Rogue Trader Campaign Log – Session 10 : Two Houses United by War

Lord Black’s party were swiftly conveyed to the palatial estate that had been allocated for their use during their time on Hive World Decusis by it’s ruler Lord Corith Decusis, they were accompanied by the simpering Dorath Farah, seneschel to the ruler of the planet who had been assigned as their liaison during their stay. Whilst Farah began arranging a meeting between Lord Captain Black and Lord Decusis, techpriest Pak retired to one of the isolated halls of the mansion seeking privacy in order to begin delving into the strange secrets of the scarab-like device that he had recovered from old underhive vox tower, promising that he would also repair the Captain’s armour he was allowed to retreat into seclusion in order that he might better commune with the tech-spirits of the Omnissiah.

With the meeting arranged Lord Captain Black took the opportunity to bathe before outfitting himself in his best dress uniform, resplendent in the black and silver livery of his House, stopping briefly to talk to Criute, the chef present in the mansion and cousin of the young blind girl Dana that they sought to recruit for their crew. Criute seemed quite willing for the girl to make something better of her life, but worried that no-one would be behind to take care of her sick guardian, considering the matter, Lord Captain Black offered to setup a regular stipend for the care of the woman, if Criute would arrange it; taken aback by the generosity the young chef was only too happy to agree, glad that his cousin would be free from the oppressive pollution and grime of the hive world. Having likewise attired himself in his finest white, red trimmed robes Chief Confessor Cornelius and the black cowled form of York Benetec joined their Captain as they were lead to the luxurious quarters of Lord Corith Decusis, Imperial ruler of the planet.

Walking beneath the stretched silver skull logos of House Decusis, Lord Captain Black’s party were escorted by household guards into the main meeting hall where they had previously received an audience with the imperially sanctioned rulers of the hive world; Lord Decusis was flanked by his twin sister Dominique, the two nobles both bearing the eerie androgynous good looks and fashionable bald heads of their household.

Decusis was concerned by the Rogue Trader’s talk of strange robotic xenos creatures who (according to the Navigator York Benetec) were capable of moving through vast distances without the use of warp technology, his fears stoked by Confessor Cornelius’ suggestion that the asteroid field surrounding the planet would provide more than suitable ammunition were the Ordo Xenos of the Inquisition to become involved and to declare Exterminatus against the world. At one point these dire portents of doom caused Lady Dominique to swoon and temporarily take a small absence from the meeting, although she re-appeared several minutes later apparently no worse for wear.

By the time Lady Dominique re-entered the chamber, Lord Captain Black was in discussion regarding providing additional crew to Lord Black’s burgeoning fleet; he appeared willing but hesitant about the amount of crew members that Lord Black was requesting. With fairly little subtlety Lord Decusis proposed that their alliance be formalised with a marriage between Lord Black and his sister Lady Dominique, once that alliance had been forged and the safety of his world secured, Decusis would provide the crew required. In dire need, and aware that Lady Dominique had already displayed a liking for him, Lord Black agreed and a simple ceremony was conducted by Lord Decusis with York Benetec acting as witness for the groom and Dorath Farah acting as a witness for the bridge. Twin ribbons were used to tie the outstretched arms of the bride and groom together, white to represent their new life beginning together and red to symbolise the joining of their two bloodlines.

As the ceremony drew to a close Lord Decusis proclaimed that today would be a half-holiday and that a great celebration would be held in honour of the newly-weds.

System Design

One of the sections of the Diaspora rules that interested me and that I was very keen to use was the system design rules; with one of the players running late we all sat down to generate the sector of space that would be our game setting.

After generating the system (itself quite a fun little exercise), I fired up my flowchart software, drew out a neater version of the map, dropped in a couple of additional systems that we had already mentioned in the game and neatened the whole thing up in photoshop.

I decided that the links between the systems as determined by the Diaspora system would quite adequately represent stable passages through the warp without any alteration of the rules, each line between the systems would take three months travel, however this could be modified (as per the “Handling time” section in the Diaspora rules) by a navigation roll made by the ships Navigator.

The systems we generated looked like this…

  • Ariadne T -2, E +2, R 0
    • Lawless
    • Society equivalent to wild west
  • Coppernicus T +4, E +1, R +1
    • Rogue tech tradition
    • Rumours of lost STC tech
  • Catan T +2, E +3, R +2
    • Grox exports
    • Imperial agri-colony
  • Centurion T -1, E +2, R-2
    • Waterworld
    • Quarantine
  • Decusis T +3, E 0, R +2
    • Industrial
    • Polluted
    • Asteroid field (this was actually defined by one of the players in the first Diaspora-rules session)
  • Excelsior T -4, E -1, R 0
    • Savage
    • Hostile
  • Endeavour T +2, E 0, R -1
    • Feudal
    • Nordic
  • Footfall T +2, E -3, R -2
    • Lawless
    • Piratical
  • Gregori T -1, E +2, R -2
    • Reclaimed from chaos
    • Moderate inquisitorial presence
  • Judicious T +3, E +1, R 0
    • Ecclesiarchy
    • Heretical terrorists
  • Medea T -1, E -1, R +2
    • Mutants
    • Meteoric warpstone/mutagen
  • Malus T 0, E -2, R +1
    • Toxic
    • Ancient xenos remnants
  • Omega T 0, E +1, R -1
    • Space pirates
    • Barren
  • Port Wander T +3, E -1, R 0
    • Bustling
    • Bastion of the Imperium
  • Sycorax T -4, E +1, R +3
    • Isolated
    • Ancient xenos remnants
  • Temperance T 0, E +3, R -2
    • Old terraforming equipment
    • Odd cult
  • Undred Undred Teef T +2, E +1, R -2
    • Orcs
    • Asteroid fields

Changing the Rules

Changing the Rules

Having run nine sessions of the game one thing had become quite obvious to myself as the GM, and that was that, whilst we were very much enjoying the Warhammer 40K background (since most of the players had more than a passing familiarity with it) the actual rules system felt a little clunky and a lot of time was spent during a game session flipping through our (very)slowly expanding pool of rulebooks looking up various abilities and powers. My own preference has always been for games where the story is the main focus of the session and the rules almost fade into the background, supporting but not over-powering the game; slowly I began to consider the idea of keeping the game background but changing to rules to something a little more story based and streamlined.

I dug out my old printed copy of FUDGE, it was a system that i’d always liked the look of and it contained some very interesting notes on converting across elements from other systems; searching around on the internet lead me to discover the surprising number of RP based communities that had sprouted up on Google+ since the last time I had used it. One in particular caught my eye, a community based around FATE, an updated and expanded version of FUDGE, and this in turn lead to the discovery of Diaspora, a science-fiction template game for FATE that already covered most of the elements that I wanted for my game.

On the evening before the session I printed out some character sheets and did my best to create Diaspora versions of the characters that, whilst not precise replicas, maintained the essential nature of the characters…

  • Lord Captain Black: A rich, socialite with a dark, haunted background and a soul touched by the warp.
  • Navigator York Benetec: A physical strong and twisted mutant bearing the navigator gene.
  • Chief Confessor Cornelius: A fiery priest, secure in his faith and wearing it like armour against the alien and the deviant.
  • Enginseer Prime Pak: A techpriest steeped in the art of the Omnissiah and bearing many strange pieces of technology either incorporated into his body or buzzing around him.

 …since the players were currently on Hiveworld Decusis I decided not to worry so much about the spaceships at this moment, the idea was to first try the rules in a test-lite session and see if the Diaspora rules looked promising and then, if so, continue to use them in future sessions.

Quickly listing equipment I halved the damage modifers and penetration values from the Rogue Trader equipment list and used them as weapon stats for the Diaspora rules, assigning them to three categories…

  • Melee weapons
  • Slug weapons
  • Energy weapons
…the energy weapons were further divided into melee and ranged varieties.

Rogue Trader Campaign Log – Session 9 : Lines of Communication

The immediate threat dealt with Lord Captain Black turned his mind back to the young blind woman; Confessor Cornelius begged leave to go and search the settlement so that he might minister to the injured and lead the faithful in a prayer of thanks to the God-Emperor for their deliverance, deep in thought about Dana, Captain Black nodded and watched the priest leave. Calling for Thomas Vitanteur, he asked the criminal what he knew about the young blind woman, shrugging the criminal said that he knew very little apart from the fact that she lived in an isolated homestead in the nearby ash wastes and occasionally came to town in order to trade for supplies.

Enginseer Prime Pak had recovered consciousness, his self-repair subroutines working overtime to get him ready for action, still curious about that blanking of communications when the shambling horde had attacked Pak asked Vitanteur if there was any way that he could boost a vox signal; nodding Vitanteur assigned the techpriest one of his men, a local boy called Kreg who knew of an old defunct Locutus-MkII comms tower that had been abandoned in the ash wastes when the technology had fallen into disrepair. With a mind to repair and utilise the equipment in the vox tower, Pak jury-rigged a derelict jeep from the settlement and, with a small contingent of soldiers and his guide sped off into the ash wastes.
Lord Captain Black and York Benetec had been discussing the strange feeling that had stole over both of them when they had fallen under attack from the carrion walkers, Benetec theorised that the creatures may have been somehow temporarily strengthening the barrier between the material world and the warp whilst they had been present and that perhaps the Captain had some vestigial sensitivity to the tides of the immaterium. Talking to the young blind girl Dana they discovered that she leaved with her aunt who had unfortunately become ill and that Dana was selling trained animals from the underhive in order to purchase her aunt some medicine, the old woman had come down with ash sickness, a breathing difficulty caused by toxic ash that falls like tainted snow from the ceiling of the hive miles above. Captain Black and Benetec visited the young girls homestead and witnessed that she seemed to have an almost supernatural ability to calm even the wildest underhive predator, a talent that appeared to be from her mother who died in a mutant raid just after Dana had been born; Benetec theorised that she had some minor mutant ability rather than any measurably psychic ability.
Having reached the comms tower, Pak’s easily overrode the door controls and gained access the vox building, drawing on his knowledge of such buildings they quickly located the main control room of the tower but were dismayed to discover a number of silver beetle creatures apparently fused into the wiring of the system; mindful of the damage that these metal scarabs had inflicted last time the group had encountered them Pak came at the problem sideways, unfastening one of the consoles that one of the creatures was attached to and attempting to remove the entire unit. As power to it ceased the creature launched itself at one of the soldiers, sinking twin metallic pincers into the man’s neck; with consummate skill the techpriest sliced the creature in two with his power sword, rendering the victim unconscious. Examining the system, Pak was able to determine the metal insects were plugging into the backup power system running through the vox tower and that they were causing it to broadcast static on all channels, effectively blanking out communications in a wide area nearby (including the settlement of Redtooth); with the comms now freed up Pak received a signal from Arbite station 1 who were under by a force of renegades at the wall between the underhive and the hive city.
Re-joining with Captain Black, the group cobbled together a ramshackle trio of wheeled vehicles and raced towards the the wall where they saw the horde of mutants that had rampaged through the settlement ahead of the carrion walkers launching frenzied attacks on the arbite defenders of the walls. Calling on reinforcements from the Lunatic Pandora in orbit, Lord Captain Black was gratified when a shuttle of his soldiers joined the arbites on the wall (with the grateful permission of their leader, Proctor Erebus) and helped to repel the attack.
With the thanks of the Arbites Proctor, once the mutants had been dealt with the group retired to the mansion-like facilities that had been placed on permanent loan to them for the duration of their stay by the ruling Decusis family; Pak produced the boxed remnants of the destroyed scarab, it seemed that the xenos behind the attack had been attempting to implant their technology in people and acquire more subjects, the techpriest wondered whether or not the xenos could access the memories of those that they had implanted their tech in.

Rogue Trader Campaign Log – Session 8 : Down and Dead in the Underhive

As the shuffling shapes grew closer the swirling dirt of the hive bottom briefly settled, revealing a shambling horde of festering carrion shapes looming out of the darkness; the most horrifying thing though, was the glowing pinprick of green light that shone from the foreheads of each rotting corpse, like a baleful third eye searching constantly for prey. Enginseer Prime Pak had been adjusting his vox broadcaster and suddenly cried out in his eeriely monotone, mechanical voice, “Lord Captain Black, the comms have gone down!”

Only half paying attention, Lord Captain Fortunus Black nodded, as the creatures approached a strange feeling had stolen over him, it was not fear, Emperor knows he had faced his share of xenos and other horrors in battle, but it was as though an odd lethargy had shrouded his senses; the young member of House Black had always had a strong intuition that some said bordered on the precognitive, but he had grown up and being accustomed to it, now however he felt cut off, as though one of his limbs had been removed or had fallen asleep. Turning to his Navigator York Benetec, the Captain could see that the mutant warp pilot also appeared to be experiencing some difficulties, his complexion had paled and he swayed a little unsurely; with no time to waste the Captain directed Enginseer Pak to reprogram the Navigator’s grapplehawk servitor to deliver a message requesting aid, with the job done he dispatched the creature on it’s errand.
A short time later, greedy eyes watched as the grapplehawk struggled, broadcasting a holographic bust of the Captain repeating the message “We are under attack from servitor-like beings, they are using a green flame reminiscent of the wytchfire weapons used by some Eldar Corsairs, repeat, this is Lord Captain Fortunus Black of the Lunatic Pandora…”
Back at the settlement of Redtooth the shambled horder continued its unstoppable march forward, Thomas Vitanteurs men busied themselves fashioning makeshift fortifications from nearby detritus whilst Lord Captain Black addressed his men and Chief Confessor Cornelius rallied their spirits with heroic tales of Imperial Saints in situations grim who had, by the grace of the Emperor, triumphed. As the first of the carrion walkers reached the settlement, eager to test his mettle and prove an example to the men, the Chief Confessor, activated his forcefield and strode forward, lightning crackling around his hammer as he swung intot he shambled force; cheering as a zombie collapsed the men began to fire into the horde as it slowly closed on the building that they occupied, Lord Captain Black’s power sword flickered out and another fell.
There was a gasp of horror from the soldiers as some of the felled creatures began climbing to their feet, slimy metal filaments emerging from their wounds and binding together their wounds, returning them to fray; still firing, their courage holding thanks to the example of their leaders the soliders began to withdraw into the building whilst Vitanteurs men shored up the window and began firing outwards, their crude stubguns spitting death. There was a sudden flash of blinding light as one of the creatures charged Cornelius and smashed into his forcefield, several people collapsed backwards blinding by the light, but the Confessor remained unharmed. Enginseer Prime Pak stumbled forwards blinded, just as Cornelius’ thunder hammer smashed into the chest of one of the creatures, striking the infernal green heart of the beast, it exploded with a blast of heat and light, the force of the explosion hurling the techpriest through the window of the building, his body struck the wall and lay still.
Having seen that the creatures could be killed, the soldiers pured fired into the advancing horde, cheering with each greenfire explosion, but the endless wave continued; from inside the building Vitanteur called out for help, one of his men had begun thrashing about and a green light began to pulse behind the man’s forehead. Realising that the ganger had someone been infected, Benetec drew his inferno pistol and fired it into the ganger at close range, ending the danger that the infection might spread further. From outside silence suddenly fell, with a blinding green flash the creatures and the body of the infected ganger disappeared, leaving the dying echoes of gunfire as the only sound drifting across the settlement.

Rogue Trader Campaign Log – Session 7 : The Belly of the Beast

Thinking back to a more trouble free time, Enginseer Pak remembered a time when he ran with the gangs of his hiveworld home, bodging together tech for the local gangs ensured that he was largely left to his own devices. One day a local gang leader bought him a strange metal device that was like no human technology Pak had ever seen; as the ganger was explaining that his boys had jacked it from a supply train belonging to the notorious Vitanteur crime syndicate Pak’s home was surrounded by an Adeptus Arbites squad lead by the ruthless Proctor Erdman and shooting broke out.

During the gunfight, the strange piece of xenos tech was hit by stray las fire and began to pulse with a steadily brightening green light; a previously unseen figure in red techpriest robes who had been accompanying Proctor Erdman rushed to minister to the device. Rha-haz the techpriest called out for help stabilising the device in his strangely modulated voice and Pak dashed to his aid, between the two of them they were able to power down the xenos tech. With the crisis over the Arbiters began rounding up the gangers, but when it came to Pak the techpriest overruled Proctor Erdman, saying that the young man had some talent and might do well in the Adeptus Mechanicus.

Back in present day…

Navigator York Benetec landed on the planet (having shuttled down with the additional forces requested by Lord Captain Black) and quickly joined the others on their expedition into the underside. Arriving in a small settlement where they had arranged to meet Tomas Vitanteur to discuss purchase of armour they witnessed a group of thugs intent on beating a small blind girl; focussing the power of the warp Benetec unveiled his lidless gaze and struck down most of the thugs leaving their leader barely alive and swiftly dealt with.

Travelling to the tavern with whispers of “mutant” and “witchery” drifting after them following Benetecs display of power, they took the young girl with then; Pak was pleased to discover that the young Dana was cousin to Criute, the chef that he had got on so well with. Chief Confessor Cornelius noted with curiosity how some of the native, feral wildlife seemed to be very protective of Dana. Meanwhile the meeting with Tomas Vitanteur went ahead and Pak held his breath, would they recognise one of the men involved in the loss of syndicate xenos tech? Luckily the many cybernetic augments that Pak had undergone since joining the Mechanicus seemed to have sufficiently disguised his appearance and Lord Captain Black was able to purchase his armour in return for agreeing to smuggle Vorl a rogue heretek and his survivor offworld.

An alarm caused the group to rush outside where a tide of mutants from the hive sump were charging the settlement; Confessor Cornelius waded into the onrushing tide with only his faith in the Emperor and a Thunder Hammer to protect himself, however Benetec realised that the.mutants weren’t attacking but were fleeing something else.

The swirling dust clouds parted for a second to reveal a horde of shambling silhouettes with evil, glowing green eyes.

Rogue Trader Campaign Log – Session 6 : Hive World Scelus

Having secured a new navigator but still needing crew for his new vessel Lord Captain Black sets his sites on the industrial Hive World of Scelus, a world that processes and packaged nutritional supplements made from the Grox meat of the neighbouring Catan star system; Confessor Cornelius recalls that the system is ruled by the Imperial Noble House Decusis who have a reputation for decadence and an odd tradition of the nobility shaving their heads after the founder of their line was granted rulership of the planet and took monastic vows.

Arriving in orbit a small team takes a gunboat shuttle and follows landing coordinates from the Hive City control station where they are directed to land on a small private docking bay jutting from the shining pristine walls of the Hive Spire, rising many miles above the toxic smog of the planets surface. Lord Captain Black and his party are met by a slimey man known as Dorath Farah, who has been assigned by Lord Corith Decusis to be an envoy to the party and to ensure that their needs are met (also to keep an eye on them Lord Black suspects). Dorath tells them the stroy of how the founder of House Decusis boarded a space hulk with six men, set the fusion reactors to blow (saving the planet) and, by an act of divine providence, managed to get back to the planets surface by means of the only escape pod. Considering himself to be saved by the Emperor’s Grace the founder of House Decusis shaved his head and took monastic vows, every since then it has been the tradition of House Decusis (and those who seek to emulate them) to completely shave their heads.
The group are shown to a large mansion high in the hive spire which is to be their home whilst they remain on the hive world; Dorath tells them that he will arrange a meeting between them and Lord Decusis as soon as he is able to. Whilst the group orders a number of drinks (wine for Lord Captain Black, a 200 year old whiskey for Confessor Cornelius and a passable simulation of hive city grog for Enginseer Prime Pak) the Enginseer interfaces with the local city newsfeed and is surprised to find that portions of the local news updates appear to have been deliberately excised (and would surely have gone unnoticed were it not for his own technical expertise). They attempt to question Dorath about this and, whilst initially he claims ignorance, he eventually admits that there has been some small trouble in the underhive with local superstition running riot.
Meanwhile, in his search for some more honest answers, Enginseer Prime Pak is wondering the grounds and makes the acquaintance of one of the estate chefs, a bald, gruff man named Criute – the two instantly strike up an accord, having both raised themselve out of the murk of the hive bottom through their own talents and skills. Criute has been working in the hive spire for 10 years and has managed to get other members of his family (such as his second cousin Geron who works as a soux-chef in the kitchen) jobs in the Spire. During their talk, Criute pulls out a thick bottle of genuine underhiver grog that he cracks open with the Enginseer; he tells Pak that House Vitanteur are the real power behind the throne in the Hive and that they are a front for a pan-sector crime syndicate. Pak feels a chill as he hears the name, recognising the crime syndicate that has been hunting him ever since he joined the Adeptus Mechanicus.
Cornelius and Lord Captain Black have retired to their bed chambers where they find fully stocked wardrobes and are surprised to find exquisitely carved pleasure servitors, amalgams of flesh and intricately decorative precious metals, waiting to satisfy their every need whilst they remain guests of the ruling family. Instantly sober at the mere thought of such decadence, Cornelius makes a prayer for the Emperor’s mercy under his breath and dismisses the whirring servitor from his presence, secure that the Emperor keeps him free of such blasphemies of the flesh; Lord Captain Black is a little unnerved by the creature and leaves his chambers. Hearing about the servitors through their vox link, Pak sends his servo skull into his chambers and sees a similar creation waiting for him, realising that it could be used to spy on them he recalls his floating servo-skull to him.
The next morning Dorath visits the group to tell them that he has arranged a meeting with the rulers of House Decusis, Corith and his twin sister Dominique; Corith wishes them all the best and gives them free rein to recruit from the underhive although he says that he cannot spare any of his skilled hive city labour force, the noble is also concerned to hear about a potential desruption of the grox meat supply from Catan. During a lull in conversation the ruler of the system takes Lord Captain Black aside and presents a potentially intriguing offer to him before wishing the the party well and telling Dorath Farah to do his best to meet all their needs whilst they prepare to head to the underhive.

Rogue Trader Campaign Log – Session 5 : Monsters from the id

Realising his need to replenish his lost crew, and need for a second Navigator to help pilot one of the ships (since he plans on claiming the Venerus for his own), Lord Captain Black orders Navigator Benetec to take his ship back to the Imperial Station of Port Wander. As they travel through the warp strange incidents begin to occur throughout the ship, one of these being Maron, a low ranking crew member whose principal job is to clean out the murder servitor pens. Despite his low birth on hiveworld Fenk, Maron is a loyal follower of the Imperial credo and attends confession regularly; Cornelius listens to the mans tale of a dream in which he relives being sold, as a child to pay off debts, and his mother crying as he is lead away into a life of service aboard one void ship and another. Cornelius calms the man by relating to him that his mother’s tears are surely those of pride, that her son has grown to serve the Emperor beyond the stars, secretly however the Confessor wonders about the strange hush that has settled over the crew.

Meanwhile Lord Captain Black sleeps uneasy in his quarters, his rest troubled by strange visions of a metal skulled creature clad in the robes of an Adeptus Mechanicus techpriest. He awakes to find himself standing in the corridor outside his quarters. His senses returning, Captain Black is summoned (along with Confessor Cornelius) to the bridge, where they find the 1st Officer Commander Polaris standing over the charned body of one of the bridge technicians. Polaris relates how the man went berserk and began attacking the other crew which such ferocity that he was obliged to use his laspistol to put the rabid man down. Cornelius says a prayer to the Emperor for the man’s soul, during one of his later sermon the Chief Confessor feels as unseen and unclean presence circling his congregation although it cannot penetrate the aura of faith surrounding the chapel.
Meditating in his quarters, Navigator Benetec feels a strange presence attempting to possess his body; sensitive to the presence of the warp and its entities he opens his third eye and beholdsa fiery, emaciated figure, a demon of the warp – holding it steady within his formidable gaze, Benetec punches the vox transmittor and summons Chief Confessor Cornelius to his chamber. The faith of these two men drives the demonic entity from the ship, finally freeing the vessel of the strange influence that has plagued it.
Arriving at Port Wander the crew of the Lunatic Pandora find that the Feast of the Alignment is being celebrated and that the space station is full of navy personnel on shore-leave all keen to enjoy a much needed respite in the many tavernas on the port. Using his knowledge of Navigator Houses in the Expanse, Yorc Benetec is able to track down a navigator called Passacaglia Belisarius, a particularly humourless man whose pale skin shows a network of blue veins crossing his hairless head, providing a stark contrast against his deep azure robes. Meeting at the Blinking Eye tavern Captain Black employs Passacaglia to be the new Navigator on the Lunatic Pandora (sailing under Commander (now Captain) Polarius), since he plans to move his own command staff to the Venerus once it has been repaired and refitted.
Far across the sector on the Venerus, Enginseer Prime Pak is supervising the repairs to the Venerus when sensors detect a huge object leaving the surface of Caliban II – the large object resembles nothing so much as a gigantic pyramid and leaves the system rapidly; the Venerus still has most of its non-essential systems offline and the giant xenos vessel moves past seemingly without noticing it.

Rogue Trader Campaign Log – Session 4 : Into the Caliban System (Taint of the Xenos)

Ordering his men into position, forming a single line of auto and lasguns facing the huge, lowered blast door Chief Confessor Cornelius felt a bead of sweat drip down his face as the sounds of the creatures hammering on the door grew louder and louder; his faith in the Emperor remaining strong the Priest gritted his teeth and spoke calmly to his men “Hold steady men… hold… hold… fire!” At his signal the blast door hissed upwards revealing a hoard of misshapen and snarling mutations reaching out with grasping and gnarled claws; pinpoints of red light lanced out and autogun shells richocheted off the metal floors as salvo after salvo of fire was poured into the advancing mutations, reducing them to a red mist of twitching limbs and dancing corpses.
Meanwhile Captain Black leads his team of men on a tense crawl through the miles of maintenance and air ducts criss-crossing the ship; suddenly their is a scream from up ahead as only of his men Jones is grabbed by unseen hands and is pulled down the narrow corridor, his cried growing fainter as the unseen assailant drags the unfortunate into the distance. Following quickly the Captain’s team realises that Jones has been dragged by the mutations into the waste tanks of the ship, re-inforced tanks full of incredibly toxic and hazardous wastes; analysing some of the toxic effluence clinging to the ducts around it they quickly determine that Jones chance of survival is minimal. Speaking to Captain Black on the vox system, Enginseer Prime Pak is able, from his position at the controls, to isolate the sections of the ship containing the human life signs and vent the other areas into space, flushing the mutations out of the ship; a lifesign scan of the ship confirms that all signs of the mutations have been purged.
Confessor Cornelius makes his way to Captain Blacks positions, where he ministers to the chemical burns sustained by the Lord Captain and his crew whilst during their abortive attempt to retrieve Jones from the depths of the ships caustic waste tanks; a couple of the men are suffering from toxiemia and, whilst Cornelius is able to stabilise them, he tells the Captain that they need to be got back to the Lunatic Pandora quickly.
Whilst this is occurring, Enginseer Prime Pak and his team of junior tech-adepts have reached the fabled threshold of the legendary teleportarium, a piece of technology from the long lost past rumoured to be able to transport matter over great distances in the blink of an eye; a strange corruscating, flickering ball of red energy surges inside the glasscrete teleportarium chamber and a voice rings out chanting strange discordant pieces of dialogue
“…demons spawned of man’s iniquity and lust for power…
…protect the spirits of the crew…
…ghasts lurking in the lower levels…
…ordered by Itharius to transport them to another place when the time is right…
…mutations spawned by the failure of the Gellar fields…”
During his attempt to activate the ancient piece of technology, it malfunctions or some long forgotten subsystem is accidentally triggered causing the Enginseer to disappear in a flash of energy.
Rushing to the teleportarium chamber following the incident, Lord Captain Black orders the remaining tech-adepts to perform a system diagnostic and find out what has happened to his Enginseer; meanwhile Cornelius has been scanning the crew records and has discovered that the Venerus’ Chief Confessor was a redemptionist priest called Zane Cortex, listening to the strange phrases ringing out in the air he quickly reaches the conclusion that somehow the red energy is the remnants of Confessor Cortez who was lost attempting to use the teleportarium to transport as many crew as possible off ship. The tech-adepts have managed to work out that the teleportarium had sustained some damage when the Venerus’ crew overloaded it attempted to transport too many people, they have also managed to back-track it to the planet of Caliban VI where the believe Enginseer Prime Pak has been transported.
Moving back to the Lunatic Pandora, Lord Captain  Black orders the crew to prepare the ship for warpspace travel to Caliban VI; sensing the urgency in his Captain’s voice the Navigator York Benetec opens his third eye, staring into the Immaterium and commanding it to bend to his whim. Such is the Navigators power and the strange time warping effect of the warp that the Lunatic Pandor materialises with its ship cronometers showing that they have actually reached the planet of Caliban VI half an hour before the transport beam from the Venerus was due to hit the planets surface. As the Naviagator retires to his contemplation chambers, body wracked by the strain of his exertions, a team is assembled and loaded into a gunboat shuttle; exiting through one of the launch bays the team make their way towards the surface of the planet.
As they burst through the upper atmosphere a lush jungle canopy spreads out below them; they have no time to take in the scenery as a blast of strange energy jets from the surface of the planet, striking the gunboat and throwing it into a spinning dive. The pilot of the shuttle struggles with the controls as the consoles short out and explode infront of him, raking his body with fire and electrical charges, it is a testament to the elite skills of the Lunatic Pandora’s crew that he manages to land the shuttle, only then allowing himself the luxury of passing out from his injuries. Whilst Chief Confessor Cornelius ministers to the injured man, Lord Captain Black oversees the uncoupling of the (mercifully undamaged) Rhino APC from its underslung harness, beneath the shuttle; there instruments show a surge of energy nearby that corresponds to the signature of the teleportarium and so, with a growl of the Rhino’s power engines, they begin to plow through the jungle towards where they believe the signal to be originating.
As the Rhino rumbles into a clearing, the group are relieved to see Enginseer Prime Pak (apparently unharmed), however, they are more surprised to see a red cloaked figure wielding a flame-thrower standing next to him; Confessor Cornelius recognises the robes of a Redemptionist preacher and, using his knowledge of the secret tongue of the Ecclesiarchy, is able to calm the ranting priest. Over the next few minutes it emerges that the priest is none other than Zane Cortez who was the last person to attempt to use the teleportarium, but it malfunctionned, trapping him halfway between the planet and the ship; the passage of Enginseer Prime Pak seemed to have freed up the system block and resulted in Zane Cortez materialising at his original destination Caliban VI.
The group barely had time to take this in when one of their guardsmen was grabbed from above by a strangel predatory form of vinelike plant that dragged him screaming into the canopy; barely having time to think, Enginseer Prime Pak whipped out his pistol and fired into the canopy severing the strange vinelike limbs of the plant creature. Deciding to relocate rapidly the group piled back into the Rhino APC whilst Cortez and Cornelius cleared an area around it using their flame throwers, and began making their way towards higher group; eventually they arrived at a hill that was dotted with strange uprights, each bearing a gemstone of unknown composition, counting them, with mounting horror, they realised that there was one for every member of the Venerus crew that had escaped to the planet and that stood in the middle of some bizarre graveyard or memorial.
Setting up watch for the night, the group was thrown onto high alert when they awoke to discover that the two guardsmen who had been on the last watch had been killed, each with a small neat holed drilled through their heart, bearing the trademark cauterisation of lasgun wound. Determining not to be taken by surprise again, Lord Captain Black ordered the guardsmen to take the Rhino APC and clear the trees around the hill, denying their enemy the benefit of cover, this went well until the Rhino struck a particular tree that clanged with a resoundingly metal sound and refused to collapse before the overbearing weight of the APC. As Chief Confessor Cornelius began approaching the tree with his flame-thrower drawn, a single red dot from the treetops panned up his chest and paused where his heart was located.
Eventually a lithe figure wearing a strange covering that caused it’s outline to shimmer and ripple and that carried an odd, streamlined rifle of xeno manufacture emerged from the trees, its face (what they could see of it) appeared humanlike but more scupltured, beautiful and cruel; in halting Imperial tongue the alien explained that the previous humans had awoken an ancient sickness and that his people had caused the Sycorax warp storm to isolate the system. When the crew of the Venerus came to the planet the aliens had scanned them and realised that they had failed, since the Venerus’ crew were infected as well, to save them from a painful lingering death they had dispatched the crew cleanly and quickly, before burying them; when the gunboat had arrived on the planet the aliens had feared that another ship of infected people had arrived and shot it down – however, having scanned them, the aliens have realised that the crew of the Lunatic Pandora are not infected.
Communicating via long range vox with the Lunatic Pandora, Lord Captain Black has Navigator Benetec take the ship back to the Venerus and board the ship; he is then able to pilot the Venerus out of the system through the warp and use the teleportarium to transport himself back aboard the Lunatic Pandora in time to meet with Captain Black’s team who have returned from the planet. Enginseer Pak transfers to the Venerus planning to help with repairs on the teleportarium, whilst Redemptionist Zane Cortez also returns to the ship to help with re-educating the primitive descendants of those crew who were left behind during the original exodus to Caliban VI.

Rogue Trader Campaign Log – Session 3 : Into the Storm (Fate of the Venerus)

Prelude 806.M41

Planet Telec – Hive Primus (House of Black)
Ten years before the present day, five years before Fortunus Black would meet his cousin Polaris Black in a bar on the outlaw settlement of Footfall and offer him the first officer position on his ship…
Rising high above the toxic industrial clouds of the planet Telec, the gleaming spires of Hive Primus pierce the heavens and touch the void beyond the planet’s atmosphere; the noble House of Black, rules of House Primus have been celebrating the coming of Age of one of their youngest members, Fortunus with a week long display of wealth, celebration and debauchery. Heedless of the suffering of the lower classes engaged in back breaking labour in the darkness of the lower hives, sweating and toiling without ever seeing the sky or the sun above the toxic clouds created by the industrial manufacturing processes of the hive factories.
Still shocking by his father’s announcement that he was planning to retire from actively seeking the family’s fortunes, Fortunus is summoned to his father’s quarters and is escorted there by the House Black guards, carrying shock lances and clad in resplendent silver carapace armour; entering the chamber he beholds a mighty circular meeting table, emblazoned with the emblem of House Black – seating around it are several members of his family, some recognisable to him (his uncle Gillam Black sat silently nodding, his nervous tic causing his eye to flutter is seated next to him and, flanking his father, are his two cousins Tristan Black whose wide eyed visage and grey hair is rumoured to have been caused by warp exposure following a Gellar field failure and Darius Black whose eyes appear to move independently, taking in everyone in the room) and others that he has never met.
Fortunus’ father Macharius runs a hand through his grey hair and his yellowed eyes (a result of numerous quasi-legal longevity treatments) look out at his family members, “As you are aware, there are many of our enemies who envy our house and who would see us torn down; our youngest have always lit the way and have bought wealth and prosperity to our family, making us the undisputed rulers of this system.
I am no longer a young man, it is time for me to step aside and allow those younger than myself to step forward and make themselves known.” Fortunus nodded, his father was known to be 250 years old, although numerous chem treatments, artificial enhancements and xenos life extension treatments of questionable virtue (and legal status) mean that he appears to be in his 50s or 60s. Macharius continues to speak, sliding a data tablet across the table towards Fortunus, “If you sign your name on this document my son, then a request will be sent to the Adeptus Administratum adding your name officially to our Imperially granted Warrant of Trade; before you do this, know that, although it will grant you power and freedom undreamt of by lesser men, it also carries with it responsibilities and duties.”
Signing his name on the document, Fortunus slid it back across the table to his father saying simply “This is what I was born for father.”
Present Day – Into the Storm (Fate of the Venerus) 816.M41

Following their return from the Catan II sector the Lunatic Pandora sailing under Lord Captain Fortunus Black emerges from the warp on the outskirts of Port Wander and begins their final approach, thanks to the unfathomable skills of their Warp Guide York Benetec it seems as though virtually no time has passed for them since they entered warp space on the edge of the Catan star system. Still wary of the dangerous xeno tech that they have onboard (even though it appears to still be in a powered down/dormant state) their Enginseer contacts the local Adeptus Mechanicus on the station and, after explaining the situation to a functionary, they are ordered to remain at a distance from the station whilst the machine cult sends one of their people over in a shuttle craft to examine the technology.
Less than an hour later, a small shuttle exits the station and docks with the Lunatic Pandora, out of it emerges Magos Explorator Rha-haz, an imposing figure garbed in deep crimson, augmented with a large grapple arm mechandrite and flanked by four heavily armed servitors that move in lock step with him; Enginseer Prime Pak meets the Magos and leads him to Captain Black’s meeting chambers. Once esconced in there, the Captain explains how they came across the xenos technology, he also mentions that he has discovered a stable passage through the Sycorax warp storm to the lost Adeptus Mechanicus outpost in the Caliban system. Fortunus explains that he is planning to mount an expedition through the stable corridor to investigate what has become of the system and, in return for their help repairing his ship (and additional payment in equipment upgrades should they return) that he will turn over any recovered technology to the Adeptus Mechanicus, the Magos accepts, his voice echoing electronically around the chamber, face hidden by a voluminous red hood, save for some small tentacle like wires that emerge from the lip of the hood.
Magos Explorator Rha-haz makes arrangements for the Lunatic Pandora to dock in one of the Adeptus Mechanicus repair bays on Port Wander so that immediate attention can be given to the ship, he also has a number of mind linked servitor drones take the recovered xenos techonology to a safe distance from the port so that the contents can be examined remotely.
Whilst waiting for their ship to be repaired Lord Captain Fortunus Black meets with some of his contacts from House Ramirez, a merchant house who have had links with his family for centuries, he is able to strike a deal with Raz Ramirez and purchases three Calixis Pattern Fury Interceptors from the moustached merchant, who leaves after concluding the deal saying “We have always valued our lucrative ties with the House of Black, you will not be disappointed my young friend.” Enginseer Prime Pak has also used his own connections to secure three Gun Cutters and has arranged to have them shipped aboard, whilst York Benetec has been purchasing astronavigational charts and writings that he can use to improve his, already impressive skills at navigating through the Immaterium.
Unfortunately Fortunus’ appears to have deserted him as he fails to find any fresh crew to enlist and replace the casualties suffered during their battles with the Ork menace, no doubt this is partly due to the fact that word has got around about the mission he is planning to undertake, attempting to reach a system that the Adeptus Mechanicus, with all their vaunted technology and explorator fleets, had written off as lost; desperately needing additional crew, Captain Black approaches the local law enforcement on Port Wander and offers to take some of their more violent and scurvy criminals off their hands, press ganging them into service aboard his vessel, the Adeptus Arbites agree on condition that these crew be confined to the ship during it’s stay on Port Wander. Bringing the new crew aboard, vague murmurs of dissatisfaction circulate amongst the existing crew, who feel that their position as veteran, skilled crew is being tarnished by the introduction of murderers, thieves and thugs onto their vessel; Enginseer Prime Pak attempts to cow the crew into silence but is not successful, just when it looks like the situation might result in an attempt at mutiny, the ship’s chief Confessor, Cornelius steps forward and delivers a rousing speech, about how these criminals are being given a chance to return to the Emperor’s light by serving penance and that it is the duty of ever good Imperial citizen to help shepherd them in this attempt. He finishes with a promise that, should any of these people fall by the wayside, that he will deal with them in the same manner that the Ecclesiarchy deals with all those who have rejected the Emperor’s light; the crew seems pacified by the stirring words of the priest and a potential mutiny is avoided.
Unable to turn his crew loose on Port Wander due to Adeptus Arbite edict, the Captain waits until repairs have been completed on the Lunatic Pandora and then heads to the well known criminal outpost of Footfall, where he goes on a nostalgic drinking tour with his first mate and cousin Commander Polaris, the shore leave seems to do the crew some good and their morale is much improved by the time their ship disengages from the Footfall docks and gets underway to the Caliban system.
Emerging near the coruscating red and white energies of the Sycorax Warp Storm surrounding the Caliban System, the naigators use the flight trajectory and astral coordinates gained from the Ork vessel to locate the entrance to the stable warp corridor that pierces the storm; moving through it slowly they begin to map out the area ahead, their sensors being limited by the warp stuff surrounding the corridor, Navigator York Benetec assisted by Enginseer Prime Pak skillfully guides the vessel through the narrow corridor. Suddenly, ahead of them, their sensors pick up a garbled distress Imperial distress signal, although they are unable to make out many details due to warp distortion on the sensors, although Cornelius does hear snatches of a hymn in the background that he recognises as the Emperor’s Lament (an Ecclesiarchy officially sanctionned battle hymn). Moving slowly closer they are eventually able to identify the hulking shape of the Tyrant Class Cruiser Venerus stuck on the edge of the corridor, half in real space and the other half hanging in the warp storm surrounding the narrow stretch of normal space. Examing the sensor data coming in from the ship Enginseer Prime Pak is puzzled to see that the damage inflicted on the hull seems commesurate with that of a ship that has been derelict for hundreds of years, rather than the mere 50 or so that the Venerus has been missing for, with his knowledge of Imperial ships Chief Confessor Cornelius confirms his assessment, Navigator York Benetec warns about the warp’s potential for time distortion.
Keen to board the vessel, sensing the potential salvage rights, Captain Black realises that they may have to enter the ship via one of the sections exposed to space, however, he does not wish to risk exposing the crew unprotected to any ambient warp energies that they may encounter outside the protective Gellar fields of their own ship (especially considering that he does not know the state of the Venerus own shields; eventually he accepts a risky plan proposed by Navigator York Benetec where they plan to bring the Lunatic Pandora alongside the Venerus, coming in dangerously close and slightly overlapping the Gellar fields of the two ships, this would allow smaller vessels to pass between them with only a very small exposure to any ambient warp energies.
Lord Captain Fortunus Black, Enginseer Prime Pak and Chief Confessor Cornelius each take one of the recently acquired Calixis Pattern Fury Interceptors, each crewed by five junior tech adepts and an additional 25 soldiers from the Lunatic Pandora; Chief Confessor Cornelius is clad in his armour, girded by his faith, a thunder hammer strapped to his back and a flamer gripped in his hands, his eyes shine with righteousness as he contemplates the potential souls to be saved and begins leading his crew in stirring song, praising the Emperor and girding their souls against mankind’s fear of the void. As the three ships cross the narrowest point between the two fields a panicked transmission issues over the voxc systems from Enginseer Prime Pak’s ship to the others “We have a situation here.”
Low powered las-gun fire echoes around the crew compartment of the Interceptor as the soldier crew fire wildly at a flailing monstrosity that was once one of their crew before mutated by exposure to the stuff of the warp, features melting and forming into fang mouthed tentacles the creature lashes out killed two of the other crew even as concentrated lasgun fire and mighty thrusts from Pak’s power sword dispatch it, with a grimace of disgust the twisted body of the unfortunate is ejected from the airlock into the cold vaccuum of space. Circling the Venerus, it is established that there is no power to the docking bay and that it would have to be triggered manually; not wishing to send someone out in a vaccuum suit Enginseer Prime Pak loads his servo skull into the airlock and, commanding it mentally by the power of his will, sends it slowly across the void, using it to manipulate the manual controls and open the docking bay doors. After they have touched down, he used the skull to close the doors and repressurise the cabin before they all emerge from their craft.
Whilst Lord Captain Fortunus Black and Chief Confessor Cornelius prepare to explore the ship (all of them remaining in comms contact with Navigator York Benetec who has remained behind on the Lunatic Pandora) the Enginseer reroutes power to the instrument panels in the docking bay, using it to scan the ship, he picks up 800 life signs in total, 200 of them registering as human and the remaining as unclassified, the human life signs seem concentrated in the crew and mess quarters, whilst the majority of the unclassified readings come from the lower decks where the Gellar fields are at their weakest; he also discovers that the Bridge appears to have been sealed off and that, according to the date stamp recorded by the machine spirit of the Venerus, approximately 300 years have passed for those on board the vessel. The distorted echo of the Emperor’s Lament continues to play on loop, Chief Confessor Cornelius bows his head for a moment in contemplation or perhaps prayer and says solemnly “the Emperor is still with this ship… and with us all.”
Enginseer Prime Pak is at last able to isolate and play the full distress message:
This is Lord Captain Itharius of the Imperial Cruiser Venerus, calling to any ships that may be within range of the Caliban system; following the loss of the Adeptus Mechanicus outpost here and the rise of the warpstorm we were commissioned by Ordinate Adoplhus on behalf the Adeptus Adminstratum to investigate. We discovered what appeared to be a stable corridor through the storm but our Geller fields suffered a catastrophic failure and we have been cast adrift on the tides of the warp. Our Navigator is dead and I fear that without him we will not be able to free ourselves… we need help… this is Lord Captain Itharius of the Imperial Cruiser Venerus calling to any ships…
Chief Confessor Cornelius decides to explore the crew quartes; upon arrival he is met by a strange primitive human who speaks in an almost incomprehensible dialect that seems to be some debased form of ships dialect (according to York Benetec who is able to translate some of the primtive’s babble over the comm link, it seems that the person is from something called the Adeptus Itharius, he becomes quite excited when Cornelius mentions the Emperor (‘the Golden Father’ as he refers to it). Cornelius is able to convince the primitive (and his gathering comrades) that they are messengers from Itharius (the name of the Venerus’ Captain whom these people seem to venerate as some sort of messianic figure) come to lead them back into the Emperor’s light. The confessor is lead through a makeshift shanty town of lean tos and huts fashioned from shipboard detritus and salvage until they arrive at one of the few remaining intact crew quarters, he is introduced to a female albino with watery pink eyes called Yarni who is one of the tribes leaders; as he enters the chamber he notices the severed heads of what appear to be fanged mutants of some variety (he thinks back to traders tales of Hullghasts, lower deck dwellers mutated by engine radiation and warp emanations) mounted on sharp metal spikes and nods in approval, ‘at least these primitives know how to deal with the mutant’ he thinks.
Lord Captain Fortunus Black] and his squad have reached the sealed blast doors of the Bridge section, his junior tech adepts have the [[Enginseer temporarily reroute some additional power to the instruments up here, allowing them to bypass the system lockdown and open the door a few feet before the corroded circuitry gives out; the gap is sufficient for the boarding party to slip through in pairs. They find the bridge deserted save for the powdered, ancient remains of one of the crew seating at an instrument panel, a tarnished golden Aquila resting amidst the dust identifying the remains as belonging to Captain Itharius. Whilst scanning the ship, the tech adepts are shocked to discover a piece of archeotech known as a teleportarium, a device from the lost age of technology permitting the instantenous transportation of matter across space; voices verent with wonder they communicate the find to the Enginseer although they do say that, despite it appearing to be in working order, there is no power to that section and they would have to check the circuitry before restoring power to avoid risk of an overload.
Whilst considering this, they locate a ship log recording by Captain Itharius in his dying moments and play it, the voice of the long dead captain echoing once more around his Bridge:
Ship’s log 766.M41

The mutineers have killed the Tech-priest Ramain, and with it, any hope of repairing our damaged systems; we are now adrift without hope, our Confessor the Redemptionist Zane Cortez wished to remain and fight the mutineers in the name of the Emperor, I commend his fervor but our duty to our crew and our ship must come before our need for vengeance. I have ordered the last of our reserves shunted to the teleportarium chamber and have given the order that Cortez should evacuate any non-essential crew to the nearest life supporting planet before following them through himself; someone will be required to minister their spirtual needs, we have no idea how long a rescue may take.

I plan to set the engines to stabilise our position here, in the hope that someone may find this record and rescue our crew, returning them to the bosom of the Emperor’s light, I fear there is no hope for me but I will seal this chamber behind me, the mutineers will not take my ship damn them!

Ship’s log 766.M41 – additional

We’ve recently had a power spike, I pray that Cortez managed to get the rest of the crew to safety, but I can’t spare the power from the engines to check the internal cameras; some of the rebel scum appear to have begun to mutate, no doubt due to the fact that we have driven them down to the lower decks where the Geller fields first failed.

I fear that the wounds I suffered during the mutiny attempt are taking there toll, I can no longer feel my left arm and my breathing is laboured, my soul will soon be with the Emperor.

Abbas laudo meus animus sedeo praeter vestri rutilus per , in imperator nomen

The moment is cut short when Enginseer Prime Pak’s voice comes across the commlink, “Captain, there are multiple unclassified life forms moving towards our positions rapidly, impossible to accurately predict numbers; i’m attempting to close blast doors to slow them down.”
In the crew quarters hearing the announcment Chief Confessor Cornelius shouted to his men “You four, protect the tech adepts, the rest of you with me – I will protect these people and lead them back into the Emperor’s light!”
Lord Captain Fortunus Black ordered his men to set up a firezone in preparation; back in the docking bay Enginseer Prime Pak spotted the first of the hostiles, a long pale shape moving with a simian slouch, it’s face horrible human but distorted into a thing of bestial hate and instinct with needle sharp teeth and the forward facing eyes of a predator; the pale wormy flesh of the creature bought back vivid memories of the tentacled thing on the Interceptor earlier and, before he slumped to the floor, vomiting onto the deck, his grasping hand punched a button causing blast doors to come crashing down all over the ship.