Monday, 16 June 2014

Dark Heresy Campaign Journal: Episode 0.1

Here are brief character bios and a quick write up and summary of our introductory scenario, a modified version of the published Edge of Darkness adventure. It's a very well written introductory scenario. It just needed a few tweaks here and there (mostly cosmetic) to adapt it to my style and the themes of the campaign.

PLAYER CHARACTERS:
  • Cadence: A Tech Priest CyberHound handler, Cadence 's augmentations are fairly subtle. Her relatively few obvious metal parts are deliberately designed to be "aesthetically pleasing" by the standards of those who have not been enlightened by the Omnissiah. Handler of the cyber-hound "Threnady". Played by Ali.
  • Grimoire: Doubly cursed as an obvious psyker (due to his constant muttering of warding prayers) and void-born (due to his strange complexion and tall, thin build) Grimoire was recruited into the Inquisition due to his extremely high natural psi-rating. Were it not for his age when tested, his natural talent is so great he may even have been recruited for training as an Astartes. Played by John. [Due to a randomly generated mutation, Grimoire starts the game at rank one with a Psi-Rating of 2]
  • Gunner: A down-hive gun-slinger, Gunnar is big, beefy and proudly wear his Mohawk in gang-colours. Deadly with a pistol in either hand, he was recruited as an Acolyte after performing well as a hired-gun during an undercover investigation of his home-hive. Played by Fiona
  • Ishtari: A novice battle-sister of the Order of the Ebon Chalice, Ishari is considered one of the convent's most promising prospects. She has been ostensibly been seconded to the Inquisition for the completion of her training as a reward for her piety and diligence. Ishtari, on the other hand, quietly believes she is being punished for some transgression. Played by Caroline.
  • Lemantz: Perhaps the only uncorrupted Enforcer in her precinct, Lemantz joins the Acolytes mid-way through The Edge of Darkness. She has no idea she has been helping the Inquisition until the end of the scenario, when she is recruited by Sand. Played by Niall.
  • Zane: An extremely devout (and "squat") follower of the Imperial Creed and one of the few surviving inhabitants of a Space Hulk investigated by agents of the Inquisition. Zane was subjected to "purity protocols" after his rescue. He was thereafter permitted to join the Inquisition as an Acolyte. Played by Stuart.

IMPORTANT NPC's:
  • Explicator Sand: Sand is a senior member of Inquisitor Scharde's organization and has been tasked with the running and supervision of the Inquisitors house-hold during his absence. As part of his duties, Sand oversees the recruitment and training of new acolytes. Given that Scharde himself has not returned to the sanctum for over 50 years, Sand has accumulated a great deal of personal power.

EPISODE 0:
The Acolytes are summoned to Sands' presence in the Apothecarium where they observe a grisly sight: the Explicator is surgically dismembering what appears to be a overly-large servitor unit. While he briefs the acolytes, he absently removes festering organs and dripping technological components from the corpse on the slab before him.

It transpires that this subject, found wondering on a mono-rail line, is the remains of a missing person from the ill-fated Corcorla district of the hive. [Nearly abandoned after a catclysmic plasma explosion some years ago, the district is dying and will soon become just another part of the dangerous under-hive.] Hive explains that corpse, formerly one Saul Arbest, was unaugmented before being reported missing. While down-hivers being snatched as a cheap source of raw materials for Servitor production is not entirely unusual, something about this particular incident has attracted the eye of the Inquisition.

At this point, Sand leisurely tosses something small and round to Cadence, the most technologically astute acolyte present. The Explicator affirms that this particular implant is something new, a statement to which Clemence readily agrees. As a cyber-hound handler herself, Cadence is very familiar with sacred servitor technology. This is not a device she is familiar with. That means it is new. That, in turn, means it is heresy. Here-tek, to be precise.
The Acolytes are provided with a list of recently reported missing persons from the Coscorla district, along with Bounty Hunter licenses (authentic, not forged), sample kits, and some cash for expenses. They are also provided with nearly identical armoured trench-coats, which Sand instructs them to wear to help them "blend-in".

On the mono-rail down-hive, the group discusses their options. Towards the end of the journey, they pass into a massive hive-cavern, the majority of which is eerily blacked out with only a few scatterings of lights in the distance. They pass through (and by) many ruined hab-blocks and empty mono-rail stations briefly illuminated by the passing lights of their carriage, all scorched and crisped by intense flames before the mono-rail finally reaches it's destination.

The last passengers on the train, they step out onto the poorly illuminated gantry for the Coscorla terminus. Below them, a half dozen hab-blocks tower into the "sky". Most are poorly illuminated, with lights that flicker, glow with a weak, sickly light or else do not glow a all. The cavern floor is some hundred fleet below them and a badly paved road leads towards a central square where a tawdry market appears to be in operation. Even from this great distance, they can see hat the majority of the dwellers in this district are dressed in rags. A large, long que of the most destitute looking residents forms outside a building that proclaims itself to be the "Tantalus Alms House". They also spot a "Tantalus Worker's Union", a small (poorly maintained) Templum, an Enforcer precinct house, a Hostelry of some kind and what appears to be a fully functional salvage yard.

As the Acolytes get their bearings, they notice a distinct drop in the levels of illumination provided by the few functioning street lamps. Being a hive-dweller all his life, Gunner recognises this as an indication that the night cycle will soon begin. The activity below clearly takes on a somewhat hurried pace, as the locals seek to complete their business and hurry home before dark.

Descending the rusty metal gantry, the acolytes decide to begin their investigations at the home of Lili Arbest, sister and sole next-of-kin to the deceased Saul. They note from the missing persons file that Lili is also the individual who first report the deceased as missing. As they move through the square towards the hab-block in question, they notice that they are gathering attention. A pair of black-armoured Enforcers sneer at them openly and begin moving away from the square towards their precinct house. Other residents give them fearful glances and scatter away from them, as if terrified to be in their proximity. It is at that moment that Gunnar and Zane spot several small groups of orange-clad thugs converging on their position. 

Wishing to avoid a confrontation with the local gangs, the acolytes duck into the ramshackle Hostelry, where they are greeted by an unwashed, gap-toothed scare-crow and the distinct, rancid ammonia odours of piss and decay. The Hostel owner launches briefly into what he clearly imagines to be witty banter before noticing the small army of thugs gathering in the square. As he ducks down behind his counter, he frantically directs the acolytes to the back door. As they begin to move, a few shots boom behind them and shattered, dirty glass showers around them. 

[By this point, Zane has deduced that the local scum have mistaken their identical trench-coats as gang-colours. Gunnar realises he is probably right and kicks himself for not recognising the danger sooner]

The group ducks out the back door, taking cover in a filth strewn alley-way. With plenty of dumpsters, abandoned appliances, mattresses and even a few dead bodies, there is plenty of cover. When the first ganger rushes through the back door, Gunnar drops him with a pair of pistol shots to the belly. Thereafter, the brief gun-fight is punctuated by the thrashing and screaming of the dying ganger as he slowly bleeds out in the doorway. A second ganger, this one barely older than a boy, is brought down by Ishtari with a shot to the neck. Grimoire claims a third as the ganger takes aim of the window. But by then, someone with brains (and authority) has clearly arrived. Gangers begin breaking windows on higher floors for elevation and better fire-lanes while booted impacts resound from neighbouring allies. Realising they are about to be flanked, the acolytes lay down an impressive amount of covering fire and leg-it. Although Grimoire and Ishtari both take las-shots to their left legs during the escape, they manage to lose the gangers in the maze of alleys. Although the gangers have the advantage of knowing the terrain, the auto-senses of Cadence and her cyber-hound, Threnady, give the acolytes an even greater advantage.

Briefly, they consider ditching their tench-coats but decide against it. They are clearly going to need all the armour they have. And even without their trench-coats, their group is hardly likely to blend into a crowd. Realising that there is no longer any reason of secrecy, Ishtari removes her carapace from her bag (replete with Sororitas insignia) and quickly dons it. After a few moments to treat their wounds, the group consults their map and proceeds to Lily Arbest's hab-block. It's a bombed-out, graffiti emblazoned mess, with spent shell casings, dirty bandages and all manner of detritus decorating the lobby. The acolytes at first find this alarming, but Gunnar assures them this is all perfectly natural for this sort of hive environment. While the others remain in the lobby, watching the various entrances, Gunnar and Zane are nominated to investigate the apartment, purely on the grounds that they are the least outlandish of the group and therefore least likely to alarm their quarry.

Down below, Grimoire notes a ragged figure emerge from an alleyway and scurry down the street away from the hab-block. He thinks nothing of it.

With all four of the elevators out, Zane and Gunner climb the stairs to the third floor, stepping over a dead junkie on the way up Lilly's apartment door still retains a few flecks of green paint, but it's mostly just rust and bare metal. The frame shows signs of having been forced, but the damage is weeks old at least. Inside, they find a terrified Lilly, packing things in readiness to leave Coscorla for good. It takes some convincing, but eventually the girl agrees to talk provided the "bounty hunters" escort her safely to the mono-rail Terminus first. She explains that it's dangerous to move around at night (Gunner snorts at this.After all, it's the down-hive. Of course it's dangerous to move around during night cycle) but the girl explains, "No. It's really dangerous to move around at night now. People have been disappearing."

Zane and Gunner exchange a glance, and vox the others to tell them they're coming down stairs. Grimoire voxes back and tells them not to bother. They're coming up. The gangers have arrived.


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