A lot of other game forums I participate in folks seem to enjoy these and I by and large enjoy reading others exploits as I can always mine them for ideas. Plus writing it down allows me to keep my memory accurate. Also for any of my players who wander here this thread will likely contain hella big spoilers before long, you only rob yourself by reading. The other caveat I want to make is I really care to hear about how female space marines would never happen, blah blah blah or something to that extent. I hath decided it is necessary so now it's just a matter of how the game world makes it happen. With that strong exception I'm reasonably happy to be educated on any portions of 40k lore i'm screwing up as I'm still new to the setting. So without further ado:
Deathwatch Campaign Log
Adventure 1: Extraction
Team Composition: A tactical marine, an apothecary, a devastator, and a tech marine.
So in the process of selling Deathwatch to my group having become bored and burned out with the current game/campaign I was running (the players later told me this was my fault for giving them a choice on what to play as I instead should have just ran what I enjoyed) I ran Deathwatch for a small group after getting to play it. I ran the extraction mission pretty much to stock although I had to adjust some things because the map key made very little sense. We found character creation refreshingly straightforward and the in media res beginning was kind of cool. One thing I screwed up on the system right from the start was engagement weapons on weapons, which lead to a lot of shrikes being mercilessly mowed down by the devastator marine before even attempting to fire. I should have had them dropping from ultrahigh altitude in retrospect and made better use of cover for the non horde ground force.. This in turn lead him to outshining the rest of the KT in a lot of respects all mission.
Soon after landing the KT managed to hear the sounds of combat and came to expect there was active resistance on planet. In part because they wern't particularly threatened by the 'nids so they made the decision to wade in and rescue the IG. In the process they met the commisar, who perhaps because of some of the player biases they instantly didn't like. Also by random chance the Magos was co-located there having held up in one of the machine sheds and killed the guardsmen medic when he came to look at him. The KT talked him into complying and swept up everyone. They pre-scouted the comm array and decided to use it for the beacon drop. They set the guardsmen to hold it and set down to wait. Now because of the way they had swept through everything we were vastly under time for the game session. I briefly decided on having them go a few rounds with a hive tyrant to put the proper level of fear into them. Thinking about it though I decided instead to have a guardsman whine to the commisar that he was really looking forward to blowing up the refinery as a final “screw you” to the tyranids. The player's took the bait and from that moment foreward Billy Bob the guardsman has been a member of their retinue.
Before this session and the next the players in this smaller group sold much of the rest of the group on the system and setting. We were coming off our longtime period of Shadowrun and a brief fliting with Scion and while we love at least the former there's something to be said for a return to military style “Here's the mission, go get it done” style gaming. The biggest hurdle to deal with the rest of the group is we had a female player in the larger group who did not want to gender bend. Since my fiance (the tactical marine for this outing) had been wanting to play a sisters of battle since our aborted try at Dark Heresy much earlier she also wanted to switch up for that. I gave the female players access to my Dark Heresy books but the next game session rolled around and they hadn't started because, well character creation in Dark Heresy is quite a bit more complex then it really should be. I understand what they were going for and I think it was a good idea but in practice it spawns a significant barrier to entry. So after giving it some thought I made female space marines available and told them they'd be part of a pilot program that had enough experience under their belt to join the death watch although their chapter was still not up to full founding strength yet. From that point I just decided I'd make the rest of the stuff bend to make that outcome plausible.
Adventure/Intermision 2: Boarders
Composition: Tactical Marine, 2xAssault Marines, Devastator, Apothecary, Avenger
Picking up right as the Thunderhawk picked the team up they were shuttled back to the Thunder's Word at high speed which in turn was making a desperate break from low orbit for the debris ring formed by the planets former space defense orbital docks and manufacturing facilities. During this time the ship was attacked by a tyranid boarding craft and the kill team took point on ship defense. This was our chance to test out the errata and get the new players up to speed on the combat system as well as correct some misadventures we'd had with it our first time. It was also a chance to bring the errata'd heavy bolter into play which I was much more happy with and the assault mariens were happy for an opportunity to use their special ability without the need for a jump back jump agaisnt the horde. The session went well and the Thunder's Word was able to get to the safety area and get an astropath message out with a report on their mission as well as what intel they'd gleaned. I played happy havoc with the Astopath message time in order to get them a response from the watch fortress quickly. The Omega Vault had opened in response to their report including the name of the last bastion of imperial control on the planet. Inside had been a faded and scored dedication plate like one would see in front of a fortess monastery. The plate indicated rough schematic of the fort (I made a visual aide) indicating it had both a teleportarium and a means to access the planets terraforming gear and use it as a weapon. Also on the plate was a chapter badge that no one was familiar with and no one made the necessary rolls to know. Even better the players didn't recognize it (I got it off a 40k wiki) which had me inwardly cackling at their frustration because one of the guys is a real 40k buff. Unbeknowst to them it was the per-herasy badge of the word bearers. The KT's orders we're simple but daunting, get back to the planet, asses what's in the fort, repair the teleporter if possible, and deny the planet to the tyranids if the possibility existed. Just another day in the death watch. The rest of the gaming session was spent handling requisition and getting feedback on the game and explaining things to new players.
Adventure 3 Session 1: The cannonball run
The players were briefed on the situation on the planet, one last Sororitas fortress was holding high up on a mountain plateu, based on reports from the fortress they were under heavy siege and had a rag tag of Sororitas, IG, Astartes, and PDF forces holding out for the sake of selling their lives dearly. The plan was formed, the Thunder's Word would enter low orbit and execute a high speed low orbit bombardment run at the end droping the kill teams pod as well as pods containing gun platforms and supplies (particularly bolter ammo and power packs) for the defenders. Because we hadn't realized that space marine's start with drive ground craft they opted to bring Billy Bob along as their driver. I'd already decided there was more to Billy Bob then meets the eye so he was more then willing to come with them. The team landed on planet and took off running gunning at the 'nids in hot persuit. A woman running out of the bombed out ruins of the town near the fotress implored them to take her child with her. They did and offered to take her too but she showed them the scar indicating a genestealers bite and begged them for the Emperor's Peace which they granted. Shell shocked child in the lap of the apothecary they continued their drive towards the fortress kill zone. While gunning the engines to ramp over a blast crater they were attacked by a Tyranid Ravener at the same point the “child” tore off her disquise revealing a very small purestrain genestealer who proceeded to try and eat the Apothecaries face. Eventually they made it to the fortress and were introduced to the IG commander there who the Sororitas and the Space Marines had ceded command authority to because he was respected as a tactician and was the only one of the leadership caste without power armor, so it made sense for him to stay off the walls and co-ordinate. The kill team were aware that he was an Ordos Xenos agent and could be trusted with the nature of their mission as were the Black Templar and Blood Raven space marines present (Cyrus from Dawn of War makes a cameo). The meeting was also interrupted by the Imperial Governor coming in to thank for the kill team for coming to the rescue and graciously ceeding command of the planets forces to them for the duration of the liberation. The kill team dispelled all notions that they were here for rescue and told him to sit and spin (it didn't help I chose the sherriff of Nottingham's character protrat for the Governor, he was supposed to be useless and inefficient) this worked against the kill team as he went out to address the men and while he'd intended to rouse them to glory his heart wasn't in it and his mispeaks cause them to loose significant morale. Once the governor left the KT were getting a situation brief from the rest of the command staff when they became aware of two things, there were no Mechanicus present and they were being watched entirely too closely by one of the adepts at the nearby tac display. When the tech marine went to snag the errant adept with his servo arm the adept dodge and actually walked up the servo arm with preternatural grace to walk up his shoulder. He then nodded to them and presented his inquisitorial rosette. The inquisitor Nihlus briefed the kill team seperately congratulating them on their astute observation. Now that they were aware of his presence he intended for them to get the teleportarium working at which point he and his aides would take their cargo, a captured and psychically shielded Hive Tyrant through to Castobel. That explained why the fortress hadn't been taken yet, without the tyrant the swarm was much elss organized and couldn't just shell the fortress for fear of loosing the tyrant (and with him disconnected from the hive mind his genetic memory would be lost).
When the team went to investigate the Machine Cult they found they'd the CoM had already found the underground watch station below the monastary. Unfortunately they'd deduced it was full of holy relics and their aim was to seal the entrance back up (and activate the void shield that covered it) and die down there so the technology could be recovered later by the imperium. Needless to say the KT were pissed but the presence of a Void Shield forces such arguments to be verbal and the CoM were not having any of it. The KT's tech marine however deduced that by repairing and using the telporter they could power down the void shield by causing enough drain. Plan in hand they just had to hold the fortress long enough. I gave them some play in the tactical order of battle and how they deployed the various forces. Mostly they just picked their part in the upcoming battle (destroying a tyranid thronback that was going to shell a weakened portion of the wall by leaving with the scouts and hiding in the abandoned town. Also as the tech marine worked to get the teleportarium up he was approached by Billy Bob who offered to help. Naturally the Tech Priest was starting to suspect that Billy was more then a simple guard sgt and Billy leveled with him. He'd been a low level CoM priest who because of his low lot in life was going to end up having a boring and likely short carreer as a mining demolitions export before he'd snuck off and lived the life of a scavenger and low level heretek for a few years before joining the guard ahead of getting caught by the CoM. They discussed philosophy briefly and while the techmarine wasn't exactly approving of his life choices he decided that Bob's means we're heretekal his heart was in the right place, it helped that he had converted over to worship of the Emperor in his wanderings. This also allowed Bob to be left in charge of repairs while the Techmarine went off to help fight the thornback. As an aside during this adventure the Tac Marine stayed on the ship so her player could start playing a Sister of Battle from the fortress.
Adventure 3 Session 2: The waiting game
In this adventure we also added a second female space marine to the group by means of handwavium. So now I had two female space marines both playing librarians with slightly different powersets. The team left the fortress with Cyrus and his scouts who found a cellar the team could hide in while waiting for the horde to move up and re-encircle the castle. The team was to burst out of concealment after the thornback had moved to firing position and drive it down the embankment to get it into position to be blown up by preplaced explosives. Then the team would use preplaced charges to clear and escape path back to the fortress walls.
It is said that a plan is just a list of things that arn't going to happen and this one proved no exception. Turns out concealment/move silently aren’t skills that space marines are good at while wearing power armor. To throw them a bone I let them alternatively opt to power down their armor and remain absolutely still with a willpower check instead. Unfortuantely they had enough failures that the 'nids sent a couple of 'gaunts to investigate the cellar. The marines hid around the corner and the librarians used Psyscience (i'm still not entirely sure i'm running this skil right) to extend their perception and get a sense of what everything was like above ground as well as what was going down. Since they knew the Tyranids are vox sensative the librarian decided to use short range telepathy to brief the rest of the team. You know how a plan that goes perfectly isn't the thing that's talked about around the gaming table years from now but the one that went hillariously south is? Rolling doubles on a psychic power activation on unfeterred and getting banshees wail on a stealth mission is.
Half the team deafened but also much of the swarm in the area similarly affected the KT killed the exploring tyranids and burst forth from concealment. A pitched battle ensued but a astartes shotgun with hellfire rounds and a couple of Wrath of the Emperor can cut through even a Carnifex's heavy bulk. So they ended up killing the Thornback rather then forcing it down the hill. I know now that Hellfire's don't actually work in a shotgun (to his credit it was the player that pointed that out for me, we just decided to let him roll with it the rest of the mission and fix it later) secondly I'm really thinking of removing the Deathwatch Training autoconfirm against xenos, because it seems way amazing for something you get for free. Overall by now I'm a lot more pleased with the hordes system as I've found out about horde bonus damage which seems to make them actually a bit of a threat to the KT instead of just spam that cna't get through the power armor.
Adventure 3 Session 3: Discovery and Exodus
The Kill Team and scouts made their way back to the fortress under heavy enemy fire. Since the team came up with the plan of using explosives to clear paths we ran with that. Unfortunately none of them have demolitions (Billy bob being their normal go to being back at the fortress) I had to guestimate Cyrus rolls. One glitched caused them to be in the path of one of the explosions, fortunately power armor is a wonderful thing and while they were extra crispy by the time they got back to the fortress between that and their run in with the thorn back they made it back carrying or keeping up with a few of the scouts. The apothecary took some time to patch them up and they had a few words of inspiration with the Black Templars chaplain who'se litany of hate helped them out for much of the rest of the battle. Also he encouraged them to fix the morale problems a bit by addressing the troops which they managed to do doing a tour of the battlements during a lull. While most of the team headed back to the walls to help hold them the Tech-Marine went back up to the Telportaium. He found the place a blasphemous mess, a hodgepodge of Redneck fixing spiced with more traditional machine cult prayers. Bob was way ahead of schedule in part because he cut corners, in part because on the back panel of the machinery housing was an intact teleportarium schematic likely STC in origin. Needless to say the Techmarine earmarked that for going through as soon as things were back and order which Bob gave no complaints on and confirmed he'd already done a few picts of it and handed the dataslate over in case the original was lost. I might be going needlessly over the top here but I figure go big or go home. I think teleportarium is still something the Imperium can still build just the knowledge is limited to a few forge worlds and it's not nearly as powerful as the gear their working on. The other reason Bob had been so quick he showed the Tech-marine. Parts he'd found amongst the equipment indicated it'd been repaired and used sometime since the start of the Crusade in the reach indicating someone had been here and used it with in the last century rather then it sitting dormant possibly since the great crusade as they'd been led to believe. They told the rest of the group about that little tidbit and pressed on.
Eventually the teleporter was ready and the KT came to used it. The governor came and tried to beg, borrow, cajole and use his authority to make sure he was one of the first ones out. The team rather then trying to play politics refferred him to the Inquisitor, who answered the question with a single gunshot and an invocation against cowardice which scoredf him some points with the KT.
The teleportarium was fired up and the Inquisitor sent one of his agents through it with the sedated Tyrant staying to help hold the line so the kill team could get their mission done now that his own was completed successfully.
The KT opened the vault below, suprising the machine cult forces camped there. I let them skip a whole combat cinematicly as before opening fire the Techmarine shouted “Idleness breeds Heresy”
Down in the catacombs they found the chapter keep and then it was abundantly clear who it had belonged to. Powered down in the courtyard was a single Word Bearer's dreadnaught that while the KT were debating where to get start powered up. They had a conversation with the Dred and found him to be named Lazarus and one of the first of his kind who had been slumbering away the ages since prior to his master's betrayal and was by his words completely unaware of his legions betrayal. The kill team debated what to do but eventually decided to leave him be as they were pretty convinced that on the off chance he was telling the truth a space marine who had personally laid eyes on the Emperor in the flesh was worth at least the benefit of a doubt. They asked him how to activate the terraforming gear and found out that Ferus himself had devised ways to link it to the recitation of audible passages which Lorgar in turn had keyed off reading entries from the Lectitio Divinitatus.
Needless to say the KT was a bit gunshy about reading a book penned by a future demon prince but had no choice. Ultimately the sister of battle volunteered as her faith would protect her she felt. She read from the book failing a willpower and fellowship roll. After the Fellowship rolls failure she had a vision of a powerful demon in the warp who had somehow become aware of her before she could cry out the terraforming gear fired up and begun venting and igniting tantalous Promethium deposits into the atmosphere causing the atmosphere to burn.
The inquisitor came down and took the whole place in. The KT thought they might have to fight him in order to protect Lazarus. But knew that would be a nasty proposition and didn't know if they'd good through with it. Ultimately the inquisitor looked around with a weary sigh and deduced some of what was going on. He suspects that the Ordo Malleous might be responsible for him having to deal with this cluster (they were responsible for the SoB chapter on the site) and kind of resents it being his problem as he is Ordo Xenos with a very narrow world view. Ultimately he decided he had too much on his plate right now. He invoked his authority and swore the kill team to silence on the matter until they could brief the Master of the Vigil on the matter and that they'd reseal the place up, put Lazarous back to sleep and come back for another more thorough sleep on another day, leaving the SoB's in place above and otherwise evacuating to convince the 'nids that the planet was now a dead world.
There's been another session since then but as this has already gone on like five pages I'll break here.