Sunday, June 13, 2010

Sixth Session, Pt. 2 - OH @#$!

After the defeat of the Chaos vessel and its looting, the crew went about their business of exploring the planet.

The planet of Vedic is literally an untapped gem in the galaxy. It is a raw, untamed world with all of its natural resources intact. No hives or agri-farms exist on it. What's more, this planet is three times the size of a normal terran-standard world. Therefore, it can be assumed that the Rogue Trader dynasty have hit the jackpot as it were.


On the north shore of the planet's only sea, the survey crew hired by the Rogue Trader dynasty discovered a city. Not just any city, but one that seemed to be perfectly intact. The trace readings on auspex revealed that this city was many millennia old, though it looked pristine.

Further investigation of the city by the Explorers revealed that the city itself was most likely a relic of untold value - a structure from the Dark Age of Technology itself. Viewed as a treasure by some and a horrid curse by others, the Explorer crew wisely kept this discovery from most of the crew.

Indeed, one of the most mysterious things about the city itself was that each part of it, even down to the smallest brick, was emitting some form of energy signature. As if the entire community was a massive power battery.

Upon investigating the rest of the city, they found numerous statues and bas relief displayed throughout. The pictures seemed to all tell the story of a bearded human who was the benevolent leader of their city. At some point, the pictures changed, however, depicting the placement of a coffin-like structure beneath the city. Each depiction of the coffin on the walls of the city bore an impassive mask at one end of the enclosure.

Excavation unveiled a titanic structure - coffin-like in form - beneath the main building of the city. Despite extensive analysis, the Explorers could not ascertain what was in the coffin itself. The Rogue Trader started to look for a way inside. One could not be found, even with careful scanning. The dynasty's NPC Astropath arrived requesting from the Explorers that she accompany them on their expedition, because she felt that there was something compelling about their new discovery. Something...personal. Basically, the coffin structure is tied up in the NPC Astropath's backstory.

The entourage members of the Rogue Trader ship began to tell the party that they were getting bad feelings about this all the way around. The Astropath herself said that she harbored ill feelings about the coffin and what may lay inside. All that could be told about the structure was that the coffin held some form of slumbering entity. Feeling rather brash and reckless, the Rogue Trader ordered the Astropath to make contact with the entity. Against her own recommendation, she did so.

In a rather dramatic scene, the Astropath was possessed by some force which uttered a message in some forgotten tongue. The only thing that could be made out was a name - C'tan. Then, the Astropath's possessed body spat out something High Gothic:
"Tell him that this vessel will not do. The key must be used." After which...the Astropath was shredded into a fine mist. Oh @#$! indeed.

The session ended with the bridge crew of the Ferral Wolf reporting that over two dozen ships were appearing on auspex, call dropping into Vedic orbit.

We ended the session there.

Comments on the Session
One thing I like about RPGs is that I'm often surprised at what happens during a session. I definitely did not plan on the party losing their primary Astropath. Losing their primary Astropath will mean that their ability to communicate outside of the solar system will be lost. Luckily she was only an NPC.

While the destruction of the Astropath was pretty harsh, I felt it was pretty appropriate. If you read any of the GW fluff or fiction, the work of Warhammer 40k is a harsh place. It's a place where, if you are not cautious, if you are reckless, the universe comes and bites you in the ass. The PCs were being reckless, but purposely so.

I've seen many players get reckless with their characters, believing that the GM won't kill their characters or that their PCs can take whatever is dished out to them, no matter what. This was not one of those cases. The Rogue Trader was really the one who was jumping with both feet into the fire, but he made it abundantly clear that he knew that he was being really ballsy. So he was a tremendous sport when he encountered the consequences that he did.

All in all, I have to really applaud the Rogue Trader PC. It's not often that a person will put themselves at serious risk because they're roleplaying.

I will also note here that this sort of shows the Entourage system in action. I was able to levy a consequence upon the party, but I didn't have to screw anyone's character over. At the same time, the incident was really jarring and we all really felt it. Heck, even I did. I had worked up a number of storylines and plot twists with that NPC Astropath!


  1. Hehehehehe I've been waiting for this one.

    That session was great. First the space battle and then our only astropath transcendent getting shredded into little gory bits.

    In character, of course, I am extremely disappointed in our rogue trader and his reckless behavior with the lives of his crew. Clearly being in command of his dynasty's last remaining trader vessel has made our commander desperate and foolish. We cannot tolerate this lack of stable leadership if we expect to survive out here in the depths of space, especially now that we have lost our only form of interstellar communication.

    Out of character, that was perfect. The WH40K universe should be violent and painful. I look forward to more suffering by our party and crew. And violent deaths. Lots and lots of violent deaths. Props to our rogue trader for role playing his character's reckless and self centered personality.

    I was actually a little disappointed at how easily we won the space battle. I really expected our 2nd ship, the raider, to go down with all hands during the fight, but hey, we were still learning the system and just how effect a crew of PCs is.

  2. As far as how easily you won the space battle, that was a function of a number of different factors. First and foremost, I was allowing 10's to be rerolled, which I should have done. Secondly, as you stated, when you have PCs who can substantially affect that a ship can do, it makes just one ship very powerful. Third, a big factor is that all ships purchase weapons from the same table. So when the Ferral Wolf turned its macro batteries on the Light Cruiser, it was the same as another Light Cruiser using its macro batteries on it.

    As far being disappointed that one of your ships didn't get blown up...I wouldn't be. :] You'd have lost a substantial amount of the crew. Then, you would have lost a pretty powerful NPC. Finally, all of the work the party did in clearing out the ork ship would have been lost. Had the raider been lost, it would have been a pretty serious blow to the party. You probably don't see that because you weren't here when they earned the ship in the first place.

    Basically, it would have really crippled you guys. It would have put you back farther than when you all started out. This early in the game, you don't want to lose any ships at all if you can help it.

  3. You know, this just showcases another great use for NPCs. If the PCs are sufficiently invested in them, their loss can resonate very strongly. In my D&D campaign, the PCs have been building up quite an entourage of hirelings and followers, and have been giving them a huge amount of attention and care. I'm looking forward to using those hooks for some devious plots in the near future...

  4. I think Tiberius is going to learn something from this fiasco. I like watching characters change as I play them... it would be fitting I think if my rogue trader became overly cautious for a short while, or perhaps a little too protective of other members of his crew as a result of losing the Astropath.

    I do like the feel of Rogue 5rader in that there is always something bigger, a 40K staple, mixed with the idea that we are out on the edge. There is no imperial fleet, no law to go hide behind. This fleet of ships might be altruistic, but if it isn't, there is nothing for us to do but run for our lives. At the same time there is nothing stopping us from doing as we please.

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  6. I didn't mean my comment about the space battle to be a criticism. I said I was expecting the raider to get nuked. I'm not disappointed that it didn't. And you certainly don't want to go too overboard with an encounter when we're still learning the space combat rules...especially since the consequences of our ship getting shot up is that we all die.

    Having a ship full of PCs certainly makes a big difference in a fight. We were all basically getting to do what we were best at, which makes for some pretty solid skill checks. Though, there's nothing that says the bad guys can't have an equally competent crew.

    Regarding the ship weapons, yes all of the ships mount the same size guns, I think the bigger ships are just supposed to get more of them. That light cruiser was certainly effective with its dual lance shots. I don't know how many batteries and prow weapons the lunar cruiser is supposed to get but I wouldn't be surprised if it was like six times as many as we get on our frigate.

    From a fluff point of view, I don't think it's super unreasonable for a frigate and destroyer working together to be able to take out a light cruiser. A full sized cruiser on the other hand, I would think would be an entirely different proposition. But that is all just based on fluff and the Battlefleet Gothic stats. Who knows what the people writing Rogue Trader intended.

    On an unrelated note: We have a Reaver Titan.

  7. Nah. I didn't take it as criticism. I was trying to show you where the PCs were at since you've not been here for the first few sessions.

    As far as ships go in comparison...another look at the rules shows me that a Light Cruiser isn't really that good. It just has more hit points. A Cruiser, however, has a lot of weapons. And any kind of cruiser (light or otherwise) can place lance batteries on any one of their emplacements. Not just the prow of the ship.

    A Cruiser taken from the front is not really that special. But if a Cruiser in the Rogue Trader system can get alongside of its target, it can really let loose.

  8. Right.....because broadsides are nasty in (space) naval combat. That makes sense.

  9. I'm loving the storyline-- can't wait to hear the next report from the crew of the Ferral Wolf.