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CaptainRemiVandigrath

(Play Report) The Frozen Reaches: Tobias Cain turns an Ork Warboss into a chair

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This is a game that I’ve been GM’ing with my brother. Both of us are new to Rogue Trader and PnP rpgs in general, but have a long history with 40k. I’ve played 40k itself, BFG, Epic, Aeronautica, Killteam, that bizzare gang fighting tactical scenario bit (Necromunda?), Space Hulk, ect.

 

Rogue Trader has been some of the most fun of any of those.

 

Also, as a caveat, this is not actually the start of the campaign. We jumped into Frozen Reaches after the initial starter module in the main rulebook and a few random side quests. If there’s interest, I’ll write up how Tobias Caine managed to not only find the Righteous Path, but also excavate it from its resting place and begin rebuilding it into a mighty example of Imperial power.

 

Caine is Lord-Captain of the Emissary, a Sword class frigate and an Emissary of the Imperator (the sixty-meter statue of the Emperor is built into his upper decks and splits the viewports of the bridge in half). He has collected a complement of elite Stormtroopers under Archmilitant Solomon Wolfe, a small team of assassins and thieves under Rhea (a Seneschal/Archmilitant mix), Explorator Sebastian who enjoys dismantling equipment and building random weapons, and a Master at Arms who is loyal to the core.

 

He has the resources of a rising Noble house on an Imperial world, and dynastic holdings on the Lathe Worlds, a cluster of agriculture planets in the Calixis Sector, well appointed offices in Port Wander, and a small asteroid mansion (and deep, secure storage vaults) also in the Rubycon II system.

 

Our Damaris campaign was fun for us, simply because it started out well and on-rails until my brother decided that Caine wanted Damaris as a Caine Dynasty outpost.

 

I’ve heard reports that the Damaris war is easy to win given the forces arrayed on the side of the players. After playing through it, I can assure you that with the right actions that is most certainly not true. 

 

 

Useful Links and Assets:

 

Wolfe's Pack http://community.fantasyflightgames.com/index.php?/topic/86405-play-report-the-frozen-reaches-tobias-cain-turns-an-ork-warboss-into-a-chair/#entry814913

Damaris Capitol Manse http://community.fantasyflightgames.com/index.php?/topic/86405-play-report-the-frozen-reaches-tobias-cain-turns-an-ork-warboss-into-a-chair/#entry818735

The Emissary - A Sword Class Frigate http://community.fantasyflightgames.com/index.php?/topic/86405-play-report-the-frozen-reaches-tobias-cain-turns-an-ork-warboss-into-a-chair/#entry827186

Jovian-Pattern Assault Bayshttp://community.fantasyflightgames.com/index.php?/topic/86405-play-report-the-frozen-reaches-tobias-cain-turns-an-ork-warboss-into-a-chair/#entry832146

Caine's Guncutterhttp://community.fantasyflightgames.com/index.php?/topic/86405-play-report-the-frozen-reaches-tobias-cain-turns-an-ork-warboss-into-a-chair/#entry836865

Small Crafthttp://community.fantasyflightgames.com/index.php?/topic/86405-play-report-the-frozen-reaches-tobias-cain-turns-an-ork-warboss-into-a-chair/#entry847879

 

 

The Story so Far:

Damaris Orbit - Before the Ork Invasion http://community.fantasyflightgames.com/index.php?/topic/86405-play-report-the-frozen-reaches-tobias-cain-turns-an-ork-warboss-into-a-chair/#entry814841

Preparing for War - http://community.fantasyflightgames.com/index.php?/topic/86405-play-report-the-frozen-reaches-tobias-cain-turns-an-ork-warboss-into-a-chair/#entry815575

Preparing Schemes - http://community.fantasyflightgames.com/index.php?/topic/86405-play-report-the-frozen-reaches-tobias-cain-turns-an-ork-warboss-into-a-chair/#entry817191

Getting an Ork Warband's Attention - http://community.fantasyflightgames.com/index.php?/topic/86405-play-report-the-frozen-reaches-tobias-cain-turns-an-ork-warboss-into-a-chair/#entry818127

Not According to Plan - http://community.fantasyflightgames.com/index.php?/topic/86405-play-report-the-frozen-reaches-tobias-cain-turns-an-ork-warboss-into-a-chair/#entry819406

The Chairmaker - http://community.fantasyflightgames.com/index.php?/topic/86405-play-report-the-frozen-reaches-tobias-cain-turns-an-ork-warboss-into-a-chair/#entry820440

The Price of Loyalty - http://community.fantasyflightgames.com/index.php?/topic/86405-play-report-the-frozen-reaches-tobias-cain-turns-an-ork-warboss-into-a-chair/#entry822720

A Secret Party - http://community.fantasyflightgames.com/index.php?/topic/86405-play-report-the-frozen-reaches-tobias-cain-turns-an-ork-warboss-into-a-chair/#entry824317

Guns of Damaris - http://community.fantasyflightgames.com/index.php?/topic/86405-play-report-the-frozen-reaches-tobias-cain-turns-an-ork-warboss-into-a-chair/#entry826024

Deus Machina - http://community.fantasyflightgames.com/index.php?/topic/86405-play-report-the-frozen-reaches-tobias-cain-turns-an-ork-warboss-into-a-chair/page-2#entry829115

The Orks Try Brute Force - http://community.fantasyflightgames.com/index.php?/topic/86405-play-report-the-frozen-reaches-tobias-cain-turns-an-ork-warboss-into-a-chair/#entry830360

A Governor's Speech - http://community.fantasyflightgames.com/index.php?/topic/86405-play-report-the-frozen-reaches-tobias-cain-turns-an-ork-warboss-into-a-chair/#entry831312

The High Ground - http://community.fantasyflightgames.com/index.php?/topic/86405-play-report-the-frozen-reaches-tobias-cain-turns-an-ork-warboss-into-a-chair/#entry833881

Good Idea at the Time - http://community.fantasyflightgames.com/index.php?/topic/86405-play-report-the-frozen-reaches-tobias-cain-turns-an-ork-warboss-into-a-chair/#entry835624

The One Ring - http://community.fantasyflightgames.com/index.php?/topic/86405-play-report-the-frozen-reaches-tobias-cain-turns-an-ork-warboss-into-a-chair/#entry838040

Commander Reynolds, I Presume? http://community.fantasyflightgames.com/index.php?/topic/86405-play-report-the-frozen-reaches-tobias-cain-turns-an-ork-warboss-into-a-chair/#entry840141

Return to the Surface - http://community.fantasyflightgames.com/index.php?/topic/86405-play-report-the-frozen-reaches-tobias-cain-turns-an-ork-warboss-into-a-chair/#entry842354

A Jaunt Across the Capitol - http://community.fantasyflightgames.com/index.php?/topic/86405-play-report-the-frozen-reaches-tobias-cain-turns-an-ork-warboss-into-a-chair/#entry843567

Breaking and Entering - http://community.fantasyflightgames.com/index.php?/topic/86405-play-report-the-frozen-reaches-tobias-cain-turns-an-ork-warboss-into-a-chair/#entry844759

The Red Guard - http://community.fantasyflightgames.com/index.php?/topic/86405-play-report-the-frozen-reaches-tobias-cain-turns-an-ork-warboss-into-a-chair/#entry845684

A Turning Tide - http://community.fantasyflightgames.com/index.php?/topic/86405-play-report-the-frozen-reaches-tobias-cain-turns-an-ork-warboss-into-a-chair/#entry849359

The Machine Code - http://community.fantasyflightgames.com/index.php?/topic/86405-play-report-the-frozen-reaches-tobias-cain-turns-an-ork-warboss-into-a-chair/#entry850892

A Sudden Speech - http://community.fantasyflightgames.com/index.php?/topic/86405-play-report-the-frozen-reaches-tobias-cain-turns-an-ork-warboss-into-a-chair/#entry852867

Important Research - http://community.fantasyflightgames.com/index.php?/topic/86405-play-report-the-frozen-reaches-tobias-cain-turns-an-ork-warboss-into-a-chair/page-3#entry854349

Shard's Important Research - http://community.fantasyflightgames.com/index.php?/topic/86405-play-report-the-frozen-reaches-tobias-cain-turns-an-ork-warboss-into-a-chair/#entry855478

The Sound of One Cog Turning - http://community.fantasyflightgames.com/index.php?/topic/86405-play-report-the-frozen-reaches-tobias-cain-turns-an-ork-warboss-into-a-chair/#entry856222

Pride, then the Fall - http://community.fantasyflightgames.com/index.php?/topic/86405-play-report-the-frozen-reaches-tobias-cain-turns-an-ork-warboss-into-a-chair/#entry857991

A Desperate Defense - http://community.fantasyflightgames.com/index.php?/topic/86405-play-report-the-frozen-reaches-tobias-cain-turns-an-ork-warboss-into-a-chair/#entry859878

The Eldar Giveth - http://community.fantasyflightgames.com/index.php?/topic/86405-play-report-the-frozen-reaches-tobias-cain-turns-an-ork-warboss-into-a-chair/#entry861840

The Eldar Taketh Away - http://community.fantasyflightgames.com/index.php?/topic/86405-play-report-the-frozen-reaches-tobias-cain-turns-an-ork-warboss-into-a-chair/#entry863872

Green is Best! - http://community.fantasyflightgames.com/index.php?/topic/86405-play-report-the-frozen-reaches-tobias-cain-turns-an-ork-warboss-into-a-chair/#entry865783

Officer on the Deck! - http://community.fantasyflightgames.com/index.php?/topic/86405-play-report-the-frozen-reaches-tobias-cain-turns-an-ork-warboss-into-a-chair/#entry867926

Snogritz! - http://community.fantasyflightgames.com/index.php?/topic/86405-play-report-the-frozen-reaches-tobias-cain-turns-an-ork-warboss-into-a-chair/#entry869737

Emissary of the Imperator - http://community.fantasyflightgames.com/index.php?/topic/86405-play-report-the-frozen-reaches-tobias-cain-turns-an-ork-warboss-into-a-chair/#entry871783

Caine's Private Study - http://community.fantasyflightgames.com/index.php?/topic/86405-play-report-the-frozen-reaches-tobias-cain-turns-an-ork-warboss-into-a-chair/#entry873723

Little Blue Xenos - http://community.fantasyflightgames.com/index.php?/topic/86405-play-report-the-frozen-reaches-tobias-cain-turns-an-ork-warboss-into-a-chair/#entry875378

Snogritz is Dead - http://community.fantasyflightgames.com/index.php?/topic/86405-play-report-the-frozen-reaches-tobias-cain-turns-an-ork-warboss-into-a-chair/#entry878636

Profit - http://community.fantasyflightgames.com/index.php?/topic/86405-play-report-the-frozen-reaches-tobias-cain-turns-an-ork-warboss-into-a-chair/#entry880251

Edited by CaptainRemiVandigrath

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Damaris Orbit - Before the Ork Invasion

 

The Emissary, a Sword class Frigate commanded by the mighty captain and Rogue Trader Tobias Cain, is docked at a Chorda hunting station above an unnamed world near the God-Emperor’s Scourge. They are returning a shipment of small creatures that caused several problems on the Emissary.

 

During this stopover, where they received needed supplies and rest after their excavation of the Righteous Path, Cain received an astropathic distress call from an Imperial aligned world in the Expanse - Damaris. Being a loyal member of the Imperium, and having the fighting prowess to add to the planet’s defense, Cain set course for Damaris.

 

The journey was short, only a few days from their current position, and the ship suffered only light hallucinations and nightmares while in the warp. Cain translated back into the void to find a planet facing its doom.

 

Damaris was in trouble, with political upheaval that was keeping the strong Levy forces from properly organizing the defense of their system.

 

As the Emissary pushed into orbit over the planet, Cain’s augar crews noticed the fragmented vox frequencies and the lack of mutually supporting formations among the space forces above the planet. A mighty light cruiser of the Imperial Navy sat at high anchor, seemingly the only truly deadly beast visible.

 

Tobias Cain, already getting a bad feeling about the conflict he was walking into, graciously accepted a hasty invitation from Damaris’ governor to a last-minute series of strategy meetings between the senior members of the planet’s government an military. The Governor, at least, seemed happy that another warship and Rogue Trader had accepted the call for aid.

 

Landing in his guncutter, Cain, his retinue, and his small, elite stormtrooper squad were quickly ushered from the expansive star-port’s landing pads to the governor’s palace. Cain was impressed by the huge walls of Damaris’ capitol, and supplemented his basic knowledge of the planet with some pointed questions about local politics and succession laws to his host and guide.

 

It became clear quickly that the Levy forces did not trust the Rogue Traders in orbit to really fight on Damaris’ behalf.

 

Speeding through the city of fifty million Imperial Citizens, Cain got a glimpse of the industrial output and trade power of this well-populated planet. He made an off-hand comment about how this would be a worthy seat of power for the Cain Dynasty.

 

Those would be fateful words.

 

Stepping out of the large limo, Cain and his close retinue - Chief Explorator Sebastian, Void Master Lucius, and Archmilitant Solomon Wolfe - strode into the Governor’s Palace. Cain sent the rest of his soldiers to secure a manse on the planet for his use, and called up to the Emissary for servants and personnel to staff the building he would be using.

 

The plush carpets, peering gargoyles, towering pillars, and gilt statues along the entrance to the mighty palace could not hide the rifts and infighting of its senior political leaders. Even from outside the meeting room’s huge doors, Cain could hear the shouting and conflict of different parties with differing views on how to conduct the war against the Orks.

 

Tobias Cain allowed his guide to introduce his party to the meeting inside, and stepped forward with a calm and poise that belied his lack of experience in martial conflict.

 

Greeted by the nobles, Rogue Traders, and dignitaries from various factions around Damaris, the Cain delegation broke up to begin talking with the various groups and get information on who would be the most amenable to work with. Cain himself was quickly embroiled in a conflict of words between High General Remi Dante of the Damaris Levi and Lady Elizabeth Orleans, who was the chosen representative and leader of the Rogue Trader coalition protecting the planet.

 

Fierce and destructive, Dante blamed Lady Orleans for her coalition’s lack of discipline and cohesive fighting prowess. Lady Orleans was upset about initial losses and a lack of strategy in the first probing attacks by Ork vanguards.

 

In the background, Lord-Captain Locke of the Imperial Navy noted the pointlessness of the debate to Tobias Cain. He agreed, and convinced Governor Kepak to adjourn the meeting for the night.

 

With sullen looks, Lady Orleans and High General Dante parted, leading their respective delegations out.

 

Cain and the Governor ascended the huge palace’s main tower to the Governor’s private suites, talking of the logistics of war against the Orks. The Governor was already sounding defeated. Cain asked how he could be of best use to the people of Damaris.

 

Gesturing towards the strategy room below, Governor Kepak said that he just wanted everyone to work together for the benefit of the planet. He was never a leader, but thought that perhaps an outsider such as Cain could bring the differing groups together.

 

Kepak mentioned the grand gala that he would be hosting. It would be the last one before the first Ork vanguards pushed into the inner system, and likely the last chance to make initial alliances. Cain heartily agreed that this would be a good forum for his work.

Edited by CaptainRemiVandigrath

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Wolfe's Pack:

 

“Lord-Captain, I regret to inform you that the contract price for my men and I has just increased.”

First Lieutenant Wolfe, on discovery of the treasure-ship Righteous Path

 

Within the Helican Subsector, there is no more prestigious employer than a Noble House; there is none more dangerous than a Rogue Trader. When both arrive in the same ship, as the same person, and begin making inquiries of the best Mercenaries to be found; only a fool would decline the riches that are bound to follow the contract. Then again, only a fool would risk absolutely certain death for the sake of a little extra money to throw around. Thrones, after all, only hold value for the living.

 

Tobias Caine, Lord-Captain of the Emissary, hired Solomon Wolfe for the duration of one year, at which point they would either renegotiate or terminate their contract. The Wolfe Pack as his small platoon of specialized assault soldiers was known, agreed to act as the personal retinue of the Lord-Captain as he sailed throughout the Koronus Expanse. With a little luck, they would earn both a reasonable reputation and excellent pay, then return to the Imperium in favor of the more mundane services of Nobles.

 

His first weeks aboard the Emissary were nothing spectacular; Caine’s irreverent sense of humor made him difficult to get along with, and his abundant paranoia caused several false alarms that proved tedious. By the time the vessel reached Port Wander, his orders were to guard the Lord-Captain personally and provide military advice for deployment of other mercenaries and shipboard armsmen. It seemed like he was in for a long year of coddling a Noble-Born with an itch for exploration; who happened to have more assets, privilege, and power than sense.

 

During a mundane meeting with the Lord-Captain’s representative on the Port, he was dismissed - along with the Void Master of the Emissary - so that his employer could discuss business without the untrustworthy ears of mercenaries. On the Void-Master’s hunch, they returned minutes later to a firefight. The “Business” that they were discussing was inturrupted by an attempt at stealing an ancient trinket central to a legend as old as the Expanse. It was the first hint that Wolfe may have underestimated his employer.

 

#

 

Since that first port of call, Wolfe has more than earned Caine’s respect; and Caine has earned Wolfe’s. They are a team that has almost doubled the wealth and power of the Caine Dynasty in the scant few years they’ve been in the expanse.

 

Wolfe’s team has become more experienced, and battle-hardened against Xenos threats, hostile Rogue Trader dynasties, and the politics of Imperial Nobility. They are a crack team who can not only shore up a fight, but direct less-able soldiers to victory.

 

Armed with hellguns, and clad in stormtrooper armor the equal of a specialist squad in the Imperial Guard, Wolfe’s Pack has saved their Lord-Captain’s life more times than he can count. Caine wouldn’t be caught without at least five of them by his side at all times, and none of them would hesitate to follow Caine into another fight.

 

Wolfe himself is quickly becoming a strategist with few equals among Rogue Trader house militants. He can personally claim (or loudly boast, given an audience), that he is the reason the Damaris Walls held firm against the final assault of the Ork Hordes. Caine would dispute that claim; but, given that they were side by side during the darkest hours of the Damaris War, it would be hard to separate where the effort of one stopped and the other began.

 

 

250px-Cadian_NCO.jpg

 

 

Solomon Wolfe

 

Solomon is a dangerous foe, trained in weapons as mundane as a laspistol, and as rare as Jokaero digi-meltas. He is rarely seen apart from Caine, and will be at the toughest fighting the Caine Dynasty has to offer.

If encountered, Solomon Wolfe should be considered an equal to an Explorer of lvl6. He will not, however, kill fellow Rogue Traders unless they have personally insulted the Caine Dynasty, attempted to steal and destroy their assets, or are Xenos. Otherwise, he will fight until he is allowed to escape.

 

He is armed with a (Best) craftsmanship Power Rapier (sword), Hellgun or Lascannon, and (Best) craftsmanship Carapace Armor.

 

 

250px-Kill_Squad_Trooper.jpg

 

Wolfe’s Pack

 

The Mercenaries of Wolfe’s Pack are loyal to Wolfe and Caine, but are occasionally sent out to complete some vital mission to the Dynasty or protect an important asset. They are well trained, fight as a cohesive unit, and if out-gunned will withdraw while causing as much damage as possible to their enemies. They have personally fought hand-to-hand with Chaos Raiders, Ork Nobs, and Eldar Aspect Warriors and come out on top. Wolfe’s Pack should not be underestimated (or treated as a disposable asset if acquired!).

 

Their Power swords are their badge of office, and were hand crafted by Tobias Caine’s Explorator ally Sebastian. They are (Best) craftsmanship, and are inscribed with the names of every soldier who has borne the blade (the list is very small). Wolfe’s Pack will attempt to recover the swords of their fallen comrades if at all possible.

 

Wolfe’s Pack is a platoon (15-25) of Oathsworn Bodyguards (main rulebook). They are an equal mix of men and women, clad in (Good) craftsmanship Carapace Armor, with (Good) craftsmanship Hellguns, and (Best) craftsmanship Power Swords. Three to Four will be armed with specialist weapons depending on the situation, including Meltaguns, Grenade Launchers, or Flamers.

 

Acquisition is at (-30), requires the Explorers to find Tobias Caine, and requires Caine and Wolfe to like the Explorers (you’re borrowing their best soldiers after all!).

 

Treat Wolfe’s Pack like a unit of Kroot Mercenaries: they are loyal to their employer; but if the Explorers betray them or put them in an obviously suicidal position, they’ll break the contract, leave, and tell Caine!

 

Plot Hooks

 

- Wolfe’s Pack is out looking for a piece of information for Tobias Caine. If the Explorers find it and refuse to share, they’ll attack. But, if the Explorers are willing to share, the Pack will ally themselves with the Explorers until the mission is complete.

 

- Caine has decided that he wants a colony that the Explorers have established. If the Explorers learn of this plan soon enough, they may be able to arrive as Wolfe’s Pack and Caine Dynasty soldiers (use the Hired Gun profile in the Main Book, with Imperial Guard armor) are just starting to dig in against the counter-attack.

 

- The Wolfe Pack has set up a meeting with the Explorers. The Strith Dynasty (underhanded, mid-sized, with holdings North of the God-Emperor’s Scourge) has drawn Caine’s attention again, and has sent the Pack to destroy one of their mining colonies. Caine is willing to pay well (1-3 profit factor, depending on the size of the colony) upon successful completion of the raid.

Edited by CaptainRemiVandigrath

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Preparing for War

 

The Gala was as grand as Kepak had insinuated.

 

For all the Governor’s lack of leadership abilities, he at least spent lavishly on his personal parties. Everyone important in the leadership and nobility of Damaris was there. Most were talking about the coming war, while some were still trying to avoid the topic all together.

 

Groups formed and split as conversation moved between them. In the background a full orchestra sat on a high balcony, playing a pleasing but moderated piece to fill in the giant hall. Gold, fine clothing, and the opulence of a world at the center of the Expanse’s trade routes glittered under imposing chandeliers.

 

Tobias Caine, in his finest regalia, stepped into the crowd like he belonged there. His chest bore a satin silk sash, radiantly red and with the personal crest of the Emperor hand embroidered. It was a relic of the founding of the Imperium, and matched well with the Dynastic power sword, forged in the shape of a lithe epee and bearing the crest of his family.

 

Caine’s retinue was out in the city tonight, gathering more intelligence and insinuating themselves with the various factions. Lucius was already talking with several other Rogue Trader crews on the surface, while Sebastian conversed with the shadowy figures loyal to Hadron Shard. Solomon Wolfe was securing the Caine manse in the capitol, having already toured the local defenses of the Damaris Levy.

 

Caine’s first stop was the Lady Elizabeth Orleans and Captain Blitz. Caine and Blitz had a history, they’d competed with each other, fought, and then impressed each other with their mutual motives. Blitz was happy to see him.

 

Catching on to her second’s emotions, Lady Orleans began taking Caine seriously. She brought him up to speed on the Rogue Trader forces in orbit (almost 20 vessels, mostly frigates and raider class ships, with Blitz’s cruiser weighing in at the heaviest tonnage). The Rogue Traders were worried about the Levy’s lack of experience in large-scale void combat, and didn’t want to be brought under heel by Dante’s command.

 

They still wanted to protect Damaris, and merely asked for relative autonomy and the promise of future contracts in return. It was a fair request.

 

Caine took this confidence seriously, and promised the Lady that her coalition was of primary importance to him. He was a Rogue Trader too, and wanted autonomy as much as his brothers and sisters in the Expanse. The best he could promise was that he would try and find common ground with High General Dante.

 

Lady Orleans was satisfied with the response, and was glad to have his help in arguing her point with the High General.

 

Ending on pleasantries, Caine then moved towards the private rooms High General Dante and his senior staff had occupied for the course of the gala ball.

 

General Dante’s suite of side rooms and private chambers were filled with military officers and various retainers of the Damaris Levy. They milled about, keeping mostly to themselves and telling tales of various travels or minor clashes with void pirates. The Levy officers seemed over-confident in themselves, having never actually faced down an Ork horde before.

 

Tobias Caine broke into the bubble of their world, and made his way immediately to the High General. Remi Dante sat in a fine chair, surrounded by close allies and confidants. The room spoke of his power, both in its finery and that he could have such a private chamber at this kind of gala at all.

 

Dante did not seem surprised to see Caine. The High General sat his drink down, and dismissed many of the less important members of his group. He focused in on Caine immediately, seeing both a potential spoiler to his political position, and a possible ally in the war to come.

 

During the meeting, Caine attempted to make it clear that he was here in service to the Imperium and the people of Damaris. Tobias had heard stories of the planet, and felt like it was something that should continue to exist.

 

The High General probed Caine on his ties to the Imperium, and whether this planet was really something that the might of the Emperor cared about. He wondered if profit was the only thing Caine really cared about.

 

Caine responded by calming Dante’s paranoia, assuring the High General that his dynasty was more interested in protecting humanity out in the Expanse than pure profit.

 

They were charming lies, but held enough truth that Caine convinced Dante that they could work together.

 

In a counter to the initial conversation, Dante cut straight to his point, and said that he did not see Governor Kepak leading Damaris to victory. As governor, Kepak had done nothing but enrich himself and spoil himself in decadence. The gala around them was enough proof of that.

 

If Damaris wanted to defeat the Orks, it would need a firm hand leading it and its people. High General Dante believed he was that person. Revealing that there was already a Coup de Etat being planned by his loyal forces, Dante asked Caine whether he cared more about the people of Damaris’s future (and Caine’s place in it), or a hereditary patsy who landed in his throne by accident.

 

Tobias Caine was forced to think on this point, but finally agreed that a corrupt Governor was not worthy of Damaris. Caine offered to support the Coup attempt. Acting from behind the scenes, Tobias could keep the General away from an association with the Governor’s death. It would place the General in a more favorable position in the peoples’ minds.

 

Hearing this agreement and offer, Dante seemed both satisfied and pleased. The High General asked what he could do to help his new ally.

 

Caine responded by mentioning his conversation with Lady Orleans. The Rogue Traders would be willing to fight alongside the Levy if they could have some autonomy and planning input on the war. Guarantees of future contracts would secure their service completely.

 

Those terms were accepted as reasonable, and the High General quickly agreed to them.

 

Before he left, Caine asked the High General to allow him to lead the effort of assassinating Governor Kepak. Caine already felt that he had a connection with the Governor, and that Kepak would trust him.

 

High General Dante also agreed to this. It looked like Dante was a little concerned about actually taking the blame for the assassination attempt, and was happy to pawn off the politically dangerous part to an outside entity.

 

Caine walked out of the private suite amenably, and into the relative security of a private nook in the main hall.

 

He called Sebastian first on a private comm bead. In his dynastic, coded Cant, Caine informed his Explorator that he would need a custom suit of armor, sized to Governor Kepak’s frame. It could be used to lead the Governor to the front lines, and allow him to tour and inspire the Levy with his presence.

 

The suit would need to be lined with explosives.

 

When the suit went off, it would look like an Ork artillery shell had hit the Governor. It was not unheard of on the front-lines, and would give Dante the perfect opening to begin his takeover. Sebastian heartily agreed to this plan.

 

That order finished, Caine opened another encrypted vox channel to the Emissary. His private assassins on board, guided by their leader, Rhea, would need to begin drafting plans to eliminate the senior staff of the Damaris Levy, including High General Dante.

 

Tobias Caine wanted Damaris for himself, and saw an opening he knew he could exploit.

Edited by CaptainRemiVandigrath

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Bravo bravo.  *applauds*  Great work Captain Remi Vandigrath.   I look forward to reading more exploits soon.  :)

 

P.S.  FYI there is a sub-forum called "Fan Fiction" where this might be more appropriately catagorized in.  But no worries.  ;)

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Thanks!  And yeah, I figured for the sake of keeping them straight, that I'd post the one I was GM'ing here and the other in Fan Fiction.  I'm also open to requests for background pieces/stats/plot hooks.  I've created a lot so far, everything from an Inquisitorial Stealth Raider, to an AdMech Fabricator Marshall with an orbital shipyard and a penchant for assassinations.  Just need to know what piques people's interest.

 

Otherwise, I'll keep going with the Damaris War!

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Preparing Schemes

 

The rest of the week was filled with preparations.

 

Tobias Cain had been gifted use of a large manse in the center of the city for his personal use. His first job had been to sweep it for bugs and tapped vox lines (there were several), then bring down servants to run the facility for himself. Given his plans, he did not trust any of the staff either the Governor or High General Dante offered.

 

The landing pad on the roof of the Manse made this job somewhat easier, though he had a brief scare when an off-schedule lighter landed loudly on the roof. His mind was put (briefly) at rest when Sebastian was seen walking up to the landing pad, though whatever his Explorator needed sounded heavier than a standard load for an Arvus.

 

More information was also pouring in from his spread out agents. The strategic facility at the heart of the manse was beginning to be useful as military deployments, Levy unit information, and space force distribution was filled in. The mighty Bulkwark was the cornerstone of Damaris’ low-orbit defenses, but the Rogue Trader fleet was beginning to organize under Lady Orleans.

 

Already, ships were beginning to sally forth from Damaris orbit to begin spoiling raids against the Ork forces descending from the Frozen Reaches.

 

No Roks had made it close yet, but between the Onslaught ships and Ork raiders fanning out through the system, it was only a matter of time. Ork activity on the surface was still light, though raids and small warbands had been deflected from some outlying cities.

 

3 billion Imperial citizens was a lot of people to protect.

 

Tobias also began touring the walls of the Capitol for himself, viewing their garrisoned forces and noting the locations of bunkers and strong points. Solomon was impressed by the defensive fortifications, despite the planet’s centuries of conflict against mostly raiders and pirates. The people of the Expanse were properly paranoid.

 

Satisfied that the High General was doing all he could to protect the citizens of Damaris, Cain made another appointment to meet with Governor Kepak. Before he went to see the Governor, Cain made another call to his ship.

 

The Capitol was a large city, and not merely something he and his small platoon of stormtroopers could occupy. Political action would need weapons to back it up.

 

Relayed through his guncutter, on a secure channel and in cant, Cain had his Astropaths send a secure message to his Seneshal in Port Wander. Cashmire Holt, the detail man behind the Cain Dynasty, was being tasked with procuring a full division of loyal mercenaries. 10,000 men, vehicles, and support staff would need to be transported to Damaris to secure the planet after the Cain dynasty moved to take control.

 

Tobias would also need the services of a light raider vessel.

 

Stepping out after a short limo ride to the imposing Governor’s Palace, Cain strode up with confidence. The meeting with Governor Kepak went well, despite Cain’s reluctance to enjoy the same delicacies and diversions as the Governor.

 

Kepak was more than happy to do something simple that would raise the morale of the planet. Cain’s plan would see the Governor transported to a quiet part of the front-line, near an outlying city. There, the Governor could tour the lines and speak to the common soldier and citizen.

 

The tour would happen quickly, before more Orks could land on Damaris. Cain offered, and the Governor accepted, the suit of fine armor crafted by his Explorator Sebastian. It would act as a symbol of unity between the various factions of the planet.

 

A day later, now in a Cain Dynasty guncutter, Tobias and Governor Kepak rode quietly with the various dignitaries Kepak had wanted to bring along, and the small contingent of Stormtroopers Cain wanted beside him in case there was serious fighting.

 

Cain flew at the head of a large formation of Valkyrie transports, Vulture gunships, and three high-flying Thunderbolt fighters. It was a symbol too of the Damaris Levy’s power. The High General flew separately, not trusting Sebastian’s handiwork.

 

Their destination was a secondary city on the edge of the Damaris Plains, one of the central points for the transportation of grains and other harvests to the starport in the Capitol. The flight was following heavy rail tracks out, the fields below providing a glimpse into the industrial output of the planet.

 

Currently, there were few Orks attacking the outlying bunkers of the city, and the Levy detachments there were having little trouble containing the problem.

 

If his plan were to succeed, Cain knew he had to incite a warband to attack.

 

He had some knowledge of Greenskins, and their strong desire for a “good fight”. As a benefit, the growing plan in his head would give the Governor an introduction into what they would be facing.

 

Calling to Lucius, piloting the guncutter, Cain asked if there were any reports of Ork warbands operating in the area. A quick call to the Levy command sectors indicated that a warband was in the middle of attacking a settlement less than an hour away. There were no Levy forces nearby, and the populace had been evacuated earlier in the week.

 

Cain ordered his formation in the Ork warband’s direction.

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Getting an Ork Warband's Attention

 

Lucius pushed the guncutter to the head of the Levy formation, arming its weapons and locating the Ork warband on long-range sensors. Tobias directed Wolfe to the head gunnery station, and his stormtroopers to the various heavy stubber turrets. He also went to talk to Governor Kepak personally.

 

Cain told the governor that this would be a perfect opportunity to shoot at Orks personally, allowing the governor to say that he’d had a hand in the defeat of the greenskins. Quietly, he was also testing the governor to see just how willing he was to engage in actual combat.

 

On the whole, Tobias was disappointed.

 

Governor Kepak was unsure of himself in combat, barely even willing to sit down in a heavy bolter turret, let alone fire it. Random Ork responses were beginning to be fired up from the ground, the shoota rounds and kannon fire springing up around the guncutter randomly.

 

The Governor could see his Levy’s air power swooping down to strafe Ork positions, and the other turrets of the guncutter firing at greenskin vehicles. Still, the governor was not quick to fire.

 

With prodding, and quite a bit of distress on his face, Kepak eventually did shoot the heavy bolter, nearly losing control of it as the feedback from the powerful weapon rocked his grip. Tobias was noticeably frustrated.

 

Later, out of earshot of Kepak, Cain would be heard asking how a pacifist became the Governor of an Imperial planet in the middle of the Expanse.

 

Now that he had the Orks’ attention, and knowledge of how Kepak would handle the front line (not well), Cain turned his formation towards their original destination. They made no secret that the formation would be going towards the outlying city. As expected, scans indicated that large numbers of Ork vehicles were beginning to follow Cain.

 

Cain and High General Dante called ahead to the defenses around the city, informing them both of the impending Ork attack, and the seasoned reinforcements moving in to support them. Vox traffic was spotty, and Cain couldn’t tell if the Levy forces there were relieved or worried.

 

Probably both.

 

The rest of the flight to the city was uneventful, and the formation landed in a make-shift airfield behind the third line of defenses. A large pre-fab command bunker had been hastily dug-in nearby, and fuel trucks were stationed on site. The air force refueled and rearmed as Cain and Dante moved in to the command bunker.

 

Kepak took some convincing, but the Governor eventually followed when he realized that Tobias’ twenty stormtroopers, Wolfe, and the Exporator Sebastian would be accompanying him as well.

 

Sebastian had been fiddling with a device the whole trip, but its appearance was too obscure to elicit many questions from the governor. In his gifted armor, the governor was apparently more worried about the Orks than he was of his fellows.

 

Cain and High General Dante watched the strategic table for the next few hours, getting a feel for the defenses along this stretch of front-lines and where the Orks would likely hit. Initial reports were indicating that the warband was a mix of heavy armored vehicles (including a few stolen Levy tanks), and speed freaks.

 

The two Ork groups were already breaking up, heading for separate parts of the line. High General Dante announced that he would be leading the fight against the Speed Freaks along with his airborne soldiers. He asked if Tobias would be willing to reinforce against the tanks, given his access to heavy firepower. Tobias readily agreed.

 

Dante briefly glanced at Governor Kepak, and asked Cain if their plan would be affected by this Ork behavior. Tobias said that it would not. He was about to ask the Governor whether he would accompany Cain’s expedition.

 

Cain question was stopped by the howl of heavy jet engines. At first, it sounded like a mighty Thunderbolt swooping low, but the sound wasn’t consistent. Everyone in the command bunker looked at the strategic table, to see a triangle of 3 Ork fighta’s above them.

 

A screaming shell was abruptly ended by a massive roar. The bunker shook, and powdered rockrete fell from the ceiling.

 

Some of the officers in the bunker lost their footing, but the bunker itself stayed intact. It was a testament to Imperial manufacturing processes. The governor, on the other hand, broke like an eggshell under an Ork boot.

 

Governor Kepak was huddled up in a corner, looking up at the roof in fear of another attack. A look at the strategic table said that Thunderbolts were already moving in to sweep the Ork fighta’s out of the air.

 

Cain filed a mental note to himself that the Levy airforce couldn’t be trusted in a pinch.

 

High General Dante left the Governor to Cain, and moved out with his troops to reinforce the front. The Ork’s target had apparently been the airfield, but when they’d seen the bunker they’d dropped their weapons early. It was a stroke of luck for the Levy reinforcements.

 

Governor Kepak was unresponsive to Cain’s attempt at getting him to move up to the front. Cain recognized it as a now hopeless task, and instead ordered Sebastian to keep Kepak close on the guncutter. Sebastian and Lucius would provide aircover and keep the Governor safe. Cain told Sebastian to be on the lookout for Ork artillery that might be useful.

 

Sebastian was flaky, but a brilliant Explorator. His mind often wandered, and he enjoyed taking things apart to see if he could improve them. It was just how his mind (both the mechanical and still living parts of it) worked.

 

Cain knew this, but was confident when Sebastian said that it wouldn’t be a problem. Sebastian would only act if he saw an opening, and would test the guncutter to see how effective its weapons really were.

 

Having Lucius and Sebastian in the air supporting him gave Cain an important morale boost.

 

Picking his stormtroopers and Wolfe, and asked the officers in the bunker how to get to the front lines the fastest. A supply officer offered to lead them through the tunnels between the three defensive lines to a forward outpost. Cain, seeing more Ork tanks show up on the strategic table, handed Wolfe a lascannon from the nearby armory rack.

 

Cain checked his own weapons. His finely crafted, light power-rapier was securely fastened at his hip, his plasma pistol was firmly seated in its shoulder holster, and his twin las-pistols felt snug in their pouches behind his back. Carapace Armor, well forged and with a flowing pelt hanging off its shoulders, graced Tobias Cain’s body.

 

Idly, Tobias fidgeted with the digi-melta ring that perched on his middle finger.

 

Wolfe slung the heavy Lascannon over his back and ordered his stormtroopers forward. The group descended into the tunnels, and headed towards the growing Ork incursion.

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Damaris Capitol Manse

 

cKsptcc.jpg

 

Granted to Lord-Captain Tobias Caine upon his agreement to assist Damaris in its war against the Orks, the Caine Manse has quickly become his headquarters on Damaris.

 

The Manse is of a standard template, and dozens exist in the core of Damaris’ Capitol much, or exactly, the same as Caine’s. Each is armored against attack, and has defensive positions lining the roof for soldiers to fight back against an assault. The twin landing pads up top are just large enough to land Arvus Lighters (or similar patterns of light surface-to-orbit craft), as well as Valkyrie-class VTOL transports.

 

The Roof is not, however, large enough or reinforced enough to land Guncutter-sized vehicles, hence the wide gardens and reinforced stone courtyards around the front entrance to the Manse.

 

Inside, the Manse has facilities to keep a Noble-born and his entourage well attended. The front doors open to a greeting foyer, and then into a large main hall capable of being set up for parties, feasts, orchestral concerts, or duels. The large chandeliers on the ceiling hide pict-recorders and vox transmitters - some are for the occupants of the Manse, while others are wired directly back to the Governor’s mansion.

 

Guest suites line the upper levels of the building, each large enough to allow the basics of comfort. They are typically three to four rooms each: bed, lounge area, refreshment facilities, and possibly a small study for private business. The Main suite is similar, but larger. Its lounge is expansive enough to hold impromptu meetings or parties, and its wide windows look out into the protected gardens behind the Manse’s front walls.

 

The Main suite is large enough and well appointed, to serve even the most picky Calixis-sector Hive Nobles, who are used to their airy lofts and multi-tiered homes.

 

Below the Manse, linked by ‘secret’ passageways to the various rooms, is a hardened bunker and secondary lounge. The bunker is strong enough to defend against most shelling and bombing runs from hostile forces, but is not built to protect against orbital strikes. It doubles as a secondary Main Hall and strategic planning room when not in its defensive role.

 

The Manse’s main defenses are the armored sheets of its walls, and the soldiers within. Soldiers are given comfortable, if somewhat cramped, bunk rooms on the top level and an area to store weapons and ammunition. The Manse can recharge any Imperial Standard Las weaponry, and has lockers for plasma and melta ammunition.

 

Outside the main building and courtyards, the Manse property is ringed by a 4 meter tall defensive barricade, topped by sensors and recorders. The gates are reinforced against rams and vehicle strikes, and have defensive positions for soldiers.

 

Although not nearly as well protected as the Arbites Fortress, or as lavish as the Governor’s Palace, the Manses of the Damaris Capitol are well appointed, and worthy of the Nobles that typically rotate through on business or tour.

 

Plot Hooks:

- House Aiseev has arrived in force from the Calixis sector, planning to forge trade ties to their manufactorums. If the Explorers have contracts with Damaris (profit factor gained from saving it, or though trade ties), some of the trade houses on the planet may be willing to break those contracts to get better prices from these new Nobles. Assassination is not unknown on Damaris, and the Explorators should want to keep their profitable contracts…

 

- A target the Explorers have been hunting for has been traced to Damaris, where she has rented a Manse under an assumed name. The Explorers may find their target in the Manse, or could find more clues about what their target is doing on Damaris in the first place.

 

- The Explorers have either been gifted use of, or rented a Manse in a fashionable part of the Capitol for their use while on Damaris. They note the effective fortifications of the complex, but they aren’t expecting a rival to also be on the planet. Soon, they will learn just how effective those defenses may or may not be.

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Not According to Plan

 

Lord-Captain Tobias Caine emerged from the tunnels behind the second defense line. His heavy boots and dark eyes quickly surveyed the long tiered trenches in front of him. Orks were already inside the first line of trenches. A cave-in, or well placed Kommando charges (a misnomer in itself), or friendly sabotage had prevented Caine’s retinue from getting any closer to the actual fighting.

 

Lascannon and heavy bolters roared across the trench lines, holding Orks back as best they could. Levy soldiers, their previously pristine flak armor now pitted and caked with dirt, rushed to evacuate trenches as Orks overran their positions.

 

To Caine’s left, a large forward bunker - three stories tall, with weapon emplacements encrusted around it and a large Hydra battery inset on the top - was burning and surrounded by greenskins. Behind the front lines of the Ork push, an extremely large Battlefortress had dug itself into the dirt and was gleefully shooting at everything it could see.

 

Broken tank husks, both Ork and Damaris Levy, burned in various parts of the trenches.

 

Trying to figure out what he could do in support, Caine quickly looked for an easy target. In a trench line to his front, Caine saw the bobbing heads of Orks, and the towering scrap pile of a Mekboy’s backpack. The backpack flared to life, casting harsh shadows and sending blue energy crackling across the mud.

 

Caine didn’t wait to give orders to Wolfe or his soldiers, and instead jumped up out of the trench to run at the Ork Mekboy. Several members of Wolfe’s unit jumped up over the trenches with Caine, moving as quickly as they could to protect him. Wolfe himself slammed his lascannon’s brace into the top of the trench wall, and sighted in on the Mekboy.

 

Above, the guncutter swooped down and made a first pass against the Battlefortress. The giant Ork tank was heavily armored, and well protected behind the earthen barrier. The guncutter’s attacks merely scratched the Battlefortress.

 

Other Ork tanks and boys, seeing the attack, shot back. Thankfully for the guncutter, the return fire was just as ineffective. The guncutter swooped back off, making a wide turn to set up for another pass.

 

Caine was already leaping into the forward trench.

 

Ork boys just stared at him for a moment, surprised to see a human that fearless. One Ork was cut down as Caine drew his power sword and sliced its stomach open. More Orks died as the rest of the Wolfe Pack came over the wall of the trench, firing their hellguns into the stunned greenskins.

 

Caine then drew his plasma pistol as well, adding to the Pack’s weight of fire. Orks were falling quickly, and the Pack’s armor was protecting them against the worst of the Ork charges. For a moment, Caine thought the battle would end quickly.

 

Then the Mekboy charged into the fight.

 

The huge Ork barreled into the fight from behind, blue electricity writhing along the trench wall as he punched a Stormtrooper into the side. The soldier fell, collapsed, but Caine didn’t have time to see if he was dead or just unconscious.

 

A second light filled Caine’s vision. This time, it was friendly.

 

Searing, near-blinding, the lascannon shot from Wolfe hit dead center on the Mekboy’s shield. The shield held against the blast, briefly; then the huge tesla coils on the Mekboy’s back began melting.

 

The energy field dropped, and Caine saw an opening. He charged, plasma pistol shooting out and burning off a chunk of the Mekboy’s arm.

 

The Mekboy shouted, roaring at the blatant challenge. Caine didn’t flinch, and parried the first blow the Mekboy swung at him. Another searing Lascannon shot soared over the fight, missing both the Mekboy and Caine.

 

Caine hacked and dodged, landing jabs in the Mekboy’s tough hide, but it wasn’t quite enough. The Mekboy swatted Caine’s sword aside with a huge fist, and landed a heavy Choppa blow on Caine’s shoulder.

 

It sent him to the ground, and would have ended him if Wolfe’s shot hadn’t landed perfectly in the next moment. The Ork Mekboy’s arm shattered from the Lascannon shot, slagging as muscle was torn from bone.

 

The Mekboy wasn’t dead, but he was stunned long enough for Caine to leap back to his feet. Caine sliced the Mekboy from stem to skull with a vicious cut from his power sword, killing the Mekboy instantly.

 

Turning, Caine could see that his soldiers had won, if just. Two stormtroopers were down, and several more required medicae attention. As Wolfe and the rest of the Pack arrived in the trench, Caine set about evacuating his injured soldiers.

 

He vowed that he would kill this band’s Warboss himself.

 

Surveying the battlefield, Caine could see two points of resistance still standing. One, the Battlefortress, looked like it was having a field day with the Levy targets it could see. The other, the burning Primaris Bunker, was likely the heaviest fighting on the field.

 

The Warboss would be at one of those two points. Caine was about to flip a Throne to see which one to go after, when he heard his guncutter moving in for a strafing run.

 

It was lower this time, faster. Its guns were firing, but they looked to be in suppression mode instead of kill mode. Caine could see the rear cargo door of the guncutter was down.

 

He realized then that Sebastian had decided to not follow the plan. Again.

 

The Guncutter burned low across the battlefield and out across the trenches. As it passed over the Battlefortress a small dot, barely discernible as a person, fell out.

 

A puff of dirt and water shot up from the impact, then a resounding Boom that echoed as it spread. The vest had been more potent than even Caine had anticipated. Unfortunately, the Battlefortress was still shooting.

 

That was fixed a moment later as two Thunderbolts followed in the guncutter’s trail. They released heavy bombs that physically embedded into the front armor of the Battlefortress.

 

The Ork tank exploded in a fireball. It was orders of magnitude more powerful than the suit.

 

Caine had a vicious scowl on his face. Sebastian would hear about this.

 

Knowing that the deed was done, Caine shouted to his stormtroopers that there was still a battle to win. Pointing towards the burning wreck of the Primaris Bunker, Caine started moving towards the Warboss’s position.

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A question for any readers out there:  What is a solid challenge for a Grand Cruiser combat-wise?  

 

Lord-Captain Tobias Caine just took his shiny new Grand Cruiser, the Righteous Fury (reconstructed and rechristened from the hull of the Righteous Path) up against a coordinated fleet of 3 Wolfpack Raiders, 2 Sword-class Frigates, and a Lunar class cruiser.  The Fury completely destroyed them. Hopefully I can put the report up at some point, but it basically wasn't a match at all, and the Fury suffered only minor scratches to its paint job.

 

Not that it wasn't hilarious at the time, but the game is quite a bit better when the enemies equal up to the Explorers.  I'd appreciate any suggestions on enemies that would require some work to beat, but not necessarily curb-stomp.  Chaos, Eldar, Pirates, and Orks would all be acceptable targets.

Edited by CaptainRemiVandigrath

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The Chairmaker

 

Tobias Caine, followed by Wolfe and his Pack, descended into the now smoking ruin of the bunker. The outer battlefield was beginning to quiet, as Levy forces started pushing up. Most of the Ork vehicles were burning themselves, and greenskin bodies lie about in craters and trenches.

 

Caine didn’t envy the forces that would have to make sure all the bodies were thoroughly dead.

 

As he walked he sent a brief, secure message to High General Dante that the Governor had wandered off at some point during the tour. Caine and his soldiers were looking for him now, but in the middle of an Ork assault, it was anyones guess what had happened to Kepak.

 

There was no immediate reply, but the vox operator behind the front lines told Caine over the broken connection that the High General had received the message.

 

The Bunker itself still had the sounds of combat echoing out of it. Small fires burned on the stairs leading up, but no one was alive up there to make a sound. Thick, and at least a meter across in places, the bunker’s walls were now a massed clump of broken holes.

 

Heading down, the staircase had been blocked by falling debris. Air rushed down into the tunnels below, and Ork roars could be heard in the distance. Caine ordered soldiers forward with demo packs, their heavy charges enough to break up the debris.

 

Retreating a short distance, the demo charges made an underwhelming Whump that lead a trail of cascading rocks.

 

As Caine and his soldiers moved back in, the way down was clear enough to at least rappel into a few large holes. The large staircase that led down into the secure supply tunnels was mostly collapsed; Ork forces didn’t want anyone following them.

 

At the bottom, rappeling ropes still dangling in the darkness, Caine and Wolfe followed what they could of the map they’d been given. The tunnels were a maze of crossing corridors and sealed or broken doors.

 

They mostly followed the trail of destruction and bellowing combat chants of the Ork horde, and the desperate firing of Imperial Las weapons.

 

Caine finally reached a widening section of the tunnels, and came out on the balcony of a large supply depot. Storage facilities were carved into the rock faces around the platforms, and heavy rail lines ran through the facility into dark tunnels on either side.

 

The platforms had become defacto hard-points for the two sides: Imperial sandbags and heavy weapons on one side, and Ork ramshackle barricades on the other. The Orks were mostly keeping their heads down. Above the barricade, heavy bolter fire and the cracks of Las weapons echoed in the arching, vaulted train station.

 

Tobias, lining his soldiers up on the balcony where they were still a bit hidden, though it strange that the Orks weren’t attacking.

 

Even the Ork warboss was scrunched down behind the barriers. He was taller than the Nobs around him, and half again as bulky as the Ork Boyz shooting blind shots across the train rails; but he was no Warboss, no great leader of the entire war.

 

The big greenskin did have a stupid, wide grin on his face, as if he knew something the Levy forces didn’t.

 

Caine was about to order his soldiers to fire when the roof above their heads began to crack and splinter. Suddenly, more than a dozen Kommandos were falling from the cieling into the Levy lines. It looked like they’d originally intended to rappel in, but had decided (or forgotten) to use their lines.

 

Instead, the Levy forces began panicking as Orks rained into their midst and started hacking and shooting, destroying what order the Levy sergeants had managed to keep.

 

The Ork warboss took that moment to shout out his own charge, the mighty roar filling the cavern and making even more rockrete fall from the broken ceiling.

 

Caine didn’t give him much of a chance to cause more damage to the Levy. He ordered the Pack to open fire, and leapt down the balcony onto the rails, shouting his own challenge out above the din.

 

The lord-captain, in his fine armor and xeno-pelt cloak, powerfist crackling on his hand, probably meant to scare the Orks into submission. It didn’t work.

 

Instead, the warboss saw the challenge, and saw the new fighter, and decided he wanted Caine’s head on his boss pole. The giant Ork charged, just as more of the Wolfe Pack lept off the balcony to protect their Captain.

 

Wolfe shot his lascannon into the fray, spinning a Nob to the ground as the warboss charged Caine. It swung a Choppa over Caine’s head, and Caine responded with a punch from his power fist. The Ork shrugged it off, and raised his fist to grip Caine in a grapple hold.

 

The Ork was big, and his Nobs were already causing damage to the Pack. Caine saw the bulging muscles of the Ork, and realized he probably should have had more of a plan before jumping into the fight. Instead of coming up with one, he twitched his finger.

 

A bright light shot out of his finger, the ring on his hand buzzing as it released its energy. The melta shot, at close range, couldn’t have missed.

 

The Ork’s head went first, followed by its upper shoulders and the top of its ribcage. Stumbling, like his legs wanted to keep fighting, the warboss took a step forward to continue the charge, then collapsed.

 

To make the point, Wolfe shot another Ork dead in one pulse of his Lascannon.

 

The bright light got everyone’s attention as it filled the arcing space, both Ork and Levy soldier alike. They saw Caine standing there in his Imperial armor and with the bight icon of the Emperor on his chest; and they saw the headless warboss collapsing into the dust.

 

With a mighty roar, channeling the God-Emperor’s spirit, Caine put one further challenge to the Ork horde.

 

This time, they did break.

 

Orks started scrambling away from the biting hellguns of the Wolfe Pack, the terrorizing Lascannon of Wolfe himself, and the regrouping Levy forces behind their barriers. In a broken green wave, the Orks started running down the long train tunnels and into the various doors of the underground complex they’d smashed open on the way here.

 

The main force was destroyed, even if they might come back to cause minor raiding damage later.

 

Pointing to the Ork body on the ground, Caine turned to Wolfe.

 

“We’re taking it with us,” Caine said, “And I’m having it turned into a chair for my private sitting room.”

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The Price of Loyalty

 

High General Dante, in his ornate reliquary armor of the Damaris Levy, took the news of the botched plot surprisingly well.

 

As Caine and his Pack trudged back through the secure tunnels to the main landing field, the High General had already been ordering his most loyal forces in the Capitol to begin their takeover of the Governor’s Palace.

 

Propaganda teams across the planet were already swinging into motion; some were loyal to the Levy, others just didn’t like covering up Kepak’s decadance. The propaganda teams actually loyal to the Governor either quietly went along with the plan, or found themselves at the dangerous end of Levy lasguns.

 

High General - and now Governor - Dante looked both confident and pleased with the current situation. Tobias Caine didn’t blame him.

 

The flight back to the Capitol was much less momentous and pageant filled than the flight out. Caine spent most of it trying to find a taxidermist willing to work on an Ork.

 

Lucius dropped Caine, Wolfe, and the Pack off at Caine’s manse, before powering the guncutter back off towards the Starport for storage and maintenance. The manse was quickly becoming the center of Caine’s efforts on the planet, as well as a resting point between excursions. They’d seen smoke over the Governor’s Palace on the way in, but broadcasts in the streets and over vox-speakers in courtyards around the Capitol were extolling the virtues of a Levy-controlled government.

 

Caine let the High General and Governor Dante - he just knew that name was going to get cumbersome - have his fun for the next few days, instead focusing on the approaching Ork forces.

 

He was shaken from that focus when Wolfe Pack scouts on the roof of his manse indicated there was a force of Levy soldiers and vehicles approaching the building.

 

They had four Chimera transports, and at least a full platoon of the mottled-green armored soldiers of Dante’s personal units. Two figures led the column. One of the figures was in carapace armor, with chords and medals indicating long service to the Levy; the other was dressed more formally, in the robes and gold-edged hood of a Damaris government official.

 

Caine ordered the manse to full alert, and directed Wolfe and his Pack to combat loadouts. Throwing on his armor and broad cloak as quickly as possible, Caine went up to the main greeting hall to see what his guests wanted. The scouts on the roof vox’d down that the platoon was still in parade formation, and they couldn’t see any Levy forces hiding beyond the armored wall of the compound.

 

The Levy soldiers stopped on the wide pavilion outside the manse’s main door, and just the two figures up front moved forward to knock.

 

Caine, ordering a few more soldiers to the roof, just in case, opened the door with Wolfe by his side and even more stormtroopers behind him. The two dignitaries looked unimpressed and impassive. They said that they were here to negotiate Caine’s loyalty to the new government.

 

The Government official held out a scroll to Caine. They explained that it was a contract, binding Caine to service in defense of Damaris. If he wished to receive any support or trade contracts after the war against the Orks was over, he would have to sign a pledge of complete loyalty to the office of the High General and Governor of Damaris.

 

Caine would also have to sign over the loyalty of his soldiers, his ship, and any martial assets that could be of use to Damaris.

 

Understandably upset, Caine began to needle out the finer points of the contract. He didn’t want to sign over his personal war machine to a planet that, mere weeks ago, was having issues with the heavy raiding forces of the Ork horde. Though he didn’t say it out loud, Caine had been under the impression that helping Dante with the assassination plot would be proof enough of his loyalty.

 

He didn’t seem surprised that Governor Dante didn’t trust him, but that was a separate issue from the contract.

 

Written over the course of the last couple days, the contract was sound. If the High General and Governor ordered Caine to go somewhere, or fight something specific, he would have to. To not follow those orders, or to not pass those orders on to his subordinates, meant he would forfeit any rights to trade contracts with Damaris after the Orks were repelled.

 

Caine made a large fuss about how his ship was an independent Avatar for the God-Emperor, bound only by the Void and the dictates of Imperial Will. The officials were having none of it, and suggested that if the Emissary didn’t follow his orders to the letter, then perhaps Caine wasn’t the Lord-Captain he thought he was.

 

Sullen, frustrated, and vowing revenge - silently, and to himself - Caine signed the document.

 

Looking pleased, the officials took a step back and bowed before turning to leave. Caine slammed the door behind them and waited for his scouts to indicate that the formation was leaving the manse grounds.

 

He turned to Wolfe, and informed him that he’d clearly given orders to Wolfe that his contract had been terminated. The Order was effective as of an hour ago. Wolfe nodded, and said that his independent organization didn’t take orders from anyone but himself.

 

However, he mused, the Wolfe Pack was stranded on the planet, without transport off world. It seemed to be in the Pack’s best strategic interest to make sure members of the Caine dynasty remained alive to honor possible future agreements.

 

Caine replied that Wolfe was a good friend of the dynasty, and always welcomed in any of its holdings. If Wolfe needed access to anything, it was open to him. Caine clapped him on the shoulder, then wandered off for a stiff drink.

 

High General and Governor Dante had just lost the chance for a quick and painless assassination.

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A question for any readers out there:  What is a solid challenge for a Grand Cruiser combat-wise?  

 

Lord-Captain Tobias Caine just took his shiny new Grand Cruiser, the Righteous Fury (reconstructed and rechristened from the hull of the Righteous Path) up against a coordinated fleet of 3 Wolfpack Raiders, 2 Sword-class Frigates, and a Lunar class cruiser.  The Fury completely destroyed them. Hopefully I can put the report up at some point, but it basically wasn't a match at all, and the Fury suffered only minor scratches to its paint job.

 

 

That depends on the outfit of the Grand Cruiser.  Is it a carrier, utilizes long range weapons, only uses short range but powerful weapons, has surplus of troops with teleportation archeotech0 combination of all 4, etc etc. 

 

It's not only the adversary that you have to think about, but also the setting.  Like an asteroid/battle field that has metal and heat signatures that confuse sensors, a huge minefield and debris field that blocks line of sight, a space nebula of gases or dust that shortens sensors, etc etc. 

 

Some other ideas are; for carriers you can lure their spacecraft out, and then attack the carrier with fast but hard hitting ships.  For long range ships, either torpedoes or carrier ships or even highly maneuverable ships that can evade the long range weapons (like Eldar Holofields).  Obviously, if you use a dust cloud nebula that prohibits spacecraft from lunching, or a gas cloud that reduces sensor range, than any type of adversary could be utilized.  You could just got with brute force (since it is orks) and use an Ork Space Hulk.  No stats but here is a concept I once used.  [speed 2, Shields 4 (2 on Port side), Morale 200, Turret 4, Maneuver -20, Armour 23 (19 on the Starboard side), Crew Pop 250, Hull Integrity 374].  Hope this helps some.

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I like the idea of the carriers and torpedoes.  Caine just acquired a carrier of his own (from the same battle that I mentioned above) through refits of a hulked shell, and this would force him to think tactically about it.  Torpedoes too would be a wrinkle he hasn't had to think about yet.

 

The thing I'm worried about with smaller ships though is that he's figured out how powerful an armored prow on a large ship can be.

 

I'll report back when I figure out what works and what doesn't =)

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A Secret Party

 

The Rogue Traders around Damaris were in an uproar.

 

Messages, both heavily encrypted and broadcast in the clear, were being shot back and forth across the vox-net around Damaris. Some were signing the mass contracts, others were refusing out of pure principle, and others vowed that they would never actually keep to the provisions in the document. Blitz and Lady Orleans had their hands full trying to keep the other Rogue Traders in line.

 

On a secure line, connected through his guncutter to the Emissary and Lady Orleans, Caine attempted to help. It was obvious that they would need to continue working together, but Caine thought that informing them of his plan would steel the other Rogue Traders against brash actions.

 

If Lady Orleans could get word out, quietly, to the other Rogue Traders, Lord-Captain Caine could get those on the surface of Damaris into orbit for a private gathering. It was the only place he could think of that would be truly secure.

 

The call went out across the secure, high-level vox net for the Rogue traders in the Capitol to assemble at the Caine Manse. In ones and twos, over the course of the next night, the dozen Rogue Traders on the ground arrived at Caine’s door.

 

They stayed in the well appointed main lounge of the manse for the next day, resting and planning. Caine had a stealth equipped shuttle on the Emissary ready to fly down as soon as the sun set again, and the Rogue Traders in his care spent the time boasting about their accomplishments and attempting to bribe, negotiate with, and undercut their fellows.

 

There was also a lot of drinking.

 

In the dead of night, there was a soft rumble in the bones of the manse. Caine announced that his shuttle was here, and started leading the party up to the shuttle for the trip to Lady Orleans’ ship. The flight to the Starweaver was uneventful, but tense. The Capitol’s augur systems and sensor arrays never obviously pinged on the ship, and no calls came for Caine to identify himself.

 

On board the Starweaver, Lady Orleans had prepared a feast. The dining hall was huge, more than large enough to house the two dozen Rogue Traders sitting at the ancient table. Servants, guards, and servitors moved around the room, placing full trays of food and removing trays that had been emptied by hungry traders.

 

The talk was grim, but bombastic. The Rogue Traders took it as an insult that Dante would try and pull this kind of demand.

 

Lady Orleans, Lord-Captain Blitz, and Lord-Captain Caine sat at the front of the table. Lady Orleans was angry that she stood to lose so many contracts, and so much influence with Damaris. Blitz was trying to position himself as the lead negotiator for the group. Caine was trying to calm all of them down.

 

In the middle of the feast, before they had truly turned to business, one of the Rogue Traders near the end of the table leapt to his feet.

 

With a swift motion, the man pulled a plasma pistol out from under his robes and shot the Rogue Trader across from him in the chest. With a sick, wet plop, the other trader collapsed face first, killed instantly.

 

The table, which had been a ruckus, went into an uproar.

 

Weapons appeared from capes, wrist guards, hip sheathes, and places Caine couldn’t track. In a moment, the entire table was pointing weapons at each other. Several were pointed at Graf Sutter, the man Caine recognized as firing the first shot, but other traders weren’t nearly as restrained in their targets.

 

Quickly, roaring to the crowd, Caine said that they should calm down. He showed them that he hadn’t pulled any weapons of his own. Slowly, he was able to convince them to warily lower their weapons.

 

Graf Sutter called out that the other trader had deserved it.

 

Blitz said that he would look into the situation for Lady Orleans, and that seemed to placate more of the table. Servants and guards moved forward at the Lady’s motion, and dragged the dead body away from the table. Caine hoped that the dead man’s ship would remain in the fight.

 

Over the course of the next hour, Caine placated them by outlining his plan to eliminate the High General and Governor, answering questions from the various members of the party. Caine told them that they would still have access to future contracts, and that their attendance here guaranteed them first crack at any contracts left over.

 

It seemed to placate them, and the party slowly faded away as the attendees wandered off to the staterooms that Lady Orleans had assigned them. There was, thankfully, no more violence that night.

 

Tobias Caine and Lady Orleans stayed up a bit later, talking through the logistics of the war. Caine was not a Fleet Admiral, and saw his role in this war as the protector of the Capitol. Lady Orleans was a much better choice to lead the Rogue Traders into combat. He said that, if he pulled his assassination attempt off, the Lady would be welcome to the contracts she would have had if Kepak had still been alive.

 

It was an expensive party, but Lady Orleans seemed satisfied with that role. Toasting the success of the party, and asking the God-Emperor for continued favor in the weeks to come, Caine departed.

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Guns of Damaris

 

Watching his map while he listened to distant vox reports from the Levy armor, Caine smiled. The Orks hadn’t expected Levy soldiers to hit them so soon after landing. In the dark of Damaris’ night, the Levy had punched holes in the Orks’ initial fortifications and caused destruction along the entire line of landed Roks.

 

That initial assault complete, the Levy vehicles had turned around and started running back towards the Western walls of the Capitol. The Orks, with everything from warbikes to Battlefortresses, had begun to chase the Levy tanks.

 

Light was beginning to poke over the horizon of the city when the vehicles returned to the protective embrace of the Capitol’s defenses. Orks weren’t very far behind.

 

Tendrils of bright hammer blows mirrored the sun. Above the Ork advance, the Emissary pounded the threat from orbit. Macrocannon shells split vehicles formations into splinters, and lance strikes destroyed even the heaviest Ork tanks with ease.

 

Tobias Caine and Solomon Wolfe stood on top of the Western wall as the dust cloud above the Ork advance grew closer. Caine knew that even the guns of the Emissary couldn’t stop such a foe. Solomon, watching close, told Caine the moment Ork vehicles passed into range of the massive defensive towers. Caine ordered the Levy to open fire.

 

First, the world-shaking roar of the main cannons opened up, lobbing person-sized shells into the far distance of the plains. The explosions from those shells, enough to engulf an entire hab-block, looked tiny as they mushroomed among the forward tendrils of the Ork line.

 

The next weapons to fire were the emplaced Earthshaker cannons, followed quickly by the massed artillery regiments in the city. Bass drumbeats sounded out in a staccatto that would have driven an orchestra mad with speed, sending swarms of heavy shells out into the morning sky. In ripples of fire, explosions tore out even more Orks.

 

In the final surprise, Caine turned the retreating armored forces back around as the Orks came within range of the heavy bolter turrets and small arms fire of the Levy soldiers on and in the wall. With a blow that was seen more than heard - the din of heavy cannons too loud to hear anything but the shouts of a close neighbor - the armored columns slammed into the side of the Ork advance.

 

The Orks had arrived in force, but the combined fire of a dozen different Levy institutions and the Emissary in orbit sealed the Ork fate. In that initial fight, few Orks even made it to the walls of the Capitol. It was a testament to the Levy’s training as much as it was proper planning. With only light Ork resistance along the outlying sectors of the other walls, it was considered a complete success.

 

From Orbit, the defense navy was relieved that the first wave had crashed against the Capitol’s walls and faltered.

 

From the fields of Damaris, the High General and now Governor Dante personally thanked Caine for such an effective defense of his city.

 

Caine, standing there on the Western wall, victorious, would soon realize how dangerous a foe the Orks could really be.

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The Emissary

 

The Emissary is a tenacious ship, although skittish in an even fight, and is a clear reminder of the power the Emperor and his Imperium can project. Even here in the Halo Stars, the Emissary takes pride in its mission to expand the borders of the God-Emperor’s realm and bring the message of the Ecclesiarchy to the heathens of the Expanse.

 

Although not always in the hands of the Atelius family, Tobias Caine cannot remember any stories of how it came to be a part of the Dynastic Fleet. Considering his family’s long ties to the Ministorum, it’s possible that his family has been on the Emissary longer even than they’ve actually owned it.

 

Even from the outside, the Emissary shows these ties.

 

Rising up from the spine of the ship, splitting the view from the main bridge in two, a huge statue of the Emperor as Warrior stands at attention. Inside the statue is the main Gellar field projectors, and the Emperor’s eyes look out into the void as the ship travels.

 

Below the statue is a series of crenelated spires, which allow light into the main Temple-Basilica of the Emissary. A full ministerial team lives aboard the Emissary, protecting the crew’s faith during patrols by chanting prayers that can be heard across every deck.

 

As a Sword-class frigate, the Emissary is rugged and repairable, with cargo holds and defensive fortifications inside her halls that indicate a long history of convoy protection and boarding actions.

 

Buried behind the main basilica and with extra defensive protections, even given the Tenebro-layout of the ship, is the Librarium Vault. This crusted collection of knowledge has served Caine well over the years, and is his first stop for any information that his family may have come across in its centuries of void flight.

 

The Emissary also has a quirk, found on few other ships in the Calixis Sector or the Expanse: A light launch bay.

 

In addition to the standard shuttles, pinnace craft, lighters, and personal guncutter, the Emissary at some point had dedicated bays built into her flanks for heavy drop craft. While not a combat bay by any means, the heavy lifters of the Emissary have come in handy when Caine has required resupply from planets, or needs to quickly dispatch heavy cargo and soldiers somewhere.

 

The Emissary’s Light Launch Bay holds 10 Heavy Dropships: Each one is almost 70m long, has a crew of a dozen pilots and tech-priests, and can carry multi-hundred-ton loads with ease (or almost an entire battalion of combat-equipped soldiers). It is a squat craft with giant lifting thrusters along its spine, and reaches out using two stubby wings big enough to land a couple thunderbolt fighters on. Given time, the heavy dropships can be modified to carry troops, vehicles, loose cargo, or a mixture of the three (three hours minimum to modify)

 

These are not combat craft and the flight bay is not equipped for rapid deployment. If required to open/close in combat it takes two full strategic turns to prep the launch bay for action/seal it off against attack.

 

Heavy Dropships are considered Very Rare - any port large enough to have them will need them. The Explorers will have to be willing to pay for both the hull and the loss of productivity it would cause the facility.

 

SwordFrigate.jpg

 

The Emissary - A Sword-class frigate in service to the God-Emperor

 

Speed: 8 Manu: +20

Detection: +13 Turrets: 2

Shields: 1 Armor: 18

Hull: 35

Crew: Crack (40)

 

Primary Components:

Class 2 drive, warp engine, gellar field, single void shield, Vitae-pattern Life sustainer, Voidsman Quarters, Auspex Multi-Array

 

Secondary Components:

Compartmentalized Hold, Librarium Vault, Tenebro Maze, Temple-Shrine to the Emperor, Light Launch Bay (see above)

 

Weapons:

Titan Forge Lance

Mars-pattern Macrocannons

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That depends on the outfit of the Grand Cruiser.  Is it a carrier, utilizes long range weapons, only uses short range but powerful weapons, has surplus of troops with teleportation archeotech0 combination of all 4, etc etc. 

 

It's not only the adversary that you have to think about, but also the setting.  Like an asteroid/battle field that has metal and heat signatures that confuse sensors, a huge minefield and debris field that blocks line of sight, a space nebula of gases or dust that shortens sensors, etc etc. 

 

Some other ideas are; for carriers you can lure their spacecraft out, and then attack the carrier with fast but hard hitting ships.  For long range ships, either torpedoes or carrier ships or even highly maneuverable ships that can evade the long range weapons...

 

 

The Fury happens to be a guns/lance boat, with an armored prow (a more effective weapon than the macrocannons...), though after the last couple sessions, it's now backed up by a Nova-cannon equipped Dominator-class cruiser, and a refit Lunar class that is now a dedicated fleet carrier.  Along with several Claymore class corvettes and the Emissary (above), Caine now has a formidable fleet.

 

Even that fleet is having trouble with the two squadrons of Infidel-class torpedo boats and the two carriers I'm tossing at it.

 

Right now, the chaos reaver fleet is using a Gas Giant's electromagnetic field as cover to get in close under silent running, then popping out to fire torpedos at very close range.  It's a big battle though (too many ships, I'm going to split his fleet up after this), and we haven't yet figured out if the Infidel ships are going to be able to scoot out of the way before Caine's fleet can properly respond.

 

Judging by the first hit of his Nova cannon, and the Fury's bombardments, it's going to be close.

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It's a big battle though (too many ships, I'm going to split his fleet up after this), and we haven't yet figured out if the Infidel ships are going to be able to scoot out of the way before Caine's fleet can properly respond.

 

I've had this issue a few times, and to give you a concept I attempted to use was that I narrated the other NPC ships in combat.  What I attempted to accomplish was if the two NPC ships fighting were of the same type with similar armaments (barring special circumstances like surprise attacks, superb tactical advantages, etc)  then I let the them fight in the back ground, while the PC's ship(s) fought whoever was left (usually 1-3 other ships) and the PC ships winning or losing mostly deciding the outcome of the other NPC's battles.  Meaning, if the PC's won superbly, then only a few of the PC's NPC ships had damage and the rest none at all or minor scratches.  If the PC's battle ended horribly, then the rest of the fleet did horribly as well, with most major damage and maybe 1 ship being destroyed or captured in the end.  If the battle lasted a long time, then the PC's ship(s) could help out the other NPC ships during it combat.  Like one ship saying they are being boarded and the PC's ship rushing to their add, or another saying they need time to get their engines back on line, while the PC's distract the enemy ship for 1-2 rounds.  Some PC NPC ships could even engage more enemy ships if they had Crack crew or if it was a well equipped cruiser or if the PC's ship had a great commander or Fleet Bridge.  This could mean those PC NPC ships could engage 2-3 smaller ships at a time for the narrative combat portion of the battle.  It's just an idea, and not all Players like this concept.  It's one of those things that you have to discuss with the players and come to an agreement in order to make the game more enjoyable, instead of space combat lasting 4 hours to complete and people complaining about it.  Some people really enjoy space combat, and some don't.

 

P.S.  There is nothing wrong with the PC's destroying one enemy ship, and the rest fleeing to really make the PC's hate em more and more.  :D   Don't do this often, and if you do ensure the PC's know the location of the enemy base so you can have an anti-climatic short  battle in the end with the PCs destroying them utterly.  :ph34r:

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Deus Machina

 

For the next week, Tobias Caine shuttled back and forth between his manse and the strategic center in the Western Wall. The Orks spent the week harassing the city and engaging High General and Governor Dante across the main continent.

 

It was more stressful in space, where the Rogue Trader fleet was trying to keep the Ork raiders occupied. Under Lady Orleans, the defense forces were holding their own, but being ground down under the weight of Ork onslaughts. The Bulkwark was busy, repairing ships as quickly as they could make it back to Damaris orbit, and fending off scattered Ork raids on the station.

 

It was barely enough.

 

Around the Capitol, the Levy forces skirmished with scattered Ork warbands attempting to pillage the outer hab-blocks and outlying districts of the city. The parts outside the walls were still producing industrial goods for the planet and keeping the city supplied with food, weapons, and clothing.

 

Out in the void, what traders the Damaris call for assistance didn’t scare off, the Orks patrolling the warp-in points did. Luxuries and trade goods from the rest of the Expanse were growing thin.

 

At least the planet produced plenty of food and power for its people, and was self-sufficient. Caine was thankful for the small favors from the Emperor.

 

Several days after the first assault, long-range augurs and scouts indicated a growing mass of Ork vessels at the edge of the system. They were preparing for another assault on Damaris.

 

Caine took this as a personal affront, and prepared again for the landing of Ork Roks.

 

Standing on the Western Wall, sending orders out, Caine placed Wolfe’s Pack along the walls to shore up the coordination of the various Levy officers, and sent Wolfe himself to watch the strategic command center of the fortress Caine was standing on.

 

He then placed the Emissary in low orbit, where its guns would have the most punch, and sent Sebastian to confer with the Capitol’s tech adepts. While not the powerful and cloistered Shard, these adepts maintained the city’s defenses admirably.

 

Up above, the battle for void superiority raged.

 

The Levy vox net was kept separate from the void-comms, but it became clear that the ships in orbit couldn’t protect against every Rok headed towards the planet. With the same brutality as the first wave, huge fireballs tailed out across the sky as Orks began landing on the surface of Damaris.

 

One Rok, though, was larger than the rest; and was headed straight for the Capitol.

 

With a re-entry tail that started far back from the others in the Ork assault, this Rok made clear that it was either piloted more expertly, or far more lucky than the rest of its pack. The roaring half-spaceship, half-asteroid rumbled across the airspace above the Capitol, shattering windows and waking every citizen of the city.

 

The Rok slammed into the fields of the Capitol, barely a hundred miles away from the great walls. Huge retro-rockets burned into the surface of the planet and threw up clouds of dust and debris. This cloud was quickly followed by the echoing blast of the Rok hitting the surface.

 

More dust and debris filled the sky, the pressure wave of the huge object pushing the cloud across the plains and over the wall. In a sudden mid-night, the city was blacked out in a sunless, barren waste of invisibility.

 

Then the pressure wave forced even that cloud away, and revealed the Orks quickly leaping from the thousands of hatches, ramps, and doors on the parts of the Rok close enough to the ground to allow exit. Vehicles and aircraft followed, the tanks even running over some of their fellow greenskins in anticipation of a fight.

 

The Levy responded with long-range fire, the huge cannons of the Wall fortresses shaking Caine to his very core. In the distance, the shells hit ground, greenskin, and Rok alike. The Emissary added to this weight of fire, but the Rok’s Mekboys were already bringing up huge shield arrays to protect the landed vessel.

 

The Rok responded to this bombardment with shots of its own.

 

Kannons the size of Baneblades, and Gunz intended for void combat pounded to life, shaking the plains of the Damaris Capitol and deafening the wailing air-raid sirens of the city. The contrails of the over-sized shells from the Ork artillery passed over the city, or slammed into the ground before they found their range.

 

One of the shells hit the towering facade of the Western Wall, blowing open a deep gash and crushing the Levy forces in that section instantly. Caine called Sebastian on a private vox frequency, reserved for Dynasty business, and ordered the Explorator into action.

 

With the deep crackle of energy that had been dormant for decades, static and ozone began leaking out of the huge fortress Caine stood on. Moments later, the crack of void shields drowned out, for the briefest instant, the cannon fire from both the Levy and the Orks.

 

As the Capitol of Damaris, the city’s walls had been reinforced with void shields of vessels that had been decommissioned in orbit above the planet. These void shields hadn’t been tested in decades, if not a century, but were hardy STC designs of the Adeptus Mechanicus.

 

Their Machine Spirits finally called into action by Sebastian through a solid week of prayers and ministrations, the void shields seemed to know that they were meant to protect the lives of Imperial Citizens, and wordlessly vowed to do their part in the war effort.

 

The first of the massive Gun shells from the Ork Rok bounced off the curtain shield of the Western Wall.

 

The Levy cheered a prayer to the God-Emperor.

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Since I just hit 2 pages, and more than 300 views (!), I'm doing a double post for any Ladies and Gents still following.  

 

Also, in hind-sight, I think the Orks would have killed every citizen on Damaris if Sebastian hadn't gotten that shield working.

 

The Orks Try Brute Force

 

The Orks had lost their Rok and long-range Gunz as reinforcements, but had not lost their will to fight.

 

A weakness of a curtain shield, like the one protecting the Capitol of Damaris, was its end point and edges. If the shield actually touched the ground the effect would drain the energy of the shields. In a massive flow of power and machine spirit, the shield would gut the genetoriums in Shard’s Forge and shatter every major power line in the city.

 

Thus, the design of the shield left a small gap at the bottom edge, to prevent the accidental contact with soil or structure. This was a small gap by the standards of the kilometer high shields. In human scale, the gap was large enough to fit Ork vehicles through.

 

Orks of every shape and size pushed forward under the curtain shield, heedless of the rising defensive fire coming from the walls. Levy soldiers fired lasguns, heavy bolters, Earthshaker cannon, and every manner of missile weapon at their disposal into the teeming horde. The Orks were willing to face the firepower, even to the point of climbing over greenskin bodies still charred from the fight a solid week ago.

 

The Orks were happy to fire back as soon as they were under the shield. Pings and cracks of looted ordinance and greenskin weapons ricocheted off the thick walls of fortress. Energy blasts from scattered Zzap guns held true to their name, and were joined with the even more rare sound of Wyrd psychic attacks.

 

Looted vehicles, Wartrakks, and Battlefortresses followed. In among the mass of vehicles and bodies, Tobias Caine could see several huge vehicles.

 

The vehicles, ramshackle and towering above any right to hold together, held giant rams and drills on their prows. In anticipation of hitting the wall, several of the drills were already beginning to spin, keening out a whine that could be heard above the tortuous roar of the gunfire.

 

Fetid smells from the Ork horde hit Caine’s nose as the wind shifted, and he sighted in on the massive drill headed towards his fortress. Ordering the main weapons of the Western Wall to shoot for the other boring machines, Caine ran down the wall towards where his chosen drill would hit.

 

Without hesitating, members of the Pack followed, checking their hellguns and preparing to defend their leader.

 

Levy soldiers along the walls and in the hardened bunkers inside were beginning to waver at the sight. Entire squads were being wiped out as bunkers collapsed under heavy shelling, or sections of the wall’s crenelations were bathed in enemy fire.

 

Caine strode up to the edge of the towering Western Wall, reaching a crenelation as tall as he was and staring down sloping walls that would dwarf a basilica. If he didn’t act, the Levy might lose the fortress.

 

The rockrete below him was pockmarked with bullet holes and smoke marks oily with Ork propellant.

 

Constant and unyeilding, the guns of the Wall forced back the cloud of grit and exhaust from the teeming horde of Ork vehicles. In a burst of fire from the massive main gun of the fortress, a low-hanging cloud of filth swept aside and revealed the massive Ork Drill. It was larger than Caine had suspected from the distance, and not truely a battlefortress at all.

 

The vehicle was like some tread-powered, segmented snake. At the nose a huge, grinding gear of a drill growled to life, managing to make itself heard over the Levy’s guns.

 

Orks ran along the length of it, using it as both a steed and as a mobile hard point. Weapons, mostly ramshackle heavy shootas, were crewed by grots and low-ranking greenskins. Heavier Orks, their bodies towering over their fellows even at this distance, ran along the length giving ‘encouragement’.

 

Caine turned to a Pack soldier who’d followed him, and ordered rappelling gear.

 

Pulling a spare winch and cable spool off his belt, the masked and carapace armored Pack member handed Lord-Captain Caine the gear without question, impressed that Caine was willing to lead from the front, even in a fight such as this.

 

After securing the winch to his armor, Caine clipped the wire to the top of the Western Wall and leaped off. It was a long way down, and his wire shook and twirled as the huge Ork drill slammed into the fortress he was attached to.

 

The winch came to a stop a good three meters above the Ork vehicle. Caine and his squad of soldiers dangled above the grimy plating as Levy shells and las weapons pounded the vehicle and surrounding ground. Either Wolfe in the bunker, or one of the Gun Captains along the wall, had noticed the soldiers dropping in on the Orks and decided to give them some breathing room.

 

Caine exploited this opening, and used his combat knife to saw through the winch cable. The Pack soldiers unclipped their own harnesses as he did, and they all dropped onto the top of the siege weapon as one.

 

They all landed hard.

 

Picking themselves up, Caine and his Pack saw huge Nobs climbing up the superstructure and ramps of the drill, intent on stopping the newcombers from destroying or disabling their weapon. Each Nob had a huge Choppa in one hand, and a scrap-heap of a gun in the other.

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Brute Force (Cont'd)

 

Caine would have called it a pistol, had it not been larger than his head, and had it not been shooting at him.

 

The Nobs were more than willing to take advantage of the stunned humans on the roof of the drill, and ran forward under a bellowing war cry. Caine shouted back, but his voice was drowned out by the massed fighting at the Wall. The Nobs shot first, taking at least one Pack soldier down, and moving towards the rest with their eyes on close combat.

 

Caine fired his plasma pistol into the Nob closest to him, but his aim was thrown off by the rocking platform. He barely dodged the follow-up blow from the Ork’s huge axe, rolling aside. Bringing himself to his feet, he slashed at the Ork and opened a tearing wound in its leg, but realized that he was now fighting two of the beasts.

 

The second Ork swung his own weapon, tearing at Caine’s armor and ripping his fine xeno-pelt cloak in two. Caine dodged the second attack, and stuck his energy-wrapped power sword into the chest of the first Ork. The Ork died instantly, the blade slicing and burning every major organ in its chest cavity.

 

Left off balance by the attack, Caine couldn’t stop the second Ork from knocking him off his feet and sending him hurtling into a hunk of randomly-placed metal. Wondering what had given the Orks an idea to put a raised smoke vent at the top of a flight of stairs, Caine noticed that his soldiers were doing what they could against the Orks.

 

Several more Nobs lay dead or dying on the top of the drill, and another Pack soldier had fallen. Caine’s problem was that the second Ork still wanted him dead.

 

Standing up through pure willpower, Caine parried the Ork attack and sliced into his opponent. The Ork roared in his face, peppering him with xenos spittle, and forced Caine to dodge another killing blow. Caine continued whittling the Nob down with small strikes and cuts. The Ork’s death did not come quickly, but it was inevitable as soon as Caine set his focus on it.

 

With the Ork Nob finally dead at his feet, smoldering with a dozen power sword cuts, Caine looked around at his squad. They were harried, bruised, but victorious. Ork bodies littered the gang-planks at the top of the drill.

 

In front, the drill continued rocking and grinding its way into the fortress wall.

 

Caine steadied himself, and looking longingly at the scraps of his xenopelt cloak under dead Orks. He forced himself to look away and ordered his squad down with him into the beating heart of the Ork contraption.

 

Grots, seeing what Caine and his soldiers had done to the scary greenskins up above, scattered as he entered a thrumming chamber of engines, power cables, and various glowing bits that served inscrutable purpose.

 

His eyes locked in on a central pillar that vibrated and pulsed along with the main drill’s efforts up at the front of the siege engine. Calling forward demolition charges, he watched his Pack soldiers place the charges around the most important looking parts of the room. It was enough explosives to send a Leman Russ main battle tank into the air.

 

Caine activated the charges, and ordered his soldiers to start running.

 

They quickly found themselves on a rickety platform cantilevered out over one of the huge treads. It was a very long drop, down into crushed mud and next to crushing treads. Caine didn’t think much about how far down it was, and instead trusted in the same luck that had gotten him onto the drill in the first place.

 

He leapt off, plopping down into the broken mud with a distinct Squick.

 

Cursing the Orks for filthying up his fine battle uniform, Caine started running again, counting soldiers as they too pulled themselves from the mud.

 

Around him, the Levy forces had continued pounding the drill with heavy ordinance, clearing a swath of terrain around it as an escape zone for their senior commander. Caine barely had time to notice their loyalty as he jumped into the biggest crater he could find.

 

Pack soldiers fell into the crater around him as the detonation charges went off.

 

In a fireball that reached out even above the towering fortress wall, the Ork vehicle tore itself apart in a spray of shrapnel and greenskin parts. The incessant grinding, a grating noise that had become almost a background for Caine, suddenly stopped as the huge drill stuck fast in the rockrete wall.

 

Caine smiled. Poking his head above the crater wall, Lord-Captain Caine could see that his Levy soldiers were pushing back the Orks, their superior firepower once again winning the day.

 

Fireballs of warship-grade ordinance still pounded against the curtain shield of the Western Wall, but it was the reassuring kind of sound that made one proud to be protected by Human defenses and the watchful gaze of the Emperor.

 

Levy forces were bolstered by the violent destruction of the main Ork siege engine, and redoubled their efforts and fire. A second drill exploded as a flight of Thunderbolts flew past, the Levy-colored fighters dropping heavy ordinance across its mid-section. Two fighta-bommas with more guts than brains, were chasing the Thunderbolts into the teeth of Hydra batteries positioned along a fortress almost a kilometer distant from Caine’s crater.

 

Artillery continued pushing the Orks back from the closest parts of the walls, and Levy gunfire killed any that got closer. Sections of the defensive wall were damaged or broken, their guns silent, but the rest were more than enough to send the Orks fleeing back under the shield.

 

Watching the routed Orks, Caine considered this fight a success.

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A Governor's Speech 

 

Cleanup took several days. Many of those days were spent coordinating with High General and Governor Dante and his forces attacking across the great plains of the main Damaris continent. Despite the beating the Levy took during the last battle, morale was high in the Capitol. Many of the outlying cities, and the powerful guilds that represented them, saw a victory in sight for the planet, and were already looking to shift production back to consumer goods and exports.

 

The High General knew there was still more fighting to do, and requested that Caine follow him on a tour of the pledged districts of the planet.

 

Dante thought that between himself and Caine, they could convince the powerful trade houses and economic cartels to continue supporting the war until it was well and done. Caine could see the importance of the gesture, and quickly agreed to the tours and speeches. More Ork forces were still many days out from Damaris, giving the Levy plenty of time to regroup.

 

Taking his time that morning, Caine dressed himself in his finest clothing. His backup Xenopelt cloak, its thick fur lined with cooling inserts interwoven between velvet and silk, cascaded over shirts and out-coat hand-stitched by house weavers back in the Calixis Sector. Over the arrayed cloth on his chest, Caine wore the bright crimson and gold tassel sash bearing the Emperor’s personal crest, a relic of the first explorations into the Calixis sector and the Koronus Expanse. A single ring, the ornate digi-melta he’d found on the bridge of the Righteous Path, graced his hands.

 

Caine took a giant, 8-wheeled, armored Limo from the Western Fortress to the starport to meet Lucius and the guncutter. On Caine’s suggestion, Wolfe and a half of the Pack accompanied him.

 

If Dante wanted a dog and pony show, then Caine’s finery and two squads of finely uniformed stormtroopers wouldn’t hurt Tobias’s image.

 

If Caine thought he was being showy with his richly appointed guncutter and formally dressed stormtroopers (and, for the record, he didn’t - Caine thought of this as a small and modest display of his wealth), then Dante had decided to show up with a royal circus.

 

A full flight of Valkyrie assault shuttles and Vulture attack craft sat nursing fuel lines around Caine’s guncutter. Milling around the aircraft was a cross section of Dante’s First Division - the private and most loyal of his Levy forces. Their black dress plates contrasted well with the Levy fatigues underneath the flak armor, and their matte black lasguns had been embossed with golden insignia bearing Damaris’ seal.

 

High General and Governor Dante looked resplendent as well, almost managing to out-shine Caine’s fine clothes. Almost.

 

Dante wore the formal dress of the Damaris Governorship well, and didn’t hesitate to continue issuing orders to his field soldiers even here on the field of the Starport. Seeing that Caine was ready, Dante walked over and announced that he would ride in the Guncutter with Caine. A full squad of 1st Division Levy followed Dante.

 

On the flight over, they talked business and politics.

 

Their first destination was two hours away, even under the heavy engines of the guncutter. It was a mining city, almost 10 million citizens, and the central gathering point for a whole host of mines and refineries that wound through the low mountains in the North of the continent. Rail lines snaked together as tall buildings and expansive processing facilities grew from the ground.

 

Caine got a look at the city on the way in: polluted, but not badly compared to some of the more careless planets of the Calixis Sector, and towering, tall enough to hold the armies of actuaries, scribes, savants, trade guilders, and longshoremen required to move the industry of raw materials gathered here.

 

It was several more hours before the meetings were over, but Caine only managed to gather a few pieces of relevant information through the pomp and circus of his visit: 1) The guilders liked Dante, and were happy to continue sending his forces raw materials at the price he was willing to pay, and 2) they did not like Caine or the other Rogue Traders in Orbit.

 

The guilders saw the great void ships of the Rogue Trader fleet as an unnecessary expense required to get their raw materials to the distant Adeptus Mechanicus, and seemed to blame Caine personally for his position as a gatekeeper to the Void.

 

Caine was happy when the small flotilla of aircraft had left that city behind.

 

Caine’s second stop was an enormous and sprawling agricultural center, three hours East of the mining city. Even more rail lines converged here, some stacking three or four wide as they congregated in huge hubs next to granaries that reached into the sky. Several granary complexes were tall enough to have blinking warning torches blazing away at their tops, even in the middle of the afternoon.

 

Clusters of buildings, no more than forty stories tall at any point, dotted the terrain from horizon to horizon. Dante told Caine that this was a city of twenty million souls, and one of the primary defensive and resupply positions for his Levy. While not clad in the mighty armored wall of the Capitol, the agri-city had bunker complexes and killzones that reached out half again the radius of the city, manned by almost half a million levy soldiers.

 

Dante wouldn’t waste that kind of force in a static defense lightly, and it was only because this was the center of several powerful trade houses, and the base for the main agricultural cartels, that he risked it at all.

 

From the moment they landed, Caine realized that he liked this city better.

 

They greeted the military delegation first with food - a cultural tradition he was told - as well as an honor guard for the tour across the sprawling metropolis. The Trade houses seemed happy to talk with Caine, and attempt to gain brokerage deals to transport their clients goods on Caine’s ships. For his efforts and heroism in the Capitol against the main Ork threat, Caine was offered several shipment contracts that had previously belonged to Rogue Traders who had died or deserted during the war.

 

Throughout it all, Caine noticed Dante repeatedly retreating to his private forces to discuss with his officers and Vox operators.

 

Caine had begun to learn the Levy cant and codes, but Dante’s hushed whispers sounded nothing like that. It was a private code, spoken deliberately and in rushed whispers. Dante was planning something.

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Cadian_8th_Regiment-small.jpg

The Imperial Guard is an enormous force, willing to throw millions of soldiers at an enemy world. It is not uncommon for entire fleets of Barracks vessels to float at grav anchor above a contested planet, spewing entire Army Groups worth of Guardsmen at a threat. Tens of Millions of soldiers can be housed in twenty or thirty giant transports, their Field Marshals and High Generals simply waiting their turn for transport over to the Bridge Ships of the Imperial Navy.

Those Bridge Ships are to the Imperial Guard what Void Carriers are to the Imperial Navy: Potent, difficult to maintain, outcasts, and vital components of the war machine.

A typical Bridge Ship is built on a transport hull, typically in the same yards as the Barracks Vessels that they will be supporting. Each one replaces the unending lines of bunkhouses, training facilities, and mess halls with giant landing platforms and staging bays. Each ship is built to quickly take in masses of soldiers from nearby ships, load those soldiers onto assault vessels, then drop them into contested zones.

Some Assault Vessels are built to land into the teeth of enemy fire, while others are craft meant to land behind the main lines, on makeshift starports in the dirt and forests.

No matter the ground tactics, Bridge Ships follow a fairly typical layout. Exceptions, where they exist, were often built for specific needs or situations, and either find nostalgia or hatred inside the fleets that house them.

Jovian Pattern Assault Bays

Jovian Assault Bays are the primary, and best distinguishing feature, of a Bridge Ship. They are not the same kind of hardened facilities as strike craft Launch/Landing Bays, and are not expected to be deployed during active void combat.

Each bay had numerous holding points, docking arms, and landing caverns, and are almost always found as a matched set. One Bay is built as an ingress point: acting as a landing pad for the multitude of heavy shuttles and transports that dock on a Barracks Vessel, load up soldiers, then transfer them to the Bridge Ship. The other bay is the egress point: it is here that the Assault shuttles are stored, maintained, loaded, and launched into the teeth of the enemy planet.

Typically, the Bridge Ship also has large cargo holds and barracks type facilities of its own, not to move soldiers over long distances but to smooth out the logistics of getting those soldiers onto their Assault shuttles.

The best are well oiled machines, moving soldiers through like regimented parts on a practiced assembly line. These keep platoons and companies together through the entire process, splitting armor and infantry into dedicated queues, and providing for their morale with Imperial Hymns broadcast over pict and vox announcers. They might even have dedicated Ministorum crew of their own, providing further relief to the nervous soldiers about to land into unknown danger.

The worst are little more than cramped corridors and dirty holding cells. A badly maintained Bridge Ship is nothing more than a grox-pen with a million humans being shoved through its ancient gates. These ships are dangerous for a High General: they will probably land soldiers on the ground, but those soldiers will be rattled and stressed; possibly clumped into random units out of sheer disregard for battle ranks.

A Jovian-Pattern Assault bay takes up the same space/power requirements as a Jovian Launch Bay, and must be mounted on a Port/Starboard hardpoint.

At least 1 Jovian Pattern Assault bay allows a ship to drop hundreds of thousands of soldiers an hour onto a planet. The ship must also have at least one Cargo Hold (any type) OR one Barracks. These are dedicated facilities, and cannot be used for storing cargo or soldiers. A ship with only a Barracks cannot land units of Vehicles (it doesn’t have the facilities to deal with those logistics).

Each Assault Bay can launch 50,000 soldiers per hour, or 2,500 vehicles per hour, in whatever organizational structure that army uses (you can also split that number up, to launch a combination of soldiers or vehicles instead of just one or the other)

Every hour (or part of the first hour) that a Bridge Ship is landing soldiers/vehicles onto a planet, roll a Command (-20), Tactica Imperialis (-10), or Commerce (-30) test.

For every degree of failure, each unit launched loses 1 strength due to mid-void collisions, logistical holdups in the ship, or fighting of scared soldiers. For every degree of success, add 5 strength to the amount launched that hour due to excellent logistical methods.

A (Good) quality Assault Bay grants +10, while a (Best) quality grants +20.

Similarly, every extra Assault Bay grants +20 to the roll, as well as adding to the maximum number of units launched per hour.

GM Note: I realize that failing the test is more punishing if you use smaller units, which is intentional. The extra number of ships flying around, Officers demanding to be important, and other headaches with small groups of soldiers in a large undertaking like this is detrimental to the lives of the crew aboard the Bridge Ship. More mistakes will happen. Convince your players that its a good idea to have Armies split up into large divisions or Corps for these kinds of large assaults.

Equally, if your players balk at this, perhaps they don’t actually need heavy assault gear? A hive planet of 3-8 billion people is going to require a lot of soldiers (check Wikipedia for the size of armies used in WWII). Smaller conflicts might only need a couple regiments of troops, which could easily be landed by a couple 50-70m transports found on the majority of Rogue Trader vessels over the course of a few days.

Edit: lowered the troops per hour per bay, I got a little number happy.

Edited by CaptainRemiVandigrath

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