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Correcting The Apostasy Gambit


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#1 Noctivagent

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Posted 28 February 2012 - 12:57 PM

This started on the general forums with a topic about Fixing the Black Sepulchre where it was mentioned that the issue lies not just with the Black Sepulchre, but the Apostasy Gambit as a whole. So I'm pretty sure we all know that The Apostasy Gambit has problems. But there are many arguments about how it has potential, and though it does seem like a daunting task to re-work it, I would like to contribute as much as I can, even if it is unappreciated by anyone but my players.

I'd appreciate only constructive posts(if any) to help the GMs that want to make this Trilogy worthwhile. That being said....

SPOILERS AHEAD!

 

Here's my proposed scenario arc to the trilogy. There are minor changes, with a few things added/removed based on their relevance.

Black Sepulchre
Assault on Thrungg's Mansion
Investigation of the Haemetite Estate
Enter the Titan
Fight the Dei-Phage with the Titan
Warp-induced vision from the Dei-Phage's "death" - clue leading to Arch-Cardinal

Church of the Damned
Investigate the Arch-Cardinal for signs of heresy
Find that the Arch-Cardinal has been in contact with the underhive criminal: Venomskin
Investigate Venomskin; Learn that Ignato has escaped to Stonegarden
Attacked during journey to Stonegarden
Witness the resurrection of Saint Drusus

Chaos Commandment
Sector is plunged into Chaos by Drusus's resurrection/Dei-Phage possession
Assault on bunker outside Hive Tertiam, encountering "the Oracle"
Find that the Oracle's local noble house is harbouring a blasphemous Prophet of St. Drusus, Molokor Kambyses
Investigate Molokor Kambyses in Hive Tertiam, extract him into the Inquisition's custody - alive or dead
Kambyses' daemon-possessed warp-ghost kills patron Inquisitor, survival horror commence Dead Space style
Release Kambyses' spirit from possession, learn the location of St. Drusus to be on Grangold
Travel to secret hiding place, find that St. Drusus is inside a warp-realm
Enter the warp-realm to final showdown with St. Drusus/Dei-Phage

Anything missing from these bullet points is most likely intentional, I removed some parts. Otherwise, I plan to expand on most of every point above.



#2 Noctivagent

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Posted 28 February 2012 - 03:16 PM

Black Sepulchre - Assault on Thrungg

Sandbox Option(for experienced acolytes): Allow the Acolytes to choose their initial plan of attack, this may require a bit of improvisation by part of the GM, but most options are covered with the descriptions of each area.

Skrivus in the False chapel(With both arms!)
Upon the arrival of the Acolytes into the False Chapel, the priest standing at the altar raises a sacrificial dagger high into the air, and then plunges it into his chest. After combat dies down, and if the Acolytes investigate the scene, they find the book of annotated imperial creed, and an intricate black dagger with ragged wings. With close inspection, in the pommel is the Symbol of Tzeentch. Easy Willpower(+30) or gain a point of corruption.

It is possible that Skrivus is successful in his attempt to make a sacrificial pact with Tzeentch, in which case he is risen with feathered mutations.

To the Mansion Instead
It is possible, without direction from Scipio, that the players will investigate the Mansion. In this option, it is up to the GM when the Mansion is set ablaze during the fire fight, which may be best timed while the Acolytes are inside the Mansion. Snipers are positioned on the upper levels of the mansion, proving to be quite a problem against the Protectorate, with servants being killed in return fire. Once the players are invested in the mansion, the fire starts and all hell breaks loose. Stranded servants scream for help. The structure of the Mansion starts to collapse. Smoke starts to choke anyone that's not protected.
As suggested in the book, if the acolytes manage to save a few servants, one gives the key and tells them that Thrungg set the mansion on fire and fled to the Menagerie.

 

Some random, possibly cheesy, ideas to keep with the themes:

Winged Statue in the Courtyard
What appeared to be a winged statue about 10 meters tall made of a white stone is sprayed with an unnatural amount of blood from the battle, and the stone is nearly destroyed from the crossfire, making the wings now appear to be tattered.

Ashes of Feathers
There are feathers everywhere! Oh wait, they're just ashes.



#3 Noctivagent

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Posted 28 February 2012 - 06:57 PM

Black Sepulchre - Chapter 1

Alternative to Handout p64
Instead of finding Thrungg's data-slate in the Museum of Apostasy, and making that the one key to the next chapter, let the Acolytes do some questioning of witnesses. They may very well come up with the same conclusion if they ask the right people.
With the symbol of the Inquisition on display, and the Protectorate to back them up, most of these witnesses should speak out of fear of what might happen if they don't. Most should be Ordinary +10 Fellowship tests, and/or Routine +20 Intimidate tests. You could also just choose to roleplay through them.
 

-Servants and House Guard know that Thrungg returned from Barsapine with "The Hand" 4 days ago

-Before Thrungg left for his latest trip to Barsapine, Servant in the Hall of Ancestors overheard Thrungg and Priest Skrivus talking about a woman named Triela they will have to "deal with".. about how she would only get in the way of "the communion"

-Servant in the Menagerie was requested to feed the pets a different type of meat that Thrungg brought back from Barsapine, since then the animals have been more aggressive towards (Servant Menagerie)

-Mansion Servant: 2 days ago, Thrungg had a party to show off his new artefact, The Hand. He spoke of a magnificent Cathedral, a "temple of gold with a heart of coal" when telling of his purchase of The Hand. (the servant did not care for the other details)

-Mansion Servant: At the party, Thrungg boasted that he is reaching ascension, having touched the hand of the Dei-Phage and recieving its blessing where no one else has. He claimed to be superior to the guests, even spouting such blasphemy as how the Hand will lead to "he who will swallow the unworthy god and supplant him." Maybe he offended the wrong person, and that's why you're here?

-Surviving House Guard: Last night, Thrungg had an apparent premonition of doom, as a warning from "his friend" as he refered to it, looking admirably at The Hand. He gave us orders to prepare for the worst, with watches throughout the night and no fewer than fifty men on duty. We had no idea the Protectorate would show up with the Inquisition. We're just paid to protect the House Thrungg enclave from thieves, trespassers, and agents of other families. This wasn't in the job description.



#4 Noctivagent

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Posted 29 February 2012 - 06:48 AM

The Black Sepulchre - Chapter 2

Research? Or Investigation!
Spending months researching as a provided solution might be fine for your players, but I'm sure mine would have rather figured it out through investigation.


With the arrival of the Acolytes at the Gilded Cathedral, Abbot Jurutas is still waiting for an answer from his superiors on what to do with them. He attempts to stall them, by suggesting that they start asking the locals what they know.

Local Inquiry in Kephistron Altis
Standard: Plenty of Off-Worlders been coming through Kephistron Altis with lots of status. Heading to the auctions no doubt. There's all sorts of collectors that love those auctions, mostly noble folk I think.
One Degree: Seen this potter came into Keph Altis with enough money to buy passage off-world. He must've sold something at auction, something big my guess. Think that was right after the big auction in Skaltine.
Two Degrees: Here in Keph Altis, we tend to keep to ourselves, but sometimes there's something so outrageous that it's near-impossible to miss. Several months ago, I noticed a noble man come in from port with two people, a priest and a woman. They traveled off to Skaltine for an auction it seems, but when they came back the noble seemed slightly crazed, and the woman was gone.
Three Degrees: Seen this man awhile ago, Bulagor Thrungg. I recognized him, he's always performing some seonce here about his tutor, the Dei-Phage. Anyway, a few months ago he came in with his entourage, heading out to one of the Sandman's infamous auctions in Skaltine. Came back even more crazed than before, celebrating obnoxiously, mocking us to our faces about "the Dei-Phage's Hand."

 

The real details:
The Dei-Phage's Hand was recovered by a somber potter, Castus Vorenius, from a small coastal community near Kephistron Altis. He put the Hand on Auction at one of the many less-than-legal auctions held on Barsapine. With the amount of money bid on it, the man bought passage off-world to Scintilla.

The Auction was held in Skaltine, where many off-world collectors gathered to purchase many objects of particularly heretical value. The Auction was hosted by an underworld crime lord known as The Sandman. Locating The Sandman is difficult, but not impossible, though most of the time he finds you first, blindfolding his less desirable visitors with burlap sacks over the head to hide his current location in the many sand caves of Skaltine.

When questioned about the Hand, The Sandman does know who purchased it. He mentions that Bulagor Thrungg came with an entourage of a Priest named Skrivus, and an "Artefact Expert" named Triela Hekate. Triela came to the Sandman personally pleading for a deal behind the scenes, stating how its very important that the Hand is returned to the Hekate Dynasty. She mentioned to the Sandman about an estate here on Barsapine that is the source of the Dei-Phage's hand, but would not disclose the information unless she were to win the auction. He would think on it before making a deal, but instead, she disappeared. If the Sandman were to find this estate, he feels he could make quite the profit from more pieces of the Dei-Phage.

After the Acolytes have tied up all leads, they might decide to report back to Jurutas. In which case, Jurutas will offer the Acolytes to stay at the Cathedral while he "researches" their leads. The next day, he will approach the Acolytes with "knowledge" relating to the Haemetite Estate. He believes that to be the place that Triela mentioned. If any Acolytes suspect Abbot Jurutas, they can find evidence against him in form of a letter. The letter directs Jurutas to lead the Acolytes to the Haemetite Estate, to release the Dei-Phage. If confronted, he admits to being part of Maledictor's Hand, has no idea about what the Dei-Phage is, and will fight the acolytes to the death rather than risk capture.



#5 Noctivagent

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Posted 29 February 2012 - 06:28 PM

Black Sepulchre - The Haemetite Cathedral

Horror Roleplaying
Though it is a bit more difficult to pull it off, running the Haemetite Cathedral as a horror scenario will make it much more rewarding for you and the players. Personally, I suggest asking a favor from your players to act out their characters' fear, they might end up actually scaring themselves. It's similar to pretending to be sleeping, eventually you might actually fall asleep.

If you're new to running horror roleplaying, the first thing to do is read up on it. A few resources for horror roleplaying:
http://www.mindsprin...ror/horror.html
http://diceofdoom.co...tting-the-mood/

Haunting of the Haemetite Estate
Creepy effects are a good way to contribute to the haunted house feeling. Here are some examples to be used when you feel necessary:
-When walking through Kephistron Altis before they leave to the Haemetite Estate, everyone in the city stops what he or she is doing, stares intently at the Acolytes, and makes unnatural avian noises(think the Predator sound). They then resume their normal business. If questioned, nobody has any recollection of the incident.
-A murder of crows constantly swarms around and over the Haemetite Cathedral.
-After a Challenging(+0) Perception(hearing) Test, the acolyte with the most degrees of success(if any), hears the soft insistent buzzing of flies over carrion. The stench of rot is overwhelming everywhere, and one of the Acolytes seems to be a fly magnet
-Moans, screams, and calls for help with no obvious origin grow in volume from several voices to tens, to hundreds, to thousands, until it is nearly deafening. (Might be best used outside the cave in Area 1: The Grounds, in which case it will end when the Acolytes enter the cave)
-Spiders become attracted to a particular Acolyte, nestling into his clothing, spinning webs, crawling into uncomfortable spots under his garments. Describe the gentle feeling of legs lightly stepping over his face. Describe the sounds of spiders chewing in his ears. Try to pick a player who has expressed a fear of spiders. Once it has reached it's build up, the spiders bite and crawl everywhere on the Acolyte's body, before jumping and fleeing with supposed fear. (This might be best used just before the Trophy Room, and/or the Chambers)
-The Acolytes age at an accelerated rate, several years per minute, while they stay in a certain room. When they leave the room, they revert to their normal age.(Might be best used in the Ballroom)
-(Expanded from book)An Acolyte glimpses himself in a mirror or window pane. A shadowy, winged form behind him lunges forward, closing spindly talons on the Acolyte's shoulders, as the Acolyte watches himself die in agony on the other side of the mirror, leaving behind only a blood-spattered surface. The Acolyte casts no reflection thereafter... until leaving
-An Acolyte feels suddenly nauseous and vomits. Mixed in with any half-digested food are wet feathers.

Spectres and Ghosts
As H.P. Lovecraft wrote, "The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown."
With that in mind, the warp apparitions should be used when you feel the time is right, not necessarily as scripted. It might be that the Acolytes already went in a room, but as they walk through it again, or glance into it, something has changed. If the suspense and tension can be maintained, the best timing for one of these ghosts is once everything has built up to it, serving as the release. To keep the horror rolling, save the more revealing encounters until last.

The first ghost encounter could be best played in Nikaea's tower. Just before Nikaea rushes into the room, it grows freezing cold in the tower(draining a level of fatigue), and an unnatural darkness seems to cast shadow over the room, as a shrieking howl pierces through the stairwell and a black form enters the room. Try not to describe Nikaea's entire appearance, instead focus on one or two details. "The pale-white face of a woman" "Dark purple regalia" The objects flying throughout the room should be done poultergeist style, also preventing any accurate description of Nikaea's appearance.



#6 funkwit81

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Posted 29 February 2012 - 11:50 PM

Thank you so much for the links Noctivagent and your work on this thread in general.

I plan on running TBS in a month or two and I'm already planning on how to set the atmosphere, I have the gothic candle holders and some suitably spooky,a s well as ambient, sound effects.

Once I've written the linking adventure (They'll be investigating the seneschal of a powerful rogue trader who's suspected of traffiking forbidden items to the nobility on Scintilla and when they capture the guy, the inquisitor is going to insist he's captured alive, they'll eventually learn that a certain noble has just acquired a very powerful item so rather than being dropped in they'll know roughly what's going on) I'll be adding my own suggestions to this thread. My main worry at the moment is what to do with the Pax Macharia at the end.

I like the idea of a daemon induced vision as suggested earlier and in my game an Imperator Titan will NOT walk without the crew to tend to it. what i may do is have numerous servitors be released when the Titan is activated and inform the tech priest in the group his supervision will be required.

I also plan on 'locking' the acolytes in the Cathedral. After they arrive it won't be a few 'undead' rising up it will be scores of them forcing the acolytes into the cathedral which, when they try to leave (probably after a few supernatural encounters), will slam the doors shut and they'll be surrounded by mocking laughter and screams. In the cathedral they will experience visions, occasional party members will be possessed and led into compromising situations (the player on watch will be dominated and led to a dangerous position with a fellow acolyte waking up just as he's about to step off a large drop or somesuch thing, or maybe they wake up as he's about to gut the psyker etc. etc.)

These are all rather nebulous right now though once the next adventure is all written up I'll get cracking properly!.



#7 Noctivagent

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Posted 01 March 2012 - 10:45 AM

funkwit81, thanks for posting! I'm glad to have possibly generated some inspiration for you.
Though I do tend to view The Black Sepulchre as a 'Prelude' to the Apostasy Gambit, I like the idea of running a pre-adventure linking to TBS, I'd love to see what you have written when you're done. For my players, I'm doing something similar by modifying Rejoice For You Are True and Idyll Heresies as the build up to the assault on Thrungg.

Locking the Acolytes in the Haemetite Estate is a great idea, one I was thinking about today. If you do plan on using the undead, I suggest letting the players decide that they NEED to barricade themselves in, accentuating their helplessness and desperation by being ruthless with the undead horde. If they don't act fast enough, Acolytes do start dying.

As for the Pax Macharia, I think the servitors are a great way of nudging the acolytes in the right direction, thanks for the idea! I'll be incorporating that when I write it up.



#8 Noctivagent

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Posted 01 March 2012 - 01:07 PM

The Black Sepulchre - Chapter 2

Forsaken
While traveling to the Haemetite Cathedral, the Acolytes' ground vehicle breaks down just after they reach first sight of the Cathedral. Regardless of what they do, the vehicle will not function again. The Cathedral seems to be several miles away, but with nothing else in the barren landscape, they have no choice but to continue on foot, else they risk slow death in the wastelands.
This will set a strong tone of isolation. The Acolytes are completly alone. They can't call for help, they can't restock their supplies, they have no escape. There is absolutely nothing for them to fall back on.

To add to the horror, the Undead Horde that rises outside the Cathedral as funkwit81 suggested will create claustrophobia on top of isolation. A perfect mood for horror.

 

Intrigue in Skaltine
The Apostasy Gambit seems to be lacking Intrigue. This optional scenario could potentially fill that gap, and create a more cohesive bridge between Chapter 1 and 2.

After inquiries with the gloomy locals of Kephistron Altis, the trail leads to the black market auctions in Skaltine, the capital hive city of Barsapine. The particular auction of note was run by The Sandman(If the acolytes did not learn it already, they can make further inquiries in Skaltine to find out who ran the auction.)

If you feel it necessary to lead them into the intrigue scenario: After making inquiries in Kephistron Altis, the acolytes are approached by Morphin Villows, a scum that claims to know someone able to answer their questions, but he won't tell them who. He proves that it is worthwhile to follow him by mentioning the Dei-Phage's Hand. If the players bite, it will ultimately lead to the Sand Caves. Travelling with Morphin is done by a private Skyship, taking several unneventful hours. Searching the ship does reveal evidence of illegal substances being transported.

Sand Caves
The Sandman is a very influential and powerful crime lord. He owns the maze of sand caves in lower Skaltine by having the most guns. To get to the Sandman's Den, the acolytes will have to agree to leaving their weaponry in stationary storage lockers outside the entrance, and agree to be lead blind-folded through the maze of the sand caves. If the acolytes refuse, there is no entry to the caves.
A gunfight would most assuredly lead to the Acolytes' deaths, with many security defenses throughout the sandcaves, and no sense of direction within the maze of sand caves beyond.
If the Acolytes pull the Inquisition Card, the Sandman is informed immediately, and moves to one of his many other hideouts. The gangers were taught what to do with the Inquisition, and the alarm is set. The Acolytes will then face a difficult time trying to find the Sandman, as they fight against the sandcave defenses, possibly get lost in the sand caves, and find only abandoned hideouts.

Sandman's Hideout
When the acolytes arrive at the Sandman's hideout, they are immediately introduced to a loud scene of entertainment, excitement, and sin. The scene should be played out like a depraved party set in a dark wild-west saloon. Piano music, prostitutes, drunken idiots, brooding mercenaries, opium-esque addicts, gambling, etc. This being the intrigue part the scenario, the goal is to socialize. They might speak with various NPCs, until eventually it is discovered that one of these characters is The Sandman dressed incognito.
If the Acolytes manage to impress the Sandman, he will reveal the clues detailed above in Reply #3: Research? Or Investigation!



#9 DrgnScorpion

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Posted 01 March 2012 - 03:49 PM

Very nice, I wish I had read some of this before I ran my group through the first two and they are almost done with the last book.



#10 Noctivagent

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Posted 01 March 2012 - 04:16 PM

If you enjoyed any of my suggestions, first I want to say thank you.

Sorry it couldn't be sooner, had to wait for the Chaos Commandment to come out before seeing how everything fits together. Hopefully this thread will be able to fix it for future use at least. I'd love for the community to make the Apostasy Gambit as epic as it should be.

Last I want to ask, what was your opinion on the Trilogy? Anything you would've changed?

Hey Funkwit, what do you think about running the Pax Macharia battle with Starship Combat Mechanics from Rogue Trader? Maybe the servitors could function as crew members?



#11 Noctivagent

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Posted 02 March 2012 - 01:32 PM

The Black Sepulchre - Chapter 3

Deadly Omens
Area 6: Moderatii Quarters
The Dei-Phage has been guiding the Acolytes to releasing it from the Pax Macharia, but ultimately because the Dei-Phage needs to destroy this world, it does not want them to find out the secret of the Black Sepulchre.
As the Acolytes are about to listen to Barabus Zanatov's recording, the Dei-Phage attempts to corrupt the players with its warp influence. Any Acolyte about to activate the recording must make a Very Hard(-30)Willpower Test or become subjected to a dangerous amount of insanity points as chaos energy blasts through their minds in a sickening exposure to the warp. An overt premonition flashes before them as they see a hunched hooded figure with large feathered wings, its eyes glowing from beneath the hood, and its beaked face shrieking while cluching the stump of its arm. For every degree of failure, gain 1d10 points of insanity and corruption.



#12 Noctivagent

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Posted 02 March 2012 - 06:34 PM

The Black Sepulchre - Aftermath
For those, like myself, who feel like Devayne's Evidence at the Black Sepulchre feels like too many pieces falling into place at once, here's some ideas.

Warp Vision: The Summoning of the Dei-Phage
When the Dei-Phage is defeated, it explodes with psychic energy, creating a blinding-black chaotic blast that extends over the entirety of Kephistron Altis and Pax Macharia, and opening a warp rift. The Acolytes' find themselves unprotected in the Realm of Chaos. Describe the insane horrors they experience as best you can, though it is mostly beyond the capability of human minds to grasp. Ultimately, they are somehow brought through the warp to an entity calling out to them.

Something calls out to you in an infinitely distant voice. The ritualistic calling feels neither close nor far, but rather all around you. The voice speaks names that are inhuman and alien to pronounce, but somehow you know that this is your name being called through the Immaterium.
You find yourself looking through the warp into a cathedral in realspace through the eyes of a ruinous statue. A lone robed figure shouts fanatically to you "I shall sacrifice the entire sector to you for this pact, grant me the power to destroy the Black Sepulchre and fulfill our schemes!"

With the mention of the last word spoken, 'schemes,' the acolytes are mutated into the split image of the Dei-Phage!
After this happens, the Acolytes may wake up to find that they are in the destroyed remains of Pax Macharia and Kephistron Altis, in the rubble of the Black Sepulchre, or anywhere else that suits your preferences.

Alternative: Exluding Devayne's Evidence
To do this, first you should remove any great details from Barabus Zanatov's recording(static blots out the important parts), or remove the recording completely. Maybe the players avoid it anyway after Deadly Omens. In which case...
Next, you should use the Warp Vision to function as the clue the Acolytes need. The robed figure that is performing the Dark Pact removes his hood to reveal that it is Arch-Cardinal Ignato.



#13 Noctivagent

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Posted 03 March 2012 - 03:32 PM

The Black Sepulchre - Aftermath

The World.... to Chaos
With the Pax Macharia and Kephistron Altis destroyed, and a warp rift opened, the acolytes are pretty screwed. Chaos forces surround them(daemons of Tzeentch), and swarm in massive hordes over the entire planet, but so far the Acolytes have been unnoticed, shielded by fate itself while they were in their warp-vision.
The players should realize Barsapine's lack of importance might lead to Exterminatus if the planet is overrun by chaos. They should be able to figure out what to do, but the objectives are not clearly laid out for the players. Instead, they must make their own. Making this an entirely sandbox experience, run as an apocalyptic survival scenario.

Example objectives:
-Secure a mode of transportation
-Locate an Astropath
-Rally any survivors
-Locate and join with the PDF
-Escape before the planet is lost completely to chaos

Any and all combat encounters the Acolytes get into will not be resolvable by "killing everything," instead there will be combat objectives that present themselves.

Examples(best used with a battlegrid):
The acolytes are circled/surrounded by a horde of daemons. To survive they must make escape to an exit, a door, etc. No matter how many daemons they kill, enemies will continue to come until the acolytes have made it to the exit.

To send a message with the astropath, the Acolytes need to escort him to a place where he may concentrate, but he gives no direction, he just says that he will know when they have found the right spot. The Astropath is injured, however, and moves slowly.

The Astropath tells the Acolytes that this is the spot, and that it will take him several minutes of uninterrupted focus. The location where the Astropath has decided to concentrate is at the dead end of a wide hallway(the width of the hallway should be just enough room for each acolyte to have one empty square in between them if they were standing in a defensive line). Daemons will try to rush past them towards the psychic energy that the Astropath is generating, the acolytes have to defend the Astropath against any distraction, or he will lose 1 combat round worth of progress every time he is disturbed.

If the Acolytes are in any sort of ship still within the atmosphere of Barsapine, Daemons try to open warp rifts on the ship. There are numerous Daemons already hidden on the ship, Tzeentch is a scheming one. The Daemons will break into groups of 3s(2 guards and 1 summoner per group), and open warp rifts in various locations throughout the ship. If the Acolytes have a psyker he can locate where the next rift is opening. Each rift needs to be stopped from opening by killing the summoner. Each summoning takes 30 seconds minute(6 rounds) - can be kept track of by counters on the battlegrid. If a rift is opened, then the Acolytes are over-run by a horde spawning through it.

Barsapine: Exterminatus
Because it is a rare occurrence, the spectacle of what happens before the players should be quite rewarding. Just after they leave the planet's atmosphere, a cyclonic torpedo detonates behind them. The Exterminatus of Barsapine begins, but the purple cloud of crackling warp energy continues to grow...



#14 Noctivagent

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Posted 04 March 2012 - 06:33 PM

Just a warning, gonna go off on a tangent with the whole chaos invasion idea.

How long were we out?
Though the warp vision seemed only minutes, in reality the acolytes were gone for 9 years(just sounds like a good number - the number of Tzeentch). So what happened? During that time, the forces of Chaos made quick advances and great amounts of destruction, but would then cease to exist in realspace and lose ground. The Planetary Defense Forces were useless as usual, and suffered immense losses regardless.
By the time the Imperial Guard arrived, chaos sorcerers had opened numerous warp rifts along the war fronts to compensate, and ultimately the Imperial Guard had to call in for more support from throughout the sector, but still they were in a losing battle. With a chaos planetary incursion at the Imperium's hand, the importance of Barsapine became much more significant, especially due to its proximity to Scintilla. Grey Knights were called in, and your players could even be given the option to play as such.

Daemon Hunter

If your players choose to play as the Grey Knights, it should be clear to the Grey Knights that they are going to need far more support, with their only chance at the moment being the Daemons' limited time in realspace, granting only short reprieves between waves before the Daemonic forces return with even greater strength and numbers. With the overwhelming odds, the nearest Space Marine chapter should be dispatched immediately, pitching this into an entire war scenario. The (lack of)success of the Grey Knights, Space Marines, and all other efforts may directly effect the survival of the Acolytes - maybe creating defensive points that the acolytes can locate, or long-lasting effects in certain areas of the planet. The war should be raging for years, and by the time the Acolytes wake up, there are far too many warp rifts on this world for even a full-scale war effort to take care of, and the planet is very nearly about to be declared lost.

"Tactical Retreat"
With this entire sub-plot, it is playing on the epic and apocalyptic nature of the Apostasy Gambit. Barsapine should be beyond salvation no matter how much effort is invested, and the Acolytes NEED to escape, or they will die.

Escape Option A: The Acolytes might stumble on a com signal between defense forces making a last ditch effort on a beach head nearby. The Acolytes then need to somehow get from behind enemy lines into the deployment zone without getting killed by (not-so-)friendly fire. Even if the Acolytes make it to relative safety, nobody believes they are Acolytes back from the dead. Nobody comes from behind enemy lines. They will need to be properly screened once they are transported off-world.

Escape Option B: The Acolytes need to find an astropath so they might attempt to notify someone of their existence, or find out about the war effort, etc. They might travel to Hive Skaltine, where it will quickly become evident that this war-torn hive has been through years of fighting. Chaos energy and forces twist the area, and traveling into a maze-like hive city is going to be a suicidal effort. Ultimately, they will find a dangerous Astropath that has "survived" this long by fighting against the possession of a daemon inside of him.

Escape Option C: Chaos warp rifts stretch across the sky, and it is clear that there is no hope for this world. Extraction commands are being radioed to all surviving military personnel(however few there are), and the acolytes hear a broadcast from a nearby defensive location. With only minutes for the Acolytes to reach the location for extraction, they will die with the planet if they don't make it in time.

Escape Option D: Not really an escape option, but the players might decide that their acolytes are doomed to die, and simply need to send or record what knowledge they have about Arch-Cardinal Ignato. Maybe they record it with hopes that others will recover it, or maybe they seek out an astropath to send the message.

Declared Dead.
Regardless of how the Acolytes escape, they will still face more personal problems in the relative safety of the Imperium. The Acolytes have been 'gone' for almost a decade, long enough to be declared killed in action. They will have to find someone that gives a frak about their credentials, and if you're a particularly cruel GM you could make them deal with the ridiculous bureaucracy of the Administratum. Once that's cleared up, their Patron Inquisitor might have been killed in action, or might not even recognize them at first. Some more fun might be had by the GM from then on, the players facing problems whenever the Acolytes try to access anything with the credentials of 'dead people.'

The Weight of a World
If the acolytes are back in their skin(so-to-speak) and Barsapine has not yet been destroyed, their Inquisitor might ask them what they think the situation is on Barsapine. Then the decision is on them: Exterminatus?

 

These are just ideas, feel free to expand on them if you like any.

So anyway.. not many replies to this thread, any feedback or further suggestions?



#15 Noctivagent

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Posted 06 March 2012 - 07:13 PM

Black Sepulchre - Chapter 4
For all of chapter 4, I recommend running it with as much energy and excitement as possible. Play it as if you had 10 minutes to get through the entire encounter, but can't skip the details.

PAX MACHARIA
A mechanical voice booms through out the room, “Brace—drives engaging!”
“Primary drive-train engaged. Power at 38 percent.”
“Primary reactor core lit. Weapons at 17 percent capacity. Motive-power at 27 percent standard. Imperator Titan Pax Macharia...operational.”

The Pax-Macharia speaks again “Princep incapacitated, replacement required. Crewmen, Battle Stations. Man the cannons.”

Librarium Nox
If I were to run the Librarium Nox scene(which I probably wouldn't), it would be played before any of these next scenes.

Getting in the Chair
Any acolyte may get into the control chair on the bridge, but it will require a Hard(-20) Tech-Use Test to remove the Princeps's corpse. A tech-priest attempting to remove the corpse requires a Difficult(-10) Tech-Use Test. Failure damages a component and will require repair. A utility mechadendrite can be used to fix the component, requiring a Very Hard(-30) Tech-Use Test. Failure damages another component. If more than 3 components are damaged, the interfacing causes an electrical surge that requires a Challenging(+0) Agility Test to avoid losing 1d10 wounds(with no reduction for armour) and 1 level of fatigue with the possibility of catching on fire.
Once the Acolyte/Tech-Priest is in the Control Chair, interfacing with the Pax Macharia without the proper Princeps Bionic Interface will require a Very Hard(-30) Willpower Test, Failing causes a level of fatigue for every degree of failure.
Alternatively, praying to Pax Macharia's Machine Spirit to follow your guidance requires 10 successful Difficult(-10) Fellowship Tests before 3 failures. If successful, the Machine Spirit will then listen only to successful Very Hard(-30) Command Tests.

As soon as the Dei-Phage is freed, it immediately travels towards the Black Sepulchre to complete its task. If the players spent too much time getting into the Control Chair, they will need to close the gap on the Dei-Phage to get in visual range, requiring the Acolyte in the control chair to make Challenging(+0) Drive Tests, each test counts for 1 minute of movement. The number of successes required is determined by how many rounds the Acolytes spent getting into the Control Chair, plus half. So if the Acolyte spent 4 rounds getting into the Control Chair, it will require 6 successful Challenging Drive Tests to get within visual range of the Dei-Phage. For each failure, an additional success is required.

Gear Housing and Bridge
The Pax Macharia speaks: "Malfunction: Motor functions diminished—Gear Housing compromised. Crewmen, remove debris immediately."
With the Pax Macharia's movements, the large maintenance walkways that have deteriorated over the years fell into the massive cogs of the Gear Housing. Until the cogs are clear from debris, the Princeps has to make Very Hard(-30) Drive Tests every minute. Removing the Walkways requires either explosives(Challenging Demolitions Test) or knocking them loose with a Very Hard(-30) Acrobatics Test. The players might come up with other ways to remove the Walkways.
As soon as the players enter the Gear Housing, another issue arises as the Pax Macharia announces: "Bridge under attack, servitors online." (Credit to Funkwit81 for the servitor idea) The Acolytes in the Gear Housing witness several servitors released from compartments that were previously unnoticeable. Each servitor is rusted and hardly functioning, however, and some even fall apart immediately. The servitors in the Bridge are able to hold off the Furies from attacking the Princeps for 10 rounds before being destroyed. How many furies attack the bridge is up to you.

With all of this happening, the players will have to delegate priorities, possibly splitting up. There is a malfunction in Gear Housing that needs to be solved, the Princeps is being attacked, the Quake Cannon needs operational sequences completed, and the Dei-Phage is getting away - towards the Black Sepulchre.

Quake Cannon
When the Pax Macharia is finally in visual range of the Dei-Phage, the scene in Area 2 should play out closely to how it is written, keeping the tension high and fast paced.
If you're using the warp vision idea, it should be described that the Pax Macharia and the Dei-Phage are, at this point, on the outskirts of Kephistron Altis. Instead of the Dei-Phage dying in the cathedral, the 'swirling whirlpool of colour and flame' beneath the Dei-Phage expands to a dangerous size, then implodes on itself like a black hole, creating the massive warp-rift that fuels the Acolytes' vision and begins the chaos invasion.



#16 funkwit81

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Posted 09 March 2012 - 06:47 AM

Noctivagent said:

 

funkwit81, thanks for posting! I'm glad to have possibly generated some inspiration for you.
Though I do tend to view The Black Sepulchre as a 'Prelude' to the Apostasy Gambit, I like the idea of running a pre-adventure linking to TBS, I'd love to see what you have written when you're done. For my players, I'm doing something similar by modifying Rejoice For You Are True and Idyll Heresies as the build up to the assault on Thrungg.

 

 

Sorry for the late reply, it's been a busy few days with work and what not. I've written a bit more, though I've mainly done the maps as I want to try and make a full adventure out of it which i can then post here and over at darkreign. I don't want to hijack the thread so I'm going to make a new one just after this reply.

 

 Noctivagent said:

"Locking the Acolytes in the Haemetite Estate is a great idea, one I was thinking about today. If you do plan on using the undead, I suggest letting the players decide that they NEED to barricade themselves in, accentuating their helplessness and desperation by being ruthless with the undead horde. If they don't act fast enough, Acolytes do start dying."

 

Aye I've been thinking this way too. I'm planning on giving them some time to explore the exterior, and arriving close to sunset, then have a few rise... then a few more and then well over a hundred of the blighters. At the moment I plan on softening up the stats for The Risen in Damned Cities and hopefully the group will run into the Cathedral and barricade themselves in willingly, only after they finish the barricade will they notice that the zombies aren't trying to break into the Cathedral. I plan on the acolytes not really encountering anything too strange for the first few hours but when they try to rest that's when the fun begins...

The sniper will get possessed and one of the group will awaken just in time to stop him eating the barrel of his pistol. The Psyker will wake up at some point to have 9 Crows attacking him and all his companions have gone, the fight will sue dream logic where you can't outrun them and no matter what he tries he'll fail and just as his character dies he'll wake up properly and realise it was just a dream. Then he finds his chest is covered in scratches...

Basically they will NOT get a good nights sleep in that place so they'll always have a level of fatigue and as it's due to more spiritual than physical I'm going to houserule the biomancer can't remove them and seeing as they get no rest that means they'll have 3-4 days max before they pass out within the cathedral. Then when they try to leave, as I'm sure they will, the doors will slam shut, echoing laughter and they willd efinitely know that this place is possessed by something evil.

Noctivagent said:

 

As for the Pax Macharia, I think the servitors are a great way of nudging the acolytes in the right direction, thanks for the idea! I'll be incorporating that when I write it up.

 

 

You're very welcome :-)

 

Good work on the rest of the thread too. you've been a busy boy and I like what you've got planned for the aftermath. My plans for the latter stage of the adventure are still very nebulous for now.

 

[Edited due to, on my part, idiotic formatting]



#17 Noctivagent

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Posted 09 March 2012 - 04:52 PM

funkwit81 said:

Good work on the rest of the thread too. you've been a busy boy and I like what you've got planned for the aftermath. My plans for the latter stage of the adventure are still very nebulous for now.

Thank you, I do enjoy coming up with ideas. I'm just hoping for more community involvement on the thread before I continue to Church of the Damned.



#18 Saldre

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Posted 11 March 2012 - 11:55 AM

Ahh, Apologies- I would love to contribute, but I don't even own the modules.

Though, with your work on them, I might actually consider getting and running them- Great work so far, keep it up. 

I am sure someone out there is making use of it- if only to take sideline ideas. 



#19 DrgnScorpion

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Posted 13 March 2012 - 04:57 PM

I'll have some stuff ready for you tomorrow when I go through the first book with what you have done and then to see if something more could be upgraded.



#20 Noctivagent

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Posted 18 March 2012 - 10:29 AM

@Saldre: No problem man. Though I will say, even with the work I've put into it, I probably wouldn't buy physical copies of the Apostasy Gambit. I would stick to the PDF versions, easier to copy-paste into wordpad for modifying.

@DrgnScorpion: That'd be great to hear how it turns out for you, post it as soon as you can. Just curious though, is it the same group of players you ran through the gambit with before?

 

Anyway, without going into too much detail yet, here are my changes to book II of the trilogy:

Church of the Damned
Chapter 1
-Patron Inquisitor is unable to investigate personally: if he does, his cover will be blown
-Clergymembers are all very strange, something is not right. Upon close inspection their eyes seem dead. Except for Xavieticus, they are all Favoured of the Menagerie(DotDG)
-Ignato has been dead for many years, his skeletal remains are buried in the forging wing.
-Vraine is a powerful telepath and Revelator of the Menagerie. He has the ability to change forms, and he uses it to morph himself into the visage of Arch-Cardinal Ignato.
-Evidence that Venomskin belongs to an organization the Acolytes have faced in the past should spur them to investigate him(Serated Query is my choice)
-When the Acolytes find Venomskin's workshop, Vraine transforms himself into one of the other clergymembers to ensure that the news is passed on that Ignato is indisposed.
Chapter 2
-No proposed changes, just added scenes
-Doomsayer spouting out messages from The Menagerie entries in DotDG
-Add details based around what organization Venomskin belongs to
Chapter 3
-Ignore the entire "burn the church down" scene
-After the Acolytes discover Venomskin's evidence, Vraine commands the Favoured to attack the Acolytes on sight. Vraine flees before the Acolytes can arrive.
-As the Favoured Clergymembers are killed, they gain 1d5 mutations, and turn into gibbering, mindless shells of what they once were.
-One of the hostile clergymembers appears to be Ignato(it is actually Xavieticus transformed into Ignato's visage) with a stab wound in his chest(it was a sacrificial dagger of Tzeentch, as seen with Skrivus in the False Chapel from the Black Sepulchre)
-Autopsy reveals that the organs have undergone recent mutations, and still seem to be mutating rapidly. The body mutates into a Spawn of Chaos(DotDG) as the autopsy is being performed. Xavieticus cannot be found.
-The clues lead to Stonegarden, if not by investigating Ignato's quarters, then by word of distress call
-In Stonegarden, the Acolytes face Warp Spectres, Cultists of the Menagerie, and ultimately Vraine in the final battle, with the combined abilities of "The True Ignato" and/or "The False Ignato" and/or the Revelator stats from DotDG.
 






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