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The Final Invasion of Fel Duran
Posted: 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.
Re: The Final Invasion of Fel Duran
Posted: 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.
Re: The Final Invasion of Fel Duran
Posted: 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:
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.
Re: The Final Invasion of Fel Duran
Posted: 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.
Re: The Final Invasion of Fel Duran
Posted: 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.
Re: The Final Invasion of Fel Duran
Posted: 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.
Re: The Final Invasion of Fel Duran
Posted: 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.
Re: The Final Invasion of Fel Duran
Posted: Fri Jan 18, 2019 5:43 pm
Session Eight Write Up:
Session eight, as I mentioned was the second Milestone session for the first arc of the campaign. By extension it is the midpoint of the first arc, and means that the game is a quarter through in terms of intended length. That length being 32 sessions was more mathematically calculated than anything. Players should get around 5 BP per session, 20 BP is roughly a Rank, there are 4 Ranks to go up until you are at Rank 5, and therefore to “complete” a Tier of play you get 80 BP before feasibly you’d want to Ascend beyond your level of play. This is the math I chose for my Tier 1 to Tier 2 campaign at least, and so far that math has helped me narratively pace the game as well. I know each four sessions should build to a climactic point and the three sessions before it I have some time to learn more about the player characters with the rest of the group.
The session went at a bit of a different pace for what had been previously going on, only about half of it was interparty interaction and the rest was combat. I had more time than usual for the session as we all managed to make it at the same time, a time which was relatively early, so I didn’t feel rushed to make sure I could get through all the content I had. I also wanted to make sure to try and have the combat feel important because it was a Milestone session.
But first a quick follow-up on last session’s one new mechanicl note on the nature of the Mass Combat rules I was muddling around with for the attack on Cole Manor. A player and I were talking about my thoughts in making the rules and the player noted that I should proabaly just use Mob rules in the book, and I agreed but was still unsure how to deal with the large numbers involved without too much math. I then added to the consideration list that the mob numbers should just be cut down to the nearest fraction and resolved, but that’s still more math than I would like to deal with. The issue is still in development, I did decide that I won’t worry about Mass Combat until Arc 2, because at that point the player characters are beyond the low level of play with focus on the regiment’s inner relationships.
New business concerning mechanics includes a few things. I did make combat notes for the final encounter with the Possessed Mortal, but while I mentioned doing a Fear Test before the PCs first Round I completely forgot to make them actually do it. This immediately hindered survivability, but also the player characters absolutely wrecked the thing in one Round with a Heavy Bolter. That weapon is just…way too destructive to be able to really throw anything the group without it being a very large mob. It’s making planning encounters a bit difficult but it was fairly purchased so I’ll have to deal. To help in that regard we realized that we were ruling the Brutal quality incorrectly, rather than increasing the pip value on the die I was just allowing each die to give one guaranteed Icon of damage. Mechanically speaking, I’m not sure if I mentioned it before, but I do use a house rule that if an npc I’m running rolls a Complication I can choose to give the player character they were interacting with a Wrath Point, this is basically a mirror of one of the ways I can gain Ruin.
One piece of feedback I did receive was from Cecilia’s player. Narratively speaking Genevere and Cecilia had a scene speaking about who Wynchell was and what happened to him before he became the leader of a cult. The issue was that I was pretty beligerant with how Genevere was interacting with Cecilia, as Genevere was upset about her father’s death, but unfortunately Cecilia’s previous interaction with her turned her off to the whole scene. The player expressed this issue with me, feeling like the dislike was being poured on a bit too much, and that while Cecilia would likely have plenty to say in the scene they weren’t feeling like they were being given enough time to think up a good response, and so wanted to not have future scenes. Speaking with them in more depth about the nature of the issue we came to the conclusion that it would be best to make sure to have a scene in the future where they smooth over the rough portion of their relationship. Thankfully I’d already prepped materials that will give both characters plenty of time to come to terms with the kind of people they are and their relationship as it relates to the regiment and their own family.
The session’s Thought for the Day was “For those who seek perfection there can be no rest this side of the grave”, and I had chosen this title for the session well into my early prep for the campaign for a few reasons. Chiefly among them being the fact that this is where I wanted to end the arc dealing with the Wolves, and a big part of the leader’s obsessions became trying to be perfect in the face of a society obsessed with genetic perfection who cast the cult leader out. It also is a lead in for the fact that a daemon of Slaanesh has taken interest in Fel Duran, which will in turn come in to more play in Arc 2 of the campaign, and lastly it’s a truism no one living can be perfect. I suppose the Imperium is of the mind that at death you can become perfect at the side of the Emperor at least.
The main part of the opening for the session included a funeral for Cecilia’s father, after he was murdered by a previously unknown son. Cecilia is interested, seemingly, in at least trying to find out the nature of the secret their family didn’t know they had, and this will be shown off a bit more in session nine. The largest hurdle here is that I don’t intend on making it too large of a deal in the nature of the game, but Cecilia could make it a huge point of contention in session ten when I throw Firefox in to a situation they made for themselves back in session five with Winston, who will also feature again in session eleven in a much more violent way. After the funeral the Ecclesiarchal representative of the planet’s ruling council met with Firefox and explained to them that he was required to be present at an upcoming attack on the Order Famulous facility on the planet, and the unsaid behest of the Inquisitor currently on the planet.
Following that Cecilia and Genevere had a conversation I mentioned earlier, which ened with Cecilia coming to the realization, it having been yelled at her by a very drunk Genevere, that she cares more about what she and her mother have to say about her than she realizes.
Following that the attack on the Sororitas Shrine began with the last dregs of the Wolves of Remus led by the daemonhost accosting the facility in order to try and destroy all the work on the eugenics program of the planet. Well, they were going to corrupt it at least. Why destroy something you can muddle with and then damn a planet to mutant degeneracy while it’s cutoff from the Imperium?
Due to Cecilia getting a Complication on removing the shrine’s memory core I decided that an alarm would go off alerting the daemonhost. The daemonhost then attacked Cecilia directly after tearing through a side wall. The issue with this is that I had narratively intended to kill the Ecclessiarchal Representative with them in a grand sacrifice, but I jumped the gun ahead of myself. This wasn’t an overly big deal, I had wanted the representative dead for a scene in a few session’s time, but this was because I had originally changed it from something else. I’ll just change it back to the original idea, and we’ll call it a day. The PCs, as I mentioned ripped through the daemonhost in a single round with the heavy bolter Arnie wields, and they all went home happy…until they found out the commander of the regiment was taken by the enemy that is.
So, in all, the session I feel was a decent success. The second Milestone session was reached, the PCs are now Rank 3, and the cult known as the ‘Wolves of Remus’ are no more. Though it won’t be the last time the PCs have to deal with the daemon that was influencing the cult leader, it’s at least not going to harass them for a while. On the other hand, things are only just beginning with the true assault of the forces of the Dark Magos looming over the planet.
Re: The Final Invasion of Fel Duran
Posted: Fri Jan 25, 2019 6:40 pm
Session Nine Write Up:
Session nine ended up changing from what I had originally intended on it including at a very late stage in my GM prep process. Instead of ending the session with the initial portion of the second phase of the invasion of the forces of the Dark Magos I decided to introduce this in session ten. Instead, I kept the entire session a Downtime session. It came about in the fact that I had more minor scenes and stage setting/clearing to do than I realized. At the end of the day, I didn’t feel comfortable about how little time I would feasibly have to introduce the combat I was intending on putting the players through. Rather than cut that short, I’d just have it be the introduction to session ten, and run out a few extra inter-party and non-player character scenes. Besides, Downtime never hurt anyone, it is a great way for players to really dig down in to figuring out why their characters are the way they are, and it helps them process a lot of the game that’s happened so far. Secondarily I’ve never been such a huge proponent of combat in rpgs anyways, it is an important component but not a necessarily huge one.
Mechanically speaking, given that we did not have any combat this session I didn’t have any further input on rulings that I did or did not manage to remember properly or implement. I have, in the meantime been reading the starter set I received with my pre-order collection. This is more to make another list of things I noticed on my readthrough, much like I have done with the Core Rulebook, as you can see elsewhere on the forum. As such I have been refamiliarizing myself with the general rules and I noticed a couple of fine points that will help me later on in combats in the future:
• Wrath Dice are wholly separated from the re-roll pool on a Complication, not just remembered. We have been doing this properly, but I know we did not initially. My players assured me we were currently doing this correctly.
• Troops (meaning mobs generally) do not suffer Complications nor do they inflict Critical Hits. This I had not been doing properly, which will speed things up in the future.
The only during session commentary to be made from session eight feedback would be the player that has Cecilia for a character. Their commentary from last session being that they felt their conversations were a bit on the heavier side, so I made sure to keep things easy on them this time around. We discussed things and later on when the player’s character and Genevere specifically have had time for reflection and growth they can have another talk. This will be in the next Downtime session in session 14, at least that’s the plan.
Otherwise following up on the destruction of the planet’s main holding of rations I began having players remove them from their sheet every session. This wasn’t being tracked every day, tracking something like that down to the day would bog things down in my opinion so I have kept it to one ration per session. As such the players didn’t have a ration to remove at session nine. I wrote up some house rules concerning starvation and they follow:
-If you have no Ration you can attempt to Requision them.
-You can attempt a Survival Test DN3 for a Ration’s worth of food (Exalted Icons can be shifted to gain +1 Ration)
-If no ration is consumed, make Toughness Test where the DN is the number of sessions without food
*If the test is failed gain Hindered (1), this cannot be removed without eating food.
-If food is not consumed for a number of sessions equal to your Toughness Attribute you fall Unconcious and begin to make Defiance rolls to survive into a coma until given food.
I suppose if you want to modify the rules to track daily then you can change any instances of “sessions” to “days”.
Session Nine’s Thought for the Day was “A warrior’s faith in their commander is their best armour and their strongest weapon”, and there were some obvious connections to it in two main ways. The first being that at the end of session eight I revealed that their regimental commander had been taken by the forces of the arch-enemy. Session nine had an opener that revealed the beginning of the grim fate of the regimental commander at the hands of the Dark Magos, something which will be fully revealed in session twelve. The players do happen to like their regimental commander, something I tried to instill largely by having the npc be “played” by Nathan Fillion, and it’s not hard to use the cliché of the great leader being killed in the progression of the campaign, one player even called it in the first session. The second way in which this ‘Thought for the Day’ spoke to the purpose of the session was that I had 1st Sergeant Wyatt get a battlefield promotion to Commander of the regiment, something that Aidan had been dreading for a good while in the game. The character has stated more than once they never wanted to be in charge of anything, but what can I say, as I Game Master I feel it’s a bit of my job to give the players things they do not inherently want. As such the player had to make sure the rest of the regiment had faith in them now.
This honestly was going to be the essence of the arc which Aidan would have for the next few sessions, some of the burning questions of whether they can handle the stress of leadership and if they can come to like it. Unfortuantely session five happened, so things changed irrepreprably from that situation and Aidan’s arc will take a darker turn. It will turn in to whether they can deal with the burden of what they have brought upon themselves and the rest of their team through their actions, and whether they can survive reprisal from Winston now that he’s returned.
This session had a secondary purpose of drawing a close, largely, to the mini-arc that I had been putting Cecilia through. In this session she had sessions with both her mother and the head of the third major noble family of the planet. In the scene with the noble head she learned that he helped her father smuggle her brother off planet after he manifested psychic potential. The scene with her mother required a bit more follow-up however to set the stage. The Order Famulous of the planet decided to congratulate Cecilia for her bravery during her actions in the shrine on the planet retrieving the memory core from the laboraties of the shrine and protecting it from the daemonhost. As such, the Order Famulous raised the priority of finding her a genetic and social match to marry on the planet given her noble blood, something that Cecilia had been trying to avoid at all costs. Her mother did her best to answer questions concerning the issue and assuage any nervousness or tensions over the matters that Cecilia may have been having. It was the calmest and gentle conversation they had ever had with one another, which was by design as her mother only ever wanted Cecilia to actually do something with herself. Now she has had purpose thrust upon her, but this fate may be overturned at the arc’s end.
Arnie spoke with Ozzy and had a depressed moment about his dead family with one of the squad-mates.
The stinger for session nine was Junior Commissar Boden coming upon a clinching piece of evidence that arose out of session five’s Complication that Cecilia got on her Tech-Use test to cut the cameras in the carriage that Squad Chimera was in. The Complication being that she did not cut the camera that was viewing the entrance of the carriage, and so was viewed modifying the control box. The players caught on quickly that next session will involve a courtroom scene. I do wonder what the players will find worse, the court martial or the beginning of the next wave of the invasion. I suspect the court martial myself.
Re: The Final Invasion of Fel Duran
Posted: Sat Feb 02, 2019 10:57 am
Session Ten Write Up:
I thought that I was not going to have enough time to get through the materials I had written up for session ten honestly given a few real life factors intervening. First and foremost my day job had some odd issues going on with timing which required me to stay later, that meant the game started an hour later than I intended. Secondarily one of our players was ill during the day and may have not been available at all, thankfully they mustered themselves and were present for the session. We all decided to push a little later than we would normally stop by, and we got through all the material that I had intended, and we even worked through a couple of extra scenes the PCs came up with on their own. The biggest thing here was communication with my group. As soon as I learned about my work issues I let my players know, and asked them if they would prepare to possibly play late, and as soon as my player felt their sickness coming on to the point where they may not have made it to the session they let me know as well, and I did my best to possibly prepare a backup plan with a side game that I had been running previously with “The End of the World” from Fantasy Flight Games.
But that is enough about the timing of the session, the only large thing that came up mechanically speaking during the session is the continuing realization that a Heavy Bolter at a lower tier game is just far too destructive for anything I feel comfortable with throwing up against my party. Honestly, nearly every single encounter is: PCs go first, PC with Heavy Bolter murders everything in sight, and PCs move on. None of the other PCs have spoken about having an issue with this situation, and so we have not really done anything about it. I will not ask the player to change out weapons, even though they brought up that the tier 2 multi laser weapon is much tamer than the heavy bolter, yet unavailable to tier 1 games, I allowed the bolter originally and so it will stay. I believe I have mentioned before that I will not allow heavy weapons in arc two of the campaign, and the more that player has that weapon the more firm I am in that belief.
I am not a huge proponent of combat in the first place, I don’t find that it provides incredibly interesting roleplaying experiences. When I do provide a combat situation for the PCs, or when the players make one for themselves such as the situation back in session five, I try to make sure it has a point and lasts for a bit of time. This is so all the PCs can do the things that a good portion of the game is about, kill things in front of them in order to move the narrative forward. I cannot really do that when the heavy bolter just eats everything, but in turn I cannot reasonably crank up an encounter in order to have the bolter not just eat everything. Sure, I could throw mobs of 30 enemies at the PCs, but there’s only one heavy bolter, and those mobs would eat the other two PCs alive while the heavy bolter gets overrun. Nor do I want to just decide that suddenly there are more intimidating enemies around for the PCs, because narratively I do not want to shoe horn that situation in for nothing more than annoyance at the effectiveness of a weapon at low tier play.
The players at the table are just playing the game as it is written, and that is entirely fine. As long as they do not get frustrated that Arnie can eat everything that comes in front of them then there isn’t a real problem to resolve. Another issue is that I gave the players two npcs in order to fill out the fireteam and have some roleplaying opportunities early on for inter-party interactions. Those npcs have eaten a shot or two for the rest of the group, and I will not continue the practice in to arc two now that I have found combat to not be overtly deadly at low tiers. Hopefully their send off will provide some emotional input as well, the players have bonded with the npcs, and personally I like having them around as well and will not just murder them randomly either.
That, however, is more than enough about me going on a rant concerning the Heavy Bolter and its supereme effectively on the battlefield.
The session’s Thought for the Day was, “Life is the Emperor’s currency, spend it well”. The ties to the content of the session were…well loose at best. I had originally intended on session ten going a bit differently than previously, but givent he events of session five I had to modify my preparations and plans to fit the new situation the PCs had put themselves in. I am not exactly sure what the session was intended to be all that time ago though, I have saved over my prep document in the meantime and so it is lost to the ages as it were.
Regardless there is one point in which the Thought fits, which is what I mentioned last session in the form of the court martial of the PCs for the attempted murder of Sergeant Winston for his perceived crimes in the eyes of the PCs. I mean, I agree, Winston is a bit of a tit, the Commissariat on the other hand cares that someone tried to break their property.
This was really the crux of the session, which I will comment on momentarily, but first I will cover the narrative point I put the PCs through beforehand. Octavia called in the favor that Arnie, Aidan, and Cecilia owed her for keeping quiet about their direct involvement in Wintson’s battery and near murder. The form of that favor was going to find Ace, a follower who had gone missing while going on a scavenging mission in the now abandoned station of Exiles’ Point. This was the station that was transported into the city’s main wall which allowed the cult easy access to the planet. Regardless Ace had gone missing and the PCs were tasked with finding out whether he was dead or not. Octavia had a secondary goal of trying to find a theoretically hidden stash of smuggled goods on the station, but that had been looted by the cult originally outfitting them in the first place. This will be a more important point later on in arc two as it will set up the first thing the PCs (not inherently Squad Firefox) will be doing in their new capacity as Inquisitorial assests.
This ended up showing a teaser for the next part of the Dark Magos’ invasion plans, in which they will begin funneling troops of their own forces onto the planet in order to launch more stalwart attacks. Mechanically this will be represented no longer by using cultists, mutants, or mutant champions, but will be represented by the Astra Militarum trooper template and maybe a servitor here and there. Resoundingly the Heavy Bolter dealt with the scouting kill-team that Firefox stumbled upon.
After they returned they were court martialed. This was a point of near contention in the group. I had to be incredibly careful about how I approached the matter. I made sure to repeatedly tell them that this was not going to end in their characters dying, but still a feared miscommunication occurred about them possibly becoming penal legionnaires. Which I then dispelled as well, I was merely playing up the trope. It would seems some mysterious benefactor working for the Inquisition spared them…for now.
Session Eleven is dawning on us soon. I intend on accomplishing two things with the session. The first is mechanically introducing Threatening Tasks as a mechanic to the PCs, which we’ve not seen before at out table. I want to make sure to expose them early so that way I can have the situation come up later and we will be familiar with the flow and possible problems with only having three players at the table. The second point I want to make sure to have arise at the table is Winston taking his shot at Squad Firefox, and attempting to get revenge for what Aidain and Cecilia, but not inherently Arnie, did to him. Which should be fun, the PCs have been given hints for a couple sessions now and they are expecting a fight, and I hope to give them one which will survive Arnie’s Heavy Bolter…we will have to see how that goes.