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Dok Martin

Fixing The Black Sepulchre

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This is GM talk! SPOILERS AHEAD! Consider yourself warned.

In my opinion The Black Sepulchre is the worst Dark Heresy supplement published yet. However, it's still usable I think.

The Intro action scene is nice. The setting I found a bit unspectacular though. So I switched to Hive Tarsus, with the manson obviously located at the bottom of the hive. The characters won't arrive in a gunship but will be abseiling about 300m from the "ceiling" (the bottom of the next Hive level). It's dark, warm and moist with the arcane hive machines humming and moving above them. Smelly and possible toxic liquids drip from rusty steel rods. As they go down - at about 200m - they are suddenly hit by wall of icy air. REM: The nobles of Tarsus enjoy freezing temperatures where they can comfortably wear their fur coats. The drops of liquid turn into yellowish snow flakes. From that point onward the scene can pretty much progress as written.

Now. The background story I found unnecessarily convoluted and unconvincing. I'd go for something a bit more straight forward, focusing on the daemon itself rather than on the Maledictor's Hand. The journey to Baraspine, the Guilded Cathedral and the actual Black Sepulchre... just don't feel right. Instead I let the evidence lead the characters straight to the Black Cathedral, or rather: the mansion of the Hekate family. Which is a rather nice haunted house environment. Very usable. Same goes for the secret of the cathedral, which is - let's be honest - an amusing twist. It could easily be located on, say, the eastern fringe of Hive Tarsus. A somewhat deserted area, with a cursed house being close by and all.

The final battle is quite lame. Again I'd go for something rather more direct. Let's imagine the rotting body of the daemon ist buried in the desert sands of Scintilla, just outside the hive. The characters' actions would lead to the re-awakening of the daemon. Very apocalyptic: a gigantic bird like zombie thing with leathery wings rising from the sands, the morning sun glowing blood red behind it. Of course the Acolytes will have the opportunity to blow it to cinders with the Titan's quake cannon.

Of course it's still all a bit rough. Any suggestions? Different angles? Better ideas?

Let's fix this, guys! gui%C3%B1o.gif

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In my opinion, Chapter 1 is mostly fine as is. The only problem I have with it is the vox bead call where Captain Scipio tells the Acolytes that Thrungg's making a stand in the Menagerie. It feels too railroaded for me. Instead, I let the players decide when to move on from the chapel. How much time has elapsed determines how desperate Scipio would be to ask the Acolytes for back-up, and also determines the scene they will encounter in the menagerie.
Optional: Clues lead to Haematite Cathedral, not Gilded Cathedral

To my tastes, Chapter 2 should start with the Acolytes' arrival in Kephistron Altis(on Barsapine). Insert: Sights and Sounds of Kephistron Altis. Extra encounters. Give clues here to hint at the haunting warp disturbances and psychic phenomena of the Haematite Cathedral, some foreshadowing. Locals tell horror stories about the Cathedral,

Chapter 3/4 is pretty awesome except for not being able to control Pax Macharia from the control chair. I think it would be interesting(and quite frightening!) to have the Acolytes fight against the (much larger)Dei-Phage using the Titan, and ultimately have the Dei-Phage appear weakened, but destroy the Pax Macharia with a massive warp-explosion. Possibly destroying Kephistron Altis entirely.

Final Reveal: Instead of Devayne's Evidence vision being displayed as some Deus Ex Machina device, have the players go into a psychic/warp-energy induced comatose vision that they all share. They effectively see the same scene as described in Devayne's Evidence.

Optional Twist: When/if they wake up on their ship for their next adventure after sharing the vision, have everyone make an easy(+20) willpower test. Anyone who fails, wakes up with no knowledge of the vision. Everyone else remembers it.

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I strongly recommend reading through all the trilogy books, if you intend to run the entire Apostasy Gambit. It is likely that you will have to rework major plot points, as they just don't fit together very well. Individually, they all containt very interesting suppositions, but put together, it will seem like a patchwork of conflicting ideas. The main story arch is extremely epic in it's scope, and if you're not comfortable with plunging the entire sector in disarray, chaos and mayhem for a looong period of time, you'd have to tone down some of the events in the Apostasy Gambit trilogy.

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Perhaps we should make another thread in the GM forums for correcting the Apostasy Gambit, but.... having read the trilogy, I think the scenarios should be fixed one at a time from view of their fundamental values. They all need work.

I mean, at least the Apostasy Gambit delivers in that it DOES send shockwaves through the sector---unlike Haarlock's Legacy. The scenarios, however, are not as good in Apostasy as they are in Haarlock's. In my opinion, this is NOT NECESSARILY because of the plot. It's because the scenarios are mostly narrative railroads that take away the fun from the players, and make the GM tell a story instead.

Most players are there to see their Acolytes struggle to overcome obstacles and oppositional forces through their own actions. Good GMs are not there to steal the show, and the narrative/scenario should not overshadow the players' actions.

How lame would it be if your Acolyte finally figured out who the BBEG is, went to go take him out, and then saw that someone else just killed him in front of you? ...Kinda leaves a stale taste in your mouth. Makes you think, "what was the point?"

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