Sunday, 30 May 2010

Rogue Trader Session 15: Part 15 of a 1-Part Limited Series

Characters:

Aphesius Alesaunder, zealous yet charming missionary of the Imperial Cult. (Manoj A)
Mordecai the Cautious, twin-hellpistol-wielding weapons monkey, sent to the newly-acquired Thunderhammer to make sure all is shipshape, since David was off buying a car or something. (David)
Maximillius XVIII, tough-as-nails tech-priest from a death world. (Ben F)
Octavius Sol, seneschal and quartermaster. (Stuart F)
Triptych, mutant navigator and his harem. (Ric R, playing from Manchester, via Skype)


As a group, we had decided that we'd had fun with Rogue Trader, but that it was perhaps time for a change. With plenty of plot threads still to finish, we decided to call this the end of the first "season", to use US TV terminology, and revisit the game later in the year. In the meantime, there was the small matter of the infestation of the walking dead at Jameson's Hollow.

It was a bit of an experimental session, with the group entering the twenty-first century by using Skype to have Ric join us for the finale, and in that spirit, I designed a little mini-game to handle the battle against the undead hordes. Running it as a series of fights would have been a grind, and we'd already done a big battle on the bridge of the Thunderhammer, so I didn't want to go over old ground in our last session.

Instead, I designed a modified exploration challenge. There were three known groups of survivors on the station, and each group would be at 50% strength by the time the players got to them; this survival rate would be modified up or down by 10% depending on the results of five skill rolls per group. If the players went after one group at a time, any failures would also count against the other two groups, but if they went after all three groups, they would have to split the party. Any skill could be used in the challenge, as long as the player could come up with a good in-context reason, or even better, narrate the skill use.

Ben burned a fate point in order to rescue the third group without having to make a test, then the team split, with the priest and the militant going after the second group, while the rest of the team went after the first lot. Through some clever tactical nous, some stealth, and a bit of shooting, the two teams got to their destinations, discovering hundreds of exhausted people, shivering in the dark. Aphesius and Mordecai found that many of their group were injured, which slowed down the evacuation, which in turn led to more of the Risen catching up with them; they had a choice between letting the dead pick of the stragglers, or stopping each time to fight off the attackers, and in a rare moment of altruism from the priest, they did the latter.

Over at the other side of the void station, the rest of the team found their group of survivors apparently held hostage by the former astropath of Jameson's Hollow, now quite dead, but still somehow in control of his psychic abilities. A short battle followed in which the dead psyker was killed once more, his death unleashing a torrent of warp energies which twisted reality in the immediate vicinity, plunging the area into unnatural darkness, and allowing some daemonic presence through just enough to whisper blasphemous secrets directly into the minds of the explorers.

Even so, the explorers returned victorious, rescuing the vast majority of the survivors before turning their new chemical weapon on the station, melting the dead inside as they did the crew of the Thunderhammer. As a result of their success, they were able to negotiate an exclusive deal with the authorities, barring any Rogue Traders other than themselves and Moullierre from using the station's facilities.

They then headed to their holdings in the Mianded system, to fill out their crew and get some shore leave, before returning to pick up Moullierre and her alien husband; both Aphesius and Sol attempted to charm Moullierre, hoping to gain some kind of advantage, but the canny Trader got the better of both of them. The party then headed to the Soangre system, where the Eldar had told them they would find a way for him to contact his people. Sure enough, suspended in space at the mid point between the system's binary stars was a shimmering portal, something Triptych knew was akin to a Warp tunnel, but at the same time not. It was also far too small for either of the explorers' starships, but would accommodate a shuttle. Their xeno prisoner indicated that this portal would lead them to their destination, and with considerable reluctance, the team got in a shuttle with the Eldar, with Moullierre and some hand-picked troops in the other, and headed for the portal.

As Triptych, at the helm, guided their craft through the unnatural passage in space-time, their vox units crackled into life, with a message from the Banshee bridge crew alerting them to the presence of other starships in the system. Before they could respond, their momentum carried their shuttlecraft through the portal and into the unknown.

Which is where we left it. Perhaps we will return one day to discover what's on the other side of the portal, and perhaps not; there is always a hint of sadness when a campaign comes to a close, but we got fifteen sessions out of what was only supposed to be a one-shot, so I can't complain.

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