Dark Heresy, Session 10: Damned Cities

We shot to Haarlock's Folly aboard a loaned Rhino, and to my dismay, were subjected to the sight of men and women of the Imperium cut down in the street by Enforcers and others, during a time of civil unrest. It tore at my heart to see these Imperials treated in such a way when there are less lethal means to handle riots. I implored Nico to stop the Rhino, so that we may intervene on these citizens' behalf, but he chided me harshly and reminded me of the importance of the information we ushered to Haarlock's Folly.

Once there, to meet with our ally Constantine and Precinct Marshal Skarmen to reveal the Enforcer General's dark ways and connections with the murders in Sinophia Magna, we were rebuffed when we attempted to gain audience with Skarmen and then made to end Khan, ourselves, but were met at the door by the sight of an Enforcer barricade and many a troop bedecked for heavier combat than riots. On reverent display before the amassed troops was the body of Enforcer General Zabius Khan, seemingly slain in a similar manner to the other murder victims.

Then, the Emperor's wisdom shone upon us as if a glow globe off in our heads. We had focused so much attention on Khan, and we got the signs right, but followed them to the wrong person. Precinct Marshal Skarmen was the fiend responsible for these horrendous acts!

We rushed to Constantine and informed him, pleading with him to trust us, which he reluctantly did and gathered a few men to humor us, more than anything. He offered aid in the form of some light explosives, and we were off to the morgue cellars below the building, where Constantine believed Skarmen had last went.

At the opening of the passage leading down, our band encountered a grip of evidence. A squad of the unliving shambled out, blocking our way, and high in the air appeared a misshapen face in grand size, mocking us as we began to struggle against the dead. Fortunately, from the opposite direction from us came another group of combatants, all kitted out like some veteran command squad. The best gear and all.

We used them. Though appreciative of the aid, Skarmen was the real threat, and if he was summoning forth whatever in the Hell that mocking face was, we had no time to spare. We left the newcomers to take on the shambling corpses and rushed to confront the Precinct Marshal, who appeared to be on the cusp of finishing some dark ritual to bring a daemon into His world. I believe that the only thing stopping the slave of Chaos was our possession of two of the fragments of the mirror by which he appeared to be trying to perform the act.

Our newly gained Inquisitorial allies had been separated from us, but Rhia, Xantippa, Nico, and I made to engage with Skarmen and some of his own Arbites, whom it appeared he had twisted into corpse beings, as well. Rhia and Xantippa performed exemplary displays of literal firepower by way of explosives and warpfire, which tragically led to the deaths of all of my band, save myself.

I collected the mirror for the Ordos and was contacted by the waning power of the daemon when attempting to do so, but fought the thing off with thoughts of Him strengthening my will. Constantine helped me carry the thing down and we made to transport it to the spaceport so that Sinophia would be rid of its malignancy.

Our progress was halted and we set the mirror down to speak with the group of combatants that had appeared before our assault on the higher floors of the tower. They demanded I turn over the mirror, which I flatly refused and then showed the Rosette, declaring my holy duty to see that it finds its rightful place. A member of their squad also produced a Rosette, which surprised me, but my task was my own, and I challenged them to use force, if they felt they had right to interfere with my sworn duty. Needless to say, I was shocked when they took me up on the suggestion.

The battle was fierce and up close. Though I prefer to engage from moderate range, I am a Cadian, and was trained to defend myself in tight quarters at point blank. I was happy to see that Fihad Constantine seemed just as happy with this order of combat, and we won decisively, with not a wound to our persons. Though they may have outgunned and outclassed us, tenacity, grit, and a fair amount of righteous fury is often enough to make due.

I was awarded, then. Fihad had been named the new Precinct Marshal and our work for the Ordos had come to an end on Sinophia. I was given a golden mace and the Sinophian Bloodlaurel, both among the highest honors granted on the planet, for the deeds my band had performed. It was hollow, however, as those honors should have been shared equally by those who deserved it, though the Emperor decided their time. I gave Marshal Constantine the two fragments we had gathered on our own, for his discretion to hide or dispose of, and took the mirror back to my waiting Inquisitor, and likely, a reassignment to another band.

Cast of Characters
Rhia, Gunpoint (Hive World) Investigator (Arbiter 5) - Angela (deceased)
Xantippa Thebe, Son of Nightmare (Void Born) ?? (Imperial Psyker 5) -  Paul (deceased)
Nicodemus, Regulus (Imperial World) Scholar (Adept 5) - Taylor (deceased)
Mohrdecai, Cadian (Fortress World) Veteran (Guardsman 5) - Me

I know that David made many an allowance for us in this adventure. As mentioned in previous posts, none of our characters were really investigatey. I suppose we could muddle through stuff, but it would really be no better than what we did here, and so David made this adventure play more like an action-cop movie, and it worked really well, at least in my mind.

The end, especially, when we finally caught on to things, was especially dramatic and very fast paced. Even the deaths of most of the band didn't feel like a low-point, because the execution was so dramatic, and it gave us a win that felt like it needed a sacrifice to achieve.

Good stuff all around.


The Defenders, Vol. 2, Issue 4 - Perceive the Ministry of Senses!

After the White King's escape aboard his teleporting (!) airship, Jean, Bennet, and Henry gather to discuss a search of the tower and Chalice Center grounds to find a lead to where Winslow Schott had gone. The search was not to be, however, as the Monocle, hidden among the well-to-do travelers ready to depart on an airship, looses a powerful optic ray, splitting the top of the docking tower in half and sending many innocents to their deaths either directly with the beam, or tumbling out the building to the ground far below. Accompanying Monocle are Pied Piper, Diamondback, Batroc the Leaper, and Mr. Toxic, who all attack en masse after Monocle's initial barrage.
Bad perspective or tiny left leg?

As if on cue, Kurt suddenly reappears after his disappearance in Knight Wing's bolthole in Korth two days ago. Though confused and experiencing heavy disorientation, he springs to the aid of his companions, who strike back at this team of known terrorists and rogues.

Within the tower, Kitty has tracked her friends to Aundair and wishes to aid them in their search for Xavier, despite Bennet's original dismissal when he was rounding up his team to perform the mission. She feels the tower rock when Monocle shears the top off, and rushes headlong into danger, taking the stairs up as fast as she can.

Likewise, Johnathan Blaze sees the top of the tower split apart from his vantage point at the lightning rail station. The loss of so many innocent lives as people fall from the tower or are crushed by the rubble beneath triggers an uncontrollable shift into the Phantom Traveler, and he makes haste toward the tower to punish those who slay the innocent.

Within the tower, Dr. Isaiah Crane had been waiting on an airship to carry him on business to Thrane, where he was to speak before the Diet of Cardinals on the treatment of psychoses. The fear and confusion caused by the attack of the Monocle and his band, however, whipped the good doctor into a fervor, and he joined the fray, choosing a victim at random with which to study fight or flight responses.

Pied Piper and Monocle went down quick from sustained fire from Jean and Bennet, with Kurt engaging Diamondback and Henry facing off against Batroc. Dr. Crane targets Diamondback, making her flee down a docking pier, away from him. This frees up Kurt to attack Batroc with Henry, Kitty shows up and begins to aid her comrades in the thick of the fight, and Jean blasts Mr. Toxic, pulping his brain with a powerful psionic blast. A few seconds later, Diamondback is taken down, joining the rest of Monocle's terrorist group.

A good musician always brings his lunch.
Our heroes debate what to do from here, and Bennet takes advantage of the lull in action to kill Pied Piper by ripping spells from his mind, causing some of those present to balk, despite the horrors Monocle had unleashed early in the encounter. Phantom Traveler had shown up late, and Dr. Crane had introduced himself as Scarecrow and both inquired as to the goals of Bennet's assembled team. Kitty needed no introduction, of course, and settled in to watching over the unconscious forms of their defeated enemies.

It was decided, after no small debate, that those not dead (at this point only being Batroc and Diamondback) would be healed to consciousness and questioned, which went fairly well. The two hoods revealed that they had been assembled by Monocle as the Ministry of Senses, and were directed there by the Monocle for some reason having to do with Pierce, but the details were unclear, because things had went south when the White King's airship vanished. Monocle was frustrated by the development and rashly attacked those he blamed for the plan's disruption (the PCs).

Pleased with this information, Bennet bargained their lives for what loot they had on them, mostly poison, and set the two free, reasoning that they posed no immediate threat, and making a promise of death should they cross his band again. Batroc and Diamondback agreed and made haste to get away after stealing some robes and such from dead people to mask their identities as they fled Chalice Center.

At this point the heroes left. Most civil authorities were dealing with casualties and damage control, and didn't brook any challenge to them as they left, as it would take a while for anyone who might challenge such beings to appear. From Chalice Center, the band went to the Cannith West enclave, there for Henry to make physical preparations for spells and magic items needed to determine the next course of action.

Henry set to crafting, a task that would take a few days, and the rest of the group lay low for most of it, finding the lack of response to the Chalice Center incident odd, but not concerning themselves too much with it. Kurt spent quite a lot of this time doing research on his visions, and came up with a little bit of useful information.

Next issue, the party finds themselves aped, but it's no time to monkey around!

Cast of Characters
Jean Grey, Elan Psion (Kineticist) 4|Wilder 4  - Angela
Bennet du Paris [Exodus], Human Psion (Nomad) 4|Spellthief 4 -Taylor
Henry [Beast], Artificer 4|Anthropomorphic Ape 2/Monk 2 - Paul
Kurt Wagner [Nightcrawler], Rogue 3/Fighter 1|Totemist 2/Wizard 2 - David
Kitty Pryde [Shadowcat], Wizard 4|Ninja 4 - Sam
Dr. Isaiah Crane (Scarecrow), Sorceror 4|Cleric 4 - Jon
Johnathan Blaze (Phantom Traveler) [Ghost Rider], Flaming Bone Creature 2/Warlock 2|Fighter 4 - G2

Bonus Feature: Approximations and Effigies
Yes, I said Pied Piper had spells.

A constant challenge when running, and no doubt playing in, this game is how, exactly, you want to portray the heroes and villains in a fantasy milieu. Taking into account levels available, items, feats, skills, prestige classes, and templates can all factor in to making the character as close as you can get to that portrayed in comics.

All too often, however, something has to be sacrificed. Most comic book heroes and villains are not one-trick ponies. They have their thing, their shtick, but almost all of them have a suite of lesser powers that nobody really pays attention to, or their primary power can do this thing and this other thing. What it comes down to, especially as a player, is what is important to the character in the eyes of the person playing them.

The proviso on character creation for my game is that you have to play an existing hero or villain from any comic book source, and that means you can't make up Super Captain Blast-o and call it good enough. You have to take Exodus or Nightcrawler or Ghost Rider and make due with what your current level is at any given time. David's Kurt can't teleport great distances...yet, Samantha's Kitty can't phase through walls...yet. But this game isn't about exacts, because eventually - this being D&D and all - these characters might end up blowing the characters they're based on out of the water, depending on who it is, of course.

This campaign focuses on approximations, get as close as you can with something you will have fun with, and bar the rest, or at least put it off til later. That's where the effigy part comes in. Can't quite do something in the rules? Do what you can and burn the rest. Your Spider-Man can't zip through the sky web-to-web from buildings? So? He can Spider Climb, is strong, and can shoot Web. Good enough for me!

That's honestly why you have seen fairly simple NPC 'extranormals' so far in the campaign. I don't bog down on getting it perfect, or even right. If it's thematic, fun, and exciting, then we're good. Monocle was a Warlock |Sorceror with spells and abilities that could appear to be shot out of a monocle, and his monocle, itself, was a reskinned Warlock's Scepter. Does this really represent the guy from the comics? No, because an item that could do what Monocle's monocle does would be prohibitively expensive, so the guy has thematic abilities and he makes an interesting, though easily defeated, villain.

I've beat this to death, I understand, but I'm just typing from an interest in disclosure on the campaign. I hope everyone is enjoying reading it. We're having a blast playing it.

Feel free to drop a comment and tell us what you think!