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ZillaPrime

Blind Tesseract (Dead Stars) Ideas

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I am looking to bolster the existing scenes inside the Blind Tesseract portion of the Dead Stars adventure.  I have plenty of ideas for added scenes that have relevance for individual characters in my group, but since they are following in Haarlock's footsteps instead of blazing their own trail most of them are really not appropriate to add here.  My question for my fellow GMs is this:  Have you written any extra scenes for this portion of the adventure and if so, what were the details?  Some of you come up with amazing things on here, so I figured it was worth asking around.   A cabal of GMs working to populate some of the wierd portions of adventures is a better resource than a single GM when it comes to inspiration.  I would love to add a tie-in scene showing the "ancient evil" hinted at in the finale of the RT Warpstorm trillogy with the idea that it went unthwarted as a "possible future" scene, but I suspect the NDA will prevent any playtesters or writers from even hinting at it.  If this is NOT the case then please send me a private message with some info on it so it does not serve as a spoiler for anyone else.

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Hi Zilla,

I wants tried to write up some stuff for "FriendOfTheDork" as a result of some eMail exchange.Unfortunately, my imagination on the subject ran dry early on and I never picked up the subject. Anway, this is was what I brewed up. BEWARE, many of it is still "half-baked".

Questions and the Mirror [The Past]

”As you step through the lucent silver door, you find yourself in darkness. And it is cold. [Make a small pause here]. “You here the low humming of machines somewhere…It takes a moment for your eyes to adjust. You find yourself in an unlit corridor and as far you can see all surfaces are covered by tarnished metal plates. By the pale light of the portal behind you, you see a set of closed metal doors to your left and your right. You can only so much as guess that these doors are place in regular intervals on both sides of the corridor. The shadow of Haarlock is nowhere to be seen and you wonder if you would be able to see him at all in the dark.” (If the pc move on or try harder to discern anything in the darkness) “Further down the corridor, you think that you are able to see a faint shimmer of light, perhaps coming in from under a door ahead of you”.

Pc whom have been in the cellar of Haarlocks Folly (Damned Cities; p. 38) might recognize that they are actually in these corridors again if they pass an easy(+30) Intelligence test or have the Total Recall Talent. Ask for test for Perception/Awareness(+10)(Hearing) as soon as they reach the light (which is shimmering from under a door). PC who succeed will hear a voice from the other sight of the door (a male voice, loudly chanting).
PC trying to eavesdrop or to open the door might be in for a surprise as their hands pass through the door knob or as their face slide insubstantially into the door as they try to press their ear against it. If they want to go inside, they just need to pass right through the door.

”Passing through the door like a phantasm, you enter the sparsely lit stone room behind it. About a doze iron candleholders, each holding a single red candle, are distributed in the room. Each of them stands on a corner point of a strange symbol that was chalked onto the floor. In the centre of it you see the silhouette of a lean man with a wild and unkempt man facing to polished and unearthly glooming silver mirrors in front of him. The man is only clothed in tight fitting leather trouser and boots, a small heap of clothes that could be a coat and a shirt lie to his left. To his right, a huge and richly ornate hammer rests head first on the ground. You hear him intoning a chant in a language you do not understand but that make your mouth run dry and your stomach knot. You are facing his back. His arms are in front of his chest. Arms and shoulders move while he chants, and you see that some liquid drops in front of his feet on the ground before him. Disdain and ire palpable radiates from the man and fear grips you”

The pc are witness to Erasmus Haarlock summoning the Mirror-Daemon on Sinophia. Ask the pc for a frightening(-10) Fear test which does not come from the ritual but from Erasmus himself. If the pc knew from the start where they are, grant them a +10 bonus since they were able to steel themselves before entering. A failed test means that the pc will be unable to approach Haarlock or move into his sight in addition to the -10 penalty from failed Fear tests in non-combat situations. The pc are allowed to role for “snapping round” after every (6-WKB) rounds, so.

A pc inspecting the symbol on the floor will recognize as a symbol for summoning and warding if s/he has the Forbidden Lore (Daemonolgy) or Scholastic Lore (Occult) skill, but looking closely at the pattern burns its sight into the pc´s mind (Willpower test to avoid one point of corruption). The same is true for pc listening carefully to the chant of Erasmus.

Ask every pc for Scholastic Lore (Legend/Occult)+0 or a Forbidden Lore (Inquisiton)(+20) test. On a success, they will recognise the Hammer as a Daemonhammer. With at least one level of success, the pc will instantly recognize that this weapon could even harm them now.

Any pc counting the candleholders will find out that there are 13 of them. (ta-da-dummm).

Ask for an extended test on Perception/Awareness(Sight)(+0) or Search(+10), one test for each round. The pc can only use “Search” if they passed the Fear test. As soon as five successes are accumulated by a pc, s/he recognizes that the position of the left one of the mirror is the position of a mirror portal as well. All the pc need to do to leave this place is to walk past Erasmus Haarlock and step through the door.

After 7 rounds, the summoning will be completed as a sudden thunder fills the room and both mirrors flare up. The ceremonial knife drops in front of Haarlock and everything turns bright for a second and wailing phantoms fill the air swirling around the mirrors just to be sucked into the left one after a couple of seconds (end of the round; treat this as the “Warp Ghost” phenomena from DHcr p. 162 and ask for Willpower tests accordingly).
Then, the Mirror Daemon (see “Damned Cities”) appears in the left mirror.

The pc now have about a minute to leave the scene while Eramus questions the Daemon which plays out as Haarlock taking up the Hammer and shouting guttural commands at the Daemon who answers in a whining and painful voice, clearly afraid of the man before him. The pc will not be able to understand a word, so. What ever tongues Haarlock speaks, it is not human and not meant to be spoken by a human.

If the pc take a look at Haarlock while passing him, they will be witness to the symbols he carved into his chest …and to his eye. An eye now and forever a mirror what his heart is filled with, a gaze even a daemon will fear. This will call for a test for Fear(-30).

PC who do not leave before Haarlock is through with the Daemon will be witness to him taking up the hammer and to the daemons screams of terror as he shatters the mirror. The remaining pc will feel the strike themselves and have to pass a difficult(-10) willpower test or will suffer 1d5 points of Insanity.

The price of admittance:
PC that were present as the Mirror Daemon was finally summoned will gain 1d5 points of corruption.

In addition, the sights of the summoning ritual and sounds of the chant will haunt them any unoccupied waking moment and in their dreams. They can either try to forget about it or to make use of the knowledge.

To forget means about a week or two of nightmares (see DHcr p.237) after which the pc has to path a difficult(-10) Willpower test. If the pc spends the majority of period with spiritual guidance, fasting and/or flagellation this gives a +10 bonus to the test. If he tries strong drink and drugs, this might give the same (or even better) results. Afterwards, the pc will be able to get over the experience, but a failed test means 1 point of insanity plus one per level of fatigue.

To use it means the same period, but at the end the pc needs to path a difficult(-10) Intelligence test (automatically passed if the pc has “Total Recall”). If the test is failed, the pc will be ridden by nightmares for another week after which he can try again. If eventually passed the pc will know about “the Chant of Chains” and/or the “the Signet of Thirteen”, for the price 1d5 points of corruption (one of them) or 1d5+2 points of corruption (both).

The Chant of Chains
This chant can be used as part of any ritual of daemon summoning and takes an Invocation(-10) test. If successful, the pc is able to re-role a failed test for Daemonic Mastery. The chant can be used while picking up a daemonic weapon as well. A used of the chant results in one point of corruption.

The Signet of Thirteen
If the pc draws a pentagramatic ward as part of dark ritual (see DotdG p.120) s/he can use the “Signet of Thirteen” for it. In additions to the normal benefits, the ritual counts as having “auspicious circumstances” (DotdG; p.115). If the ritual is failed, the user will suffer from the effects of the “Hex Curse” (DotdG; p.118) for 1d5 days. The corruption points of the ritual are raised by +1 if the Signet of Thirteen was involved.
 

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The Tyrant uses the Star (Alternate Future)
”As you step through the liquid like silver light of the portal, you find yourself in some side street or ally. The familiar design of the buildings left and right is easily recognized by you as traditional imperial-gothic so common among many of humanities worlds.The sun in the clear sky high above you indicates that it must be none. From afar, you hear a vox-caster supported voice giving some speech… and you see the shadow of Haarlock leaving around a corner into this direction.”

Haarlocks´ Shadow moves about at a fast pace and the pc will have to hurry to keep up with it as
they rush through what seems to be the pedestrian precinct of a major city on a world under imperial rule.Ask for ordinary(+10) Common Lore (Imperium/Imperial Creed) tests. Successful pc will recognize by some elements of architecture and/or a shrine/statue they pass that this world must be somewhere in the Markayn Marches subsector.

As you follow the fleeting shadow, you get closer to the source of the caster-amplified voice, which gives some kind of official speech. After a few minutes, you step on a street which is clocked with
citizen listening to the speech. They all face the other end of the street which opens up into a huge plaza after several dozen meters. The plaza is brimmed with the crowd. From your position, you can barely see the flag framed balcony of a large palace-like building from where the speech is given. In front of your eyes, the shadow of Haarlock just vanishes into the crowd.”

Other then the Haarlock shade, the pc are substantial here and must push themselves through the crowd. Ask for a challenging(+0) test for Agility, Strength or perhaps Intimidation or Contortionist. To any one Accustomed to Crowds (Trait) this are routine(+20) tests, of course. No matter if they make or fail the test, they will listen to a part of the speech. Most of it concerns the speaker´s (obviously the planetary Governor) history of leading this world in times of prosperity, trouble and peril. And he is for sure no good speaker.

”…and no matter what the leaders of other worlds have decided, we shall not forget this one fact:
This person, no matter if we think of him as a men or something else, is not a part of the holy human
Imperium. He turned from the Light of the God-Emporer, he does not walk in His Light and the path
he offers to lead us can thereby be no other then the path to damnation. Shall we have part in this? …
I say: NO, WE WILL NOT!” This words are met with reluctant applause and only scattered hails of
approval.

PC who passed the test above will have reached the presence of the Shadow of Haarlock at this point.
They will be able to hear his strangely echoing words as seemingly speaks to himself “Fools.” With this, the Shadow raises his head to the sky above. No matter if the pc reached the Shadow in time, they will become aware of a silvery glow further away in the crowd: the next portal.

If the pc reached the Shadow in time, they might now want to leave the plaza in a hurry. The speech continues for a couple of minutes in where the speaker further explains the foolishness of consorting with “the Traveller”. “I, Governor of this world and descandt to the worlds most famous war hero, thereby decided and now proclaim that…” . This final words of his speech are interrupted by nervous muttering of the crowd growing into a roar of fear and panic. High above in the sky, the sun turns blacks and the unlight of Komus, the Tyrant Star, falls upon the people. Within moments, a panic erupts and maniacal acts begin to happen in the crowd. And the Shadow of Haarlock watches…

A cauldron of atavistic madness
The pc are now caught under the light of the Tyrant Start in a crowd that will slide into atavistic
savagery. In order to get to the portal, they need to accumulate 5 successes on an extended hard(-20)
test for Agility or Strength (3 if they reached Haarlock in time to hear him and made a bee line to the
portal). Each attempt takes roughly a minute. Before each such test, they have to succeed in a challenging(+0) test for either Weapon Skill, Strength or Agility/Dodge, or else they will suffer 1d10+1 (primitive) damage from attack by the maniacal crowd. If the test was failed the by three or more levels of success, they got dragged down and suffered 2d10 (primitive/tearing) damage before they somehow managed to get back on their feet again.
The Light of the Tyrant Star
The players and/or pc might believe they are familiar with what will happen now due to their first
encounter with the Light of Komus during “Tattered Fates”. They are wrong. Back in Xicarph, they
only encountered but a reflection of the Tyrant Star.

A pc watching up into the Light of Komus has to pass a hard(-20) willpower test each round s/he
does. The pc will gain 1d10 points of Insanity and corruption ( +1 for every level of failure/-1 for
every level of success). If the test was failed by five or more levels of failure, the pc will stare into the
sun for another round unless the pc tears out his/her own eyes.

As long as they keep their eyes away from the sky but are in the open or otherwise “touched” by the
unlight of the Tyrant Star, the pc have to pass a challenging(+0) willpower test every minute. They
will gain 1d5 points of insanity & corruption ( +1 for every level of failure/-1 for every level of
success). A failure by five or more levels of success means that the pc will either stare directly into the
black son for one round (attracted by unfathomable urges) or will tear out his/her own eyes (players
choice!).

The light of Komus will automatically provoke a Frenzy in every pc with the according talent. Any
willpower tests which are attempts at holding back or getting out of a Frenzy (or similar effects) are -
20 while under the Light of Komus.

GM Notes: But this is not how I envision the Tyrant Star!
The mechanics provided above are (loosely) based on what was provided in “Tattered Fates” and some
of the Descriptions found in different fluff texts of FFG products. If this is not to your taste/to harsh
for your group, feel free to alter the amount of Insanity/Corruption and/or the difficulty of the tests.
All in all, I advise to use this as the final scene before the pc arrive on Dusk
A generous GM might want to offer extra XP to the pc whom suffered this scene (perhaps 50xp or
100xp).

Mission Hook: Find the planet!
If Haarlock returns or the players are part of a Komus-centerend campaign, the GM can use this is a
hook to a future mission wherein the pc discover where this possible future could happen and try to
alter it…possibly by removing the governor or Twilight Agents of Haarlocks at large on the world.


 

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Nightmare auction (Transdimensional Nightmare Scene)

”As you leave the gleaming mirrior-door, you tumble an fall as it releases you about a step above ground. You find yourself on a polished stoned floor. As you get up you hear a low rumbling from afar and feel the ground tremble and dust rains down from cracks the ceiling above you. The spaced corridor you are in is light be gas lights sprouting in regular intervals from stone walls covered in frescos depicting skulls, death and the grave in myriads of different eerie artistic visions. The air reeks of fire and hot metal and you wonder where you are now… until you recognize that one of you is missing.”

Tell one of the players that his/her pc is not there. Either choose the pc you deem to be the least capable fighter or the one with the fewest corruption points. If they pc try to go back through the portal they came from, they will recognize that they cannot. While it still hangs their in mid air, they bodies simply bath it like it would be a hologram.

PC whom visited the House of Dust and Ash (see DotdG) might (after a past Intelligence(+30) test) recognize the corridor to be very familiar, but not the same. No matter in what direction they will walk it, they will need to follow it for quit a while and will experience another quake that nearly takes them of their feet.

After what feels like hours of wandering this straight corridor of stone and gas-light punctured darkness, the pc see a light at the end of the tunnel and will pass two large stone statues which are part of the fresco on the walls left and right. Both are heavy robed angels of death with bare skulls who point with bone fingers into the direction of the illuminated opening. As the pc approach further, they hear the quit murmur of voices, high lighted by a voice loudly shouting something. The sounds are strangely distorted, like coming from the other side of a heavy door. The pc are unable to see what is on the other side, the corridor opening seems to them like a bright wall of light.

As they step through, they find themselves in nightmaric amalgam of the auction hall of dust and ash (which forms the walls up to the ceiling) and the clockwork court of Sinophia (the ground). An auction takes place. [The missing pc] is strapped to a large X made brass. A ghostly green-grey Greel (the head Mornor of D&A) lead the auction. Those attending are unindentifiable schemes, half-substantial and not more then dimished reflections, smoke and ghostings. But some are all to real. [insert perverted, clearly chaos-worshipping versions of the remaining pc. Add mutations and other things as you like].
The bids of the shades are not clearly heared, sounding like backward echos. The bids of the "doubles" are clear. They bid in "Vows of Servitude to the Dark Masters". All of this should be worth a fright test. Please take note that ALL pc have a double, even the one captured.

The pc can either bid against their doubles. Each "vow" is 1d5 points of corruption. The actuall bid is "three vows". If a pc bids seven vows, he will win. Otherwise, he can attack their doubles. Greel will not interfere. As soon as the first one dies, he will proclaim that "the bid is now one soul. One soul! Any further bids?"

Greel is insubstantial. As soon as the pc is freed, the nighmare looses form and everyone is sucked into a swirl and transported to the next scene.

 

 

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Wow!  Gregorius to the rescue once again!  I love the detail in these.  A Dark Mechanicus version of our Magos would be hell-on-wheels to stop, and many of the others are pretty brutal in their own ways.  demonio.gif

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ZillaPrime said:

Wow!  Gregorius to the rescue once again!  I love the detail in these.  A Dark Mechanicus version of our Magos would be hell-on-wheels to stop, and many of the others are pretty brutal in their own ways.  demonio.gif



Thanks. But I forgot one detail. The "Transdimensional Nightmare" should feature a lot of tremors and the ceiling should be non existent in the auction room..allowing a few on the stars... anyone with Scholastic Lore (Astrology) or Navigation(Space) should be able to tell with a difficult test that this is the constellation one would see if they are on TERRA! (ta-da-dummmmm).

AND add a heavy treamor to the fight during the auction, occuring every 1d5 rounds. Ask the pc for Agility+20 tests. If they make it, the can act normally. If they do not, they will lose a half action next round. Two levels of failure will make them count as "Stunned" and Three levels of failure will make them fall prone.

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ZillaPrime said:

A Dark Mechanicus version of our Magos would be hell-on-wheels to stop, and many of the others are pretty brutal in their own ways.  demonio.gif


 

I forgot another point already mentioned by the DS-modul itself. Such scenes where already suggested, but only use 1/3 of the actual max wounds of the pc for their doubles. 

Afterall, these scenes are -NOT- meant to be the final fight AND the pc might have some more fighting later on. 

Of course, you could -change- the final into a nightmare auction where the pc battle/bid for/against the release of HAARLOCK. In that case, he would not be fixed to some kind of cross or pole but it would be a sealed door. 

With this "nightmar dimension" established Haarlock would be sure that those coming to STOP him would have doubles that would try to RELEASE him.
Now, he only needs to hope that the doubles win...but perhaps he is able to unleash some serious threats against the "con-faction" to ensure that the ones releasing him will win. 

...hey, I like this idea. I think I will run the Haarlock Legacy, after all! demonio.gif I will just cut out the unsatisfiying end on Mara.

I just need to find some -other- option to solve this.

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Gregorius21778 said:

...hey, I like this idea. I think I will run the Haarlock Legacy, after all! demonio.gif I will just cut out the unsatisfiying end on Mara.

I just need to find some -other- option to solve this.

If you allow players to use the other game lines for characters then you could always encourage an Astropath character in the party (So they can call for rescue/pick-up at the end).  By a strange twist of fate, one of my players will be playing an Eldar Ranger for this mission, so after a bit of searching the group might be able to find a Webway portal (Not such an odd concept on a world like Dusk).

I am still holding out a scant bit of hope that I get a taste of the "big bad threat" at the end of the Warpstorm trillogy for RT since the storyline so far looks ideal for a RT/DH crossover.  For this reason the idea of a glimpse of this "possible dark future" is very desirable as a bit of foreshadowing.  Just because I am not getting paid for this doesn't mean my player's don't deserve the best possible story I can provide.

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Hi guys,

I read this thread with serious interest as I'm about to start the third book.  I definitely want to steal the auction idea!

Anyway to contribute back the other way I've been working on a series of past scenes for the PCs.  I have got them all to send me some details of a scene from their past that has deeply affected them or has significance to them.  For example one of them who is an assassin decided on their first kill which was pretty inexpertly done.  Another the day he decided to run away from home.  I will have each of them revisit the scene but this time Haarlock's shade is there to tempt them to do something differently or make a different choice.  If they do something differently their past is changed whilst they are in the Blind Tesseract.  For example I'm thinking that in the second example if he chooses not run away he will not have the violent ganger upbringing he had and he will actually change career.  This is possibly extreme (what do you guys think) but I want this to have some sort of significant effect to tie in to the idea that what they decide can change everything, from the simplest to the most momentous decisions.

Also in the cases where they do change their past it puts them in Haarlock's shoes, all he wanted to do was change the past isn't that just a natural human reaction to something that terrible?  The problem I have is that a lot of the series has built up a load of clearly evil things he has done and my PCs are pretty determined that they will thwart him however they can, whereas I want the final choice to actually be one!

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BrotherKane said:

Hi guys,

I read this thread with serious interest as I'm about to start the third book.  I definitely want to steal the auction idea!

Anyway to contribute back the other way I've been working on a series of past scenes for the PCs.  I have got them all to send me some details of a scene from their past that has deeply affected them or has significance to them.  For example one of them who is an assassin decided on their first kill which was pretty inexpertly done.  Another the day he decided to run away from home.  I will have each of them revisit the scene but this time Haarlock's shade is there to tempt them to do something differently or make a different choice.  If they do something differently their past is changed whilst they are in the Blind Tesseract.  For example I'm thinking that in the second example if he chooses not run away he will not have the violent ganger upbringing he had and he will actually change career.  This is possibly extreme (what do you guys think) but I want this to have some sort of significant effect to tie in to the idea that what they decide can change everything, from the simplest to the most momentous decisions.

Also in the cases where they do change their past it puts them in Haarlock's shoes, all he wanted to do was change the past isn't that just a natural human reaction to something that terrible?  The problem I have is that a lot of the series has built up a load of clearly evil things he has done and my PCs are pretty determined that they will thwart him however they can, whereas I want the final choice to actually be one!

The biggest issue I can see with the characters' pasts as scenes is one of story continuity.  The whole reason Haarlock went to such absurd extremes is because going back to prior events via the Tesseract allowed you to witness the events, but NOT to interact or change them in any way!  Having characters possibly change their pasts (while potentially very cool) will pretty much derail the entire theme.  Of course if you use such scenes as "touchstones" to remind the characters of where they came from, why they fight or even as a grim reminder that you can "never go back" then the scenes could still be salvaged (and hopefully meaningful!).

As for making Haarlock's possible return more of a choice, try making him out as more of a tragic figure with sympathetic and likeable traits that slowly spirals down into madness and depravity.  He is still a heretical kin-murdering bastard, but someone might relate to his plight in some small way and actually hesitate a bit...   And yes, you really want to pimp the hell out of the "family dies horribly" scene if you go for this angle.

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Thanks for the thoughts.  The idea with the changes are that they only have an effect inside the Blind Tesseract.  Haarlock still thought he could change things while he was 'wandering the corridoors of the past' so I thought it would help to add to the sympathetic angle as the PCs see things that they potentially want to change in their pasts.  It is a natural human thing to think what could have been.  This way they can identify with him and his loss.  Then they see how he failed to change anything because you can't and come to realise that whatever changes made to their character are fake and so they reverse when they step out onto Dusk.

Does that make sense?

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It's a point of contention for me that throughout the Haarlock's Legacy story, Haarlock is a distant figure on the horizon, this figure of impending doom, but the characters never get that much opportunity to identify (or empathise) with him.

 

Entering the Tesseract is the prime opportunity to have the players come face to face with Haarlock, a little like the Nexus is used in Star Trek: Generations. I plan on having my players sit at a dinner table with Haarlock and his wife. Of course, it's not the real Haarlock, just a "ghost in the machine", a fraction of his personality A treasured memory of his. He'll talk to them happily, charm them a great deal, but it's a moment in time.

 

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Oh that's a great idea!  I'm totally stealing that.  For my group almost from the very first time they heard anything about what Haarlock did my group have been absolutely determined that he was a bad and evil man that they were going to take down when they got the chance.  But like you say distant.  All the players get to see, until dead stars, is all the blasphemous creatures and technology that he left behind.  They don't see the reason, the very human reason, that he has done all of these things.  I really want to make my players think, even if it is just for a moment.  Otherwise the whole thing might have very little impact.

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My group finished up the adventure last weekend.  The "dungeon crawl" portion deep in the bowels of the ice station ended up dragging a bit longer than my players and I really liked (they effectively eliminated ALL the other factions present before finally entering the Tesseract.).   Once they reached the Tesseract things got rolling in all sorts of exciting and in some cases unexpected ways!   The first one to actually pass through a mirror-portal was the Eldar Ranger, who's player promptly informed me that she was trying to force the portal to take her to a place before the Great Fall where she might be able to prevent it from occuring somehow.   I asked for an obnoxiously difficult Willpower test (knowing the way the Tesseract works) which predictably ended in failure (but only a small failure!)...  So the group sets foot on the surface of one of the Eldar homeworlds prior to the Great Fall, but still FIRMLY in the grasp of immesurable decadence and neglect.   They attempt to interract with things around them and swiftly discover that no one can see them and physical objects pass through their grasp as if they were ghosts.  The Eldar character realizes her folly and is deeply shaken by the experience.  Meanwhile, one of the Psykers played rear-guard in the Maiden's chaimber, then deliberately waited for the portal to shift before passing through the next one to activate...   Similar idea, he wants to go back to the Battle of Terra and somehow prevent Horus from crippling the Emperor.  Once again I call for an obnoxiously difficult Willpower test and once again am presented by a semi-near miss.   So the Psyker appears (alone!) onboard Horus' flagship as the Blood Angels are battling their way through the ship.  Horrible warp-echoes and backwash lead him to the iconic scene where Sanguinius bravely battles Horus and wounds him before falling to Horus' terrible onslaught.  Desperate attempts to assist the angelic Primarch end in abject ghostly failure, because the past is immutable inside the Tesseract.  He is stubborn, and persists in his efforts right up until the mortal blow is struck, at which point impossibly potent psychic backwash bludgeons the psyker into unconsciousness.  In this case the character earned BUCKETS of insanity and a decent batch of corruption from the experience (breaking the 80 IP mark!), and since the character is a melee-happy Templar I decided to deviate from the usual derangement rules and instead dipped into Deathwatch...  Though he is not Astartes, the character now has stage 2 of the Black Rage!!   When he regained consciousness the battle between Horus and the Emperor was already concluded and the dejected and deranged wytch staggered through the mirror portal.  

Most of the rest of the scenes ran more or less as expected, and I was pleased that some of my players were doing a pretty good job of figuring out what they were seeing before I made it too obvious.   I used Gregorius' auction as the finale scene for inside the Tesseract, although I modified it a bit from what is posted earlier here.  Instead of photocopying everyone's character sheets or making understrength "shadow" versions of the characters I went to the (very tedious) effort of making incredibly offensive but ultimately accurate "dark" versions of the characters from the ground up using Black Crusade (I built each one with roughly the same XP total as the character mirrored and then just ran with it.).   Because the team still had half of the Jannisaries alive and 4 of Herrod's agents tagging along after coming to a "don't kill us please!" arrangement I also included one of their long-term but dead teammates as a chaos Dreadnought, which was fairly quick and easy as I have the dead character's record sheet and a trusty copy of Rites of Battle, so I just chaos'ed out the results.  Because there are not really any true "Chaos Eldar" I had to get a little more creative for the Ranger's dark version.  I started with a Dark Eldar warrior and then applied the Pseudo-Daemon "gift" from BC to simulate an Eldar-daemonhost (be afraid, be VERY afraid!) and then spent her XP as if she were the alignment of the daemon "wearing" her.   Our traumatized and frail Eldar character used a surprising (and unorthodox) tactic of engaging her dark double in a private conversation, the point of which was both to keep it busy (Fear 4 Daemonhost!) since the intrigued daemon supressed it's fear aura to see where the conversation might lead and also as a straw-grasp at "things better left unknown" so that perhaps any lore she gained from the chat could be exchanged as part of a deal to end her exile.   After a surprisingly long exchange of words a disturbingly intimate melee broke out, both of them whispering horrible things at each other and seeking to make their foe's death incredibly slow and painful as they rolled around on each-other, clawing, slashing, whipping, biting and otherwise being horrible.

I had also statted out the Mirror Daemon from book 2 as a full-fledged Greater Daemon since it's presence was noted in the Dusk Hag's scene description, but I ended up skipping the encounter and resolving it as a narrative description due to pacing reasons.   As an added bonus, the group had a legitimate discussion regarding stopping Haarlock's return or allowing it.   Some of the horrid alternate future scenes had a few players thinking Haarlock's return might be a lesser evil than what they witnessed, and a possible unifying figure for the divisive factions within the Calixian Conclave to focus their activities against instead of undermining each-other.   After a close debate, the team ultimately decided to prevent the return and destroyed the portal in time.   The other miracle is that they managed to keep the throw-away Astropath alive for the ENTIRE mission, so rescue from Dusk proved to be a relatively simple affair:  One priority Malleus Inquisitor's message to nearby Malfi and a swiftly redirected ship later and the traumatized survivors of the Mara mission were back from the brink.  Several burnt Fate Points, but amazingly none of the PCs died, despite some of them flirting with doom for far too long for comfort.  Some of them are SEVERELY damaged from things they saw and experienced though, and some bear heavy and dark burdens upon their souls now.

The endgame and shiny new plot developments that have arisen from this adventure made all the effort so worth it!   Next up is Filidan's take on the Apostacy Gambit or possibly a shiny new Deathwatch mission so I get to be a player for a bit.

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My players have just about completed the Tesseract now.

As the Iron Daughter started up instead of talking to it they all immediately jumped through the mirror door, which was unexpected, and meant that they had to get an explanation of the place from the Haarlock shade (thanks Mnesimache).  This has led to them being totally certain that nothing can be changed here already and everything they see is a lie that they have to see through in order to get out.  They have blindly continued their intention to stop Haarlock returning so I only showed them the future associated with that.  Again they just told everyone they spoke to that this was future was a lie.  They do though have the body of one acolyte that they are taking to show him (he refused to see the 'lie')!

I did really enjoy tempting them with scenes depicting choices from their past that have defined their character.  One or two of them came very close to accepting the chance to change their lives (one guy sat for about 3 minutes with his eyes screwed shut trying to decide :-D).  But in the end they all gave differing reasons for refusing, including the 'it would all be a lie' reason.

I wondering if anyone can think of a way I can convince them that what they see is the truth (even if they are right that nothing CAN actually be changed in there).  I'm probably going to use the auction idea as a "how much would they sacrifice" as one last effort to get them to empathise with Haarlock.

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BrotherKane said:

Oh that's a great idea!  I'm totally stealing that.  For my group almost from the very first time they heard anything about what Haarlock did my group have been absolutely determined that he was a bad and evil man that they were going to take down when they got the chance.  But like you say distant.  All the players get to see, until dead stars, is all the blasphemous creatures and technology that he left behind.  They don't see the reason, the very human reason, that he has done all of these things.  I really want to make my players think, even if it is just for a moment.  Otherwise the whole thing might have very little impact.

IMHO that's the whole thing, the whole pun of the Haarlock's Legacy. This reviled and dangerous and heretical man .. is he really a foe or someone whose motives are all too clear and understandable?

some good stuff in this thread!

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Well we have now finished the whole campaign.  I decided not to use the auction as in the end they just wouldn''t believe anything was real in the Tesseract.  They did however bring back the body of one of the PCs from the future (which caused him to go properly maaaaad).  Some great RP there.  They went to Dusk and had a final fight against Herrod (who wanted to capture Haarlock) and then totally failed to destroy the gateway and so one of them had to make the sacrifice.  One of the most unlikely characters did it and the best part is:

He did it all because of what he had seen about himself in the Tesseract! 

Thanks so much for your ideas guys, they made this part work really well for me and my group.

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I'm keen to hoard as many ideas as possible for the Tesseract, as I really want it to be a pivotal experience for my players (going on after the Haarlock Trilogy, especially with the glimpses of possible futures…)

Any effort on your part would be gratefully appreciated and eagerly devoured!

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Well I think all my ideas are already higher up the thread.  Basically my players ignored the Iron Daughter so I had them actually meet a part of Haarlock in the Tesseract.  He/it spoke to them quite rationally and tried to explain why he had done everything he'd done.  Then when they refused to countenance his choices he wook them to scenes in their past where they had made choices and challenged whether they might wish to change something about their past as he was trying to do.  It didn't make them change their minds about bringing him back but it did make them at least think about it and was fun to play through (I got a lot of positive feedback about it too).

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