Friday, 24 July 2020

Dark Heresy: Vindet Intro

Well it has been nearly a year since I posted and everything is so totally fucked worldwide that it seemed like a good time to come back and finish what I started, namely chronicling the tale of a Dark Heresy RPG that I ran through three major arcs over the course of most of a year. This is the second arc, with Spirebound being the first so go read that one if you care to proceed, the story will make more sense for it.

To briefly summarize, Spirebound saw our bumbling if stalwart group of Inquisition Interrogators attending a very high class party in the primary spire of a hive world at the incredibly vague behest of their unusually absent Inquisitor, Caspiel Rex. All they knew was that the nobles of this world had possibly been doing something bad and arrangements had been made in order for them to attend said party under cover and stop it, whatever it was. Through a little investigation, a bit of subterfuge and a whole lot of violence the group was able to foil a plot by the Planetary Governor's two sons to ritually sacrifice Gothic Sector High Commander Thaddeus Hale to the ruinous powers of chaos using a xenos artifact during a ball held in his honor, at the cost of their companion Sinric's life. In the aftermath of this who should show up but their Inquisitor, a couple new acolytes in tow and looking much worse for wear. He had been masquerading as one of the servant staff personally to try and find out who had given the Tarnells the alien artifact, suspecting the work of some great and shadowy adversary, when the brothers had divined his presence with warp trickery, beat the everloving shit out of him and tossed him down an elevator shaft. He survived with the help of his acolytes waiting in the wings, and while recovering in an Underhive hospital made arrangements for the party to handle the situation using his web of contacts.

Now in the aftermath he had another job for them. Just as vague unfortunately but much larger in scope.  Rex's investigations on Draxis Prime had cost him his hand and quite nearly his life, but it was not in vain. He had been able to confirm at least one critical clue, the xenos artifact the Tarnell brothers had used for foul warp augeries had in fact come from the Vindet system, a settled Imperial world on the edge of the Gothic sector, near the Halo stars. All he knew for sure was that whatever shadowy adversary had been eluding him all these years, they had recently spent some time in the Vindet system before granting the terrible artifact the forbidden knowledge required to use it to the Tarnell brothers. This was a more concise clue than he had ever been able to secure with certainty about this elusive and supremely clandestine foe. As he was in fairly poor shape and had other important tasks to attend to he commanded his acolytes to investigate for him, telling them that an Adept with the Departmento Munitorium on Vindet I would be meeting them to help them get their bearings and brief them with some intel he uncovered that may be useful. However Sinric was dead, and he required their Apostate Demios for a special task, and as such they would be assigned two new companions to fill the gaps, the same two that he brought with him.

As mentioned in the Spirebound finale Sinric's player was looking to try a new character concept he had come up with, which was the source of Sinric's heroic death in the first place. After Spirebound we all agreed that we wanted to keep playing and it was no longer gonna be a one-shot, and as such Demios' player decided that maybe a character who's gimmick was to roll perils of the warp as much as possible was not sustainable for long term play. Thus was the source of our two new characters, Sinric's player now playing Revalya and Demios' player now as Gamma Flair]

Gamma Flair had been standing in a casual yet disciplined at-ease stance during the debriefing. She was the model of military efficiency, having started her career as a pilot with the Imperial Navy and eventually becoming seconded to the Inquisition after witnessing the large-scale corrupting of a planet at the hands of the ruinous powers. She excelled within the strict operations of the Inquisition, and only recently was acquired as an asset by Rex. She looked at her motley crew of new companions with a mixture of disdain and disbelief, unsure how such an eclectic group could remain under cover for any duration of time. She was clad in a mostly unadorned dark Naval dress uniform with a set of Flak armour layered overtop, a black duffelbag containing her combat shotgun laden with tox-flachettes and her segmented electro-whip.

If Gamma Flair had an action figure it would have a button that, when pressed, would make the doll say "Is this really how an Inquisitor's primary cell operates?"

Completely in contrast was Revalya Teyatimei, who was leaned against one wall peering suspiciously at the party. She was draped in a deactivated cameoline cloak and matching hood, with only her face showing. Concealed under the cloak was no fewer than five different pistols in various holsters and pouches, ready to be slung out at a moments notice. Reva had struggled all her life, from her barely-remembered youth as a test subject in a lab to her subsequent escape to the harsh life in an Imperial Underhive and it had made her mistrustful but resilient. Her eyes had a peculiar quality about them that was hard to pin down, but her real shame was squarely atop her head and concealed by her cloak hood. A pair of small, sharp horns protruded from her black hair, a mutation on the holy human form forever marking her as a leper and outcast and ensuring a life of turmoil. She was picked up like many of the others in the party, a chance meeting with Inquisitor Rex while he was on the job saw him offer her a rare opportunity of employment, which she cautiously accepted. Now she served an organization that on the whole would prefer to see her dead, and she was acutely aware of this irony. During the introductions Rex alluded to the fact that it may be better if he informed the group of her condition, but she resisted and said in so many words that she would do it herself, only later.

I'd like to think the bumps on her head were a little less obvious than this, because the alternative is that poor Tancred Bram is both blind and not very smart (the latter I suppose was within the realm of possibility)


If you have read the first part of this tale you may notice an important point. Tancred Bram hated mutants. A lot, in fact, more than almost anything else. He spent all his pre-inquisition life battling against the mutant hordes that threatened his feudal homeworld and then after living with the bitter shame that a similar taint had gripped his own bloodline, right up until the Adeptus Mechanicus offered salvation in the arms of the Machine God. Both players were aware of the dynamic this character choice would cause, and not only did they go ahead anyways Reva's player elected to not have the secret shared in the relatively safe conditions made by the presence of their Inquisitor. I don't think any of us knew just how much this was going to effect the game moving forward but the shenanigans carried on right to the bitter end.]

And so their meeting with their Inquisitor ended. Rex went off to do Emperor only knows what with the party's erstwhile unsanctioned ex-deamonhost psyker and the group went off to make some acquisitions before they needed to depart. Thanks to a merchant who was hilariously bad at his job (and managed to roll over 80 on every single one of the opposed commerce checks he was called on to make) the group made away with a decent haul of acquisitions including a couple cybernetics. A couple days later and they were shuttled off to the belly of a merchant freighter arranged by their boss, very spartan but blissfully private quarters within its depths. Bram and Alycone both spent a bit of time under the knife on that voyage, Bram at the hands of Alcyone and Alcyone with the ship's medicae staff (much to the disapproval of Bram, who spent her entire three week recovery period in-transit pacing nervously outside her room). The rest of the group spent some time prying into Reva, wondering what terrible secret Rex alluded to her possessing that might require her to be under scrutiny. With some trepidation she finally relented, pulling back the hood to show Yarrow, Ceasar and Gamma her mutation. There was some uncomfortable silence, but eventually they relented that a secret mutant was overall probably less of a dangerous liability than an unsanctioned psyker. Yarrow however cautioned to not tell Bram until he had warmed up to her a bit, citing his usual rabid bloodlust against mutants as a reason.

At the end of it all the group had become mostly acquainted with their new members, Bram had added a manipulator mechadendrite arm to the list of limbs he could Punch with and Alcyone had a suite of augury and measurement tools hard-wired into the mechanical array of her head. A few days after Alcyone's surgical recovery was deemed finished the merchant vessel dropped out of warpspace in the periphery of the Vindet system.

As the ship began its five-day sublight transit to the capital world where they were to meet their contact Alcyone and Gamma got busy integrating as much information about the system as they could get their hands on, both through the planet's own noosphere networks and the merchant hauler's databanks. Vindet was a mixed bag of a system, home to a single major colony world, a bloated purple gas-giant with its mineral rich moon and a positively enormous and dense asteroid belt that ringed the system's white, angry sun. An abundance of resources in-system including valuable adamantium found in the gas giant's moon granted it a meteoric rise to prominence on the outskirts of the Gothic sector, and saw a significant Adeptus Mechanicus presence in Vindet I's capital city. The asteroid belt was ringed with countless installations such as mining platforms and had great swathes of unexplored or dark territory, where pirates were said to lurk. Vindet I also presently had a couple regiments of Imperial guardsmen stationed on-world, both Brontian and Cadian, deployed in order to help check the growing population of feral orks in the equatorial jungle regions had swelled and began to impact chemical refineries and mining interests in the area.

Eventually their ship merged with the great stream of vessels heading to and from Vindet I and began their final approach. The world itself had a number of orbital installations and a moderate shipyard, and once orbit with the planet was established the merchant vessel began to disgorge a massive number of shuttle and shipping craft, emerging like a brood of flies from a corpse and swarming towards the planet's surface. One such craft contained our squad of Interrogators and all their earthy possessions.

Nothing quite like a flying space cathedral orbital traffic jam

The world itself had very large regions of cold tundra, extending from the poles on either side of the planet with a verdant warm band around the equator and middling wetlands and stretches of desert between. The planetary Capital was known as Mecharius City after the Imperial Hero of the same name, and was a large metropolis situated in the frozen northern hemisphere of the world. As their shuttle rattled through atmospheric reentry and the frigid metropolis grew closer frost began to encrust the exterior windows. The small craft, one among thousands now ascending and descending to and from the chilly starport's snow-dusted tarmac, finally touched down. As the ramp descended a bitter cold wind blew into the shuttle interior with wisps of frost, and Ceasar loudly bemoaned their lack of appropriate cold weather gear.

Pulling their garments tight around them and hauling the bags containing their weapons and equipment, the party hurried across the landing pad to the warm inviting glow of the downport interior, determined to meet Adept Victris and get started on their vague and daunting task.

This picture was a gift from one of my players, and now that all the characters are present I can finally post the whole thing. Left to right is Inquisitor Caspiel Rex, Alcyone Saboris, Tancred Bram, Yarrow Able, Revalya Teyatimei, Gamma Flair and Ceasar Morroe

And so ends the introduction to the second act, with a modified cast aboard a diverse world and little in the way of leads or direction. This ended up being the second of three acts of the game, which ran for about a year in real time using very long 6-8 hour text-only game sessions through roll20 once every one or two weeks. I hope anyone other than me can find as much interest reading this as I do to write it, stay tuned for Vindet Part 1 coming soon!

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Dark Heresy: Vindet Intro

Well it has been nearly a year since I posted and everything is so totally fucked worldwide that it seemed like a good time to come back and...