“Every planet’s different, but every battle is the same. Keep your eyes forward, and keep shooting.”
–Corporal Dwayne Biehn
Only War is now available, and players everywhere are assuming the roles of Guardsmen in the battle-scarred future of Warhammer 40,000, where they live, fight, and die for the glory of the God-Emperor.
Soon, the Imperial Guard will war for the fate of Hervara. The game’s first book-length adventure, Final Testament, takes players to the war-ravaged mining world, where they must do battle at one of the Imperium’s most brutal fronts. There, the Guardsmen must tread carefully amidst powers beyond their reckoning. They will be challenged constantly to overcome unusual obstacles, and many will die. Yet, working together, they may uphold the honor of the Imperial Guard—and some may even survive!
Final Testament is coming soon, and while we wait for our assignments, contributing writer John Dunn briefs us on the importance of Hervara, the challenges the Imperium faces there, and what support we can expect from headquarters.
A World of War
When I accepted the assignment to work on Final Testament, lead developer Max Brooke asked for my input on the story arc and world setting. I had a little bit of time to think about my answer and sketched out a few different possibilities. The planet I chose was certain to dictate the types of battles that the player characters would fight. That offered a huge range of options, as there are far too many worlds in the Spinward Front to thoroughly cover them all in the Only War Core Rulebook.
I selected Hervara, a world focused heavily upon mining. This gave me a chance to both further detail the Hervara system as well as an opportunity to explore the planet’s different battlefronts. It also meant that I could create scenes which featured tunnel battles. I think tunnel battles can offer great ambience for an adventure, but they also present a way to isolate a small group from the larger conflict. That seemed like a convenient way to break down the scale of the war, so that a squad of player characters might have to operate without the immediate support of a much larger battle group.
At this stage, we also needed to decide the goals for the different factions fighting over Hervara. A mining world presented an important asset to everyone. The Severan Dominate have limited resources in their war against the monolithic Imperium and the vast hordes of Waaagh! Grimtoof. They can ill-afford to lose a planet that provides them with the raw materials they need to build their weapons of war. The Imperium has many forge worlds and mining worlds, but they are anxious to deny the Severan Dominate every possible asset. In addition, by securing a Periphery world as a supply depot, they can reduce the length of their supply chains for its products. This could keep their forces well supplied and reduce the drain on other worlds of the Calixis Sector. And, of course, the Mekaniaks of the Orks are always anxious to acquire any new tools and raw materials for their ingenious creations.
After establishing these aspects, it became easier to move forward on additional details. If the Imperium wanted to capture mining and refining equipment intact, that certainly would limit their strategies. If the Severan Dominate forces were desperate to hold onto the planet, then they might take even greater risks in their planning. If a Mekaniak played a key part in deciding to target Hervara, then the Kult of Speed should probably play a factor in the battles. This helped to quickly establish what sorts of characters needed to be present, and how they might act.
This sounds obvious, but it’s important: A planet is a really big place. There are a tremendous number of planets in the Spinward Front. Almost all of the ones involved in the conflict are largely habitable. There are billions of souls engaged in this war – few of them willingly. Obviously, the player characters are not going to have an opportunity to interact with all of them. In creating Final Testament, we had to decide which aspects of Hervara were most important to the scenario and who lived in those places.
I decided to start by establishing a base of operations for the characters. The planet is torn by war, but each faction needed to have some places with a degree of operational security. I went with a practical option and selected a supply depot. With each visit to the location, the player characters could refit and recuperate between missions.
The base that I decided to name “Hervara-XIX” quickly took shape. The Luggnum Sewer Rats – a Regiment raised from the Calixis Sector – would be responsible for the depot. Soldiers stationed at the base needed to defend the nearby region from any xenos or secessionist incursions. More importantly, they were charged with keeping Imperial forces in the area well supplied with the tools of war. Conveniently, player characters stationed at Hervara-XIX have access to its resources whenever they need to make another Logistics check. And, of course, its storehouses represent a ripe target for the desperate secessionists and the greedy xenos.
The base soon became a living part of the adventure. The base’s Supply Officer became a great opportunity for a recurring character. Since this is Only War, I knew that almost every mission would begin with the soldiers obtaining their supplies. Some might decide that this just meant jumping through the necessary hoops and red tape. Others might realize just how important it can be to have the person who supplies your ammunition owe you a favor or three.
Get ready to gear up and take the fight to the Severan Dominate and the Orks with the upcoming release of Final Testament!