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Crystal Geyser

The Good Protectorate - Hombrew Sample Adventure

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This is a sample adventure I made for my band of Acolytes, who wanted to investigate a secessionist system set up by their previous Rogue Trader incarnations years after their old characters' deaths. I hope you have fun with it!

 

 

MISSION OVERVIEW

 

Ref/Inq/08112011-12:563/WRPCOM

Author: Inquisitor Hostamine Toreaux

Subject: Mission Breifing

NBame: The Good Portectorate

Location: Acrides

Sector: None

Access Grade: Inquisitorial Clasffiicaton

 

Generic Brief: The Good Protectorate. The name appears but a few times in the Inquisitorial records of the heretical secessions and unholy empires, yet its name carries with it a reputation of infamy. Your task, as Acolyte of His Holy Ordos, is to travel to these heathen worlds of heretics, mutants, and worse, and evaluate the central hub of the so-called “Good Protectorate”. The planets may not yet be beyond salvation, but the Ordos will be unable to take action until definitive reports have been brought to the Chambers for evaluation.

 

The Good Protectorate: The history of the Good Protectorate lies within the roots of a number of disparate heretics. I suppose the true story of the Protectorate begins with the policing action brought to bear against the Forge World of Irtaufe, in the Calixis Sector, under the command of Arch-Heetek Rabley Nidon. An academic and studier of the teachings of the infamous heretek Nomen Ryne, Rabely Nidon believed in a policy of technological equality – according to his madness, instead of technology being the jealously guarded domain of the Adeptus Mechanicus alone, technology should be both understood and distributed so that it would available for the betterment of all humankind. While I admit that the decentralization of the Martian Piesthood’s power base would be of no loss to the Imperium, Nidon was unopposed to technological innovation of accursed xenotech and the dark science of warp-fuelled technology (the corrupting influence of which is hypocritically anathema to Nidon’s attitude of self-determination and independent thought).

            Irtaufe was not a true planet in that it was actually a planetoid-sized artificial construct, an enormous space station the origins of which date back to the Dark Age of Technology. Its most notable feature was the enormous warp-drive and Gellar field implanted within the core of the structure, which allowed Irtaufe to travel through the warp akin to a starship, making it extremely mobile. This ability was of key importance to Nidon’s escape when, following the assassination  of Irtaufe’s original Archmagos Metacurgillis, myself and a detatchment of the Order of the Veiled Lily flocked to Irtuafe to apprehend the planet’s population. Usage of the warp drives allowed Irtaufe to escape into the void. My old retinue’s magos hypothesized that this escape came at the price of overheating and destroying the cogitator sever-columns that were implanted into the crust of the planet.

            The trail of Irtaufe became cold after that, and my attentions were redirected to other projects, primarily those pertaining to the Belarus Rogue Trader Dynasty. House Belarus had amassed a reputation for being a cadre of xenophiles, which the Ordos took extreme exception to. We cannot have our frontiersmen fraternizing with the accursed xenos – how else will mankind’s divine provenance grow if our fronteirshmen are so disillusioned as to have lost fiath in the power and might of the Imperium? During this time, my good friend within the Ordo Xenos, Inquisitor Manus Antemony, received commendations from his Ordos’ high Cabal for the successful seizure of a Space Hulk named Woe’s Blossom by units of the Deathwatch. Upon the hulk, ultistis venerating the Plague Lord were found in abundance, and while some escaped, most were eradicated. Antemony was later tasked with the liberation of a system of hab-zones from the invasions of the Tau Empire, wihin the Jericho Reach. The defense mission ended in Exterminatus. That was the last time I saw Antemony, and I include his memory within this briefing for the purpose of identifying one of the first culprits with whom you must be familiar – Tobias Satter, an insane tech-priest serving in Antemony’s retinue. Antmeony’s records reveal that, while the tech-adept was horrendously mutated, he was possessed of the vital Pariah gene, which I know is what tricked Antemony into trusting Satter’s usefulness. While Antemony surely died, Satter lived on, and I have no doubt that it was by his hand that his holy master was slain.

            With Antemony deceased, I overtook his investigations, as his dearest comrade, and dispatched my own acolytes to investigate the loose threads of his final operations. Storm Trooper Galvian Webber, a resolute and dependable man, was attached to the trading vessel of the Imperial Fist, which had been involved in major fiscal transactions nearby the sector where Woe’s Blossom had been purged by Antemony’s Deathwatch. I figured any remnants of the hulk’s cultists may well have stolen away on board, in the expansive cargo holds, or even impersonating officers of the crew, for the cultist is a sly and deceptive creature.

            Meanwhile, my investigations into House Belarus were furthered when the House – an individual by the name of Barnabus Longfellow Belarus - reported that one of their ships had been abducted by a fleet of Eldar pirates known as the Kabal of the Flayed Claw. The ship’s captain and his son were captured and imprisoned – what I know now is that both father and son were powerful psykers, which is undoubtedly why the Eldar were so interested in them. The agonized cries of a psyker are far more fulling to their dark palates. The Rogue Trader died, but his son lived on – a son whose name I curse to this day, xenophile and arch-traitor Venini Belarus! Venini Belarus managed to escape from his captors and travelled the unbegolden reaches for many years. During his travels, he encountered many a xenos and a heretic, and even a daemon emissary of the Plague King – an entity that identified itself as Ptolimo. Venini, in a self-amusing jest, tricked the daemon into believing that a war between the Ruinous Powers was soon to be at hand, and that Ptolimo should begin assembling champions to fight on behalf of his god. Clearly Venini was a skilled planner, as soon after this he finally came across the merchant trade ship, the Imperial Fist.

            The Imperial Fist. The ship that brought these terrible men together and transformed them from mere heathens into a force of dark majesty. For not only was Venini Belarus accepted with open arms onto the Imperial Fist’s deck – he was, after all, still a Rogue Trader – but upon this ship matters were far worse than I had even begun to fear. Webber reported that yes, contingents of Woe’s Blossom’s cult had survived, and were hiding aboard the Imperial Fist, impersonating a flock of the Imperial Ecclesiarch! They were led, I am told, by a mad apostate by the name of Nixios Morrowgrave. I would alter encounter this foul creature in person. Not only this, but Tobias Satter too worked abord the craft as its head enginseer. I am convinced as to the involvement of darker powers in this – it seems far too fateful to be a coincidence. Prior to encountering Venini, Webber spoke of a spy aboard the ship, operating for a third party. This spy, a criminal named Archimedes Noxt, was later killed by the crew.

            I commanded that Webber remain still and watch, observing the proceedings.

After a few weeks, Venini Belarus’s return to Imperial space was greeted by the Firefly, a frigate of House Belarus belonging to none ofther than Barnabus Longfellow Belarus. I tend to eschew politics, but I now believe that it was Longfellow who ordered the Dark Eldar attack on Venini’s father all those years ago in an attempt to be rid of his major rival and enemy within the dynsaty’s power base. Longfellow had brought with him a contingent of that same Kabal of the Flayed Talon, and Belarus and his crew were imprisoned on a world of these dark Eldar to participate in their primitive blood sports and torture games.

            Oh, if only that had been the end of them. But no. Somehow, the crew of the Imperial Fist escaped in a massive slave revolt, no doubt instigated by Venini’s alleged silver tongue. Having abducted the Firefly, with Longfellow slain, their crew now swelled with slaves, mutants, and xenos – even, I gather, a foul chirurgeon of the Eldar themselves, a haemonculus called Dhurzha.

            For the next matter of months, the Firefly and the Imperial Fist traversed the Koronus Expanse and the Claixis Sector, abducting vast quantities of people for some unknown, fell purpose. I gather that the merchant captain of the Fist, Rhaegar, wss displeased by Venini’s heresy, as his attmepts to contact the Imeprial authorities to report of his new ally’s predilections were forwarded immediately to myself. I began long-term communications with Rhaegar, and I was made privy to the depths of Venini’s heresy. The man planned to start an empire away from the greatness of the Imperium, a collection of worlds under the command of herectics! The thought of secession strikes terror into me as I recall the Badab Wars, the Seige of Vraks, and the Horus Heresy itself. The multitude of people Venini sequestered away were mutants, psykers, and accused heretics – the very worst dregs of humanity, fit to occupy his personal hell.

            While Satter and Venini were content to play with their mutants and erect their “liberated empire”, and Webber and Rhagegar remained in loyal correspondence wih myself, the monster of Nixios took a darker turn. His cult growing rapidly, Nixios became enthralled by the idea of ascendancy – the prospect of daemonhood, immoitalize din the unholy warp-stuff of the Chaos Gods. Summoning a dameonic emissary of the Fly Lord – a beat I have on record as “Ptolimo” – Nixios sold his body to the daemon in return for the powers of the unholy. Ptolimo was undoubtedly motivated to bestow this gift due to Venini’s fictional warning. In that moment, Nixios became more and less than he was, a half-daemon monster intent n his own godhood. His allies would not become aware of the treachery until far later.

            Upon his own discovery, Tobias Satter began to make preparations against Nixios’s daemonic plot, rooting through the populace of the fledging Good Protectorate for skilled men and women ready to fight against the powers of Chaos. Nicknamed “the plaidclads” for the eclectic tartan-colored armor that Tobias fashioned for them to don, the small army began to take up arms and rooted itself in an orbital defense station within Acride’s asteroid belt.

            After settling the world of Acrides, along with its brother planet Kelvin, the Sessionists encountered that errant son of Mars – Irtfaufe. The gaps of Irtaufe’s history with which I wa sunfailiar were recounted by Rhaegar, who convered with the Arch-Heretek, Rabley Nidon himself. Following the escape of Irtaufe all those eyars ago and the destruction of the world’s cogitators, Nidon began to lose hope. Without the server-columns, production and innovation on Irtaufe ground to a halt, which, coupled with the sudden isolation of the planet in the cold expanse of the void, meant that the population, tech-priests, Skitarii, and labor units alike were soon to die of starvation. Nidon began to pray to the Omnissiah for salvation and guidance, and underwent a crisis of faith, fearing that his dabbling in dark science had brought about the terrible misfortune. It was at this moment that a new hope appeared. A young girl by the name of Lydia Toth, the child of two nameless labor units, began to perform miracles within the dark, crowded bowels of the manufactorum in which she worked. The waif was inexplicably capable of repairing broken tech-devices with a touch, communicating with the factory’s machine-spirits without use of an uplink, and transforming excess stores of promethium into pure, life-giving water.

            Upon hearing the tales of the miracle-worker, Nidon himself descended into the ruins of the factory to rescue Toth. Extensive studies revealed no abnormalities – Toth possessed no psychic abilities, mutations, or malignancies that would give any indication as to why she was capable of interacting with technology in this way. Only one other being in Imperial history had been capable of the feats that Toth had been performing – and that individual was the God-Emperor of Mankind itself. Oh, the blackness of Nidon’ comparison! That damnable beast!

            Nidon came to believe that Toth was, in fact, the Omnissiah Incarnate, a fleshly form embodying the essence of the Machine-God’s innovation and knowledge. Toth’s parents were overjoyed when Nidon offered the child a place within his own forge-palace, where he could protect and watch over Lydia Toth as she grew and developed her abilities. As knowledge of her miracles became commonplace, Toth became known as the Creatio Machinae – “The Creation of the Machine”. Thousands would appear before the gates of Nidon’s forge-palace, begging for him to reveal Toth so that she could restore life to their broken machines. The crowds became so urgent that, after a few months, Nidon held the first Festival of Knowledge, a grand convention emphasizing the exchange of cultural ideals, technological marvels, and scientific accomplishments. At the finale, Lydia Toth would appear before the congregation and, one by one, repair their damaged bionics and devices, much to the gratitude of many.

            All became unwell, however, when individual tech-priests began to take their newfound freedom of creativity into realms unforeseen by Nidon. Daemon engines, warp-tech, and other malefic devices were devised and distributed by the most depraved of Irtaufe’s tech-priests which, while few in number, found their way into the hands of Lydia Toth’s tech-priest tutors. At the same time, Toth became aware that her surrogate father had been experimenting on live humans, attempting to replicate her abilities, with fatal catstrophes. To end Nidon’s macabre studies and solve the mystery of her own abilities herself, Toth began dabbling in the fell powers of the warp and, when confronted by her surrogate father, fled to the external station housing the repaired cogitator sever-columns to practice her fell arts in peace. Using daemonic wards and corrupted machine spirits, Toth’s misled mind turned the cogitator-station into a floating fortress, impregnable even by the most able Skitarii.

            In order to find somebody with enough skill to bypassing the station’s defenses and rescue Toth, Nidon searched through his forge world’s population to find informants and couriers. An apt individual presented himself in the form of Archimedes Noxt, a mutant whose constantly decaying flesh rendered him unfit for bionics of any kind and, in the eyes of Irtaufe’s former masters, utterly disgraced in the eyes of the Omnissiah. The dark genius of this confounded me – now the thread sof fate became clear. Noxt’s criminal connections made him an ideal candidate, and before long Noxt and his agents were scouring various sectors, searching for individuals with the skill and ability to perform the task that Nidon required of them. Poor fortune befell Noxt upon encountering the crew of the seneschal Captain Rhaegar, when Noxt himself was cut down by the ship’s cleric, Nixios. His rotting remains were recovered and revived with fresh organs, and Nidon now knew whom he needed to save the life of the Creatio Machinae.

            And that is how Irtuafe came into the path of the Secessionists. The explorers seiged Irtaufe’s cogitator-station, battling murder-servitors, data-daemons, and all manner of toher horrors to reach the heathen goddess. I wept when I heard that Webber had been slain in the attempt. I am told that he bacme possesse by a fell specter, and, to save the lvies of his comrades, allowed Morrowgrave to slay his fleshly form. His soul is forever with the Emperor, the Master of Mankind. And yet, small gems emerge, fragments of knwoleldge with which I have constructed a better picture of the dynamic of the heretics. For while the rest of the Secesionists fough ton irtaufe, Tobias remained on the Imperial Fist and slaughtered the resident hamonculus and his retinue of foul wracks. Could it be that Tobias was motivated by some sort of mishappen code of morality? If so, I figured, he may yet prove a useful tool with which to sow discord within their ranks.

            I regret that I did not act swiftly enough, however, for following Webber’s death the Secessionists made their way to the hive world of Mourner, the recrutiting ground of the Dark Angels successor chapter of Adeptus Astrtes known as the Sbale Specters. I admt that the Specters’ preference for mind-cleansing their initiates and emplying terror tsctics against their foes has always been too reminiscent of the traitor legions for my liking. However, they were at least fanatically loyal to the God-Emperor – or were, until Venini’s mastery over the art of the wordsmith seduced the 4th Company’s captain, Corlmorrow, into allying with them. Afte rinvestiagting the chapter futher following this betrayal, I have made some disturbing discoveries. The gene-seed of the chapter is horrendously corrupt, missing melanchromic organs and featuring deficient ooltic zygotes. I personally suspect that there was a hidden taint present within the chapter long before the Secesisonist’s encounter with it, and I am filing the necessary protocols for a thorough investigation into their chapter command. With Corlmorrow, the Secessionists also acquired a few other traitorous members of the 4th company to add to their ranks, as well as a void pirate operating on Mourner – Baltro D. Baltro.

            The man that is Baltro eludes me to this day. He is utterly insane, making all of his decsisions based on the flip of a coin, a true emobidemtn of Chaos. His ship, the Leering Doge, a blasphemus creature of flesh and metal,embodies its captain’s madness in full. The unvierse’s breeding of such madness terrorizes my nightmares.

            It was time to take action. I, the loyalist elements of the Sable Specters 4th Company, and the Order of the Veiled Lily attacked the fleet of the Secessionists, which numbered four ships – the Firefly, the Imperial Fist, the Leering Doge, and Spiteheart, the ship of the Kabal of the Flayed Talon’s archon, Vyorla Maikel. Why she opted to ally with them is a mystery – perhaps the hameonculus Dhurzha was a rival of hers in Comoroaggh, and her services as a reaver constuted the xenos’s dark perview of repayment.

            The battle was less than successful for the servants of the Emperor. The 4th Company’s new captian, Antellox, was outmaneuvered by the Eldar pirates, a novice leader he was. My battle sisters were demolished by Nixios’s demonic might. Some success was made in the intial hours, however – I personally butchered the heretic king, Venini Belarus, using lightning claw and blessed bolter. While his psychic holocaust was fromdiable, it was no match for the blade of the Emperor’s Will. Additionally, Tobias Satter was incapaciatated, nearly killed, but my Mehcnaicus chirugeons revved him exquisitely, with the inent of a through, brutal interrogation.

            We never got the chance. The second wave of attackers hit us in full. Satter was sequestered away, and we were forced to withdraw, our ship left as a burning husk far from the Good Protectorate’s capital world, Acrides, which had been our intended target. The defeat was especially crushing, as Nixios’s ascendancy was near at hand. Using records and heretical tomes stolen from our sure librarium, Nixios discovered the key to his ascnednacy – the Heartstrings of Mortarion, the daemonic flesh of the Daemon primarch who did battle aginst the Ordo Malleus’s champion, Kaldor Draigo. The fragments of flesh sliced away in that battle would be more than enough to grant Nixios his power. I am told that Nixios took command of Venini’s ship and rechristened the Bot Fly in his death.

            Rhaegar, ever-faithful, warned me that Nixios and Baltro were rapidly en route to the Heartstrings’ last possessor, a Pirate Prince of the Ragged Helix known as Taradiel the Everliving. A worshipper of the Chaos power Slaanesh, Taradiel had hoarded many a vessel and had accumulated a colelcion of occult artifacts. Taradiel, Nixios, and Baltro tracked the Heartstrings to their final resting place – the space hulk, Woe’s Blossom. A fitting stab in the gut by the Runious Powers, is it not? The time for brute force was lost – I had only time to dispatch a cadre of Death Cult assassins to intercept them, but the effort was moot. We lost the assassins.

            Right at the point before Nixios’s ascendancy, the daemon Ptolimo appeared before him and attempted to destroy its former client, knowing full well that Nixios and his now-expansive cult would attempt to take control of Ptolimo’s daemonic legions should Nixios become a daemon prince. Ptolimo was slain by Nixios’s hna,d and Nixios became translated into a vile thing of distended entrails, bleeding eyes, writhing tentacles, a daemon true in name and form. Rheagar and Tobias began constructing defenses on Acrides to repel Nixios and keep the Good Protectorate free of his daemonic tent. Lydia Toth assembled Irtaufe’s renegade Skitaari sbosrd the Wrath of Numerology. Soon the two sides of the coming battle were arrayed – one side, Tobias Satter and the plaidclads, Captain Rehagar and the Imperial Fist, Lydia Toth of Irtaufe avoard the Warth fo Numerolgy, and the Kabal of the Flayed Talon and the traiotrs fot eh Sbale Specters 4th Company aboard Spitehart. On the the other side was Nixios Morrowgrave and his Malignant Concodrant aboard the Bot Fly, Baltro D. Baltro and his reavers upon the Leering Doge, and Prince Taradiel the Everliving aboard his ship, Passion’s Darkness.

            And, by the Emperor’s blood itself, was it a battle.

 

Acrides: In the modern 41st Millennium, Acrides is the central hub of the few planets that the Good Protectorate has added to its collection. While small exploration ships keep the limited expansion of the empire in sparse trade, Acrides itself sits at the center of the empire’s communications. The planet is extremely close to the system’s sun, which shines an unnatural green, and due to its proximity is covered mostly by deserts and arid grasslands. The two poles of the planet feature the most abundant vegetation, namely a swamp in the north and an expansive jungle to the south. Acrides’s cities function as mills and harvesters, and the entire planet could arguably be classified as an agri-world. Acrides is governed by an oligarchy, led by Planetary Facilitator Josef Dandé. The Allmother Lydia Toth rules the world from a temple of black obsidian stone, etched with glowing green circuitry. It is reported that Tobias Satter, the pariah tech-priest, still guards her, and psykers nearing the temple report a deadening of their extrasensory perceptions. However, whenever Toth makes a public appearance, Tobias is never there.

 

The Founders: On Acrides, captain Belarus and his crew – known as “The Founders” – are worshipped as saints alongside the Creatio Machinae, who is viewed as an Allmother-esque deity. The dieties are as follows: Venini, Saint of Beginnings; Tobias, Saint of Purity; Webber, Saint of Justice; Rhaegar; Saint of Betrayal; Nixios; Saint of Corruption; and Baltro, Saint of Madness. The final three are often depicted as devil-like, demonic figures and are not revered but instead despised.

 

While I have no doubt that you wish to see the Emperor’s justice fulfilled, we must operate with caution. This endeavor may take months, years even, to complete. We cannot simply order a military action against the Protectorate – the resources of my conclave are stretched thinly already, and if I fail in this tsk that has taken a lifetime to complete, I will surely be cast from my conclave within the Ordos as a failure. Your mission is to integrate yourself into Acridite society – nothing more. I will contact you when the time is right for us to move again.

Edited by Crystal Geyser

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Notes for the GM:

 

This adventure is intended for a mid-level party of inexperienced Acolytes using the rules from the Dark heresy Core Rulebook. However, it is not impossible to adapt it to other game systems. Rogue Traders, for example, may find the idea of conquering a relatively defenseless colony quite promising, especially if they can reap rewards from the Adeptus Terra and the Ecclesiarchy for bringing an errant world back into the Imperial fold. On the other hand, Black Crusade characters may be following the pilgrimage of Nixios Morrowgrave, seeking tainted, occult artifacts or fresh converts to the Ruinous Powers. Depending on the level of power the GM intends to allow, certain encounters and adversaries may need to be modified to better fit the campaign’s power level.

 

Additionally, the status of the Founders is left deliberately ambiguous – were they slain in the battle, or do they still live? That is for the GM to decide.

 

This campaign is also intended to be a long-term endeavor, with the acolytes integrating themselves into the Good Protectorate and making slow motions to bring about its downfall. As such, this initial adventure has little to do with the Inquisitorial investigation, and serves more as a medium through which to introduce the Good Protectorate and Acrides to the players through exploration of the planet and interaction with its citizens. The Acridites are wary of outsiders, and rightly so.

 

When portraying Acrides, the GM has a number of choices. He can choose to portray the Good Protectorate as the heretical, xenophilic cesspit that the Inquisition believes it to be, but more likely, given time and experience, the acolytes will come to understand a much more difficult truth about the Good Protectorate – it is kind. The religion practiced by its inhabitants is not a law, but a choice. Wandering clans of xenos seeking refuge and shelter may find safe haven there. The dispossessed, the unfortunate, and the mutated all thrive in an environment when they are not oppressed or downtrodden for failing that they could not prevent. Chaos, however, is intolerable, as are the more vicious breeds of xenos such as the Dark Eldar. Governmental awareness campaigns and informational presentations are often held to warn against the dangers of fraternizing with cultists and daemons. Acrides can and should be portrayed in as sympathetic of a light as possible – regardless of Inquisitorial orders.

 

Some players may wish to begin play as citizens of Acrides. These characters can either be totally unaware of their comrades’ involvement with the Imperium, or alternatively could even be hired by the acolytes as guides and information resources (doing so would be difficult, however, as the Imperium is thought of as a nightmarish hell within the Good Protectorate). Regardless, if players wish to generate Acridite characters, use the template for imperial World, but modify it in the following ways: Acridite characters suffer a -5 Penalty to Intelligence Tests regarding information about the Imperium of Man, instead of suffering the usual -5 Penalty to Forbidden Lore tests. Additionally, all of the Imperial World starting skills are replaced by their Acridite equivalents – for example, Common Lore (Imperium) would be replaced by Common Lore (Good Protectorate), Common Lore (Imperial Creed) would be replaced by Common Lore (Acridite Paganism), and so on and so forth.

 

Part I: Planetfall

 

The first scene takes place with any off-world characters arriving on Acrides via a clandestine smuggling ship, the Iron Scorpion. While it required nominal fees to tempt the pilots to sway this far out of their usual commerce trail, the ship’s crews understand the policy of not asking questions, although it is anyone’s guess as to why anybody would want to visit an uninhabited, inhospitable planet.

            The interior of the dropzone compartment is a long, cramped metal corridor lined with grav-couches and pneumatic harnesses. Steam hisses from pressure pipes and g-force gauges tick irregularly. The only other person inside the compartment is Randall, an intoxicated, inebriated man clearly high on narcotics and excited for no apparent reason. An Ordinary +10 Charm or Inquiry Test reveals his affiliations with the ship’s pilots. Randall is apparently a former gang member who is being left to rot on this desert planet for smuggling organization secrets. The drug he has been issued with is a sedative to keep him restrained. In turn, Randall himself offers the characters a sedative. Those whoa accept the sedative feel giddy and must pass an Easy (+30) Toughness Test to avoid gaining Fatigue from the drop – consequently, they take a -10 Penalty to intelligence Tests for d5 hours after landing. Characters who did not take the sedative take the Toughness Test at only a +10 Bonus – failure in either case results in the gaining of a level of Fatigue.

            Upon coming in for entry, the crew spots another unmarked ship landing and decides to touch down in a barren field about a mile from the actual dropsite, in order to avoid arousing suspicion. Once there, an armed ganger rudely forces the characters and Randall out into the fields of grain before the ramp closes and the ship departs. The three characters and Randall travel for a while, and get a chance to talk to each other and converse, before reaching Port Venini.

Up ahead, the characters can see the scorched circle or flattened stalks and husks, pounded to the ground by landing gear and trampling feet. Encircling the landing circle is a line of barbed wire fencing and looming, metal-shod walls of Port Venini. The air smells of burnt wheat and chemical propellants.

Port Venini features four key locations, and with each a notable NPC from whom players can gain information and assistance during their time on Acrides. For each NPC, a specific combat encounter is included – the GM is free to use any or all of the encounters present, but we recommend choosing one, depending on whichever NPC the player characters develop the most interesting relationship with.

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The Landing Circle

Port Venini’s landing circle is a flattened ground of burn husks and stalks, interspersed with heavy-looking panels of rockrete and industrial docking clamps. The circle is roughly a kilometer in diameter. A high, barbed wire fence surrounds the port, preventing wild creatures or stray pedestrians form wandering into the dangerous zone. Tech-adepts and servitors trundle around, and a cluster of transports sits along the fence carrying fuel from the refineries.

 

Landing Circle NPC: Dekko “Symtric” Havelock

Dekko Havelock, nicknamed “Symtric” for his fascination with symmetry, wears the rust-red, brass-chased flak armor of a renegade Adeptus Mechanicus skitaari. Featuring a mop of unruly black hair, Dekko’s handsome features are somewhat at odds with the gunmetal scars and lacerations on his youthful face and the dual shotguns strapped to his back. While he mainly works his tech-knowledge as a repairman and engineer at the dropzone, Dekko is willing to work as a hired mercenary and sharpshooter, and his skill at arms is noticeable. However, he charges a fair sum for his contributions – twenty thrones per day, and twenty percent of the earning from any excursion he partakes in.

WS

BS

S

T

Ag

Int

Per

WP

Fel

19

37

23

34

30

38

28

33

27

Wounds: 13

Movement: 3/6/9/18

Armor: 4 All

Skills: Ciphers (Mechanicum), Common Lore (Machine-Cult, Tech), Drive (Ground Vehicle), Forbidden Lore (Warp, Xenos), Scholastic Lore (Legend, Numerology), Speak Language (Low Gothic).

Talents: Basic Weapon Training (Las, SP), Melee Weapon Training (Primitive), Pistol Training (Las, SP), Technical Knock, Two-Weapon Wielder (Ballistic).

Weapons: Two stub automatics (Pistol; 30m; S/-/-; 1d10+3 I; Pen 0; Clip 9; Reload Full; 1.5 kg), two shotguns (Basic; 30m; S/-/-; 1d10+4 I; Pen 0; Clip 2; Reload 2 Full; Scatter, Reliable; 5 kg), knife (Melee; 1d5 R; Primitive; .5 kg).

Gear: Guard flak armor, street clothes, 1 week’s rations, explosive collar (still attached), 4 autopistol clips, 16 shotgun clips.

 

If the player characters are seen blatantly conversing with Dekko, the group is ambushed by a group of gangers led by a petty criminal named Scyhto. If questioned, banher reveals that Dekko has failed to make good on a number of favors that Scyhto has asked of him in return for loans, which Dekko will at first hastily deny but eventually admit to if pressed. Dekko’s plethora of mishaps is ludicrous, to say the least – Scyhto lists off hallucinogen-fuelled gambling, explosive weapon modification, and the accidental destruction of a Hepahestus ore seeker as a few examples. If the players choose to support Dekko, they must fight the gangers, potentially incurring fatalities. The gangers will retaliate, but flee after half of their number are slain or until a team of enforcers arrives after 1d5 Rounds of combat. If the player characters leave Dekko to his fate, the gangers give him a savage beating but otherwise leave him alive and allow him to continue on his way. Scyhto and his gangers use the profile for a skulker and scum, respectively, and his entire group is equal to the number of player characters and Dekko.

 

Bazaar

The bazaar is somewhere between a marketplace and a slum, home to a variety of criminals, degenerates, pariahs, and exiles. Most structures are hastily-erected shacks of corrugated tin or wooden wagons. Here, characters can shop for supplies or probe for information.

 

Bazaar NPC: Grimable Quarl

A hermit and camper from the North Swamp, Grimable Quarl is at first a formidable figure thanks to his unruly black hair, filed teeth, wild-looking eyes, and occult babblings – however, short discussion with him soon reveals him to be a rather timid, mild-mannered sort of man. Close examination reveals what appears to be a golden chastity ring on his grimy, hairy knuckle, but he makes no mention of it and will awkwardly mumble if questioned about it, and under no circumstances will willingly relinquish it. His gnarled wooden cane also functions as a grain-harvesting scythe, a tool by which he earns his keep. He works mostly for food and is a skilled survivalist and witch.

WS

BS

S

T

Ag

Int

Per

WP

Fel

33

31

36

35

33

35

38

31

31

Wounds: 13

Movement: 3/6/9/18

Armor: 2 Body, 2 Arms, 2 Legs

Skills: Carouse +10, Forbidden Lore (Daemonology), Invocation, Literacy, Navigation (Surface), Psyniceince, Scholastic Lore (Occult), Speak Language (Low Gothic), Trade (Soothsayer).

Talents: Chem Geld, Dark Soul, Hatred (Daemons), Melee Weapon Training (Primitive), Pistol Training (SP), Psy Rating 1.

Psychic Powers: Float, Sense Presence.

Weapons: Axe (Melee; 1d10+1 R; Primitive, Unbalanced; 4 kg), staff (Melee; 1d10 I; Balanced, Primitive; 3 kg), scythe (Melee, 1d10+2 R; Primitive, Unwieldy), compact stub revolver (Pistol; 30m; S/-/-; 1d10+3 I; Pen 0; Clip 6; Reload 2 Full; Reliable; .5 kg), knife (Melee; 1d5 R; Primitive; .5 kg).

Gear: Quilted vest, tatty robe, Allmother’s Tarot, 3 bullets, psy-focus, unidentifiable brand, chastity ring, glow-slug, kill stick.

 

If the player characters are too obvious in talking to Grimable, a faith leader by the name of Marren will appear and immediately attack the player characters, ignoring any circumstances or protests that they make. Marren uses the profile for a Ministorum Priest and is accompanied by a number of Recidivists equal in size to the number of player characters. During the combat, through Marren’s garbled shouts and cries, it should be made apparent that Marren and his pogrom are the clergy of the churchouse that Grimable formerly frequented when he used to live in the nearby township – since developing psychic abilities, his superstitious comrades drove him into the wildnerness to practice his withccrfat away from “Good, Allmother-fearing folk”. If Marren is slain, all of his Recidivists will flee, otherwise, the entire group flees when reduced to half its size. No authorities intervene – Marren and his party hold considerable influence in the nearby region, and many of the enforcers themselves are spooked by Grimable’s no-good appearance. Once the player characters have successfully repelled the Recidivists, Grimable thanks them but protests that he has nothing to give them but the rags on his back.

 

Refineries

Enormous fuel depots, the refineries are a series of squat buildings and silos where fuel for various vehicles, ships, and aeronautical craft is processed and distributed.

 

Refinery NPC: Alaric Wollsey-Totter

Descended from the royal line of Lady Amydilia Totter, Father Alaric likely possesses a multitude of siblings. However, Alaric chose to put down the royal cane and instead take to a life of ascetism, maintain a humble grain farm a few miles from Port Venini where he raises livestock and gardens valuable crops. He has dark skin and a great height, and his only personal effects are his survivalist tools and his personal arms, along with a small flatbed truck. Alaric’s dark features and humble, open eyes are of great soothing to those who interact with him, and he should be painted as an honest, trustworthy individual. He is, however, extremely suspicious of monotheists – those who Puritanically and frantically condemn more divergent sects of the faith – and will refuse to work with overtly religious conservatives. Otherwise, Alaric operates for free, and is famous for his soothing singing voice and excellent cooking.

WS

BS

S

T

Ag

Int

Per

WP

Fel

35

36

40

27

35

39

27

32

36

Wounds: 15

Movement: 3/6/9/18

Armor: Body 3, Arms 3, Legs 3

Skills: Common Lore (Acrides, Acridite Paganism), Drive (Ground Vehicle), Inquiry, Literacy, Navigation (Surface), Performer (Singer), Scholastic Lore (Legend), Speak Language (High Gothic, Low Gothic), Survival, Swim, Trade (Cook).

Talents: Basic Weapon Training (Primitive), Melee Weapon Training (Primitive), Peer (Government, Nobility), Pistol Training (SP), Sound Constitution (x2).

Weapons: Sword (Melee; 1d10 R; Pen 2; Balanced, Mono; 3 kg), stub revolver (Pistol; 30m; S/-/-; 1d10+3 I; Pen 0; Clip 6; Reload 2 Full; Reliable; 1 kg), good-craftsmanship bow with telescopic sight (Basic; 30m; S/-/-; 1d10 R; Pen 0; Clip 1; Reload Half; Primitive, Reliable, 3 kg).

Gear: Climbing harness, chain coat, 26 bullets, 20 arrows, Allmother pendant, good-quality robes, 4 candles, skull charm, backpack, 3 week’s worth of rations, lamp pack.

 

Father Alaric is frequenting the refineries, looking for fuel for his flatbed, on which he has loaded various vegetable and poultry goods for sale. Father Alaric’s goods count as good-quality rations. The player characters are free to approach him and interact – if they choose to do so, Alaric comes off as a humble, mild-mannered man with a hearty warmth about him. Any characters outwardly displaying iconography of the Imperial faith such as tattoos, aquila pendants, Ecclesiarchal robes, or the like earn immediate suspicion from him – he is very wary of monotheists and is far too aware of the fate that will befall his flock should the Imperial authorities catch notice of Acrides. While the characters speak with Alaric, two nobles of similar coloration and expression dressed in extravagant clothes appear. These figures are self-identified as Alaric’s half-brother and half-sister, Jayce and Rhydelle, who use the profiles for Dissolute Nobles. While they do not attack Alaric, they belittle him for his piety and monastic lifestyle, taunting which Alaric’s’ reaction reveals is a common occurrence. This encounter should not comprise of combat, but instead a battle of words between the player characters and the siblings, assuming they choose to assist Alaric in his defense. In return, Alaric offers them free lodgings at his hydroponics farm to the south of Port Venini, where he lives.

 

The Hanged Adept

Named for an unfortunate ship-adept who was imprisoned and tortured by piratical Eldar along with Saint Belarus and his crew, the Hanged Adept is a grim hab-block that has been serviced using industrial vehicles to function as a barhouse and brewery, as well as a poor-quality inn. The Hanged Adept’s streetside facing is a ramshackle porch, supporting a tin room with irregularly spaced rebars. A wooden sign featuring a frail, robed figure being strangled by a lithe, pale demon hangs outside. Inside on the first floor is a rectangular chamber, with booth tables lining the walls and a central bar. Various alcohols and narcotics are available for purchase. A night’s stay in the Hanged Adept’s second floor costs five thrones – ten for an easy bedmate – which is expensive, considering the sloped ceiling and broken furniture contained within said bedchambers.

 

The Hanged Adept NPC: Jastilus Vern

Sporting tresses of fiery red hair and effeminate, elfish features, Jastilus Vern is an infamous enforcer known for his involvement with the .999 Capital-Arson cases, a series of conflagrations that occurred at Acrides’s central hub city, which shares the planet’s name. While Vern’s involvement is mysterious, it is clear through gossip that Vern saw something within the flames that mentally unhinged him, as after the final arson he has visited the Hanged Adept every weekend and most work days when he gets off-duty. Close examination of the man reveals track marks on his slender forearms and the slightly greenish pigmentation of his skin, a side effect of excessive consumption of algal brews.

WS

BS

S

T

Ag

Int

Per

WP

Fel

34

35

35

34

39

34

34

28

36

Wounds: 13

Movement: 3/6/9/18

Armor: 4 Body

Skills: Charm, Common Lore (Acrides, Acridite Paganism, Enforcers, War), Deceive, Forbidden Lore (Cults, Heresy), Inquiry, Intimidate, Literacy, Speak Language (High Gothic, Low Gothic).

Talents: Basic Weapon Training (SP), Dark Soul, Fell Obsession, Flagellant, Insanely Faithful, Melee Weapon Training (Primitive), Peer (Underworld), Quick Draw.

Weapons: Shotgun (Basic; 30m; S/-/-; 1d10+4 I; Pen 0; Clip 2; Reload 2 Full; Scatter, Reliable; 5 kg), nightstick (Melee;1d10 I; Pen 0; Primitive), brass knuckles (Melee; 1d5 I; Pen 0; Primitive), knife (Melee; 1d5 R; Pen 0; Primitive; .5 kg).

Gear: Mesh vest, enforcer’s uniform, 12 shotgun shells, 3 doses of stimm, injector, enforcer ID, wrist chrono, bottle of algal brew.

 

The player characters will first encounter Jastilus Vern upon entering the Hanged Adept, and he is immediately recognizable due to his pale green skin, bright orange hair, and tight-fitting uniform. While admittedly a good-looking man, Vern is shy and does not wish to speak to the player characters – if coaxed into drinking or doping, however, he opens up and reveals himself to be a loud, flamboyant, girlish individual. Vern prides himself on his ability with women and will attempt to seduce one of the barmaids – regardless of whether his attempt is successful, the bar’s jealous wonder and his staff will attempt to evict Vern and his acquaintances from the premises. The bar’s staff all uses the profiles of Civilians, while the bar’s patrons use the Dreg profile, who all leave the second a fatality is caused. The enemy party is equal to 2 times the number of player characters, and Vern.

 

Sonet’s Entrance

Depending on which combat encounter the players participated in – be it Dekko’s gang fight, Grimable’s witch hunt, Alaric’s faceoff or Vern’s disorders – the player characters will most likely be left successful, if slightly battered. At this point, regardless of location, Rister Sonet will make his entrance and approach the player chaaracters.

 

Notable NPC: Rister Sonet

Grandson of Aristarchius Sonet, Rister Sonet is a tall, skinny man with piercing yellow eyes, light silver hair, and a thin brown moustache. His tanned, browned skin is soft and pliable, indicating his noble upbringing. He dresses in a white suit with a pair of black leather gloves. His voice is heavily accented and he talks with a sickly-sweet drawl, often using flattery to achieve his ends. His words are punctuated by Acridite colloquialisms, making communication unnerving, if not downright disturbing. If presented with direct conflict, though, he tends to panic and react poorly under pressure or stress.

WS

BS

S

T

Ag

Int

Per

WP

Fel

25

25

30

30

30

35

30

35

35

Wounds: 10

Movement: 3/6/9/18

Armor: Body 3

Skills: Awareness, Blather +10, Command +10, Common Lore (Acrides), Deceive, Evaluate +10, Literacy, Logic, Speak Language (High Gothic, Low Gothic), Trade (Merchant).

Talents: Melee Weapon Training (Primitive), Pistol Training (Las, SP).

Weapons: Compact laspistol (Pistol; 15m; S/-/-; 1d10+1 E; Clip 15; Reload Full; Reliable), Ancestral Hunting Rifle (Basic; 200m; S/-/-; 1d10+2 I; Pen 4; Clip 5; Reload Full; Accurate, Alluring, Surly; 5 kg).

Alluring: Attempts to Dodge shots fired by the Ancestral Hunting Rifle suffer a -10 Penalty.

Surly: The Ancestral Hunting Rifle jams on an Attack Roll of 96 or higher, but grants its wielder a +2 Bonus to Iniative Rolls.

Gear: High-Fashion clothing, mesh vest personal encrypted micro-bead, Sonet Clan crest, data-slate, 70 thrones’ worth of jewelry, 30 Throne Gelt.

 

Upon witnessing the player characters’ prowess in combat, along with the aid of whichever NPC they are accompanied by at the time, Sonet Rister will make the group a cryptic offer of a high-profile expedition on his behalf, in return for which he will reward them handsomely. If questioned, Rister will remain elusive and mysterious, giving causal winks and nudges along with a set of vague instructions – to gather their belongings, rest up, and meet him at the vehicle platform tomorrow morning. Rister will wish for all of the player characters to partake in his grand game, along with whatever NPC they were interacting with – however, if the player characters are unenthused by their choice of accompaniment, they may haggle with Rister to alter the arrangement and go alone, or may choose another one of Port Venini’s Notable NPCS as a companion.

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Part II: the purser’s wing

 

The player characters meet Sonet Rister and his retinue of bodyguards out on the vehicle platform, a long expanse of cleared, dusty dirt on which various cargo haulers and harvesting combines sluggishly trundle. The platform extends out through Port Veninis high outer walls and into the fields of dry grain and dust beyond. Rister’s own vehicle, an extravagant limousine capable of fitting Rister and all of his employees, stands out at odds against the rusty industrial hardware and supply hoppers. When the player characters arrive, Rister dramatically invites them into his limousine and they set out towards his trading outpost, as Rister theatrically explains to them the details of the mission he has in mind.

 

Rister’s Tale

Read or paraphrase the following:

“Come now, exploradores, seguramente your ears must gave danced with my name before? No? I am offended  - embarrassed even. Now, now, do not look so awkward – why do your eyes turn to each other in shame? It is a fault of mine, no doubt. Advertising is so tiresome, truly a job for adepts, is it not? No offense intended, jamago, none intended.

“If you are unfamiliar with me, you are surely confused as to why such a prestigioso as myself has invited you into my limousine – well gather around, gather around, for today we tell tales of heroes, of quests, of treasure, and of unparalleled adventure! We tell the tale of my own grandfather, Aristarchius Sonet, a tale that is, alas, still unfinished. Oh, my grandfather was a man of finery, or culture, of art, of literature! He was also a warrior, scholar, missionary. All of this, and more! For it was my grandfather who led the first Acridite expeditionary parties into the southern jungles, seeking wealth to plunder, land to settle, and feral primitives to bring into the fold of the most ascendant empire of the Founders!

            My grandfather set up shop on the fertile slopes of the Rio Serpent, right at the edge of the life-giving river that floods regularly each cycle – it is to this trading post that we travel now, for the infrastructure and workforce belongs to me, now. I own the majority of my grandfather’s relics – his suit, his gloves, his shining shoes – even this hunting rifle that I bear across my shoulder was once an accouterment of that grand cavalier himself. Alas, there is one part of him I don’t possess – that is to say, him.

            I shall elaborate. My grandfather, my patergrande, went missing with his expeditionary forces deep within the southern jungles, and to this day none of the madmen who have ventured into that hellish darkness have returned to tell tale of what fate may have befallen him. I myself no nought – I have not had the strength, dimmable weakness of ym own courage, to venture in before now. Now that I have such hardy brutes as yourselves, thank the Mother, I can begin to reclaim what was regihtfully mine! For I want it all, jamagos. His tesoro! His ladies! His campamentos! His trades! But most of all…

His bones.

Familial pride has been a tenet of Clan Sonet ever since our rise to power as one of Acrides’s most prominent merchant dynasties, and in the last century we have grown to encompass many factions. The children of the Sonets are everywhere –I would bet my teeth that you could find a heart dose of native Acridite blood in those primped harlots, the Totters! And, I imagine, there are probably none too few tribal ladies bearing beautiful tan-skinned babies to this day.”

He chuckles sickeningly, before continuing.

“Here is the arrangement. You shall escort me to the last known step of my grandfather’s journey – a fortified outpost deep within the jungle. When we recover all of my grandfather’s treasure, along with his bones, you will escort me back to civilization and we will go on our merry ways. For amongst the merchants of Clan Sonet, we have a superstition. “He who dishonors his father dishonors his legacy” – and if I am to fully recover all of the wealth that I have missed, I must ensure that my grandfather’s remains are treated with utmost honor indeed.

So, what say you? Methinks…a hundred thrones, apiece! That is not a poor deal, jamagos, no it is most certainly not.”

 

The player characters are free to ask him any further questions to probe for information, or perhaps to haggle additional Thrones with an Opposed Commerce Test. Rister offers the party the entire payment after the completion of both halves of the venture – he clearly does not intend to part with his Thrones unless he absolutely must. He also drops hints about “owing them a favor”, which may prove very useful to the player characters later down the line.

 

The Purser’s Wing

Upon reaching the riverbank after a few hours of driving, it becomes apparent that Rister has been driving the majority of his funds and resources into the construction of an exploration ship with which to travel down the river. The ship’s exterior resembles an ancient Terran steamboat, constructed from extravagant dark woods, glossy metals and exotic furnishings, and is covered with cloisonné that spells out the name Purser’s Wing on the ship’s hull. The boat features two stories and a roof, which functions as a third story that is open to the sea-green sky of Acrides. A cargo hold below the first floor contains maintenance equipment and power generators, as well as cannon batteries for blowing apart obstructions. There are eight of these batteries, four to the port and four to the starboard and use the profiles of grenade launchers loaded with frag grenades. Each cannon has enough munitions to fire twenty shots.

Each floor is vastly different in its interior décor. The cargo hold and first floor as stylized similarly to Imperial navy warship, all riveted steel, armored bulkheads, and tactical holoscreens. Steering is controlled from this floor, and a long navigation table occupies the center of the of the room. The floor above however, is similarly akin to a personal gallery or chapel, furnished elegantly and lit by stained-glass windows depicting scenes of Clan Sonet’s forerunners valiantly exploring the wilderness. Two rows of pews provide seating for the crew and any other passengers. The top floor is open and features an omni-scope set into the railing, along with a four attached autoguns to serve as defenses against lightly armored opponents. A trio of Servitors pilots the Purser’s Wing, and ten Furnace Workers handle maintenance and weapon operation.

The Purser’s Wing is attached to the mainland by a dock of rebars and support beams. A makeshift camp of supply containers, tents, and prefabricated bunks surrounds the dock, and inhabiting the meager camp are the workers and helots of Clan Sonet that Rister has employed to help construct and maintain the vehicle.

Rister is in the middle of treating the player characters to a grand tour of the Purser’s Wing when the campsite is suddenly attacked. While news of the attack travels to Rister immediately via his micro-bead, the true nature of the enemies is unclear until the Purser’s Wing is boarded by the raiders. During this time, Rister’s crewmen and servants are flailing in terror and are of no consequence to any combat that may ensue. At that point, it become immediately clear who they are. Depending on whichever enemies encountered the player characters faced at the star of the adventure in Port Venini, the same faction has now returned with a band of hired mercenaries to finish the job. Obviously the nature of the foes will differ based on which NPC the player characters interacted with, but here are a few example encounter groups with unique motivations for attacking the Purser’s Wing:

 

Scyhto and the Red Vipers: Having overheard Rister’s offer to the player characters, Scyhto is out to compete with their party for the riches offered by Rister. Scyhto is accompanied by a number of Scum equal to three times the number of player characters, and holds the ship hostage until Rister agrees to let him in on the arrangement. Rister is now bound to pay Scyhto the Thrones promised to the players if Scyhto uncovers the remains of Aristarchius before they do, much to his displeasure, and as a final stab in the back Scyhto will attempt to steal the Purser’s Wing and utilize in his endeavor, if possible.

 

Marren and the Recidivists: Marren and his surviving Recifivists have heard of Rister’s plan to recover Aristarchius’s wealth, and would like nothing better than to kill Grimable and any other psykers that the ferals of the jungles may possess. Instead of bartering, Marren appears with any surviving Recidivsts from his encounter with the player characters and a number of Skulkers equal to the twice the number of player characters, mercenaries who his flock has hired to assist them in their mission to eradicate the witches. If possible, Marren and his flock will abduct the Purser’s Wing for their own usage.

 

Jayce and Rhydelle: The Noble Lineage of the Totter Dynasty has long been at odds with Clan Sonet, thanks to the numerous blood feuds and romantic scandals that pepper the families’ pasts. Jayce and Rydelle return with the sole endeavor of vandalizing the Purser’s Wing for amusement, but upon discovering Rister’s intent attempt to hijack it in order to find the remains of Aristarchius’s camp first and hopefully extract useful pickings from its decrepit ruin. Jayce and Rhydelle are accompanied by a number of bodyguards that use the profiles for Kill Squad Troopers, which are equal in size to the number of player characters, along with a number of Scum – representing various hybrid offspring and castaways of the family line – equal to the number of player characters.

 

The Burnt Man: If Jastilus Vern is accompanying the player characters for this adventure, the party is accosted by a group of Cult Initiates equal to four times the number of player characters, led by a Cult Fanatic. Unlike the other invaders, these attackers do not wish to reap the rewards of Rister’s challenge or hijack the Purser’s Wing – merely to cause as much damage as possible. The cultists wear orange and black robes and all of the initiates are armed with one firebomb, which they will attempt to use to conflagrate the vessel’s hull and burn the players alive within. If defeated and confronted about their motives, they will remain silent and, if interrogated further, will only babble incoherently. The only vaguely comprehensible dialogue that can be opened with them is if Jastilus himself confronts them, in which case they will taunt him about “his friend, the Burnt Man,” before falling silent once more. The player characters can choose to leave them to the authorities or execute them – Rister, extremely perturbed, encourages the latter, and a horrified Jastilus does not protest.

 

If the Purser’s Wing is still intact, then the player characters are free to use it to travel down the river. In contrast, if the Purser’s Wing was rendered inoperable – for example, if its entire crew was killed or if its hull sustained significant damage – the players must trek solemnly through the dripping jungles, where Rister’s limousine will be of no transportation use. Given the circumstances, the GM may elect to use one of the following encounters:

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Option 1: Riverside

            The Purser’s Wing throws up a great whistle of steam and begins to chug primly down the river, the furnaces boiling. Workers, freed from their shifts, mill on the second floor, enjoying fruity drinks. A few open the hatches and lie on the top deck, basking in the sunlight. Meanwhile, on the first floor Rister is brooding and irritable, and any attempts to communicate with him about the previous events is met with bitter and caustic remarks. Rister is accompanied by two merchant magnates who he constantly mutters with, going over charts and maps and logbooks in the hopes of securing a definite destination as opposed to trolling the river aimlessly.

            If the player characters wish to speak to the crew for advice, they will be directed to Beau, the chief engineer. Beau uses the profile for a Furnace Worker, and spends her time on the roof enjoying the breeze with a drink in her hand. If questioned about the attack, or about matters concerning Aristarchius’s expedition, she is capable of providing some rather colorful answers, often loaded with scandal and intrigue with none of Rister’s embellishment or flair for the dramatic.

            Suddenly, Beau cuts herself off midsentence, staring out at the water. With a sharp cry, she pushes herself to his feet and grabs one of the autogun pintles, as a pack of hungry-looking ichogators begins to swim down the jungle river towards the steamboat, their eyes gleaming with insidious predation. The ichogators equal the number of player characters and notable NPCs, primarily Rister and whoever is accompanying the player characters from Port Venini.

 

Enemy NPC: Ichogators

Resembling a horrible blend of reptile and cephalopod, ichogators propel themselves through the tropical jungle waters using a combination of long, taloned limbs and a prehensile, rudder-like tail. Skilled climbers, ichogators often pose a threat to trading ships or small dinghies thanks to their unnatural prowess for scaling the sides of boat hulls using their multi-jointed arms and the grasping tentacles than fan out from their sides like absurd fins or wings. Upon boarding the ship, like a pack of scaly reavers, the ichogators unhinge their long, quadro-bladed jaws, ready for fresh meat.

WS

BS

S

T

Ag

Int

Per

WP

Fel

48

-

45

40

50

16

40

45

-

Wounds: 15

Movement: 4/8/12/24

Skills: Awareness, Climb, Swim.

Talents: Swift Attack.

Traits: Amphibious, Bestial, Brutal Charge, Multiple Arms, Natural Weapons, Swift.

Amphibious: The creature can swim at full Speed under hazardous conditions, and gains a +20 Bonus to Swim Tests.

Swift: The creature gains +10 Agility, which is included in its profile.

Weapons: Claws and Teeth (1d10+4 R; Pen 0).

 

After defeating the ichogators, the crew (or whatever remains of it) proposes the option of skinning the beasts to sell their hides for money, as authentic ichogators skin can be sold for a high price on markets and, if fashioned into elaborate jewelry or fashion, can fetch even higher sums. For every full ichogator skin sold in a commercial hub such as Port Venini’s bazaar or a similar locale, the player characters gain sixty thrones to distribute between themselves. If any of the characters possess Trades or other Skills that would allow them to fashion the skins into more attractive finished goods, each skin’s worth of items sold earns an additional ten thrones for each degree of success on a +10 Trade or other Skill Test.

 

Option 2: The Jungles

While travelling through the wilderness of Acrides’s lush northern jungles, the Player characters encounter a variety of stinging plants, thorned vines, fanged moss and acidic slime. The forest floor is littered with all variety of these obstructions. Sometime during the player characters’ trek through the forest, have them each make a Difficult (-10) Awareness Test. If they fail, they must make a hard (-20) Agility Test to avoid the natural hazards or suffer 2d5 Rending Damage. Any damage earned this way represents all the damage accumulated during the course of the hike and does not compound for multiple instances.

            On their first day of travel, the Player characters are travelling through the thick undergrowth before they stumble across an enormous section of hewn earth and rock, where all he plants and trees have been upturned or shoved aside. Wide tunnels burrowed into the earth crisscross the terrain. At first it may seem as though this area is in fact the underground warren that Rister was referring to, but in reality is in fact the burrows of a colony of Dementia Wasps. A number of wasps equal to twice the number of Player characters and notable NPCs will attack – when defeated, the survivors flee back into the tunnels of their hollow. Once defeated, the Player characters may choose to enter the warrens.

 

Enemy NPC: Dementia Wasps

Viridescent arthropods of considerable size, dementia wasps are actually misnamed for their resemblance to the ancient Terran insect; however, the flightless creatures luckily are not airborne. Nevertheless, dementia wasps still pose a considerable threat, as their bites are capable of not only stripping the flesh from a man’s bones with their serrated edges but also contain a powerful hallucinogen capable of bestowing vivid and terrifying nightmares upon their prey.

WS

BS

S

T

Ag

Int

Per

WP

Fel

38

-

32

29

38

13

28

30

09

Wounds: 6

Movement: 3/6/9/18

Skills: Awareness.

Talents: Fearless.

Traits: Bestial, Burrower, Natural Weapons, Size (Scrawny), Toxic.

Weapons: Venomous Bite (Melee; 1d10+3 R; Pen 0; Hallucinogen, Primitive, Toxic).

Hallucinogen: Targets exposed to the creature’s Toxic effects must make a further Challenging (+0) Toughness Test. If failed, the character counts as having succumbed to a Hallucinogen Grenade, and gains 1 Insanity Point for every two Degrees of Failure on the Toughness Test.

 

Rister seems to fear that his clansmen may be buried within the warrens, and immediately asks the player characters to investigate. Rister himself stays behind. If the Player characters choose to enter the burrows of the dementia wasps, there is no telling what treasures – or what horrors – they might discover. The hollows and tunnels of the wasps are cold and dank, channels of wet soil voraciously sliced into the ground. Upon entering the root-lined tunnels bored through the rock, the Player characters are immediately accosted by a swarm of thrashing plant tendrils and infantile dementia wasp larvae. The Player characters automatically suffer 1d5+2 Impact Damage with the Primitive and Snare Qualities, alerting the wasps to their presence.

While travelling, the Player characters must make a Challenging (+0) Navigate (Surface) Test or a Hard (-20) Logic Test to successfully navigate the warrens – if failed, they encounter one of the following three dangers. After each danger is resolved, have the Player characters make Navigate Surface of Logic Tests until they succeed. Each failure incited further dangers. On each occasion a Navigate (Surface) or Logic Test is passed, offer the Player characters with the opportunity to leave or continue. Choosing to continue also incites another Danger, but also potentially a Reward.

 

Dangers

1d4 Roll

Danger

1

Cave-In: The tunnel creaks before suddenly collapsing; tons of wet earth and plant matter raining down in an avalanche. The Player characters must make a Challenging (+0) Agility Test or become trapped underground, taking 10 Points of Impact Damage for each Degree of Failure.

2

Breeding Chambers: The Player characters stumble upon a honeycomb of sickly emerald resin, in which hordes of phosphorescent maggots writhe and squirm. While the maggots themselves pose no threat, toxic secretions line the walls and resin dust swirls through the air. Each Secessionist must make a Difficult (-10) Toughness Test or suffer 1d10+5 Toughness Damage that does not begin to heal until they leave the breeding chamber.

3

Hostile Defenders. The Player characters are attacked by a group of dementia wasps, numbering twice the size of the Player characters.

3

Nightmare Queen: Deep within the bowels of the warren, the bloated hive queen sits on a throne of devoured corpses, her abdomen riddles with fleshy, churning egg sacs. The Nightmare Queen is attended by a group of dementia wasps numbering three less than the Player characters. The queen herself uses the profile for a dementia wasp, except with doubled Weapon Skill, Strength, and Toughness. In addition, resisting the Toxic and Hallucinogenic effects of her attacks require Difficult (-10) Toughness Tests as opposed to Challenging (+0). This danger can be encountered only once.

 

The dementia wasps have felled many an explorer before now, and often drag their remains back into the warrens for consumption. Should the Player characters discover a mess of webbed corpses and alien secretions, have the group nominate one Secessionist to make a Hard (-20) Search Test – if passed, they discover the following item:

Reinforced Hauberk (Chest 4; Imposing, 15 kg)

Imposing: The hauberk is wrought with the elaborate family crest of Clan Sonet, along with elaborate tracery and gothic ornamentation. It grants the Air of Authority Talent and a +10 Bonus to Command or Intimidate Tests made by the wearer.

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Part III: Aristarchius’s Freehold

 

If travelling by riverboat, the next day the player characters come upon a dry sandbank on the riverside featuring a series of splintered flagpoles. These poles bear the tattered remnants of frayed, drooping banners, which themselves display the crest and insignia of Clan Sonet. If travelling on foot through the jungles, the searching of the player characters leads them to a similar line of markers, which Rister joyously deduces must be the trail towards Aristarchius Sonet’s outpost. Following the markers leads the party to the remains of Sonet’s campsite – while Rister wil accompany the player characters, the crew of the Purser’s Wing and Rister’s two merchants stay behid on the steamboat or to set up camp, depednign on whether the Purser’s Wing still exists.

 

Sonet’s Outpost

The exploration mission of Aristarchius Sonet takes the form of a 200 meter-diameter circle of basic outpost structures, such as habitability tents, water filtration tanks, and storage containers. A high rockrete wall with an AP value of 16 surrounds the outpost. The wall is inset with firing slits and nonfunctional heavy bolter turrets – a -20 Tech-Use test can repair the turrets, but once activated they will fire upon anything that moves within range of the outpost and are not capable of distinguishing between friend or foe. The turrets have 15 wounds with an Armor Value of 5, whit Ballistic Skill 30, and count as being equipped with red-dot laser sights.

The rim of the campsite outside the nonfunctional turrets is laced with pitfall traps – any Secessionist who triggers one must make a -10 Agility Test or suffer a two meter fall followed by 1d10+4 Rending Damage, with the Toxic and Hallucinogenic qualities due to the dementia wasp venom the pit’s spines are coated in.

The entrances to the outpost are three chain gates topped with barbed wire and spotlights, which are powered down. A character that passes a successful Climb Test can vault over the gates unimpeded, but a failed Agility Test causes 1d5 Rending damage and does not allow a character to pass.

            Inside the outpost’s walls are five key locations: The Chapel, the Tavern, The Bunks, the Generators, and the Workshops.

 

The Chapel

The chapel is a rectangular-shaped building on a raised hillock of craggy rock and sparse grass. The angled rise forces all who would approach it to look up at its peak. Thin, wiry dead trees loom up over it, and a creaky iron gate leads up a simple set of shale steps to reach the front doors. Inside, the chapel is arranged as a long, rectangular aisle with two side alleys and rows of pews. The side alleys possess simple stone statues of the Founders, many of which are crumbling or shattered. Halfway down the nave, pews and altars have been thrown together to make for a composite barricade with an AP value of 2. A few desiccated bodies, their flesh corroded by venom wounds, lie dustily in behind the barricades.

The nave’s floor is lined with a snare trap operated by tripwires – a +10 Awareness Test successfully notices them and eliminates any threat, but any characters who walk unknowingly into the nave suffers 1d5 Impact Damage with the Primitive and Snare qualities.

If the Player characters wish to search for treasure, an Easy (+10) Common Lore (Acridite Paganism) Test reveals that often times valuable relics are contained within chapel altars. An additional Degree of Success reveals that, on less common occasions occasions, other relics may be concealed within statues or jewelry.

If the group succeeds on a Search test they discover, concealed within the altar, the following item:

Rifle (Basic; 90m; S/3/5; 1d10+5 I; Pen 5; Clip 20; Reload Full; 7kg).

Best Craftsmanship: The weapon provides a +10 Bonus to Attack rolls and deals 1 additional point of damage, which is included in its profile.

Zealous: The weapon may only gain a cumulative Bonus of +30 or lower, but may only suffer a cumulative Penalty of -30 or higher.

            A further Hard (-20) Search Test reveals 6 Dumdum Bullets contained within the Founder statues of the chapel.

 

            The Tavern

            The tavern is small, L-shaped building. The smaller section of the tavern is a square room with two exits intended for modest eating. Thirteen tables are arranged eclectically around the room, under the low ceiling, which is cast in darkness. A +10 Tech-Use test can repair the faulty electrical wiring. Behind the bar are various alcohols, all musty and spoiled with age. Wooden columns support the ceiling. The stench of rotting meat is pervasive an immediately apparent.

            Through a wooden door behind the bar is the rest of the tavern, which takes the form of the kitchens and the supply locker. The kitchen is a simple array of tables and cooking ware. The doors to the supply locker are enormous, rusted cryogenic bulkheads, which have been forced open by blunt impact. Preservative fluids and blood have dried to a sticky sap on the floor – all movement along it is reduced by 1 meter.

            Unfortunately for the Player characters, the spoiling meat has attracted a pack of predators from the jungle, keen on feasting their hungry bellies on the package-frozen flesh. Inside the storage locker are a number of Rannevores equal in number to the Player characters.

 

Enemy NPC: Rannevores

Rannevores are foul, chiropteran-faced canines that resemble a combination of a bald wolf and a bat. Their fleshy noses quivery wetly as long, prehensile tongues lash between needle-like fangs. Their sense of smell is legendary, but even more fearsome is the echolocation-reactant venom that they use to track their prey. While harmless, those exposed to the Riter’s saliva becomes coated in sonar-refracting particles that the Rannevores can use as a beacon to follow, hunting their meat until they fall atop it in a feeding frenzy.

WS

BS

S

T

Ag

Int

Per

WP

Fel

58

-

48

45

48

19

49

41

09

Wounds: 15

Movement: 4/8/12/24

Armor: All 2

Skills: Awareness, Tracking +10.

Talents: Swift Attack, Talented (Tracking).

Traits: Bestial, Brutal Charge, Natural Armor (2), Natural Weapons.

Weapons: Claws and Fangs (Melee, 1d10+4 R, Pen 0, Primitive).

 

After killing all of the Rannevores, it is revealed that they had come to feast not only on the defrosting grox meat but also on the corpse chained up in the storage locker. Trussed like a fowl, the partially devoured body is covered in bite marks and lacerations. An Interrogation Test, however, reveals that the Rannevores did not cause all of the amputations – somebody was torturing the explorer using the cold of the storage locker to slow his blood flow, allowing him to stay alive despite the amputations. Some of the cuts contain traces of frozen dementia wasp venom – however, only a -10 Medicae, Forbidden Lore (Xenos), or similar skill can reveal this fact.

 

The Bunks

The bunks were clearly the last line of Sonet’s defenses. The bunks were reserved for the explorers themselves, with the adepts, helots and squires taking refuge in the habitat tents dotted around outside. The bunks are a two-story, prefabricated bunker with an AP of 20. It seems to be based off of a classic Imperial STC, but obviously features no Imperial iconography.

The ground floor consists of a large commons area and a few adjourning rooms serving as perishable stores, ablutions, and a small kitchen. Furniture has been overturned to barricade the entrance doors and a -20 Strength Test is required to force the blastcrete doors open. All of the windows are locked and bolted with the armored shutters lowered, save for welts and bends in the sheet metal from where autogun barrels protrude. Inside, bookshelves have been turned into rudimentary gun mounts against the windows, and dead bodies lie piled around their weapons.

The second floor features three relatively comfortable private rooms, each door of which bears the crest of the Sonet Clan and a name scroll, while the other two rooms are general dorms for lesser nobles. The windows, too, are shuttered, and all of the bodies are unarmed, implying their weapons have been looted. Many of them were killed using knife wounds – again, a -10 Test can reveal the usage of dementia wasp venom.

            While the dead bodies consist mainly of Clan Sonet’s nobility, none of the bodies are Aristarchius’s. Rister is mournful, but wishes to continue the mission.

 

Generators

The generators are a series of rectangular, single-story prefabricated structures. Circular iron bulkheads are locked into place around the entrances and require a -10 Security or Tech-Use Test to open. Flickering chemical klaxons on the tops of the generators flash an angry red, warning against entry, although the speakers have long since eroded. If the Player characters choose to enter, the interiors are nestled mazes of piping and wiring. All tests requiring finesse such as Weapon Skill, Ballistic Skill, and Agility suffer a -20 Penalty, which is only negated by the Contortionist Skill. Every so often an electrical shock pulses through the wreckage, dealing 1d5 Shocking Damage to characters who fail the Agility Test required to avoid it.

 

Workshop

The workshop is a huge, rectangular building of two stories, filled with catwalks, cupolas and ladders. The ground floor is characterized by a large loading bay with three ramp-like doors that make up the walls, which have been torn down. It features enough space for four Sand Hornet outrider scout vehicles. Only two remain, however, and both show signs of battlefield duress – the hulls are pockmarked with bullet holes and scorched by munitions blasts. Tire marks reveal that the other two have left – characters with the Tracking Skill can follow these marks without a test.

Under the hoods of both vehicles are homemade explosives – characters that succeed on a +30 Search Test or simply look under the hood see firebombs wired into the engines. A +10 Demolitions Test successfully defuses them – if failed, consult the Explosive Mishaps table of the Armory chapter of the Dark Heresy core rulebook. Once removed, characters with the Tech-Use Skill can make a +10 Tech-Use Test to hotwire one of the vehicles. If the characters simply try to hotwire the vehicle without removing the bombs, they all count as having been hit by a firebomb.

 

Sand Hornet Outrider Scout Vehicle

Type: Ground Vehicle

Size: Hulking

Armor: Front 10, Hull 8

Traits: All Terrain, Stripped Chassis, Open

Narrative Speed: 65km/125kmph

Combat Speed: 15/45/90/135/180

Drive Modifier: 0

Armament: 1 Heavy Stubber

Crew: 1 Driver

Access Points: Open

Passengers: 4

Special Rules: Due to its sturdy nature and interchangeable components, the Sand Hornet grants a +10 Bonus to Tech-Use Tests intended to repair damage to the vehicle.

 

The second floor is a network of catwalks and loading cranes. The back wall is a long gun rack featuring one poor-craftsmanship hunting rifle, four poor-craftsmanship stub revolvers, and two poor-craftsmanship pump-action shotguns, each with only half a clip of ammunition. The security clamps fastening the other weapon slots closed have been pried open, implying the rack was extensively looted with only the worst weapons left behind.

            On the roof are four gun-servitors at each corner of the roof who clearly could not be removed by the invaders and were instead left to decay. The servitors’ organic components have been mostly picked clean by the carrion birds wheeling overhead, but when the Player characters emerge onto the roof they become active and bring their autoguns to bear. If slain, it is revealed that the battle-servitors each bear the personal crest of Aristarchius Sonet, with an alphanumberic – Alpha-1, Alpha-2, etc. Alpha 3 is nowhere to be found, while Alpha-4 and Alpha-5 are present. A +10 Tech-Use test to hack into the servitors’ memory banks reveals pre-programmed protocols, and that Alpha-3 was dispatched to accompany Aristarchius (or at least Aristarchius’s Ident code) away from the outpost.

            At this point, Rister is hysterical, fearing that his grandfather’s bones will never be found. When he hears the news from the servitor, it provides fresh hope for him and he insists on finishing the expedition.

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Part IV: Beset On All Sides

 

Following the trail of Alpha-3 takes the party through the jungles once again, and likewise have them each make a Difficult (-10) Awareness Test. If they fail, they must make a hard (-20) Agility Test to avoid the natural hazards or suffer 2d5 Rending Damage. Any damage earned this way represents all the damage accumulated during the course of the hike and does not compound for multiple instances.

            If the characters choose to return to either the docked Purser’s Wing or the campsite erected by Rister’s crew, they will find any that supplies, tents, rations, weapons, ammunition, gear, and even the Purser’s Wing itself has vanished. The crew, unfortunately, remain, and have all been slaughtered to a man, menacingly mutilated and butchered. Here, the GM has choice of who he wishes to implicate for the deaths – firstly, he may choose to blame the unknown faction that attacked Aristarchius’s outpost, in which case the bodies of the deceased are covered with bullet holes and stab wounds. Damage dealt by melee weapons drip with hallucinogenic venom, which is Detectable with a -10 Test of a relevant skill such as Forbidden Lore (Xenos) or Chemistry. This option is best if in Part II the player characters were successful in repelling all of the Purser’s Wing’s invaders, leaving no survivors, or having killed their leader.

            If the player characters were unable to repel the invaders, or if they left the enemy leader alive, then the GM has the option of pinning the deaths on that party, and should implicate that group in their handiwork – for example, if the cultists of the Burnt Man were responsible for the killing, the bodies may be horrendously charred and immolated. Likewise, Marren’s Recidivists may have carved religious prayers into the victims’ flesh, and the Totter’s have undoubtedly looted all of the crew’s possessions, leaving only a mocking signet ring bearing the family seal behind in plain sight.

            Regardless of which selection the GM makes, the attackers have left a very obvious trail to follow – a +30 Tracking Test leads the party to their location in an hour, and any Degrees of Failure add an additional hour to that travel time. During the travels, the GM may create any combat encounters that he wishes, or may simply allow the journey to remain uneventful. However, at the end of the hike, the following scene awaits the player characters:

 

            Looming out of the jungle is a clearling of dead, destroyed land, of a very large diameter. An elaborate, fortified complex, constructed from a variety of wrecked prefabricated structures, uprooted foliage, and interconnected walkways, occupies the clearing. The haphazard and makeshift fortifications seem to center around a network of crumbling, monolithic sandstone ruins, inset with precious stones and carved with archaic hieroglyphs. Given the copious gunfire encountered by the player characters, it is evident that they have stumbled into a firefight, of which the two participating factions are the raiders encountered by the player characters in Part II and a conglomerate of wild-looking, savage figures dressed in a patchwork combination of soiled finery, torn uniforms of indeterminate origin, mismatched plates of industrial armor and animal leathers. Many of them also display mutations, most notably an arachnid mutant with mangy black hair and a multitude of eyes and fangs.

 

Notable NPC: Shiv Uriah

An aberrant hybrid of human and arachnid, the vile concoction of exposure to dementia wasp pathogens and the corrupting influence of Aristarchius’s tomb has left Shiv Uriah with a plethora of horrid malformations. Bearing long mandibles that bristle with venom and a cluster of black, insidious eyes protruding from ridges in his warped skull, Uriah is a disgusting beast to behold. Barely capable of speech through his frothing mouthparts, Shiv leads the remnants of Aristrchius Sonet’s expeditionary force in the custody of his tomb, slaying all that would attempt to penetrate his former leader’s defenses. However, Shiv bears no love for his old master, and only protects the ruins in order to contain the evil that lurks within.

WS

BS

S

T

Ag

Int

Per

WP

Fel

43

43

45

35

55

24

43

35

14

Wounds: 15

Movement: 4/8/12/24

Armor: Arms 2, Body 4, Legs 3

Skills: Awareness +10, Common Lore (Acrides), Concealment, Dodge, Drive (Ground Vehicle), Inquiry, Interrogation, Intimidate +20, Medicae, Security, Shadowing, Silent Move, Speak Language (High Gothic, Low Gothic), Tracking.

Talents: Basic Weapon Training (Las, SP), Disarm, Heavy Weapon Training (Launcher, SP), Hip Shooting, Melee Weapon Training (Chain, Primitive), Nerves of Steel, Pistol Training (Las, SP), Rapid Reaction, Sprint.

Traits: Grotesque, Natural Weapons.

Grotesque: The mutant’s mutations impose a -20 Penalty to all Fellowship Tests made with “normals”, but grant him a +10 Bonus to Intimidate Tests, which has been included in his profile.

Weapons: Chainsword (1d10+5 R; Pen 2; Balanced, Tearing), hand cannon (35 m; S/-/-; 1d10+4 I; Pen 2; Clip 5; Reload 2 Full), natural weapons (1d10+4 R; Primitive, Hallucinogenic).

Gear: Mismatched armor plating, distressed uniform, 3 hand cannon clips, photo-visor, respirator, 7 Throne Gelt.

 

The player characters may react to the battle as they choose – depending on which faction they choose to ally with, either Shiv’s mutants or the raiders, generate the encounter as such: whichever faction the players ally with constitutes a number of NPCs equal to the number of player characters and Notable NPCs, while the enemy party is equal in size to the two other forces combined. For example, if the players chose to live by the motto of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend”, then include Shiv Uriah and a number of NPCs equal to the number of player characters. Consequently, for example, if the players had encountered the Cult of the Burned Man in Part II, employ the Cult Fanatic (if he still lives) and a number of Cult Initiates equal in number to the sum of the players and Shiv’s men. Alternatively, the players may choose the opposite party, in which case adjust the numbers to compensate. Shiv’s guardians use the profiles for Skulkers with the Mutation Trait. Their mono-knives have the hallucinogenic quality. As ever, Rister does not participate, running for cover.

 

After the battle’s conclusion, if Shiv still lives, he will reveal to them the truth of his involvement in the South Jungle, either under pain of interrogation or post-victory supply rounds. The reality of the situation is that the ruins here were not constructed by Aristarchius or his expeditionary force, but rather by a tribe of piscine mutants that the exploration party stumbled across in their expedition. The mutants had constructed a peaceful, agrarian society for themselves, but at the same time had constructed an underground necropolis to contain an artifact of terrible evil that they had possessed for the past century. The dead clearing around the area is a testament to the evil buried beneath, the influence of which is corrupting the very earth. Aristarchius was immediately intrigued, and demanded that the mutants give the occult artifact over to him – when they refused, they were all massacred. Aristarchius delved into the necropolis to retrieve the artifact, but not before punishing the members of his force who had displeased him in their unwillingness to slaughter the noncompliant natives – namely, Shiv and his men. As penance, Shiv and his men were marched all the way back to the dementia wasp warrens and dropped down into the darkness, where Shiv remained for years, tormented in the darkness by the foul creatures. If asked how he escaped, all Shiv will say is that he was rescued by “a horribly burnt man who disappeared immediately after.” Upon escaping, he rallied his men and attacked Aristarchus’s outpost in revenge, using weapons treated with dementia wasp venom as a token of payback. Aristarchius was thrown into his own tomb and locked inside, where he undoubtedly starved to death. The camp now guards the ruins of Aristarchus’s tomb to prevent any from entering and taking the artifact that Aristarchius sought.

 

The player characters have the option of camping alongside Shiv and his men, if they so choose. However, if they wish to enter the necropolis, Shiv will forbid it, claiming that he cannot risk the evil within escaping. Rister will blather and complain, but to no avail. The players are now at an impasse – will they fight Shiv to get to the necropolis, or abandon the mission? Usage of Interaction Skills can convince Shiv to allow them into the tomb as long as Shiv accompanies them, under the condition that no other items are taken save Aristarchus’s corpse.

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PART V: THE TOMB OF ARISTARCHIUS

 

Whenever the characters enter a room, roll on the following table.

1

Uneasiness: A sensation of betrayal and deceit smothers the group like a fog, breeding paranoia and distrust. Every minute a character is in the chamber, he must make a Challenging (+0) Willpower Test or suffer one automatic Insanity Point and one Corruption Point, and an additional Insanity Point and Corruption Point for every two Degrees of Failure. NPCs are incapacitated upon gaining 10 Insanity Points or Corruption Points.

2

Broken Time: Time seems to bend and warp unnaturally within the chamber. At the start of every character’s turn, roll a d10. On a 1 or 2, the character counts as being Stunned until the end of the Round and cannot make any Actions or Reactions. On a 9 or 10, the character may take a second Turn immediately after completing is normal one.

3

Shadowy Hallucinations: Shadows move out of the corner of the characters’ eyes, and auspices react to invisible intruders. All characters within the chamber must reroll any successful Perception Tests or any successful Tech-Use tests involving auspices or similar sensors. A Fate Point can be spent to negate a singular re-roll.

4

Haunting Shades: At some point during the investigation of this chamber, one randomly determined character receives a vision of a figure from their past, or potentially someone they currently know. Alternatively, the shad can be a figure from their future, or an ancestor. Whether or not the shade is truly the deceased figure or in fact a figment of the character’s addled imagination is unknown. If attacked, the shades use the profiles for Astral Specters.

5

Dark Whispers: Upon entering the chamber, it is immediately apparent that some unnatural presence inhabits the area. The presence hisses and mocks the characters as they pass through, taunting them with unsavory details or their pasts or insidious warnings of the future. At the start of any combat encounters within the chamber, the characters count as if their adversaries have the Fear 1 Trait.

6

Eldritch Geometries: The physical dimensions of the chamber seem distorted as per an optical illusion. When a character attempts to make a shooting attack, roll 2d10. If the sum is odd, add that value to the distance in meters between the target and the firer. If the sum is even, subtract that value from the distance in meters between the target and the firer.

7

Echoes: Sound bends back on itself disturbingly, and the insidious sound of a beating heart permeates the room. Hearing-based Awareness and Perception tests suffer a -10 Penalty.

8

Ghostly Bleeding: The sickly-sweet smell of iron assaults the characters as they enter. Thick, fresh blood pools in the cracks between the stone blocks of the walls and floor, and statues and paintings seem to bleed from the eyes. Due to the accumulation of ichor on the floor, a Difficult (-10) Agility Test is required to safely traverse the chamber.

9

Beyond the Veil: Creatures with the Warp Instability Trait do not suffer from the Trait’s normal effects. Instead, they regain a number of Wounds equal to their Willpower Bonus at the end of any Turn in which they inflicted Damage or Insanity Points. Psykers gain an additional d10 to their power rolls but must roll twice on the Psychic Phenomena Table and choose the higher result.

10

Unnatural Calm: There appears to be no effect on this chamber.

 

If the GM chooses, he may roll on the following rewards table:

1

Munitions Cache: Shoved up against a corner is an old metal crate containing three autopistol, stub revolver, or laspistol clips, five autogun or shotgun clips, two frag grenades, two krak grenades, and a large canister of repair cement.

2

Servitor Alpha-3: The malfunctioning machine components and decrepit flesh of this servitor are a testament to its age. An Ordinary (+10) Tech-Use Test can extract information about the tomb’s layout from Alpha-3’s brain. If successful, the GM must warn the party ahead the next Encounter they will face, or alternatively the players can lessen the difficulty of their next Navigation (Surface) Test by two degrees.

3

The Dead: The fallen corpse of one of Arisstarchius Sonet’s conquistadores lies within the chamber, decayed beyond recognition to a mummified husk. The corpse bears the following wargear: One best-craftsmanship sword (Melee; 1d10+1 R; Pen 0; Balanced, Primitive; 3 kg), gilded feudal plate

 

\

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OTHER FUN ON ACRIDES!

 

 

Through one thing or another, a makeshift agri-world under the control of my heretics suddenly suffered a food shortage. Apparently our oh-so-wise Apostate didn't quite do his research, and the planet's soil is in fact unfit for most crops.

Then our Heretek had an idea.

 

Tobias the Tau-Friend*: "When daemons possess people, they grow loads of extra limbs and heads and wings and stuff, right?"

*Our mutated, pariah tech-priest. Infamous for his adorable anime eyes, gill slits, and his astonishing -01 Fellowship.

Me (the GM): "Yes."

Tobias: "Well, if we bound daemons to plants instead of animals, would the same thing happen?"

Me: "I imagine so, yes."

Tobias: "So if we get demonically possessed wheat, or something, we essentially have a regenerating, exponentially growing food supply."

Me: "Yes."

...

Me: "Wait, what?"

 

HELLWHEAT

 

“Ch-ch-ch-chia! Ch-ch-ch-Chaos!”

– Dark Magos Metafice, Sect of the Black Artificers

 

One of the many madcap creations of the Dark Mechanicum, this consumable was originally intended to serve as a self-replenishing food source for worlds in need of a vast, instantaneous food supply. The process by which Hellwheat is created is a mystery to most, but it involves the carefully controlled binding of a daemon of the warp into a sample of vegetable matter, such as a stalk of fruit or a cane of sugar. Due to the regenerative and mutagenic capabilities of organisms subjected to daemonic possession, the possessed plant can grow without need for any of its usual metabolic or dietary requirements. In addition, just as in a sapient organism the bound daemon manifests a large variety of additional limbs, even tiny samples of Hellwheat can grow and mutate to eventually feed the equivalent of an entire regiment’s worth of soldiers – although by that time, the daemon-crop will in no way resemble the plant it once was, sprouting all manner of eldritch tentacles, feelers, vines and growths. Some daemons that manage to lessen the wards binding them into their vegetative hosts can even generate sharp claws, wickedly burning eyes, and maws of circulating fangs, uprooting themselves and charging across their heretical gardens until exorcised or dismembered by its would-be cultivators.  

 

Description: Generating Hellwheat is a Ritual, as described in the Dark Heresy Radical’s Handbook and the Black Crusade Core Rulebook. Alternatively, certain organizations or factions associated with heretical technologies, such as the Dark Mechanicus or Traitor Legions, may already be in possession of samples of Hellwheat.

Requirements: First, the creator must pass a Very hard (-30) Forbidden Lore (Demonology) Test o successfully research this ritual himself given access to certain materials, although this information can be gained in other ways via a Dark pact or the like. To cultivate Hellwheat, the ritual’s creator requires a sample of living, consumable plant matter, such as a food crop. While the ritual can be technically enacted using inedible or toxic plants, the daemonic plant matter produced by such a ritual will be inedible.  

Conducting the Ritual: The ritual culminates in a 2d10 minute procedure during which the creator must pass both a Challenging (+0) Willpower Test ad a Difficult (-10) Forbidden Lore (Demonology) Test to successfully summon the daemon, using relevant modifiers.

Effect: A sample of Hellwheat is created. The creator must successfully pass a (+20) Daemonic Mastery test. If failed, the plant spontaneously mutates and takes on the profile of a Ripper Whip, albeit with the From Beyond, Fear 2, Regeneration, and Daemonic Traits. If the test is passed, one square meter of Raw Hellwheat is created (see NPC: Raw Hellwheat). Based on the number of Degrees of Success, the Growth Rate of the Hellwheat is slowed based on the following table:

 

0-1 Degrees of Success

The Growth Rate is unaffected.

2-3 Degrees of Success

The Growth Rate is halved.

4+ Degrees of Success

The Growth Rate is quartered.

 

If successful, the sample of Hellwheat will grow in surface area, engulfing everything in its path. This rate begins at an additional 4 square meters per day in any direction or shape, but can be slowed by gaining Degrees of Success on the Daemonic Mastery Test.

Cost: 1d5 Insanity Points, and 2d5+3 Corruption Points are incurred by the creator.

 

The Hellwheat may be harvested at any time to provide food (see Consumable: Hellwheat Rations). Each square meter of Hellwheat can produce 10 Hellwheat Rations. Harvesting the wheat involves entering into close combat with the wheat, treating each square meter of Hellwheat as a separate enemy (see NPC: Raw Hellwheat). A character may attack a number of Raw Hellwheat equal to his Agility bonus, as long as he is in range of all of them. The square meter of Raw Hellwheat has been harvested once reduced to zero wounds. Excess damage dealt to one Raw Hellwheat carries over into any other random Raw Hellwheat adjacent to that square.

 

NPC: Raw Hellwheat

WS

BS

S

T

Ag

Int

Per

WP

Fel

28

-

15

20

42

05

30

25

-

Wounds: 5

Move: X

Skills: Concealment

Talents: Ambidextrous, Dual Strike, Lightning Attack, Rapid Reaction, Two-Weapon Wielder (Melee).

Traits: Blind, Multiple Arms (Toughness Bonus included in profile), Regeneration, Short Tentacles.

Short Tentacles: These are melee weapons that may be used to attack one target up to five meters away from the Raw Hellwheat each Round.

Armor: None

Weapons: Tentacles (1d5 I, Primitive).

 

CONSUMABLE: Hellwheat Rations

Hellwheat is a cutting of demonically possessed, mutated crops, which grants strange, horrific abilities to its consumers. 5 rations of Hellwheat quench a hearty appetite. For every 5 rations of Hellwheat consumed in one sitting, a character gains 1d5 Corruption Points. For every 10 rations of Hellwheat consumed in one sitting, a character gains one random Minor Mutation, which disappears after the demonically possessed plant matter has been fully digested (1d5 hours). For every 20 rations of Hellwheat consumed in one sitting, a character gains one random Major Mutation, which is permanent. No more than 20 rations may be consumed at once. After consuming any amount of Hellwheat in one sitting, a character regains a number of lost wounds equal to the total number of corruption points gained during that incidence. This cannot grant a character a number of wounds in excess of his starting wounds.

If 100 rations of Hellwheat are consumed over the course of multiple sittings by a character, the daemon of the crop manages to instill part of its own warp-spawned essence in the character’s soul, causing them to become a Daemon Vessel (see the Elite Advances Chapter of the Radical’s Handbook).

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