Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Hobby Accomplishments

It's been awhile since I posted anything about my hobbying that didn't relate to the GMing of my Rogue Trader campaign. While GMing takes up a large part of my spare time, I do have a few other geeky events of note.

The Kickmaster


After
Before
My Reaper Bones Kickstarter minis arrived. I have long enjoyed reaper's excellent range of metal minis. When I first heard about the bones Kickstarter I was very interested, a huge assortment of great sculpts for an unbelievable price. I instantly backed it at the Vampire level and eagerly awaited for the arrival of more RPG minis then I could ever use. At first I was overwhelmed with the sheer number of figures that were supplied. But when I had the chance to sit and check over each of the miniatures, I noticed some imperfections. Nothing serious just some warping of blades and barrels, and some loss of detail in the sculpts. I already had several metal Reaper miniatures and they were far superior to the bones versions of the miniatures. The warping bothered me a bit so I endeavored to see if I could straiten the new plastic material that Reaper used to produce the bones.  I used hot water to soften the plastic and as I held the plastic straight I dipped the figure into a bowl of chilled water. So far the miniatures have remained straight even when subjected the tropical North-Queensland summer. I am still a little concerned about the strength of some of the thinner bits like spear shafts and ankles on some minis.


some very nice sculpts
Kickstarter contents 
Another box of minis from a different Kickstarter also arrived. Wild West Exodus, I liked the idea of WWX as soon as I heard about it. The brain child of Romeo the owner and host of 40k Radio &  Battle Foam. I first heard about it on 40K Radio and The D6 Generation podcasts. A Weird Wild West setting consisting of an alternate history infused with SiFi technology. I think Romeo really liked the movie John Carpenter of Mars, there are a few similar themes and the WWX Dark Council bare some striking similarities to the Therns in the movie. Romeo regularly talks about some of the business practices that GW employ and why they mystify him. Outspoken criticism on how GW does things and how they should be done is one of the reasons I enjoy listening 40k Radio when Romeo is on. It's great to see him literally putting his money where his mouth is, employing modern plastic injection moulding and detailed resin casting practices to produce miniatures with as much detail and character as Games Workshop's. WWX also employs some nifty retail practices, $5 minis and neat a return policy for retailers. Unfortunately no one locally besides myself backed it. I hope in the future it gains a local following.


Role Play Shenanigans 

Beyond the Thunder-Dome
Attack on a hill top emplacement
Recently I GMed an extra long session of Rogue Trader. The plan was to bring the current story ark to a satisfactory conclusion, before two of the players moved away. It was a great day and I got to use a bunch of my old 40k Ork minis as they rampaged over the world of Damaris. Unfortunately we did not get to complete the final grand space battle that would sever the Ork Warlords control of his forces I did get to run a couple of other encounters that included some vehicles. An Ork junk fort full of looted equipment that had been re-purposed into Killa Kanz, and some high speed highway Madmax themed combat. The players pulled some shenanigans and circumvented my brutally hard combat challenges. First they requisitioned some mining explosives and jerry-rigged them to use in an airstrike. Second while being chased by speed crazed aliens on an assortment of ramshackle vehicles the party's navigator used his lidless warp infused third eye to melt the drivers faces. At first I was a little peeved that the players bypassed all my work, but the spectacle of the crashing Ork trucks still loaded with boys & the plume of a flame filled oily mushroom cloud rising from the ruins of the Ork fort were great role-playing events.


Print is a dying Medium

So I have previously talked about the fine people at Urban Laser Craft, and how they were nice enough the reward me monetarily for my CAD work with MDF & acrylic terrain. I was very pleased when the owner Will informed me that his product line would be featured in the Cool Mini Or Not magazine Ravage. So despite paper being a vestigial method of information dissemination I am still immensely proud that my designs will be immortalized in a physical medium. I do have a little pang of regret that I signed over my copyrights when I sold my designs, it would have been neat to see my name in the article. 



Monday, 20 January 2014

Comparative advantage and gains from trade.

Sholk sighed as he nestled in to the silken cushions at the edge of the holo-projector. Luther had furnished him with an incredible amount of additional and unnecessary data along with the documents he requested. As Luther departed he impressed upon Sholk the importance of the dynasty returning to profitability as soon as possible. When the Atticus first asked him to improve the efficiency of the Havlock trade caravans, It should have been easy, especially now that the Orks would soon cease to be a trade barrier. He was happy to except the task, all he wanted was the tonnage of cargo to be taken on and deposited at each point of stoppage. He sipped a chilled glass of the divine water from Vaporius, the delicious liquid quickly soothed his stress. With his mind cleared and his purpose renewed he began scrolling through the reams of data, manifests, logs consumption tallies, production forecasts, and trade agreements. All of it terribly dull suddenly a single name caught his eye, Vaporius. He depressed the rune of viewing on the control slate and the holographic icon resolved itself into a series of documents laid out before him. Sholk mused for a few moments then called up the trade ledges to view the current movements of the caravan. The Emperors Hand would depart Port Wander with its holds filled with foodstuffs and clean water purchased as considerable costs. The first trade stop was always Foot Fall that filth encrusted labyrinth of void born structures floating in the punishing radiation of the immense star Furibundus here a small shipment of exotic luxury items would be purchased far from the pointless rules and needless taxes of the more ‘civilised’ ports. Next the Hand would sail to Vaporius. He reviewed the terms of trade between House Havlock and the city of Lah’ndan. In exchange for small quantities of exotic goods, luxury items and other baubles the Priest King would allow the Havlock trade envoys to depart with two hundred large copper urns of the blessed water. Its third stop would be high orbit above Dross, the ship would wait at that storm wracked planet until its three small rocky moons aligned singling the time for the clouds to be parted. The heavy landers would hurriedly descend with a large portion of the food and water along with shipments of firearms, crude sluggers, stubbers, and shotguns. All to fuel High Priestess Asira’s Jihad of planetary conquest. They would return, clouds closing behind them, with holds full of Scrap metal from the mass of wreaked ships that lay strewn across Dross's surface. The Emperors Hand would then travel to Zayth system. Once in orbit above that desolate war world the remainder of the food and water, along with the salvaged metals from Dross would be transferred into the holds of the Land ship Indestructible. In exchange the Iron brotherhood would supply a battery of their finely crafted Macro weapons that were now so highly sought-after across the entire sub-sector. Finally the Emperors Hand would head for the fledging colony of Havlock's Haven. The crew would take shore leave and some aid would be distributed to the colonists. Havelock's Haven was still a long way away from producing any food stuff in sufficient quantities to be profitable but Captain Havlock was planning to build an empire and it took time to build strong foundations.

Sholk new his duty was to see how Damaris was going to fit into the new trade routes, but he could not believe the terms of trade with Vaporius. He couldn’t shake the term “Glass beads for the heathens” from his mind. He couldn’t fathom that his noble captain would be willing to exploit the kindness of the Ansai the Priest-King of Lah’ndan. Sholk would make sure that this oversight was corrected and Ansai was correctly compensated for the divine water from the city of Lah’ndan. Poring over the tables of projected exportable goods that Luther provided, Sholk smiled. Damaris was blessed with numerous valuable resources. Vast stretches of the equatorial regions were utilised for agriculture and the production of foodstuffs. The seas teemed with edible creatures, highly in demand throughout the Expanse as well as the Calixis sector, and many valuable ores and precious gems were ensconced in the world’s ancient, wind-worn mountains. The planet also boasted a remarkably modern infrastructure including a strong mining industry capable of producing millions of tons of raw and refined ores for export. There was also a small but respected ship-building industry centred at the Bulwark. Sholk layed out the new trade routes,  Damaris would export large quanties of ores, foodstuffs, livestock, and ship components. Theses would be shipped to Foot Fall so they could be distributed for a handsome profit. In exchange Damaris would receive luxuries, vehicles, construction materials, and durable manufactured goods from the greater Imperium. The terms of the trade agreement insured that all trade that Damaris conducted with parties other than House Havlock would be subject to heavy levies and tariffs on any products imported or exported. 

Sholk turned his attention to the Vaporius agreement and thought about the value of the water that the Priest-King Ansai so generously provided. He stared at the clear liquid swirling out of the crystal decanter as he poured himself another healthy glass. This substance had raised his clan of Navigators out of obscurity and insured not only the house's survival but a chance to surpass its former glory. Already Sholk had several Homozygous cousins that were now serving with respected shipping institutions including the Imperial Navy and Adeptus Mechanicus. He had also been informed that overtones of reacceptance to the Navis Nobilite have been made and negoiations for new reproduction treaties were progressing well. Yes as the fortunes of his family rose so to did the profits supplied to The Havlock dynasty. Yes Ansai must be richly compensated for the opportunity that his water had provided. In exchange for the copper vessels of water, the city coffers of Lah’ndan would now be buoyed with ingots of precious metals, jewellery crafted from fine gems, and Throne Gelt. Sholk also wanted to be sure that Priest-King understood Captans Havlock's personal appreciation. Ansai's court would now be dressed in the finest silks, served by the most beautiful domestic slaves, fed the rarest spices and finest wines. The extra costs would be astronomical but Sholk new it was still a good deal, he stared into the now empty glass, his mind free of burden. 
This blissful feeling was worth anything.... No everything!



Saturday, 14 December 2013

The War Is Joined.

The Aquila cut through the air; Ragnar strained at the controls avoiding the waves of antiaircraft fire that were slicing upwards. Avoiding the fire was stressful enought without the 20 tonnes of deadweight strapped to the underside of the lander. He banked hard to avoid a missile, the Aquila's wings cut its contrail mere feet behind the exhaust flame. Ragnar was flying purely by instinct. He felt the ebb of the  thermals rising from the burning countryside, the stained pitch of the engine's machine sprit. His instructors at the Tactical Aeronautica would have have a fit to see him discard years of dogma. His rote memorisation flight classes never covered extraction from a hot LZ, surround by a raging battle, in the mist of a plantenary invasion by hostile Xeno, while lifting an armoured personal carrier into orbit. Perhaps he should write a letter and advise his old tutors to update their material. He reversed his turn, flipping the control yoke back in the opposite direction as another threat presented itself. As he gained altitude and the tug of gravity subsided he was confronted with a nightmarish scene. The Augers and Auspexs of the Aquila returned a cluttered mass of signals, his entire field of vision was engulfed by an naval engagement, macro-ordnance both explosive imperial warheads and massive bruitish canon shells streaked acros the void to slam into starship hulls, lance beams crisscrossed the darkness and peeled away layers of armour. The Redeemer was engaged in a vain attempt to halt an Ork Rok. Badly  positioned and with the macro-batteries misaligned, the Rok was baring the brunt of the fire against its heavly armoured prow, by the time Ragnar would be able to get the captan back on board the Rok would have slipped by. The planetary defence ships were fairing worse, their smaller caliber cannons and lances were unable to significantly damage the huge repurposed asteroids. Ragnar starred in horror as the enemy ships continued to take a tremendous amount of punishment. Hull-cracking macrocannon bombardments lashed out at them and despite bleeding air and vomiting fire, the torn and damaged Roks continued their descent. The orbital plane surrounding Damaris was rapidly filling with debris, the larger objects were easy to visualy identify and avoid but the smaller faster moving rock fragments and adamantium shards were small enough to confuse the auspex and all but invisible to the naked eye. An unluckily placed impact could cripple an engine or puncture the armour glass of the Aquila's cockpit. Avoiding the obvious clouds of micro shards with deft manevouring, sweat rolled down Ragnar's forehead as he weaved between some large chunks of crippled spaceship. Ragnar sighed in relief as he cleared the worst of the debris and opened a Vox channel on the frequency assigned to the orbital defences. Hundreds of panicked voices screeched in his headset. System defence ships and planet side Auspex stations relayed enemy ship movements; requests for fire support and salvation signals filled the endless void. The calm voice of Commander Reynolds couldbe heard above the rable redirecting ships and coordinating the planetary defence lasers. The gruff master of the bulwark was one of the few citizens of Damaris that had seen space combat and he wore the mantle of command well. As Ragnar brought the shuttle into an approach vector with the Redeemer he received a challenge from the lieutenant commanding the defence turrents. He was silently thankful that the lieutenant was calm enought to verify their identity before opening fire,  with the transmission of the correct security codes they were welcomed aboard by a crew over-joyed to have their commanding officers safley returned.

---

Luther squinted, the room was awash with dull green light from the massive holograph of Damaris. Blue icons marked the locations of the heroic forces defending Damaris the bulk of the ground forces were centred around Damaris city only minimal forces protected the minor outlying settlements. A sizeable portion of blue icons were detached from the green icons representing the civilian population centres. This offensive corps had spearheaded the counter assault against the brutish Xeno green skins. Buoyed by the cushing victory in the first ground clash of the war. The offensive forces had made significant progress. He wondered how the war would be faring if that first assault had been blunted by the Ork firebase eliminated by the timely intervention of the captan and entourage . With the threat of the crude Xeno artillery removed the Damaris Levy infantry battalions had serged forward and overwhelmed the lead Ork forces. Backed by the Leman Russ tanks of the Sphinx Heavy Guard’s armoured core, General Dante soon had his ground forces surround the first Ork Rok, the infantry hunkered down among the rocky rouble up thrust by the massive asteroid's inpact. Within hours the shell of the hollowed asteroid was begining to crack under the concentrated fire of the combined might of the Highland Wardens self-propelled earth-shaker equipped Basilisks and Griffon heavy siege mortars. When the Rok's structure finally imploded it still contained the bulk of the Ork hord. Luther had already drawn up a poster design showing the Havelock Aquila shuttle ascending over a field of Ork bodies being trampled by Damaris Leavy troopers. The liberal use of propaganda would be necessary to steel the population against the Xeno horrors they would be facing and when this war was resolved the name Atticus Havlock and not any other would forever be remembered as the hero who led the planet to salvation though its darkest hour. He just needed to construct a strategy to turn the departure of Commodore Naremmus and the failure of the orbital blockade to the captain's advantage.

---

Deep beneath the Governor’s Palace, behind adamantine bulkhead doors, inside the Daedelus Command Bunker, Lord Captan & Rogue Trader Atticus Havlock silently fumed. This defence council was supposed to be following his stewardship, not second guessing his decisions and bickering. Despite his outpouring of capital investment and personal allocation of thousands of armsmen to defend this young and burgeoning Imperial colony it's leaders dared to question his plans. Governor Kapak was ranting again. The sky's are burning! Xenos rock forts are decending upon us, they plan to slaughter us all! Where are our ships? don't we have ships? I remember commissioning ships! Orran! Orran Reynolds! I distinctly remember you and General Dantie constantly lobbying for countless hours in the parliamentary amphitheatre for more ships. I had to delay the expansion of the south wing because of the cost.

Before anyone could respond he launched into another rant, his voice rising in pitch and volume. Dantie what are the Levy even doing!? Every agri-collective operating on the great Western plains has requested military aid and fully half of the ore haulers from the southern mines have been ravaged by those vile Orks! The entire plutocracy is baying for my blood! Whom is going to convince them to attend my next banquet? What are you do.....

The deep forceful voice of General cut the governor off mid scream. Do not presume to command me in matters when it comes to the defence of this world! Perhaps if you had authorised half of the expenditure I had requested we would be able to hurl these Xenos back into the void. Perhaps if you were half the man you father or brothers were you would be competent enough to realise that we haven't the manpower or equipment to defend every inch of the planet! The ore haulers can be repaired, the mines rebuilt, the crops replanted. The lives of over a billion citizens are safe behind the walls of this city their lives can not be replaced. Those walls need to be guarded by men with guns. Who's going to do it. You Kapak? The plutocracy? I have a responsibility greater than you could fathom. You weep for the destruction of the outlying settlements and you curse the Levy. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know. That the loss of the outlying settlements, while tragic, saves lives. And my existence, while incomprehensible to you, saves lives. You don't want the responsibility because deep down inside in a place you don't talk about at your banquets, you need me on that wall. I have neither the the time or the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the very shield of protection that I provide. Then dares to questions the manner in which I provide it. I suggest you either let me do my job or pick up a weapon and stand a post!

General Dantie's face gradually turned deep red as he vented what seemed like years of frustration. As the General paused for a breath Lady Elizabeth Orleans cut in. Dantie I hate to interject, but I think you forget yourself. Is it not the military's duty to follow the direction of their superiors? I believe that Planetary Govener out ranks General as does a Rouge Trader. Perhaps...

Dante's voice exploded across table.. I RUN THE LEVY, HOW I RUN THE LEVY! I EAT BREAKFAST ON THE WALLS 300 YARDS FROM 10,000 XENO BEASTS THAT KNOW ONLY WAR AND SLAUGHTER! SO DON'T THINK FOR ONE SECOND YOU CAN COME DOWN FROM THE SAFETY OF YOUR SHIP WAVING YOUR WARRANT OF TRADE AROUND TO GET ME NERVOUS!

Atticus drew a breath, now was the time, he needed to end this bickering quickly. In a calm voice of reason he began. Fellow esteemed members of the defence council. I am aware of the deep devisions of misttrust that run between us. General you don't trust a civilian government that knows not the trials of warfare to lead us. Governor Kapak you weep for the loss of life outside the city walls. Lady Orleans you fear for the loss of your investment in the planets mining infrastructure. Atticus's soothing voice had calmed the council. Dantie you must relise that our current situation is a direct result from the failure of a military officer. Surely you would protect the outlying citizens if your forces were not so heavily pressed on the defensive fronts? Governor Kapak would you not be calmed, and your position with the plutocracy reinforced if the rain of Xeno forces could be slowed or halted? My fair lady Orleans you'd much prefer to follow someone who understand the risk of fiscal loss you face if the planetary infrastructure of Damaris is distroyed. People, I have personally led sorties and spilled the filthy Xeno blood of these barbaric Orks. My ship the Reademer is responsible for the destruction of more Ork vessels than any other. The wealth I have pored into Damaris’s coffers represents the single largest capital investment in the history of Damaris, since the original colony ships were launched more than one thousand years ago. Am I not the only one among us that can represent all parties without bias? 

Orran Reynolds the commander of the bulwark stood at the table. Aye, you may be the only one here with his fingers in all the pies but what good does that good do us if you defence plans are faulty. The orbital blockade you arranged is useless, the planetary defence laser batteries could never hope to repulse the amount of Xeno ships that have penetrated the atmosphere. 

Atticus smiled inwardly, yes you're completely correct commander Reynolds. Reynolds and the other council members seemed puzzled by Atticus's apparent admission of defeat. The orbital blockade did fail, commander Reynolds could you tell me where the largest concentration of enemie forces penetrated the blockade? Reynolds nervously responded. The Western Hemisphere. Atticus confidently continued. Yes the quadrant assigned to the naval Commodore. And where is this fine officer of the holy imperial fleet? I see that he is the only defence member not in attendance. His departure could be called cowardly, but for the recently descovered fact that he was ordered to return to Port Wander on Naval business. I am sure it pained him to abandon us. Perhaps I could have taken steps to strengthen the blockade if I had knowledge of his orders? Knowledge, that my Shenshal has revealed to me that more than one of the members of this defence council possessed and failed to pass on! Do you deny it? Silence echoed throught the chamber. I thought not, so it seems I am not only the sole member of this counsel that has a vested interest in every aspect of Damaris's defence but also I am the only one who has no ulterior motive.

Now let us talk about the redistribution of the defence forces.....



Friday, 13 December 2013

Opening Shots.

Atticus wiped the blood from the hilt of his power-sword as he strode across the bridge. The energised surface was clean. Any organic substances that it touched where combusted not true for the hilt, grip and the  his volcinic glass carparsae armor. Fouled by the thick red and green liquids of the Orkoids that had attempted to board. He couldn't believe a frigate sized ship could hold such vast reserves of crew. If it hadn't been for his superior tactics and command abilities that green tide would have swept aside his arms-men. Despite his vocal opposition he was truly grateful that Ragnar had managed to unfoul the ships and pull away. Standing back on the command dais, exhausted from the hurried trip back from the aft boarding attempt he demanded status reports. The command staff answered promptly.  
Master of ordnance reports; torpedo tubes are clear, 20mins until all six are reloaded. 
Medicare deck reports; wards at capacity, and still more wounded coming in.
Engineerium reports; power holding steady at 100%
Master of the dirve reports; Plasma thrust at full output speed estimated at 120,000kph

Sholk loomed over Atticus's shoulder The authpex'th have both the Ork raider and crippled Rok in the firing ark of the thtarboard gunth thir" the pointed teeth in his maw often induced a lisp. 
Thank you Master Navigator. Atticus tried not to flinch, he hadn't noticed the Navigator until he spoke. He often wondered if Sholk enjoyed the reaction his disturbing visage enlisted from his shipmates.
Atticus barked orders Chief Mate; make ready all batteries, get both broadsides facing those Xeno scrap heaps, uncountable hoards may be embarked on those ships, but they will find we have macro-cannons aplenty! It 's time we visited the Holy Emperor's vengeance on this filth
Aye Captain. Ragnar relayed the orders. Master of the ordnance run out the guns, Chief Anticipator I want firing solutions. Come on men, the Captain wants us to put our backs into this.  
Atticus smiled as he felt the slightest of tremors beneath his feet, the artificial gravity plates compensated well for the ships shift in mass, hundreds of multi-tonne projectiles discharged into the void. Moments later the bridge crew erupted in cheers. Kilotonnes of explosives detonated in ripples across the hull of the raider and Roks. Secondary explosions deep within he the hulls of one of the Roks and the raider signaled their deaths. the final Rok slipped farther away impervious to the pummeling despite the mass of armor and asteroid fragments splintering off its surface. Ragnar was about to order a final salvo of torpedoes, he knew the sixty-meter long vessels of self-guided death would shatter the mantel of that re-purposed asteroid. But the surface of the Rok begun to glow cherry red as it skimmed the atmosphere.
Atticus stooped towards control pit around his lord-captain's throne. Master of the Vox, Inform the good general. We have planet-fall, the war has arrived. May the God Emperor of all mankind have mercy.

Tales From Beyond the Table

For the first time in months, the hull of The Emperor's Hand began to resonate with the solemn moan of its grand pipe organ.  Atticus let his hands wander of their own accord, choosing keys carelessly while his mind swelled with unwanted memories; leering demons, twisted alien monstrosities and the unforgettable image of his own mangled body.  His normally iron resolve had been shattered by weeks of insomnia.  The dreams that awaited him were far more terrible than the creeping cost to his health.

A particularly discordant note stirred Atticus from his thoughts and he steadied his hands, moving subtly from brooding adagio to a focused presto.  Turning his mind to the keyboard he brought the voices together, rising in glorious canon until the final cadence seemed to reverberate not only within the empty hall accomodating the organ, but within the endless void itself, visible through the ceiling-high observation windows of the organ-tower.

---

His nerves quelled by the familiarity of the music, Atticus rose to his feet and began to pace the room.  His entire person had been shattered and rebuilt so many times over the past year he was beginning to think his current state of sleepless confusion would become his life.  And yet he had been feeling different the past few days, strange epiphanies were creeping through his mind during quiet hours.

When he discovered just over a year ago that he was the ignorant heir to a grand family legacy and an imperial warrant of trade to go with it, he had emphatically seized at the chance to break free from the boredom of his comfortable life as a middling noble.  He sought to travel to the most dangerous regions of the galaxy in search of any challenge that might win him some respect, with a wide-eyed curiosity for the wonders of the far universe.  What he had found was more horrifying than he could ever have comprehended.  There was no heroic adventure to be found in the Koronus Expanse, this was no playground for petty one-upmanship between vain ship captains.  He had found a teeming mass of cosmic horrors, perched on the doorway of the imperium, at any moment capable of bursting through and extinguishing the flame of humanity.  Atticus had never thought much of the needs of common folk, he would openly admit it, yet the thought of his homeworld being visited by legions of murderous automatons, bloodsucking alien parasites, or elder things born of ancient warp dreams.... it shook him to his core.

Feeling a sense of urgency Atticus moved swiftly to his study. Venting his thoughts at an autoquill, he began to formulate his plans.  The Koronus Expanse was too vital for him to flee from, the terrors lurking in its corners must be confronted and dominated if humanity are to ever feel truly safe within their borders.  If his life's mission was to contribute a grand legacy (and Atticus was certain that it was) to the histories of the imperium it would be this: to carve a bastion of true civilisation in the expanse, whatever the cost.  The corrupt instruments of imperial authority here could not be trusted to protect its people.  His heart beat rapidly when considering the heresy of his thoughts but Atticus knew them to be true.  The inquistion were more concerned with their futile and cowardly quest to expunge heretics than with defending innocents.  Imagine if they had aided his mission to The Dread Pearl, working together they could have harvested incredible riches from that planet and put them to use, fortifying the interests of the imperium.  No, only he could be trusted to carry out this sacred task, Atticus mused, and he knew in his heart that the emperor's favour would be with him.

---

When Atticus woke he knew immediately he had been sleeping for hours, perhaps half a day.  Feeling a renewed sense of purpose he pored over his notes.  His immediate priority was to develop his fledgling colony with all his resources.  He must find a way to swell its population and defences to serve as a suitable base for his new colonial state.  Next he must develop trade links among all the independent planets of the expanse, to secure defensive alliances and preferably to gather more wealth for himself with which he would use to construct a great defensive fleet.

Only one problem remained.  The Koronus expanse was swarming with self-obsessed parasites, rogue-traders by name but persons of pitiful character compared to Atticus Havelock. They would take every opportunity to sabotage his plans, but as the future of human civilisation depended on them Atticus knew that this could not be allowed to happen.  An arrogant ex-navy captain and a jacked-up gangster had already proven themselves dedicated adversaries but there was one in particular Atticus knew could never be trusted to serve him in the quest to reforge the expanse.  His instincts told him every misfortune that plagued his last 6 months came from but one devious mind.....

Atticus underscored one name at the top of his list.

Monday, 2 December 2013

Off The Table Roleplaying.

The man looked out of the porthole of the descending shuttle.
A desolate planet home to naught but a single deserted mining settlement, Chorda’s Folly looked anything but inviting. From orbit, the brownish land masses drift by languidly under a thin veil of cloud cover. The oceans appeared to be shallow and dark green in colour.

Chorda’s Folly home to more than seventy thousand souls. Most worked in the various mines and pumping stations scattered about the area. Indentured workers that receive payment for the ore and mineral wealth they extract from the planet, in return, the Dynasty charged them outrageous amounts for food and shelter. This ensures that no one is ever be able to buy out their contract and leave the planet. Just like the dozens of similar backwater mining worlds he had worked on. These newer colony’s always unearthed the most remarkable discoveries.

With the de-orbit finished the shuttle’s engines moaned as it entered a low attitude flight mode. Skimming over the desolate, dry, and dusty surface he saw a scene dominated by rocky land masses and shallow seas filled with brackish water. Small scrub plants clung to the various rocky edifices sheltered from the wind storms that dominate the plains. The only thing that kept anyone interested in this world is the numerous pools of crude promethium scattered across the landscape. These bubble to the surface every few years and their appearance heralds an intense race to capture the valuable liquid for processing. There are also veins of semi–precious ores deep beneath the planet’s surface. While technically under the protection of Aspyce Chorda and her dynasty, Chorda’s Folly has its share of so–called “independent” miners who hope to strike it rich with an easy find.
The man was at this moment dressed like one of these poor and wretched souls that flock to this world in the hopes of easing their suffering with the faint glimmer that they might find a rich strike of ore—or a bubbling pool of crude promethium.

Stepping off the craft he could see the hustle and bustle of a working spaceport, dozens of labours and several servitors hustle about. Loaders, fuel pumps and hoses, and other bits of gear were strewn about the permacrete. These were being employed to fuel the waiting bulk lifters and load cargo as the wind and dust swirled around the harried figures of the indentured work force.The spaceport looked able to accommodate shuttles, guncutters, and similar craft, the permacrete pad was cracked and marred from the comings and goings of shuttles and haulers over the centuries. At the far end of the spaceport rail cars from the refinery stopped to unload their carts. Several Servitors moved about working to load and unload cargo.

The man could see the mag-rail tracks leading from the spaceport, heading out into the wastes, around the outer perimeter of the settlement towards the refinery.
The refinery is where the ore from the nearby mines would go for processing. Employment at the refinery would mark a local as a chief member of the labour force; minor tasks would be delegated to menial labourers, and mono–tasked servitors. In addition to processing the various ores ripped out of the ground, the refinery also processes the crude promethium pumped out from wells scattered across the landscape.

The man joined the crowd of passengers leaving the shuttle and shuffled off towards the center of the city. The commercial district was the hub of the city. All the stalls and stores stood open, with signs blowing in the wind. The air was filled with the hum of merchants hawking their wares, Throne Gelt coins exchanged hands and slid across counters to fill till–boxes. The main types of items found here wee common tools and sundries such as dried foods, alcohol, and clothing. The man haggled with a mining outfitter for some simple tools and dehirid soup rations playing the part of the freelancer the only piece of equipment of any worth he purchased was top class surveying scope and tripod. He paid for it all in Gelt minted from the same world as the other prospectors he shipped in with. No weapons or armor could be found in any of the shops here, Chorda didn’t want any chance of an armed rebellion on her hands. Home to only a small number of residents Chorda’s Folly didn't warrant a full–blown precinct fortress or prison. All but the most petty or heinous offenders would be sentenced to work in the worst part of the mines or labor in the refinery.
Only a small number of enforces could be seen walking the streets, in their dark blue uniforms equipped with pump–action shotguns, power mauls, riot shields, flak coats, and helmets. They were equipped for breaking up bar fights and settling pay disputes. None asked to inspect his perfectly forged identity papers or inquired about his backstory.

He turned a corner and strolled down the roughly paved road towards the Bunker fortress. The original colonists who settled Chorda’s Folly first came to this world, lived out of this single massive fortification. When more permanent structures could be built to protect them from the elements and predators of the world, they eventually moved out and converted the original bunker–fortress into a state hall for formal functions and a place to shelter them in the event of an emergency, common practice across the frontier.
It loomed upwards towering over the surrounding buildings, made of a heavy–duty alloy that could withstand several impacts from orbital assault. Massive vox masts and other types of communications and augur arrays were mounted at the apex of the building piercing the skyline. Several heavy defense laser batteries stood silent guard spaced out around the perimeter. Two dozen militia stood guard at the base of a set of beautiful white marble stairs that ascend to thick adamantium doors.

The man joined end of the line that snaked to the base of the stairs he waited patiently under the baking sun for access to the fortress the guard didn't pay any of the miners any attention. When inside he found the civilian astropathic relay service and compiled his message. The service was a simple board unencrypted announcement, it offered no conformation or return message service. They didn't even record the name of the sender, he couldn't think of a more untraceable method. He paid his fee and made sure to acted shocked at the price demanded, a huge sum for a common citizen.

From memory he scribble out his message sixty three strings each six characters long. Looking like a wall of gibberish he added a single sentence
Return what was stolen and his honor will demand he say and fight.
The recipient; Naval base Port Wander, private account: House Havlock. In the special comments section he added attn: Luther.
He hoped his “friends” would appreciate the work he put into obtaining this encryption key.

He was descending the stairs as his personal vox chimed. A gruff voice announced directions to the rear of a Manufactorum that produces small machine components before abruptly cutting off. Exiting the final alley the man spotted a civilian shuttle in the center of a poorly maintained landing pad. Another man dressed in the robes of a factory foreman standing nearby called out.
Are you the independent I am ferrying out past Blind man bluff? Well get on board you're never going to find your fortune just standing around.

After the Foreman introduced himself as Staious he begun to make small talk. 
You don’t have the look of the other independents. The way you all move and hold yourself you seem more jaded that the typical fresh faced hiver wanting to strike it rich.
Why you heading out to past the bluff anyways, no promethium has ever been spotted there it’s too bloody rocky?
Must be ore hey? There are rumours that someone found something valuable up in the mountains, perhaps precious minerals or gems? That’s what you’re after I’ll guess.
That’s why that imperial bloke went out there. Must be surveying it or sum-such. Still I don’t know why he needed all those solders. He must just be some frightened lily, sacred of life on the big frontier.
Mind you heading off all alone like yourself isn't the best idea either. You may be able to find something valuable but keeping it in a place like this is a whole different matter. There’s no true law out here in the expanse not like back in the Imperium.
Be careful out here and don’t stray too close to that big mountain over there. Some of the local blokes went out to have a peek, to see what that official was up to. They won’t be trying that again they had the tires on their ore hauler shot out then these big blokes with armour and silver masks dragged them out and wanted to know what they were doing in a resected area. Beat them bloody. They finally were released and drove back to town with some poorly patched tires. They only talk about it if you ply them with a glass of grog.
Anyways you’re a good talker, were here now mate.

The shuttle touched down in a small grassy clearing the ramp slid closed just as the man was finished hauling his equipment out of the cargo pod. The thrusters left scorch marks from where they powered the shuttle into a steep climb. The man slung his pack and begun to hike up the mountainside, he pushed aside the thick scrub unwilling to hack a tractable trail with a machete. He crested the edge of the southern face of the mountain two hours later and settled in, storing his rations and laying out a water proof sleeping-sack. He took great care assembling the surveyors scope. He mounted the tripod low behind some rocks to reduce the silhouette and piled some dead shrubs on top to shield the lens from any sunlight that may reflect. He calibrated the instruments and looked through the viewfinder to orientate himself. Then traced along the opposite ridgeline, at the base nestled among some thick brush he identified the camp. It was a ramshackle encampment with muddy paths leading between mining excavators, ore haulers and tents. Some earthworks along the edge displayed obvious evidence of the search for mineral wealth, or so it would seem. The workers looked outward not downward the earthworks were cut deep, narrow and arranged so that any vehicle approaching had too slow to a crawl. The tents indicated that this mining camp had either very spacious living areas or that many more “workers” were hidden from view. And the two tarps covering the ore piles looked like they could be covering a Valkyrie transport and a Chimera APC. He depressed the magnification rune and the view blurred as the optics whirred and brought the one of the miners in to sharp focus. Strong of limb and straight backed, the miner drank deep from a canteen but his eyed didn't stop surveying the sounding landscape, his upper arm bore scaring possibly from a mining accident but more likely from las-removal a tattoo. It Looked like He had found Ragnar’s hidden little army.  The man zoomed out and panned about towards the larger mountain that Staious had warned him about. Much easier to locate on the side of the mountain serviced by a well-worn dirt track was an obvious military encampment. A basic affair mostly costing of personal carriers some light tanks and row upon row of large tents a board earthen barrier topped with a prefabricated defensive wall marked the the perimeter. The troops that patrolled the surrounding area and manned the defensive wall looked to be at combat readiness.
Again he zoomed in, extraordinarily well-equipped, clad in finely-wrought armor, adorned with silvered masks in the image of Saint Drusus, standard issue las-guns, and heavy bolters.
Maccabian Janissaries renowned for their faith, often compared to violent fanatics. Capable marksmen and well-trained at fighting in carefully orchestrated formations, made these troops popular among members of the holy Ordos of the Inquisition.

In the centre of the camp was the apparent reason for the imperial interest in the mining colony a deep fissure likely caused by mining explosives had exposed an large metallic structure. He zoomed in further and could faintly make out markings on the some surfaces. The best consulting archaeologist in the whole subsector, a master xenopologist and a natural linguist the man could not decipher the markings. He had however seen similar before. He removed a simple leather diary from a hidden fold in his silky skin. He opened it to a page containing a single image. A brilliant light arched out in all directions striking the surrounding figures, Atticus’s head appears to be on fire from the xeno-lighting, likewise for Luther's arm and Sholk’s leg. He winced as he recalled his own mauling at the hands of a foul Xeno. In the background of the picture he could make out a large dark trapezoid object, every surface covered in the same intricate markings. Whatever was under this mountain was Xeno, old, and judging by the size of the excavation very big. He settled in to see how things turned out.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Gaming Props again?

Warrant of trade
I am always looking for some kind of gimmick to help me get my players immersed into the game. Perhaps it's my time spent as a miniatures wargamer. I like minis but I love them on 3D terrain. Maps, props and 

other handouts I use them all. The problem is I think some of my extras are not only unnecessary but may also be hindering the role-playing. My hope was to use these props to help immerse the players into my wold. I wanted them to see exactly what I envisioned. So I attempted to craft parts of my universe sometimes in miniature other times in true scale. I found that the props are easily ignored & forgotten and the maps can tend to constrain the players thinking. 
3D terrain
Even my best props were ultimately unnecessary. With appropriate word smithing, I could have woven a description that provided all the necessary information, for game mechanics and also inspired the players imaginations so they would become immersed in a universe of our joint construction. 
The Rogue Traders
Sadly my ability to turn a phrase and spin a web of intrigue is lacking. So I find that my GMing is greatly served by the wealth of background fluff and premade adventures for the 40K universe. I borrow snippets and plagiarize whole paragraphs from my old 40K  codexs codices rule-books and FFG role-play books. I bend and shape the stolen content into an amalgam of stories that I subject my players to. 
Despite all rational thinking they are apparently enjoying it. I recently solicited some feedback from my players and was surprised to receive very positive comments. The only thing lacking from my adventures so far is star-ship combat. The players did recently manage to salvage an gigantic, ancient, space-worthy, Gothic ship, from a Space-hulk.
Confusing Hulk Map

The next story ark that I have plagiarized should allow me to use a mass of miniatures and maps as well as providing plentiful opportunities for star ship engagements and a few occasions for the players to perform orbital strikes.
The fleet
















More 3D terrain














Nuke it from orbit. Fun times for all.