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ArticulateT

Open World Campaign?

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I haven't played much of Only War, though I do recognise the method by which guardsmen are sent into the fray, with it being more about missions granted from a superior rather than tales of high adventure. From observation, it runs in a fairly different way to things like Dark Heresy or Rogue Trader where investigation permits a level of freedom for the former, and generally being masters of your own destiny applies to the latter. With Only War, well, things seem a little different, with party members following along with the rest of the army and having a lot of what they do being laid out for them.

 

Granted, I do know that being a scouting party might be a bit more free in how it works, allowing the players to explore an area then report back, with some hijinks occurring during this. I also know that it likely has more freedom than my initial observations give it credit for, but I had something a little different in mind.

 

I was hoping to run a game where the player's squad (either just the PCs or the PCs and about ten generic guardsmen) are separated from the rest of the regiment on a Death World or Feral World, with long range communication being prevented by an event immediately beyond their control (The current working idea is to have a global dust storm kick up due to some Chaos or Necron shenanigans, and the dust itself screws with the signal.)

 

This presents problems, obviously, with the group no longer given the luxury of resupply and reinforcement should things immediately go south, and it's difficult to run a game where, generally, the quality of your loot decreases and still maintain interest.

 

What I was hoping to discuss was how the resupply and reinforcement conundrum could be resolved, as well as some ideas for encounters that the group could have while searching for a way to regroup with the regiment. At the moment, I have volunteers from other standard imperial forces, impromptu recruitment from the settlements they might come across and even forces that come along from other systems (I doubt a tired group of guardsmen would turn down a Space Marine). At a push, and if they can be as diplomatic as they can, I might be persuaded to allow some Xenos back up, especially if the situation is dire enough to warrant an alliance, though I can't help but think that perhaps any other wandering imperial forces that spot a squad of guardsmen marching alongside an Eldar or Tau group would end in a far less favourable fashion.

 

As far as gear goes, the group will be stranded with the majority of their starting gear (so, if they're an armour regiment, they get to keep their Leman Russ, but they won't get a new one if it explodes, so it might invoke them to become a little more protective of their tank) but getting more comes down to looting and trading.

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I recall another thread about a game where the players were actually left behind on a world overrun by Orks, with no reinforcements and cut-off from communications with Segmentum Command. The players became the core of a resistance movement that took in scattered militias and other IG units to slowly build up a guerrilla army, sabotaging the Ork war effort and hold on the world with hit & run assaults, stealingliberating supplies, and generally preparing for when the Imperium would eventually, hopefully, return to the planet in force.

 

This way, the players are granted maximum freedom of movement and planning, and can even become leaders of a larger army if they manage to unify several resistance cells through diplomatic effort. The supply problem is solved by simply making it a mission objective.

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If you want to do the whole they are cut off bit there is a problem. logicly speaking there first priority would be to establish communication or retreat back to main so it wouldn't really be open world. The only way would be as the guy above me suggested. The rest of the imperium retreated off the planet due to overwhelming enemy forces and forced to leave behind a large chunk of scatered forces and supplies. Your only mission: fight the enemy to the last man and survive long enough for reinforcements.

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Lasguns can be charged in a fire (not ideal, but not impossible) and food/water can be scavenged or hunted for. That should take care of basic supplies as they try to escape the bad guys, as well as increasing the tension as every shot becomes drastically more important.

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I recall another thread about a game where the players were actually left behind on a world overrun by Orks, with no reinforcements and cut-off from communications with Segmentum Command. The players became the core of a resistance movement that took in scattered militias and other IG units to slowly build up a guerrilla army, sabotaging the Ork war effort and hold on the world with hit & run assaults, stealingliberating supplies, and generally preparing for when the Imperium would eventually, hopefully, return to the planet in force.

 

This way, the players are granted maximum freedom of movement and planning, and can even become leaders of a larger army if they manage to unify several resistance cells through diplomatic effort. The supply problem is solved by simply making it a mission objective.

 

 

If you want to do the whole they are cut off bit there is a problem. logicly speaking there first priority would be to establish communication or retreat back to main so it wouldn't really be open world. The only way would be as the guy above me suggested. The rest of the imperium retreated off the planet due to overwhelming enemy forces and forced to leave behind a large chunk of scatered forces and supplies. Your only mission: fight the enemy to the last man and survive long enough for reinforcements.

 

After reading these, I can agree that simply being separated from the troops would only be a small problem unless Warp shenanigans were involved, and with the Guardsmen standard kit not including a Gellar Field, at least while planetside, it would likely not end well for them in that regard.

 

With your suggestions in mind, I was thinking of having their Valkyrie shot down, and the bulk of their fleet having already departed by the time they can really get their bearings.

 

 

Lasguns can be charged in a fire (not ideal, but not impossible) and food/water can be scavenged or hunted for. That should take care of basic supplies as they try to escape the bad guys, as well as increasing the tension as every shot becomes drastically more important.

 

Mm, the Lasguns I wasn't too worried about, as their ammunition supply can be accounted for most days. I was thinking some of the bigger stuff, but perhaps that can be bartered/scavenged during the campaign.

 

With the Imperial Guard fleeing like that, what are the odds of other Imperial forces remaining on the planet? Would the retreat be due to an Exterminatus order or would forces like Space Marines or the Inquisition be en route or already in the area and willing to stick around?

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With your suggestions in mind, I was thinking of having their Valkyrie shot down, and the bulk of their fleet having already departed by the time they can really get their bearings.

 

That's one option -- the other being that they are simply left behind, being deemed expendable, with the Navy transports and dropships being recalled immediately without any time to collect troops still in the field.

 

I'd say it would depend on how grimdark you want to make it. ;)

 

 

With the Imperial Guard fleeing like that, what are the odds of other Imperial forces remaining on the planet? Would the retreat be due to an Exterminatus order or would forces like Space Marines or the Inquisition be en route or already in the area and willing to stick around?

 

That depends. If the retreat is hasty (see suggestion above), there could be many other units left behind, primarily frontline forces and recon elements which were unable to make it back in time, or were not even informed about the imminent retreat as Command had already written them off due to the distance and/or limited Naval transport capacities.

 

Space Marines and Inquisitors generally do their own thing anyways. The former are technically required to submit to duly appointed commands ranked Lord Commander and above, but due to their strategic value, most of the time the Imperium turns a blind eye to insubordination (though on Armageddon, the Relictors were almost shot down by the Imperial Navy as they wanted to leave without permission).

 

If you want Space Marines in this game, they could absolutely still be there, pursuing their own goals such as salvaging their fallen brethrens' geneseed or looking for a lost relic. Perhaps they are even committed to continue the war out of a sense of duty to this world. A problem, however, is that it seems unlikely the Astartes would submit to some leftover Imperial Guard -- more likely, they'd either ignore them, or even attempt to incorporate them into their own command as auxiliary forces. There might be potential if you limit their participation in your players' campaign to the background, though, perhaps by rendering them a separate resistance cell with which the players can communicate, but which is active in a wholly different region or simply has no interest to adjust their tactics to incorporate normal Human allies. They might see value in coordinating both groups' activities, however, and willing to treat the Guardsmen as equals in this mutual understanding/effort.

 

This gets more complicated if you bring in an Inquisitor. It is entirely possible that some wackjob of an Inquisitor chose to remain planetbound in some secret and possibly Radical mission, but they would simply see the Guardsmen as tools and try to requisition them as bodyguards or distraction.

 

As for the reason of retreat .. this is where you'd have a whole lot of options.

 

It could be due to an Exterminatus which never comes as the enemy manages to intercept the weapon. It could also be due to a new enemy fleet entering the system and pushing the Imperials into a hasty retreat. Or it could even be part of some internal dispute where someone with high rank abuses their authority to move the fleet elsewhere, sabotaging the war effort in order to cast its commander in a bad light as a way of destroying their career or simply "pay them back" for a perceived slight.

 

"To all forces on St. Josmane's Hope, get out.
 
Get out now."
 
-- last transmission from General Creed during GW's Eye of Terror campaign, precisely 4 hours before the image of St. Josmane's Hope on the online charts was replaced by an asteroid field.

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That's fair. A part of what I wanted to do with the group was have them effectively start the campaign proper in an area they aren't entirely familiar with and without an immediate stronghold to call home. While the temporary base they started in wasn't all that spectacular, I thought it might be nice to see how they work on setting up shop and understanding their initial landing area. With the Navy simply abandoning them, I feel like they might have been granted a base that they're familiar with at best, but also potentially losing equipment and soldiers at worse as the invading Xenos/Heretics/Mutants drive them out of the base itself. In the former situation it might cause players to stay in the base for as long as they need to before being forced to leave because of food or an incoming hostile threat.

 

However, I do very much like the idea, so I might just end up using it anyway. XD I suppose I'll try to be as grimdark as such an experience would allow, without it going into excess. 

 

As for Imperial Forces, I guess it might come down to which I use. A part of me was thinking of including an encounter with an AdMech group, comprised of some Skitarii and Cult forces. They'd initially pay no mind to the group, but might provide some side-quest stuff. I thought about doing the same thing with members of the Sister of Battle, but they'd have much smaller numbers and be investigating what they perceived as a much larger threat. As for Space Marines, well, it's kind of a mixed bag really. I don't strictly mind there not being a chapter in the area, but I also want to allow the players to play non-guardsmen should the mood take them. After all, it's not like they might get reinforcements from the guard every time they manage to find someone else, and in case they truly want to play a Space Marine, I thought I might make sure I could have a reason to let them in. Same with the Xenos stuff, really, but that comes down to the ideaology of the more... friendly Xenos, or a simply bored Ork Freebooter.

 

In general, a part of the campaign would be finding something on a world shattering scale that may have been the true reason for retreat, or something far worse than the planet being overrun with Orks. Some might think Tyranids, but a part of me was thinking something to do with Chaos or Necrons. At that point it would really be about rallying their ragtag army into line to fight the new threat, finding a way to get off world or announcing the nature of the threat to the Imperial Navy to get their asses back to the planet and provide appropriate assistance.

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With the Navy simply abandoning them, I feel like they might have been granted a base that they're familiar with at best, but also potentially losing equipment and soldiers at worse as the invading Xenos/Heretics/Mutants drive them out of the base itself. In the former situation it might cause players to stay in the base for as long as they need to before being forced to leave because of food or an incoming hostile threat.

 

Oh yes, there certainly is potential for interesting situations either way. If the Navy is pulling out and the retreat is hasty, I assume a lot of equipment would be left behind -- at the very least any prefab buildings and perimeter fences would remain intact, so the players could just take over one such base for a couple days and make it their new home (and an oversized home at that -- from my time with the Air Force I remember being stationed in a garrison built for 3,000 soldiers, with only 80 others!).

 

However, such a large base would also make a rather obvious target for whatever enemy you have chosen to invade this world. If the players are acting too overt by essentially calling attention to this region, the enemy will find and investigate their base sooner rather than later, though even if they keep absolutely quiet, it'd just be a matter of time until a patrol comes around to take a closer look.

 

As such, time is of the essence. The players should be fine there for a few days, perhaps even weeks if they stay quiet, but eventually they'd have to evacuate and find a new home. If they are clever, they would plan for such a contingency early on, setting aside resources and tools, and picking a somewhat more hidden spot where they could set up their new base camp. In the other campaign I mentioned in the first place, the players chose to hide in the woods, for example.

 

As for Imperial Forces, I guess it might come down to which I use. A part of me was thinking of including an encounter with an AdMech group, comprised of some Skitarii and Cult forces. They'd initially pay no mind to the group, but might provide some side-quest stuff. I thought about doing the same thing with members of the Sister of Battle, but they'd have much smaller numbers and be investigating what they perceived as a much larger threat. As for Space Marines, well, it's kind of a mixed bag really. I don't strictly mind there not being a chapter in the area, but I also want to allow the players to play non-guardsmen should the mood take them.

 

That sounds like an awful lot of factions to stay behind, though -- you could absolutely do this, but it would likely affect the players perception of just how abandoned this world really is. If it's only the Guard that has pulled out, but there still are Marines, Skitarii, Battle Sisters etc running around, I suppose it won't create the same feeling of being left behind.

 

As an alternative to either extreme, you could also try to go for a middle ground not just by downsizing these forces considerably, but also by giving them a wider range of reasons for why they are still around. For example: 

  • The Space Marines could be a single Squad, the only survivors of a Battle Company, and they won't leave until they have recovered their Battle Standard whose last location was deep inside enemy territory. Depending on the type of enemy, perhaps it was even taken as a trophy.

     

  • The Mechanicus' presence is an old eccentric Tech-Priest and his/her two aides plus half a dozen Servitors, who have been responsible for maintaining an archaeotech power generator. The senior Tech-Priest refused to abandon such a holy site, and by the time the two aides sneaked out, there were no more ships available to pick them up, so they're stuck with the old geezer/hag but try their best to keep the situation under control whilst their boss has locked themselves in.

     

  • Finally, the Sororitas presence is actually just a single veteran Battle Sister and a young Novice, who were accompanying a pilgrim ship that made a stopover at this world. As the war broke out, the veteran chose to join the defenders, and right now they are leading a motley band of militia fighters recruited from the local populace in a fierce guerilla war within the bombed out ruins of one of the major cities.

... just to throw in a couple general ideas!

 

After all, it's not like they might get reinforcements from the guard every time they manage to find someone else, and in case they truly want to play a Space Marine, I thought I might make sure I could have a reason to let them in.

 

Sounds like a good idea! I'd say ask the players first if and what they'd want to play, and plan accordingly. Not everyone is thrilled by Deathwatch-style combat, but needless to say, some people love it, and if your players would like to try that, you can cater to them. :)

 

In general, a part of the campaign would be finding something on a world shattering scale that may have been the true reason for retreat, or something far worse than the planet being overrun with Orks. Some might think Tyranids, but a part of me was thinking something to do with Chaos or Necrons. At that point it would really be about rallying their ragtag army into line to fight the new threat, finding a way to get off world or announcing the nature of the threat to the Imperial Navy to get their asses back to the planet and provide appropriate assistance.

 

With the right twist and execution, that sounds like a good plan! I'm afraid I don't have much of an idea right now what to do on that front, but there's certainly some potential here. Possibly uncovering the work of a rogue Inquisitor or a rogue AdMech faction (or both working together, like with the Virenus Gambit!) who were working with the enemy to further their Radical goals, which would also offer one possible explanation for why the fleet was forced away.

 

Or, maybe the Imperium also already plans on returning anyways, and they just avoided a fight they cannot win, instead gathering more forces before they want to make a second attempt. The player characters would not know this at first, because nobody told them and the retreat happened too fast -- but this could be the first thing they find out after managing to establish off-world communications (which would be a mission in its own right, possibly even with prerequisites that have to be met first, such as getting the support of the AdMech guy), and after this the players could engage in sabotage missions in order to make it easier for the second wave.

 

 

;)

Edited by Lynata

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Things like this have happened repeatedly in history and fiction, and you can draw plenty of inspiration that way.

 

- The team can be Long Range Patrols dropped into the lost areas of the planet to prepare for future invasion (WWII SOE or Force 136, Dan Abnett's novel Traitor General)

- They can be a preplanned "stay-behind" unit intended to delay the enemy or keep the population loyal and remembering the Imperium (The Jungle Is Neutral, the abortive Nazi Operation Werwolf)

- They can be scattered survivors who refuse to surrender and hold out in the hostile interior of the world (Japanese holdouts, American/Filipino guerrillas)

- They can be a formed unit that falls back intact and continues to fight in what parts of the otherwise conquered world they can hold (Large parts of the Sabbat Crusade [Straight Silver], Australian 2nd Independent Coy. in the East Timor Campaign)

- They can attempt to escape the planet or occupied territory (Xenophon's Anabasis and numerous derivatives, Sandy Mitchell's Death or Glory, CS Forester's Flying Colours, the Czech Legion)

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They can be a preplanned "stay-behind" unit intended to delay the enemy or keep the population loyal and remembering the Imperium (The Jungle Is Neutral, the abortive Nazi Operation Werwolf)

 

Not to mention Gladio!

 

Such a campaign could quickly become rather dark instead of heroic, although that'd probably depend a lot on the type of enemy. In a campaign against the Tau, the players may be prompted to target civilians (probably as a false-flag operation to instil hatred against their new masters), but the controversy involved may lead to a great amount of roleplaying depending on your group. If this would get "too deep", you can instead just have them fight against Orks or Chaos, as here the local population would probably be much less likely to change its allegiance. ;)

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I've been running a campaign set on a frontier mining world. The Kriegsmen that the players are have parked their tanks up at a mining facility they were investigating when the sky darkened with Tyranid spores, and HQ suddenly stopped responding to Vox Communications.

They're gonna have a bad time.

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True that, but, they have 20 NPC Death Korps, two player Grenadiers (Stormtroopers), 1 Commissar, 1 Ministorum Priest, 1 Techpriest, 1 Weapon Specialist, 1 Sanctioned Psyker, 3 Leman Russ Tanks and 5 Centaur APCs.

Dying for the Emperor is all well and good, but they have to survive 2 months of Tyranid invasion before reinforcements are due to arrive. Meanwhile the Tau are up **** creek without a paddle, given they're Drop Troops.

My campaign model at this point has become letting the players try to navigate their way through the carpet of chomping bugs to try and either get the resources they need to hold out for reinforcements, or die trying. No mission pattern, just straight up survival.

My Chaos Marine campaign is following a similar bent where I've just popped them down with a small bunker on a planet contested between Orks and Imperials and left them to get on with it. You'd be surprised at how players take the initiative when presented a lack of command structure and a problem to overcome.

Hoping any of this ramble helps the OP. I'm not very good at structuring my thoughts after my medication wears off.

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The posts have indeed been helpful! I've been slightly busy re familiarising myself with the Only War Rules and finding appropriate rule sets for various Human and Xenos enemies, in addition to other things life has coming for me :P

 

At the moment, I was trying to work out various factors that might help make sense for the sake of the campaign, and here's what I've got thus far:

 

NPCs

 

  • The main adversary would be Orks, at least at first. They'll come in droves and generally be partaking in quite a large Waaagh! as Orks do. They'll continue as a backdrop for the campaign, essentially creating some form of status quo for the planet.
  • Eldar and/or Tau will be present, but only lightly. What forces are encountered have also been heavily damaged by the sheer weight of the Orks, and they represent the tentative neutrality brought on by the immediate threat.
  • Chaos will be present, but then that kinda goes for everywhere, and even then, the vast majority of it would be cultists or renegade Guardsmen.
  • Human forces will likely be militia or what remains of the PDF, and with some luck, other survivors of the regiment. There will be a trio of Mechanicus priests wandering the planet, stubbornly looking for archeotech as they do, but any other imperial forces such as Sororitas, Astartes and Inquisition will not be added, at least not immediately. If they do turn up, they'll likely be doing so much later in the campaign, where they find themselves stranded too.
  • What remains would probably be the various human settlements that haven't been thoroughly Ork'd and the native Xenos beasts.

The Planet

 

The planet, Praxas VII, would be a world found towards the Eastern part of the Galaxy, in a small section of space near the Tau territories. The planet itself is a Death World, made as such from an abundance of terraforming attempts gone wrong as well as other complications. What's left would be a series of settlements erected around various resources that are left while the rest is a blasted, grey desert. The dust that covers the planet has an odd metallic quality to it, and this quality has a habit of messing with Vox systems, making communication a hassle.

 

While holding little of value with resources, long discussions have been held on the tactical advantage the planet has based on its size and position. The Mechanicus want a new Forge World (or a Lathe World, if they can push it), the Ecclesiarchy want a new Penitent World to help convert Tau convertees to come back or to stop it from happening in the first place, and in the same swing the Inquisition and several other factions within the Impreium believe it to be a decent spot for a Penal world.

 

While the discussion is being had, a garbled message comes through from the PDF stationed there that Orks have invaded, and the player's regiment is sent in to deal with it.

 

After arriving and performing a few days of general guard duty, that's when things go to hell. The Orks locate and invade the base en masse (because these guys have put up a more entertaining fight than the other humies) and a retreat is ordered. The players pile into their Valkyrie, take off and are promptly shot down as a massive dust storm seems to kick up.

 

Surviving the crash, the players find themselves in the middle of nowhere, the dust storm is still happening, but is somehow happening over their heads and they can't reconnect with the rest of the regiment. What do?

 

That's basically where the campaign kicks off proper: the players now have an entire planet to explore in the hopes of getting off the planet, taking out the Orks and/or finding out what's going on with the bizarre dust storms. Technically, even if they deal with the cause of the storms, the campaign can continue on and the players might be shipped off to deal with other threats.

Edited by ArticulateT

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One thing you might want to consider is a total lack of leadership among the humans. Maybe cultists have infiltrated wherever the command staff were, or Eldar assassinated them all. The point is, lacking a set command structure and hierarchy, the players are left to their own devices when it comes to figuring out what to do. Otherwise, their first instinct may be to reconnect with an officer and just receive orders like a normal campaign.

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One thing you might want to consider is a total lack of leadership among the humans. Maybe cultists have infiltrated wherever the command staff were, or Eldar assassinated them all. The point is, lacking a set command structure and hierarchy, the players are left to their own devices when it comes to figuring out what to do. Otherwise, their first instinct may be to reconnect with an officer and just receive orders like a normal campaign.

 

That's the plan. It'll allow me some varied settlements, and test how the players will react to a sudden lack of upper management. One of the players says he wants to play Commissar, so I don't expect anarchy to immediately happen, and by using the first few missions to set up a status quo where they do get commands from above them, it'll allow the gravity of the situation sink in when they suddenly become stranded. Depending on how they create their commanding officer, and if the guy/girl is also stranded planetside, it might truly test how they view their superior.

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One serious problem with any sort of "cut off with no army to support us" story is thinking about how the players are going to top up on comrades and characters (in the event any should die but the squad continues on.).

From what I can tell, there're three options on that front. Reconnect with some NPC Imperial Guardsmen (not necessarily superiors, just other survivors), or draw reinforcements from those factions located on the planet. Should the reinforcement characters they acquire not be guardsmen, I can direct you to any number of my rulesets for the portrayal of other races in an Only War sense, though I'm inclined to suggest that Dark Heresy 2 set-ups may be more appropriate for a non-regimental character joining the ongoing campaign. I am more than happy to discuss this at length, such as, for example, a player taking up the role of a lone Eldar Ranger who decides to assist the party for his own mysterious reasons (or self-preservation).

Either way, this, and logistics for replacement or acquisition of new equipment, are things you'll need to give serious thought. I've done 3 such campaigns like this now, hence being well aware of the issues you'll encounter.

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One serious problem with any sort of "cut off with no army to support us" story is thinking about how the players are going to top up on comrades and characters (in the event any should die but the squad continues on.).

From what I can tell, there're three options on that front. Reconnect with some NPC Imperial Guardsmen (not necessarily superiors, just other survivors), or draw reinforcements from those factions located on the planet. Should the reinforcement characters they acquire not be guardsmen, I can direct you to any number of my rulesets for the portrayal of other races in an Only War sense, though I'm inclined to suggest that Dark Heresy 2 set-ups may be more appropriate for a non-regimental character joining the ongoing campaign. I am more than happy to discuss this at length, such as, for example, a player taking up the role of a lone Eldar Ranger who decides to assist the party for his own mysterious reasons (or self-preservation).

Either way, this, and logistics for replacement or acquisition of new equipment, are things you'll need to give serious thought. I've done 3 such campaigns like this now, hence being well aware of the issues you'll encounter.

 

Absolutely, and it was part of my thinking that the group would not be a singular squad, but rather have a another ten generic guardsmen quickly found and joining the cause, with recruits from what remains of the PDF and local militias joining in.

 

I suppose it depends on what the group wishes to do, and might be a nice experiment when run alongside other groups, just to see how they handle being in the same situation. From the suggestions above, there are three core mentalities I need to keep my eye on when the group begin their journey:

 

1. Lone Warriors

 

Here, the players decide that they are best served remaining as a solitary squad, and travel around more or less in the traditional fashion that you might find in a DnD game. Why this might be the case isn't grounded in a logical decision to remain alone (though it could be, depending on their view of the situation) but rather out of habit. It might seem to make sense that they forge their own path and go on adventures, or perhaps their one true goal is to find a way off planet. They're been left behind during the retreat, after all, and might be considered dead at the very least, so maybe they decide all bets are off. 

 

I imagine reinforcement or resupply in this scenario being like a DnD game where their travels happen to allow them to encounter folks along the way who will be willing to lend a hand.

 

2. Main Base

 

In this scenario, the players decide that the first order of business is to rebuild a suitable army from what can be found planet side. There's Orks everywhere, as it is, and just ten dudes won't really be enough to do anything about that (though it might be, but it really comes down to who you're willing to believe.) In this case, they might feel that a base of operations would be a good start, and if they are good with their Navigation rolls, they may be able to find their way back to the original base. Otherwise, they might want to make a new one. In this case, recruiting people along the way might be a separate mechanic that simply adds bodies to the roster, which are then pooled at base and the players can take one off when they need to replace a comrade or player character, kind of like a collective pool of lives.

 

3. Roving Army

 

Kind of like the above option, but instead of staying put, the slowly growing army keeps moving around the planet, never staying in the same spot twice. It provides the exploration freedom of the first while also allowing for an able stock of bodies from the second, though it also has its downsides, such as lacking a truly defensible position, or the amount of time it would take a force of that size to mobilise.

 

Reinforcements aren't something I'm immediately worried about, now that I think about it. Contextually, introducing them into the party isn't going to be an immediate problem, and the sudden shift in situation might cause them to be somewhat more careful about what happens to them, though I will have a look at DH2, if it provides a better way to introduce non-regimental characters. I've also had a good look among your alternate race rules for Only War, and they look pretty damned good, so it will provide a welcome addition.

 

As for Logistics and Gear, well... yeah, I can see that being a problem, especially if the players begin in an Armoured Regiment. Losing their Leman Russ will not be the most pleasant of experiences.

 

For this, I would think scavenging stuff from locals or finding things left over might be a good way to go. Helping those AdMech guys in their searches might provide a location filled with war gear that they can use to supply their army for the time being. Hell, so long as they don't have an Enginseer in the party, they might be inclined to perform a little tech-heresy if the situation is dire enough. Perhaps they also find a stash of un-salvaged gear in a nearby Ork Camp.

 

Really, any suggestions that can be given will be remarkably helpful.

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I like the third idea to an extent.  Especially if you mix character backgrounds as time goes on -- some native ready-raised PDF, some untutored natives, some "foreign" professional Imperial Guard.  Another inspiration for plots here might be German East Africa during WWI (today Tanzania).  The Schutzetruppe started out as a tiny but professional colonial force of 5% German officers, NCOs and medics, 45% African "askari" soldiers, and 50% unarmed carriers.  It ended as an increasingly ragged and complex bunch:

- Prussian officers, NCOs and medics.

- African soldiers

- African carriers (and their families)

- Arabic "ruga ruga" mercenary auxiliaries

- German Navy gunners who escaped from a sunken raider with their cannon

- German civilian settlers who joined up as cavalry and scouts

 

Oh, and despite being outnumbered twenty to one by the British, Portuguese and Belgian colonies around it, the Schutztruppe survived the war, invading most of the other colonies in the process and getting its commander promoted from Lt. Colonel to Major General.  There was also an abortive attempt to send a Zeppelin loaded with supplies, which could make for an interesting campaign element where an Imperial ship loaded with supplies is deliberately sacrificed to help the survivors -- perhaps crashing in an isolated area of the planet for the Imperials to come and retrieve.

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