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.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Profit and Loss

In a breef respite between adventuers Captain Atticus Havlock finds himself in his studdy.

Atticus rubbed his head. Despite the assurance form the Magos Biologis the deep seated pain in his skull had yet to fully fade. The new vat-grown skin and flesh of his face still felt tight and clean. He now looked 10years younger despite the large neat scar running down his face. The Mangos insisted that he could flawlessly repair the damage but Atticus wanted something to show for that harrowing encounter with the Xeno entity. He forced himself to focus his new eyes on the thick piles of parchment on his desk, and rubbed his temples. He doubted his newfound youth would last if he was forced to deal with paperwork like this for long. Bills, notes of credit, requests for payments and shipping inventories he sighed. This distraction had been amassing on this desk with an alarming speed. Atticus much preferred to command and explore then to sit and scribe. "Damm all you to an eternal darkness" He raged at a large document filled with the filled tight with the neat uniform scripting of an autoquill. Its contents consisting of a long winded explanation on why the priesthood of Mars refuse to commence repair works on the mighty starship hull he recently returned to Footfall with. The pigs won’t start work without a down payment. Two million tons of refined Adamantium! Forty billion thrones of liquid currency or equivalent non-perishable tradable goods! It might take 30years or more to amass that volume of wealth. There was the other option. Could he bear to part with one of his ships? The Emperors Hand was his family's ship not to mention the value of its cargo holds meant to his dynasty. But Fell's Folly was his prize every time he stepped aboard he felt like he was treading on Fell's smug face. He doubted that he would be able to afford the refit without acquiescing to the priesthood’s requests.

Atticus turned to one of the other bundles among the despised paperwork a dossier from Luther. He couldn’t help but think that it was the Seneschal’s job to eliminate paperwork, not ply him with more. He vaguely remembered that he promised to help Sholk with that little tiff his house was having with the authorities. Atticus skimmed the pages. Rumours of inquisitorial movements, intercepted astropathic communications good work looks like Luther has located an Inquisitor. Background checks, service history’s, vetting processes, equipment purchases Luther has been outfitting a unit of specialist mercenary’s. Atticus wondered to what end? Striking against a random inquisitor will hardly help Sholk he continued to scan the pages. Cold trade contacts, Xeno artefacts, weapons, armour, trinkets ah very cleaver Luther. A well placed red herring and a murder will have the Holy Ordos chasing the shadows instead of investigating renegade navigators. Atticus Stamped the front of the submission with deep crimson ink APPROVED.

Chewing on a mouthful of exotic fruit Atticus thought to himself. I need to think of a name for this most delectable food. The journey to Havelock’s Haven was uneventful and the colonists were most grateful to be visited by their lord and saviour. The recent attacks had left the colonists in low sprits. The colony’s population now boosted by several thousand voidmen and work on a great civil project begun. When completed the project will provide effective irrigation to the newly cleared farmlands. The dynasty’s newly acquired household troops were unable to locate any signs of insurgence. If it wasn’t for the destroyed agri-trucks and dozens of fresh graves I would have thought that there was nothing wrong. Hopefully the now swelled population and newly formed colony militia will be able to prevent any further attacks.

Ragnar’s report indicated that his journey was anything but uneventful. Warp squalls, asteroid storms, unstable gravity tides all before he began his hunt for the raiders that have been pillaging the trade convoys along the heathen trail. The Emperors Hand once again plied her lethal trade as a Q-ship playing the hapless lamb baying to be slaughtered. Ragnar struck one single devastating blow to the enemy fleet. He led the raiders on a merry stern chase for six days and had the Astropath broadcast unencrypted pleas for help. When the wolf pack had finally had their prey surrounded the lead ship lowered their void shields in preparation to dock. Ragnar demanded that they confirm who their master was before he would open the Hand’s bulkheads. They laughed and stated that the men of Lord-Admiral Bastille the VII fleet didn’t need to him to open his bulkheads. That was all the conformation Ragnar needed. At point blank range the macro cannons discharged a very dangerous action considering that the Hand was also caught in the resulting detonation that crippled the rival ship. Suffering only minor damage Ragnar moved quickly to harass the other ships in the wold pack. Shattering their will and forcing them to flee. Ragnar returned to pummel the crippled destroyer and only stoped bombardment when the debris were scattered across a dozen astronomical units and too small to be targeted by the Hand’s auspex arrays. The message should be clear to anyone thinking of pillaging our trade lines from now on.

Atticus felt his Grynix stir as he skimmed some personal evaluations, he was about to dismiss the report as unimportant as two furry paws stretched up to the desk edge. Atticus could feel his companion’s inquisitive nature and he decided to read the report again. What first steamed like mundane personal evaluations and punishment details, resolved itself into a more worrying pattern. Atticus stroked the soft fur of the Grynix’s head to entice a bass-full vibration, he always thought better in the pleasant company of the purring feline. An increase in insubordination, dereliction of duty, malingering and cases of theft from one's master would normally indicate a drop in moral. However all of these incidents were confined to one section of the ship, the upper crew quarters and all the reports were from NCOs reprimanding the ship security detail. The incidents were not confined to one squad and but they didn’t seem to wide spread. Furthermore all the reported crewmen had exemplary records up until this point, they were so well trusted that they had all been handpicked by Ragnar and vetted by Luther to act as honour guard in the trophy room. Atticus skimmed the details of each incident caught starring at the floor, found wandering the passages, unwilling under pain of flogging to return to his post, failed to report for duty, found tampering with status controls, found in possession of precious artefact. He reread the last incident He didn’t know anything had been taken. A junior Boatswain had caught a guard in possession of a small metallic sculpture of a Xeno worm. The guard had claimed to be carrying it back to the status locked display case after it had escaped. Atticus rechecked the other reports, not only were these guard assigned to the trophy room they had all served on the detail tasked with observation of the Halo artefact. The guards all clamed some variation of the same story. The worm was creepy, appeared to have moved when not observed, the status field sometimes seemed to flicker, strange sounds could be heard in the walls, the feeling of something crawling on their skin. The officers who reported the incidents never found any corroborating evidence and assumed the guard were lying to save their skin from the lash. What the hell was this thing? If the guard stories were true, it had apparently been affecting the minds of those tasked with guarding it and somehow managed to escape at least twice from a tripled locked status case. It seems impossible every tech-priest that had examined the thing had provided the same conclusions. They would always announce in their flat monotone emotionless voices. “an inert sculpture of Xeno craftsmanship constructed out of an unidentifiable metallic substance. Likely warp-sensitive or physichoactive. Age indeterminate but estimated at six million years’’ The only thing the consulting Xenoaerologist had to say on the worm was “You think man is the only race to dabble in the darkness of the warp? No my friend, there are creatures far older and evil than us out there among the cold stars—aliens whose worship of the warp makes humanity seem as naughty children screaming at the sky. Sell that bloody thing to the right collector then retire fat and happy. Just ensure that no agents of the throne find out that you sold it”

Sunday, 22 September 2013

In Capitalist America Hobby Earns You Money.


Streetscape Props
So last time I spoke about lasers, I talked about the fine people at Urban Lasercraft that wanted to use some of my designs. Well my designs are up on the laser craft site and for sale, check them out here. I did the smaller stuff, the buildings were all done in house. There is still another wave of my stuff to come. I will post again when the next wave of designs are released. 

more Streetscape props

Classic corner Saloon
In related laser capers I noticed that the founder of laser craft has been experimenting with some Wild West designs. He has themed  them for the upcoming Wild West Exodus. He posted a couple examples on the Lasercraft Facebook page, some nice looking stuff. I also backed the WWX kickstarter but I didn't pledge enough to get the excellent terrain packs from Micro arts Studios that were on offer. I did however start to design some of my own. First up I decided to design standard Wild West buildings. Easy enough as there is a tonne of reference material out there. Then I just needed to add a sheet-metal pattern of engraving on the roofs and cut the sign lettering out of acrylic so they look like neon tubes. Put it together and wallah you a have steampunk wild west  architecture. So I offered to share a bunch of my designs. I hope they help inspire Urbanlaser to release a new line of WWX terrain.
It was tempting to build a whole
town of 3D renders 

Standard Old West shops
Check out the 3D renders I did I think they look cool. They are lacking the detail of the engraving, but cool none the less.





Old school open air train platform and
with attached warehouse. 

Some tall skinny shops just because



Thursday, 12 September 2013

The sultry sounds of gaming.

Like many of my fellow worker drones after I shuffle into my cubical at work. I plug in my headphones to help escape from the crushing reality that is life. Unlike the bulk of my works mates I am not listening to music but podcasts specifically gaming podcasts. I normally cycle through the same four podcasts 40K Radio, The 11th company, The official Dungeons & Dragons podcast and The D6 Generation.

  • 40K Radio is the typical amateur internet radio show, hosted by a bunch of friends that all love the 40k universe. The show's content is full of the hosts talking over each other, smack talk, toilet humor & other frivolity. This is a bunch of guys having fun talking about a game they all have a lot of passion for. The last two episodes has mainly been the hosts going over the latest GW Codex: Space Marines. They managed to secure an early copy of. Apparently some one in the know is a fan of the show. There are many other more serious gaming news aggregate sites, blogs and podcasts that this could have been leaked too but they chose the fun guys of the podcast world.  
  • The 11th company is another podcast dedicated to 40K. While they still obviously still enjoy the extended universe, the show concentrates on the meta of playing the game. In-depth reviews of the codexs, list building and tactical advice. The show couldn't be more different from 40K Radio. It is still incredibly fascinating (for a nerd) hearing about the strategies that about that go into the playing the game competitively. The last few episodes has there has been new segment titled Sim Hammer.  There has always been a math component to any 40k discussion, however Sim Hammer takes it to a whole new level. Instead of just calculating the to hit or to wound chance of a units attack. Sim Hammer has be working to produce formulas that provide an effective frame work as a metric to compare different 40k units. Things like Damage output per point vs different targets and resilience per point.
  • The Dungeons & Dragons podcast has been interesting to listen to there has been some stuff about DnD Next and some celebrity interviews that was ok. Some interviews with Chris Perkins where he was giving DM tips, that was enthralling. But the best stuff has been the recordings of Acquisitions Incorporated adventures. The Penny Arcade guys are joined by a new intern after there last one was unavailable. Having two professional word smiths as players and Chris Perkins as your DM certainly results in an eventful role-paying experience. They finished off their adventure at PAX prime.
  • The D6 Generation is a class act when it comes to podcasting their sound quality is usually excellent the segments follow a structured formula and are well edited. The host are well spoken and speak intelligently about all sorts of gaming subjects. They have a revolving third host chair and have managed to seat and interview some serious talent. I am surprised that they can frequently get people like  Geoff Engelstein, Ted Terranova, Jason Marker, Ross Watson and one of the craziest things is they had David Weber in the Third chair and beside speaking about playing GURPS with George R.R. Martin, Roger Zelazny, Walter John Williams, Jane Lindskold, some guy called Chip while the GM was Melinda Snodgrass's husband. He also talked about his movie deal with Evergreen Films produce a film about Honor Harrington. How the hell do these amateurs land these kind of interviews?  The image of all the authors playing an RPG reminded me of this scene from the TV show Castle where Nathan Fillion plays poker with a bunch of  famous authors. 


Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation

So lately I've continued with my dabbling in the use of lasers to produce wargaming terrain.
I contacted Crag Gallant from the D6G and he put me in contact with some of his mates who have lasers and sell there designs online. 
I was just enjoying the exchange of information with someone who was interested in laser cut Terrain. Turns out that one of them liked the cut of my jib and offered me money to provide some designs. Who was I to refuse this opportunity? Normally my hobby s just cost me money, usually too much money. So now I had a chance to get payed for something I was literally doing purely for the enjoyment of it. I actually feel a little bit guilty about it. 
The coolest thing about this is my designs are going to be sold online. The image in my head of gaming tables around the world filled with my terrain is kinda ridiculous. 
My stuff is still not ready yet but when it is it will be on Urban Lasercraft  in the meantime they have some very neat looking templates and tokens for X-Wing and Malifaux. Check them out.

So here are some of items I've been working on. They are meant to be street props for generic 28mm SiFi gaming.



























All of these designs are protected by copyright.  

Friday, 16 August 2013

I can see what you see not.

Gaming Achievements
Eldar physic node
 floating in space
Rogue Trader adventure has been cumming along nicely. The party has completed there first story ark. I ran the Lure of the Expanse adventure from Fantasy Flight the party ended the adventure by escaping an Eldar maiden world after their unbridled pillaging drove an Eldar farseer to intervene by raising a army of Wrathguard  and close the world off from the universe with a warpstorm. I think the party has done alright through this adventure. They have amassed a sizable fortune, established several interplanetary  trade-routes and acquired an additional warship. All for the price of a navigator's leg, Seneschal's skin and two burnt fate points. However the party's attempts to establish a dynasty has raised the ire of several  powerful adversary s including several other Rogue Traders. Also not least amongst them is the odors Xenos of the Holy Inquisition.


I have something special planed for advancing the story this ark will be of my own creation and I plan some more 3D terrain for the more important combat encounters.
My party was smart enough to
avoid combat but they were still
nearly court in a demolition blast



Besides Rouge trader I also ran a one-two shot of Deathwatch. I enjoyed running the session but I think I got the short end of the fun stick. The party of three Space Marines managed to live up to the GW fluff. They prevented a planetary uprising from taking hold in the capital of an Agri-world. In the process they managed to save the life of the planetary governor and personally kill hundreds of rebels as well as a dozen Genestealers and there Brood Lord .

Pax-Aus came and went unfortunately I was unable to attend. Fortunately one of my gaming mates did and managed to pick up some bits and bobs for me! Starwars X-wing is a very neat game. Simple to pick up and plays fast and fun. I have only played a few games and so far loved every one. My 6yo son also loves it and he easily grasps the beginners rules. Under the Starwars skin it is a great system. I imagine it would easily be expanded upon into a ground combat or fleet engagement format. Truthfully the game would sell well just because of the excellent pre-painted miniatures even if it had a mediocre rules system. With ships like the iconic Millenium Falcon and Slave-I along side the classic X-wing and TIE-fighters Fantasy Flight surely has created a licence to print money.

TIE Advanced. Nice detail and prepainted 
You can nearly see Darth Vader.

Negative Die pool 


One other thing that came back from Melbourne for me was the StarWas Edge of the Empire core rule book and GM kit. Another bloke also got the beginners box set. We had the game of the one shot adventure that came packaged with the beginners kit.  I don't know if I could find the words to describe how much fun I had  but Penny Arcade did a comic that captures the gist of my feelings. The adventure is super simple we just jumped right in. It came with some very nice maps a set of the custom dice needed for play.


Positive Die pool
I liked the dice mechanic you roll a set of custom D12s, D8s and D6s determined by your skill and  any advantages for the task you are attempting. These dice are opposed by a different set of D12s, D8s and D6s depending on the difficultly of the task and and disadvantages hindering you preforming the task.  The dice are marked with pips representing success and advantage on the positive dice and failure and threat on the negative dice. this created a system that allows for raging success or crushing defeats as well situations were you may fail forward or succeed with unexpected consensuses. I personally found it really discourages meta gaming when planning for a dice roll and encourages role play. Rouge has a nice simple percentage system that makes the math easy. But when you know that you have a 35% chance to succeed and a ability that grants a additional 10% chance its pretty easy to forget to just have fun and roll for it.
Force Die and force tokens.

Perhaps the game is horribly flawed and it's just the StarWars nostalgia and the fact I got to just play a game instead of running an entire universe that has tinted my perception. Hopefully one of the other players steps up to GM a few games before my veneer of smoke an mirrors is shattered. If there is as much fan service in the next adventure as there was in the first then I good time is bound to be had.



  Cast down into the Halls of the Blind.

Sunday, 16 June 2013

More Lasers

So its been awhile since I posted anything about laser cut terrain. last time I had  received some test cuts from a local fabricator with a laser. I had to redesign my walkways, the ramps were too steep and too narrow. I have refined my designs and have now produced several more. I am now reaching out to a couple of blokes in the United States that are also interested in laser cut terrain. I have been bouncing ideas back and forth with them and they may even be interested in producing some of my designs.

Perhaps next pay day I will get some more test cut made.

Here is a bunch of 3D renders showing some of my new designs.

These were inspired by the Hab-blocks in the MassEffect  games they should be fun to play 40K and infinity with.

These were inspired by the plastic bulkheads that come with the Necromunda box set.  

It is a modular system allowing the construction of buildings and hallways there are even removable doors.

This would be great for a game of Rogue Trader. The party exploring a maze of  corridors as they are stalked by Genestealers. 

I couldn't afford add the terrain or the excellent armored train to my WWX kickstrater pledge so I decided to draw up some of my own. 

Drew up a hole train set with rails box, flat, coal, passenger cars and a engine.  

I also drew up a whole towns worth of buildings Shops, houses a train station and this  saloon.

I worked out a way so all the wheels will turn and the carriages link together. I can't wait to stage a train robbery with my WWX outlaws. 

Saturday, 15 June 2013

Roleplay & Gaming Aids part2

Previously I talked about my plan to use 3D terrain when my Rouge Trader players experience a major combat encounter so I have compiled some photos and notes of what I managed to put together.

I lot of the stuff I used was paper terrain from Worldworks Games.

The major encounter I was planning for was on a unexplored world with an ancient temple complex built by the Eldar before their fall. Scattered ruins around a central tower surrounded by a thick forest.

Eldar foam-core symbol
Split in half
I cut out a series of Eldar like shapes from foam core then carved them up a little to look more like ruins.

A quick rough coat of paint, they looked like crap but they are ruins.

Misc Eldar shapes
Foam spheres and cone cut to shape









Foam test fit


The top of the cone needed to be
concave to accept the foam semi sphere
 


The temple of far seeing was meant to be a mighty tower looming above the forest floor. 

The body was constructed out of foam block from a craft store a few seconds with a saw reshaped them as required. Some wood glue fixed the major pieces in place.


All the small foam semi
spheres glued in place


Small foam spheres cut in half and
 sanded to fit the side of the cone



















To get the correct shape on the stairs I used the cone as a sanding block. 

I will post a few picks of the tower in use during game night.


I only have a few more cool encounters using this 3D terrain but I may plan more. I was surprised how much work GMing can be even when using campaign book a.
I used toothpicks as well as glue
to hold the stairs in place 


Foam-core dais on top to the tower












Vanes glued in-place and a
star-chart added to the dais

Checking scale and access





Two coats of paint it kinda looks like Wrathbone