low on weapons, gear and ammo (a Tech Scorn from the Phenomena has jammed most of the few weapons they still clutch), down a few fate points, and no help coming ...

On a side-note, they left the box with the mirror shard they received from Euphine in the basement of the Folly, guarded by some combat servitors the Tech Priest has brought. I wonder if it will still be there if and when they get back....


Tarald - The Dark Lord of Smeg

You're not drunk if you can lie on the floor without holding on

 

My House Rules for using Only War (and more) for Dark Heresy games


#10 Gregorius21778

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Posted 30 June 2011 - 11:18 PM

@The Shard in the Box
For heavens sake, LEAVE IT THERE!

SPOILERS AHEAD!!!!!!!!!!


Skarmen has two reasons not to touch it.

1) This lead to unwanted attention to the folly. The pc would question who was able to steal from the basement of an Arbites station...besides an Arbitrator.

2) He does not need to steal it. It already as good as in his pocket...and if the pc start to believe that this box is "safe", they might even start to deposit the other shards their as well... where in the end, Skarmen just needs to fetch them. Perhaps with the help of his own Tech-Priest (to disable the servitors).



#11 Darth Smeg

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Posted 30 June 2011 - 11:45 PM

SPOILERS!!!! My group stay out!

This is true, however as the characters are currently lost in the slums, with little or no eqiupment and support, with the Undertow gunning for theri heads, he will probably consider them as good as dead. He successfully recovered the shard from Lady Amorite, which leaves only Khans fragment. He may decide to move swiftly, and so the players may find themselves in for another world of hurt if they ever manage to get back from their little ... fieldtrip.

Of course, they still have not learned of the Haarlock legend, the 13 shards or anything, so they will "miss" large parts of the mystery that way.

 


Tarald - The Dark Lord of Smeg

You're not drunk if you can lie on the floor without holding on

 

My House Rules for using Only War (and more) for Dark Heresy games


#12 Gregorius21778

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Posted 01 July 2011 - 02:34 AM

Hi Darth,

if you see Skarmen (or more exactly: what he became under the influence of the Daemon) as a person that "rushes things", then do it that way.

if you see Skarmen as somebody calculacting (which is how I see him due to the schemes he is running) I would say that even if he thinks the pc to dead, he would "cash in" the shards in the basement last. After all, they -ARE- already their and ripe for the taking.

From a GM point-of-view, it is simply to big a hint if the shards get stolen inside of the Arbites Station. Unless you want to give them that hint.



#13 Artanyis

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Posted 01 July 2011 - 08:13 AM

I have to agree with Gregorius here, i read him as a cunning, planning, scheming, intelligent adversary.  I think that he is more likely to leave the shards and wait than to take them all at once, I mean where is safer than an Arbiteus station that you can get into?  In my opinion he would have people watching the station to make sure that the shards don't leave till he takes them, but other than that he should wait on them.

Now, I have not run Damned Cities yet, but I have read through it.  So this means that I have no real information on how players have acted, all I can do is give my opinion on a situation.  Now, under the assumption that Skarman is a calculating opponent, one of the best ways for players to be confused is to do nothing at all, as long as they are on the wrong path, do nothing to hinder them from going the wrong way.  Right now the players are being pinned down by the Rag Kings Mercs. why bother tilting your hand by throwing resources into a mix that you don't need?  Simply, "the enemy of my enemy is my enemies enemy."



#14 Xisor

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Posted 03 July 2011 - 10:32 AM

 This is most interesting. We had a fair amount of silliness in our run through of DC, mainly with our psyker going gaga and thinking it was free reign to start acquiring super powers, or to strike a deal with the enemy.

In any case, all this seriously escalating the 'panic levels' makes plenty of sense to me. Similarly, it's entirely possible to just...let Skarmen win. It might lead to the acolytes ending up a bit more on the 'gone rogue' front than you'd originally intend, but causing (or exacerbating) world-wide panic on a planet is pretty serious, you might find that having them 'live with the consequences' might be more entertaining than funnelling them back through the adventure as written, (thus you could still have them adventuring on Sinophia, Quaddis, maybe even ending up at Mara), e.g. now be 'on the outside looking in' on the Haarlock Legacy.



#15 Darth Smeg

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Posted 21 September 2011 - 12:29 AM

Xisor said:

Similarly, it's entirely possible to just...let +++REDACTED+++ win. 

This is increasingly looking like a likely outcome. What would the consequences actually be? The daemon just wants to escape, would it thrash Sinophia in the process? The social chaos is already going down, would stopping the daemon save the city? 


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You're not drunk if you can lie on the floor without holding on

 

My House Rules for using Only War (and more) for Dark Heresy games


#16 Gregorius21778

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Posted 21 September 2011 - 02:27 AM

Darth Smeg said:

Xisor said:

 

Similarly, it's entirely possible to just...let +++REDACTED+++ win. 

 

 

This is increasingly looking like a likely outcome. What would the consequences actually be? The daemon just wants to escape, would it thrash Sinophia in the process? The social chaos is already going down, would stopping the daemon save the city? 


 


SPOIL-o-RAMa!

In this case, I would say that it will not have any DIRECT consequences to the city. The daemons want but want thing: GETTING AWAY. The pc are even
offered to bargain with him. I do not think it is likely to rampage in the city. It will just want to flee. Nothing else.

 



#17 Filadan

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Posted 21 September 2011 - 02:23 PM

The demon, for what I know of it, strikes me as very "Cherubael" like. It really doesn't want anything from anyone else at this point, it just wants to GTFO. What would really cause more trouble is if they go out of their way to deny it what it wants, much like our group did. While we may not have bound him in a body of any of the dead arbites , I'm sure that the demon is going to come back and bite or asses sooner or later in some form.



#18 Darth Smeg

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Posted 21 September 2011 - 09:17 PM

 I guess in the end what matters is whether or not they can prove to the powers that be what really happened. 

With no proof, Sinophia will tear itself apart in a civil war. With sufficient proof (like a daemon trapped in a mirror), the factions will lay down their arms and resume the status quo. Striking a deal will also make peace, but failing to stop the ritual will result in a normal mirror in a tower full of dead arbites. 

No proof, just questions to ponder and anarchy to watch.


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You're not drunk if you can lie on the floor without holding on

 

My House Rules for using Only War (and more) for Dark Heresy games


#19 Zakalwe

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Posted 24 September 2011 - 11:32 PM

 Oh to have such dedicated GMs as you two.  Not that I'm knocking my GM, but my experience of Damned Cities was very much the 'Not So Subtle Approach'.    

When we started the adventure we had recently been made badged acolytes and in the first session our tech priest pulled out the badge every time we met someone.  After we had that under control, we decided to turn the fact that everyone now knew who we were to our advantage, and made it clear to alll the NPCs we came across that we were not interested in local politics or petty crime, we just wanted to get to the bottom of the murders.  That actually got us enough leads to piece it all together, but the magistrate general was on to us from the start, and most the arbitrators died.  When we had to get across town during the craziness, we were lucky enough to just drove through in a Repressor and a Rhino, and once we convinced some enforcers to join us, the locals pretty much let us through unmolested.   Because we had stayed out of local politics and negotiated fairly with their bosses, the undertow were all under orders to leave us be, and as It was obvious that we were about business we were left to pass.

Subtle, nah, nothing subtle about that one.  House of Dust and Ash next, I believe subtlety is of the essence in that one, and as a feral world assassin and     -10 fel in formal settings I don't like my chances of being 'proper subtle'.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



#20 Darth Smeg

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Posted 26 September 2011 - 08:35 PM

We finished Damned Cities on friday, and the Acolytes all survived, miraculously. Albeit very maimed, and less a few fatepoints.

The nearly-naked Sister of Battle heroically decided to stay behind to recover the sacred relics of her order, and to buy the escaping acolytes time by distracting every hostile nearby (her player was absent from the game). The others pile out the back, and head for the western shore through the alleys of the Sinks.

They encounter (and slaughter) an Angry Mob, a few innocent locals (breaking and entering, then blowing citizens head off seem to be OK if an Acolyte needs some clothes), smashed a few buildings, encountered a wrecker crew who ran off with the tech-priests arm and leg, caused some Perils of the Warp, racked up some corruption and insanity points and made their escape on a small skiff with a miniscule engine.

It runs out of prometheum about half way to the Tower, so they head to shore and encounter a small war between the enforcers and some gangers. They learn of Khans death, and the all out war with the Undertow. "We're gonna burn the Sinks!" claim some gung-ho enforcer, and the Acolytes cheer him on, agreeing heartily with the sentiment. They do not have much love for the underworld here after all the attempts on their life. 'Course, they have "forgotten" that they started that fight in the first place...

Commandeering a stilt walker, they make it back to "civilization" and manage to re-establish vox contact with the Arbiters. Messages from the Keeper of the Rolls finally clue them in enough that they put the pieces together, and when Constantin says the deployed Arbites forces have lost Vox contact with the Folly, they see the rotating fan and the incoming excrement. 

Off to the folly, taking the stealthy approach for once. Clever. They avoid many of the corpse-arbitrators, and get extremely lucky with WP rolls to resist psy powers from Skarmen and the Daemon. And even more lucky with some damage rolls, blasting the daemon away with a well placed bolter burst, and Skarmen with a single plasma-pistol shot.

They actually discussed the Deamons deal for a while, but decided against it.

All in all, a very enjoyable and punishing evening. There are a few things I wish I'd done differently, but after a few hours of play, and too many ales, that's the way things go.

We finished with the Acolytes receiving an encrypted Vox call, Inquisision ciphers, from Cell 17. They wanted to "exchange information" and requested a meeting. Now this I almost immediately regretted, as I now how to figure out why they didn't do anything to stop Sinophia going to hell, why they waited until it's all over before making contact. Perhaps they were shadowing the PCs, ready to step in if they failed. Perhaps they don't care about Sinophia? Suggestions?

Their goal is to learn what the PCs have discovered about the Haarlock legacy and the Tyrant Star... which is not much. So they will probably just let them go. But what will their cover be? How will they explain their presence to the PCs?

Then there is just the small matter of the big ceremony of honour to survive (half the planet still wants them dead) before they hopefully leave Sinophia for ever.

Forever? I doubt it. They are about to hit Ascension, and where better for a newly minted Inquisitor to learn his ropes than on Sinophia, where they now have knowledge of the locals and the Inquisition has no real presence anyway? Muhahahahhahaaa...


Tarald - The Dark Lord of Smeg

You're not drunk if you can lie on the floor without holding on

 

My House Rules for using Only War (and more) for Dark Heresy games





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