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venkelos

The Fate of Damaris

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So, this is two parts silly, and one part seeking opinion. For anyone who has played the Frozen Reaches chunk of the Warpstorm Trilogy, what's to stop the following hypothetical?

 

(I will endeavor to not truly spoiler anything)

You arrive at Damaris, to find an isolated world, shallow on defense forces, likely to be steamrolled by Orks. The Navy seems uninterested in protecting their "asset" in the Expanse. You eventually do your part, and at the end, are left with a valuable planet. How Imperial is Damaris, though? Why couldn't you simply, once all is done, see to it that the Governor is out of the way (he might even step aside for you, thus not need to meet an end), press, or eliminate the General, and take the planet for your own? Rogue Traders are empowered to claim worlds for the Imperium, and Damaris isn't inside those borders. The Imperium doesn't care about it, and if your satrap continues to administer it in a way that is in accordance with what the Imperium expects, while giving nothing back in return (the Imperium), they'll probably even endorse it. Bloodier coups have happened with no interference from the Adeptus Terra, so long as tithes are made. Get the lady Lord-Captain to join you, since the Navy doesn't care for her, and YOU saved the people, or she continues to be the Imperial militant rep to a world you conduct in Imperial fashion, and one that might get more stuff, now, since it has proven valuable.

 

In some ways, it doesn't seem it would be that hard, if a few people happen to have accidents when the Orks attack, or you show them that you are better. People have elevated heroes for less, in other circumstances. If you quietly secede, you might even become "chummy" with Orleans, or stay loyal, and keep paying her, and she's still likely to be nice for cash.

 

So, obviously this might not be the best idea, but why not? What are the biggest lynchpins and hurdles? What's most likely to go wrong, and why?

 

Well, I tried to limit spoilers for Warpstorm and Frozen Reaches, only really mentioning some character aspects the GM will talk about. If I said something important, sorry, and I hope anyone else here will please try to keep it spoiler-free. Thanks.

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In my game running the Warpstorm Trilogy, the dynasty did assume control of Damaris.  I see no problem with that at all.  It's within their purview.  To be fair, the dynasty only claimed mineral rights and started developing mines on the other planets, particularly in the outer reaches.  Damaris is described as having a blue star.  I interpreted it as an A II  5-6 or A III 5-6 (I think, I do remember it was A).  That means Damaris, to be inside the biosphere, had to be between 80-200 AUs from its star.  This puts a whole different picture on the Frozen Reaches (they are truly frozen and very extensive, though).  Orleans was dealt with fairly, but the Lady-Captain is Navy, not about to join the Dynasty.  It's not technically an Imperial planet and it does not have to make tithes.  I've used the same locations, with the same descriptions, in every campaign I've run since.  I love the setting.

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Ok, so I looked up my old campaign info and here's the scoop.  Chances of there being planets around a Type O are slim and none where Slim just left town.  B's and A's vary, depending on whose theory you're using.  Data is still being collected, of course, and those theories change literally every year.  I decided on a B-III sub-giant, though I played with the idea of a Type A-Ia supergiant.  They have similar characteristics for this purpose.  I never made a decision on whether Goliaths could operate in the Damaris system, because my players never went that direction.  Either way, the biozone extends to between 200-300 AUs from the primary, depending on solar mass.  Navigating to Damaris was a Big Deal.  Being a little off meant a long trip through the void to reach the Bulwark.  That places the Frozen Reaches about 10x-30x the distance from Sol to Pluto.  Even using the silly acceleration factors of RAW this means weeks of travel.  I don't use those acceleration factors, btw.  IM40KU most ships aren't even capable of 1G constant acceleration since there's nothing in the books about inertial compensation and I don't know what 50,000 crew members do when the ship is under acceleration.  Slow acceleration maintains the Rule of Cool, as do long interplanetary travel times.

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Cool, thank you for the astronomy bit; kind of nice to see "real" science work into some of the "science can do that?" aspects of 40k, or the vagaries of the rule book.

 

Would you be comfortable extrapolating on the "dealt with fairly" aspect? That could mean she, too, got to keep making money there, possibly paying a tithe to the players, or she "fairly" had a chance, blew it, and was bested in "fair" combat, either being banished, or killed. I rather like Orleans, and it's a shame she doesn't have a little more in that book, or the rest. I'm personally a fan of the "Rogue Traders working in concert" aspect that can, from time to time, creep up in game, for a time ;), and among those in Lure, Edge, and Warpstorm, she's on my shorter list of RTs it could be agreeable to work with, in tandem, a few of her beliefs aside, rather than looking for an excuse to kill, and get away with it (Feckward, maybe Bastille).

 

As for Locke, I wonder if, like a few others, the Navy might actually find an opportunity to rid themselves of her by Warranting her. Shame they don't "loan out assets" to Rogue Traders in good with the Navy, though I suppose a qualified RT COULD, potentially, requisition something like that, and reimburse the Navy. Strings attached, and not on a permanent basis, perhaps, but if I can walk off with several companies of IG, even Storm Troopers detachments, and those are rare, a ship with a Captain they don't even want seems it could be doable, and if the RT is "helpful to the common people", and openly Imperial-loyal, she might not even entirely object. Might have to keep that as a crazy thought.

Edited by venkelos

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The scenario implies that Orleans has "interests" on Damaris (i.e. she gets PF from it).  The players in that campaign made sure those "interests" were left alone in their negotiations with Orleans, and even allowed to prosper when they assumed "ownership" of the planet.  They only wanted the mineral rights on the Inner Cauldron planets and Frozen Reaches belts, along with controlling interest in the Bulwark.  They supported the Governor over the General (they removed the General from contention by employing him in the Dynasty - eventually he even commanded his own ship).  Of course, that means the players' Dynasty earned profits from Orleans through her paying of planetary taxes, import/export taxes, and docking fees, but that was the price of their intervention.  After the events of the Frozen Reaches module they commisioned a couple Free Captains to make the Damaris run, bringing supplies and colonists.  They spent PF to develop mining interests and eventually reaped a profit from the deal.

 

For that matter, they dealt rather fairly with Blitz, too.  They let him keep up his operations.  After all, they wanted the support of his ship.  This did prove troublesome down the road, as Blitz IM40KU deals in unsavory goods that tend to damage local economies.  That was another adventure, though.

 

I think the idea of Locke "earning" a Warrant is an interesting take.  I didn't go that road, and don't think I will in future games, but I like the angle.  She definitely is a person who might "disappear" from the Imperial roster for years on end, at her own connivance.

 

If you've read my latest thread under House Rules, you'll see that I will be using the Damaris Waaagh! in my next campaign (it's already started but is still in its infancy).  NPCs will be performing the other events of LotE, Soulreaver, and the Warpstorm Trilogy.  Those are just background stories in my newest campaign, something for NPCs to do while the PC Dynasty steals the show with their own Endeavors.  I use these for flavor.  I don't like having to make up all the endeavors that other Dynasties are doing, but I find it adds atmosphere to the setting when they are all actively doing something.  I want to use the Damaris Waaagh! and the Battle of Footfall as major episodes for my PCs, though, which is why I've included those modules as occurring events in my campaign.

 

In my newest campaign, Winterscale, Chorda, and Saul still begin as the dominant dynasties, but the Trask Hegemony will rival the (theoretical) rise of the players' dynasty.

 

Oh, and btw, I also like Orleans.  She will be the RT in this newest campaign that will finish up the events of the Warpstorm Trilogy, hopefully pulling the player's dynasty into the Battle of Footfall, which I hope to use as a mid-game climax.  I like having at least 1 really big starship battle.  I foresee 30 ships (with maybe twice as many more trying to flee) maneuvering in the system during that event, though they won't all be in the same battle, of course.  When using slow acceleration, like I do, those 30 ships will be fighting several battles, separated by days or weeks.  I'll have the Faceless Lord show up with his whole compliment of capital ships (he has 6 by my count), with allied Chaos factions supplying most of the escorts.  Epic.

Edited by Errant Knight

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I like Errant's version, it's a well-developed one in that direction.  I'll toss in what I did during my run-through of the warp storm trilogy mostly because I went almost entirely the opposite direction, so it might foster alternative ideas.

 

I knew from very early on that I wanted to run the Warpstorm Trilogy a little later in the campaign, so I introduced Damaris early on to give it some weight when it would eventually be threatened.   I also really liked the idea of Damaris being this 'Almost Imperial' world in the expanse and wanted to have a foil to Footfall, I also felt like it needed some reason for such a nice (and reasonably easy to get to) planet to not be essentially under Winterscale or Chorda's thumb.  All of this was neatly solved by adding a couple zeros to Damaris' population and warming it up a little so that it had a true temperate zone.  (This had the nice side effect of not making it too similar to Svard's iceworld feel).  I then added in a bit of history about them being settled by a triumvirate of long gone Rogue Traders operating with a colonization loan from the Administorum and centuries of managing economic ties with dozens of Rogue and Free traders.  Altogether, this gave the world a much grander and more significant feeling, making it useful in a number of adventures, but also making the threat to it feel much more serious.

 

The larger size and power of Damaris, however, also meant that the ork threat had to be proportionally larger as well.  I did, however, also give them a little bit more time to deal with it. They mustered their own forces, of course, including sending a Vassal to Svard to muster every soldier that could be spared. Thankfully, my players had been taking to the idea of Rogue Traders a leaders of men and the forces of the Imperium, and rather than simply draw in their own forces, thought to go for help.  The Players themselves flew to Footfall where they met with Lady Charlibelle (with whom they had good relations) and convinced her to join the defense with her ship and Kroot Mercenaries.  More importantly, the Rogue Trader came up with the idea of using the Relic of Drusis as a rallying point and after long discussions with the Cardinal of Footfall (and spending 2 profit factor on 'donations') he got the Ecclearchy to official declare a crusade (salvation for all who die in battle!) to save the Shrine from the ork hands.  A few days of rabblerousing oratory and buying of chainswords later they had filled several transports worth of holds with conscript crusaders, preachers and all fifty sisters of battle.  More conversation and profit had also brought in Skitarii to help protect mechanicus interests and skilled mercenaries to act as an elite reserve. 

 

The point being, at the far end of the battle, so many people had been involved that although the PCs had acted as 'head of the coalition' that won the battle of Damaris, they weren’t really in position to lay claim to the planet.  Particularly given that they had succeeded in saving a very large portion of its people and industrial base, making the planetary government still extremely powerful when the question of reparations came up.  It also helped that the actions of the PCs had helped push the planet further into its pro-imperium side, particularly the influx of missionaries and preachers.  (even if most of them became martyrs later.)  In the end they received favorable trading agreements, a land grant and priority status at the Balwark's yards.  In the scale of things they actually came out fairly economically even compared to the PF they burned, but gained additional "glory/piety" PF due to the heroic nature of their actions.

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As an aside, Warpstorm introduces five Rogue Traders, or so, and two of them are even new, but does not list their relevant Profit Factors. Lure and Edge both did, so it seems a bit weird for them to not have here. Is there a good way to estimate a good PF for opposition RTs? I was thinking see how expensive their ship is, in SP, and then add a little. If they have a history of poor finances (Charlabelle Armelan) then maybe a worse number, but I'd think a successful RT should have higher PF than their ship is worth. They might have left Orleans and Amardi without so you could say "my party has ##, so they have ## +/- 5", but I'm usually more fond of them supplying info, and then me changing it if I so choose, like how I hoped Orleans was blond. Little things.

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The Bigs are around 90.  The rest run 35-55.  It's not a big deal to me, though I list them specifically in my campaign (see Powers of the Expanse under my thread in House Rules).  I just like to have an idea of relative influence.  In the final tally I think a dynasty with PF 25 on their own colony world still has greater influence than a dynasty with PF 75.  So extenuating cicrumstances still trump outright PF.

 

Orleans a blonde, heh.

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I tend to assume most Rogue Trader dynasties hover in the 40 to 60 range.  Any less than that and they're hurting, anything past that and they should be investing in colonies or more ships.  I have a number written down in my notes (somewhere) but don't stick to it as a hard or fast rule.  The PCs have their Profit Factor changing every couple of sessions, so would all of the NPC Rogue Traders doing their own (theoretical) adventures with their own (theoretical) GMs.  Particularly risk taking RTs like Blitz could easily be seen to yo-yo by a dozen profit factor between times you meet him.

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What everyone else said. I don't see the PCs taking over Damaris as a stretch in any way. I would put a few roadblocks in the way. And give a credible reason why no one else has done so, so that the PCs don't start thinking that every other dynasty is dumb. Even if it turns out that taking it is easy for the purposes of plot or high adventure. They can at least say "Oh yeah Chorda didn't do it cause it's in a sorta delicate position, and she didn't want to deal with the possibility of it blowing up in her face, and the possibly violent backlash of other RTs waiting for her to bungle it."

 

I too assume most RTs are chilling between 40-60. That big shots go higher, but it's pretty rare. And that it's highly dependent. Someone on their home planet is going to roll better than someone significantly richer.

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If you do something approaching Navis Primer, then the reason other dynasties don't take control of Damaris becomes very clear.  Voyaging there takes 5-6 months from Footfall, while it's less than a week from Iniquity.  Pirate raids would be a constant, while supply runs from the Imperium might only come a couple times a year.

Edited by Errant Knight

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It should certainly be possible for the players to assume command of the planet (unless the other rouge traders choose to oppose them) but though the Imperium cares little for the planet they will care about secessionists and will consider it a most heinous crime against imperial law. This is not a planet the explorers conquer for the Imperium, it is one they take from the Imperium, and the consequences will reflect that.

There are other options however, if they hit it off well with Shard or Arint it would perhaps be possible to shift the Imperial Leadership so that the Mechanicus or Ecclesiarchy takes over with shared power to the rouge traders, the difference here would be that one of the most powerful imperial organisations would back their decision. Alternatively a marriage to the governor would allow the planet to fall into the dynasties control though not until later (unless they manage to do it before the battle in which case the governor could conveniently die a hero at the forefront of battle.

 

In my game one of the players currently controls the planet but that is through a ruse accepted by the governor since the arch-militant dresses in his armor and takes the role of the governor during the war making him seem far more proud and competent than he is. I doubt they will make any kind of claims on the planet by the end of the mission.

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Yeah those Navis Primer charts make some places like Damaris seem pretty unattractive. I personally just handwave it the majority of the time, unless I had a navigator PC and my table really wanted to keep track of travel time and supplies, rather than it being relegated to the power of (sometimes inconsistent) plot. The travel is something I'm likely to bring up whenever I finally trot out the planet, which I've referenced a few times as a sorta peaceful unincorporated planet teetering on the edge of serious strife. Though I'm probably going to soften the travel times a bit. Damaris isn't the only friendly planet with a billion plus on it at my table, so it's relatively less attractive as a result.

 

I'm not sure what my players are going to go actually. I'm guessing they will sense weakness and plant the flag, but maybe they decide to use the governor as a puppet. Keep a degree of separation between them and anything bad that happens.

 

In either case Leo. Damaris has a number of Imperial organisations chilling on the planet. They're culturally and religiously Imperials. But they don't actually pay taxes. Taking them over would incur less red tape from administratum than normal, well maybe not if they decide that now the RT has to start footing their tithe bills. But at the very least there would be less hand wringing from official Imperial persons.

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I used Frozen Reaches...in a Deathwatch campaign. The experienced killteam were assigned to Damaris to help them against the impending Ork invasion. Amongst the things they requisitioned was Astartes assistance. Namely Storm Warden whirlwinds.

 

They were appalled at the first impression of the squabbling leaders of the defense. So the killteam leader exerted his authority and assumed control of Damaris' defenses with the consent of the governor. They managed to get the governor to stop messing around with the narcotics and act like a leader if only to boost morale. The general's hints at "new leadership" were soundly rebuffed if only to keep things stable for a time. Damaris City got a new transportation schedule devised by the Salamander Forgemaster (something like 16 degrees of success).

 

The Ork invasion was shattered in space, the one rok that made it down was assaulted and blown up, and then the killteam used their vessel to track down the Ork base long before the Eldar deigned to show up. The Damaris PDF got a bit of target practice against the Orks. The city ended up building statues of the Storm Wardens in the city centre, a killteam member at each cardinal point, and one of the Forgemaster overlooking the Forge.

 

Orleans and Blitz got to keep their investments. The Deathwatch got a potential watch station (or fortress) location out in the Frozen Reaches.

 

A bit later in the campaign, the killteam was on the hunt for Karrad Vall (rest of the Warpstorm trilogy, suitably modified). This involved organising a full-scale assault to purge Inquity. Deathwatch intelligence and scouting combined with the fleets of several rogue traders, the Imperial Navy, Storm Wardens, and multiple ordos of the Inquisition. Inquity was smashed, so Damaris was left even safer.

 

In my current campaign, the Scorpio dynasty use Damaris as a solid stepping stone towards their own colony in Scorpio's Bounty. One of their first endeavours was to monetise and encourage the pilgrim trade to Damaris (e.g. buying decrepit accomodation and fixing it up to a decent standard). This has the unintended but useful benefit of a massive pool of pilgrims hanging around Damaris to supply them with colonists later on.

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