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The_Shaman

[Edge of Darkness] Running the Almshouse Encounters

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Hi, I'm running my first DH game, and I've chosen the Edge of Darkness scenario for the start of the campaign. The thing is, I'm not sure if I'm running it right - the PCs acted quite fast and I expect they caught the Logicians off guard, now they are storming the almshouse and I'm not sure how organized the response should be.

 

The PCs came to the neighborhood, found Lily the first evening, and used her apartment to set an ambush. After killing 2 snatchers (it was hard for them to escape when 3 PCs opened fire and closed in, and 3 more cut them off from an abandoned appartment down the hallway) they disposed of the bodies and concluded most of their research the next morning - checking with Sykes, finding Evard Zed, and having a talk with some of the more select clientele at the Union hall bar - and accepted a "commission" from Luntz to do what they intended to do anyway.

 

So now (about noon on the second day) the neighborhood has been closed off as the Logicians have found that two of the snatchers are missing and they have put most of their men on the streets, but the PCs are already in the compound. They ambushed one patrolling guard and in one round killed him (assassin with mono-sword rushed him from behind, scum fired one bullet from silenced Autogun, Psyker finished him off with a laspistol) on the lower floor. I decided that since this all happened in the surprise round and before he could act he did not alert the others. The party has 6 players but even with upping the number of logicians, I thought there would be at most 4 plus Moran here - Due to most logicians posing as enforcers and still trying to find what happened, they would be putting most of their men investigating and wouldn't expect an attack on their base just yet.

 

They went to floor number two and (since they didn't raise much noise until then) I let them overhear Moran giving commands to his lieutenant with the "enforcers" over the vox. They decided to pose as couriers and when that didn't work (and they overheard Moran giving commands to his other guys) rushed his door. Most entered and incapacitated him in the round the other 3 agents burst out of their flats and started firing -and in the next round, one of the agents was rushed by our assassin, and the others pinned the other two in their room. Next round, the agents were wiped out - as they posed as adepts, they didn't have their armor on and couldn't put it on in 1 round. They were basically caught with their pants down, the question was how bad it would be.

 

So I have two questions. First, am I playing the NPCs right? As I see it, the PCs took them by surprise, and after rushing Moran's office the 3 other agents had little option to catch them in the open. Within those 2-3 rounds I did not expect Moran could use his vox to contact external forces or the Churgeon. Second, would the firefight cause enough noise to reach the Churgeon on the floor above? I imagine that in the heated battle, Moran might not have had time to contact her (but maybe he did), and one floor and very, very solid doors probably provide some insulation. Besides, I'm kinda worrried how the party of 6 acolytes would fare if they had to take on 8 snatchers and Churgie's goons (not to mention the lady herself). What do you think - did I play it right, and what would be waiting for them upstairs?

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Sounds like you're done a pretty good job so far.  Improvising in the face of the PCs doing something unexpected is a fine art and you seem to have coped well.

Don't be too concerned with what is still remaining upstairs in an objective sense, because as the GM you have carte blanche to change anything that you think would help to either make the game a better challenge, or more fun.

I would suggest that you've done a good job so far by the sounds of it, and whatever is in the next room is whatever you need to achieve the goals of challenge and fun.

The Churigeon may have even have overheard the gunfire and choosen to run away leading to further adventures. (gunfire is very fraking loud by the way -  whether or not Churigeon can hear the fighting is entirely up to you)

Z.

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In my opinion you played the NPCs absolutely right. It’s always hard to make the right decisions for multiple NPCs as well as keeping the laws of nature in mind in a matter of seconds. I often contemplate after a session about one or two decisions and how I could have done it better retrospectively.

As your PCs had an easy time so far (at least it seems so) and even though they sort of deserved having an easy time (because they acted quite well planned and systematically it seems), I would now shift up a gear. As Zakalwe said, gunfire is rather loud, and while I would assume the Churgeon herself would not stop her work by such a mere nuisance, she would most probably activate a few Body Snatchers and send them downwards. I furthermore would assume Moran was able to send a short emergency code through his micro-bead to the “Enforcer”/Logicican Agents at the Enforcer station before the PCs got hold of him. After all, they are described as dead hard professionals if I remember correctly.

So, let the PCs on the long run be sort of trapped between the Body Snatchers from above and the Agents coming from outside/below. Still, the Agents need time to arrive at the Alms House and you have to take care that it is not too absurd how fast they can react (including putting on armour, mustering up, driving/running towards the Alms House and deciding how to act when arriving).

The Churgeon would only stop working when the PCs open up the portal in the uppermost floor (thereby becoming more than a mere nuisance) and throw everything at her disposal against them (while fleeing herself maybe).

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Hi The_Shaman,

a) No, you did nothing wrong happy.gif

b) If you want to challenge the 6 pc a little more:

Use the gunfight "below" as an excuse for the Churgeon to sned 3 Snatchers after them. But make these 3 her "latest successes".  18 wounds, Unnatural Strenght(2x); Unnatural Toughenss(2x), WS:30.

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Thanks for the feedback, it is appreciated!

 

Well, if she/it (Churgie) heard them, they can probably expect company. However, I'm a bit loath to send a big group of snatchers (or upgraded ones) at the PCs - this is pretty much everyone's first DH game, and while most characters have good stats, they are quite fragile with mostly light flak armors and wounds in the 9-12 range. Some of them decided that quilted vests are acceptable for starting armor... really :) . I'm afraid US and UT will make the snatchers way out of the PCs ability to hurt - even without other buffs, that means snatchers hit for 1d10+10 damage (non-primitive) and soak from 8 to 11 points of damage per attack. Even one might be a serious enemy - a la Nemesis from Resident Evil - much less more than two.

Actually, I did buff the snatchers a bit, iirc by increasing toughness and agility a little bit - to 50 and 30 respectively. I noticed that in the ambush at the Arbests' flat, the PCs had a lot of trouble actually doing wounds on the creatures, due partly to rolls and party to the combination of a toughness bonus of 5 and 3 points of armor. The party fared well against the logicians as the ones in the almshouse were posing as adepts and had no armor (except for Moran). If the party has to cope with a patrol of 3-4 enforcers in guard armor (and they might), I think they will have a much harder time. The question is, would micro-bead communication have a range big enough to reach any agents outside? For now the PCs did not think of taking his micro-bead so they can listen in on the logicians' communications.

As I see it, if the PCs can't put down the homunculus in the lab within 2 rounds (one involves only it and the party assassin fighting) it will alert Churgie and she will activate 3 body snatchers. If not, I may have to make an awareness test for her at +30 or so :) . The rest of the snatchers will be activated on round one when they enter the operating theatre - but as they were sleeping they will probably take some time to fully "wake up." I'm thinking of having them stunned for the first two rounds and having only a single action for round 3 and 4. Frankly, with 6 characters (adept, scum, 2 psykers, techpriest and assassin) I think that a fair fight with 5+ snatchers, the homunculus, the familiar and the Churgeon would be practically unwinnable for the PCs, so I'll probably have to scale things down a bit. I'm not sure how well the PCs can handle unwinnable fights :) .

Depending on how quickly they proceed from then on, there may be enforcer patrols near the almshouse - the enforcers will mostly come through the front, but 2-3 may be at the back. From then on... we will see.

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Ok, things have gone... in an interesting manner. This was the last game for two characters, as the players stated they will likely be unable to come in the future. They may either leave or sacrifice themselves for the greater go.... in the Emperor's name.

 

The party came across the homunculus and after a short fight it was beheaded just as it tried to activate its vox and warn its mistress. However, with a good awareness roll I decided that Churgie has indeed heard some commotion downstairs, sent 4 (out of 8 remaining) snatchers to investigate, and primed the other 4 so they can be activated in 2 rounds. The party ambushed, firebombed, and shot/slashed the snatchers, and after it heard Moran's men calling him on the vox the tech-priest feedback-screeched into it, then crushed it to simulate equipment failure. Ok, I decided, the alarm was mostly averted, as long as the party is fast and uses the back door it won't come across a patrol. Upstairs they found an unconscious survivor, and decided that since they can't help him from this dark machine he at least deserves a clean death. The Tech-priest took the machine's readings and quickly did an autopsy to check if the body had the control tissue the legate showed them. It did, so they took a pic and put it in the evidence kit. So far, they have some samples and other data to bring back, so if they can stop the Churgeon things are looking good for them back in the HQ.

 

They go in through the big door, take a look at things, see Churgie, and after she tells them she'll have their flesh soon it's on. The assassin gets to act first, charges, barely hits... then rolls 0 for damage, confirms the fury, and the big boss is at exactly 0 wounds from one attack. The homunculus misses in its first strike, the scum firebombs the melee (mostly damaging the homunculus, though the assassin and Churgie get a bit too) and I'm starting to think the end battle will be a breeze. I was wrong. I kinda panic and have Churgie release the familiar, flip off the snatcher activation switch, and withdraw in one action. By her next turn, though, she gets hit again and on the crit table loses a leg and is stunned, one more shot effectively taking her out of the fight as she's bleeding to death and unconscious.*. The assassin, though, gets hit for max damage by the homunculus (which later burned to death on its own) and burns a FP to survive, instead becoming unconscious**. The rest of the party focus on the familiar, but the next round 3 of the snatchers are on them. One of the psykers takes the last firebomb (the party only had 4 firebombs and no frags and doesn't use shotguns) and aims in a way to catch as many of the snatchers as possible. And this is when the **** - or in this case, the promethium, hits the fan: miss on the throw (with FP reroll), direction is towards the party, distance is maximum. The firebomb effectively blows right over the frontline. The snatchers actually take minimal damage and only one catches on  fire; the familiar is effectively debilitated by the burns. The party gets in big trouble - the tech-priest gets maximum damage and catches on fire, on his next turn he burns FP to survive (he drops to unconsciousness and stops burning), the rest of the party gets between 5 and 9 points of damage and has no close-combat options - two psykers, adept, and a scum with an autogun against four snatchers.  The other psyker tries to use spasm at PR 2 to get as many of the snatchers down so they can disengage - and one of the dice is a 9. She rolls 75 on the phenomenon table - a second time she rolled exactly that in three phenomena rolls! - and it's Perils time. She rolls 88 (I think) - which reverses gravity, We decide that she should reroll - with 93 meters' radius this would cause a massive issue, going way beyond the walls of the almshouse. She rerolls with FP, gets 28? and is locked out of her own body***. Yeah, third party member down, they are now outnumbered. I was quite sure she also had a frag grenade and told her, but she said she didn't. She was actually right, when I double-checked her sheet later.

 

At this point, we had to stop as the hostess (psyker #2) had a raid for her WoW guild. Maybe it's for the best, I really don't like to kill PCs on their first mission (especially as most of them are newbies to the system). So far, though, the players enjoyed it. I was a bit apologetic as they were faced with a very hard encounter and might have slipped a few clues as "Well, you did notice those things are slow". Right now the party is in deep trouble and we'll have to see how it makes it out.

 

Next session, I'm thinking of allowing the FP-burnees to regain consciousness in a round or two, and possibly - if the snatchers pursue the rest out of the room - catch them from behind. One of the leaving players is the scum, and she might delay the snatchers for a while (I hate using the phrase "sacrifice herself); the adept is the other one but due to carrying the evidence kit and his general nature he will try to run away if at all possible. Some of the players are considering rolling new characters so other casualties are certainly considered, although not encouraged - the other psyker's player said his character certainly wouldn't want to travel around with a psyker having luck THAT bad. BTW, I'm thinking of awarding a FP to anyone who does something interesting to gather evidence like recovering the churgeon's head - since she's mostly a machine her brain may be a cogitator, thus may have information that the Inquisition's pet tech-priests are able to uncover.

 

So that's it for now. We may have a TPK in the making, or at least a lost character or two. I'd like to have some continuity for the next mission (Illumination), but we'll cross that bridge when we get to it.

 

* I couldn't find it in the book, but can toughness + armor reduce damage to 0 or do you always take at least 1 wound of damage? Also, the machine trait doesn't say you're immune to "blood" loss, so I presume she's not.

 

**: I'm thinking of having him regain consciousness at 0 wounds soon, tbh. After a FP burn, would that be acceptable if he was at -2 and burning before to that? I stated that the blow threw him back and caused him to roll across the icy surface, so the flames should be extinguished.

 

***: I was about to suggest that she reroll the phenomenon roll instead, and we may do that next time. Actually, can you reroll a phenomena/perils roll with a FP? I didn't remember just then so I said yes.

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Nothing is beyond salvaging here :)

So they all lose fatepoints. Doesn't matter. They killed the Churgeon and most of her leutenants. So whoever remains might decide to cut their losses, burn the evidence and leave. The body snatchers may well just collect the unconscious bodies on tables in the lab, then go back to their stations (they aren't smart, and are "programmed" to collect and deliver after all). The characters wakes up as the building is on fire, ****** their bags and evidence and run out the back and fade into the night.

They stopped the bad guy, got the evidence, and returns after a job "well done". And they learned some important lessons in the process.

But the most IMPORTANT comment is: You don't get to re-roll phenomena or perils. (Well, Favoured by the Warp lets you roll 2 phenomena (but not perils) and choose, but that's not available for Rank 1 Psykers I don't think). I assume she spent a Fate Point for this re-roll, but Fate Points can only be used to re-roll TESTS, and the phenomena roll is not a test.

Important, as the phenomena is the only thing holding back the overpowered thing that are Psykers, you see :)

Sounds like a good game, hope it all works out.

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Okay, it was done. A bit easier than I expected, once the assassin and tech-priests woke up at 0 wounds, but they eventually cleaned up house, defeated the snatchers (Psyker B did have a perils hit that, er, locked her out of herself for a while, but knocked 3 down via spasm). They picked up some stuff (including the Churgeon's head, which I decided may be worth a FP for the possibly intact cogitators inside), found out a machine that regulated the plasma flow for the reactor, and decided to cleanse that den of heresy by plasma flare. On the way down one of them managed to spot an enforcer team heading to the front gate so they quickly headed out by the back door and  got as far away as possible before the top floor of the almshouse blew up. In the shock they got to the bar, collected what Chord owed them (which was left in a nearby location, after the blast Chord and his made men didn't wnat to hang around). They got to the station without much trouble, and went back home.

 

They had a quick and unpleasant decontamination waiting for them before they met Sand, and they showed the fruits of their job - samples of control tissue from snatchers, operated "patients" and the big sample in the lab, some picts, data from the place, and the churgeon's head. They told him what little they knew - that the Logicians were involved and had worked with the narco-syndicates, but the relationship had soured and that the Logicians were developing unsanctioned science experiments using the tissue(learned from Chord). They got a "thank you" for their troubles, and were told to go have a drink in a nearby bar and told to say hi to the people there from "Karim." That got them a free drink, and they used some of their own cash to get a few more.

 

So there it is. The adept and scum characters will likely be dropping out, and the assassin is considering to switch to an arbitrator. The characters are at around 1300 XP now, and I've told them that if they want to start a new character, s/he will be at 1100 XP and with less funds. I'm thinking of  running Illumination next, maybe slightly modified just in case they've checked it... Has anyone tried running it at that power level? I imagine there might be a few issues, like the tech-priest walking around with a bolter or the assassin using mighty shot and a decent gun.

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Illumination might be a little unfullfiling to your group. And they might do away with the main enemy rather easy.

How about "Idle Heresy" instead of it?
http://www.fantasyflightgames.com/ffg_content/dark-heresy/pdf/2008-contests/idyll-heresies.pdf You would of course need to upgrade the final enemy their as well ...

WARNING! SPOILERS AHEAD!!!!!!


...which could be done by simply adding a number of present vermin transforming into Pest Ticks (see adventure) within one round. Use a number equal that of the combat pc and perhaps add about 1d5 each round (or each other round) of combat until the Daemon is slain.

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Well, I was thinking about maybe buffing Illumination encounters a bit. Characters are level 3, which is definitely a boost, and have gained a fair amount of cash by accepting Chord's offer (and have 1 month of salary in between). On the other hand, IIRC Illumination isn't really very combat-dependent, apart from the last encounter - so will the PCs actually find it that much easier?

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