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Ordo Malleus Adventure- The Beiderbeck Investigation

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Another thought... people who play at the Phoenix Games Club in London, please dont read, I will run this!

 

Also Dark Reign- please dont publish this until after I run the game in Nov 09

 

The Beiderbeck Investigation

Interrogator Canaris is an Inquisitor in Training. He ratified to join the Holy Ordo’s of the Inquisition under the sponsorship of his master, Inquisitor Loki. His purgation of the witch cults of Fenksworld was seen as thorough and competent and he has put to the question many corrupt Ecclesiarchy and Administratum officials. His personal bravery in leading the Scourging of Rutland Province on Tephaine Minor and leading Naval, Guard, PDF and Sororitas forces in rooting out a Genestealer Cult proved he had the organisational skills to be a first class Inquisitor.

He is also a Daemon. Not originally of course, but possessed by the merest shard/fragment of an incorporeal Daemon Lord of Tzeentch called Astrynax. A willy and cunning Daemon, some fluke of the Warp allows it to bypass psychic detection and pentagrammatic wards. Those who seek to thwart him seem to suffer Omen-like ‘accidents’ so he now stands on the brink of joining the Inquisition and doing immeasurable damage to the Imperium in the Calixis sector.

The Radical Inquisitor Beiderbeck suspects Canaris but lacks sufficient weight with the Inquisitor Lords to block Canaris’ ascension. He cant bring official charges since he’d be called upon to reveal the source of his information. And his source was a Daemon he’d conjured. However, he does have a solution- a sorcerous ritual to invoke and summon Astrynax should draw him out of Canaris’ body. His servants and cultists even now seek to gather the arcane ingredients and establish the most propitious place in which to summon a daemon.

Now Canaris/Astrynax has gotten wind of this, and has requested from Globus Vaarak the service of one of his many groups of Acolytes (the PC’s) to help in an investigation since he lacks his own Acolytes and was impressed with their work on Tephaine Minor. Vaarak has agreed to lend out the Acolytes in return for Canaris vote when he is made Inquisitor.

Canaris will outline that he believes a shadowy figure connects a disparate collection of Chaos cults throughout the sector. They now seem to be working to one accord and needs the Acolytes to conduct surveillance and interdict the Fraternity of the Eightfold Path from stealing Druisine Incense (from the Inquisitors Handbook) whilst being shipped out from the Cathedral of Illumination on Hive Tarsus.

(Insert standard Chaos Cult investigation, possible vehicle chase through crowded Hive arteria, shoot out in middle of a church etc. Allow characters to bond with Canaris who’ll play the staunch Puritan who purges first and lets the Emperor sort them out- an Inquisitors Inquisitor- he’ll be useful in a fight and seemingly risk himself to save them and ensure the success of the mission. Anyone threatening Canaris (such as a cultist attacking him) will meet with an accidental death, that can laughed off a dice botch or fumble or the dark comedy stylings of the GM.)

The Eightfold Path leads to a location in the dark hives of Solomon. There they will find a vile sorcerer and his daemonhost about to summon a terrible daemon. Omens fill the mouths of seers. Data slates containing daemonic rituals will bear Inquisitorial insignia. Shocking denouement. Terrible, insane accusations will be made. And its now the Acolytes will find their loyalty to Canaris tested.

What proof can an obvious Radical like Biederbeck offer ? Well there was a witness to the Possession of Canaris years ago, a decorated Inquisitorial storm trooper called Myers who now languishes in a Sororitas madhouse, diagnosed a bedlamite, driven mad by the horrors of the Warp he’s seen. Such a pity that the asylum inmates are so prone to possession there…. (Insert ‘The Asylum’ adventure from CoC)

Or there are Magistratum records of suspicious deaths, which a smart adept could link together to show a plague of mysterious deaths around the data record of Interrogator Canaris.

And then there is the simplest confirmation. Should any PC or group of PC’s suspect Canaris and begin to accuse him or seek to kill him, then they will meet with Fate-Point burning accidents of the Omen kind.


Or the PC’s could simply slay Biederbeck and continue to loyally serve Canaris. I’m sure they wont notice anything suspicious about him or his rise to power.

Central Dilemma-

How do the PC’s prove or disprove Canaris is a pawn of Chaos? Blessings don’t faze him. Pentagrammatic wards are walked through. Psykers cant sense it. They can go Radical and follow Biederbecks ritual. That’ll work, but might **** them. Or they can kill Canaris and watch the daemon hop bodies. Probably into one of them. Lets hope they are standing in some Druisine Incense at the time. And killing the Inquisitions current golden boy is going to require a lot more proof than “We thought he might be a heretic”.

This is going to be a game about trust and belief. For Puritan players Biederbeck is a clear bad guy to kill, Canaris a model of righteousness. Yet, the security of the Imperium probably relies on them becoming Radicals. Would they sacrifice their souls to save the sector? Of course other solutions and PC ingenuity may well present itself. Astrynax probably has some little known weaknesses – be it an inability to pronounce its name backwards without unbecoming, or a vulnerability to other daemons could come into play.

 

 

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SJE, believe it or not I actually love the scenario, well done happy.gif.

 

The saying your name backwards thing reminds me of a Family Guy episode though... you know, the one where Mayor West accidentally makes Bob Barker say his name backwards and he's then banished back to hell. Just saying, your PCs might be inspired to try something cunning like that. Otherwise, do post how the scenario works out. I'm interested to see whether they go Radical or whatnot.

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Perhaps, as a way to lend hints to Canaris' identity, he is not completely immune to pentagrammatic wards. Maybe he is able to withstand them for a period of time, before he must excuse himself from the presences of others as some manifestation of the Warp catches up with him. As a Daemon of Tzeentch, he may have some sense of when they are about to occur, a feeling of building pressure, at which point he excuses himself suddenly, goes off to a private room, and something weird happens near him that no one else sees.  And maybe there's physical trace left behind, or some unwitting servitor or skull drone that witnesses/films it. The servitor is restricted from speaking out against the Interrogator due to its programming, but if asked direct questions about Canaris by other Acolytes, it might say something. Perceptive Acolytes would detect that there was something wrong with the servitor, or maybe Canaris' corrupting influence causes servitors to break down prematurely. (The ranking tech-priest might find this an irritating trait of Canaris, leading him to grumble about how he overworks the servitors and/or the machine spirits.)

Alternatively, Canaris' invulnerabilty to the wards and Psykers might be a suppressing effect that delays things from happening. They can start small; Canaris attends a meeting, and all the light globes in the conference room burn out ten minutes after he leaves. As he grows in influence and power, the manifestations increase, leading to suspicions of hauntings or witchcraft among the Acolytes. Perhaps the party's Psyker walks into a room after Canaris has been in there, and immediately gets a sense of corruption and the Warp from an Adept who was sorting data on behalf of the Interrogator, so much so that he has no choice but to gun down the Adept or immediately apprehend him for Inquisitorial interrogation. Post-mortem examinations find no sign of corruption, and investigation of the Adept's background shows no links to Chaos whatsoever. And further manifestations occur, entrapping other Acolytes (even the PCs) in accusations of corruption. The delay can be shorter near more powerful wards or the presence of powerful faith/psyker abilities; a visiting Astartes Librarian or Chaplain causes him to have to excuse himself very shortly (for the first possiblity) or the manifestations to start immediately after he leaves the room (for the second).

A third idea might be that long exposure to Canaris causes Psykers to detect the signs of corruption, but only if they pay attention. The effects of the Daemon's influence are like a vibration or sound that is so low in frequency and volume that you don't really recognize it, but you can feel its effects on you after a period of time. The PCs might start taking penalties after a while, but it would only be recognizable if a Psyker (or maybe  a Tech-Priest) thought about it while out of its influence. After they realize there is this "sound," they may start trying to tell when it reappears, pointing them at Canaris. Of course, if Canaris always has an aide with him, who might be a little odd to begin with, they may be fooled into thinking that the Great Man is not corrupt, but he is being influenced by corrupt servants.

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Thank you for the ideas. One quite subtle idea I had was to keep mentioning meals and how Canaris always excuses himself or is always interrupted or called away before he can eat,  or he is often dining alone.  The characters will never, ever see him eat. Because perhaps he no longer can, or a different food, whether vile, inedible or corrupt is the only thing that now sustains him.

Its just something in human nature and socialisation what makes you suspicious or wary of those who dont break bread with you. Keeping it as an ongoing background element (including a feast to celebrate Canaris' ascension that he somehow avoids eating anything at) until someone twigs that they've never seen him finish  a single bite and investigates what he does actually eat  would be apropriately interesting and subtle. Again, something that raises suspicions but which doesnt actually constitute proof.

 

SJE

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sounds nice, hmm many evil vilians eat vile stuff like baby brains, but few eat stuff like charcoal, and that could if needed leave a few black marks, and well it is a demon of tzeenech so why not?

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Why not something innocuous, like potatoes.  Now there are are a lot of ways to prepare potatoes, and you could easilly explain he's fond of them, but if nobody ever sees him eat anything else (no butter, no salt, no gravy, no toppings) it could raise quesions.

Acolytes who bcome suspicious might mention their suspicions to another Inquistor like Haark, who (though perhaps reluctant) would probably at least consider (and investigate) the possibility that the golden child is less pure thandriven snow and more yellow snow.  It's likely to occur to them, when it becomes a matter of convincing and providing evidence rather than Radicalisation.  Of course, no one could be available.

A risky option would be to let the ritual progress, then gun down everyone in sight for the Emperor to sort out.  Lots of corruption and insanity, but it might appeal (and lots of Incense can improve a PCs odds).

The chances of them aquiring one are raher remote, but a Blank would be very handy to have.

Let us know how things go.

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Well, I'm going to run this next week, so my thoughts are turning to specifics. First session and we'll have the transfer of masters, introduction of Canaris. Then he can set them to investigating some thefts of Druisine Incense from the Cathedral.

Depending on how they go, they might discover Attendent Vallam is the inside man of the cult - and he's just given the cult the codes for the loading bay... and cue chase scene/action (possibly with or without Sororitas backup). Or they can surveil and tail.

Either way they are led to the cult leader Magister Skarne who knows the Incense is meant to be shipped to Solomon and the High Psychopomp...

 

SJE

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Insert a xeno insident:

Eldar, for example, are known to be extremely hostile to demons of all kinds and due to their pyschic seers they could have easily had a premonition of how Canaris will in some distant future be a great harm to them.

Now, you can make this as obvious or as sinister as you like. A most obvious thing that would probably raise some questions would be a full-scale assassination attempt by Eldar. Any puritan will still shrug it off as xeno-provocation but you don't have to be radical to start wondering why the eldar assassins were decked from head to toe with anti-demonic wards and symbols.

Or, maybe, acolytes notice that a group a nosy mercenaries have started to shadow Canaris, documenting his comings and goings. When Acolytes finally catch these guys, they find out that the mercenaries are imperial death cultists wearing full sets of eldar-made wards hired to gather intelligence on Canaris. When cornered the death-cultists (maybe a bit heretical to keep intensive contacts with xenos, but still loyal to Emperor) will produce a written account of eldar farseers dreams of what Canaris might become. Yet again, not an absolute proof and alone you could flag it as xeno lies, but when the evidence starts to pile up from multiple, un-connected sources even the thickest puritans will have to start wondering...

 

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What a fantastic set up.

 

I think that perhaps you  could play up the 'omen' deaths a little more. Only, make sure they happen not just to enemies but to those that cross him in the slightest.

Try to find NPCs that the PCs will have to interact with on a regular basis and get used to interacting with them. Then have that npc slight the daemon in some  way (but have the PCs either witness it or hear about it) and then the npc suffers an accident.

This should happen multiple times.

After all, he is a puritan inquisitor, and his standards are exacting. It seems there will be many instances in which someone does something that doesn't please him. So he kills them. It always seemed like in 'omen' that the kid had to be there in order for the event to occur. Make sure the PCs notice he's present and perhaps staring intently at the person who dies.

 

Basically you want to the PCs suspicious enough of him to investigate him on the side and do some background research and come across the storm trooper.

But all of these things are coincidences really, and a good puritan in the group should provide enough argument to kill the radical inquisitor.

The words of a daemon, even if spoken in truth, are said so in deceit after all.

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Ordo Malleus- Subtitle Redacted

Our group consists of 6 characters, including 3 from the Castermere Look-

Eisen Nihlus- a penitent sanctioned Psyker, long used to being despised by all and sundry, but most especially his colleagues.
Tech-Priest Severus- sporting an air-conditioning unit for lungs which must be blessed once per day by another Inquisitorial Acolyte or they will fail him.
Vorgen Fennel– An assassin of few words and a cruel disposition. Enjoys tormenting Severus and Eisen.

And introducing
Commissar Tybolt - seconded from the IG Commissariate, this frightening man wears a power-fist. He vows to execute the Psyker should he suffer the Perils of the Warp.
Father - A hard-drinking but charismatic priest of the Ecclesiarchy who believes in the Holy Trinity of the Emperor, Mankind and the Imperium. The Commissar and he smoke stogies lit from his flamer.
Adept Ishmael Ravion. A quiet scholar of the Forbidden Lores.

Beginning in the august and foreboding spires of the Inquisitions Tricorn Fortress on Scintilla, the Acolytes are informed by their Baron Harkonnen like Inquisitor that they have been seconded to the service of Interrogator Canaris who is soon to be anointed a full Inquisitor at his Ascension Feast in months time. Canaris acquitted himself well by organising the clean-up of the Castermere operation, getting both the Guard, PDF, Navy, Magi Biologicus and Adepta Sororitas to co-operate in the clean-up of the Genestealer cult (comment “Well, everyone in the Imperium can get behind a flamer! If they don’t…”). They should serve him loyally and well, for one of them may become an Interrogator too. But never forget who their true master is…

In the central spire of the Ordo Malleus, they find Inquisitor-to-be Canaris unpacking in his new quarters. Canaris is a relatively young man for the Inquisition – even with the possibility of rejuvenat, he looks like someone in his 30’s with only a single scar on his cheek and no augmetics. Blond and blue-eyed, he’d be played in a movie by a young Robert Redford or Aaron Eckhardt. Filled with idealism and optimism he warmly welcomes the Acolytes to his service saying “Together we can root out and purge the wicked and heretical! We must renew this part of the Imperium, make it a better place for all to fulfil His dream”

Canaris is served by an elderly, sallow and yellow skinned bent old man called Malachai “I shall show your Acolytes to their rooms, my master”
“Now remember, there is no need to call me master, Malachai”

“yes there is, my master” quietly wheezes Malachai.

Reactions to Canaris are mixed amongst the party. The Father develops a huge man-crush on Canaris, finally an Inquisitor who can get the disparate parts of the Imperium working together for the common good! Eisen on the other hand is almost worried – Canaris hasn’t pointed a gun at him, threatened or disparaged him as a potential moral threat of being a psyker! He seems to like Eisen! Which has never before happened with his Inquisitorial comrades. Canaris seems too good to be true and Eisen wants to roll to disbelieve! Tapping into psyniscience (just in case) he senses Malachai isn’t a psyker, nor does he get any vibes from Canaris.

The Assassin Vorgen does a little inquiry into Canaris (though his attempts to not-suggest the Tech Priest accesses classified data are not-refused by Severus), learning that he came from a Schola Progenum, worked briefly as an Adept before being recruited by an Ordo Malleus Inquisitor Loki where he quickly distinguished himself as an able investigator. A few years ago, Loki’s team of Acolytes (including Canaris) were ambushed by a Witch-Cult on Fenksworld (ironic comment from the Castermere survivors “We’d never walk into a trap!” ) and most of the team were killed, but Canaris managed to survive, walking out with the head of the Witch-Cult (though not the rest of his body). That report has been sealed by the now mostly-retired Loki. Since then he’s rooted out many corrupt officials in the Adminstratum and Ecclesiarchy and his handling of the Scourging of Rutland was widely admired for the lack of friendly fire and co-operation between the Imperial forces he was co-ordinating.

Meanwhile Canaris has been outlining his latest investigations to the team. He believes a network of disparate Chaos cults across the sector have been stealing various blasphemous or forbidden items. He believes they are linked because they are not immediately using them to summon the Ruinous Powers, but rather they seem to be sent off-world. They include Etheric Conduits from a Forgeworld (used for Warp Engines), a blasphemous tome from a library in Solomon and even here on Scintilla, capital of the Calixis Sector, the Cathedral of Illumination has suffered unexplained losses of Druisine Incense. He wants the Acolytes to investigate the thefts of the sacred incense and track down those responsible. Apparently the Ecclesiarchy has appointed a Chaplain-Confessor Ezekial to investigate internally.


The Acolytes, given a reasonable budget ( “Can I have a holoprojector” asks the Tech Priest “Sure, Canaris is a multi-media kind of guy – but he will expect Power point presentations” , “Oh my god, Canaris is that type of middle management!” ) and a Writ of Authoritas, decide to approach the Cathedral undercover(ish). Severus communes with the Mechanicus and gets assigned to the repair and maintenance details for the Cathedral (a power conduit needs repaired and the myrrh milling machine in the Incense room needs its maintenance). Vorgen is just going to sneak in with his Assassins stealth training. The Father will present himself as a high ranking Ecclesiarch from Hive Sibellus with his entourage of Scribe (Ravion), Bodyguard (Tybolt) and bag carrier (Eisen). They’ll remain in contact with discrete commbeads.

The Cathedral is a massive and opulent complex, deep within the cool depths of Hive Tarsus (away from the surface desert heat). The front approach is a forest of spires, crenellations, gargoyles and stained glass. Open areas at the front can hold 10,000 worshippers per service, and the place has a thousand side-chapels, reliquaries, altars, pulpits and shrines. Towards the back is the clergy’s private quarters, facilities and a loading bay and vehicular access for supplies. It is protected by Temple Guards, servo skulls and a small detachment of Sisters Sororitas protect the holiest relics of Saint Drusus.

The ‘Ecclesiarchal’ party enter the Cathedral and approach a vicar, demanding to see the Confessor-Chaplain. They are told the Chaplain is currently praying to the Him-On-Earth, and will be with them as soon as possible. Time passes. Perhaps the rivalry between the Tarsus and Sibellus clergy is too great?

Vorgen sneaks past some suspicious guards, clambers up and over some walls and gargoyles and starts ducking into the many nooks and crannies of the Cathedral’s private quarters as he seeks out the Incense Preparation room. Severus is admitted as a recognisable Tech Priest with the right papers, and the some what sniffy guards let him do his job without supervision. He learns that the cameras of the ubiquitious servo skulls are linked to the Tower of the Watchers. He makes his way down to the Incense preparation chambers where novices and priests grind and mix the materials for the sacred incense whilst praying over it. He fixes the myrrh milling machine (said to have been used by Saint Drusus himself, 1,000 years ago!) whilst his optical mechandrites covertly record the clergy for suspicious activity.

Bored with waiting, the Commissar intimidates a novice into leading them to the Chaplains private chapel. Despite the Fathers mastery of holy litany, the Temple Guards refuse to admit the Father and his party- more’n their souls worth to defy the Confessors orders. Growing frustrated, the Father reveals himself as a Throne Agent, displaying his scroll with the Writ of Authoritas. Commanding the Guards to remain silent about his presence, they open the doors. Inside the private chapel, they see long pews and an elderly, white haired priest leant back on one, mouth agape, eyes shut and snoring!

Waking him with a prayer of ‘Eternal Vigilance!’ The Father demands the Confessor-Chaplains immediate co-operation and results of his investigations…. Not much has been done, apart from a gentle inquiry around the priesthood. A kilo of stored incense has definitely gone missing and production is down. The Father demands the immediate presentation of all those involved in preparing the Druisine Incense for questioning.

Down in the Incense Preparation Chamber, Severus spots the novices and priests filing away. One in particular, Attendant Vallam, pockets a bag of just-prepared incense and trails the group as they exit, visibly nervous. Rather than pursuing directly (for he is rather noticeable as a 600 pound cyborg), Severus comms Vorgen to intercept.

High in the cloisters and statues of the cathedrals corridors, the stealthy assassin watches as the nervous priest peels off from the rest of the group. Pursuing the priest, Batman-style Vorgen tries to be as quiet as possible, but Vallam either senses he’s being followed or his nerve breaks and he makes a run for the loading bay. Vorgen sprints after him, calling for back up.

Severus responds, but his artificial body wasn’t made for racing. He computes he could take a huge short cut by going through a stained glass window of the Emperor Victorious, but even his stunted sense of social propriety warns that this might upset the Ecclesiarchy and he abstains from doing so, permitting Vallam to reach an auto in the loading bay. Vallam drives off fast, with only Vorgen close by. Throwing caution to the wind, Vorgen sprints, leaps and grabs onto the boot of the car as it roars away from the Cathedrals precincts. The gasping Tech Priest far behind, eventually makes it to another car which promptly refuses to start until Severus knocks its machine spirit into compliance. He roars after the fleeing Vallam.

Up in the private chapel, the rest of the party begin to question the Mendicant-General and the novices who prepare the incense. Realising someone is missing (and learning of Vallam), Eisen orders the Chaplain Confessor to raise the alarm and seal the Cathedral. So, the novices are sent running to the belltower to really put their backs into pulling the enormous ropes of the Bell of Alarum (M39). The Commissar and Father do some questioning and interrogation, but all the clergy start to disavow Vallam, they never really liked him, something off about him, he used to have visitors whom he’d show around, things like that. Eisen’s ears perk up at this and he makes his way to the Tower of Watchers- they do indeed have logs, pictures and security information on Vallams ‘friends’ who’d visited on 3 occasions. These visits co-incide with the Druisine Incense going missing- Vallam could have easily handed off the stolen bags of incense to his confederates. The Arbites are alerted to stop and detain Vallam … alive.


Inspecting Vallams chambers, Adept Ravion searches the fairly Spartan monks cell. Beneath a loose flagstone he discovers a heretical stash in the hole – a small metal Eight-pointed star symbol on a chain, whose Ruinous presence makes his eyes water (and quickly goes into a lead box sealed with an Inquisitorial evidence stamp), a small velvet bag of powder – apparently incense, and a sheaf of ciphered writings. He orders the Sister Sororitas to turn their flamers upon the room, purifying it with flame. Then the Ecclesiarchal novices are to mortar up the doorway and strike this room number from use forevermore.

Meanwhile, on the arteria highway (for even great Hives need some vehicular access for heavy supplies) Vallam speeds along, an assassin (whose spent all his Fate points earlier) hanging onto the car. Tech priest Severus is chasing in a another car. Initially Vallam swerves a bit to shake off Vorgen, but the Assassin keeps his hold, then acrobatically rolls from the back of the car, across the roof, onto the bonnet. Seeking to stop the fleeing priest, Vorgen quickdraws his laspistol and puts a shot into the engine, causing smoke to start pouring out. Behind them, Severus closes to within 20m and his body-speakers pump out the disturbing subsonics of a Rite of Awe. So distracting is this crawling, buzzing sound, that other cars within 50m begin swerving and crashing as the drivers are filled with religious dread. Through the windscreen, Vorgen can see Vallams grip on the wheel tighten as he mouths “Tzener protect me, Tzener protect me” , over and over again. Vorgen puts another shot into the still racing (and burning) engine, when Severus tries to stop Vallam with a loud Feedback Screech! The terrible rising whine causes Vorgen’s ears to bleed (he’d flubbed an Agility roll to put in his ear plugs- they went bouncing down the arteria) , but he keeps his grip. Unfortunately Vallam doesn’t and takes his hands off the wheel to cover his ears- causing the car to slew into the central reservation and then collide with incoming traffic!

Desperately failing to dodge/roll away, Vorgen on the hood is smashed into by a large truck and his body is spent spinning off to bounce and roll off the arteria tunnel walls like a rag doll! Yet somehow he survives! (burns a Fate Point). He tries to get to his feet, but then promptly falls over (failing his Toughness), unconscious. Vallam is sent through his windscreen, his left arm sliced off by the window partition. Geysering blood, he is dead within the seconds it takes for Severus to brake and run up with medical aid. They stand amidst a huge pile up- over turned trucks, cars crashed and cooking up, devastation literally raining down around their heads. Their lead is gone!

With Vallam dead and without another lead at the moment, the Father, Commissar and Eisen lead a Arbites raid against one of the addresses of Vallams visiting ‘friends’. The commissars power glove crushes the flimsy door lock of an anonymous 3rd floor habitat in a hive block and he and 5 burly, carapaced armoured Arbites storm the flat…. To find a little old lady and her cat. The Fathers questioning of her clearly demonstrates she doesn’t know the man, doesn’t recognise his photo and isn’t involved. Perhaps those crafty cultists gave the Ecclesiarchy a false address? Nonetheless, the Father is still suspicious of the old lady and picks up her cat to examine it. He starts ranting and gesticulating wildly as he goes on about how the Imperium must be bound together, to work for the Emperors purpose, which is why this raid was necessary. Botching his roll, he discovers that this apartment hab really is too small to swing a cat in. In tears, the little old lady accuses him of killing ‘Mr Moggins’. Before the good Father can wreak anymore calamity, Eisen calms the old lady, touching the cat once, it suddenly jerks alive on broken paws, Pet Semetary-style, his (sole) use of psyker powers drawing immediate suspicion from the more Puritanical members of the party.

Adept Ravion turns his attention back to the ciphered note he’d recovered from Vallams room. Cracking its substitution logic at last, it reads that “The Eightfold Path leads to Hegemon” . Consulting his encylopedaic and infalliable memory, he recalls that a tramp freighter, the Hegemon is docked above Scintilla. Alas the party are too late to intercept it- it has just translated to the warp, en route to Iocanthus and then Solomon.

The Acolytes decide to pursue, the Inquisiton easily able to provide a sprint-freighter. And the good Father finally succeeds in putting his Ecclesiarchal pull to good use and convinces the Cathedral of Illumination to send along two of the Battle Sisters as backup…


 

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Ordo Malleus – Session 2

The Biederbeck Investigation


In nearly hot-pursuit of the Hegemon, the Acolytes have commandeered a sprint-frigate called Pride of Malfi but have 24 hours on Scintilla before they must depart. The assassin Vorgen is in a vat of blue goo, healing Luke-style. The Father and Psyker have returned to the Cathedral of Illumination on Hive Tarsis – the Father to borrow the services of Senior Sister Hilda and companion from the Adepta Sororitas. Eisen Nihlus meanwhile has consulted the Emperors Tarot with this question in the forefront of his mind “Do the Cultists he pursues, seek to summon a Daemon?” He turns the cards and ‘Horus’ is centre-field. Worried of possible Daemonic incursions, he begs the High Ecclesiarch to bless his flamers promethian tank, and mixed with a dash of Druisine Incense he believes he now has a Holy weapon to battle the Warp- unfortunately that tank is only good for 3 shots!

Commissar Tybolt meanwhile has stopped by the IG headquarters and commandeered a squad of 10 Guardsmen to his command. Adept Ravion is reading as much as he can about Iocanthus. Tech Priest Severus reports back to Canaris who commends their enthusiasm in pursuing heretics, despite the Arbites complaints, but wonders why Vorgen and Severus didn’t simply follow Vallam back to the other heretics? Severus claims they were worried that he didn’t know if Vallams confederates were waiting for him just beyond the Cathedral perimeter and couldn’t take the chance of losing him.

The next day, the Acolytes depart, translating to the Warp. For some it is their first experience of interplanetary travel, and some are touched by Warp Dreams.

Commissar Tybolt rests. As he sleeps, he dreams of the mud trenches and endless barrages of Tranch. He remembers the Big Push, sending his regiment over the top with a blast of his whistle. Following them up, he staggers through explosion haunted murk and mist he feels great vibrations in the earth. Boom. Boom. Boom. Then up ahead! A great, clanking metal totem-beast of the foul Ork! And a horizon to horizon front of the foul greenskin! (Yes, Tranch was mutants. It’s a dream)
All around him, the men turn and begin to run. Rallying them, and shooting down the deserters and cowards, he keeps the regiment advancing on the enemy. His boltgun jerking in his hand as he slays orks and cowards alike with every shot. Soon he and the dwindling band of Guard are before the great Ork Stompa- its massive feet rising above him. Boom. Boom! Does he turn? Does he flee? Does he give any ground to the enemy?

No.

SQUELCH.

All goes to back.

He awakes in his quarters, hand instinctively going for the bolt pistol he keeps under his pillow. Though it hasn’t been fired, the distinctive smell of cordite and bolt-propellant still fills the room…

 


The Pride of Malfi translates out of the Warp at Iocanthus. The Acolytes are dismayed to discover they are the only ship in orbit above the feral world. According to the Adminstratum on the space port, the Hegemon had stayed in orbit only long enough to take on a scheduled supply of Iocanthan Ghost fire pollen and then went on to make its delivery to Solomon.

Cursing their luck (for they had made plans on how to board the Hegemon) they return to the pursuit, translating back into the Warp.

This time the priest, Father Pym, dreams. Once more is a local confessor in a local parish, preaching to the populace about their duty to the Emperor. And at the front of the congregation, the beautiful Mrs Menzies, sitting next to her older husband, but her eyes only on the good Father. And when she crosses her legs… the Fathers vows of chastity become strained.

Then he is in the confessional booth. Her husky voice on the other side
Oh Father, forgive me, I have had thoughts about a man other than my husband”
“You must honour your marriage vows!”
states the Father resolutely
“But he beats me! I need comfort. Comfort me Father”
“Have a drink”
as the father offers his hipflask through the confessional booth
No, I don’t want your bottle! I want you!” she exclaims
Glug-glug” goes the Father as he knocks back his straight amasec.
Suddenly the father finds the lissome figure of Mrs Menzies invading his personal space- nearly inhaling her perfume and body. But he resists her temptations, thinking only of duty and his oaths to the Emperor, (though it does explain his later drinking problems). When he awakes, he does think for a moment that he still detects her scent in the air.


Arriving at Solomon, the Hegemon and a few hundred other ships orbit his Departmento Munitorium hub/hive world. Boarding parties are sent, naval assistance acquired, docking bays locked down and the like as the Acolytes use their Writ of Authoritas, Cartman-style. Investigations, inquiries and interrogations are made. Its discovered that the Hegemon had not taken on passengers from Scintilla, but 2 of its crewmen, Drake and Jenkins had skipped ship on Solomon- along with a small consignment of Ghostfire pollen. Oddly though, they find some explosive collars, sans the explosive charge deep in the spare cargo hold of the Hegemon.

Vorgen (recovered from his time in the Med-Vats) takes a Guard motorcycle and follows Drake and Jenkins to their last destination a distant and derelict warehouse. Sneaking in he discovers only 2 piles of red puree (human) and no items. There is a near invisible trail of red puree droplets which he follows – it leads about 2 km to another warehouse. Sneaking in, this one is occupied by scores of Cultists of the Ruinous Powers – busy assembling etheric vanes, unloading weapons cases, and praying to the Dark Gods. There is a small door at the back of the warehouse- a man in deep red robes comes out and a few cultists cowtow before him and present him with a newly unwrapped book. The man in red goes back through the small door.
Vorgen summons the rest by combead – the Acolytes, Guard squad and 2 sisters travelling by Rhino APC. (if 10 Marines fit in it, I reason 2 Sisters in power armour and 15 men in lighter armour can squeeze)

Deciding to assault the warehouse, Tech Priest Severus accelerates to ramming speed and drives the Rhino through the warehouse doors! Deploying out the right, Father Pym and the 2 Battle Sisterss unleash righteous fury on the cultists. Deploying left, the Commissar leads his squad (Tybolts Terrors) in disciplined shooting and power-fisting of the enemy. The Psyker, Adept and Tech priest deploy to the rear and let off pot-shots.

A furious and bloody battle in the warehouse erupts as both sides seek cover or melee as fusillades of shots fly back and forth. The Psyker senses Daemon-taint most strongly at the back of the room and the priest orders the Sisters to make a flying wedge and run for the small door at the back, which they do, linebacker-style in their power armour. The Assassin, psyker and Priest follow in hot pursuit. Meanwhile the Tech priest, Adept and Commissar lead the Guardsmen against the holdout cultists in cover behind the Etheric Vanes (part of a warp engine used for breaching the Immaterium). Severus is outraged that sacred Mechanicus equipment, stolen from the Lathes has been defaced with the profane marks of Chaos. He purifies them (and the cultists cowering behind them) in fire. The Commissar is a little more shocked when shooting a cultist in the chest with a bolt round then sets of a small secondary explosion… curious.

Meanwhile the Sisters race through the small door. The pursuing Acolytes hear a brief scream of “HERETI - -ARGH” before 2 jets of red puree spray back out the door. The Psykers Psyniscience (and everyone elses Common Sense (A Basic skill for some, Advanced for others) gives him a bad feeling about this. Still they go through the door.

Beyond it they find the red-robed man, a deep hood casting his face in shadows. Behind him is another man, older but tall, looking a little like Mitch Pileggi, he’s dressed in best Stormtrooper carapace, marked with purity seals and a stylised ‘I’ in the shoulder guards, and a strange gauntlet on his wrist. On the floor is carved a ritual pentagram

The priest is first through the door, anxious to discover who just splatted his Adepta Sororitas – but he doesn’t process “Eh??”
The Psyker is next through- “DIE DAEMON! ” he screams and lets a jet of holy promethium fly from his flamer. It burns through the red robed mans clothes and burns his pale skin. The skin crackles and ignites and through the flame, Eisen sees 3 chains and locks tight against the mans skin. “Daemonhost!” he whispers to himself in horror. The creature stands there, fists clenching, covered in fire, yet not moving or uttering a sound.
The assassin sneaks into the room, assessing the situation. (Shortly afterwards joined by Severus, Ravion and Tybolt who’ve left the remaining squaddies cleaning up the cultists)

The armoured, older man at the back looks askance at the psykers wild zealotry.

Burn not my Foul Servant, Acolyte – you know not what you do. And its death is a pleasure I have long waited to savour” he says
“Who are you?!” demands the confused Father
“Inquisitor Biederbeck”
All – “Oh Sh*t!”
(Adept Ravion makes his FL: Inquisition roll and recognises this man as Biederbeck- a solitary Ordo Malleus Inquisitor who has been reported missing these past 5 months)
“And what is the meaning of this abomination? What dark ritual are you working?”
“And what is this cult?”
cries the psyker, still pouring on holy flames
“I’m serving the Emperor. Commissar, Father, you have urged men to give up their lives to serve the Emperor, have you not?”
“Ye-es”
they reply cautiously
“Well I have given up my soul to do the same. It is easy to give your life for the Emperor, in the sure and certain knowledge that a place has been made at his side. It is true sacrifice and commitment to give your life in the certain knowledge your soul will be damned and tormented for eternity. That is what I have done to use the weapons of the Warp against it- this foul and putrid servant whom I despise, daemon-weapons to slay otherwise invulnerable daemons. I have sworn an oath to **** myself in order to better serve Him. The Oath of Oblation. You remember the Red Vaults ripper? How no one could find him or stop him? I simply summoned it and slew it! And as for this cult? Tools which I can now discard” – he thumbs a control from a pocket- the Commissar recognises instantly from his days in the Penal Legions. Biederbeck presses a button and all the explosive collar charges implanted in the cultists chests simultaneously explode, shocking the Guardsmen who were prodding the bodies.
“But why this plot? Why steal from the Emperors servants? From the Cathedral?”
“FROM THE MECHANICUS”
interjects an outraged Severus
I’m trying to stop a Daemon from joining the Holy Inquisition”
“WHO?”
-all
Your Inquisitor. Canaris” . (players – “I knew it! ”) “A demon has wormed its way into his soul. The Warp protects its own and now he stands on the verge of ascending to become an Inquisitor. But with this ritual, I can summon the Daemon Astrynax from him and save him”
”What is your proof”
asks an intrigued Adept
“The Warp lies!” shrieks the psyker
“Not if you master it and torture the truth from it- but that is why I cannot make a formal denouncement Damnatus”
“Canaris? How can you say such things about him?! He’s a good man, a decent man! Far better than you!”
screams the Father (who seems to have quite the loyal attachment to Canaris) and launches at Biederbeck with his Eviscerator!

All hell lets loose. Shots and blades are fired and swung. The commissar’s bolts bounce from the daemonhost. Spectral lightning claws spring from Biederbecks daemon-weapon bracer and engages the Father in melee, quickly drawing holy blood. The psyker flames the Foul Servant Daemonhost who then seems to explode in, growing taller and more wicked, skin burnt away and visible musculature and flesh writhing with Warp energy. It looms at the Acolytes who start running, screaming, vomiting (and fainting for Vorgen). Even the Commissar breaks and runs from the oncoming Daemonhost!

Eisen however is made of sterner stuff and after firing his third and final gout of Blessed Promethium at the daemonhost, desperately works the action of his underslung auxiliary grenade launcher and fires a Krak grenade as the blazing Daemonhost rushes toward him, intent on turning him into red puree. KRAK!
Combined with the holy promethium (which had been the only weapon to really bypass the daemonhosts stupidly high Toughness Bonus) , the Foul Servant is thrown back against a wall to shudder and slide down it before vile warp energies reclaim its essence.

Meanwhile Severus has run for it with an unconscious Assassin. They race through the warehouse to the Rhino. Driven temporarily (more) insane by the Daemon, the Tech Priests psychosis of “The Flesh is Week” and “Delusions of Invulnerability” kick and he decides that he might be able to beat the frightening Daemonhost, if only he was more metal! So he plugs himself into the Rhino’s speakers and braces himself in the hatch, wishing he could give up his stupid, useless, weak human legs and have an APC as his lower half, while a rapidly reviving Assassin drives the Rhino ever faster, through the warehouse and towards the back room. VROOM

In the small room, Eisen is finding his psyker tricks are not working against the master Sorceror Inquisitor and eventually has to resort to floating out of reach of the man. Father Pym gets to his feet and makes one last charge at the Inquisitor, swinging his Eviscerator overhead! Biederbeck dodges, and slashes deep into the Fathers belly with his Daemon-claw, gutting him! The Father falls to the ground and through dimming eyes sees the Adept tackling the returning Commissar to the side as the wall explodes…..

VROOM!

CRASH!

The Rhino and the Colonel Kilgore-esque Tech Priest (playing a Rite of Awe to the sound of “Ride of the Valkyries” blast through the separating wall and drive over the fallen Father. They catch Inquisitor Biederbeck (who fails his Agility duck out of the way roll due to the Rite of Awe penalty) square in the middle and he is pinned against the far wall by the irrestible weight of the Rhino, near cut in two!

The Radical Inquisitor and his Thrice-Bound Daemonhost are dead. His shocking accusations have split the party. They have no actual proof, only the word of a damned soul, but some are all too keen to believe the worst of Canaris whilst others would defend him to the death.

What will they do?

To Be Continued….

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The Biederbeck Investigation – Session 3

A Coda from the previous session. – Radical Inquisitor Biederbeck was standing over the fallen Father Pym, Daemon-claw poised to rip out the remainder of his spleen and aorta. When VROOM –SPLAT! , the assassin-driven Rhino drives over the Father and cuts the Inquisitor in two. Amazingly the Father is still alive! The bloody tracks of the Rhino mark the floor to either side of his body and lying on the ground, the undercarriage just cleared him! The Emperor Protects and he’s down to 1 Fate Point.

Due to player absence it’s decided that Tech Priest Severus will return to the Lathe Worlds with the stolen Etheric Conduits. The Assassin must accompany him to keep his lungs working. Mostly.

With the Father in a critical condition, the Commissars invaluable medicae experience is needed to keep him stable. The Psyker is wibbling a bit, so it’s left to Adept Ravion to catalogue and search Biederbeck’s things. He does find some interesting weapons other than the Daemon-Claw (which goes into a lead lined, sanctified box), a xenos pistol made from living crystal, and two Jokaero digi-weapons (Flame and Las) which he pockets. (though I note the Las-digiweapon is closer to a lascannon in terms of penetration than a laspistol).

More importantly from the Adepts POV, he finds two important books – The Big Black Book of Names (Daemonic) and Inquisitor Biederbecks personal journal. Which is written in cipher. Fortunately (on a roll of 01) Adept Ravion had done his thesis on this particular cipher- Kantian Linear B- and is one of three… no two people now living in the sector who can read it on sight.

Biederbecks Journal details his slide into the Oblationist faction. Of more immediate interest it also details how he had summoned a Lord of Change and was torturing it within a pentagram with the aid of his daemonhost when it told him that a Daemon called Astrynax had taken Canaris as its Daemon Vessel to infiltrate the Inquisition. The journal warns that Astrynax is favoured by the Warp and the Warp will protect its own, so Biederbeck had to make a Daemon Pact in order to protect himself from the Warp. The technique and details to make the Pact seem fairly easy and straightforward and Ravion commits it all to his perfect memory. The journal then concludes with all the various objects and acts needed to perform the Ritual of Summoning Astrynax out of Canaris. Biederbeck has finally managed to locate everything he needs and it is quite literally strewn around the Acolytes feet. Yet none wish to perform the Summoning Ritual in his place…

Instead they torch the warehouse and cultists bodies after packing Biederbecks body and possessions into lead-sealed boxes. The remains of the Sisters of Battle are more reverently scooped up into urns for return to the Ecclesiarchy and a proper funeral. 9 of the Guardsmen still live, 2 injured. The guardsmen are subsequently released from the Commissars service when they realise they can’t take them into the Tricorn Palace.

Returning to Scintilla (and the Father spending it in the Medi-Vat), the group have decided that they should report back to their original Inquisitor, the corpulent and Harkonnen-like Globus Varaak. It is 1 week before Canaris’ Feast of Ascension and anointment as a Most Holy Inquisitor of the Ordos.

Knowing that they won’t have long before their return to the Inquisitions Tricorn Palace is noted by Canaris, they rush for an appointment with Varaaks secretary. Unfortunately the Inquisitor is hearing reports from his other agents today. That swiftly changes when Biederbecks rosette is slammed down on the desk and they are admitted seconds later.

Obsequiously explaining what had happened, how they’d uncovered a Radical Inquisitor and been forced to kill him, they ask for Varaaks commands regarding the allegations against Canaris. Some like the psyker and Adept argue that the threat of a daemon within the Inquisition is too great. Even its merest possibility must be purged. Better safe than sorry – yet Varaak responds ”So you have slain on Inquisitor and now desire the death of another? Have a care this does not become a habit, Acolyte!”

Whereas Father Pym argues “Couldn’t it just be the Warp is trying to kill him? Because he is so great and so awesome and good, the Warp fears him and is spreading these lies so we’ll kill him! Don’t be dupes!”

What should they do, they beg of their more experienced Inquisitor and ‘True Master’?
“You don’t possess any evidence that Canaris is a daemon. Canaris is … popular.” He hisses contemptuously, Palpatine-style. “To make such accusations against even one soon to be a full Inquisitor without clear evidence is considered … impolite. Such impoliteness has started small wars within the Inquisition before. So you must serve Canaris loyally. But keep your eyes open!”- they exit.

Their time up, they must now report to Canaris before he wonders at how long they took to arrive before reporting in. But they don’t wish to give him all of Biederbecks loot (”Do we really want to give the Daemon-stopping ritual to the Daemon?” asks the very anti-Canaris Adept ) so the Adept takes the Xenos weapons and the Black Book of Names and Biederbecks journal and seeks a forgotten and musty archive of books (of which there are untold thousands within Calixis Inquisition HQ) in which to hide the books

Deep in the library’s catacombs, he finds a particularly deserted area- high aisles of shelves groaning with ancient books, chained to the walls. Then a flutter and beat of wings from ahead. Following down the aisle he sees a flash of movement. Investigating, bolt pistol in hand, he sees a bird or something atop a high stack of shelves. A nearby ladder allows him to climb up the book-mountain. Getting closer, it looks like a black corvid of some type when… CRACK – the castor wheel of the ladder gives way and it slides from under his feet. Ravion lunges to catch hold of something, but bust pulls at a shelf which tips forward. He hits the ground hard, bone snapping in his right leg (got to love the Critical hit tables) as an avalanche of books lands atop him, knocking him unconscious! Buried and broken, no one knows where he is…..

(Other players to Adept- ”Most ironic death evar!” But then I am using the critical hit tables for these deadly incidents by just picking the appropriate table and rolling d10 for a result- no messing around with wounds or Toughness when ‘Omen’-style accidents happen)

Meanwhile the others, unable to find the Adept or wait any longer, go to see Canaris.
Reporting that their investigation led them to Biederbeck, they found him the in the middle of a dark ritual and drove a Rhino over him for “No man may dabble in darkness and live!”.

“Well done, team!” beams Canaris “Only by purging such dissident elements from the Inquisition can we build a new and better Imperium! How can I reward such excellent service?”

“With your permission my lord, we need to return the Sisters remains to the Cathedral. I beg your permission to also have the Ecclesiarch bless another tank of promethium- it proved effective against Malleus Maleficarum!” tests Eisen.

Given Interrogator Canaris’ blessing and an admonition to find their missing colleague, they leave, feeling more confident that Canaris isn’t hiding anything- after all, he’s letting them have more of the demon-killing promethium. They split up and search the libraries of the Inquisition, though Father Pym is briefly detained in the Black Cells by the Libram Custodes as his shouting threatens to ‘wake the books’.

Meanwhile Ravion wakes- his leg in agony. Gingerly he uses his staff as crutch and tries to head for door. Again he hears wings fluttering above, but limping he resolutely ignores it. At last- Eisen finds Ravion! He’s about 20m away when Ravion hears a grating sound of stone work ahead. The psyker senses a tremor in the Warp. Ravion looks up to see a gargoyle toppling down upon him from high above. Guided by his psychic precognition, Eisen fast draws his bolter and fires- hitting the gargoyle a foot above the Adept. The mass-reactive bolt explodes, blasting away the statue in a hail of stone shrapnel. Knocked unconscious by the blast, Ravion is knocked out again and rushed to the Medicae. Eisen takes the time to search his backpack, finding the Liber Daemonica (Big Black Book of Names) and Biederbeck’s Journal. And the journal of another lost Malleus Inquisitor Armand Hengeist. It doesn’t seem overtly heretical, but the Adept does seem to have a worrying pattern of collecting dead Inquisitors secret journals…

People seem a little uncertain as to what is happening. Certainly the Adept seems cursed with all these near lethal incidents. Some think it’s because he handled Biederbecks blasphemous items. Others wonder at his suggestions that perhaps Biederbecks ritual might be the best solution. Suspicion still leave the Acolytes riven- the Father leads the pro-Canaris camp, Ravion cheerleads for condemning him. The Commissar wisely reserves judgement while the Psyker is inscrutable. Still his leg is healed by the Psykers mental powers and the best treatment that Inquisition can muster.

Nonetheless they all head off to Hive Tarsis . At the Cathedral, they return the Sisters remains, the Father gives a moving and powerful eulogy about the Power of Hate and how the fallen Sisters righteous Hatred should be an inspiration to all. He does so well, he’s invited back to preach to the full funerary congregation. Eisen gets another canister of flamer promethium blessed.

Then returning from Hive Tarsis in their ornithopter, his psyniscience senses another disturbance in the Empyrean as Ravion hears wings fluttering (though no one else does) All of a sudden the Ornithopter lurches and nose-dives out the sky. The psyker tries to bail out, but is pressed back by the G-Force. As they are flung about the cabin, bashed this way and that, the Commissar, Father and Adept crawl/bounce to the cockpit as the pilot screams in terror, trying to pull up. The Father and Commissar vainly try to pull the stick up- to no avail as the ground gets ever closer. However the Adept sits in the co-pilots seat and using long unused skills wrestles with the controls, pulling the nose up in time as the ground approaches. KERRRUNCH!!!

The ornithopter crashes, with bone-shattering impact. The Adepts right leg breaks again- a compound fracture this time. The Father goes through a window, his right leg cut off by sharp glass. The Commissar and Psyker rush to his medical aid. Radioing for help, they wait in the burning desert.

Canaris leads the rescue mission- a Guard Valkyrie and Medicae piling out to their rescue. Investigations show a few black feathers in the jet engine of the ornithopter –they’ve been brought down by a birdstrike. In the burning desert.

“Sir, we are under a curse” they conclude
Canaris looks at Ravion “You have been exposed to the Warp recently- and now the Warp has turned its attention on you. Perhaps you should go into seclusion in Cathedral – you’ll be safe from warp there. They have been burning the Druisine Incense for so long there that it has permeated its very fabric. Such a pity though you will miss my Feast of Ascension”


The Father takes Canaris aside and tells him that he suspects the ill-omened Adept has handled Biederbecks artefacts too much. He might be tainted and needs to be purged!

“ Now Father, that’s not a good team player attitude – you need to work with the team, for it is only as strong as its weakest link. You must trust and respect your co-workers … but you might want to keep an eye on him.” Canaris inner-middle manager chides and advises.
Poor Father Pym is getting dizzy with how many Inquisitorial colleagues he is now infiltrating and investigating, Canaris, Ravion, where will it all end?

Declining the chance to rest safely in the Cathedral of Illumination, the bruised and battered Acolytes return back to the Tricorn Palace, Canaris’ Feast mere days away. Ravions leg is mended once more by the power of Eisens mind but the Father refuses to a cybernetic replacement (”No metal monstrosity in my flesh! I’m not a bloody Mechanicus. Its below the knee! A wooden peg leg will do!” )
I
Back in Sibellus, they decide to back track on Canaris and find out a little more about the Fenksworld incident that had killed the rest of Inquisitor Loki’s agents and left Canaris as the hero of the hour. The trouble is that those files are locked away under order of the now retired Loki. (Psyker- “After this is over, I’m going to investigate Loki for corruption- he may need purifying too” GM – ”Remember- don’t make a habit of it….” ). Claiming that they need access to the Ordo Malleus sealed records to fight this daemonic curse, they fail to convince Canaris of the wisdom of this course (especially if the Adept has been corrupted as the Father accuses). Instead they turn to Vaarak and sneak him a message requesting he permission them for the sealed records.

Reading the report, they see it’s much as they have already heard (though mainly written by Canaris) – Loki’s agents were investigating a Witch Cult on the hive world of Fenksworld which was trying to corrupt the local nobility. They launched a raid but walked into a trap- most of the Throne Agents perished in an ambush. Canaris survived to counter attack and he managed to slay the head witch, decapitating him. One small note in the back attracts their attention- one other survivor, badly injured and impaired, a Storm Trooper Myers was remanded to the care of the Sisters Hospitaller, broken in body, mind and soul.

Looking up Myers in the Sororitas Hospice-Asylum, they find an old and white haired man, trembling in a ball upon his bed, the screams of the mad unceasing. Eisen approaches him first- this is a mistake as Myers spots his Sanctionite brand and starts screaming “Witch! Witches Every where! They are in my MIND!” and spasming. Eisen steps back and Commissar Tybolt steps forward. At the military mans approach, Myers pulls his **** together and manages a feeble salute. Asked what had happened on Fenksworld, the broken Storm Trooper responds “It was chaos sir, we walked into a trap, spells and shots landing all around us. They got Canaris first, dragged him off. Then they got me sir with their witch powers, me and all the rest… broke every bone in my body…”
“What happened next”
“I’ll never forget… they all just exploded…and it all went black”
“Did the witches have some sort of sign or mark?”
“Noo…. WITCHES! In my brain!!
” sobs Myers, shaking like a leaf
“Did they have a mark? ” presses Tybolt
Shaking, Myers makes mark on some paper with a pencil- like 2 horns. Then he shrieks and tries to plunge the pencil into his eye- fortunately Commissar Tybolt was ready and grabs his hand in time.

Armed with the horned mark of the Witch Cult, Ravion ventures back into the Forbidden Archives and retrieves the Big Black Book of Names- indeed Astrynax’s mark is that of 2 crescent horns. For some this is yet more evidence – it seems to convince the Psyker. The Father protests that this is still all based on the rantings of 2 madmen.

Eisen Nihlus decides to have a word with Canaris majordomo- Malachai. Malachai has known Canaris since he was a new Acolyte, having previously served Inquisitor Loki. Questioned as to whether Canaris had changed post-Fenksworld, Malachai does say that Canaris returned re-energised and more enthusiastic than ever.
Have you noticed anything odd about him?”
“Odd? No. Canaris is a great man, with a great destiny ahead of him. Your doubts about him are unworthy of you, Acolyte”
“Doubt? Fear? Suspicion? Always. As the Emperor commands!!
chides Eisen.

Gathered together, 2 days before the Feast of Ascension, the Acolytes plot what to do. The revelation of the horned sign has tipped the Psyker over to the Kill Canaris camp. They go into permutations of “If we kill Canaris and he’s a demon, then its good. If we don’t kill Canaris and he’s a demon, then at least the survivors can warn the rest of the Inquisition” GM – “Survivor? Who is the designated survivor?” “Well, me” admits the Psyker…

There seems to be 3 ways of stopping Canaris- kill him (dangerous), use the Dark Ritual (which the Adept hints at) or Exorcising him (which the priest supports but cant think of how to get him in a room with a High Ecclesiarch). After nearly turning on the Adept for his suggestions of ‘other methods’ and their suspicion as to why he’s been cursed, Eisen proposes the ancient witch test of “Shoot a Krak grenade into his head and if he dies then he's a loyal servant of the Emperor” . After all, if he is a daemons vessel, then the daemon may well manifest if its vessel is in danger – Canaris might not even be aware he harbours a daemon within his soul, but he still needs purifying… with a Blessed flamer…

This tips Father Pym over the edge- to him Canaris is still a great man, the Imperium's great hope in the Calixis sector, unjustly maligned by the evils of the Warp that fears the good he will do. He runs out of their room, intent on warning Caesar of his death. The Commissar and Psyker racing after him. Ishmael Ravion instead slips off…


What The Adept Did Next
Heading out of the Ordo Malleus tower (which is warded against Daemonic intrusions) he finds a lonely menial and orders him to open the window, before cold-cocking him with a pistol stock. Then, Total Recalling the instructions of Biederbecks Journal, he slits the menial’s blood and uses it as an etheric conduit to the Warp and Naming a daemon, known as Grimblood. Its presence grows in his mind and he hurriedly bargains for a Dark Pact. In return for immunity to Astrynax’s warp influence for all the Acolytes, he will sacrifice one soul to Grimblood per year…

With the Pact made, the new Radical then rushes back into the Ordo Malleus tower to find his colleagues

Meanwhile the Father has run to the elevator which leads up to Canaris’ apartments. He hits the button and it begins to descend. Its still 4 floors away when Eisen Nihlus and Commissar Tybolt catch up with him. Playing for time, Pym pulls out his Eviscerator and prepares to hold the line

”I wont let you do this! Canaris is a great man. He’s innocent of all this, you’ll see. You psykers are crazy and warp touched- everyone knows this” (the elevator is 2 floors away)
“And I won’t let you warn him. Put down your weapon Father” warns Eisen (1 floor), raising his grenade launcher.
“Never!” BING
WHOOSH – KRAK! Eisen launches a Krak grenade, called shot to Pym’s head!

And is surprised by the blinding flash as the holy Fathers Rosarius absorbs the blast, converting into a blinding flash! (OOC – “When the hell did you get a Rosarius?!” “Always had it, but last session I got beaten up in melee every time!” )

As the door opens, and Eisen reloads, Father Pym swings at the elevator controls, easily destroying him. Now there is no quick access to Canaris. The Commissar steps forward and catching the Eviscerator in his power-fist, crushes it, with cogs and chain blades violently springing off.
“Stop this!” he commands. “It’s not too late- we can say it was the curse caused our weapons to fire- we saw something Daemonic”
“Too late, I won’t let you kill him!”
screams the Father, drawing his flamer. Eisen too levels his flamer at the Father, hoping it will overcome his conversion field. Ravion finally rejoins the team, entering far up the corridor – everyone has their guns drawn and pointed at each other- Tarantino-style.

That’s when the stairwell door behind Father Pym opens, as Interrogator Canaris steps out, his attention attracted by the Krak grenade blasts.

“What is going on here?!” he demands, aghast. “This isn’t SYNERGY!”

“They are going to kill YOU” screams the ever-loyal Father, as he throws himself into the way of the Commissars bolt pistol shot and Eisens flamer blast, shielding Canaris from the worst effects, his Rosarius converting some of the damage, but enough getting through to severely wound him.

Behind the Father, the edges of the flames lick around Canaris. Perhaps it’s a trick of the light, but his face looks fiery red, when haloed by fire. And those bumps on his forehead? Growing into horns? That’s no trick of the light, as Astrynax manifests itself into corporeal form!

This shocks the Adept, Father and Commissar momentarily, and the Psyker desperately tries to reload his flamer with the special Blessed Promethium. Astrynax/Canaris steps forward, a red hided beast of a beaked and horned Daemon. With a sudden, twist of his claw in the air, he is momentarily surprised as the Psykers neck fails to snap itself.

A madness takes Father Pym as he comes out of his shock. Reality has crumbled and fallen around him. The great Canaris really is all those awful things they said about him. All his efforts, speeches, and intrigues have been in vain. Everything he knows is betrayed, his solid foundation gone. He leaps once more for Canaris - "NOOOOOOOOOOOO!" . Not to save him this time, but to grapple him so he cannot escape the righteous flames of justice!

Wrapping his arms around the Daemons sides, he screams and burns as Eisen lets loose with the Blessed Promethian! And Adept Ravion too is there, for surely his bolt pistol is guided by the Emperor Himself … or Some Other Power…. The shot is straight and true, smiting Canaris/Astrynax between the horns, penetrating the skull and detonating within the cranium, ichor and brains exploding everywhere! (as the Adept rolls 3 consecutive 10’s on Emperors Fury and does 41 damage, serendipitously!)

As Astrynax falls, the corridor is filled with charging Inquisitorial Storm Troops screaming “Down, down!” and Malleus Inquisitor Lords wanting urgently to know why every Psyker in the Tricorn Palace has sensed a sudden Daemonic presence here.

Still, the daemonic body, recordings and testimony of the Acolytes is enough to justify their actions and their killing of a second Inquisitor in as many weeks (though afterwards, their master Globus Varaak is less inclined to meet with them personally. Just in case they have a taste for it). And that dead menial is blamed on the Daemon, Canaris…

Father Pym’s badly burned body is recovered and a small congregation of Sisters pray to the Emperor for his recovery as he burns his last Fate Point. He does recover, though terribly burned across his entire body and face, missing a leg, and terribly bitter about his misplaced faith and hope he invested in Canaris. Now there is only Hate. Hate of the Mutant. Hate of the Daemon. Hate of the Heretic. Hate for everyone and everything…

Rewards

For slaying the Daemon and preventing Canaris becoming a Daemon-Inquisitor and wreaking havoc across the Sector, the PC’s are awarded a Fate Point (2 for Pym for his roleplaying and sacrificing himself to save Canaris – he didn’t have to do that) and 500 xp which brings most of them up to 5,500 xp. The Father also gains 10 Insanity points for the revelation, whilst the Radical Adept gets 10 Corruption for his Daemonic Pact.

So Concludes The Biederbeck Investigation

 

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My GM Notes-

(may be of use for other GM's- They start out detailed and well developed initially then trail off as the game proceeds organically and I just need aide memoires to job my memory at key points. But its mostly improvisation and blending together the PC's reactions, pacing and dramatic necessity to always push escalation and resolution.
 

 

The Beiderbeck Investigation

Interrogator Canaris is an Inquisitor in Training. He ratified to join the Holy Ordo’s of the Inquisition under the sponsorship of his master, Inquisitor Loki. His purgation of the witch cults of Fenksworld was seen as thorough and competent and he has put to the question many corrupt Ecclesiarchy and Administratum officials. His personal bravery in leading the Scourging of Rutland Province on Tephaine Minor and leading Naval, Guard, PDF and Sororitas forces in rooting out a Genestealer Cult proved he had the organisational skills to be a first class Inquisitor.

He is also a Daemon. Not originally of course, but possessed by the merest shard/fragment of an incorporeal Daemon Lord of Tzeentch called Astrynax. A willy and cunning Daemon, some fluke of the Warp allows it to bypass psychic detection and pentagrammatic wards. Those who seek to thwart him seem to suffer Omen-like ‘accidents’ so he now stands on the brink of joining the Inquisition and doing immeasurable damage to the Imperium in the Calixis sector.

The Radical Inquisitor Beiderbeck suspects Canaris but lacks sufficient weight with the Inquisitor Lords to block Canaris’ ascension. He cant bring official charges since he’d be called upon to reveal the source of his information. And his source was a Daemon he’d conjured. However, he does have a solution- a sorcerous ritual to invoke and summon Astrynax should draw him out of Canaris’ body. His servants and cultists even now seek to gather the arcane ingredients and establish the most propitious place in which to summon a daemon.

Now Canaris/Astrynax has gotten wind of this, and has requested from Globus Vaarak the service of one of his many groups of Acolytes (the PC’s) to help in an investigation since he lacks his own Acolytes and was impressed with their work on Tephaine Minor. Vaarak has agreed to lend out the Acolytes in return for Canaris vote when he is made Inquisitor.

Canaris will outline that he believes a shadowy figure connects a disparate collection of Chaos cults throughout the sector. They now seem to be working to one accord and needs the Acolytes to conduct surveillance and interdict the Fraternity of the Eightfold Path from stealing Druisine Incense (from the Inquisitors Handbook) whilst being shipped out from the Cathedral of Illumination on Hive Tarsus.

(Insert standard Chaos Cult investigation, possible vehicle chase through crowded Hive arteria, shoot out in middle of a church etc. Allow characters to bond with Canaris who’ll play the staunch Puritan who purges first and lets the Emperor sort them out- an Inquisitors Inquisitor- he’ll be useful in a fight and seemingly risk himself to save them and ensure the success of the mission. Anyone threatening Canaris (such as a cultist attacking him) will meet with an accidental death, that can laughed off a dice botch or fumble or the dark comedy stylings of the GM.)

The Eightfold Path leads to a location in the dark hives of Solomon (Departmentum Munitorum Fiefdom/Chemical Refineries). There they will find a vile sorcerer and his daemonhost about to summon a terrible daemon. Omens fill the mouths of seers. Data slates containing daemonic rituals will bear Inquisitorial insignia. Shocking denouement. Terrible, insane accusations will be made. And its now the Acolytes will find their loyalty to Canaris tested.

What proof can an obvious Radical like Biederbeck offer ? Well there was a witness to the Possession of Canaris years ago, a decorated Inquisitorial storm trooper called Myers who now languishes in a Sororitas madhouse, diagnosed a bedlamite, driven mad by the horrors of the Warp he’s seen. Such a pity that the asylum inmates are so prone to possession there…. (Insert ‘The Asylum’ adventure from CoC)

Or there are Magistratum records of suspicious deaths, which a smart adept could link together to show a plague of mysterious deaths around the data record of Interrogator Canaris.

And then there is the simplest confirmation. Should any PC or group of PC’s suspect Canaris and begin to accuse him or seek to kill him, then they will meet with Fate-Point burning accidents of the Omen kind.


Or the PC’s could simply slay Biederbeck and continue to loyally serve Canaris. I’m sure they wont notice anything suspicious about him or his rise to power.

Central Dilemma-

How do the PC’s prove or disprove Canaris is a pawn of Chaos? Blessings don’t faze him. Pentagrammatic wards are walked through. Psykers cant sense it. They can go Radical and follow Biederbecks ritual. That’ll work, but might **** them. Or they can kill Canaris and watch the daemon hop bodies. Probably into one of them. Lets hope they are standing in some Druisine Incense at the time. And killing the Inquisitions current golden boy is going to require a lot more proof than “We thought he might be a heretic”.

This is going to be a game about trust and belief. For Puritan players Biederbeck is a clear bad guy to kill, Canaris a model of righteousness. Yet, the security of the Imperium probably relies on them becoming Radicals. Would they sacrifice their souls to save the sector? Of course other solutions and PC ingenuity may well present itself. Astrynax probably has some little known weaknesses – be it an inability to pronounce its name backwards without unbecoming, or a vulnerability to other daemons could come into play.

Eats Sinophian Boreworms.

Investigate missing Druisine incense

Well, I'm going to run this next week, so my thoughts are turning to specifics. First session and we'll have the transfer of masters, introduction of Canaris. Then he can set them to investigating some thefts of Druisine Incense from the Cathedral.
Depending on how they go, they might discover Attendent Vallam is the inside man of the cult - and he's just given the cult the codes for the loading bay... and cue chase scene/action (possibly with or without Sororitas backup). Or they can surveil and tail.
Team of 8 cultists, 2 trucks – removing sacred incense. Heading for warehouse near Thopter port. Will transfer to the bulk freighter Hegemon on round trip to Solomon, via Iocanthus.
Either way they are led to the cult leader Magister Skarne who knows the Incense is meant to be shipped to Solomon - and the High Psychopomp..
Canaris habits – earnest and Puritan – young, ruthless Tony Blair. Never seen eating.
Loyal servant- Malachai

To serve Him is to worship Him.

A small mind is easily filled with faith.
Faith, Hate and Ignorance

Only the awkward question; only the foolish ask twice
Faith is Purest when it is Unquestioning.
A logical argument must be dismissed with absolute conviction!
A questioning servant is more dangerous than an ignorant heretic.

 


Session 2

Solomon- Gloriana- capital of Solomon- soot ridden and dark Hive.

Hegemon shuttles


Old lasgun Assembly plant. Mothballed and dirty. Conveyors and towering boxes.

Cultists skulking around fetching for the High Psychopomp. Staring eyes, Chaos stars cut into their forehead. Explosives implanted next to their hearts.

Daemonhost- dubbed “The Foul Servant” by his devout Oblationist Master, Inquisitor Biederbeck. Biederbeck hates the Daemonhost, seeing it as a manifestation of his own damnation, but the powerful tool that his creed demands, makes him a constant companion. Fortunately the Foul Servant appears surprisingly human, until he is unleashed by Biederbeck. Then he invokes Molten Man, his skin burns away, his bones crack and hunch and he’ll Slip Space towards the PC’s ready to burn, rend and kill, automatically kicking in Precog Dodge and Strike to boost his chances of hitting with Warp Lightning or molten fists.

Thricebound
WS -30% BS- 33% Str – 45% (x2) Tough- 62% Ag- 20% Int- 79% Per 63% Wil 61%
Fel 16% Wounds 30 Psy 4
No armour
TB- 6 (12 versus non Holy/Force/Psychic attacks, 15 w/Molten Man).
Damage – Natural weapon 1d10+8 (primitive). 1d10+8, Pen 5 (non-primitive, Powerfield w/MM)


Awareness 73%, Deceive 36%, FL (Warp, Daemonology, Heresy, & Inquisition) -99%, Psyniscience 83%, Secret Tongue (Biederbeck cant) 99%, Speal Language (All) 99%.

Appearance- initially appears human, but with pale, albino skin and a hunched shoulder. Usually shrouded in a red Inquisitorial robe. But when Molten Man is invoked, the skins burns away, the bones snap and he has this appearance:
Broken Form- dislocated, hunched shoulder
Unfleshed – no skin, glistening muscles/ sinews
Seeming Normality – Now appears human, but with pale, albino skin and a hunched shoulder.

Phenomena- within 6m, muttering, familiar voices can be heard dimly.

Psychic powers- All minor. Psy Roll- 4d10 + 6
Powers – Warp Lightning (21, Half, 10m) – BS test x4 – 1d10-Toughness on Energy crits. (p. 202-203)
Molten Man (12, Full, Sustain) – Immune to fire, half for Plasma, Las & Melta. +3 TB, Attacks have Pen 5 & Powerfield. Immune to non-killing crits.
Seal Wounds (20, Half, 10m) – heal 1d10+6 damage (overbleed- same again at 15, 20)
Precog Strike (17, Free)- +20 to BS/WS till end of next round
Precog Dodge (11, free) -30% vs BS at you.

Daemonic
Dark Sight, Fear 4 (-30% to Wil), Flyer (2m) From Beyond, Unnatural Strength x2.


REMEMBER FEAR¬


Inquisitor Biederbeck-

WS 50% BS 50% Str 40, Tough 50% Ag 40, Int 55%, Wil 60% Per 50%
Wounds- 18. Soak - 12
Daemon claw – Bracer with pop out daemon blade. 1d10+ 7, Warp Weapon (ignore armour) (Daemonic beast, 30% Wil)
Splinter Pistol s/3/6 (120 clip) – 1d10 dmg, Tearing.
Digi weapons- Flame (1d10+4 Pen 2, and Las (1d10+3, Pen 7)
Best storm trooper Carapace- AP 7
Extra Parry, extra dodge. 3 Fate Points

Master Sorceror.

Recognises Acolytes. Warns them that a demon called Astrynax lurks in the soul of Canaris. The Warp protects its own. All who seek to oppose him, meet with accidents.
Commissar- Your men gave their life for Terra. I gave my soul
It is easy to give your life for the Emperor, in the sure and certain knowledge that a place has been made at his side. It is true sacrifice and commitment to give your life in the certain knowledge your soul will be damned and tormented for eternity.
Offers a pact of protection against the warp.

 

Session 3

 


Malachai Servant – knows the master is special.
Inquisitor Loki- retired. Described as

 

Storm Trooper Myers – in Asylum on shrine world.


Accidental deaths

Falling Gargoyle
Accidental cyber-mastiff activation.
Hive elevator collapse

 

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