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Noctivagent

Correcting The Apostasy Gambit

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I like your thread, it interesting and it's given me quite a lot of inspiration! Once question though, do you think a warp vision will go down well with your players? I guess it depends on how you see the warp, but it struck med that unless my players go for radicals, they'd never trust anything that has to do with the warp. Especialy not when "the great conspirator" seems to be involved in the plot. They'd be more likely to say "hey, that Ignatio fellow must be a real good guy if a demon tries to make us belive he has something to do with chaos". Guess that could be interesting too, though =)

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I thought this series of modules was actually a very compelling plot, but as others have noted, has some serious gaps in its coverage and events - likewise, some of the connecting parts are real stretches if you're a GM that has a suspicious or circumspect party (and if you're playing Dark Heresy, why wouldn't you be?). While I was running this with my group I invented some occurrences to plump out the campaign and work in smoother transitions.

Oh yes, speaking of players, if any of you happen to be following me on here, feel free to stop reading now - I'll know. Emote-commissar.gif

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BLACK SEPULCHRE:

Bulagor Thrungge was previously known, albeit distantly and through a false name, as being someone who'd been in contact with Logicians that the players had a run-in with while in the low hives of Sibellus. Rather than being brought along as extra muscle, the acolytes' job with the Scintillan PDF troops is explicitly to make sure none of them happen to **** around with any proscribed artifacts or heretical texts that Thrungge might be in possession of. After coming through the roof of the church and dealing with the forces there, there's a hidden sub-chapel below the main one that can be accessed through solving a puzzle embedded on the bas relief of the Emperor at the back of the church (this will be a recurring theme later on); the sub-chapel contains a variety of Bad Things that conclusively prove Thrungge's guilt while also being very tempting swag for any acolyte who's not on the straight and narrow. The sub-chapel also contains some evidence of Thrungge's trip to Baraspine, so it's concievable the players might not even need to fight him in the menagerie - if the PDF takes care of him, they'll find the arm nonetheless and get a good grip on the severity of the situation.

The arm of such a powerful daemon is something the Ordo Malleus should handle, so my acolytes (Ordo Hereticus) go to Baraspine specifically to figure out where he got it from and if there's some kind of hotbed in the trading of proscribed artifacts and other nastiness on that world. While keeping a low profile, they're obliged to do meat-and-potatoes investigation in Kephistron Altis, which eventually turns up that Thrungge obtained the arm from an antiquities auction in one of the comparatively small hives. Getting in requires subterfuge and disguises - in my case, I had them obtain forged cognomens from the "bad parts" of town, which is also where they were attacked by black feathered cultists - then some intuition that this place wouldn't be casually mixing in very illegal items with stuff that prying eyes or ears might see. The auction house doesn't actually have any knowledge of where most of the stuff they sell comes from, but the players could determine that the guy who runs the place has been mysteriously absent for a period of time that strangely matches up more or less from when Thrungge would have been there obtaining it.

Locating the owner's residence could be done through investigation from local authorities, plying registrations, etc, but they could also obtain that directly from the auction house if they handle that situation smoothly. When they arrive, they find the man's been murdered and stuck full of black feathers - the cultists previously encountered obviously were either here, or there's an unhealthy amount of cult activity on this planet. Either way, Haematite enters into the equation here when the acolytes find a journal left by the owner along with threatening letters from the Kephistron Selchis port authority demanding to know when they're going to be paid for the hydrofoil he rented some time ago. Now armed with the knowledge that they found the arm there, the players will have a destination set.

Here I began to change things from the published material, primarily because I began to see some of the same structural problems that have been identified previously in this thread.

1. Jurutas being in the employ of the Hand, but this never actually being an element to the game itself, seems pointless. Why even bother? To wit I simply made him be a supportive character who's actually on the level, making the Gilded Cathedral a safe spot that's basically free of intrigue. This, however, requires me to do something with the titular Black Sepulchre itself.

2. If you're an inquisitive acolyte (and you **** well better be), the fact that this church has an impenetrable casket locked in a stasis field could well derange the efforts on Baraspine immediately. It seems unnecessary to even have this thing in the first place when you have a Titan buried out in the desert which surely has staggeringly powerful cogitators and logis engines that could safely record the offending information. So, delete the actual item itself entirely with the reveal that the Arch-Cardinal is actually A Bad Person being done in the Titan itself, which takes us to overhauling that location.

3. Jurutas believes that Haematite is an Angevin-era fort (see the exposed guns of the Titan's upper carapace), but the central keep made a fine location for a church. The Ministorum on Baraspine later abandoned it because the place is supposedly haunted, a source of much embarassment among the planetary diocese that they'd rather just forget about. What transpired with the Hekates will be processed through as the acolytes track down the cog-key necessary to get into the lower areas.

4. The Hekate situation doesn't really make a great deal of sense as it seems to have some conflicting information presented in the book, specifically regarding the whens and wheres of these various occurrences. I'm a man who likes my linear progression of facts, so I attempted to straighten that out and fill in some blanks. My timeline of events goes something like this:

Some Time Ago (cr. ~100 years depending on how old you'd figure Ignato is): DeVayne witnesses the Hand being formed, takes a record of it and flees with the Deiphage in pursuit. Barabus Zanatov comes into possession of this information from DeVayne, who is presumably killed in an effort to distract the Hand's pursuit. Zanatov is tracked down before he can do anything useful with the incriminating evidence, but is able to hatch a plan involving a wrecked Titan on Baraspine (you just know this sort of thing when you're a Rogue Trader). The data gets recorded into the Titan's main systems, and when the Deiphage shows up to kill Zanatov, the latter hatches a trap to imprison the daemon within the Titan itself. Hopefully someone will find the information later…
Not Quite As Long Ago (cr.40-60 years): Some of Zanatov's descendants track their old man's last location to Baraspine thinking he's hidden some kind of treasure there. They take up the Hekate mantle soas to have a good cover for why they're renovating and then establishing an estate in this old fort, unknowning that it's both a Titan as well as the location of an imprisoned daemon. The Deiphage begins corrupting the "Hekates" over time as the power of the binding on it weakens.
Significantly Less Long Ago (cr.10-20 years): Years of being exposed to the Deiphage's corrupting influence dooms the Hekates. Vorkas loses his mind and is incarcerated by Koronath while the latter begins retreating into his studies of planetary alignment and eventually becomes so engrossed that he dies of starvation at his telescope. Gustavus' biological research leads him to thinking he could live forever by conquering death itself while Nikea starts fully believing they're a Baraspine noble clan rather than the vestigates of a once-prosperous Rogue Trader dynasty. Eventually his messy work provokes her to murder him with Vorkas' big game rifle (hence the giant gunshot wound in his apparition), after which she poisons herself and all the attendants to carry out a scene from a drama. Poor Vorkas is still alive thanks to the malignant power of the Deiphage while the other members of the Hekates still exist, unknowing of their death, as warp ghosts.
Not That Long Ago At All (cr.5-10 years): Baraspine's arm of the Ministorum takes advantage of this abandoned property and sets up a church there. It only lasts for a few years due to the supposed hauntings (which are very real) which resist exorcisms and the remote location of the place to begin with. Rather than expend further expense on trying to fix the place the planetary ecclesiarchs decide to just pretend it never happened and strike it from the records; Jurutas will be happy to point it out to the acolytes if they ask as he considers the fact that they gave up on the place to be a very humiliating and undigifed smirch on the good name of the Emperor's church. To date, nobody has actually figured out that the place is a Titan since Barabus Zanatov.
Just The Other Day Really (cr. the last year or so): The binding imprisoning the Deiphage has severely weakened and it is able to extrude a part of itself with the hopes that someone will find it and spread its corrupting influence. While moving through the area the auction house's owner happens to discover the arm and foolishly takes it back to Kephistron Altis figuring it's probably worth quite a bit to the right buyer. It is (see above).

5. Once the acolytes have exorcised the Hekates and put that problem to rest for good they can finally use the cog-key to figure out what's going on here. Determining that Haematite is actually a Titan could happen at any point while they're wiggling around the huge machinery or navigating giant cog doors, but it's probably immensely obvious when they find the control room (the head) and see the deceased crew still at their stations. The reason why the Titan was wrecked here is anyone's guess but I suggested it was likely lost when purging the planet of Orks during Angevin's time and forgotten, otherwise I imagine Legio Venator would have puttered over there to dig the thing up some time ago. They don't just make Imperator-class Titans every day, y'know. Anyway, the Titan's logis stacks (more likely its Machine Spirit) is trying to display DeVayne's recording but without power this is not possible, so the acolytes will need to re-ignite the reactor as normal. This, of course, has the side effect of giving the final impetus to release the Deiphage.

6. While summoning Furies and beginning its attempt to possess the Titan from without, the players will have to navigate back up to kill it. The campaign book suggests using the Imperator's rusted-over Quake Cannon for the job, though I came with a more fun idea of arming the players with a laser-targeter that was vox-linked to the Titan's Plasma Annihilator, which fires through the cliffside and very nearly kills the daemon, leaving the players to finish it off. When they destroy the Deiphage's physical body it explodes into a cloud of feathers that fly in every direction; the release of raw psychic energy knocks them unconscious. If you're a **** of a GM you might force Tests to avoid gaining Insanity or Corruption at your choice.

7. When the players return to their senses they'll realize the Titan's moving, which giving its condition shouldn't be possible. The horrific visual imagery of faces pressing at the walls and debased sculptures weeping blood might suggest that the Deiphage has successfully taken control of the Titan, and moreover has marched towards Kephistron Altis during their incapacitation. The Librarium Nox incident transpires while the players are going *back* down to the control deck to figure out WTF is transpiring - by the time they get there, they'll find that the princeps' corpse has been conflagrated with a fiery effigy of the Deiphage, and moreover, the Titan is preparing to fire all its weapons at the spaceport in Kephistron Altis, which at very least would trap them on Baraspine. However, it is more likely that attempting to fire all of the Titan's badly corroded weapons at once will cause the reactor to cook off, in which case the players (and most of Kephistron Altis on the whole) are about to be reduced to their constituent atoms. This can be averted by manually jettisoning the reactor's fuel rods and shutting the Titan down again, but there is a very limited amount of time to accomplish this before <giant solar fusion detonation>.

8. With no physical body again the Deiphage is now trapped in the immobile Titan once more, which proceeds to faceplant into the roof of the Gilded Cathedral, reuniting the players with Jurutas in a rather spectacular way. Before it runs out of juice, however, it is able to play DeVayne's video log, giving the players their impetus to continue.

Depending on how thorough and "big picture" your players are, they might want to stay on Baraspine for a while to help with cleaning up the mess caused by the Titan marching into Kephistron Altis, contacting the Tricorn in Sibellus or perhaps Legio Venator's base on Lycosidae to try and deal with the imprisoned daemon as well as the fact that there's now a Titan stuck in the middle of a city (kind of a big deal). The first response that arrives, however, is an Ecclesastical mission headed by Cardinal Valcarna of the Adrantean Diocese who just happened to be nearby. This will be relevant later on, however, since the Deiphage will be making a return appearance under the Hand's direction, and Valcarna is Ignato's loyal toadie…

Anyway, I enjoy the investigation aspects of the game more than anything else, so that's why I fattened that part up heavily. Your mileage may vary, especially if your players prefer the more militant approach.

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I've read this topic and have had a lot of good ideas from it, how to run the Black Sepulchre story.  Do thank you for it!

I've modified the original version very heavily, but my players enjoyed it a lot and it fitted in the Calixis sector background much better, so I've decided to share it with you. Use anything from the ideas if you prefer.

1. The planet Baraspine is a mess to me. A planet which doesn't rotates? It was very sandbox like anyway (a planet where you can mess around with your party without any impact on the other important sector planets with their own history).

So I've swapped it with Iocanthos. After they've stormed the mansion of Bulanor Thrungg, captured and interrogated him, he confessed that he gathered his relics from Iocanthos. (I took care of putting some clue items there, like an old tattered book about the Crow father.)

To raise the fever, when they've planned the attack on the house, the stormtrooper assault was delayed because inquisitor Soldevan (see the Core Rulebook), halted them with the information that he has an inside men there. (He is a known radical for my party who uses to hinder them frequently, but cannot be caught red handed anytime.) So they've had to negotiate through the Inquisitorial HQ for getting the stormtroopers for the assault at all.

They succeeded only with having an uneasy situational alliance with Soldevan, who joined them and all the time used the opportunities to stalk around and gather the relics before the party can, for his own purposes. At the end storming the house was the easy part for them and the investigation the tough one.

2. On Iocanthos they knew that they'll have problems with the Crow father, who was banished by them when they've played the module in the Core Rulebook . So I've added a group with a smaller warlord, who had a temporal base in the mountains, which was the last fortress of the army of the Crow father during the conquest of the planet. They knew the location of the secretive trader who have sold the artefacts to Bulanor Thrungg, including the daemonic hand.

This party used to revive the historical battle of Drusus and the Crow father, and to do that, one of the players had to duel with an ogryn shaped warrior, who had a warped weaponry. (When he was about to lose, the Crow father tempted him to submiss his will. The player accepted the daemonic bargain at the end, so he survived, but the other party members are suspicious and he owes on to the Crow father.. well, that will be the flavour for the future..)

Then they were transported to the place of the Hekate dinasty mansion, which had a slightly different background as well.

3. The background of Iocanthos.

If you gathered together the information from the various books of Dark Heresy, you know that Drusus, as the appointed commander of the second army, assaulted this planet, and after the first days of deployment, when his negotiators did not returned, he rushed the army of the Crow father with a 4.000.000 strong army of foot soldiers, 3 company of Dark Templar Space Marines and the Titan Legio Venator.

By me, the Pax Macharia was not the property of a Rogue Trader, as I tought it very weird to give such a person an Imperator Class titan. Rather it was the only fallen titan on Iocanthos. In my story, Drusus had big victories in the first day but then the Crow father started to cause losses when they began guerilla tacticts in the northern mountains and used warp powers. So Drusus, who wasn't a big tactician in that time, tried to cut losses with sending the Pax Macharia to the mountains and risk it instead of waiting of the footsoldiers slower success.

It is known also from the books, that the Ordo Malleus was part of the command group of Drusus, so they enhanced the Pax Macharia's cockpit with hexagrammatic wards against warp incursions. The Crow father was defeated with this method, but the Pax Macharia was lost also. (They've lured it into a cavernous volley and collapsed the sides on it, so it became trapped in a pile of rubble.)

After this, by my story, the Ordo Malleus created a safe house (a solitarium) over the site of the Pax Macharia, to overwatch it and to try to salvage it with the help of the Adeptus Mechanicus. By them, the house is only a decoy house and the household had an organised cover story that they're a rogue trader family which lost it's fortune and stuck there. After all, rouge traders tend to search ancient relics and in the region of the final battle of Drusus and the Crow father, you can find a lot of ancient stuffs. They've installed even a fake secret place behind to kitchen furnace for the household members who where hired from the planet for the simple duty. They tought about them as a slightly maddened dinasty with secret research there, and hadn't a clue about a dormant imperator titan under them.

During the time of the first Crow father story (M41.815) from the core rulebook, they've had a household here, with an appointed inquisitor (Gustavus), an Assassin (Nikea), a psyker who lived in a secretly warded room (Hadria), a Guardsman (Vorkas), an Adept (Koronath) and they've continued protracted guard duty over the still slightly warp infected territory, because they've got information on recent warp activity, like the party who went to Stern Hope. They've had a psychic blank with them also, who was not so welcome by the others, so he had the cover of the gardener and lived outside the house. (Name not important, already dead like the others.)

The Ordo Malleus party went to the mountains, where the psyker had a vision. The vision was what was the final plot hook of the module: information about Cardinal Ignato creating the Maledictor's Hand group. This was connected to Iocanthos as well: I've trickled them information about Ignato having a pilgrimage on Iocanthos before his appointment to cardinalship. He visited the mountains and the region of the future Stern Hope then, and got also a warp infection from the Crow father.. who is the real power behind the whole apostasy gambit by me. (So Ignato started the whole business because of his ill fated pilgrimage.)

After the vision, Hadria was quick enough and lucky enough to reach the safe house before his psychic shields went down, but his companions (Gustavus, Koronath and Nikaea) weren't so lucky.

Gustavus became insane and killed Hadria on the order of the Crow father. He wanted eternal life and got it on a bargain with the daemon.

Koronath was tempted by the Crow father with his research about the astrology: he realised that he won't live the exact timepoint, so already weakened by his temptation, accepted a pact of eternal life. The back side was that he became an insane puppet of the Crow father, who helped to widen his influence with organising auctions of warp infected relics from the region. (This was the enhanced version from here with the secret cavern auction plot)

Vorkas was one of the victims of the mad Koronath, who was lobotomised with most of the household members and closed to the hospital wing.

Nikea was maddened also with her obsession, as per the original module, she believe that she is a rogue trader dinasty member.

By me, the final information was saved on a dataslate and hidden in the Pax Macharia by an inquisitorial agent, who was sent with a tech priest and a princeps. Their task was to try to blast out the Pax Macharia from its stone prison, and everything was prepared: during the years, they've carved a whole cavern around the titan, repaired it, and placed explosivles to help the final breakout. It was planned in 815.. when all hand was lost.

They realised that the titan's machine spirit became warp infected - it had killed the tech priest when he tried a connection with it, the mad Koronath managed to kill the Princeps, and the only inquisitorial agent could only close himself in the titan's warded part, where committed suicide over the dataslate with his final warnings recorded.

The Psychic blank, after he realised what happened to the party, attacked and killed Gustavus, but he got caught and died as well. He lies behind the closed door which leads to the titan, and he is the first clue of the inquisitorial involvement. No information on it in the whole house, as the safe house is a decoy.

When my party arrived, they searched for three small rods, not three part of a cogwheel. (To obvious.) They had to find the three holes in the hall, and then formulate with it the Inquisitorial "I" letter to open the door. Then they could go down for the Pax Macharia.

They've gathered the information and realised that the Pay Macharia is corrupted.. and the player with the tech priest, who had previously glowing eyes about the lost and found titan, decided to overload its reactor. For me this was even better than having the titan walking. They've had the decision to start it out as it was configured so that it could be navigate (only navigate) without the princeps. And they were hard pressed as I've included an unnatural storm, and other horror effects. At the end they didn't have the guts to search the hospital wing as they have heard big hammering blows from inside the reinforced door and didn't want to find out who is knocking, after the first ghost apparitions of Nikaea and Koronath. When someone got separated, I've sent something to harrass him/her, and at the end they tried to remain together like in a horror movie. And left the titan to flee with the information, instead of risking a warp infected machine spirit.

So, that was it for them. I know that it didn't have much connection anymore with the original Black Sepulchre.

I've cut out even the final daemon battle and spared that part for later. Now they just suspect that the Crow father (Not a nameless Dei-Phage) is behind this and start over the investigation of Ignato's Maledictor's Hand with utmost care.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I plan on using a lot of what the OP added, plus MalikCarr's nice addition.  I still have an issue with the Black Sepulchre itself.  I just don't see the purpose for it in the originally module or with additions/changes.  All that just to hold a vid-file?  I have been trying to come up with some item that could be encased in the thing that is more than just a vid-file, is powerful enough to have a constant void-shield around it, and something that would point to the False Ignato/Maledictor's Hand.

 

~ alemander

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the biggest need for improvement is the need for more maps to help tie the story in better and less reliance on psychic ablities since with the right combo of backgrounds, players will be immune to or at least not all that effected by the ones in the book, I had to change the powers of some of the bad guys to even make them a challenge to my party since one player was a blank vs psychic powers and the other was a tech priest that was not effected by mind attacks.

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Has anyone else noticed that the Rogue Trader from Black Sepulchre and the Rogue Trader mentioned in the Book of Judgement in the Hive Subrique section (page 96) are both named Zanatov (Barabus and Tarian respectively)?

 

From what I understood in Black Sepulchre, Barabus Zanatov's charter ended with his last descendants (the Hekates).  I suppose there could be another rogue trader who just so happens to have the same name of Zanatov?  Or was the line/charter not ended with the Hekates from the Black Sepulchre?

 

~ alemander

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