Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Dark Heresy Sessions, Part Three, Finale

I wrapped up my first story for Dark Heresy.  What started as my own experiment to see if I could run a solo GME game turned into one of the most enjoyable experiences I've had in a while.  This last part of the story took me in surprising directions. 

The rich setting of the WH40K universe really helped with interpreting GME results.  But still, the GME drove everything in this series of stories.  I simply started with one PC and a single premise of "assassinate this person and then prove his heresy."  Everything spun off from there.

This is a long post, with a lot of story.  It represents many hours of game play.  I'll let you read it for now, and will later post up my thoughts on working with both the Dark Heresy game system and the GME.  For now enjoy the conclusion of the story!

Scene Three, Chaos Factor = 5, rolled 8 proceed with scene
Set up: The team is to be shuttled to the Cestelle Alliance's embassy in the upper spires of the Hive Sibella.  Jezail will personally pilot a gun cutter, and deliver them to the landing pad.  Their mission is to access the embassy and locate Cain.  

Will Jezail accompany the team? (Highly unlikely) No.

The group is instructed to gather their gear and board the gun cutter.  Jezail and a servitor will pilot the craft.  As the team loads into the gloomy passenger compartment, Jezail provides last minute instructions.  "Both Inquistors Gelt and Rathbone are aware of the mission.  You are to deal with any opposition as needed, including extermination.  The Inquisition has apprised Lord Governor Hax of the mission.  No PDF troops or Ministratum forces will be deployed.  He wants this action kept as quiet as possible.  I will take you to the embassy landing pad, but will not join you on ground.  Communicate via micro bead, and use the gloss I've taught you to call for pick up or support.  Emperor keep you."

The gun cutter lifts off and arcs out of the Tricorn, heading for the upper spire.  In the passenger compartment, Flavia instructs the group on combat protocol.  She will lead the team from here out.  "I expect nothing less than total obedience to my directives.  Will there be a problem with this?"

Both Kaltos and Havelock nod their heads no, and Sister Flavia holds their eyes before smiling.  "We will banish these daemons back to the warp."

The gun cutter's landing struts lower.  A mechanical voice preps the team for disembarkation. 
Is there resistance at the landing pad?  (50/50) No
The cutter touches down at about mid-day.  High in the governmental spires, the bright sun glints of the glass and metal buildings.  

Is Cain prepared (A sure thing) 97 = No!
As the cutter's engines drop to idle, the hatches do not immediately open.  This alerts Flavia, who unhooks her restraints and bangs on the cockpit to door.  Jezail opens it.  "It seems like business as usual at the embassy.  That's not good."

Are innocents present (Likely) 86 = No!  
Flavia forces herself to the cockpit, barely fitting in with her power armor.  She observes the situation.  (Game mechanics:  Awareness test to see if she realizes no civilians are at the embassy.  Result  04 with one degree of success)  "Take a look around.  Only one Cestelle Alliance shuttle, no others, and no foot traffic.  We are good.  Open the hatch now."

Jezail is galvanized by the Battle Sister's commanding presence.  The hatches hiss and hydraulic shafts lift the door away.  Havelock leaps out with las gun ready, followed by Kaltos and Flavia.  Jezail calls out as they leave.  "Everything within that embassy is classified malleus majoris. Deal accordingly"

Are there armed guards at the entrance (Has to Be) 26 = yes
The team crosses the landing pad, fanning out into an inverted V shape with Flavia at the front.  It is a wide expanse with nothing for cover.  The smoked glass double doors of the embassy have the Cestelle Alliance crest etched into them.  The team switches to micro bead communication, as Jezail lifts off behind them.  Flavia asks Havelock to ready a grenade for the assault on the entrance.

"I thought we were to keep this discrete?" he asks.

"Then they should not have called upon the Adeptus Sororitas.  I will burn this foul, tainted place until nothing but ash remains."  Flavia raises her bolter as she walks.  It becomes the signal to attack.

The doors open partway and two guards prepare to fire on the team.  Havelock has a prepared frag grenade in hand.  He throws it but it hits the door and bounces to the side.  The blast still envelops the guards.  One flies back dead, but the metal-framed and armor-glas door protected the other from the worst of it. Brother Kaltos steadies his hand for a shot that only divots the glass.  Flavia pauses to spray a semi-auto hail of bolter fire that tears away the feeble cover and shreds the wounded guard.  She continues her advance, speaking calmly over micro-bead.  "Havelock, have you never fragged a doorway before?  Kaltos approach the opening from the side; Havelock, provide cover fire for my entrance.  They should be ready for us now."

Scene Four, Chaos Factor 5  Rolled 1 for altered scene

Set up:  Kaltos flanks the door and Havelock takes speculative fire into the entranceway.  Battle Sister Flavia shoulders her bolter and switches to her hand flamer.  But as she rushes in, rather than find resistance she finds that inside has been closed off with emergency shutters.  Only the foyer and waiting area is open.  Otherwise dull steel curtains block further entrance to the embassy.

Flavia thoughtfully lowers her hand flamer while Havelock comes in followed by Kaltos.  They step over the dead bodies of the guards, and Kaltos curses.  "Throne, what has happened?!"

"Emergency lockdown protocol," Havelock says as he kicks the debris scattered by his grenade.  Sister Flavia ignores both of them, puts her flamer away and calls Jezail over the mico bead using the gloss to ask for pickup.  "Exegis decline.  Pattern Basalt."

"Exegis confirmed.  In five," comes Jezail's voice through the micro bead.

The two men follow Flavia back out to the landing pad.  Kaltos is still agitated.  "We've lost the advantage of surprise.  And sitting out here is dangerous."

Flavia silences him with a look, turns back to the sky.  "There's got be another way in.  Jezail should already be working on finding it.  Kaltos, if your faith is not strong enough to face the danger then wait for me in the gun cutter."

Kaltos fumbles his words in reply, chooses not to say anything.  But his face turns red with shame.  The gun cutter touches down, and Flavia jogs for the opening hatch.  Once she and the others are inside,  Jezail gets the updated situation.

Is there another way inside the embassy?  (Has to be) Critical Yes!

"The service landing area and the Ambassador's private lander on the spire top,"  Jezail says.  "Cain could escape either way."

(Game mechanics: Havelock makes a challenging Intelligence test with assistance to guess the best location.  49 = success)

Is Cain going out the service landing?  (50/50) No

Havelock reasons that the ambassador's exit will be his likely exit point.  Flavia regards him for a moment, then agrees.  Jezail thrusts the cutter up hard, sending the team falling back from the force.

Is Cain already in his lander?  (50/50) critical no!

The cutter circles upward to the top spire.  A personal landing craft is there, but no sign of pilot or Cain is present.  Flavia shoots a look to Havelock, who shrinks back hoping he chose wisely.

Is the landing area big enough for the cutter to set down?  (Very unlikely) No

Jezail opens the hatch and the winds of this high spires blow in.  "You'll have to jump, and be quick!  I'll cover the service landing.  Go!"

Flavia is the first to make the leap. (Game mechanics: 3 meter/9 foot drop, three easy agility tests.)  She lands like a cat and springs away.  Unfortunately, Havelock falls the entire distance as well as Kaltos.  (Game mechanics: Due to heavy damage, both spend a point of fate to avoid the injuries.)

Flavia curses the two of them, hauls Havelock to his feet and then the same for Kaltos.  Havelock cannot meet her gaze, feeling the sting of shame.  First flubbing an easy grenade toss and now plummeting from the cutter like a recruit.  The imposing Battle Sister focuses them back on the mission.

Is the door secured?  (Likely) Yes

Flavia decides that they cannot wait for Cain to potentially exit from here.  The door must be blown, as no one has any skill to bypass the security.  "Put a frag grenade to it and we will shelter behind the lander," Flavia orders.  Havelock uses another grenade and the detonation does a great deal of damage.  But Flavia must finish off the door with bolter fire.  She wedges her power armored hand into the door and forces it open while Havelock covers with his las gun.  (Game mechanics: Straight up damage to an AP 18 obstacle).
The darkness of the embassy greets them.

Scene Five, Chaos Factor 6, rolled 5= Altered scene

Not sure how to alter the scene. So ask a fate question.
"Is there anyone hostile beyond the door?" (50/50) 73 = No.  So rather than confront anything, there is nothing present to prevent their entrance to the embassy.

What is beyond the door?  Procrastinate/Prison

As the daylight streams inside, the team sees a short hall.  Pathetic voices murmur beyond.  The taint of the warp hangs in the shadows.  Flavia leads while Havelock and Kaltos follow behind, muttering about the stench of evil.

The short hall gives way to a crowded room bathed in a dim glow of sodium arc lights.  Three people, two women and one man, are held in cages lining the walls.  They appear ill and abused, looking up with lifeless eyes or maddened expressions.  One of the girls leaps up and hisses like a snake, begins dancing like one.  The other two cower as Flavia nears them.

"Slaves or worse," Kaltos remarks.  "Held here awaiting the pleasure of their master.  They bear the stink of corruption.  In fact, this one bears the mark of corruption."  Kaltos points to snake tattoos and chaos undivided tattoos on the man.  The he puts a bullet through the slave's head, and then through the other two. 

"That is done.  We need to hurry."  (Game mechanics:  Easy perception test to detect chaos markings)

Are there any exits? (Has to be) Yes.  There is a single exit (rolled d3 for # of exits)

Does it go down? (50/50) = Yes.

Has anything responded to their intrusion yet?  (Likely) Yes  What comes?  Inquire/Legal matters (sounds like more guards)

(Game mechanics: Havelock passes an ordinary Awareness test to detect the approaching danger)
Havelock signals the team that something is on the stairwell.  Flavia prepares her hand flamer, while Havelock and Kaltos move to flank the entranceway.  

Do the guards have specialist equipment (likely) 59= no

The guards rush the stairs, the first two spotting Flavia and charging her.  The next two hit Kaltos and Havelock respectively, while the fifth guard can't make it up the stairs.

The melee is short an vicious.  Flavia handles the two guards who wield metal clubs for close combat weapons.  One makes an all out attack and strikes a crushing blow at Flavia's unarmored head.  But for the grace of the Emperor, she would be dead.  (Game mechanics:  Hit location was head, and Flavia failed her parry.  Damage would've taken 2/3 of her health; so spent a fate point to recover wounds -- the blow was guided away by her faith in the Emperor!)

Kaltos and Havelock redeem themselves in combat.  Havelock sustained a minor wound before dispatching his assailant using Malia's old shock maul.  Kaltos in fact kills two attackers one after the next.  Flavia, dropping her hand flamer in favor of her chainsword, handily parries the blows against her and kills one of her attackers.  The last man screams for blood, but is surrounded and cut down.

The battle over, the team exchanges nods and continues down the stairs.  Flavia leads the way, hand flamer again readied.  The rest of the team readies their ranged weapons as well.  

What is at the end of the stairs?  Oppress/Tactics

Is Cain present (Near Sure Thing) 11 = Critial Yes! AND random event Focus = NPC action (Jezail rolled randomly) Negligence/Illusions

Based on the event meaning, I now have a question on how to interpret this.  So, I ask a fate question.
Is Jezail a traitor?  (Unlikely) = 38 Yes

The team enter the room.  Standing at the center of the ornate and lushly appointed living quarters of the ambassador is not only Cain but Jezail as well.  Several other cultists are present in dark robes and red hoods.  They have joined hands which appear to have been cut open and are bleeding.  They murmur horrible chants in sonorous voices.

The room is flooded with the cloying smell of incense and heavy with the taint of chaos.  Jezail smiles, has a bolt pistol in her hand that is leveled not at Cain but at the team.  Cain stands in the center of his room dressed in a toga of purple and gold.  His face is a ruin of twisted evil.  He appears to be in a trance.

The team pauses not understanding the scene.

"The perfect culmination of a perfect plan," Jezail states as she walks toward Cain. "The ultimate sacrifice of purity to the Prince of Pleasure.  This was not easy to arrange.  But now the time is here.  Cain is ready, and you are with us in the place of power. "

Kaltos notices that there are charges set around the perimeter of the room, and nudges Flavia's attention to them.  Jezail notices the exchange as well (Game mechanics, Awareness tests for both.)

"You are the sacrifices and Cain is the vessel," Jezail says, her eyes flashing.  "This rotten hive will witness the power of the dark gods like never before.   The Imperium of Man must be awakened to the threat of the Warp.  Without seeing it first hand, mankind will continue its drawn out slide into extinction."

"So that is what you think?"  Kaltos begins to speak.  "You believe that summoning the dark gods to real space will lead mankind from extinction?  This is ludicrous!  But your mind has become beholden to the spell of the daemon.  How can you know what is right?"  (Game mechanics, Blather test to buy time.  Marginal success, giving Havelock and Flavia time to do something.)

"Why all this trouble?" Kaltos continues.  "You could have killed us in the gun cutter."

"It's all part of the sacrifice.  The violence, the life blood that soaks these floors, that is all food for the Dark Lords."

As Kaltos engages Jezail in debate, Flavia gestures Havelock to back up the stairs while Kaltos is doing the same.  She does as well, but her flamer is ready.

In a flash, she catches Jezail by surprise, sending a gout of flame streaming at her.  Both she and Cain are caught in the flames, though Jezail dances away before she is hit.  Cain does not seem to know he is burning.  The cultists voices raise higher at the start of violence.
Jezail  laughs.

"Back to that lander!  Kaltos, get it started and I will hold back these scum!"

Jezail fires her bolt pistol, a rare and powerful artifact, and strikes Flavia's leg.  Her power armor absorbs most of it, but the bolt pistol is designed to rend armor.  "Go now!"  Flavia cries as she staggers back from the impact.

Scene Six  Chaos factor 7 = Rolled 6 scene interrupt.  Even focus = Remote Event,  Excitement/Plot
(Wow, can't believe I'm rolling this stuff randomly!)

Havelock pulls a grenade and lobs it at the cultists.  Jezail pulls out a detonator just as the explosion mangles the cultists.  The blast also catches Havelock in it, and he suffers shrapnel wounds but lives.  Flavia unleashes her flamer again and now Jezail is doused in fire.  

Does Cain awaken in demonic form? (Likely) Yes

Jezail screams and panics from the fire.  But Cain suddenly awakens.  The deaths of Jezail and the cultist provided the demon enough force to materialize through him.

(Game mechanics: Flavia uses a point of Fate to unleash her holy radiance powers)

Cain twists and turns into a myriad different forms.  But Flavia stands boldly against him, a golden aura of power bathing her and her companions.  But just as Cain is turning into his demonic form, other people pour down the stairway.

A gnarled and stern man dressed in Inquisitorial garb sweeps in, and behind him are two more Sisters of Battle.  Cain screeches at the sight of so many foes, but he leaps forward to strike nonetheless.

 "Purge the demon!"  cries the Inquisitor.  And so they do.  Out gunned and surrounded, the demonic form of Cain is shredded by bolter fire.  The demon moves with great speed and strikes with terrible strength.  One of the Battle Sisters has her arm ripped off at the elbow.  But they prevail.

As Cain lies on the floor, foul black ichor runs from his body and then dissipates into the warp.  Despite the horrible carnage, the place immediately feels better.

The Inquistor tends to the Battle Sister who lost her arm.  Her other Sister tends the wound to stanch the blood loss.  Together with Flavia they raise her up.  Then the Inquisitor turns to the others.  "I am Inquisitor Felroth Gelt.  Please exit the way you came, and board the transports there.  We want to clear the area before I use these explosives."  He gestures to the devices lining the wall.  "They've proven to be quite convenient."


It is said if you stare overlong into the abyss, the abyss also stares into you.  So goes Jezail's unfortunate story.  As the team is extracted from the Cestelle Alliance's embassy, Inquisitor Felroth mumbles a short prayer and a pained expression passes over his hard face.  "She was once our brightest," he remarks to no one.  Then he detonates the explosives which destroy the embassy in a cloud of smoke and debris.  The airspace is patrolled with gun cutters, keeping bystanders away from danger.  The lower spires appear to not be as well protected as flaming wreckage tumbles away to crash among the less fortunate.
The team is taken back to the Tricorn, where wounds are tended and intense reviews conducted. Once they are cleared of any risk of chaos taint, Inquisitor Gelt agrees to meet with the team to explain.  "It's only right that you know."

Jezail's corruption began long ago, as she experimented with radical philosophies.  But the seductive powers of the warp twisted her to its own ends.  Through careful work, she planned to use Cain as her subject to summon and bind a great demon of Slaanesh.  Her actions became suspect, so she launched her own investigation as a means to both appear innocent and to further her ends.  Lady Rathbone knew of this and had Inquisitor Gelt running his own investigation.  Chasing fugitives and searching for leads were all red herrings.  This last event was the planned culmination of her plot. 

"She felt the purer the sacrifice, the more powerful the summoning.  So you three were to play that part.  I'm not sure at the end that Jezail had all her faculties.  She left many holes in her web.  Involving the Cestelle Alliance was a huge error, as that worthy house contributed significant resources to clear its name with the Inquisition by helping to bring her down.  And for the record, none of you worked for Lady Rathbone; you have always been one of my cells whether you knew so or not."

In the end it was a lesson to all that even the Inquisition must be ever vigilant for the encroachments of the Ruinous Powers.  No one is above the reach of Chaos.


  1. Very cool. The ending was a wee bit deus ex machina, but still, a very fun and exciting story! And you actually rolled all that, too, which is incredible to me.

  2. Yes the end was all rolled up and I couldn't really believe it. Sure, it's a little bit of a cliche. However, the stats I came up with for Cain were so over powered that I think they needed the help. I'm glad you liked it and thanks for reading!

  3. Great story!
    In my experience as solo RPG gamer, Mythic GM emulator is the closest thing to artificial intelligence with the mind of it's own any human ever produced.
    Be ware, for some day GM emulators might rebel, kill all humans and take over the world!