The Final Invasion of Fel Duran

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Joined: Fri Jun 22, 2018 7:18 am

The Final Invasion of Fel Duran

Postby Thendoctor » Fri Oct 12, 2018 2:52 pm

Alright, I'll open this by saying if you're playing in a game set on a planet called "Fel Duran" then shoo, I'm not sure how you ended up here, but this is most certainly not for you. No, I mean really there's a lot of spoilers in here for future content and if I get even a hint of you having meta knowledge of my plans I will just scrap the game I swear to the Throne. Don't betray that trust.

Anyways. I'm running, a currently hiatus, game of Wrath & Glory set on a planet made some time ago by a player in the game. They used the planet as their homebrew and the group grew attached to it. We played an Only War game of Dark Heresy 1st Edition in the setting before Only War was ever theorized to be a supplement in DH1. Anyways, I wanted our first campaign of W&G to be on that planet, and so it is.

I won't be going into to much set up detail and explaining of background stuff in these write ups, they're basically just me writing what amounts to a journal entry on a previous session of game to hopefully help some flow happen and get a few ideas for future sessions.


Session One Write Up:

I’m not sure exactly what I hope to accomplish by writing about the session. Maybe I’ll publish them somewhere on the internet in time, or maybe something will come to me in terms of inspiration for future sessions. I don’t know, but it seemed like something I might give a try.

The Name of the session is a thought for the day that I enjoy the most in 40k, “Hope is the first step on the road to disappointment”, it’s a pretty true statement all things considered. I wanted to make sure I set the tone of the game early on, and that statement is what I wanted to expose that with. There isn’t going to be too much hope in the game, it’s about a planet taking a beating for a long time before there’s a glimmer of hope and even then, it comes from a source of nonsense that isn’t much foundation for anything besides “faith”.

Hope for the new millennia in the Imperium of Man, which resoundingly gets squashed at the opening as this is when the Dark Imperium kicks off, the IoM is thrown into disarray as the galaxy is quite literally ripped in half and those on the darkened half are not going to have a good time. Immediately the players are disconnected from what they’ve known for so long. Constant supplies of manpower, equipment, and living supplies. Even if Fel Duran is used to such things people will still fight against the strain, and even now they won’t have hope of reinforcement, at least not initially.

The players handled getting into the swing of things well enough, a lot of the first session was really Session 0.5 as I still had some things I wanted to get on paper before I got into the game proper. Nothing major just last-minute setting materials and squad cohesion stuff, little details here and there. I know that Arnie is a very underdeveloped character in the face of Cecilia and Aidan, so I need to make sure to give him some spotlight time to see what makes him tick. Which means I should pluck on the things from the group template about what he won’t give up or things that might bring him into conflict with other PCs/NPCs.

But regardless, the session proper opened with the 32nd regiment of Fel Duran known colloquially as the “Iron Shades” are celebrating Munitorum mandated R&R (which for a planetary regiment really just means light duty) before the new year kicks off. The 32nd is a rowdy bunch of Guardsmen if there ever was one, property damage and fires seem common but only on things that can be easily enough replaced. The followers on camp with them enjoy the time as well, I need to make sure to show more of them off, to show that the followers depend on the soldiers just as much as anyone else, and that they can even help the Guardsmen in turn. They’re an important part of the fluid functioning of the regiment outside the Munitorum.

One of the PCs being a noble should work out nicely honestly, it gives immediate ties to the extra scenes I’m trying to intersperse into the session by showing what the nobility are trying to do to keep the planet from fracturing apart. When we get a chance for a bit of a time gap I need to show a good council scene to introduce the dynamic the council members share and hint at the fact that Hilda is a part of this whole cult problem unannounced to her or not. We should also trying and pull Cecilia into more familial matters as well. Possibly getting her married off during the war or even having to defend her homestead from the cult or Dark Mechanicus’ forces when they make an appearance…maybe arc 2 can take place at the Cole homestead instead of the Schola Progenium like I had originally thought about doing.

Honestly, I can’t comment on too much happening. The PCs celebrated, we got to see the introduction of Moira’s infatuation with Aidan which I’ve planned on at least partially developing with her downturn of a relationship with Winston. I’m seeing Winston as becoming a bit of an antagonist for the PCs that doesn’t have much power to do anything bureaucratically to the PCs, I need to have Winston go after Aidan after Moira goes to him the first time if Aidan doesn’t do anything to help. In a way of “It’s none of your business I’ll mess you up” sort of thing, I doubt Winston is capable of really doing anything anyways, I see him as a bit of a coward at heart who just wants the one thing he sees as having a bit of control over staying there, consider it a bit of madness from Fel Duran falling apart.

Speaking of Fel Duran falling apart I need to make sure to have a scene of two of the cult doing things that aren’t just being blank antagonists to shoot down, I need to make the PCs at least curious about them, if they aren’t already, to get them to see the manufactorum stamp on the weaponry or even Genevere realize who Wynchell is, which would kick off her having a discussion to Cecilia about their family’s secret. That could be a thing, the cult attacks the Cole family holdings at the behest of Wynchell and Genevere realizes just who he is during the attack. This could of course lead to Genevere refusing to do anything about it as it would destroy the family, but Cecilia could have a chance to possibly contact higher ups and get a word with Inquisitor Li as to the situation. I need to make sure to pepper LI into some more scenes since he’ll be a focal point of Arc 2.

Another secondary seen in the celebrations is Octavia, I need to have her be a viewpoint into Chimera Squad’s dynamics, or even Javis, but her favor needs to be something dangerous for Cecilia. Not enough to get her court marshaled, but certainly something enough to get her into trouble. Needs to come up on Session 4’s downtime as this is when Moira’s issue with Aidan will kick off. Come to think of it I need to have something kick off for Arnie too, maybe Almund, the regimental Chirurgeon, notices something odd about his rehabilitation notes…something going wrong with them. Not sure have to muse on it.

Following up on the Cult I need to make sure that the Dark Mechanicus seems much more in control of things, not at this point we don’t really know much about him, but we need to see that there’s a greater plan at play here. We also need to see that both Harrell and Ignas have their own agendas, of which we don’t really know what those are just yet. It should be seen that the cult is just a pawn in the great plan of things, a cog in the machine, and something to be thrown away when its use has seen itself through. For Thistle is in control of the cult truly and Wynchell is just a vessel. The players already suspect that their regimental commander is going to die, but they don’t know how just yet, which should be a fun reveal. Perhaps the regimental commander gets taken when the Cole family holdings are attacked, and Wynchell teleports him away with himself at the behest of the Dark Magos so he can begin his interrogation/conversion.

All in all, I think things should be fine, thankfully the GM screen is out so I shouldn’t be bereft of managing the mechanics of the game versus just hoping the PCs don’t really notice one way or the other. Hopefully more errata should be out as well which will clear up some bugbears I have about the system anyways, but this is slow work for them it seems, admittedly I did give them a giant amount of prework for them so hopefully it at least helps Ulisses in getting the system into shape.

I think the session went well enough, but we need more time cooking before I can get into any nitty grittiness in terms of actual commentary. I do plan on opening the next session with a combat though since the PCs were denied that this time around and it’ll have been a month or longer between games so jumping in head first will be good for getting back in the groove of things.

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Re: The Final Invasion of Fel Duran

Postby Thendoctor » Sat Dec 08, 2018 1:37 pm

Session Two Write-Up:

It was strange coming back to this game after such a long break, as far as I can figure it was a month long hiatus before we finally got back down to the table. As a result a lot of muscle memory of the system got left behind. Largely this was my fault, I had been running a side game while waiting for the next session to happen and so I focused on learning and remembering that game. Which was a nice enough game, but of course removed a lot of the background information I had stored for Wrath & Glory floating around my head.

I did my best to familiarize myself again with the rules the day before the game, not having much time beforehand, and hoped for the best. The outcome of that was a rough session admittedly. I tried to start us out in a combat, but one of the players thoroughly destroyed the entire mob I was sending against them by getting a critical success on the first player turn of the combat. Which was a good opener, but I was hoping for the combat to last a bit longer to eat some time and give everyone a chance to get into the swing of things. These things happen of course and the best thing to do is just roll with it. It didn’t help that more than once I’d forgotten the name of an npc here or there, but thankfully my players remembered who I was talking about at the time. Just another note on the list of things to remember for next session to make a point to nail down.

One thing I found that I really need to make sure to create before next session is a list of resources that PCs get at the opening of a session. Given that this is a thing we need to keep track of it’s important to just have a quick reference available. I noticed there seems to be one on the GM screen, but I need to check against the core rulebook to see if it is wholly correct, I’m not sure on the Wrath Point count (being 2) I thought it was 3 Wrath Points and 3 Reloads. But there’s a process at the opening of the session as well that I forgot about. Players need to roll on their objective, get their Points, and their Reloads not to mention any other gains from talents/backgrounds.

The name of this session was “Glory in death is life eternal”. The Thought for the Day has no real significance to me admittedly. It’s not my favorite, honestly I just randomly generated a letter and found a quote that I liked. But as usual with these things you can apply a quote in ways to the events of a game after the fact.

The idea of this entire campaign is to see a glorious strive for survival against a, seemingly, insurmountable foe. I namedropped the overall leader of the threat in the introduction to the session while eventually also having a scene showing the secondary antagonists to the table as well. I love showing off antagonists in media. One thing I really dislike in games is an enemy just appearing and while you need to kill them you’ve no real reason to do so other than them being the “bad guy” and you’re the “good guy”. Setting up background information for antagonists is important for two reasons to me. The first being for the GM to understand their antagonists better. When you craft backstory for an antagonist and show off side scenes of what the antagonist is trying to accomplish or the heinous acts their committing while the PCs are in the midst of their adventures you tend to get a better handle on the action-reaction relationship the antagonist has with the PCs overall in the narrative. The second reason is player investment, these scenes aren’t meant for the PCs to know but for the players to understand on a Meta level of the game. Showing what an antagonist is doing gets them involved in the overarching narrative of the game along with making them either tense or angry with the antagonist and possibly even you as the GM for doing these things to beloved NPCs if they’re in the crossfire. Which if there’s one piece of GM advice I can share that I myself learned elsewhere it is Apocalypse World’s note to put NPCs in the crosshairs at all time. You can’t keep things to yourself and you can’t put things in a special little Adamantium box. You have to be willing to kill your darlings, that way you can feel alright killing your player’s darlings in turn.

The opening of the session was a thorough summation of the last “volume” of the titular ‘Final Invastion of Fel Duran’ being compiled by an npc who is happening upon the campaign well after the players involved in it have completed their actions. They’re compiling this information for the great work of his master’s in the form of the Codex Imperialis that Guilliman is having created. But this was also supremely important in retelling what happened last session to the players, as noted before we’d not had a session in some time and all of our memories suffered for the time away.

The major interaction that came from the game though wasn’t the combat section at all. It was the immediately following scene in the form of the follower’s camp. The follower’s camp was quickly getting spurred into a revolt by the pandemonium going on as the Cicatrix Maledictum ripped itself across the galaxy. Many planets turned to rioting and even open heresy against the Imperium for what was perceived to be the End Timestm. A secondary squad within the 32nd was trying to keep things under control but asked the PCs for aid. All in all they handled the situations swimmingly, which could have developed into a second fight if they weren’t careful and still have lasting repercussions down the line if handled differently still. I have to consider just what Octavia will owe Aidan in terms of a favor, which was gained when he stopped her from murdering a follower for trying to pilfer her illegal gains. I may just wait for a downtime section and have her demand he call in the favor so it’s off her books as it were. Maybe getting access to a non-Astra Militarum piece of wargear or special ammunition? I’ll just have to see how things develop.

Following this came a scene I’m sure will have repercussions that no one’s going to expect. The thrust of the setup was that a communications relay is set near the 32nd’s encampment. The PCs wanted to access the relay to try and reestablish communications throughout the city as, unannounced to them, was subverted by the Dark Magos overseeing the invasion using the communication’s relay in the transplanted station Exile’s Point. Regardless the tech adept that had been keeping watch over the relay station of course refused to allow the uninitiated into the relay station, and the PCs took issue with that. Tech Adept Theton was eventually convinced to aid in their efforts. I feel like Cecilia, one of the PCs, is going to have an interesting relationship. Cecilia is the tech focus of the group, and part of her background (not mechanically) is that she’s always been interested in technology from a cursory glance but never took the step to become initiated into the Cult Mechanicus. I feel like Theton will be a useful draw for her to get familiar in universe with the tenants of that religion and the deeper mysteries of technology. Along with learning more about the dual nature of the relationship of Fel Duran’s culture.

The main piece of feedback I received from the session was that it felt like there was more impressive or important things going on outside of the player’s ability to interact with. This is true, upon reflection, I had an extended period of time before I knew Session 2 was going to be on hold (an extra week or so), and as a result I thought about all the moving pieces I wanted to show off to my players. This ended up biting me because I ended up telling the players about things going on, not showing them. While we did agree in Session 0 that it would be alright to tell the players about things going on in the background I took a step too far in having so much in one session. In future prep I need to tone it down and make sure whatever I tell the players about the background that it’s not more important or impressive, in most cases, than what they’re getting up to in the actual game. Session 3 won’t have that issue, the game is going to be 90% player focused because they have one goal. I know the one background scene I want to tell the players and have no intention of not actively involving them in whatever I want to show them otherwise. Save for a stinger with the enemies of the campaign, I love a good stinger.

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Re: The Final Invasion of Fel Duran

Postby Thendoctor » Sat Dec 15, 2018 1:27 pm

Session Three Write Up:

After session two’s relatively rocky start I felt like session three went pretty swimmingly. Having a shorter amount of time to prep, along with the feedback of my players to tone down extra player character scenes, really aided me in getting things down that were actually important to tell to the players versus showing them in the game.

In this session alone I turned a couple of cult scenes that I was considering telling the PCs in to things that they would experience when they ventured in to the station that got transplanted in to Fel Prime’s main defense wall. This was the crux of the overall mission, but honestly took 1/3rd of the game’s time. Most of the session ended up being pc/npc interaction in the regimental camp or with some of the followers on that hang around the regiment as well. Also probably one of the best thoughts I had for complications as of yet.

But first, a few follow up mentions from last session’s write up, I did end up making a card that had the few book keeping things that one should do before the session, the card ended up having this written on it if you wish to make one yourselves:

Roll Objective
GM # of PC in Ruin
PC 0 Glory
PC 1 Campaign Card
PC 2 Wrath
PC 3 Reload

Admittedly one of my PCs has a bandolier so they get more reloads, but this is on them to remember. Additionally I didn’t have campaign cards until a couple of nights ago when my pre order arrived (wholly intact as far as I can tell complete), but it was useful preparation for future sessions, namely session four if I can work through the campaign card deck and sort out which ones I feel would be most prudent for the campaign.

As for getting a better wrangling on combat rules we didn’t actually end up in a combat the entire session. It was most just stealth and awareness rolls, which admittedly I’m not sure I did too well. Basically when the PCs began to infiltrate the station I had the best in the group roll for Stealth, basically as a trail blazer, letting them get assisted by the other pcs for some bonus dice. They ended up getting 10 Icons, which I used to set the DN of Awareness for the occupants of the station to notice them, which they’d never have been able to beat. I think in the future the best idea would be to find who the worst at Stealth is, have them get assisted, and then use that to set the DN for Awareness of enemies. In this case I didn’t care that much, I wasn’t going to pester the PCs with rerolls and retesting and everyone said they had a good time at the end of the evening.

Anyways, on to the brunt of the session discussion. This session was called “The road to purity is drenched in the blood of the martyred”, and honestly given how little (read 0 amount) combat happened there wasn’t really a lot of blood, martyrs, or even road. However, a main focus of the cult I have attacking the city is set up to be a Slaaneshi cult focused on the purity of the body and soul. Fel Duran has a cultural eugenics program, they kill aberrant gene-lines, but some do manage to escape the grasp of the planet. Anyways, the focus of the cult are those cast away from their home planet, all of them have a draw to try and “fix” Fel Duran in their own way, of course the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Later we’ll see just what this hell has created for them not only from internal machinations from the cult but also their external partnership, not that they’d call it that, with the forces of the Dark Magos who is the mastermind behind the invasion effort. In this way purity an overall focal point for keeping in theme with, at least for now, in terms of my prep. As long as the cult is still a force I intend on having around that is, they’ll be worked out later on as the war effort ramps up, but for now exploring this factor of the planet’s culture is important to me.

As I mentioned, the first two thirds of this session ended up being inter party and external party roleplaying scenes with parts of the regiment and followers thereof. The first bit of scenes ended up being what the pcs have been doing since the end of the second session, which a few days in game had passed since the initial invasion effort at the Feast of the Emperor’s Ascension. All three characters were asked to tell what their soldiers had been up to and all three acquiesced to the question. I notice now I haven’t actually mentioned the players in the game were, so I’ll list them here:

Arnie – The Heavy Weapons specialist of the fire team. Yes he’s basically Arnold Schwarzenegger hits Sly Marbo for 40k, it works pretty well.

Aidan – The Sergeant for the fire team and a well-known figure within the regiment as a whole. He’s been around for over 20 years at this point and is a “lifer” as it were, but I’m purposefully challenging this in the game as it’s an interesting bit of character.

Cecilia – A noble born who wants nothing to do with her heritage, but happens to be the sister of the regimental commissar. She serves as the fire team’s Corporal, sniper, and quasi-tech specialist.

While the largest piece of roleplaying took place over the course of one scene, I feel like this bared commenting on as I personally feel like it was a bit of ingenious effort on my end for using the Complication system in an interesting way. So, the fire team had been tasked with preparing for their upcoming expedition into the station and Aidan felt it prudent to get a hold of some grenades from the quartermaster. The quartermaster being a good Munitorum worker dislikes when people waste his property, and while the roll for acquisition was a success there was a complication rolled. Being Tier 1, the character’s wealth couldn’t go below 1 (noted in the rules as not possible) and so I decided that the quartermaster wanted their property back after issuing it out. Which is coming up in session four because Aidan gave away his grenade as a bargaining chip with some scum who survived in the station and were hiding from the cult, so that should be fun. Honestly the players were more terrified of what the quartermaster would do to them if they didn’t return all the grenades as opposed to what might happen to them in the lair of the cult, as every good guardsman should be at the end of the day.

The largest bit of the session, taking what felt like 1/3rd of the time in it of itself was a scene where Moira, who I’ve mentioned before, and Aidan finally had a discussion about the nature of the relationship she was looking for with him. Honestly I didn’t expect this information to come out so soon, planning on it in session four at the earliest if not a little later in session five, but the best laid plans of mice and men and all that. Aidan ended up hurting Moira impressively in his bluntness, and lack of introspection or fear in to what he actually desires, so much so that both Cecilia and Arnie spoke with both Moira and Aidan about just what happened and tried to console or waylay each of them respectively. Moira is basically a foil for Aidan, I wanted to make a character to challenge his belief that he was a lifelong soldier with the concept that someone actually cared about him enough to want to start a family with him, and Aidan being unused to the concept reacted poorly. We’ll just have to see how Winston’s future actions against Moira affect Aidan as well, I’m sure it’ll be fine.

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Re: The Final Invasion of Fel Duran

Postby Thendoctor » Fri Dec 21, 2018 4:39 pm

Session Four Write Up:

Session four had me a bit worried, I intended on this session being purely either inter-party or extra-party non-combat oriented scenes. Some groups can get a bit bored during these kinds of sessions, but I’ve always enjoyed a session that doesn’t end up with someone dying. Honestly I’ve always enjoyed a session in which no dice would have to be rolled, but those are rare and hard to pull off depending on the system honestly. This session was the former, there were rolls over the course of events but no one ended up dead…a nose did get broken though. That happens about every session though, Cecilia likes punching people in the face.

This session did reveal the nature of the relationship between two important NPCs, the planetary governor and their assistant, who are in a romantic relationship. This will come in to play a little over the course of the game, but not necessarily impacted by other forces in the game. Romantic ties are a part of life, and I’ve always liked them coming across at the table as long as everyone is comfortable with the situation. That’s why I introduced Moira as a foil to Aidan after all, I wanted to challenge the character’s pre-perception of what they actually wanted out of their life versus what could be offered to them as a future they never thought was feasible. Other than that the other characters at the table do not seem interested in such things, but the players understand that eventually this game will end its arc (at 16 sessions) at which point we’ll have a time jump and ascend or make some new characters. So, it is understood that thinking about the character’s possible futures is something important.

The list continued to work out quite well actually, I did get my pre order for the Wrath & Glory set which included Campaign Cards and tokens that had Glory, Ruin, and Wrath Points on them. I only wish that there were some reload tokens, but maybe those will be released at some time in the future. Maybe I’ll just buy some toy bullets and use those as well, I’m not sure, currently we’re using some poker chips for them and they seem to suffice for the time being. This session we did have campaign cards as well, I cut the deck down to 20 cards I felt were a bit more prudent to the nature of the campaign and the kinds of results I was looking for at the table. Given that it was a downtime session no one actually used them, but I suspect they’ll see action in Session Five if they’re in line with things that happen in the situation.

The name of the session was “Happiness is a delusion of the weak”, and I feel it was entirely apt given the stinger of the session. Over the course of the game the players all eventually wound up as “Big Damn Heroes” to the regiment, but of course under the veneer of that idea was the PCs interpersonal relationships and their relationships with certain npcs coming to a head as well. At the end of the ceremony the 32nd had a big party to celebrate the ‘victory’ over the enemy, and then the Dark Magos who is working on bringing the planet to heel launched a lance strike against the planet and destroyed a city. This admittedly was the planet’s fault, they should’ve just complied with his request to surrender the STC on the planet to him, and he would’ve just left them well enough alone…probably.

Regardless the name was apt, happiness in the 40k universe is a fleeting thing, especially in the Dark Imperium. You find it where you can, but you should always expect it to be ripped abruptly away from you in some violent manner. The only thing that seems to persist with some positive bent in the universe is ‘Hope’. That’s a whole long discussion that I’ve thought a lot about, but hope most certainly is the only constant humanity’s got in these dark times. It’s the only way it could be, otherwise Humanity as a whole would’ve likely just…stopped and let things fall to entropy, decay, and an inevitable destruction in the face of a myriad of enemies. Even the Blood Angels held on to hope in the face of their planet nearly being destroyed by Tyranids, admittedly they had a Sanguinor to tell them, “There is yet hope.” So that’s a bit on the nose.
One thing I want to make sure the PCs never lose is that innate hope that humans have that they can win. That they can succeed against all odds and come out on the other side, not untouched or unscathed, but still surviving. Because at the end of the day, in the galaxy there is only war, one must simply hope to fight another day. Of course the nature of the campaign in it of itself will have the PCs come out on top, maybe not alive, but still it’s a campaign it’s not meant to be all doom and gloom completely. A heroic sacrifice is still a thing that can succeed as much as anything, even with loss in the narrative of the game.

As for game notes there are a couple of actions that happened that I know will have some long running consequences down the line. First and foremost is that Octavia called in a favor Cecilia owed her, that favor involved planting a listening device in her sister’s (the commissar of the regiment) tent. Cecilia accepted and performed the action. Having a direct line to those kinds of secrets can only feasibly prove…interesting to have an npc know. Who knows, maybe the pcs will try to ask what the command structure isn’t telling them in the future? It could certainly be an interesting angle for the group to prepare for coming hardships.

The second would be that Arnie got into an argument with a newly introduced NCP named Virgil. After Aidan emotionally wrecked Moira in their discussion about the nature of her attraction for him she ended up going to the bar later on to be consoled by the bartender, who is a friend of hers in the narrative. Virgil, being the kind of person he is, tried hitting on her, but Moira was hesitant and not interested. Arnie intervened telling him off, with an amazing insult as well that made us all laugh at the table in changing a letter of Virgil’s name into a scathing remark. Virgil is part of a squad the PCs have decided is a rival to their own squad, but secondarily Virgil is part of a group of corporals that Winston has hang around with him because while not a very good person he is charismatic. Virgil certainly has a grudge and will definitely look for a chance to strike back at the group in some way, and if the situation with Winston goes a certain way he’ll most certainly be present as one of the people who confronts Aidan when Winston attempts to tell him off.

That situation will start going a certain way next session, and I’m excited to see how Aidan reacts to Moira’s plight, namely because the fallout will certainly be difficult to try and navigate matter what happens.

Speaking of Moria and Aidan’s relationship, Aidan did end up having a discussion with her about what happened last session. Moira was still pretty torn up over the whole thing, but she was willing to listen to what he had to say, and even then there’s no denying that she still had hopes that Aidan would sort himself out and think about committing to the idea of a relationship with her. She was more frank with him than before, no longer having the rose tinted glasses of her lust or more crush on him, she listened to his explanations but didn’t let them be excuses. Both agreed that in time eventually Aidan would have to come to a decision, but in the meantime Moira would continue to be the kind of person she’d always been, though currently she’s unsure about how she wishes to maintain that.

I’m certainly interested about session five regardless, I’ve destroyed a city, and I want the pcs to have to deal with the repercussions of that. In addition they’ll also have to deal with the loss of the resources of that city in an already strangled planetary system. No resupplies are coming anytime soon, and I decided that the city in question held the majority of the planets rations, I’ll have to make a note to start tracking rations for the PCs come to think of it.

In the meantime, the dark magos isn’t going anywhere, and the cult still looms in the darkness waiting.

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Re: The Final Invasion of Fel Duran

Postby Thendoctor » Fri Dec 28, 2018 3:55 pm

Session Five Write Up:

Session five ended up…well a bit bell ended, but only for the PC side of things. Situations escalated in a wholly unexpected manner, much in the way PC situations are want to do. It ended up taking up so much extra time than I expected that I had to not do an entire scene, which I’ve worked into the background for next session, and had to cut out a bit of follow-up before closing out when I’ll just use as setting the stage for Session six. Honestly that works out for the best on my end, session 6 will be a bit of a dungeon crawl as Session three was. The PCs are going to be sent on what amounts to a snipe hunt for other cultists, but it’ll be a good chance to give them some background information and set the scene for what will amount to a mid-arc finale at Session eight.

As a bit of a precursor Session eight will be when the cult that’s invaded the planet, the Wolves of Remus, are going to be put to the ground as it were. I never wanted the cult to be the entire focus of the campaign, they were always meant to be a tool of the Dark Magos as he attempted to get a hold of the planet’s STC. That doesn’t mean that the Wolves presence will stop being felt. One of the PCs are innately connected to the Wolves in the form of Cecila having an up to this point unknown brother who ended up founding the cult. This will set up, hopefully, a good amount of character turmoil or at least a couple scenes to touch on Cecilia’s noble connections in the game. The cult leader in turn is an unsanctioned psyker of which a daemon of Slaanesh has taken heed of, and is playing at their own machinations which will found the foundation for the mid-finale of the second arc of the game. They’re important, but impermanent.

Before speaking on the narrative that transpired in the session I think it’s important to mention some of the mechanical notes I took down that we encountered as a group for others to think on as well. The first thing that became a problem of note was that I forgot about having PCs rolling their Objective in the beginning of the session, I had the not card in front of me and followed the rest of the list presented, but for some reason I skipped the first line. I’ll just have to remember to go down everything, there’s nothing more that I can do when it comes to trying to reinforce the opening of session handling. I did make a note to my table to call out when they’re completing their objective, I noticed over session four that one of my players were consistently calling out their objective, but others at the table were either not calling out or doing it a bit farther after the fact than I would have liked. So, I made a point of telling the players to please let me know when they’re completing their Objective to gain Wrath, more so for me than them as I won’t remember what they rolled in the opening of the session. Speaking of gaining Wrath that was the third mechanical point that needed a bit of addressing for all of us at the table. There was a bit of confusion about points when Wrath and Glory would be gained and spent. Largely the spending came up in the timing of the spending, there was a point where I was resolving a situation having found that a PC did not pass a DN, but they said they were waiting to find out if they could spend Wrath, I let the situation pass that one time, but I made it clear that in the future if I resolve a roll there would be no going back and resolving it again, especially in a way that benefited the player. Lastly, this game has not had a lot of heavy combat, such situations will change, especially in the coming session, but I think it will be prudent to make a list or chart that has the action economy for the pcs and a list of possible actions to take while noting their place in the book as the Index is in a less than desirable state if I will be frank about it.

Regardless, finishing up mechanical notes, I’ll open with the Thought for the Day of the session which was “Vigilance is the brother of truth”. I feel like this was apt for the session only so far in the second part of the session over the first. The second part of the session included the PCs searching through the ruins of the city that the Dark Magos destroyed at the stinger of session four. Their duty was to remain vigilant in the face of their duty even when those around there were simply searching for aid, but in the Imperium it is an unfortunate truth that aid is few and far between and even if you seek refuge you can be denied for reasons beyond your ability to manage.

The largest part of the session was once again an inter-party situation that didn’t involve any overarching plot point for the sake of the invasion effort. In turn it was just the continuation of the Moira subplot to push against Aidan’s inner desire to be a lifelong soldier. After Session four’s celebrations ended I pushed forward Winston’s plotline of becoming violent at Moira’s refusal of his advances. He struck her giving her a noticeable black eye. This didn’t go noticed for the PCs, or the most of the regiment while they were dealing with getting the situation of the city getting destroyed. The regiment was getting redeployed to the ruins to try and suss out what might be salvaged out of the area in terms of rations for the planet.

Anyways, eventually Moira would decide to go to Aidan and explain what happened, and while she never would explicitly ask for aid, it was always going to be assumed that Aidan would try to alleviate her concerns over this new dynamic in her squad. We got to see the introduction of the rival squad for the PCs, which was more their choice of hitting on that cliché than my deciding of such a thing, in Squad Medusa who contains Virgil (someone from Session four that Arnie has a scene with also involving Moira) and what would mirror the PCs group in a way.

Aidan was already thoroughly shook up about what he supposed was his mother’s passing, he having come from the city that was destroyed, and the Moira situation was not a thing that could level the inner turmoil he was feeling it seems. The decision was made to teach Winston a quick lesson in manners in the form of beating him, within what limits they defined as reasonable. This involved three the three main PCs going to the car (the regiment was getting transported on a train) that Moira’s squad was sequestered in, getting Winston in a state of being the only one in the car, and then all of them either holding him in place or beating the lesson in to him.

The issue came when Winston spat on Aidan, and Aidan absentmindedly wiped his face with a handkerchief his mother had given to him. The player decided that this would be a breaking point for Aidan realizing he’d ruined one of the last things that he’d likely have as a memento from his mother and proceeded to hurl himself at Winston. Mechanically Aidan struck him in a way that would give him a Memorable Injury (which I decided was a broken jaw), and in the process of wrangling him together Cecilia ended up slamming his face into a table causing him to begin having to make Defiance Checks, rolling a one and therefore gaining a Maiming Injury (which would be a broken orbital requiring a cybernetic eye). Cecilia managed to revive him, but the squad left quickly from their attempted murder.

Wrapping back to the note on the Thought for the Day, the PCs vigilance in their refusal to try and allow a refugee to keep her son will come back on them in Session six as well. This isn’t to punish the players really, the cult was offering aid no matter what, if the PCs had allowed the woman through along with the child things could be much worse for the regiment and the people of the planet, but in turn if the PCs had simply chosen to let the woman leave with her son and simply not called the situation in to their higher ups then she wouldn’t have felt the need to run into the cult’s arms. The cult in turn is going to use the child to their own ends in a show that the enemy’s acceptance of all those who seek sanctuary does not come without a price.

The Wolves’ goals are coming to a head in the face of the PCs while they in turn seem to be on the verge of committing actions which will have far reaching consequences before Arc 1 finishes.

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Joined: Fri Jun 22, 2018 7:18 am

Re: The Final Invasion of Fel Duran

Postby Thendoctor » Fri Jan 04, 2019 1:19 pm

Session Six Write Up:

This session went quite a bit more according to plan than I suspected it would. Not because of the content but because of outside reasons impacting the game. One of our players had some issues that gave us a smaller time window to play the session, so we were all very much on point about getting in to the game and staying on track. On track meaning that we weren’t going off on tangents in the middle of the session for idle chatter. Some conversations did deviate, but we wrapped ourselves back into the mindset quickly enough. In relation to my hopes of session six being a bit more of a dungeon crawl as session three was, that hope was achieved. We did end up spending about as much time in the lower tunnels of the fortress world as I we spent in the station that was teleported into the main city’s defensive wall. A couple of encounters did take less time than I thought they would, but that was just because the players moved on from them without engaging the situation.

This is fine though, not every situation has to be engaged with, the outcome of not engaging wasn’t important to me so I wasn’t going to force the issue. If I didn’t want to give the player character’s a chance to not engage with the situation then I wouldn’t present the situation as open. There’s a difference between something for the pcs to interact with and something interacting with the pcs after all. One of them tends to be attacking or speaking with the player characters and the other can just end up that way. Encounters that pcs must deal with should be relevant to the overall story rather than side content that can help flesh out what’s going on. I don’t feel bad one way or the other with the situations having unfolded as they did, the pcs didn’t lose out on key information and honestly no story should ever require you to get side information if it won’t impact the outcome of things.

First though is followup on the mechanical notes I had from the last write up. I did end up sitting down and collating all the information on Wrath/Glory/Ruin, Combat Actions, and Damage from the Core Rulebook into a small document. We didn’t have the time to sit down and really go through it, but the information was there if we needed it. Honestly, we the Wrath/Glory sheet more than anything else. During the session it came up that the Shock/Soaking mechanics need to be explained in a bit more detail, and this is on one of my sheets that I put together. We didn’t have the time to go over it previously, but I will run through the mechanic again before we start session seven, I don’t believe it’s too much of a big deal really. I believe the issue lies in the fact that the campaign hasn’t been combat heavy, I don’t expect it to get too heavy save one or two sessions, combat has never truly interested me in roleplaying games if it’s the only thing that the game is about. There was a session I was running of Dark heresy Second Edition where the entire four-hour session was combat, but I don’t want to repeat that anytime soon.

One thing I do need to remember to try and do in prep is fully read a bestiary entry and take notes about how the combat with the entry should be going. I used a Chaos Spawn and forgot that the creature was supposed to change mutations each Turn. Admittedly this didn’t end up mattering the fight was a difficult one without me remembering that piece of information, having 16 Shock was plenty for the pcs to have to work through. It is strange, feeling that the creature only has one Turn while it feels like all the pcs have more to do, but this is just the way the narrative initiative works. Random Initiative would change the order of things, but not the outcome. I will say that one thing I need to remember as a GM I have access to is Ruin, I never use my allotted points really. I feel like the players make enough trouble for themselves, and I never find much use for them with npcs, maybe I should use more things with Ruin entries to force me to use the points to activate them. It’s just something I should keep in mind.

Anyways, the session’s Thought for the Day was “Not even the dead know the end of war” and it was prudent in a roundabout way again. After the initial setup of the pcs going to the city’s Mechanicus Shrine to try and suss out what went on during the cultist attack, before the city was destroyed by the Dark Magos, they found that the cultists were using the lower fortress tunnels to move about virtually unnoticed. The planet rarely uses the catacombs, what the call the lower fortress tunnels, so no one exactly suspected this is where the cult went. Regardless, after investigating that the regiment was instructed to do some recon on the tunnels and try and find the whereabouts of the cult. The first squad sent in was killed, and the pcs were sent in afterwards to try and retrieve some intel that the first squad found, in the meantime the rest of the regiment would be sent in on a distraction run for any possible cultist activity in place. The private in question that they were looking for had died, but in such a way that he died standing up with his weapon ready, as any guardsman should be pleased to have done. In a greater meaning though there are plenty of instances where even a person’s death means nothing to the Imperium, dreadnauts, penitent engines, and servitorization are just a few examples of such a thing as the nebulous line between life and death.

The encounters presented to the pcs were nothing overtly interesting, I tried to stay simple with the situations that would have naturally evolved from a cult leaving in a very nomadic manner. There was a last-minute food supply line that the pcs ignored, which was salvaged from an encounter I couldn’t use in session six because of how little time we had. A second was a pretty classic booby-trap of a box of grenades rigged to explode, a complication rolled here made the label a bit more difficult to read meaning the pcs didn’t know they were duds. Third was the first chance at Corruption seen since the opening of the campaign with the cult leaving many defiled murals in place that the pcs experienced, Aidan took Corruption taking the time to examine them but gaining valuable information on the the nature of the cult in a very abstracted way. We’ll see if the pcs make connections beforehand though the cult’s actions next session, the stinger will make more sense at least. The penultimate encounter was a pretty basic Athletics test to overcome a large gap in the area they were crossing, they could have backtracked their way across of course, but doing so would have given time for the final encounter to have more enemies present in it. Obviously that latter fact was unbenounced to the pcs, but it seemed like a reasonable compromise to not having them possibly take shock before the Chaos Spawn fight.

The pcs encountered the refugee that they scared off previously, who had in turn joined the cult in order to find refuge and protect her now mutated son. The son in question had now mutated into a Chaos Spawn, which mechanically can happen, but narratively I just decided that the maelific force impacting the cult spurred on the corruption of the child’s form into a more useful tool. The pcs dealt with that enemy and then mercilessly executed the refugee that they had scared off in the first place. Which is more a commentary on the culture and society of the planet than anything over what the player’s felt about the situation. In the end they learned that the cult had swelled with refugees from the city’s destruction, were working their way back to the main city of the planet, and that the cult’s leader was a confirmed psyker.

The stinger of the session was an Inquisitor on the planet coming to the revelation that the Dark Magos has only been using the cult as a tool to try and work his way to the STC. In relation to this the only feasible place for an attack is Cecilia’s family home, the home of the noble family that originally discovered the STC on the planet, so the family would feasibly have relatively easily accessible records on the subject if anyone would. So, we should get a decent bit of roleplaying with Cecilia and her sister npc back at their familial home before the cult attempts to burn it down. The end of session seven will give a large revelation about their noble family as well, basically these next…three sessions or so will heavily play in to Cecilia’s character.

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Joined: Fri Jun 22, 2018 7:18 am

Re: The Final Invasion of Fel Duran

Postby Thendoctor » Fri Jan 11, 2019 7:13 pm

Session Seven Write Up:

Session seven went over fairly well, if the feedback I received from my players was anything to go by in regards to it. We were cut a little for time once again, the holidays being over means we were all back to work, and that meant that other players and myself needed to make sure we got adequate sleep for the following day. I got through nearly all of my material this session, and only had to skip one encounter during the final 1/3 of the session which was combat.

It doesn’t tear me up too much that I ended up skipping combat honestly, roleplaying’s always more interesting to me when it concerns how the PCs are interacting with things in a non-combative way than when they’re just mowing down some mob. Honestly combat’s been pretty easy for them with the heavy weapons specialist in the group and having two npcs with them to fill out their fireteam. While the npcs are nice narratively to have a couple minor npcs to bounce scenes off of with, I didn’t realize how good the Guardsman npc statblock is in comparison with what the PCs have at rank one. They’re surprisingly strong and competent at just about everything they attempt. It’s something I know I’m not going to do for Arc 2, and no one should have a heavy weapon so everything should be alright in that regard.

As a result, combat is generally pretty fast, even the fight with the Chaos Spawn just turned in to it being eaten by heavy fire as the rest of the pcs, and npcs, whittled away at a shock pool. But, that’s ok, it was a learning experience and it’s not something I’m just going to take away from the PCs. That’d be pretty vindictive and I’ve grown on the npcs that exist as they are, if an enemy every actually managed to kill them they’d be dead for certain, I’ve no reason to save them unless the pcs want to try and keep them alive.

Running onwards with my usual flow I’ll comment mechanically on how some of my former notes went over during this session. Previously I noted that before I needed to go over the nature of Damage and Shock/Soaking with a player, and I took the time to go through the flow of a normal attack with them. They seemed to understand it simply enough and we left it there, their problem arose from fully understanding how to deal with Resiliance in order to become wounded, and how it’s a little different for pcs and mobs since the latter drop so quickly from damage having only 1 wound and not being able to soak. In relation to reading full entries on the bestiary and taking notes about how I’d like combat with them to pan out in terms of their Turns I did end up planning out the Rogue Psyker. It’s literally the only reason the Psyker got away alive through the whole situation. In relation to this planning I also ended up using my Ruin points to make sure the Psyker went first and got off a necessary Psychic Power, using their Ruin ability to Activate a Psychic Power.

During the session I did try to pull out a new house rule, in the form of a very beta form of mass combat rules. I had to put those short due to time requirements. Mass combat is something I want to try to include in to the game, but there obviously aren’t any rules in the Core rulebook. The rules were very basic, taking the main unit from both armies, calculating size difference, creating a pool, choosing a Combat Action, and then finally making a roll. I hadn’t figured out how I wanted to detract damage from the armies or really how combat should be done, but I know I wanted to make sure that there was an initial roll, an encounter, and then that encounter influence the next roll for the mass combat. I wanted to make sure that the PCs were influencing the combat, but not wholly responsible. They couldn’t for example use their own party resources for the mass combat, nor could the combat generate Glory for them. The rules are still very basic, and I may in fact be over complicating things and should just extrapolate mob rules outward. Something like dividing the force down to a tens number and then use a normal mob combat rules. It’s still in development.

Session seven’s Thought for the Day was “Only the faithless question”, and it was poignant in a couple of ways. The first and foremost was that Aidan had a seen with the commander of their regiment in which he was explaining what he’d found out about the cult in session six. He used the word “Chaos” and played up that he’d been tyring to figure out more about what might be going on, but his commander was very firm about Aidan stopping this. There are things Humanity was not meant to invest much thought in to and the character stated that they’d like to see the Chaplain at some point which should be a good scene in session eight. Secondarily the Inquisitor on the planet gave very simple orders through the planetary governor to get the regiment to Cecilia’s home manor, not a lot of information was given and no one questioned the orders as any good soldier should do in the Imperium. Your betters know…better after all, most of the time at least. Lastly the idea applies in a general sense, to question to to put further thought in to something, to put thought is to give it credence and let it root its way in to your mind. Such things can be dangerous depending on what you question or think about.

I can see what Aidan is going for though, the players are well aware that Arc 2 will focus more on the nature of Inquisitorial work for the Inquisitor on the planet as the war effort progresses. The player’s been trying to figure out if they’ll keep the character for ascension or choose a Tier 2 archetype to create, and this is why such things are getting challenged by the nature of Moira’s relationship.

However, this session wasn’t about Aidan, it was more about Cecilia and showing off the Cole family manor to the players while getting a better look at the leader of the cult, for a passing moment at least. I feel like Cole manor went relatively well, it was nice getting to work with the player on how they felt the family would present themselves and having the PCs interact with them. The Cole family was an invention of that player for the sake of the game so all the material is based on their desires and answers from my questioning.

The most entertaining scene by far was a dinner scene I presented to Firefox Squad, I’m not sure if I mentioned the group’s designation in the game, and Cecilia’s family. Their reactions were expectably tense and worried being in such a tenuous position. Cecilia’s mother even asked Aidan if he thought they’d be a good match for marriage. Which given that Cecilia is of marrying age and seems to have no actual drive to get anything done her parents are looking to marry her off. The 1st Sergeant of the honourguard regiment of a planet is pretty low level prestigious, but in its own way useful for the sake of changing up the gene-pool in the family. It also by proxy uplifts a low-born which is a fun story at cocktail parties. That was my thinking at least, and to help back it up Aidan rolled a complication on the Persuasion test to convince Cecilia’s mother to not match them up, so she just took it as him playing hard to get.

The battle didn’t go on too long, it ended with the reveal that the cult leader is an unspoken of brother to Cecilia, and immediately followed by the cult leader ripping out the throat of his father with his teeth and peacing out with a psychic power to escape with information on ‘The Cradle’ for the Dark Magos.

Session eight is upon us. The second Milestone session, the mid arc finale, and the conclusion of the narrative that focuses on the ‘Wolves of Remus’. Though it won’t be the end the mini arc dealing with Cecilia and her experiences grappling with the nature of what it means to be a noble in the Imperium in a family that has deeper secrets than she’s ever been let in on. All they have to do is survive the cult leader who is now a daemonhost, well…Possessed Mortal skinned as an unbound daemonhost.

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