Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Edarnia: Gods and Weather

In Edarnia, my home-brew setting, weather doesn't depend on climate patterns in the same way as it does in real-life. Instead, on Edarnia, weather exists at the whim of the Gods. So, the weather experienced in any given geographical area is entirely dependent on which pantheon is worshipped locally, and on that pantheon's relationships with other pantheons that might influence the local weather.

Take the Protectorate of Zama, for example. Here, the Pantheon of the Sun (the Phoenician Pantheon)is worshiped by the vast majority of the inhabitants. As one might expect, this results in warm, sunny days and (because the Pantheon of the Sun also has purview over the moon and stars) warm, clear nights. Because the Pantheon of the Sun has fairly warm relations with the Pantheon of the Earth, the soil is healthy and experiences a long growing seasons. Three to four crops a year are common, but crop growth is also dependent on the Pantheon of the Suns' somewhat difficult relationship with the Pantheon of the Sky (also known as the Pantheon of Storms). Thus, when it does rain, the rain often comes accompanied by high winds and can damage crops as much as nourish them. Thus, the Protectorate of Zama does all it can to keep on good terms with the Pantheon of Rivers, which provides a steady source of clean water to irrigate Zama's crops.

In a similar vein, the lands under the reign of the Pantheon of Storms are dark, cold and often windy. Due to the difficult relationship with the Pantheon of the Sun, the lands see very little direct sunlight through the omnipresent cloud cover. And due to the outright hostility the Pantheon of the Earth bears the Pantheon of Storms (due to the rape of an earth goddess by a god of the skies), the soil is extremely poor. Thus, the population in these lands is dependent on the seas for raiding, fishing and trade - and the violent Storm Gods have assured themselves of the cooperation of the Pantheon of Seas by the simple expedient of having taken one of their number hostage.

Under the Earth, in the lands between the surface and hell, the Pantheon of Darkness alone holds sway. Thus, there is no sun and little breeze, for the one thing the Gods of the Sky and the Sun can always agree upon is that the Pantheon of Darkness is their greatest foe. That being said, the Pantheons of Water and Sea have no quarrel with the Pantheon of Darkness, and so both fresh and salt water can be found in the Underearth. Moreover, the neutrality of the Mycenean Pantheon, the Pantheon of Fire, (who reside under a mountain themselves, after all) ensures the Underearth remains warm. This combination of water and heat allows some plants to grow and fish and other animal life to prosper in small number.

Finally, the lands of the Imperium are bleak and barren. The humans who reside their have turned their backs on the gods to traffic with demons and devils. Thus, the temperature is always either too cold or two warm, the lighting is always dull and grey, water is brackish, there is very little direct sunlight and it almost never rains. Thus the humans of the Imperium ever see to expand their lands by conquest and enslavement and rely entirely on conquest, trade and tribute in order to feed themselves.

Monday, 1 September 2014

L5R Characters

Here's a group photograph of the miniatures I painted for my L5R group. From left to right: Tsuruchi Daiki, Agasha Haruki Naoki-Ro, Chuda Fumiko, Bayushi Midori, Hida Tadakatus and Kuni Kasumi.

Kuni Kasumi

Friday, 29 August 2014

Dark Heresy/Death Knell

Isn't it typical? No sooner do I start recording our adventures on the blog than the game dies. While a few of our players were away over the Holidays, I started up a game of Legend of the Five \rings with my group, using the Heroes of Rokugan III organised play modules.

My group liked it so much, we've moved over to playing L5R instead of Dark Heresy. We're now four module in and all the payers who have been able to make a full session so far love it. One of my players commented that they loved the challenge of navigating the put-falls an constraints of what is, to westerners, an entirely alien society. The other quickly agreed.

And that, I think, is what's central to the appeal of Legend of the Five Rings.

Unfortunately I won't be able to put up any actual play reports here for a good long time (because it's an organised play campaign, anything I put up here would constitute spoilers). But I am keeping a journal. So when the campaign ends I about a year or so, I'll put the journal up for all to see.

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Dark Heresy Episode 1.2

I'm a week behind in the write-ups, as we've just finished playing episode 1.3. Just before we started last session, Stuart realised that he had already played the original Call of Cthulu campaign on which this Dark Heresy campaign is based. Before the start of the session, we briefly discussed our options as a group (carry on with the campaign, play a different published campaign with the same characters, or switch to Legend of the Five Rings). For the time being, we decided to continue playing and decide what we would do next week.

The Acolytes:
  • Cadence: A Tech Priest CyberHound handler. Played by Ali.
  • Grimoire: Potent Void-Born Psyker. Played by John.
  • Gunner: Down-Hive Gun-Slinging Scum. Played by Fiona
  • Ishtari: Novice Sister of Battle. Played by Caroline. 
  • Lemantz: Penumbrae Hive Enforcer. Played by Niall.
  • Zane: "Squat" Flamer-wielding Cleric. Played by Stuart.

Outside the door of Chamber 401, the Acolytes begin a hurried discussion, first determining (after a brief word with the ship's captain) that they are standing outside the only exit. The immediately instruct the captain to withdraw to the next bulkhead and seal both it and the one on the other side of the room.

Once "safely" locked in to a very confined space with an unknown foe on the other side of the door, Cadence easily bypasses the lock.

Inside, the once-stateroom is in disarray. Three naked human figures, "clad" only in bloody war-paint stand around a small, metallic letter bin (the sort you might find next to any scribe's work-space) throwing in documents, books and other artifacts. An odourless, colourless steam rises from the bin. Meanwhile, on the bed, lies a headless, mutilated corpse. The three intruders reach for their weapons while the door hisses open: each carries a sharpened human thighbone, carved with strange runes and already stained with (presumed) human blood.

The Acolytes gun them down before they can even move.

Entering the cabin, the Acolytes quickly begin an investigation. Cadence and Ishtari immediately move to rescue what documents they can, particularly those already consigned to the bin. Inside the small metal receptacle, they find not flames, but a strange, purple goog that appears to be slowly dissolving any non-metal objects placed within. 

They rescue a number of documents from the flames, including a hard copy of an astropathic transmission, a formal "chop" of the sort used by Rogue Trader and noble houses in the Crone Sector to announce themselves, a metal jho-stick lighter (on the carpet next to the bin), a trade receipt and (rescued from the bin itself) a partially dissolved, grainy pictograph of a star-ship.

[Handouts 1-5 from the previous post]

Meanwhile, Grimoire reaches out with his less natural senses. The temperature in the room immediately drops slightly, but no-one seems to notice. Grimoire's senses detect a dispersing warp nimbus, with a similar "taste" to the one he experienced in the Surgeon' lair [Episode 0.4] immediately following their quarries escape. It's only similar though. Not identical.

Meanwhile, Zane examines the dead "painted men". He can find no clue as to their identity as individuals, but notes that the war-paint is indeed blood (very fresh blood) that has been painted atop a pattern of swirls and jagged lines carved into their flesh and long since scarred over. He also gets a closer look at each of the three thigh-bone clubs and confirms that they did indeed once come from a human being. He can make out a number of runes carved into each, but they mean nothing to him personally (or, indeed, to any of the Acolytes). Each painted man wears an identical white mask, seemingly carved from a large piece of ivory (a shoulder bone perhaps?). The masks are worked into a rough oval, featureless except for two triangular vision holes and a long "mouth" from which protrudes a long, bloody (and somewhat rotten) animal tongue of some kind. Similar to that of a grox.

Gunner looks around the rest of the room, carefully checking for anything the painted men might have dropped or missed in their search. He finds a hand-written letter on the carpet beneath a dresser [Handout 6] and a small hard-bound book beneath the bed [Handout 7]

Meanwhile, Lementz, the most forensically-aware member of the group, examines the corpse on the bed. It's a man, with an appearance anywhere between mid-to-late thirties, although it's hard to be sure for two reasons: the relative availability of rejuv treatments in the Crone Sector and, most significantly, the fact that the body has been horribly mutilated. Lementz can tell that the marks carved into the body were made while the victim was still alive, all the more horrible given the extremity of the mutilation. The head has been severed from the body by a number of down-word strokes from a crude, sharp object, leaving a ragged wounded and a series of puncture wounds to either side of the point of separation. An especially large rune [Hand-Out 8] stands out among the smaller wounds on the body.

The group briefly confers after their sweep. They briefly discuss the various clues they have found. The central issue for the group seems to be whether or not the corpse on the bed is Jeremiah Elias. After all, they have no-way of identifying the body as yet. After a brief discussion, they step out of room 401 and close it behind them. They they summon the captain.

Prudently, the captain returns with a fair-sized Securitor team at his back. The ship-board guards are wearing full flak armour and carrying boarding shotguns. The captain, looking relieved, leaves his escort at the bulkhead and approaches the party alone. The relieved look soon vanishes from his face (replaced with near-panic) when Cadence, who's understanding of Geller fields is somewhat sketchy, instructs the Captain that he will need to have the ones onboard ship checked immediately. The Captain (assuming that the occupant of room 401 was killed by Daemons who boarded the ship while it was at warp) immediately orders a full sanitation sweep of the ship and an inspection of it's Geller Fields.

Although the Captain clearly wishes to return to the bridge to coordinate these efforts, the acolytes use their authority as Throne Agents to keep him where he is. They escort him into the room and ask him to confirm if he recognises any of the corpses. As it transpires, he claims he can't. He never met Jeremiah Elias in person and does not recognise the three painted men as being among his crew. But then, given that there are around 1400 crew onboard, that's not surprising. 

"It's difficult to give an exact figure," the Captain admits, "We regularly conscript fresh bilge-scum from the prisons at every stop we make. In-fighting and disease amidst the lower deck crew insures a high-turnaround. We don't even bother to keep track of who lives and who dies anymore. Haven't for centuries, in fact."

The other acolytes are not pleased (nor especially convinced) by this, but settle down a bit once the void-born acolytes, Grimoire and Zane, confirm that this is fairly common practice among warp-capable vessels of all kinds. Even a luxury transport such as this.

The Captain is them grilled about possible ways for an outsider to come onboard. Grimoire in particular is convinced that warp-craft or teleportation was used but Cadence argues that without the protections of the Blessed Omnisiah and possession of certain powerful machine spirits, the painted men would have been destroyed by the denizens of the warp mid-transport.

At this point the captain is dismissed with instructions not to leave Penumbrae Space Dock until released by Inquisitorial Authority and with even stricter orders to permit no-one save the Inquisitional Forensor teams the Acolytes will be summoning to access this chamber.

Meanwhile, the Acolytes wait for a number of the "Zorias'" to arrive to retrieve the bodies and begin a more in-depth investigation of the scene. In the meantime, they again discuss whether or not the corpse on the bed could be Jeremiah Elias or just some dupe. After a time, they realise that speculation is pointless and instead decide to attend the planned rendezvous at the Irridium Guesthouse. Partly in the hope that they will find Jeremiah there alive and well. Partly to see who else might turn up to the planned meeting.

They thereafter turn back to the other clues and identify some leads that they can pursue without having to leave Penumbrae:
  • The Trading House
  • The Hand-Bill for the Lecture
  • The Librarian
  • Lady Eika Coriolanus herself.
They are still debating long after troupe of  stitched-face Zarius serfs arrive to take custody of the bodies and chamber 401.

[In fact, they won't decide which lead to follow up after the Iridium Guest-House until well towards the end of he next session.]

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Dark Heresy Hand-Outs Session 1.2

Clues found in the rooms of the deceased Remembrancer, Jeremiah Elias.
Item 1

A hard-copy of an astropathic communication. Dates of transmission, rebroadcast and reception have been expunged. 

To: Lord Coriolanus
From: Jamal Nazir

Gracious Lord, I am informed you desire knowledge of our world of Pharos. In my possession are singular curios which I believe to be of interest. These I shall willingly display to you for your edification and gratification. Naturally, they are ancient and priceless beyond compare. I will arrange matters to your satisfaction when your agent calls upon me in the street of Jackelis, Old Quarter.

Item 2: 
A folded piece of hard-copy, embossed  with the chop of a prominent Rogue Trader family, House Penhew. Beneath the chop can be found the name Evard Gavigan along with his title, "Seneschal, Tabula Rosa

Item 3:
A metal jho-stick lighter, made from cheap pressed metal. It is stamped with the words: " Shambling Tigura, Shian City."
Shambling Tigura Lighter
Item 4:
A pictograph -very dark and grainy- depicting a massive merchant vessel of some kind. The ship orbits a generic looking space dock to which it is attached by umbilicals. The star-field is partially obscured by the grainy quality of the image. Three letters are visible on the ships bow. "D-A-R".

Item 5: 
A trade receipt from an establishment calling itself Imassa Imports, located in Penumbrae City close to the shuttle port. The receipt mentions unspecified "services". On the back has been scrawled the words " Silas N'Kwane".

Item 6: 
A handwritten letter addressed to Jeremiah Elias, care of Prospero House. Return address is: Miriam Arrarat, Universitat Penumbrae. The letter seems quite old and travel-stained. It reads:

"Sir, the text of which you enquired is no longer in our catalogue. The information you seek may be located in other volumes within our collection. If you contact me upon your return to Penumbrae, I will able to assist you in locating such volumes."

Item 7:
A small sheet of hard-copy, inserted between the pages of Gideon Ravenors: " A Mind in Darkness". It marks the beginning of chapter 11, "Fetishes in pre Imperial Cults." It is a handbill advertising a lecture on "Pre-Imperial Cults in the Crone Sector" delivered by a Signeur Antonius Kowlis, a fellow at Penumbrae's Eschkatonic Universitat, speaking as a guest lecturer at the Universitate Penumbrae. The lecture was several years ago.

Item 8:
Symmetrical marks have been carved onto the corpses chest, which has also had it's tongue ripped out. The marks resemble two bloody crescents with a round object in the centre.

Symbol carved into Elias' Chest

Dark Heresy Campaign: Episode 1.1a

  • Cadence: A Tech Priest CyberHound handler. Played by Ali.
  • Grimoire: Potent Void-Born Psyker. Played by John.
  • Gunner: Down-Hive Gun-Slinging Scum. Played by Fiona
  • Ishtari: Novice Sister of Battle. Played by Caroline. 
  • Lemantz: Penumbrae Hive Enforcer. Played by Niall.
  • Zane: "Squat" Flamer-wielding Cleric. Played by Stuart.

  • Explicator Sand: Seneschal of the Sanctum Invigilus. The PC's immediate superior within the Inquisition.
Session 1.1

Within hours of the Surgeon's escape, Coscorla is overwhelmed by a massive Inquisitorial presence. Inquisitional Storm-troopers, Mechanicus Skitarri and Adeptus Arbiters are moving from hab-block to hab-block, rounding up dregs and inhabitants at gun-point. A few of the orange-garbed gangers are stupid enough to resist, and pay dearly for it. Bloody scraps of orange cloth flap pitifully in the gentle breeze of the air recyclers. Boss Luntz is furious, loudly calling out to all who will listen that he is an ally of the Inquisition. He pleads with the acolytes when he is led into an armoured prisoner conveyance, hands bound in electro-shocks cuffs before him. Lilly Arbest is also led away, weeping tears of bewilderment and betrayal. The last the acolytes see of her is her face peering forlornly through the rear window of a prime-mover marked with the ominous words: Adeptus Mechanica Vivisection Node 361.

Inquisitor Sand oversees it all, relishing the cruel scenes before him. He congratulates the acolytes on their successful defeat of probable Logician cell. He expresses disappointment at the “Surgeons” evident escape, and seems surprised at the lack of fatalities among the acolytes. He implies that he had expected that Coscorla “thin the herd” somewhat, but admits that while survival of the fittest is certainly an operational truth within the Inquisition, it is certainly not an inefficient way of managing the Sanctum's wage bill.

The Explicaor carelessly throws each of the acolytes a small ersatz-leather wallet containing their new Acolyte Rosettes and reminds them of a useful procedural loop-hole: while it is a capital offence to impersonate an Inquisitor, there is no requirement to correct anyone who mistakes them for one. Indeed, such mistakes only add to the Inquisitions mystique as an omniprescient force within the Imperium. He scoffs openly though at the notion that any of them might be mistaken for a member of the Ordos' higher echelons, however. At least, not yet. But he does advise them to announce themselves as "Throne Agents" rather than "Inquisitional Acolytes" or the "Inquisition." Purely to take advantage of the ambiguity. 

With a few final, parting barbs, he instructs Cadence and Sister Ishtari to report to him for surgical treatment as soon as he returns to the Sanctum Invigilus. He expects the remaining Acolytes to personally bring their written reports to his Reclusiam at the beginning of first-shift.

Cadence and Ishtari undergo a horrific experience, bound to surgical tables in the same room where Sand conducts his forensic examinations. Surrounded by half-decayed, mutilated corpses, he gleefully explains that he is somewhat short of anaesthetic. The procedures will have to conducted using local anaesthetic only. Thus, both acolytes are wide awake as Sand tears them open and pokes around in their insides with blunt, remarkably filthy, surgical instruments. Fortunately, both somehow manage to pass their toughness tests and avoid contracting nasty infections while under the knife of their somewhat sadistic employer.

While the injured acolytes recover from their ordeal, the others present their reports to the Explicator at first-shift. All fail to mention the initial blunder that led to a succession of fire fights with the local Coscorla crime-lord and his gangers. Luckily, Sister Ishtari has been excused from providing a written report due to her wounds. Sand would be unlikely to forgive the acolytes for submitting selectively edited reports and the naive young battle sister doesn't have a deceptive bone in her body.

At the meeting, Sand informs the acolytes that he has another task for them. One of their master's sometime informants, Jeremiah Elias, has contacted the Sanctum Invigilus via astropath. Sand speaks of this agent as a remembrancer fond of chasing ludicrous conspiracies and clearly thinks little of him. However, he does admit that Elias has occasionally provided useful information amongst all the dross. Clearly, the Remembrancer thinks he has found something big- astropathic communication is not inexpensive and nor, for that matter, is warp-travel. As such, Sand will be sending the acolytes to meet with Sand when his ship docks in six days. When asked, Sand states he does not know what ship the informant will arrive on, only that the acolytes are to contact Elias at his hostelry when he makes land-fall.

Sand provides only three useful pieces of information:
  • The informant has information concerning the doomed Coriolanus Expedition.
  • The astropathic message originated somewhere in the Shian sub-sector
  • The informant is Jeremiah Elias, a Remembrencer who specialises in writing sensationalist non-fiction concerning ancient, pre-Imperial heresies of the Crone sector.

With six days to burn, the acolytes set about finding as much information as they can about Elias and the Coriolanus expedition.

From their recovery cots, Cadence and Sister Ishtari set about finding out as much as they can concerning Jeremiah Elias. However, while they have no trouble accessing Inquisitorial files with their new security clearances, they find that every second word in the man's file has been “<redacted>”. This strikes Cadence as being somewhat odd. Why would information concerning a mere informant -and an unreliable one at that, according to Sand- be above their security clearance?

Gunnar, meanwhile, hits up his old street level contacts in return for information. It seems that Elias' investigations have left very few footprints in the Penumbrae underworld. Only the lowliest -and craziest of Gunnar's various contacts have every heard of him – and these contacts are themselves among the most rabid conspiracy theorists. The sort of rambling, junk-addled lunatics than even the worst of drunks steer clear of. Zane likewise speaks with contacts among the local ecclesiarchy, but none of his scholarly companions have even heard of the man or his theories.

Grimoire has much better luck. As a fellow pysker, he has no qualms about visiting the Sanctum's Telepath, Erazmus Kensin. Kensin is a wasted, emaciated fellow, left paraplegic by the soul-binding process and permanently plugged into the Sanctums astrotelepathica array by dozens of thick cables. Suppurating pink flesh, badly infected, rims each connection where the cable enters his thin body. Starved for company, Kensin is only too happy to share what he knows about Jeremiah Elias. Elias, it seems, is actually one of Inquisitor Schardes most valuable and prised informants. Although not a member of the Inquisiton himself, the remembrencer's research has frequently uncovered high level conspiracies throughout the Crone sector. Elias' tips have resulted in a number of successful prosecutions. At least one corrupt Planetary Governor has been exposed and executed thanks to Elias' research. While the scholarly community largely considers him to be a “hack”, Inquisitor Scharde thinks very highly of him. So highly, in fact, that Sand has standing orders to forward any communiques from Elias to the Inquisitor immediately.

Which, Erazmus muses, is odd considering that the message arrived three days ago and Sand has yet to return to the astropath with clearance for him to re-transmit to the Inquisitor. Erazmus even shares his original transcript of the transmission with Grimoire. It clearly shows that the informant is travelling on a ship called the Silver Majesty. Moreover, the transmission was clearly sent from Shian itself, not merely from somewhere within the Shian sub-sector.

Troubled, Grimoire shares this information with his fellow Acolytes. Clearly Sand has been deceiving them, but that is hardly unusual within the paranoid ranks of the Inquisition. Despite this, their hackles -and their suspicions- are raised. They decide they would prefer to meet Elias at the docks rather than at his hostelry as Sand has requested. Zane openly wonders if there is anything else they need to do in the mean-time. He's clearly tired from a long day of voxing dry, rambling old scholars for information. Ishtari helpfully points out that they have two more leads to chase down: the Coriolanus expedition itself, and the planet Shian.

Shian is easy enough. Gunner explains that the world is the capital of the Shian sub-sector, the last part of the Crone sector to have been conquered by the Imperium. Although Shian itself was absorbed only a few generations ago, it has already earned a reputation as a shady trade hub where anything can be bought or sold for enough credits. The world itself is almost entirely underwater. Most of the actual land-mass is only a few metres above (and in some cases, under) sea-level. It is crowded, dank and musty and overall a very, very dangerous place to do business.

The Coriolanus Expedition is another matter. Cadence spends much of the second day trawling through Inquisiorial data bases on the subject. She quickly determines that it was an exploratory expedition sponsored by the mighty House Coriolanus of Penumbrae in partnership with House Penhew, a Rogue Trader dynasty bound to the Adpetus Mechanicus Explorator fleets by a treaty of indentured servitude. The entire expedition was reported lost some years back

[See the previous  hand-out post for transcript of various hand-outs concerning the expedition. The final entry is the transcript of the astropathic communication sent by Elias.]

The acolytes briefly consider contacting Erika Coriolanus, the sister of expedition leader and socialite Rogal Coriolanus. However, it's clear from Cadence's research (as well as the acolytes own local knowledge) that Erika Coriolanus is a very powerful, very influential individual. It's even commonly believed that she has the Planetary Governor's ear. She may, in fact, be something of a power behind the throne. Although they have Inquisitorial authority to speak to whomever they like, whenever they like, they decide it would be better to speak to Dame Coriolanus after they hear from Elias. While they do not fear making an enemy of her, they realise that contacting her with vague questions concerning her brothers fate would be impolitic. They may need her cooperation later, when they have uncovered some concrete information.

Talk turns to planning their meeting with Elias. Cadence tries to locate a pictograph of the Rememberancer to make approaching him at the Space Dock Terminus more feasible but finds nothing in any Inquisitorial or public data-net. The acolytes spend the new few days planning the Space-port operation, training and requisitioning more gear.

When the Silver Majestic docks at the Penumbrae Terminus five days later, the Acolytes are waiting. Cadence has already interrogated the Terminus' machine spirits and found that the Majestic is due to disembark 173 passengers. She attempts to persuade the Majestic's machine spirits to reveal an image of Elias, but finds that Elias' file has been mysteriously corrupted. The Tech Priest does, however, find Inquisitorial finger-prints all over the seemingly “innocent” data corruption. Incensed at this disrespectful treatment of so ancient and wise a machine spirit, she conveys this information to the rest of the Acolytes via Vox.

The acolytes decide that the Inquisition is doing a magnificent job of covering Elias' tracks. But Zane wonders openly if this is the work of their Inquisitor trying to protect Elias, or if someone else within the Inquisition is trying to kill him. Either way, their plans remain unchanged.

So it transpires that when the Majestic's passengers disembark from their luxury lander at the Terminus, Cadence is waiting for them, complete with a sign bearing the name “Jeremiah Elias.” Not because the acolytes actually expect Elias to approach them, but in the hope of provoking the informant into making some sort of furtive gesture than will give himself away. Lementz and Gunnar are standing nearby, watching the richly-dressed arriving dignitaries for just such a sign. Meanwhile Cadence counts the new arrivals. 172. One short.

Around the corner, Ishtari, Grimoire and Zane are waiting. Heavily armed and fully armoured in their newly acquired gear, they are a truly intimidating presence. The perfumed and effete dignitaries who have left the ship are too intimidated by the rosette badges they openly wear to utter even a gasp of protest. Buxom, somewhat elderly ladies swoon and blush when a dashing young man purporting to be a lord is pulled from the crowd by the acolytes. But it's not Elias. It is instead a somewhat infamous impersonator and thief named Eidipus Flynt whom they drag into the back of the Inquisitorial Chimera brought along for this purpose. Though he is not their real target, his presence does give the Acolytes the pretence they need to board the Majestic.

The ships captain is an ancient and dignified figure whose double-breasted ships-uniform is festooned with medals, ribbons and precious metals. When he acolytes suggest they must interrogate the crew to determine if Flynt has any accomplices among them he blanches and protests that there are almost 14000 indentured crewman aboard the ship. One of the acolytes wryly observes that the interrogations will clearly take some time. The Captain tactfully points out with as much dignity as he can muster that, while the Inquisition has the authority to impound his ship and crew for as long as they like, there are a number of very influential passengers travelling to other destinations who might take umbrage at the inconvenience of an enforced delay. The acolytes acknowledge this but seem unconcerned (they hadn't really been planning any such thing, after all). Instead they require the Captain's assistance in another matter. They observe that 173 passengers were due to disembark, but one remains unaccounted for: Jeremiah Elias.

The captain thinks for a moment, but eventually seems to remember the man. It seems that Elias snubbed invitations to dine with the captain an unprecedented three times during the journey from Shian. Three! The captain is only too happy to lead the acolytes to Elias' cabin door.

When they arrive, they cannot fail to note the blood seeping under the door -or the noxious odour of warp-taint eminating from within.

Monday, 16 June 2014

Dark Heresy Campaign Journal Episode 0.5

As soon as she recovers her wits, Ihstari shoots the poor, ruined piece of humanity on the slab. before her through the head.  Lementz proclaims the vile surgeon to be bound by Imperial Writ and skips a beat when Zane adds "and by the Imperial Inquisition."

If the surgeon hears, it does not react. It slowly, and without any apparent race of concern, flicks the corpse from it's slab and begins sharpening it's tools against a whirring grind stone. It does no turn to face them. It does no acknowledge them in any way. Even when Zane recites the list of it's crimes and explains their authority. It simply cleans it's tools and waits.

[Meanwhile, unbeknownst to the rest of the party, Cadence (via Threnady) risks scrap-code infection to establish a secure link between himself and the Surgeon. Using tight-beamed codes of binary burst codes. Cadence starts to offer the Surgeon a deal. The Surgeon does not reply. But then, it does not sever the connection either]

After a few seconds, the acolytes hear a familiar hum behind them. The swing around and duck just in time to see the Mechanical claw deliver another human torso. A woman's his time. The claw deposits the woman on the slab and the Surgeon slowly, with great patience and dignity, returns to work.

[Cadence continues to praise the Surgeon's work in the meantime and offers to broker a deal with the Inquisition]

This time, it's Gunner who puts the half-dead woman out of her misery. This time, there is a subtle reaction from the surgeon. I leans forward against the slab, it's back seems to heave under a small sigh -and the mechanical spider drops from it's back, scuttling forward to attack the acolytes. At that same moment, two Servitors burst from their cryo-tubes and engage them in combat. The Surgeon itself, meanwhile, simply summons another torso to work on.

Ishtari, still wounded from before, screams out her permission for Grimoire to heal her even as she steps forward, flail in hand, to engage the Spider. Despite her combat training, she's down in seconds, cut to shreds by the flailing surgical limbs.
[Second fate point of the evening]

Zane and Gunner turn upon the Servitors while Ishtari attacks the Spider-Servior with her nightstick and shotgun. Grimoire empties his autopistol into the thing even as he pulls Ishtari clear, but seems to do little damage. His attempts at Psykic healing fail dismally in the noise and terror of combat, frost spreads out in a wide circle around him, coating all the metal objects nearby. Fortunately for him, in all the confusion of the fray, none of his companions  notice this grievous lapse in control. Meanwhile, Threnedy seems to be frozen in place, unable to move.

[Still communicating with the Surgeon]

In a few frantic moments of combat, Gunner goes down again but Grimoire heals him enough that he can continue. From the ground he places his hand guns against one of the Spider-things many green, mechanical eyes and rattles off a burst. The hard rounds finally manage to pierce it's shell and rattle around inside, doing untold damage to it's various circuits. The thing collapses in a tangled heap.

The Surgeon responds by activating a control on it's arm. Still with it's back to the acolytes, the surgeons slab and the platform on which it stands begins to rise. The ceiling above it parts, a hatchway opening up to reveal a machine-room above containing eight, small, technological pillars arranged in a circle.

Threnedy leaps onto the platform. The surgeon ignores it. 

Down below, the acolytes concentrate of fighting off the servitors. Grimoire and Gunner take pot shots at the Surgeon but the rounds simply ping off it's mechanical back. It still has not turned to face them.

As the last of the Servitors fall, the platform disappears into the chamber above.

Cadence perceives a bright flash of blue light and then static. Threnedy -and her connection to it- is gone.

By the time the acolytes reach the chamber above, the Surgeon is long gone. The small chamber has no visible exits, and apart from a great deal of cabling and machinery, is featureless save for the eight small pillars arranged in a circle around them.