01-04 Hob Gone Wild

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PF: 51
DATE: 335.815 M41
LOCATION: Omnicron 71-DX
OBJECTIVE: Acquire more ship parts for the “Bigses Race”.
REASON: They want to win!
PC’s: Anna, Erata, Hob, Janus, Thurman
SYNOPSIS: Seeking more parts for their racing fighter, the explorers send out several salvage teams and one of them goes missing. They investigate its last known location and stumble across something sinister.

Previous Session’s Recap:

The explorers secured a priority position in the repair queue by allowing some high ranking tech priests the opportunity to study the Hymn’s teleportarium. They were invited to a high stakes race happening at Port Wander in a few months, and secured a Best Quality fighter engine for their new ship. It was stolen by Victoria Pierce, but the explorers stole it right back.

The session begins with Roland Shilwulf arriving on the Emperor’s Hymn to visit his uncle Octavius with the intention of accompanying the explorers into the Koronus Expanse. He is assigned a Mortressan bodyguard, given a tour of the ship, and warned about Deck 5. After the initial tour, Roland wastes no time in reviewing the backgrounds of each of the bridge crew. Satisfied that none appear to be pirate sympathizers, he begins some inquiries into and around Deck 5.

A few days after Roland’s arrival, Enginseer Libram meets with the Lord Captain and the the explorers to inform them that he has lost contact with the salvage team lead by Charles Peskin. This team was tasked with retrieving some Prospero X-3 Distributed Cogitators.

Reviewing the logs reveals that, at first, the salvage team was making regular contact. Then they reported seeing movement and weren’t heard from again. The explorers discuss possible reasons for the loss of contact, including retaliation from the Ocaturian Dynasty (the people they re-stole the engine from in 01-03 Picking up the Pieces).

After getting their list of supplies and personnel loaded into the Aquila Lander, the explorers set off for Check Station K-273, a required stop before heading toward the salvage belt. At first, the check station appears dark and empty, but after poking around for a few moments, the lights in the small hab-unit flicker to life. A more-machine-than-man quadruped unfolds itself from an alcove and scuttles toward the party. Tech Magos Volkmar begins rattling off statistics about the explorers standing before him, including that Erata’s body temperature is two degrees above normal and suggests that she seek medical attention.

The explorers question him about the ship Peskin was sent to, recent visitors, etc. The tech magos warns them that there is a 30% casualty rate for salvage teams that visit the Righteous Intent, but little information of use to the explorers.

The journey to the Intent is without incident and, other than some minor battle damage to the exterior, nothing else indicates why the ship is in the salvage belt. All of the large pieces (engines, bridge, macro batteries) have already been pulled off. The explorers dock in the open fighter bay where the salvage team’s shuttle was parked. There are no signs of battle on the inside, but the pilot who had been relaying messages is nowhere to be found.

With a review of the logs, the explorers realize that the pilot was claiming to Peskin that he was relaying the messages but, in fact, hadn’t been. The other messages (which hadn’t been sent) reported seeing some strange damage and other eerie things.

Once they cross the threshold of the Intent, Erata and Janus have an odd sensation. It proves to be slow-going through the ship as the auspex keeps reporting movement, but no actual visual confirmations. Using Psynicience, Janus investigates the psychic impressions of the various things that are out of place and receives conflicting results. From the things he is investigating, he gets some strange emotions like boredom and humor, but in addition to that he is made privy to some whacked-out visions. Out of place stuff includes:

  • A clawed-open bulkhead
  • A magboot with a foot still inside and still has a battery charge
  • Bloody hand prints and a room full of red leading toward a vent shaft
  • A mass of auspex returns

While weird visions/scenes include:

  • Ship crew fighting among themselves
  • Ship chaplain bleeding from numerous wounds being taunted by an unseen baritone voice
  • Ship chaplain burning heretics while they screamed (one is still laughing as he burns)
  • Talking to two past versions of Peskin at the same time

As they approach their destination, the explorers are attacked by some servo skulls. One suicide bomber servo skull is shot out of the sky while several others equipped with las pistols start taking pot shots at everyone. With the explorers distracted, a servo skull with a bear trap swoops down from the ceiling and clamps onto one of the Mortressan’s arms.

Erata cauterizes the wound with fire, but Annatolla has Hob sever the arm since the Mortressan’s void suit is still leaking. Erata cauterizes the new wound and they patched the hole in the suit before he exploded from decompression.

GM Note:
I kept rolling toughness tests and this poor redshirt wanted to LIVE! He wound up surviving the ordeal.

A few times during the trip, Erata and Janus made little snippy comments at each other (despite the tech magus’s warning against party conflict). Annatolla defused the situations with calm, reassuring comments of her own. At one point, Hob goes to investigate something and Annatolla offers to come with and protect him, much to the snickering of the other Mortressans as she stood on her tiptoes to pat Hob on the shoulder reassuringly. Throughout the journey, Annatolla’s reciting of the litanies of faith plus her tiny frame coupled with her complete lack of fear is reassuring to the group.

Suddenly, the explorers find themselves under gunpoint by some cultists, a tech priest, and a witch. The witch screams, “Hold your fire! I’d like to…” and loses consciousness. The following scene unfolds (narrated by the GM and the PC Hob):

“Annatolla,” Hob whispers.

Anna slowly turns to face him.

Hob shoves his power sword through her chest, the blade sticking out of her back. She places her small hand on his chest to keep her balance. Blood spills out of her mouth as she weakly says, “Hob?”

“Do you honestly think I have anything to fear from an already damned priestess of the corpse god?” Hob says with hateful contempt. “Now…shut up!”

Hob pushes Anna off his blade and she crumples to the floors in a heap, clutching at the growing crimson stain on her chest.

Hob turns to Janus. “Can you feel it? I know some of you can appreciate the power that flows so strongly here.”

Hob looks at Erata. “Perhaps you would let me show you how powerful you can truly be without the restrictions of your petty Emperor? But the rest of you weak-minded grox…you dare to profane this sacred site and disrupt what we have been working to achieve for so long? I’m afraid this cannot be allowed. No, not when we’re this close to revelation. Your blood will serve as the final offering!”

Hob throws away his sword, and the witch’s staff flying to his outstretched hand obediently.

GM Note:
Hob monologued for a solid minute and a half while the players stared slack-jawed at the goings on. Only at the very end of Hob’s speech did the player of Janus start sputtering, “No! No! I want to do something! I contend that he couldn’t be talking for all that time without any of us doing anything!” To which I replied, “He kind of just did.” :) I did give Janus a half action to do something before the shit hit the fan since he did speak up. Also, the player of Hob really hammed the speech up, bravo, sir, bravo.

As Annatolla bleeds out on the floor, Erata decides to start making her way toward the doctor to help. Janus screams out, “Kill the witch! Ignore Hob!” and combat commences. Grenades are lobbed, firebolts are slung, and enemies are compelled to attack one another.

Hob bats away the melta pistol aimed at his head, which is the only weapon that can be considered a serious threat to him. The witch appears to have some kind of forcefield absorbing most of the incoming damage, as Hob maneuvers himself between Annatolla and Erata. Since some enemies are already on fire, Erata uses her Sculpt Flame ability to spread the flame across all of the enemies. Roland is lit up with some autofire from a lasgun while Erata’s leg is sliced from ankle to thigh. Despite this, Erata makes her way over to Annatolla and cauterizes her chest wound.

Meanwhile, utilizing the zero-G environment, Roland leaps into the air and blows the witches head off with some well-aimed bolt pistol fire. Hob takes one more swipe at Janus but misses. The tech priest shoots at Janus shouting, “Get out of my head!” but Hob steps between the two men and the shot plinks harmlessly off his power armor. The tech priest uses Ferric Lure to grab the melta pistol from the air, but Janus Compels him to take his own life.

The tech priest starts sweating as his shaking arm slowly brings the pistol up, all the while yelling, “No! No!” The explorers still shoot at the tech priest, with Erata setting him on fire before the melta can make it to his temple. Finally he pulls the trigger and, BLAM!, no more heretek.

Combat ends, and the explorers start tending to the wounded. Hob begins growling and screaming in a rage-like frenzy before sprinting toward the still-burning witch. Ripping her corpse limb-from-limb and stomping her remains into the deck plating. Everyone else averts their eyes while Hob works it out of his system.

Searching through the remains, the explorers find a black, leather-bound tome. Roland opens it up to peruse its contents and picks up a few corruption points for his trouble. Unwilling to physically carry the corrupt artifacts, they put the book and the witch’s staff in a footlocker and tether it behind them.

Pressing on, the explorers discover a perfectly cubed chamber. Metal surgical tables with victims trapped in are spread throughout the room. Seven of the beds are occupied, while two remain empty. Yes, this cube has 9 sides on the inside… The victims have their arms strapped down and an IV needle inserted into the back of their hands. Each time their heart beats, a drop of blood leaves their body, floating in the zero-G of the room.

The explorers notice thousands of blood droplets floating in the air and as they watch, the droplets make minor changes in their trajectory. In the very center of the chamber is a sphere of blood two meters across, undulating menacingly. The explorers decide to get the survivors and get the hell out of there, wedging the doors open as they go. Somehow, they still have the presence of mind to grab the cogitators the salvage team had originally come for.

As they walk through the arboretum of the Intent, the explorers experience memories of a fight they had participated in (but that was not actually played through). Once the survivors are clear, they blow a hole into the glass roof of the arboretum and send bodies, debris, and a column of blood shooting out into space.

The explorers weld the footlocker to the bottom of their shuttle, since none of them wanted to claim the evil artifacts at the check station. On their way to the Hymn the shuttle pilot receives orders to burn hard, so the pilot picks up the pace and safely delivers everyone safely back home.

When they arrive, they find the Lord Captain, Malakai, and Annatolla’s medical staff awaiting their arrival The wounded are whisked away to the newly installed surgical ward, with the exception of Annatolla. Captain Shilwulf, Malakai and, upon request, Hob climb into one of the shuttles and they flew off.

GM Note:
At this point the player of Janus started singing “Old Yeller” and then said, “I love you, you mangy old dog!” BLAM! But that’s not what happened.

A few hours later they return, Hob still in one piece and Annatolla delivered to the medicae ward. Currently the wounded stand at:

  • Roland Shilwulf – staying for 1-2 days
  • Erata – staying for 4-8 weeks
  • Stumpy the Mortressan – staying for 3-7 weeks
  • Peskin – staying for 4-8 weeks
  • (3) tech guys – staying for 4-8 weeks
  • Annatolla – staying for 1-2 weeks

Next, the explorers plan to head to the shrine world to have the hexagramic wards repaired in addition to having a shrine to the Emperor installed just under the bridge.

Post Mortem:

The scene of Hob getting possessed by the witch, stabbing Annatolla, and Hob going into a speech while she slowly bled out has been my crowning achievement as a Game Master. Hob, the twinked out combat monkey in his newly acquired Power Armour getting possessed was a real oh-shit moment for the players. The combat was hectic and exciting. I kept rolling for blood-loss on Annatolla each round (rolling a 1 on a d10 and she’d die).

There was a second oh-shit moment when the tech priest got his hands on the floating melta-pistol, but that turned out terrible for him when Janus mind-controlled him into taking his own life. And everyone else got a chance to shine in the combat too. Erata saved Annatolla’s life and she also set the majority of the people ablaze. Roland leaped over the barrier in zero-G and put the killing round into the witch. My best game ever.

Next Session: 01-05 Stealing is Bad – Restealing is Okay

01-04 Hob Gone Wild

The Shilwulf Dynasty Eck Eck