Saturday, November 20, 2010

Campaign Journal: Another Path to Plunder 01

This is the start of a new campaign journal for my newest Rogue Trader campaign group that I am Game Mastering for. Continuing the tradition of my previous campaign journal (sorry I didn't keep up with that, but that's because that session ended in all the character's deaths!) I will be writing it in a story-like format. But first off: the Cast-

Rogue Trader Lexi Brannon
(as played by Mrs. FoxPhoenix)
Arch-Militant Regias Patronius (as played by friend Dan)
Explorator Metalus Varnius (NPC, my "guide character" for the pair when they ran out of ideas)

So without further ado, the story begins...

Lexi was born the daughter of a Battlefleet Calixis Navy Admiral, and her mother was a Magos Biologis that conducted research on the Lathe worlds. Her father might not have even known of her birth, for he was off fighting the Eldar in some distant quadrant of the sector at the time. Lexi never met him. Her mother, the Magos, was so engrossed in her research that she scarcely bothered with the child either. Most of her childhood consisted of various mentors and supervisors, none of which invested any emotional interest into the child. So, as soon as Lexi was old enough to set out on her own, she was converted into the Ecclesiarchy by a mission on the Forge World, giving herself wholly to their teachings. They offered her a chance to belong to a real family, something she had always yearned for.

It was then that her calling came to her, and she discovered her gift of persuasion, as she used her talents to convert more followers to the Church. Many came to the sermons at her requests, coerced into the long hymns and devotionals. It was during an Ecclesiarchy mission to a void-faring vessel that she saw the familial bond shared by the members of the Navy that served aboard a vessel. Although the Ecclesiarchy offered her more comraderie than her previous home life had, she desired more. She yearned for the closeness exhibited by the Imperial Navy crew she had seen. Soon after, she left to serve the Throne by enlisting the Imperial Navy, securing her first command aboard a small transport vessel.

During her time aboard the trading vessel, Lexi was tasked with transporting an important piece of Archeotechnology back to her superiors for study. The object fascinated her, and incited a thirst for knowledge about technology that had long since been forgotten. It awoke her heritage from the Lathe world she hailed from, so she discovered that she had never truly forgotten the teachings of her mentors from the Forge World and the excitement of finding forgotten technologies.

She left the Imperial Navy on one such quest for the arcane technology, eventually leading to the discovery of her (now signature) seal: the Ancestral Seal of House Yorke. A potent and widely respected symbol, this discovery vaulted her into the limelight of the Administratum's attention. The House Yorke nobles were particularly influential, and eventually were to become a major benefactor for the young Brannon, vouching for her to the Administratum in order to have her become their official represenative in the Calixis sector, finally rising her family status to nobility. However, many other noble houses were quite disappointed in the Yorke's increase of influence that was derived from the reclamation of the Ancestral Seal. They openly slandered the Brannon family name and openly criticized the decision to make Lexi's family members of the Nobility. Lexi petitioned against the slander and, against all odds, was granted a Warrant of Trade in which to seek out new Archeotechnologies for the Imperium. With the substantial backing of the prominent House Yorke, the now Rogue Trader Lexi Brannon was awarded her first independent ship, the Sword-class frigate known as the Dark Trident, still in the drydocks of Port Wanderer.

* * * * * * * *

Regias Patronius was a relatively new name, one the Deathworlder was not entirely familiar with yet. Hailing from a nearly-forgotten world in the expanse, Regias had spent his early childhood fighting for survival with his kinsmen in the harsh Arctic environs of his planet. There, gigantic mammals roamed, and men were not of high stature on the local food chain. Rapier-tooth beasts, Land-Krakens, Horned-Growlerbeasts, and other such natural predators made everyday survival a difficult prospect. Early in life he and his family made a living by hunting the local fauna and selling the pelts to any traders that would chance the dangerous world, gaining firearms and ammunition essential to their survival.

During one such trader's stopover on the planet, the young Regias (then named only "boy" by his tribesmen) was sold to the trader as an indentured servant. Recognizing the boy's potential for hunting, the trader employed the deathworlder as his tracker. The trader gave him a name, Regias Patronius, and brought him on many hunts for bounty targets. Eventually, Regias became proficient and trusted enough to go on these hunts himself. He gained a reputation for being a dogged pursuer, unwilling to give up or accept defeat.

During one such hunt, Regias was pursuing his target through the seedier districts of Port Wander. Without his trader there to vouch for his ownership, a local crew of press-gangers cornered him and knocked him unconscious. He awoke in servitude to a pirate crew, pressed into service against his will. It took many months, but his captors finally broke him, working him often to the breaking point of exhaustion. Eventually he finally made his escape when the ship stopped on Footfall for resupply, slipping away after killing a few armed guards. Eventually, a member of House Yorke found him and offered him a position as an armsman aboard his vessel. Regias happily agreed, serving the noble House for many years afterword. Eventually, when a recovered hulk was brought into Port Wander for refit, Regias petitioned to be appointed as the vessel's head of security.

One-upping him, his Yorke benefactor appointed him as the vessel's First Officer, much to the chagrin of many who had the unfortunate duty of serving under him...

He met his new Lord-Captain for the first time when she was given an awarding ceremony for the new vessel. As a new Rogue Trader, she was unused to the attention and pomp of ceremony. Regias was simply unused to human interaction. They made quite an unlikely pair, but eventually the Lord-Captain began to rely on Regias' ability to ward off conversationalists with his gruff demeanor. After discovering his aptitude for combat, she appointed him to not only her First Officer, but her personal bodyguard and close adviser as well.

They christened their new ship The Dark Trident and made preparations for their departure.

++++++Excerpt from Lord-Captains Records++++++

Today we made a final tour of the Dark Trident, making notes for the final needs of the vessel before we can leave Port Wander. First Officer Regias and the new Explorator granted by the Mechanicus also accompanied me, the Explorator recording the log with the aid of his servo-skull familiar. That thing is a bit too strange for my liking, as I have not become yet accustomed to its presence, but Metalus assures me it can do no harm.

I decided to go and view the Port while the vessel's final departure preperations were made, knowing full well that this would be my last chance to get my feet off the deckplating of the Dark Trident for quite some time. My loyal (albeit a bit lacking in social graces) First Officer Regias insisted on accompanying me on my trip, much to my chagrin, but I was reluctant to refuse. Based on the reputation I have gathered on the Port, having a militant like Regias along could be wise. Metalus Varnius the Explorator also volunteered to accompany me, stating that he wished to learn more of the local Port's populace. He brought his familiar, which irked me, but later turned out to be useful. I dressed in my most comfortable finery, fully expecting to be greeted by various envoys and emissaries, as seems to happen every time my foot falls outside the ship's hatches. However, Regias is a useful tool at keeping them at bay. His gruff exterior and reputation for violence has preceded him, allowing me to travel unaccounted by the supplicants on a few occasions. Today was not one such occasion, however. Minor nobles, traders, and other such wishful thinkers surrounded us shortly after departing the vessel, and even Regias's threats failed to disperse them. I gave in and made brief salutations and comments to some, and as they failed to find any fruitful negotiations with me, they began to slowly drift away until we were left relatively alone in the Court of the Dead, the commoner's marketplace district of Port Wander.

During our sojourn into the crowded Court, we were propositioned by a unclean-appearing man calling himself Orbest Dray. Recognizing my Brannon familial seal pinned to my lapel, the grimy man nearly was shot by the easily-provoked Regias until he declared he was a regent of my Great-Grandfather, on my father's side. Part of a long line of Imperial Navy Admiralty, my great grandfather had allied with a Rogue Trader in the pursuit of a long-lost vessel known as the Righteous Path. The name was unfamiliar to me or my companions, so Orbest Dray relayed the legend to me, informing me that the vessel was basically a forgotten ship of plunder, containing the cumulative treasure of an entire planet of a wealthy populace. This failed to intrigue me, however. He continued, sensing my reluctance to commit to anything, telling me he had been waiting for someone of the Brannon family line to come to the port. He had been left with the map, safeguarding its return for my great-grandfather, who was lost and never returned. He then reached into his coat pocket (earning himself a brief moment of tension with Regias, until he assured the deathworlder that he was not reaching for a weapon) and pulled out a gene-locked stasis casket about the size of my palm and handed it to me. When I took it, it felt warm, and then hot, as it sampled my genetic code. Apparently I was close enough of a match, because it chimed and opened with a hiss to reveal a smooth black stone.

Orbest began to tell us what the object was, when a flash of metal and black feathers snatched it from my surprised fingers. Catching us off guard, the psyber-raven made off over the crowd with our prize clutched in its talons. We were too slow to react, until several armed thugs burst from their hiding positions and began to fire projectile weapons at us through the crowded thoroughfare. Most of the rounds flew around us, shredding the simple bar we had taken seats at, or impacting on the unfortunate civilians that were slow to flee.

Metalus was quick to shake off his surprise, hefting his Adeptus Mechanicus Symbol, and leaping away from the bar and into the crowd. Regias was fast on his heels, pulling the strap of his Hellgun from his shoulder. I was the slowest to react, still trying to decipher what exactly was happening, but I managed to shake my surprise enough to pull my plasma pistol from its holster. I noticed the psyber-raven was having trouble carrying the black stone, and it slipped from its grasp and landed in the crowd about 20 meters ahead of us. People were still frantically trying to remove themselves from the situation, but there will still an unfortunate few who intersected bullets that were meant for me or my companions. With his weapon in hand, Regias was faster to react than before. Sighting in on one of the armsmen through the crowd, he let loose a few controlled shots from his Lucius-pattern Hellgun. He timed his shots poorly, however, and one more disparate victim fell to a shot not meant for them. One shot was timed and aimed properly, however, impacting the thug in his leg, piercing through armor. The thug staggered a bit, but shook off the shot. Metalus charged into the closest armsmen, swinging low with his power-field enhanced weapon. The man failed to dance back far enough, jostled by fleeing civilians, and caught the blade in the leg, the power field deftly cutting through armor and flesh alike. The gaping wound looked painful, but the armed man appeared to weather it enough to drop his pistol and don a glove that sparked with electricity. I sighted in on the man Regias had wounded, and squeezed off a round from the plasma pistol. A wave of heat washed over me as the weapon discharged. My aim had been off, however, and a merchant's open-air shanty ignited in flames behind the target. I noticed the farthest armsmen stoop to pick up the black stone from the street, and take off running for a back alley. Regias spotted this as well, and after ducking a poorly aimed attack, squeezed a few rounds carefully at the fleeing thug, hitting him square in the back as he fled. The multiple rounds seared through the man's carapace armor, dropping the man. Meanwhile, Metalus took another swing at the previously wounded man, shouldering aside a fleeing civilian. The powerful weapon connected with the thug's midsection, disemboweling him in the middle of the thoroughfare. I took another shot at my previous target, but simply grazed him and only causing superficial damage. The last thug fired back at us ineffectually, his aim thrown off by the wounds they'd sustained, peppering the bar behind me. Regias dispatched the last man with another well-placed burst of Hellgun fire, easily aimed now that the Court had cleared of bystanders. A short pause fell over us, still shaking the effects of adrenaline off, Until the Adeptus Arbites arrived. Regias quickly scooped up the black stone from the dead thug as the authorities began their sweep.

A dozen or so of the officers went around, asking questions of the surviving bystanders, and attending to the wounded. A mountain of a man, their apparent leader, marched up to us and introduced himself. He asked us what happened, and Metalus replayed his servoskull's video logs for the Arbites to view on his dataslate. After seeing that we were obviously not the instigators, and the deaths of the civilians were unavoidable, the Arbites' demeanor changed when I introduced myself formally. He went from righteous indignation to sullen dourness, and he made a show of formally requesting that we accompany him to his precinct's office to make a statement to his superior. I agreed, with a sour look from Regias, and we set off to the Precinct office. When we arrived, we were shown to an office. Behind a desk sat a woman introduced to us as the Precepts-Martial, who seemed exasperated. She listened to introductions, and then bitterly complained about how often this sort of thing was occurring. She then went on to identify our attackers as members of the Fel Dynasty, loyal to the Rogue Trader Hadarak Fel. Unfortunately, she could not provide evidence that they were working on his behalf or under his orders, so there was little we could legally do against the Rogue Trader. She dismissed us with a warning:
"You're free to go, thank you for your cooperation. However, if any more hostilities were to arise, they'd be met with quick and lethal justice," she said, allowing a cold steel to enter her voice toward the end of her warning. She obviously didn't want a Rogue Trader war going on in the Port.

Now that we were done with that unpleasantness, we were free to pursue our venture. Orbest Dray, who had taken it upon himself to accompany us after the firefight, told us it was an astropathic device. Since we had no psychically inclined individuals with us, we took it to our ship's Navigator for deciphering. After he touched the object, he informed us it was more a mental vision than anything, depicting a system with a dying star, a frozen halo, and a dead world with a great artifact upon it. This was the system in which the Righteous Path had made its final resting place. However, there was no way of knowing where this system was. He suggested we find someone with knowledge of the Expanse, who would know of a system matching this description.

Metalus came out of his taciturn silence, suggesting that there two ways he could think of to obtain this information: ask around the port for someone who may have stumbled across this system, or find a cartographer that would have knowledge of a system matching the description. Regias, in a moment of unusual clarity, suggested that we attempt the cartographer first. He reasoned that if we went around asking voidsmen of the system, they would want to know why we needed the information, and this was the kind of venture where discretion was key. I agreed, and I delegated Metalus to find us a list of known map-makers on the Port. He found one that showed promise, a man by the name of Journ, and we went to see him immediately. The trip was uneventful, and we arrived safely. When we arrived, we outlined our proposition, and he listened carefully. He then agreed to do it, but to be discretionary about he he named a condition. I declared that I was a lady, and would not perform sexual favors for him. He laughed at my misguided interpretation of him, and told us what his plan actually was. He wanted us to transport some texts that while not heretical, the Ecclesiarchy would not look kindly upon. He would feel better if a "safer" trader transported them, and he felt that I fit the description. He needed them delivered to a contact on Footfall, on the other side of the Koronus Passage. I agreed, feeling relieved that my ploy to loosen the tension had worked as I had planned and not backfired.

With our new map in hand, we made our way back to the ship and prepared to cast off. We wanted to leave immediately once we were informed that the vessel belonging to our assailant Rogue Trader Hadarak Fel had already departed. With new haste we made our own departure.


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