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ExoSaeptus

Heresy and Archeotech

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I'm starting up a game with a few people soon, and I was thinking I'd do an overarching plot with some rogue tech-priests being pursued by the party, since my players have indicated that at least one of them wants to play a tech-priest and I thought it'd be an interesting idea.

 

Now, I'm thinking the first attention will be the team being sent to investigate a case of some people going missing in a hive. While this isn't unusual in hives, there has now been several arbitrators gone missing, along with a fairly-high-up Administratum official, and the Inquisition has taken an interest.

 

Since, despite an Inquisitor taking interest, this case is... minor, a very expendable and new team has been sent. This is basically my starting point, and I'm thinking they'll eventually find traces of an abandoned lab used for some kind of heretical research on archeotech, and this'll be the plot hook for launching a pursuit of whoever did it.

 

Now, I need some ideas for what to do afterwards, and what to use to make the first mission a bit more fleshed out. Any ideas?

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Archaeotech is not inherently heretical - in fact, generally the opposite. However, all archaeotech needs to be vetted by the Mechanicus, to ensure that it does not fall into such ancient heresies as abominable intelligence, and that it is free of corruption from the Age of Strife (junk code, warp taint, and who knows what else).

 

The first thing you need to figure out, then, is what exactly the archaeotech is. Even if it is legit (pending, of course, proper AdMech investigation and consecration), the lab could well have been heretical in nature, using forbidden techniques to analyze or modify the item(s) in question, and if the item(s) proved to be tainted then it just makes things worse.

 

If the tech is tainted with junk code of some kind or other, you could have a sort of machine spirit infection going on, sourced at the lab. Have some raving Hereteks who have been highjacked by their implants due to exposure to the tainted archaeotech, spreading malicious code via the nousphere. Even once the Hereteks are dealt with, there'd still be lots of potential for infected machine spirits to cause problems - imagine a Titan driven mad.

 

If the tech is fine, set it up as a potential prize for the acolytes, either to use for themselves or to turn in to whatever authorities they choose for a massive boost to influence and power. You could have some radical Techpriests seeking to replicate the tech without taking proper precautions, or maybe have it just be a conflict between different subsets of the AdMech bureaucracy, with the PCs having to parse the various factions and while figuring out who they'll help to win in the end.

 

Or you could go all-out and have the warp get involved - a Heretek trying to activate an ancient psyko-technological device of unknown function, or maybe a cult that doesn't know what it's doing trying to infuse the archaeotech with a daemon.

 

Finally, there's always the Necron angle. Even if you do some or all of the above, you could have a Necron dynasty decide that they're very interested in the item(s). Perhaps it was derived from ancient Necrontyr tech that was discovered during the Age of Technology, or maybe it's actual Necron tech that has a patch-work interface installed by a Heretek and the Necrons want it back. It could even be an device that is capable of generating a synth-biologic structure based on computerized data inputs, ideal for those Necrons who want to regain their long-lost flesh.

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Dark Heresy works well when there is tough choices to be made. 

 

If the Archeotech is irredeemably evil, for example it is tainted by Nurgle to produce a horrific virus, then the PCs would be justified in using all necessary force to purge the tech and anyone who associates with it.  This is ok and quite Grim Dark but might cause issues in longer campaigns when the PCs are happy to use violence to solve all their problems.

 

What can be more interesting is if the PCs are conflicted about what to do.  For example imagine the Archeotech is designed to improve the efficency of food production in the Hive but a vital component has been replaced with a (fairly) benign xenos component.  The Adeptus Mechanicus want to destroy the archeotech completly as heretical the rogue tech priests are working on behalf of the Hive authorities who are facing food shortages. 

 

Which side to the PCs fall?

 

 

Or The Archeotech belongs to the 'Hive itself.  The Adeptus Mechanicus want to take it off world causing major problems for the Hive, the Adeptus Arbites (who would certainly be involved) want it returned and the rogue tech priests plan to use it for what it was really intended...awakening a Chaos Bane Lord Titan buried at the bottom of the Hive!

 

 

As you can see the technology doesn't necessarily need to be improtant it can just serve as a 'MacGuffin' to ensure that the PCs and various antagonists are put into moral quandries.

 

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/MacGuffin

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(...)

Now, I'm thinking the first attention will be the team being sent to investigate a case of some people going missing in a hive. While this isn't unusual in hives, there has now been several arbitrators gone missing, along with a fairly-high-up Administratum official, and the Inquisition has taken an interest.

 

Since, despite an Inquisitor taking interest, this case is... minor, a very expendable and new team has been sent. (...)

Hi ExoSaeptus,

 

"several Arbitrators gone missing" and "minor case" isn´t something I would ever stuff into the same Mission briefing ;) The Arbitrators are NOT "just police", after all. At this Point, the acolythes would not be the first to be investigating as the local Arbites would have already set their own Investigators onto the case..and the Acolythes would not be the first to arrive either, unless they just happen to be on the same world. Are you sure you want to set it up like that? In Addition, somebody who is i search of victims for some experiment and deliberately picking Arbitrators for it is a fool. If you just Need humans, you don´t pick those that WILL Trigger a hard and formidable Response by disappearing.

If this "Arb missing Thing" is just your way to justifiy the Inquisition to involve itself, how about a different angle? A different acolyte cell (a Team of two) where keeping taps of the one Recyclator who was selling devices he build without a proper sanction to do so (which means: he re-build Technology, taking three to five defunct items to create one functioning item. Nothing Special, but a case of minor Tech-Heresy). The Inquisitor decided to Keep taps on him to get an idea his clients. After all, anybody buying unsanctioned technical devices on the Grey-to-black-market might be up to no good.

Said Recyclator suddenly disappeared. The surveillance cell had checked and found out that both him and the "Client" he was expected to meet are now missing, at least they both have not been seen by anybody that used to know them. Feeling that this might be a bigger fish on the hook, the surveillance cell called for assistance (both are skulkers, not fighters). Enter your PC.

In that case, the place where the Recyclator used to meet with customers to Exchange wares for coins (he was NOT having here-tech devices in his local shop, neither was he selling them there...) was in an seedy area your Kidnappers used to get faceless victims. They were taken by Chance. When the characters start to investigate among the downtrodden, they can learn that These are not th eonply People disappearing here...

 

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Depending how violent the Hive is and the area the Arbitrators went missing it might not be such an unusual situation

A couple of arbitrators going missing in the Necromanda Underhive for example is a very different proposition to them going missing after visiting a Guild House or a Spire Lord's palace.

Your right that the Arbitrators might investigate though. But this can be all the better. An additional faction with their own agenda that cam be an ally or hinderence to the PCs.

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Maybe not Arbites.

 

That organization is fairly big, after all. Possibly something less big (is local hive law enforcement a thing?), but still important enough that the disappearances will be of some note and might draw the eye of an Inquisitor somehow. It might still draw the eye of an Arbites precinct in the Hive, too.

 

What I was thinking, was less that they'd been taken as test subjects (others might be, though), and more as "these people are getting too close to our affairs, get rid of them somehow". Unfortunately for these heretics, somewhere along the chain someone ****** up (on disposing of the bodies, for example) and someone fairly high up became suspicious, possibly because while people going missing isn't an odd event in most decrepit lower hives and finding the odd corpse isn't either, finding their corpses with plasma burns/bolt shell injuries/wounds from other uncommon weaponry... is.

 

The Acolytes wouldn't be the only investigating party, either. There may be local law enforcement, there could be actual Arbites on the case (possibly), and so on, and they'd have to compete with these other parties in the search.

 

Mainly, the Acolytes would only be investigating this because while it's curious, it's not a matter of great interest, and an Inquisitor assigning a junior team to test their mettle on a minor task isn't too uncommon, or rather, not too unbelievable, given how incredibly varied Inquisitors can be. 

 

As for the Archeotech, I was thinking of making that an overarching plot thing where the team is sent to hunt for traces and following vague leads all over the sector. It could be something that could bring the Acolytes great personal fame to recover (an STC pattern or something, which is invaluable. I think I've seen something somewhere where a pair of Guardsmen found an STC Pattern and got themselves a small moon as a reward), but at the end, they have to make the choice to either recover the Pattern, which might be tainted and useless anyway (making it a gamble), or, for example, abandoning their comrades to die for the sake of personal glory.

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Many 40k writers use the word "arbitrators" to describe both personnel of the Adeptus Arbites and the enforcers of local law enforcement. Think the difference between federal and local police for an USA analogy.

 

 

Even fragments of STC data are hugely valuable, let alone intact patterns. One of the latter got four scouts a world each.

 

 

You could do a lot with internal Imperial politics. If you have access to the Lathe Worlds book, that describes Adeptus Mechanicus internal factions rather well. Say factions who are pro- or anti- xenotech.

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If you're doing the archeotech/Heretek route I had a similar idea after reading the Ravenor novels, where they had stumbled across a drug called Flects, which I originally had wanted to use in my game, BUT, the further I read, the more I realized that flects were, literally, a gateway drug.  There was a planet caught in a Warpstorm for 300 years, and people found it when the Warpstorm dissipated, but, everything was tainted, and the "drugs" were really pieces of glass that were inundated with Warp energy, and well, let's just say it ended badly for the most part, BUT, it also gave some pretty cool acid trips OR it gave really bad acid trips, i.e. demon possession.  

 

I digress though.  Just like the glass, everything else was tainted by the Warp,but it didn't stop scavengers and Rogue Traders from cashing in on the tech they salvaged from the planet, cogitators, etc.  Well, everything had bad juju written all over it, but, only a Psyker would have noticed this after examining it, and well, they brought all this tech back, sold it, and it started wreaking havok in Hives by introducing scrap code into all systems a little at a time depending on the number of archetotech cogitator's put into the system.  

 

They were efficient though, hehehe.

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