Disclaimer: this post contains spoilers for the adventure Dark pursuits found in the core rulebook.
So as usual my player's refuse to follow the most obvious leads and insists on going on a wild goose hunt for clues. My highborn player adamantly insisted that he should investigate the highborn of Hive Desoleum for clues about the faceless trade so I constructed this additional encounter for him to sate his curiosity. Note that there is also some slight clues about the events in the adventure found in the Gamemaster's kit.
Alternative encounter for Dark pursuits:
A number of Desoleum’s bored younger nobles are having secret parties centred on mysterious and dangerous objects and creatures.
The parties are masquerades so no one can know anyone’s identities. The invited are blindfolded and taken to a secret location (an old abandoned mansion located in a part of the upper hive that has been abandoned after a mysterious plague killed most of the hive’s inhabitants).
All those attending must leave any weapons behind and must be subjected to a full scan by a servo skull before being allowed into the skycarriage carrying them to the location. Those traveling must be properly attired and blindfolded for the entire journey to and fro the mansion.
The mansion is built into the top of a tall spire, but it seems to have been abandoned and neglected for a long time. No other settlements can be seen in the close vicinity and the mansion looks to have been neglected and abandoned for years. The ceilings have started to fall apart, the colors of the walls are fading as are the once richly detailed murals covering the buildings walls. Most of the mansion is unfurnished and unlit, but the areas used for the evening’s event are lit by glow globes carried by mono task servo skulls and lavishly furnished with what seems to be new furniture. If one looks closely out to the horizon above the clouds one might see the top of other spires, but they are far and few between and far away.
The mansion is guarded by servitors dressed as jesters and harlequins armed with concealed weapons. Similarly dressed servitors also acts as servants during the party.
The party starts off with a light mingling in the main hall where appetizers are served alongside recreational drugs. After a half an hour or so the guests are all invited to the dining hall for dinner. An exquisite assortment of exotic dishes is served, and for those with the nerve a sampling of dangerous and heretical dishes may be sampled (see below).
A jelly consisting of blinking alien eyes (fear 1), unpleasant to look at and squirming down the throat. It has a salty metallic taste but not too bad.
A small foetus like creature displayed and dissected on the plate but still alive and screaming like a wounded child until the last piece is eaten. Tastes like a sweet flavoured pungent meat. Requires a fear test (1) and a hard (-20) toughness test to keep down.
A soup that looks like liquid metal, as it cools it solidifies so it must be swallowed with haste, it is strong like chili, but icy cold at the same time. Requires a challenging (+0) toughness test to eat safely. If you fail you take 1d10 points of toughness damage plus one point toughness damage for every degree of failure.
A drink that looks like rosy smoke. When inhaled it tastes like strawberries but also burns like really strong alcohol. If imbibed you also suffer hallucinations as if hit with a hallucination grenade.
A frozen human brain
A bowl filled with black eyeless eel like creatures with razor sharp fangs. They are to be eaten alive. Grabbing one without getting bitten requires a challenging (+0) agility test with every degree of failure dealing 1d5 points of damage. If you fail this test by four or more degrees of failure you lose a finger. In addition if you try to eat one alive you must make a difficult (-10) toughness test or suffer 1d5 points of toughness damage plus 1 point of toughness damage for every degree of failure.
After the dinner the main event starts. The guests are brought into a large chamber containing a large hexagonal table of exquisite design, carved from exotic wood and inlaid with marble and precious metal shaped in intricate leaf patterns and decorated with motifs of wildlife and mythical beasts.
As the event starts the light is dimmed and servitors brings an assortment of boxes containing various curios as listed below. After these have been passed around for a bit the host interrupts and tells the guests that he has a surprise. Four servants comes in carrying a large box covered in a silk sheet. The box is placed on the table and the sheet removed to display a naked humanoid figure. The creature is clearly not human, deathly pale and impossibly gaunt, with black eyes and elongated knife like ears. The creature is covered in scars, many of them carved into alien symbols, but some fresher that seems more like the result of recent violence. In addition it bears many piercings all over its body. The creature wears an intricate brass collar surgically inserted into its neck. The creature seems to be in constant agony and unable to speak, but its eyes are filled with an inhuman hatred. When revealed the audience all lets out a shocking gasp. Seeing the creature in this state requires a fear (1) test. A trivial +40 forbidden lore (xenos: Eldar) recognizes the creature as such, and with four or more degrees of success revealing that this particular eldar belongs to the group known as the dark eldar.
List of curios:
A small black crystal like shard that absorbs blood. It sticks to any source of blood (like a human body) like a magnet
A partial skull of a large brutish xenos (ork)
A glass vial containing a set of expanding green spores
A broken weapon of alien design made from some kind of bone like material
A piece of cloth covered in alien runes
A torn parchment describing parts of some sort of vile daemonic ritual
A partial mummified corpse of a small alien creature (a ripper tyranid lifeform)
A porcelain doll with an unnerving grin. If handled it requires a fear (1) test as your head is filled with dark whispering voices. If you fail this test with three or more degrees you will start having nightmares lasting for 1d5 days. In those nightmares you are being chased through some sort of labyrinthine playground. Each night you must make a challenging willpower test or gain 1 insanity point plus 1 insanity point for every degree of failure.
A bowl filled with a moving jelly like substance. Anyone touching the jelly takes 1d5 points of energy damage ignoring armor and toughness.
A huge eyeball floating in some kind of opaque liquid. If spoken to or disturbed the eye moves and blinks as if it were still alive requiring a fear (1) test.
A glowing dust constantly moving as if it was caught in a breeze. If touched the recipient must make a challenging toughness test or gain 1 corruption point plus one corruption point for every degree of failure. If ingested the test is hard instead.
A black plaque, clearly the broken off part of something much larger which emits a strange spectrum of sounds almost like singing when touched. It feels like velvet to the touch and is impossibly light for its size and bulk.
A crystal skull, it works like a psy focus if handled by a psyker and a psyker may also increase his psy rating by one when handling it but in doing so gains 1d5 insanity and corruption points, non psykers only feel slightly ill when touching it
An insanely complicated clockwork contraption the size of a chair which eternally buzzes and moves without any apparent power source or any discernible purpose.
A flower that constantly changes shape, colour and odour
After the showing the guests are free to mingle. Drugs of all kinds and amasec is given to all that wants it as are mind scrubbed slaves of all ages and sexes for those wishing for a more carnal experience. Some of these slaves even show signs of lesser mutations.
The morning after the guests are once again blindfolded and transported back to the upper hive. If the pc’s should somehow track down the mansion later on they find nothing but an abandoned decrepit old mansion.
Inquires at the party:
Subtlety is almost required to get any information from anyone at the party. Any attempts to threaten or invoke any form of authority for the purpose of extracting information will cause an immediate panic and all guests will rush to the skycarriage using force if necessary.
Successful inquiry rolls may reveal the following information or any other information the GM feels is appropriate:
Zax Holthane is but one of many individuals involved in the faceless trade, but is certainly the most approachable.
The reach of the faceless trade goes to unbelievably high places. No one is left untouched not even the most powerful Imperial organizations.
Many nobles will use any means necessary to gain or keep their power and status including delving into what some might consider heretical endeavours.
Some participants at the party believe the entire party to be a game and that none of the strangeness they will experience is real.
Many of the guests seems genuinely frightened and regretful about coming to the party at all.
Many guests seems to be unaware of the party’s real purpose.
No one seems to know the hosts real identity.
Some guests claims that the curios on display is brought by them.
Most guests got invited through a friend of a friend.
A few guests seems to have heard about Halbrel and describes him as a vile and disgusting monstrosity of a man.
A few tells of their exciting adventures going down to the middle hive to meet with Zax and other members of the faceless trade.
The names of other people dealing in the faceless trade comes up; Yanto Kralkin a trader working out of the voidports and rumoured to be working with psykers, Isophela Amrose a Rogue trader that regularly travels to Desoleum on her pleasure ship the scarlet dancer; Jans Forto a scrapper and technomat in the mid hive uses tech-gangs and servitors as muscle; Ferrue Fayne a member of the Carrion guild and junior member of the Fayne charnel house also runs a cult called the Blessed flesh
A lot of the guests mentions the Edge syndicate as the masterminds behind the faceless trade
The Host: (Use the stats of a dissolute noble if necessary, unlike the other guests Alphreid is armed)
The host is a young nobleman named Alphreid Deloruan, the middle son of the Deloruan Empire. If he senses any trouble he will first try to sneak away, otherwise he will send his servitors to keep any trouble makers busy while he escapes with the only skycarriage available at the mansion. His family has no idea of their sons’ heretical activities and will be shocked and scared if confronted with it. If the pc’s tells them that they are from the inquisition they will immediately sell out their son and if that fails even try to bribe the pc’s. If interrogated Alphreid’s disposition starts as confident (40). He don’t know much about the sellers and says that most of the items are brought by other guests. The dark eldar was brought by himself and his partner Isophela Amrose, widow to the late Rogue trader Gagarin Amrose. Isophela has since left the planet on her pleasure ship The scarlet dancer. Alphreid is acquainted with Zax as he is the main provider of strange artefacts in these parts of Desoleum, Alphreid, however, prefers to get his goods from Isophela. If he is discovered Alphreid’s family will pay handsomely to get rid of their heretical son in a subtle manner. If the pc’s quietly disposes of him without involving the authorities they each gain one point of influence and subtlety. If they don’t they get the enemy (Desoleum nobles) talent and loose one point of influence each and decrease their subtlety by 1d5. The guests (use stats for a dissolute noble if necessary except no one is armed)
If they are revealed somehow by the pc’s the twenty or so guests mainly appears to be curious young nobles with no idea of what they have been getting themselves into. A few of the guests however are somewhat more involved.
Durant Vastis; Domino mask, submissive 40, knows about Zax
Umbra Holofast; Black featurless mask wearing a black bodysuit surrounded by metal circles in the shape of a dress, Agressive 35, knows about zax and Halbrel
Neik Drant; Bird mask, Friendly 20, knows about Zax
Ligia Ember; Half moon mask, Unhinged 30, knows about Zax, drug addict and slaanesh worshipper
Ludo Pastal; Ruby half mask, Confident 40, knows about Zax and Halbrel, also sells and provides artefacts himself but behind Zax’s back
Veinrich Gyldeenstrik; Horse mask, Confident 40, Knows about Zax, has contacts with the Cloudboys and several powerful allies in the Ecclesiarchy, Administratum, Rogue traders and other noble houses. Clearly the most influential individual at the party. Crossing him or his family will have severe consequences. If he is harmed or otherwise compromised by the pc’s they lose 1d5 influence gains the enemy (Desoleum nobles) talent and their subtlety decreases by 1d10.
Sanso Brühner; White half mask, Submissive 20, Secretly works for the Edge syndicate and is here to look for potential buyers (unlike the other guests Brünher is armed with a digi las built into his cybernetic eye)
Rupert Franch; Yin-yang mask, Confident 40
Ilezebetha Steynerd; peacock mask, confident 40
Orweld Superon; devil mask, aggressive 30
Ganz Feister; plague mask, aggressive 40
Laniyard Rhinstein; goblin mask, friendly 30
Trebius Malvarde; long nosed mask, submissive 30
Siguiana Zopius; gold half mask, friendly 40
Gnelch Telbrecht; jester mask, aggressive 30
Vynossa Bardun; angel mask, confident 40
Mazde Saphar; white mask and purple hat, confident 30
Gilliane Aporos; Silver cherub mask, confident 20
Einer Brandt; gold mask, aggressive 20
Darius Arenstedt; Silver mask, confident 30
Mariun Opeles; grinning mask, confident 30
Use stats for a combat servitor except change weapons with Integrated hot-shot laspistol and 2 mono claws (1d10+6 R; Pen 2; Tearing, Razor sharp). There is a total of six such servitors present.
Brain scrubbed slaves:
Use the stats for a dreg but without any weapons or gear and an Int and WP of 10. There are ten slaves at the party.
The sky carriage is driven by a servitor and has room for 8 people. It’s the only available transportation to and fro the manse