Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Avdnm

What lures in the depths of the hive city?

Recommended Posts

One of my recent successes, atmosphere-wise, was during Rising Tempest, when the players find a Dreadnought in the Omega Vault, and it starts up as they enter the room. I took the first few minutes of a BL audio drama, The Glorious Tomb, where a Dreadnought activates, and edited off the narrator's voice, which left me an mp3 with the background effects: the machine noises, the AdMech chanting and prayers, the machine spirit status updates, coupled with some rousing musical score. It was an instant hit, and the players still get all nostalgic about it. I'm fairly sure I'm not allowed to share the file itself, but if someone needs it, I can tell how to reproduce the steps.

 

As for the funnier ones:

 

I might have written about this one before, but I have an adventure currently in suspended animation, where I will teach my players the impersonal, detached nature of the Adeptus Administratum. The original plot hook was that an Inquisitor intercepted an Administratum report about an IG regiment garrisoned waaaay behind front lines suddenly losing 90% of its manpower. When the Kill-team arrived to investigate a possible xenos incursion, they found all the "missing" guardsmen are present and accounted for. They're in the process of dealing with the incidentally discovered Genestealer infection :ph34r: , but later they will find out that an Administratum drone simply missed typing the last zero in his Excel sheet. My plan is that after I completely undermined their trust in the AdAdm, I'll give them a few plot hooks where they have to rely on them.

 

I also plan to do something similar with the AdMech, after having recently listened to another audio drama, Iron Devil. There's a scene in it, where a half-deranged tech-priest sends a recently arrived IG detachment to deal with an incursion in their place, caused by a single Ork. He neglects to mention the minor fact that the Ork is piloting a Stompa, and when questioned, calmly answers that the Guardsmen had a numerical advantage of 30:1, and the only problem in the equation was that he overestimated the efficiency of their biological components :D That is golden, and I will steal it so hard :D

Edited by musungu

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

hands down best is Soylen Viridians.  The concept is old, but the necessity of it makes it a perfect metaphor for how hard things are in the 41st millennium, all wrapped up in a neat package with all your essential nutrients.  Guess you could follow that food chain around and stop at the most disturbing part.

 

Humor eludes me.  I want to find a way to work warhammer high and daria 40k into this conversation without looking like a channer, but I can't, so there it is.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Soylent green is a classic motif in dystopian sci-fi, effective and powerful. On the other hand, I wouldn't expect it to register too strongly on a Marine character's horror scale. How did you introduce it in DW (or other 40k games, for that matter) for maximum effect?

 

As for humour, don't sweat it. There's like ten of us actively commenting here lately - we just do what we can to entertain ourselves :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Deathwatch Grimdark Atmosphere?

 

Just put a bunch of harmless civilians in every scene that involves something truly horrifying. If the DW Marines fail, the civvies die or worse. If the DW Marines succeed, they have to decide what they want to do with them. Do they leave them be, or do they send them off to be mind cleansed, or do they take absolutely no chances and offer them the Emperor's Mercy?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Soylent green is a classic motif in dystopian sci-fi, effective and powerful. On the other hand, I wouldn't expect it to register too strongly on a Marine character's horror scale. How did you introduce it in DW (or other 40k games, for that matter) for maximum effect?

 

As for humour, don't sweat it. There's like ten of us actively commenting here lately - we just do what we can to entertain ourselves :)

 

I didn't, but I'm planning to.  My players, we've been gaming together for about 15 years now, but they pretty much know nothing about warhammer 40k besides what I've introduced them to thus far.  We rarely touched sci-fi in the past decade and a half, so I've never had the opportunity to use the trope.

 

I'm thinking there are probably two ways I'll do it though.  The first is when we run a OW or DH campaign.  I'll have them start as your sort of lower middle class imperial citizens and just throw it in as a "flavor" to a scene.  

 

Having breakfast back home.  There's salt, pepper, a bottle of grox sauce (new formula with actual water substitute and 33% fewer carcinogens!) and soylent viridians on the table.  The gelatinous, opaque cube throws back the dim light with an almost pleasing hint of rainbow sheen from the fatty oils.  It's thick and viscous, slightly bitter, but not bad.  It's got a grim dark aftertaste, but the stale water washes replaces it with a hint of rust.  Later on, they're on a mission that takes them past the rendering plant.  Mwuahahaha

 

The second way is a bit more roundabout.  Perhaps, in their deathwatch campaign, they take a mission of opportunity and interdict a hostile operation being conducted by a cell of revolutionaries on an Imperial world.  These misguided souls are attempting to sabotage a hive's major food production facility, which would cause starvation, unrest, and needless misery on a, to our minds, unimaginable scale.  The team gets there and, upon interrogating a survivor, discover that these rebels love the God Emperor but believe that the hive "lottery" that takes away the old, sick, and infirm is a blatant crime against humanity and His vision.

 

Then I get to watch them squirm as they try to square doing their duty to secure the Emperor's peace and their own out of game bias of the value of human life.  Do they complete the mission and keep the factory operating or do they break rank and try to restore some dignity to the most powerless members of society?

 

Maybe do the second one then spring the first one on them.   :D   Can't wait to see the look on their faces.  Definitely not the kind of thing your typical elven druid and dwarven fighter ever run into.  Near as I can tell, the characters are basically immune to the typical shock effect; I doubt a space marine would blanche at anything less than seeing a loyalist primarch getting butchered.

 

The most effective way to give them mind wrap is to run them into something down-to-earth yet twisted with a bit of the WH40K flair.  The humor came about the same way, mostly through encounters with the disciples of the Machine God.  One of my players tried to engage in small talk with a tech priest, was talking about flavor and tea.  The tech priest's response was along the lines of, "flavor is an analog sensory perception that determines suitability for consumption and desirability of the fuel source; useful but primitive." They got a laugh out of that.

 

 

Deathwatch Grimdark Atmosphere?

 

Just put a bunch of harmless civilians in every scene that involves something truly horrifying. If the DW Marines fail, the civvies die or worse. If the DW Marines succeed, they have to decide what they want to do with them. Do they leave them be, or do they send them off to be mind cleansed, or do they take absolutely no chances and offer them the Emperor's Mercy?

 

 

I tried that one, guess my crew is a bit more jaded.  In the pre-made Final Sanction adventure, they got to the scene with the gene stealers dropping in on the dinner party.  They didn't miss a beat, wasted the ones that were a threat and saved the governor, per their objectives.

 

They watched with mild bemusement as I described how the other four gene stealers tore off after the fleeing non-combatants, limbs and blood spray raining down in their wake.  Didn't even try to do anything, just wrote them off and were thankful for the distraction.

 

Not even a flinch when the NPC apothecary performed Triage and killed a third of the wounded from the last PDF unit they encountered.  WTF, eh?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

First of all you should avoid holes in the story. If you send your killteam into hive city to find and destroy illegal xeno-lab, you don't provide them with map of any sort and, surprisingly, they find it when going in random direction - that kills the mood dead. 

If you send your killteam after heretic SM to a huge refinery with no clues on how to find them or track them and the session ends without finding them - well, either Inquisition is run by idiots or GM didn't think over that scenario.

From my experience, what glues the session the most is story's coherence.

 

Only when you provide it you can think about the grimdark, otherwise someone might yawn or laugh at it. Good idea is to plan encounters accordingly, because if they have to be threatening to characters if you want players to be in a mood. Some rules for planning them:

1. Remember - one lucky shot may bring down even the scariest of enemies. That's why a horde or a simple group of enemies is usually scarier than VBM (Very Big Monster).

2. If you include cover in your maps, NPC's may hide behind it and double or triple their AR. It works with even the weakest of enemies.

3. You can adjust the numbers during session. If PC's were lucky you can throw in couple enemies more, if they weren't you can spare them blood.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree that coherence is important, but I would argue that rationality is more so.

 

Everything in the setting, plot, motivations, etc. needs to make sense.  If the story or game session is incoherent because my PC's are incoherent, that could still be an acceptable session oozing with grim dark or whatever the mood theme was that night.  The important part is that each character's unwritten algorithm that governs their behavior is, for the most part, observed.

 

Granted, being a GM and knowing beforehand what kind of characters I've allowed into the party, I'm going to tailor the story to make it work.  If the group could be loosely defined as a collection of irrational murderous psychopaths, the Deathwatch is never going to send them to guard a sensitive diplomatic mission.  But they would send them on a blind, desperate quest to slay a brood lord in the middle of a gene-cult uprising.  The city's burning anyway, the hive ship will be here in a few hours if we do nothing, why the hell not, amirite?

 

That said, idea #2 and #3 are great.  Something I need to be reminded of myself from time to time.  I think I would have to urge caution for idea #1 however.  I've found that my players excel at slaying hordes.  Even elites, they've got a pretty good chance at.  The one time I gave them what-for, they were in a food court in a multi-level commercial structure, hordes of troops arrayed on 5 floors of balcony railings and cover, focused on a platoon of PDF troopers who were pinned in the center of this plaza.

 

The kill team walked into this scenario and the four marines split up to cover the various angles.  The assault marine jumped to the top floor to work his way down, while the apothecary and the tactical took the stairs.  One combat round goes by and they're feeling pretty good about things.  The horde doesn't manage to damage anyone, they've put some terri-good damage to the horde magnitude, and they're feeling a bit bored.  Suddenly, the assault marine dies.  He got ganked by two gene stealers, who fled the scene immediately after.  The remaining team members rush to the assault marine's last location and find his mangled body on top of what used to be a glass table.  His leg was hit with the mortal blow in the last round.  They find his boot standing upright, the weight and rigidity of the armor keeping it upright with his foot and calf still inside.

 

Of his killers, there was no sign.

 

My players, bless their little hearts, are the Emperor's finest.  They will square off against a hive tyrant any day of the week and go down in a blaze of glory.  Their shield is disgust, their armor is contempt, their sword is hatred.  And they do not know fear.

 

But of all the enemies they have faced, the only ones that gave them pause were the two gene stealers they could not see, who lurked in the shadows and hunted them through the dying city, waiting for an opportunity to catch them by surprise.  

 

The scariest enemy is the one you can't see but know about.  The one you would fight but are unable to match.  The shadow of an enemy is more terrifying than the caster of the shadow.  Because you can't fight a shadow, you don't know what the capabilities of the shadow caster are.  All you can do is anxiously wait with a sense of rising paranoia and dread for the next move.

 

 

First of all you should avoid holes in the story. If you send your killteam into hive city to find and destroy illegal xeno-lab, you don't provide them with map of any sort and, surprisingly, they find it when going in random direction - that kills the mood dead. 

If you send your killteam after heretic SM to a huge refinery with no clues on how to find them or track them and the session ends without finding them - well, either Inquisition is run by idiots or GM didn't think over that scenario.

From my experience, what glues the session the most is story's coherence.

 

Only when you provide it you can think about the grimdark, otherwise someone might yawn or laugh at it. Good idea is to plan encounters accordingly, because if they have to be threatening to characters if you want players to be in a mood. Some rules for planning them:

1. Remember - one lucky shot may bring down even the scariest of enemies. That's why a horde or a simple group of enemies is usually scarier than VBM (Very Big Monster).

2. If you include cover in your maps, NPC's may hide behind it and double or triple their AR. It works with even the weakest of enemies.

3. You can adjust the numbers during session. If PC's were lucky you can throw in couple enemies more, if they weren't you can spare them blood.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×