Monday, November 19, 2012

Granatus VI, a Warhammer 40K RPG Scenario

Okay, so I've been fascinated with Games Workship's Warhammer 40,000 (WH40K) game universe for some time.  As I've mentioned in earlier posts my life as a gamer started with historical miniatures wargaming.  Nevertheless I've never played WH40K.  I did run a fun one-shot scenario set in that universe using BESM 3rd Edition once and have been contemplating running another.  After a bit of thought, I decided I'd like to do a convention-style game with pre-generated characters each of whom has some cool background which will seriously influence play...

Granatus VI

On the rough frontier planet of Granatus VI is sited a large industrial complex for processing Thorium.  The thorium is extracted from monazite through a complex multi-stage process where monazite sand sand is dissolved in hot concentrated sulfuric acid.  Naturally this means that there are tanks and piping throughout the facility filled with this hot concentrated sulfuric acid.  In addition, Thorium itself is actually flammable and the crude processing methods used by the convict workers here have left considerable amounts of Thorium dust in many parts of the facility.  The complex is semi-fortified, with heavy walls and doors and some firing positions.  It also has some internal security controls to keep the convicts from escaping, although the relatively isolated location of the complex is itself a deterrent to escape.  The guard force is small, only a dozen or so, since the convicts are mostly non-violent offenders working off their sentences.

As the largest Imperial facility on the planet it also houses a small Sanctum, part chapel and part citadel, used by Imperial officials traveling on business.  There is a small but decently equipped shuttleport with a technical staff of three.  Currently there are six Imperial visitors in the Sanctum, each with his or her own reasons for being there...

Terminator Brother Victronius (legion 1)
    Yes, the new sight was indeed an improvement.  The smoke from the assault cannon wreathed him like a demon arising from hell.  His massive terminator armor was surrounded by a shining sea of expended shell casings left by the test firings.  The Captain-General would be pleased.  The legion needed an edge in the coming battles like never before.  Heavy losses in the last campaign had left them weak--dangerously weak.  And now an ork invasion armada was approaching the legion's planet.  The main imperial forces were tied up with another Chaos Legion eruption from the Eye of Terror.  Help was not on the way.  Then the message arrived from this planet.  A young engineer was offering his new invention.  The design looked excellent, but there was a drawback.  Use of technology not based on the ancient Template Technology approved by the imperium was heresy.  But what was a little heresy in the face of the utter extinction of their honor-steeped legion?  So he was dispatched to test an actual example of the device and bring it back if it worked.  However, there was another problem.  He'd seen almost everything in the innumerable campaigns of the legion, but never could he have foreseen this.  The young inventor.  He wasn't just any young man.  The wild red curly hair, the set of the jaw so like his own, and the wheelchair.  The pain of the tearful goodbye when the legion took him as a recruit returned.  Yes, his younger brother had sacrificed his legs that long ago day to save him from the wild hill beasts.  A space marine may never contact his former family again.  The legion is his new family.  But the reunion was joyous and tearful.  The joy of meeting once again and tears that the contact must never be renewed.  He would be expected to report it so that they would never send him here again.  But now to remove his heavy armor, clean and reload his weapon, and prepare for his last dinner with his brother.  He tucked the little piece of technological heresy in a belt pouch and directed his massive armor suit back to the building...

Valkyrie Sister Constantina
    She water ran down her body, tracing each curve--including the one she dared not think about.  Her muscles ached from the long gymnastic workout required daily for one of the elite Valkyrie warriors.  The womens' showers at the Sanctum gymnasium seemed cold despite the hot water which jetted from the shower nozzle.  She placed both hands on the old ceramic tiles and bowed her head under the stream, wishing it could wash away the confusion.  The morning sickness had begun with a vengeance.  People were starting to notice.  Were she not a member of a House of the Adeptus Sororitas, were she an ordinary woman, it would be a time of joy.  But the Sisterhood was forbidden relations with men.  Discovery would mean her expulsion at the very least.  But before that the child would be terminated to erase the mistake.  Her lover and already died for her sake at the hands of the Imperial Inquisition.  He'd been seen leaving the abbey that night and was arrested by imperial agents.  He took the secret of their love to the grave with him.  Raising their child, the living symbol of their love, would be her new life.  She would have to flee soon, leaving her beloved sisterhood and the hated imperials behind.  Tonight.  Yes, it would have to be tonight because she was due to report on board the shuttle at dawn for transport to her brigade.  There should be vehicles down in the garage bays near the ground level.  Out in the wilds there were plenty of isolated settlements where she could hide, somewhere they'd welcome her special skills both in healing and killing.  She turned off the water and went to get her things together...

Medico-Brother Tironitus (legion 2)
    The tests were conclusive.  It had been hard to arrange time alone in the rather basic lab here at the facility, but it was necessary.  A matter of life and death, in fact.  The gene seeds were dying.  They should have been in their own special type of hibernation.  They should have been patiently awaiting implantation in a newly recruited space marine.  Each one carried the genetic perfection of the legion's founder.  It was his sacred mission, literally, to retrieve the gene seeds of fallen brothers of his legion.  These three seeds should have been perfectly preserved in the special carrier box.  There had been rumors of "problems".  The explanations of the diminishing ranks of the brothers were wearing thin.  Too many were supposedly away on "secret missions" requiring radio silence.  His heart sank.  Failure of the gene seeds meant extinction of the legion.  They were literally a dying race now.  Without healthy gene seeds they were doomed.  Glorious dream becoming rotting nightmare.  There was no real point in bringing these three back, other than to try to maintain the fiction.  Why even go back himself?  But wait...that other space marine medico here in the transit barracks.  He had a carrier.  The other had tried to hide it, but he'd gotten a glimpse.  The attempts to hide it suggested that it contained what he needed.  If he could get hold of some and pass them off as the proper ones perhaps there was a chance...

Medico-Brother Nominar (legion 3)
    He had to be careful.  That other medico had noticed the carrier, he was sure of it.  Oddly enough, the other wasn't making any effort to hide his carrier.  Sure, a Space Marine medico usually had one with him, but it was very sloppy security.  Perhaps that meant there wasn't anything in it--but then why did he take it with him when he'd reserved the lab for tonight?  He was afraid let his own out of his sight, but the urge to hide it somewhere was just as strong.  He must not fail in his mission.  The only one here likely to want to get the contents of his carrier would be the other medico.  Each legion's gene seed was literally the family jewels.  Taken from each legion's founder and then further perfected over the millenia it was a brilliant DNA jewel.  That's why the legion had specialists like himself, trained and dedicated to retrieving, preserving, and reimplanting the precious gene seeds.  And that is why he was the perfect agent of the Master.  Yes, the carrier contained gene seeds, but not of his legion.  Indeed, the Master would reward him for his loyalty and cleverness--all in the service of the invincible forces of Chaos.  The Master's legion was exiled in the Eye of Terror along with the other Chaos Marine legions but their bitter rivals, Nominar's own legion remained insolently undefeated.  Until now.  His slide into the arms of the Chaos pleasure god Slaanesh had begun with over use of the drugs which he had free access to in the legion pharmacy while recovering from critical wounds.  Later he was contacted by a servant of the Master and given these "weapons" which would bring down the legion in an orgy of blood.  Yes, an actual orgy of blood.  It would be as delicious as it would be deadly.  He smiled cruelly to himself.  But the drugs in which he so lovingly indulged were not available here and the withdrawal symptoms were becoming too strong to control.  Once aboard the shuttle at dawn he could put himself in a stasis chamber for the voyage without arousing suspicion.  Until then he must protect the "gift" and try to keep his symptoms under control...

Space Marine Brother Furioso (legion 4)
    It was really only a matter of time.  Soon he would be reported as a deserter.  Officials from the facility's security office had left a message that they wanted to ask him some questions about his orders.  The forged orders had gotten him quarters here in the Transit Barracks at the facility's Sanctum and passage aboard the shuttle headed towards the frontier.  He had the small jammer ready to keep any news of his status being received aboard the shuttle.  On the voyage they would pass the planet he'd picked out and a "malfunctioning" escape pod would get him to the surface.  A flash of anger flared in his head.  Maybe he really should just kill them all.  His legion had been sent in to cleanse the taint of chaos from that planet, that beautiful planet.  They didn't look like chaos cultists or heretics to him, but the executions of ringleaders began on orders from the High Inquisition.  Then they fought back, proving their guilt, and the bodies piled up.  His armor went first red with the blood as it sprayed out, then black as it dried.  He tried not to think about it then, but he knew that street all too well, and that house with the green shutters.  The bodies lying in the front garden, like blood-spattered dolls were familiar as well.  Since then grief fought with rage.  Should he arrange some massive act of sabotage to quench his guilt in the blood of his family's killers?  But he, too, shared in the blood-guilt of that place.  And his brother marines were indeed his brothers.  They had fought so many battles, saved each other so many times, that the bond was strong and deep. The anger drained away.  No, he was done with killing--no matter what the reason.  If he could just keep a low profile until morning and get aboard the shuttle he could leave his past life behind.  It was late now and they might look for him at his bed in the barracks.  He headed for the isolated roofwalk where he could pretend to be walking off a bout of insomnia if anyone ran into him...

Imperial Commissar Augustina
    She hurried down the basement corridor.  The scent of unwashed bodies was just noticeable under the well-guarded barracks of the convicts sentenced to work here at the thorium processing plant.  She went to indulge her one guilty pleasure here in this backwater posting.  She opened the door to the storeroom and the wagging tail said it all.  She hugged the little dog intensely.  Imperial commissars weren't supposed to be affectionate.  They were meant to be the hard enforcers of the will of Emperor, all praise be His name.  She had started out well enough.  She had been a zealous member of the Imperial Girl Cadres as a child and later a volunteer for the Imperial Guard when conscription was the norm.  Ten years of dedicated combat and political service bringing unity to humanity and defeat to its enemies had earned her the title of Commissar.  But then one day, suddenly, it was all undone.  Life as a commissar was lonely.  Always the role model, ever the enforcer of His will; forever a colleague but never a friend.  One day she went easy on one that she had come to feel close to.  He got a second chance, but she didn’t.  As punishment she was posted to this miserable place.  As commissar technically she was second-in-command, but the reason for her posting had preceded her.  She had little standing other than with the convicts, and that was just their fear of her Commissar's uniform.  The board was to meet at the end of the month, with dishonorable discharge the inevitable sentence.  Putting aside her despondency, she took her only friend in the universe for a short walk outside the lower postern gate on his leash.  If only she could have one last chance to redeem herself, even through glorious sacrifice in battle against the enemies of the Emperor...

The players will each take a PC and get acquainted with the various backgrounds.  Each write-up provides the PC's current location and that is where they will be when the Tyranid genestealer raid begins--discovered inbound either by Commissar Augustina out walking or Brother Furioso up on the roofwalk.  The time is 0300 local and the shuttle which several of the PCs were planning to board is scheduled to arrive at 0600 local.  Factors in play during the scenario will include:
  • Terminator Brother Victronius' handicapped brother trapped in a part of the complex and requiring rescue from certain death
  • Rioting convicts (and other staff) panicking, probably upsetting any plans by the PCs and certainly mobbing the shuttleport
  • Huge quantities of hot sulfuric acid in tanks and pipes all over the place
  • Many areas contaminated with flammable thorium dust
  • Numerous tanks of incredibly flammable and explosive prometheum fuel used in thorium processing
  • Solar flares blocking communications with the approaching shuttle until it's on final approach (5 minutes out)
  • Discovery that the shuttle is a small one with only room for four passengers plus the pilot
  • Appearance of genestealer cult members amongst the convicts (who were the ones who alerted the genestealers to the presence of space marine medicos who might be carrying priceless gene seeds)