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Magnus Grendel

Campaign Plot...er...Plotting

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So;

My RPG group have taken an interest in running another DH game after the current game (SWRPG) finishes.

I realised when leafing through ascension that the last time we played a high level DH RPG, one of the most regular players in our group didn't get to play, and nor did (obviously) the newest member of our group. Inquisitor & Throne Agents is a fairly iconic one to do (and certainly a nice change of pace from 'you are the bloke who cleans the chicken soup servitors' that low-level DH games can often be). Plus I can lob a copy of Eisenhorn or Carrion Throne at the latter individual as a nice primer of the sort of stuff they can expect.

I've got a few plots floating around in my head, but for the sake of making something scary in scale, I was thinking about essentially running a 'Broken Arrow' campaign - the inquisitor and henchmen stumbling on to a plot to steal an Exterminatus weapon - I'd rather it be a bit more thought-provoking than just a shoot-em-up, although a fair amount of shooting is inevitable.

Rather than write out a terribly prescriptive campaign, I'd rather come up with a the bad guys plot and figure out where 'leaks' occur that can direct the players onto it. An ascension-level party is way to powerful and way too influential narratively to try and railroad.

 

I'd like suggestions, or people to point out plot-holes, in the concepts in 1-5 below - I've had enough very enjoyable background debates on here with the assorted notables to know that people are both well informed and creative. @ThenDoctor, @Lynata, @pearldrum1, @venkelos, @Errant Knight

  • Setting
    • I was planning on the Calixis sector, just because there's so much fleshed out in terms of named individuals, worlds, etc, etc.
  • Outline story
    • Discover something is going on
    • Discover specifically what is going on (someone is planning to steal/has stolen an exterminatus warhead)
      • Brief pause for what my deathwatch group describes as a 'nutrient recycling on' moment....
    • Stop them - either stopping the theft or stopping the use of the weapon
    • Find out who is ultimately responsible for masterminding the plot and bring them to justice
  • Immediate bad guy
    • Obviously some nefarious cult or criminal organisation. However, to actually handle a WTRLMD* effectively requires a certain degree of technological competence that makes me think the Logicians might be a nice group to use.
    • Plus, our Dark Heresy group did play Edge Of Darkness a while back**, and they found it as creepy as intended, so it'd be nice to bring them back.
    • They don't really need too much motive beyond the act itself; a combination of
      • being paid 
      • getting to fiddle around with seriously powerful archeotech
      • Revenge against the Inquisition
  • Ultimate bad guy
    • Whilst generic moustache-twirling chaos warlord who wants to blow up the world because reasons is the easy answer, it feels a bit artificial; 'good' Dark Heresy stories tend to be bits of the imperium at war with one another, or heretics who think they're doing the right thing (and in some cases sadly even are) before the Imperial sledgehammer descends.
    • My first resort in this situation is the Imperial nobility - who can still have pretty terrifying resources, even if they're not a planetary governor, or whatever.
    • I was wondering about Malfi:
      • "The population of Malfi holds a grudge: they believe that Malfi should be the Calixis Sector's capital world and its leaders and common people venomously protest the supremacy of Scintilla in the sector. "
    • Now wiping out a major hive world is quite the dramatic act - but in theory it's a sound plan:
      • Lord Sector Hax is killed, and the most powerful Lord Subsector would need to take over.
      • The nature of the attack means that phrases like 'emergency powers' are justified, giving the (new) Lord Sector a chance to really dig their heels into the fractured political structure of the sector
      • The main risk of blowback from the attack comes from the Inquisition, but with the Tricorne destroyed the Ordos Calixis will be essentially trying to reassemble themselves from scratch
    • Theoretically, that could also tie to a rival Inquisitor (of Malfian heritage, naturally***) - it sounds like a suitably Istvaanian/Recongregator plot:
      • The Tricorne and the Lucid Palace are riddled with heretics anyway, let's burn them all and start from the ground up
      • Putting the sector on a war footing provides the justification for a major series of purges and should help shock the Calixis nobility out of its decadent complacency.

And that's....about as far as I'd got at the moment.

 

Now onto the bits I need to figure out - suggestions and advice welcome:

  1. How does the bad guy assemble his conspiracy?
    • In and of itself not to hard - an Inquisitor can be assumed to have the resources to find a cell of the Logicians fairly easily, especially if he's a radical
    • Still, those points of contact provide the means for the party to ultimately find their way back 'up the chain' to the Inquisitor (or at least to determine that someone else is supporting the Logicians)
    • The Logicians are not going to knowingly work for the Inquisition. How do you make sure the Logicians 'get caught' without letting any loose ends point back to you?
  2. How do the low level bad guys find an exterminatus weapon?
    • These things aren't just left lying around - there's a Hereticus minor ordo specifically devoted to overseeing their use and security (Ordo Excorium, an equivalent of the Ordo Sicarius' role with the Assassin temples)
    • The Inquisitor can't just say 'there's one secretly stored right there', even if they happens to know, because if there's no sensible way the Logicians could have deduced the weapon's presence, the evidence trail points back at the people who knew officially where it was (i.e. ultimately them)
    • What they could do is let them know the security measures taken to protect the weapons - such that these very measures then betray the presence of something important
      • As an example that popped into my head, a Cruiser's Master Of Ordnance is a senior but not excessively senior officer (probably a Lieutenant, maybe a commander in the case of a Battlecruiser). Such an individual can expect to have occasional random checks of health/financial records/disciplinary/performance files by the Sector Admiralty, the Chancery of the Estate Imperial, the Officio Medicae, the Fleet Commissariat, that sort of thing. But any officer which the Inquisition actively plans on having deploy Cyclonic or Virus Torpedoes can be expected to have had a much more thorough, high-authority-but-no-names-recorded, totally-not-done-by-the-Inquisition-honest, security check for no obvious good reason right around the time they were appointed to the ship's torpedo chambers....
  3. How do the low level bad guys steal the exterminatus weapon?
    • These things must, surely, be secured beyond all reason where possible. If there's a protected Inquisitorial Arsenal, then in theory you could launch an assault with an army and fleet, but if you're going to crack open an Ordo Excorium fortress and take a warhead by force, you've probably got enough resources that you don't need to (I'm sure, for example, that the heretek forges of the hollows could cook up an exterminatus-equivalent weapon for you)
    • Note that according to the Inquisition Codex, the Excorium only consists of 100 inquisitors. That means that they have to be mostly in an oversight role, because even if there were only one 'depot' in a sector, there still wouldn't be able to be an Inquisitor assigned to each.
    • It's possible that there are one or two weapons permanently retained on fleet ships. After all, if an Inquisitor sends an Exterminatus order message which closes with the words "Oh holy throne, the tentacles! Hurry, we don't have much time lef-bllasrglsklupppp....." then you may well not have enough time for a ship to get from wherever it currently is, to the fortress, load up, and then get to the target in time for the strike to matter. This isn't the Jericho Reach with its fleet of super-archeotech high-warp snowflake kill-ships on permanent standby. Attacking and looting a Navy warship is still no mean feat but it's more achievable, especially if it's damaged, or in drydock, or taking on supplies, and especially if most of the officers don't know what they're carrying.
  4. How do the low level bad guys plan to use the exterminatus weapon?
    • Virus bombs definitely need to be air-burst (see any number of Black Library books)
    • Cyclonic Torpedoes by comparison are just an 'earth-shattering kaboom' that wrecks the atmosphere (okay, it's a hive world, but 'polluted' isn't the same as 'gone'!), oceans and potentially destabilizes the planetary crust if it penetrates deeply enough.
    • Deploying the torpedo as a torpedo is one option, but the act of stopping that feels like it belongs more to the Imperial Navy than the Inquisition, who would want a "where's the bomb?" mission more.
    • Given the comment about penetrating the crust, the obvious site to plan the attack is Gunmetal City. It's a fairly lawless place, has a substantial high-tech weapons industry that the logicians would be likely to be able to establish a presence in, and it's built into the crater and slopes of Mount Thollos, a semi-active volcano - by definition an existing breach through the planetary crust
  5. What measures would the main bad guy be able to put in place in advance without tipping their hand?
    • Assuming that the Inquisitor doesn't have the Malfian Lord Subsector (Lady Glydus) in on the conspiracy, you can't have everything totally primed and ready to go, but the reaction of most of the Malfian nobility is pretty predictable.
    • If you move too quickly, you point suspicion at yourself
    • If you move too slowly, someone else might make a play for it (like Sepheris Secundus, as the probable new subsector capital of the Golgenna Reach, or Prol in the Markayn Marches as the effective capital of the sector Administry, or Maccabeus Quintus as probably the centre of the Ecclesiarchy synod with Scintilla gone).
    • Assuming Scintilla went spontaneously 'pop', what support would you need to get yourself recognised as the new effective sector capital? 
    • If it's an inquisitorial faction-fight hidden by political games, you would probably want to make sure the 'new' Ordos calixis have a solidly Istvaanian/Recongregator core. This might mean making sure that the majority of surviving Inquisitors are of these factions, but you can hardly warn them directly without giving the game away... how do you persuade enough of them to get off scintilla en masse to give you the political edge?

 

 

 

* Weapon of Truly Ridiculous Levels of Mass Destruction

**about 4 1/2 years ago, in fact; where I first met my (now) wife.

*** I'll probably generate a reasonably high-level Tainted Blood Of Malfi Radical to act as overarching bad guy.

 

Edited by Magnus Grendel

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Whew. Not sure how much help I can be here, but I guess I can try tossing a few thoughts into the blender? It sounds like an exciting campaign idea either way!

First off, is the Ultimate Bad Guy a noble or an Inquisitor now? I have to say, I do like the idea that it'd be the former. The political justification is there, as outlined already, and additional reasons are easy to conjure when we think about how the various families in the sector have to be connected through series of marriages, alliances, feuds, and insults. I'm sure Hax has made a lot of enemies over the centuries.

That said, I'd also assume that sector leadership doesn't just pass from sector to subsector governor, but rather to the sector governor's heir -- so the conspirators should have to ensure that Hax's entire family is wiped out. This could be part of the WMD strike, or it could involve further assassinations elsewhere. There's some obvious potential to tie this into the campaign when and if the players become aware of these murders or attempted murders, as they could leave clues to the greater conspiracy.

Addressing point 2, powerful nobles would surely have the means to make a grab at a Navy-owned exterminatus weapon, too. A ranking flag officer could be part of the conspiracy, likely because they hail from a local family that'd benefit from the change in regime. The underlings that'd be responsible for the safety of the weapon could be blackmailed, replaced by loyal thugs, or even brainwashed (the plot from "Faith & Fire" springs to mind). The weapon just goes "missing" during a routine supply stop - unloaded and shipped off by an infiltrated ground crew - which wouldn't be discovered until a later inspection, at which point the expendable confidants are swiftly removed or summarily executed after a drumhead court-martial to prevent anyone from spilling the truth.

Admittedly, I'm largely avoiding stuff like Inquisitorial armories, largely because I am still operating under ye olde Thorian Handbook Inquisition background, where the Inquisition is described as very decentralized and, with some exceptions, having little in the ways of own military power. Conversely, every Navy capital ship seems to carry the armaments to condemn a world, judging by the stories we get to read.

For point 4, I would also raise the possibility of just triggering a hypothetical virus bomb on the ground. Yes, obviously air-bursting them is a superior choice to ensure maximum dispersion, but depending on the virus a ground-based detonation just means that it's gonna take a bit longer to spread. Besides, since we're talking about a Hive world, I am sure it wouldn't be too difficult to find some abandoned tower-like structure in the middle or upper Hive that is both high enough and doesn't have too many nearby buildings surrounding it on the same level. Why not go for a cathedral tower, for example? The shadowy and dusty interior, with faint beams of light falling through the stained glass, Would make a great setting for the showdown!

I guess I may have deviated somewhat from the concept here by focusing on the involvement of a noble. Is the Inquisitor as the bad guy locked in or just an option? It kinda feels like you've switched tracks halfway through the post. >_>'

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16 hours ago, Lynata said:

Not sure how much help I can be here, but I guess I can try tossing a few thoughts into the blender?

The more the better. That's the point of posting here; to try and grind the flaws away and expose the plot to people better at spotting and poly-filla-ing over plot-holes than my players before they get a shot at it....

16 hours ago, Lynata said:

Is the Inquisitor as the bad guy locked in or just an option?

Just an option. As noted, whilst writing it I started to think it feels like the sort of thing an Istvaanian or Recongregator might think is a cool idea. For that matter, there's no reason an Inquisitor couldn't be a Malfian Noble who just happens to be the legal holder of an Inquisitorial Rosette.

16 hours ago, Lynata said:

I have to say, I do like the idea that it'd be the former. The political justification is there, as outlined already, and additional reasons are easy to conjure when we think about how the various families in the sector have to be connected through series of marriages, alliances, feuds, and insults. I'm sure Hax has made a lot of enemies over the centuries.

I'd go so far as to suggest that if an Imperial Commander isn't making enemies of someone, they're not doing their job. But I'd also like it to be Imperial nobility. Sometimes it's nice to have an overarching bad guy who's not been corrupted by daemons or genestealers or whatever.

16 hours ago, Lynata said:

That said, I'd also assume that sector leadership doesn't just pass from sector to subsector governor, but rather to the sector governor's heir -- so the conspirators should have to ensure that Hax's entire family is wiped out. This could be part of the WMD strike, or it could involve further assassinations elsewhere. There's some obvious potential to tie this into the campaign when and if the players become aware of these murders or attempted murders, as they could leave clues to the greater conspiracy.

Agreed, but (a) as noted the bulk of the Hax dynasty should be in the Lucid Palace or elsewhere in either Sibellus or Tarsus and hence also dead, and (b) depending on how the legal framework works, Marius Hax's heir is Lord Calixis because he's Lord Scintilla - the recognised senior Imperial Commander - and there's no longer a Scintilla to justify a new Imperial Commander being appointed.

At the same time, it's a good point.

Theoretically, blowing up the entire world of Scintilla is a pretty thorough way of exterminating the defined line of succession (whether it's purely bloodline-restricted or not; I imagine if they have any sense the Administratum has appropriate regency/incapacity protocols too.

Striking at the off-world branches of the succession is the sort of clue that players might spot but might not; the fact that victims are numbers 57, 79 and 82 in line to be Lord Calixis is clearly something they have in common but not surprising if you know their familial name is 'Hax', and they're going to be sufficiently unimportant individuals I can kill them off without dramatically destabilizing the setting. The fact that they're the highest ranked individuals living off Scintilla is the sort of thing someone might notice and feel a sense of real unease without immediately pointing at what's going to happen aside from 'Something Very, Very Bad'.

It'd make a nice opening act, and provides a useful answer to "why is the inquisition looking into this matter at all?".

Investigating the murders of multiple relatives of the Lord Sector is exactly the sort of thing the Tricorne might be tapped for:

  • It's off-planet, so outside the jurisdiction of the Scintillan Magistratum
  • The victims may be heirs to Hax's title, but if they don't hold an Adeptus Terra-granted title themselves, it's not technically a Crime Against The Imperium, so it doesn't fall into the Arbites' purview.
  • Whilst it may not be a Crime Against The Imperium, it's a Crime Against A Bloody Important Family, and someone's going to have to carry the can for the investigation. The inquisition is the Imperium's default 'special circumstances' answer; I guess the downside of 'unlimited authority' is that everything is your within your job description.
16 hours ago, Lynata said:

Addressing point 2, powerful nobles would surely have the means to make a grab at a Navy-owned exterminatus weapon, too.

16 hours ago, Lynata said:

The underlings that'd be responsible for the safety of the weapon could be blackmailed, replaced by loyal thugs, or even brainwashed (the plot from "Faith & Fire" springs to mind). The weapon just goes "missing" during a routine supply stop - unloaded and shipped off by an infiltrated ground crew - which wouldn't be discovered until a later inspection, at which point the expendable confidants are swiftly removed or summarily executed after a drumhead court-martial to prevent anyone from spilling the truth.

That's a fair answer to '3' but less so to '2'. Stealing the weapon essentially requires trickery (a con-trick 'heist job' during resupply) or focused violence (you can't readily steal a ship of 95,000 crew, or even take and hold it long-term against the Navy recapturing it by throwing thousands of armsmen at you without investing more manpower than what's essentially a noble-backed criminal cartel would want to use, but some sort of Under Siege-esque 'heist with guns' might work if you can use the confusion to sneak the weapons off the ship as deadfire shots, or similar)

Compelled minions is sensible and appropriate concept if the plan has sufficient time to pre-position them; remember that I was planning on having the 'working level' goons be the Logicians, which means that a combination of augmetics and the Edge of Darkness heretek bio-implants would serve perfectly well for compelling unwilling minions if they're given time to prepare, and that credibly impersonating mechanicus personnel and/or suborning some of a ship's servitor clades is doable.

16 hours ago, Lynata said:

A ranking flag officer could be part of the conspiracy, likely because they hail from a local family that'd benefit from the change in regime.

A corrupt admiral would definitely work (flag rank would presumably have knowledge of where exterminates-level weapons are carried and stored, even if they lack 'firing codes' without Inquisitorial authority) , but there are three problems there, more from a gameplay perspective than a storyline one:

  1. If the admiral has authority over the ship, stealing the weapon becomes disconcertingly 'easy', as does covering it up, meaning it's going to be a lot harder for the players to come up with a sufficient number of clues that would be findable within sufficient time. (I read a guide once that I've sworn by since; any time you want your players to be detectives in-character, make sure there are three independent clues pointing to any conclusion it's narratively crucial they reach....)
  2. It feels a bit too convenient to place the bad guy in precisely the legal position he needs to be in to supervise the theft. By all means somehow alter or fake orders from the admiralty, if you can figure out how to do that from either the outside or at a less exalted level inside.
  3. In the last ascension campaign we had, the main villain was a subsector fleet admiral, and as such those players who were in that campaign will be predisposed to suspect the admiralty.

 

What is still going to be key is figuring out how you direct the henchmen to the weapon/how the noble locates it themselves. In Faith & Fire, the secret aid sent to release Vaun worked because everyone 'knew' what ship Vaun would be on - Vaun and those he was working with because Vaun let himself be caught, LaHayn because he's who Vaun was being delivered to.

I'm trying to figure out, if I was an incredibly rich noble who wanted to find out which Navy ships had exterminatus armaments hidden securely on board (starting with the assumption that I know some do, but not which ones), how would I do it?

 

16 hours ago, Lynata said:

Admittedly, I'm largely avoiding stuff like Inquisitorial armories, largely because I am still operating under ye olde Thorian Handbook Inquisition background, where the Inquisition is described as very decentralized and, with some exceptions, having little in the ways of own military power.

Inquisitors have always been very decentralised (something Inquisitor as a game naturally emphasised), but the Inquisition as an entity has always been described as having immense fortresses and armouries, right the way back to Inquisition War and the fortress under Antarctica. Nevertheless, I still feel like retaining the weapons on ships makes sense from an operational perspective - warp travel is comparatively slow and unreliable, and hence adding an extra two jumps into any exterminatus mission adds a potentially unacceptable delay.

More importantly, even if you do have a central armoury (exterminatus weapons have to be built somewhere, and I'm darn sure the Ordo Excorium would keep close tabs on that), then it'd be at one of those pretty major Inquisitorial Fortresses, like Saturn's moons, Nemesis Tessera, and so on. Trying to do a smash-and-grab from somewhere like that is sufficiently far beyond suicide mission that you might as well drop your ship's Gellar field en route and get it over with; it'll probably hurt less in the long run.

By comparison, stealing from a normal naval warship seems like a far more realistic goal, even if still requiring a bit of cunning.

16 hours ago, Lynata said:

 Conversely, every Navy capital ship seems to carry the armaments to condemn a world, judging by the stories we get to read.

By lance and macrobattery fire, yes. Which is capable of devastation but not a biosphere kill.

Concentrated ortillery fire is pretty impressive - in Deathwatch the blast radius from orbital gunfire is in kilometres, whilst in Epic you were using the 5" template on an army of epic scale models. Reducing an unshielded city to rubble is the work of a few hours or days. Fortress and hive shields, and anti-orbit guns, however, outclass capital ship armaments and defences as badly as they outclass escorts and 'superheavy' ground vehicles (compare Siege of Vraks).

But relatively few Navy ships seem to carry exterminatus weapons. Astartes vessels, definitely, as well as inquisitorial and chamber militant ships carry them as standard, but in every account of biosphere-killer level exterminatus bombardment by the navy there's always been a single warship deploying them, and the rest of the fleet (where present) is simply escorts; which ties up with the Exterminatus mission in Battlefleet Gothic - you got one 'exterminator' ship, which had to give up its prow armament (i.e. the torpedo tubes in the case of most imperial capital ships) to do so.

17 hours ago, Lynata said:

For point 4, I would also raise the possibility of just triggering a hypothetical virus bomb on the ground. Yes, obviously air-bursting them is a superior choice to ensure maximum dispersion, but depending on the virus a ground-based detonation just means that it's gonna take a bit longer to spread. Besides, since we're talking about a Hive world, I am sure it wouldn't be too difficult to find some abandoned tower-like structure in the middle or upper Hive that is both high enough and doesn't have too many nearby buildings surrounding it on the same level. Why not go for a cathedral tower, for example? The shadowy and dusty interior, with faint beams of light falling through the stained glass, Would make a great setting for the showdown!

I definitely like the visuals of the setting!

I'm not sure about the practicalities, though - virus bombs are almost always referred to in multiples; the nature of life-eater virus is that it kills almost as fast as it infects, making it hard to sustain an outbreak without massed bombardment - both 'tactical' virus grenades and even 'strategic battlefield' virus weapons have been a thing (the former as a standard element of pretty much any death guard background, the latter in both Siege of Vraks recently and Battle For Armageddon way back when). 

It's a fair comment that an airburst can be achieved by a spire-top location, though.  I'm essentially doing the mental balancing act between that and a 'fire into the volcano' cyclonic warhead (plus suitable ceramite armour and force shielding)  at gunmetal city, for an 'edge of the lava' shootout.

 

 

 

I like the concepts, so the outline story is now:

  • Intro
    • Getting tasked (or at ascension level more accurately requested) to investigate the murders of a few of Hax's more distant relatives. (Politics, investigation)
  • 'Episode 1', which the players are supposed to 'win'
    • Bring the attackers to justice (Investigation, Combat)
    • Need to stumble onto the plan to attack a naval capital ship at [place] and [time] in drydock (Investigation, Infiltration)
  • 'Episode 2' which the players are supposed to 'lose' - resolve the crisis but fail to stop the theft
    • Ship is infiltrated and crew being killed, suitable hostage situation - maybe threats to fire weapons on the planet below? - that the players need to resolve (Infiltration, Combat)
    • Discover after the fact that this whole thing is a distraction for the exterminatus weapon(s) to be removed from the ship(Investigation)
  • 'Episode 3' which the players are supposed to 'win' (but it's challenging!) - stop the weapon being deployed
    • Figure out how the weapon's target and how it would be deployed (Logic, Investigation)
    • Track it to scintilla (Investigation, Infiltration) by whatever means it's being shipped
    • Locate the 'detonation point (Investigation):
      • Sibellus Hive-spire(s) for virus weapon
      • Gunmetal Volcanic caldera for cyclonic warhead
    • Stop the Logicians Destroying Scintilla (Infiltation, Climactic Combat)
  • Find out who is ultimately responsible for masterminding the plot and bring them to justice (Politics, Investigation)
    • Ideally this means a list of multiple names peripherally involved at various stages, but only one name involved in all
    • Need clues at multiple points in the campaign
      • People who would know where Hax's relatives are
      • Any resources or access the Logician's assassins couldn't have easily gotten for themselves
      • Anyone with a connection to the ship being attacked - ordering the refit, providing the supplies, providing the 'mechanicus personnel' that the logician's boarding party pretends to be
      • How the weapon is moved/recovered/shipped across the sector (a torpedo is  60m long, about the same as a large commercial passenger aircraft - even assuming the body is mostly drive and penetrator armour, the warhead can be assumed to be at least the size of several ISO shipping containers - easy to hide on an imperial freighter with kilotonnes of cargo but not exactly something you can move without some planning)
    • It's doable to have the players know 'roughly' who's involved during episode '3' because they don't have time to do anything about it before resolving that episode. Knowing who planted the bomb does not remove the need to stop it going off!

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Some of this will seem BS, but there is a little war, and an evil maniac, not too far from the Calixis Sector. If a certain Duke wants to really hamper the Imperium's ability to prosecute his secession, he might have access to such a weapon, if they can find a Rogue Trader, or maybe a Traitor Captain, with a ship, to carry it, and use it. It would certainly depend on the choice of exterminatus weapon you wanted, but if Severus had, heaven help us, access to a virus bomb, either from his own connections, or maybe some DE equivalent the Kabals gave him, you might be able to fly a ship to Scintilla, without drawing suspicion, and then crash it into the planet, releasing the virus, before any defense mechanisms come into play. While such weapons are certainly very hard to come by, they do have to be transported, occasionally, and the bad guy, for wanting to hit paranoid Hax, and a whole coalition of Inquisitors, with more than a few diviners, in their employ, might quite possibly need to be a Radical Inquisitor; he could have some crazy loyal zealots, "steal" the virus bomb, through the efforts of Severus, get it on a ship, unknown, fly to Scintilla, "capture" the ship, and scuttle it into the planet, releasing the virus on the unsuspecting populace. If they heard about the attack, capturing the ext, or someone in your Inquisitor's employ heard some weird chatter from the crew of some ship (the sacrifice ship, unknown to them), they might put some things together, and learn of the device, or its location, and then they might need to intercept the ship, if they can acquire access to one of their own, and try to intercept it.

I'll give it some more thought, and maybe throw some more stuff up here, especially if i come up with anything better. Sorry if it's a bit generic, and best of luck.

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15 hours ago, venkelos said:

Some of this will seem BS, but there is a little war, and an evil maniac, not too far from the Calixis Sector. If a certain Duke wants to really hamper the Imperium's ability to prosecute his secession, he might have access to such a weapon, if they can find a Rogue Trader, or maybe a Traitor Captain, with a ship, to carry it, and use it. It would certainly depend on the choice of exterminatus weapon you wanted, but if Severus had, heaven help us, access to a virus bomb, either from his own connections, or maybe some DE equivalent the Kabals gave him, you might be able to fly a ship to Scintilla, without drawing suspicion, and then crash it into the planet, releasing the virus, before any defense mechanisms come into play. While such weapons are certainly very hard to come by, they do have to be transported, occasionally, and the bad guy, for wanting to hit paranoid Hax, and a whole coalition of Inquisitors, with more than a few diviners, in their employ, might quite possibly need to be a Radical Inquisitor; he could have some crazy loyal zealots, "steal" the virus bomb, through the efforts of Severus, get it on a ship, unknown, fly to Scintilla, "capture" the ship, and scuttle it into the planet, releasing the virus on the unsuspecting populace. If they heard about the attack, capturing the ext, or someone in your Inquisitor's employ heard some weird chatter from the crew of some ship (the sacrifice ship, unknown to them), they might put some things together, and learn of the device, or its location, and then they might need to intercept the ship, if they can acquire access to one of their own, and try to intercept it.

I'll give it some more thought, and maybe throw some more stuff up here, especially if i come up with anything better. Sorry if it's a bit generic, and best of luck.

Severus is definitely Hax's enemy, and would probably be desperate enough to do something like that, but the Dominate is so hard-up that I suspect if they had access to exterminatus weapons, they'd already have used them (maybe not claiming credit, but still). Given that he's already at "do a deal with the dark eldar" stage, how much worse would it have to get?

Plus, he may or may not be aware that the Calixis Militarum isn't throwing as much force at him as it could (because a big tithe of it is going to Jericho and only enough to keep up the illusion that the war is still being fought is being sent against him). If he is, the last thing he wants to do is poke the bear.

The eldar definitely have access to exterminatus-analogue weapons; the most recently shown was the Fireheart; which is/was a true planet killer (not just a biosphere killer like a virus bomb), but requires a coterie of psykers (since it's pre-fall eldar tech, by human standards, pretty potent ones) to trigger, who for obvious reasons are not going to survive the experience*.

 

I dunno. Making it essentially a Dominate-sponsored terrorist attack certainly works, but it arguably cuts out the intrigue and politics side. After all; finding and punishing those ultimately responsible essentially requires winning the war against the Severan Dominate, which the Imperium's been trying to do for some time (admittedly not as hard as it might do...)

20 hours ago, Jargal said:

A random thought: if you need NPC with A LOT of classified info - think about someone with access to Praecursator Grid (The Lathe Worlds, p.33-34)

An interesting idea. It's supposed to run through all the mechanicus territories and 'even into several non-Mechanicum holdings' - which sounds very specific but if you bear in mind that pretty much any major civic engineering facility is effectively a 'mechanicus holding', it's certainly giving a lot of information, even if a lot of information on non-mechanicus would be stuff you have to infer second- or third-hand (you wouldn't know what was said in the Lord Sector's private meeting, but you'd know who he met and what information was accessed whilst they were talking because things like the cogitators controlling the record archive and the more sophisticated technology bits of internal security in the lucid palace probably have a techpriest handling the other end.

Similarly, the engineerium decks of a cruiser are effectively  mechanicus territory - not adeptus domain like a forgeworld (the captain can go where he likes and if he says 'get off my ship' it doesn't matter if you're an archmagos, you get lobbed through the nearest airgate ) - but with cult mechanicum shrines and data feeds which might well report to the Praecursator whenever it docks. Again, you may be working off 'this much time, these maneuvers, this much fuel burned' rather than 'navigation officers log says this' but that still allows you to recreate records effectively.

The main problem with the concept is that the Praecursator grid is essentially the Mechanicus' principle heretic-finding tool, and is continuously monitored by the minions of the Lords Dragon for the purposes of finding hereteks; gaining access to it unauthorised is a massive task in and of itself, and starting off the bad guy as someone having access to it is essentially just another variation of "Radical Inquisitor Lord Plotting To Destroy Everything Because Muahaha" and solving the problem by maguffin than by coming up with a plan - if the logicians were able to tap the grid, then frankly it's going to be more like the acolytes are stuck on the wrong end of the film Eagle Eye. It essentially feels like the same argument as having someone steel the asset from an Inquisitorial Fortress Of Doom; if you can do that, why did you need to steal the bomb in the first place?

 

Still, it's worth thinking about the mechanicus; the Logicians of all the generic Calixis bad guys have the most traction within the machine cult (for obvious reasons), plus they have some plot-useful toys (Bezerker pulse, cerebral annihilator, ashen tear assassins). Firstly that helps them get on board the cruiser as 'genuine' mechanicus personel at episode 2, but it might be worth thinking on how they'd locate or gain access to the exterminatus weapons using information you might be able to infer from what the adeptus mechanicus knows.

The lathes, for example, would presumably have complete blueprints of any ship built in the sector, along with relevant blueprints for any ship given a major overhaul in one of the lathe's dockyards, and that's probably less highly protected data (because the generic enginseers doing the maintaining have to be able to access it). Comparing the 'as designed' for the class to the 'as built' or 'as maintained' drawings should let you infer where an 'extra' munitorium torpedo vault exists on a ship. It won't tell you whether it's full or not, but it will let you narrow down which ships could be carrying such weapons.

 

 

 

* The Dark Eldar 'offered' this as a solution to their Iyanden craftworlder allies during a critical campaign against the tyranids, then immediately pointed out "sadly we have no psykers of our own".  As you can imagine, Yriel was not perhaps as impressed as he was supposed to be....

Edited by Magnus Grendel

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53 minutes ago, Magnus Grendel said:

Severus is definitely Hax's enemy, and would probably be desperate enough to do something like that, but the Dominate is so hard-up that I suspect if they had access to exterminatus weapons, they'd already have used them (maybe not claiming credit, but still). Given that he's already at "do a deal with the dark eldar" stage, how much worse would it have to get?

***

I dunno. Making it essentially a Dominate-sponsored terrorist attack certainly works, but it arguably cuts out the intrigue and politics side. After all; finding and punishing those ultimately responsible essentially requires winning the war against the Severan Dominate, which the Imperium's been trying to do for some time (admittedly not as hard as it might do...)

Well, I might not suggest it actually be a Dominte plot, as much as some evil Inquisitor BBEG might be able to use some of Duke Severus' contacts, infrastructure, and what have you to make it appear to be his plot. Who knows where the ship carrying the ext was originally bound, but he has access to some Rogue Traders, who might've heard about a "mysterious ship carrying special cargo" (maybe it was going to the Reach, and we all know that, in some ways, no secrets can truly be kept secret), or the Inquisitor might've covertly let some of this knowledge slip to him, or other individuals, and now it can be up for grabs; how actually involved someone like him is in the whole affair is completely up to you, and no PCs are going to have access to him, to check, but he has had some access to some various stuff, and he's still not losing his war, entirely (none of those campaigns are ever written to actually "end" ;) ).

If you want to slip in someone else, that works, too; I was honestly just going for name recognition, and I've been looking at OW books, for no reason, lately. "Learn of virus bomb on-the-move --> steal ext --> smuggle onto cargo ship --> crash cargo ship into Scintilla --> PROFIT!!!" may still be a workable, albeit maybe overly simple, plan, depending on how you want to strike the sector capitol. Most of the others require dedicated fleet-presence, specialized launch devices, or possibly more overt Inq intervention, which BBEG might be leery to do, giving himself, at least partially, away. Again, best of luck! ;)

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9 minutes ago, venkelos said:

"Learn of virus bomb on-the-move --> steal ext --> smuggle onto cargo ship --> crash cargo ship into Scintilla --> PROFIT!!!" may still be a workable, albeit maybe overly simple, plan, depending on how you want to strike the sector capitol.

It's that first stage that's the key, because not only do the bad guys have to achieve it, but the players essentially need to be able to follow the same route in order to find out what's going on in sufficient time to do anything realistic to stop it.

 

9 minutes ago, venkelos said:

the Inquisitor might've covertly let some of this knowledge slip to him, or other individuals, and now it can be up for grabs; how actually involved someone like him is in the whole affair is completely up to you, and no PCs are going to have access to him, to check, but he has had some access to some various stuff, and he's still not losing his war, entirely (none of those campaigns are ever written to actually "end" ;) ).

They aren't, but this one is. I do want to give them a (realistic but not garuanteed) shot at catching whatever principle bad guy ends up being selected. Hence why I agree with @Lynata that a generic rich, influential noble-born is my preferred starting point; on any realistic scale, money or access to trained henchmen is trivial but whilst access to the Praecursator Grid, or Inquisitorial fortresses, or Dominate forces* is fair enough in theory, but I then need to figure out how he's got those - if it's harder than the actual weapon theft, it's probably a no-go.

 

*which given that the Dominate has lots of static defences but few mobile naval forces, aren't many

Edited by Magnus Grendel

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5 hours ago, Magnus Grendel said:

The main problem with the concept is that the Praecursator grid is essentially the Mechanicus' principle heretic-finding tool, and is continuously monitored by the minions of the Lords Dragon for the purposes of finding hereteks; gaining access to it unauthorised is a massive task in and of itself

Well, looking at "All-seeing Eye" talent... it's a very powerful tool and Agent of Lords Dragon can access Grid on any planet where it's present. While Lords Dragon themselves are safe at the Panopticon Station, Agent can become a traitor while he is far from the Lathe System, or just can be captured and used.

Edited by Jargal

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Will have to dig out Lathe worlds again for more of a review...

  • On the one hand; snagging an Agent of the Lords Dragon and using them to access the grid on your behalf is no foolish plan given the immense amount of data even limited grid access could give them.
    • Also, they do work with the Inquisition on a fairly polite and open basis, so at any time, there'll be a non-trivial number of inquisitorial acolytes who are attached Agents of the Lords Dragon.
  • On the other hand, it's no small task to snag on of them because we're still talking about identifying and kidnapping an Inquisitorial Acolyte which whilst not the hardest thing in the world is not exactly a safe and simple job.
    • In addition, compelling their co-operation is even more difficult than it would be for a normal Inquisitorial minion, because they do get Rigor Mentis as a default trait. (I know that's reading rules into gameplay, but the point still stands).
  • It should be doable. Provided you can identify one (probably the real challenge in this), it shouldn't be too hard to lure one into a trap; the logicians are pretty much tech-heresy 101, so if you arrange for a cell's activities to 'get found out' by an Inquisitor with a Draconian acolyte, you can be pretty confident that's who would be sent to deal with them. The trick is making sure that someone else (another inquisitor, the arbites, a passing confessor, whatever) doesn't purge you first....
  • You still need to be careful what level of information you expect them to have; since it's unlikely to be a magos or archmagos or logicutioner you haul in, there's only so much data they'll have access to - it's hard to imagine that something as powerful and far-reaching as the Praecursator Grid is supposed to be (assuming it actually is) doesn't have internal segmentation and security to prevent (for example) a lower level agent using it to spy on the Lords Dragon themselves.

 

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I think now... maybe there is no single BBEG at all? Maybe the plot of Scintilla Exterminatus is a result of intersecting, but independent actions of some groups, who might even don't know about each others. Istvaanian Inquisitor, power-hungry Malfian Noble, Severus Dominate agents, mechanicus from The Ferrous Whisper or Scions of the Iron Sphere factions... they all have their goals (and abilities and powers) - it is the sum of different vectors that forms the final result.

Edited by Jargal

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I'd rather not have an over-the-top melange of villains. Too many, and (a) it feels unlikely a plot could get too far advanced without being compromised (square of the number of people in on a secret and all that) and (b) it feels like it becomes unlikely the players could do much to stop it if we essentially throw every heretic faction in the sector at them at once.

Logicians & one nefarious mastermind they're working with/for is probably enough.

  • Was having a re-read of Disciples of the Dark Gods.
  • One other thing that jumped out, especially given @Lynata reminding me of the mentally altered 'plants' in Fath & Fire, was the Logician Crucible Agent
    • The Crucible Agent is a programmed infiltrator - but rather than "grab Jim one night and brainwash him" it's "create an infiltrator to work into position as a sleeper agent" - the time involved in creating them precludes discretely modifying someone in place.
    • That nevertheless gives a potential lever to move around low-to-medium ranks; you can't be confident of a sleeper agent becoming an admiral, but it's not too hard for a sleeper agent to become one of the master of ordnance's staff:
      • A capital ship has only one master of ordnance (and several subordinate junior officers assigned to specific batteries and munitoria). 
      • Whilst a ship might have dozens of macrocannons, and each macrocannon might have dozens of crew, they are voidsmen overseen by petty officers, overseen in turn by relatively few officers.
      • Even a cruiser doesn't have that many actual commissioned officers if you specifically look at those with "ordnance and explosives" skill-sets; if you are able to get a lieutenant who is competent with tech-use and demolitions aboard an imperial cruiser, it wouldn't be at all difficult for them to manage to get attached to the torpedo munitorium.
      • That said, there are still a sufficiently large number of ensigns and lieutenants in the Calixis battlefleet that you're not going to spot a ringer so easily as you'd spot a 'fake' admiral - and unlike trying to get a flag officer crucible agent, you don't need to wait thirty years or more for your agent to achieve flag rank....
      • Ensuring their promotion to Master of Ordnance can be achieved with a degree of carefully rationed dead men's shoes; if the Master of Ordnance dies, his deputy would assume the role - either permanently or at least until the sector admiralty assigns a replacement.
  • Was also having a re-read of the Calixis Sector timeline and a look at the map.
    • The Lathes (the primary forgeworlds) and Port Wrath (the sector naval base) both fall nicely between Malfi and Scintilla. That means any transit or astropathic message between the four is relatively quick and easy.
      • For some reason Port Wrath isn't on the dratted warp routes map: it should be somewhere between Orbel Quill and Sepheris Secundus. Weird that the navy didn't want to sit astride a major warp route like it does at 88 Tanstar...
    • Reading the Angevin Crusade, I registered the obvious way you could know a ship potentially carries exterminates weapons: that it's known to have used them!
      • During the Angevin Crusade, there are three uses of Exterminatus weapons recorded: Amun’an Morrus ("whose once-human population of intelligent machines is judged too tainted by tech-heresy to continue to exist") and the respective homeworlds of the Yu'Vath and the Bale Childer.
      • Whilst the locations of these worlds is suppressed, a student of legends and the founding history of the sector (the sort of thing one might expect of a nobleborn malfian vendettist with slightly heretical leanings) might be able to find a record of which ships were part of the respective battlegroups at each action. If, say, a specific Chalice-class battlecruiser was present at all three actions despite a relatively undistinguished career otherwise, it merits a much closer look!

 

Broad outline plan:

  • Malfian Nobleborn is aware that exterminatus weapons are carried on some battlefleet ships.
    • Plans the whole thing, and recruits a logicians cell to act as minions.
    • Is aware of the ship or ships they believe to be the Battlefleet Calixis' exterminator vessel(s).
      • Is a student of the Angevin Crusade and early sector history
    • Is sufficiently familiar with the Hax dynasty and the Administratum/Lex Imperialis rules for gubernatorial succession to be able to identify anyone who is a potential off-Scintilla Heir to Marius Hax
      • We're not talking about Marius Hax's  father's brother's nephew's cousin's former roommate, or five-year-olds, or the senile, but those people with a realistic claim to be able to say "Well, I guess that makes me Lord Calixis, then!" if Scintilla burns and not be laughed out of the building by the Arbites, Administratum and assorted nobility.
      • That means a good understanding of both imperial law and the various noble families of the sector.
      • There can't be that many who aren't based in Hive Sibellus and the Lucid Palace, and the Inquisition being asked by the Lord-Governor to investigate the death(s) of one or more of them will be the 'in' to the whole adventure.
    • Has the political contacts to start the groundwork of "if Scintilla is gone, we need an emergency Lord Sector pro tem, clearly Lord Subsector Malfi is the obvious choice"
      • That means the administratum and legal contacts
      • Ideally is some relation to the current Governess of Malfi.
      • May be worth checking the Red Wake adventure in ascension for useful NPCs.
    • Just to tie them into the background, I'll be doing a 'proper' Nemesis character creation.
      • I'm thinking:
        • Noble Born
        • Tainted Blood of Malfi
          • Because a slightly deranged but very smart Malfian Vendettist
        • Scholar of the Colleges Hetaira Lexis
          • "Established by Lord Sector Caracalla some six centuries ago, their independence and rights are protected by a binding legal charter granting them rare autonomy despite being outside the control of the Adepta. "
          • "Many Inquisitors regard the Hetaireia as a breeding ground for dangerous ideas and freethinkers"
          • Sounds to me like:
            • the ideal place for a scholar with heretical leanings to study
            • a far-from-unlikely place to come into contact with In Defence of the Future: A Logical Discourse and the Logicians 
        • Probably Adept/Sage, maybe Scum/Desperado ascension background, at rather higher level than the players.
          • Given the discussions above, they need at a minimum
            • Scholastic Lore (Legends)
            • Scholastic Lore (Judgement)
            • Scholastic Lore (Heraldry)
            • Forbidden Lore (Archeotech)
            • Forbidden Lore (Heresy)
            • Peer/Good Reputation (Nobility)
            • Peer/Good Reputation (Arbites)
            • Peer/Good Reputation (Administratum)
            • Peer (Heretics)
            • Many, many monies represented by a high influence score
  • Logicians are 'directed' along tasks
    • I'm going to suggest not having them 'find out' that a ship is an exterminator - the question "why did they know to target this ship in particular in the first place?" is a decent obvious-in-hindsight but easy to overlook clue to flag up to the players that it's not over once they've saved the day and stopped the logicians.
    • Confirm a specific ship known to store exterminatus warhead(s), the location of the weapon and who has access
      • Acquire Port Wrath maintenance records & the original Lathe Shipyard plans of the ship's prow compartments.
        • Comparing the two reveals where an 'extra' munitiorium is hidden in the prow compartment to conceal additional torpedoes.
      • Confirm who has access to the exterminatus munitorium
        • Review the personnel records of the Master of Ordnance and other senior officers, looking for in-depth background checks with no recorded authorising entity
      • Confirm if weapons are currently on board
        • The ship's quartermaster's book isn't likely to list "Torpedo, Planet-Razing, Super-Secret Inquisitorial Issue, Six Off" in and amongst the beans and bacon.
        • Nevertheless, you can work out by inference if the munitorium is currently full or not:
          • If the shipwright is not suicidally insane, cyclonic and especially virus warheads will be stored in a void-shielded stasis vault
          • This does not require a large percentage of the ship's power supplies compared to, say, accelerating the ship or firing a lance broadside, but it is a non-trivial amount and somewhere in the engineerium archives is the data which will let someone who knows what they're looking for determine whether the vaults are active or not.
      • differences between the 'as built' & 'as maintained' drawings, as well as the detailed power consumption records, are exactly the sort of data that it sounds like the Naval Base's branch of the Praecursurator Grid flags up and records, if the Logicians can gain access to it.
    • Infiltrate the ship
      • Place one or more crucible agents within the Master of Ordnance's staff - ensigns and junior lieutenants not sufficiently senior to warrant direct Inquisitorial review but senior enough to have access to the Master of Ordnance in person
      • Create 'opportunities for promotion' as required by eliminating current incumbents
      • Either identify the timing and location of a planned resupply and overhaul, or better yet create a need for an unscheduled drydocking of the ship via sabotage.
        • A weapons incident in the prow compartment would probably justify unloading and reloading the vessel's standard antiship torpedo complement whilst repair work is undertaken.
        • If the docking is unplanned, that means it's more likely to be at somewhere that's not a major naval base or shipyard.
          • This means less security to deal with and the 'repair team' will have to come from off-world, making it easier to insert the logician's 'fake mechanicus' team.
    • Eliminate Hax's heirs
      • This would be a job for the Logician's cyber-enhanced Ashen Tear assassins for the most part.
      • A certain amount of violence is acceptable, but where possible Cerebral Annihilators (Logician-specific wargear) would be useful since they present as a haemorrhage due to natural causes unless an extremely competent medic takes a closer look, which reduces the chances of a link being drawn between the murders (or at least hopefully delays someone spotting the connection in time to put surviving targets in protective custody).
    • Temporarily seize the ship and steal the warheads
      • Main force infiltrates the ship posing as genuine Mechanicus personnel.
        • At the same time, the infiltrators (assisted by Ashen Tear assassins if needed) secure the person of the Master of Ordnance.
      • Using demolitions to rig torpedoes and macro-ordnance as bombs, and Berserker Thorns (Logician-specific wargear) to turn as many of the ship's servitors, cogitator stacks and attendant tech-priests and especially augmetic crew into frenzied imbeciles, providing a nice defensive perimeter of malfunctioning access-ways, disabled airgates and auspex systems, and improvised murder-servitors.
      • The situation is presented as a hostage crisis with the ship and its crew held hostage whilst the Logicians demand......I dunno. Something. Pizza, for all I care.
      • The goal of this activity is to buy time to:
        • secretly break into the Exterminatus Munitorium - assisted by (a) knowing where it is and (b) torturing or neurally jacking the Master of Ordnance to find out how to open it.
        • Remove as many exterminatus warheads as possible
        • Reseal the vault and eliminate evidence of the break-in
        • Send the warheads off the ship - either deadfall-fired out of the tubes to be 'caught' by a ship running silent further out-system, or some other devious trick (. @ThenDoctor, @Lynata, @pearldrum1, @venkelos, @Errant Knight; @Jargal) suggestions for how you'd smuggle the warheads off a ship stuck in a 'hostage crisis' (and therefore being watched from the outside)
    • Ship the warheads to Scintilla
      • Route depends on the location of the incident
      • Most likely shipped via a chartist trader; the actual bulk cargo is not that big compared to the amount of cargo Scintilla receives every day, but means to ship them past orbital security needs to be determined.
      • Just crashing the ship into the planet doesn't really work - virus weapons need an airburst, but any airburst in the vicinity of a starship undergoing atmospheric re-entry is going to be harmlessly incinerated.
        • Compared to Cyclonic Torpedoes, quite a lot of virus bombs are needed to saturate a planet.
      • transfer to an abandoned Hive Sibellus/Hive Tarsus Cathedral Spire (Virus warheads) or the Mount Tholos Crater of Gunmetal City (Cyclonic Warheads)
      • Light blue touchpaper and retire to orbit!

 

 

 

 

officers.jpg

Calixis-map.jpg

Calixis_Warp_Route_Chart.jpg

 

Edited by Magnus Grendel

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Also, as an observation; Ouch. 

Tainted Blood Of Malfi & Scholar of the Hetaireia Lexis taken together gives you a net +13 Intelligence as a starting character, along with a Scholastic and Forbidden Lore of your choice.

Add in the stock Sage from Heed the higher call, and the Noble Born's basic stats, and the starting intelligence is going to be 2D10+53

 

The main bad guy is going to be very, very smart.
 

 

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5 hours ago, Magnus Grendel said:

Temporarily seize the ship and steal the warheads

<plot>

I'm not sure how this must be translated to English accurately, but in Russian we say: "it's too complicated for a circus".

If I would need to steal something very important from the Navy battleship - yes, I would need a lot of espionage and infiltration, desirable with some hi-tech (or hi-Here-tech) help, but my main ally will be... gigantic and clumsy machine of Imperial bureaucracy. Especially - military bureaucracy with "you only know that you need to know" principle. A LOT of small and inconspicuous changes in documents and directives - and Great and Mighty Imperial Navy's personnel will load valuable warheads in the cargo bay of "conscripted" trader without any doubts that they just make routine maintenance.

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Having actually run a series of missions for this exact reason ( BOTH preventing the theft AND having them steal one themselves ) in the past...I might be able to help some. 

( these are in no particular order )

1) There is ALWAYS at LEAST 1 ( usually half-full ordo team ) assigned to the ship thats carrying the weapon. Their sole purpose is to ensure that NO ONE that  isnt supposed to know about it lives if they find out about it...to include the Ship Captain.

2) The ships captain rarely knows its on-board and even if they do...they dont even have access codes to get into the vault its being kept in ( ONLY the Ordo agents assigned and their Inquisitor its signed out to have access codes ) So getting the codes will be tricky for anyone ( possession, domination, or a damned good set of checks for security hacking )

3) Imperial Navy does NOT have the authority to use Exterminatus and neither does a Lord General of a Crusade fleet. The authority to use or even declare Exterminatus is SOLELY the realm of the Inquisition ( to which there will ALWAYS be at least 1 attached to any crusade ) However the Imperial Navy doesnt need any of the Exterminatus weapons...they have their own ways of cracking open planets  hehe.

 

If you want a serious plot twist ive got one for you.

The main protagonist IS a Lord Inquisitor who has been ( tainted,,,,possessed,,,etc ) and is having the weapon transported to location "X" via a military subsector fleet en route to ( whichever arena of combat currently active the GM wishes ) because they wish to kick things off with a major "Bang" by convincing the Lord Generals office that a severe threat is trying to come in through the back door so to speak and hit their Crusade from behind...and only a sizeable force of Imperial Guard and their naval transports/escorts can hope to stop them at planet "X'.  Naturally the Navy and Guard force will make planet before any real force of enemy are found and will be thinking they beat them there and thus can set up and deploy all the ground forces.....then a sizeable fleet of enemy seemingly appear at the other end of the system offset from the systems orbital plane facilitating the need for the escorts to move away and hide....letting the enemy come closer. 

Now the kick is that that Inquisitors ordo team assigned to the weapon have NO clue about their Lords intentions of its use and are LOYAL to the Throne.  But what are the chances they will listen ( let alone believe ) another ordo team they dont even know.....How does the team go about trying to steal the weapon ( in actuality keeping it from being stolen and used on Loyal forces ) ???

As for the "enemy fleet"...that could be anything you wanted it to be...from false sensor info ticks to a real chaos incursion fleet or even a xenos fleet.  But the Inquisitor is the real traitor and seeks to obliterate the Imperials ability to wage war in whichever subsector you choose by wiping out the ground forces available for that area and as much of the fleet material as possible.

Now you have to figure out how the players could/would figure out who the enemy really is....those enemy ships could also be refit pilgrim ships under escort of their own...but the Inquisitor might've been able to turn one of the ordo to assist them willingly for whatever reason...or even recruited them for the same purpose. ( that could be how the false signals are being given to the sensorium ) and that could cause a loyal on loyal fight with neither side realizing what in the blue blazes is going on till its too late...The Inquisitor could also be onboard the ship in disguise waiting to appear and enact the Exterminatus.

I hope these ideas and info helped my friend and good gaming.

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14 hours ago, Jargal said:

I'm not sure how this must be translated to English accurately, but in Russian we say: "it's too complicated for a circus".

If I would need to steal something very important from the Navy battleship - yes, I would need a lot of espionage and infiltration, desirable with some hi-tech (or hi-Here-tech) help, but my main ally will be... gigantic and clumsy machine of Imperial bureaucracy. Especially - military bureaucracy with "you only know that you need to know" principle. A LOT of small and inconspicuous changes in documents and directives - and Great and Mighty Imperial Navy's personnel will load valuable warheads in the cargo bay of "conscripted" trader without any doubts that they just make routine maintenance.

If it's something that the crew have access to in the first place, I'd agree. But exterminates weapons they don't; convincing people to let you las-cutter your way into a vault whilst the alarms are going off and walk off with the contents stretches 'need to know' a bit far, no matter what the paperwork says.

That said, I agree that explosions should probably be the last choice; a better first plan is to persuade the naval crew to vacate the area whilst the extraction work is going on (since in theory they're a 'repair crew' dealing with the aftermath of the 'accident' in the prow compartment) and only switch to plan B (blow things up and take hostages) if (when!) the acolytes arrive and point out that they're not a genuine mechanicus team....

12 hours ago, Cobramax76 said:

Having actually run a series of missions for this exact reason ( BOTH preventing the theft AND having them steal one themselves ) in the past...I might be able to help some. 

( these are in no particular order )

1) There is ALWAYS at LEAST 1 ( usually half-full ordo team ) assigned to the ship thats carrying the weapon. Their sole purpose is to ensure that NO ONE that  isnt supposed to know about it lives if they find out about it...to include the Ship Captain.

2) The ships captain rarely knows its on-board and even if they do...they dont even have access codes to get into the vault its being kept in ( ONLY the Ordo agents assigned and their Inquisitor its signed out to have access codes ) So getting the codes will be tricky for anyone ( possession, domination, or a damned good set of checks for security hacking )

3) Imperial Navy does NOT have the authority to use Exterminatus and neither does a Lord General of a Crusade fleet. The authority to use or even declare Exterminatus is SOLELY the realm of the Inquisition ( to which there will ALWAYS be at least 1 attached to any crusade ) However the Imperial Navy doesnt need any of the Exterminatus weapons...they have their own ways of cracking open planets  hehe.

This is more or less my understanding too from the off-hand references in the various Black Library Imperial Navy novels; specific officers will have inquisitorial approval/sanction/rank/whatever, but the crew as a whole won't know what they're carrying. 

For the purposes of the campaign, I'm making the assumption that the officer who actually has to supervise handling the thing and has authority over the compartments where the vault the weapon is kept in resides (the Master Of Ordnance) would almost invariably be one of them, because unlike the captain (who might rarely ever leave the bridge tower) trying to sneak weapons the size of a modern airliner aboard 'behind his back' and just hoping he doesn't notice is a deeply foolish idea.

Hence searching the crew's records for signs of in-depth background checks (or fake identities, I guess), to identify them, and then get the codes from them during the 'heist' using.....probably some sort of heretek torture device or mind control tech, I guess, this being the Logicians.

And yes, the navy can waste a planet with sufficiently sustained macrocannon bombardment or BFRs, but the time, effort required, and sheer thoroughness of the resulting destruction is a poor cousin to exterminatus.

Any particular high points or things to note from your campaign(s)?

12 hours ago, Cobramax76 said:

If you want a serious plot twist ive got one for you.

The main protagonist IS a Lord Inquisitor who has been ( tainted,,,,possessed,,,etc ) and is having the weapon transported to location "X" via a military subsector fleet en route to ( whichever arena of combat currently active the GM wishes ) because they wish to kick things off with a major "Bang" by convincing the Lord Generals office that a severe threat is trying to come in through the back door so to speak and hit their Crusade from behind...and only a sizeable force of Imperial Guard and their naval transports/escorts can hope to stop them at planet "X'.  Naturally the Navy and Guard force will make planet before any real force of enemy are found and will be thinking they beat them there and thus can set up and deploy all the ground forces.....then a sizeable fleet of enemy seemingly appear at the other end of the system offset from the systems orbital plane facilitating the need for the escorts to move away and hide....letting the enemy come closer. 

Now the kick is that that Inquisitors ordo team assigned to the weapon have NO clue about their Lords intentions of its use and are LOYAL to the Throne.  But what are the chances they will listen ( let alone believe ) another ordo team they dont even know.....How does the team go about trying to steal the weapon ( in actuality keeping it from being stolen and used on Loyal forces ) ???

As for the "enemy fleet"...that could be anything you wanted it to be...from false sensor info ticks to a real chaos incursion fleet or even a xenos fleet.  But the Inquisitor is the real traitor and seeks to obliterate the Imperials ability to wage war in whichever subsector you choose by wiping out the ground forces available for that area and as much of the fleet material as possible.

Now you have to figure out how the players could/would figure out who the enemy really is....those enemy ships could also be refit pilgrim ships under escort of their own...but the Inquisitor might've been able to turn one of the ordo to assist them willingly for whatever reason...or even recruited them for the same purpose. ( that could be how the false signals are being given to the sensorium ) and that could cause a loyal on loyal fight with neither side realizing what in the blue blazes is going on till its too late...The Inquisitor could also be onboard the ship in disguise waiting to appear and enact the Exterminatus.

Sounds good. I'm just trying to limit myself a bit by not just setting up the main villain already in a position where he already has access to anything he wants (fleet, exterminatus weapons, authority over local military) because then you kind of have to in turn go for possessed/genestealer infested/whatever to explain why a high-ranking Imperial servant who must have put in quite a few decades or centuries of loyal service to reach their position spontaneously becomes a 'moustache-twirling villain of eeeeeeevil'.

By comparison, if an Imperial Noble-born who is a) Rich, b) Well-Connected and c) Very Smart but fundamentally isn't an inquisitor or admiral, nor sponsored by the dark powers of the warp, can pull it off, it feels like more of an achievement - and hence stopping them feels like more of an achievement in turn.

 

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Well I am late to the party, but what about having the weapon not seized from a starship but a shipyard depot armoury.  It could be something that was "paperwork lost" or mistaken shipped/removed and not replaced post work finished.   Something like this Mistake 

Much easier for a Logician sponcered strike team to seize the hardware, especially if you have a few Ashen Tear Assassins to help the raid out.

as for hunting the Hax dynasty, Logician's done hits should be hard to discover unless they go over the top using Ashen Tear Assassin taking out the heirs in bloody fashions, use of Cerebral Annikilators and other "accidents" arranged should besides they are Hax heirs, mean tracing the cause of death will be harder, especially over # of off planet sites. 

#16 Lt. Commander Wynnie Hax whose died when her section was opened to the space because of accident

#24 Thomas Wooten-Hax died when brain aneurysm occured on Iocanthos

#30 Serian Hax died on a hunting trip to Fedrid

all you have in common is the Hax dynasty, and to investigate you have travel all over the Sector.

I do like the idea of framing Severus Dominate agents with planted evidence to distract from the real guilty party

 

 

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On 3/5/2018 at 2:09 PM, Magnus Grendel said:
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  4. […] Given the comment about penetrating the crust, the obvious site to plan the attack is Gunmetal City. It's a fairly lawless place, has a substantial high-tech weapons industry that the logicians would be likely to be able to establish a presence in, and it's built into the crater and slopes of Mount Thollos, a semi-active volcano - by definition an existing breach through the planetary crust 

So why would they want to destroy such a prize?

On 3/6/2018 at 10:34 PM, Lynata said:

For point 4, I would also raise the possibility of just triggering a hypothetical virus bomb on the ground. Yes, obviously air-bursting them is a superior choice to ensure maximum dispersion, but depending on the virus a ground-based detonation just means that it's gonna take a bit longer to spread. Besides, since we're talking about a Hive world, I am sure it wouldn't be too difficult to find some abandoned tower-like structure in the middle or upper Hive that is both high enough and doesn't have too many nearby buildings surrounding it on the same level. Why not go for a cathedral tower, for example? The shadowy and dusty interior, with faint beams of light falling through the stained glass, Would make a great setting for the showdown! 

No point, given that it's fairly easy to lift if they can rig an aircraft or shuttle. If not, just use existing updrafts or rig ventilation to create overpressure and use it to create one. And if they can open it without spoiling (remotely if they are not confident) and repackage in missiles or heavy bolts, it's trivial.

The true problem here is that almost no one who matters breathes this air. ? The hives and heavy industry have their own ventilation systems, which obviously must have basic filtering vs. contagions and pollution at very least, and may well have full NBC protection. And any internal outbreak is going to be contained (ever wondered why Arbites have sealed armor?)

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Good point about the aircraft (airship?)! Any such plan comes with a risk of the vessel being shot down by enforcers, but I would assume that the conspirators would make suitable precaution that their flight is either registered or possibly even protected. Not that this should make it an inherently superior choice to just using an appropriately located building, though. I think under the circumstances, I'd recommend picking the location depending on what'd be most exciting for the players. I maintain that something like a ruined spire-cathedral would make a great setting piece and background, but on the other hand I can certainly see the potential in the players trying to board a rigged airship, too.

As for the air ... I wouldn't be too sure about that. Certainly, the upper 1% should be protected, but the average hab-worker in the industrial zone would, I imagine, be at grave risk, and thus the economic powerbase of the entire hive. Even if the manufactoriums themselves would offer protection (which I would not consider guaranteed in a dystopian future where they can't even keep their air conditioning operating properly), the workers will still have some cramped, low-budget homes to return to, and public markets to visit. A virus would thus be particularly insidious as it might enable infected workers to carry the contagion into protected spaces, should they exist.

The fate of Subiaco Diablo might serve as a nice example for how quickly a contagion can spread inside an over-populated hive.

19 hours ago, TBeholder said:

(ever wondered why Arbites have sealed armor?)

Looking at the models or even the artwork, I actually don't see a single one with a closed helmet..

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11 hours ago, Lynata said:

Looking at the models or even the artwork, I actually don't see a single one with a closed helmet..

Why would they? They're supposed to be Judge Dredd, only reason they'd have sealed gear is that light carapace is sealed.

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On ‎5‎/‎19‎/‎2018 at 9:42 AM, TBeholder said:

So why would they want to destroy such a prize?

Because whilst Gunmetal City is an impressive place, mundane armourers (however skilled) are a credit a dozen. Blowing up the planet, by comparison, destroys the Tricorne, and funtionally wipes out the Calixian Conclave of the Inquisition, which is a big win for any heretic.

On ‎5‎/‎19‎/‎2018 at 9:42 AM, TBeholder said:

No point, given that it's fairly easy to lift if they can rig an aircraft or shuttle. If not, just use existing updrafts or rig ventilation to create overpressure and use it to create one. And if they can open it without spoiling (remotely if they are not confident) and repackage in missiles or heavy bolts, it's trivial.

The true problem here is that almost no one who matters breathes this air. ? The hives and heavy industry have their own ventilation systems, which obviously must have basic filtering vs. contagions and pollution at very least, and may well have full NBC protection. And any internal outbreak is going to be contained (ever wondered why Arbites have sealed armor?)

Virus Bombs are as much about the rapid putrefaction/methane/firestorm effect as the virus itself. But yes, that's another reason that it may be less effective against hives.

The point is that whenever you see them used in novels, it's virus bombs, plural. The bombing of Istvaan involved a lot of them. Realistically, you're only looking at a relatively few warheads, which is why I personally prefer the cyclonic torpedo warhead as the maguffin of choice. Plus, that is supposed to be the more common weapon in the contemporary imperium.

On ‎5‎/‎20‎/‎2018 at 5:16 AM, Lynata said:

Looking at the models or even the artwork, I actually don't see a single one with a closed helmet..

They don't. But it is confirmed in the Enforcer novels (which are the best background source on the Adeptus Arbites) that the helm's mouth is open, but that arbites carry respirators designed to lock into those helmets when using stuff like gas grenades.

On ‎5‎/‎20‎/‎2018 at 5:16 AM, Lynata said:

The fate of Subiaco Diablo might serve as a nice example for how quickly a contagion can spread inside an over-populated hive.

Whilst I agree with you, In fairness, the zombie plague is a somewhat different example because a virus can't normally pick up a metal bar and smash its way in through an environment seal....

 

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On 5/30/2018 at 4:22 PM, Magnus Grendel said:

They don't. But it is confirmed in the Enforcer novels (which are the best background source on the Adeptus Arbites) that the helm's mouth is open, but that arbites carry respirators designed to lock into those helmets when using stuff like gas grenades.

Scintillian Enforcers use "Hax-Orthlack MKII Magistratum Combat Carapace" with built-in respirator. (Inquisitor Handbook, p.126)

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On 5/30/2018 at 1:22 PM, Magnus Grendel said:

They don't. But it is confirmed in the Enforcer novels (which are the best background source on the Adeptus Arbites) that the helm's mouth is open, but that arbites carry respirators designed to lock into those helmets when using stuff like gas grenades.

Huh, I suppose that does make sense. Though I'll always be biased regarding any alleged authoritative qualities of those novels on account of how they portrayed the Adepta Sororitas, but that's a different topic. I still like the idea just because the assumption sounds logical. :P

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