20110622

The Enemy Without

Approximately 42 days ago...

In the damp and dripping ruins of an abandoned comms tower on Tenebrae Quintus, Jaques Bishop impassively listened to a man who was neither there, nor entirely a man.

"Are you quite finished?"

The holo-figure glared but remained silent.

"It is not a matter of betrayal. You were greedy, you delayed, and you were noticed. It is as simple as this."

"We did not delay! The trader argued over payment-"

"Come now, it took you five hours to convince the man the pebbles in his hand were worth more than the figure you planted in his mind? Tsk, tsk. I know you know that I too am gifted as you are - I am aware of everything from the moment you loaded the cryo-stores."

The glowing figure looked murderous and sullen beneath his cowl.

"If the Ordo are aware - and I assure you they are, I still have loyal servants within after all - then Van Saar and the other Istvaanite crones who support him will already be on their way, and our business is already concluded. I told you that this would be the consequence if-"

"You know our resources are vast and powerful, Inquisitor. The work will proceed regardless, the Hive will-"

"No. Your Hive fleet is on the other side of the sector, with a great many space marines in between. But you may do as you please if you think you can survive the attentions of the Ordo."

Bishop flicked the holo-comm off, the cowled figure vanished.

"Goodbye, magus."

High above, entirely unnoticed by the sentry drones and the remote-scanners, something watched in the dark.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Inquisitor Faith, Ordo Xenos
Two years ago a friend of mine was getting married and at his stag do (best man yo) it turned out that a couple of his other friends also played space hulk. One of them arranged to play a campaign between the five of us which was just enormous fun and just great to pick up the game again after many years absence. As is turning out to be almost uncontrollable I immediately had an urge to create a campaign of my own and this is the result - my very first homebrew!

Only it does show a bit.... :(

I really wanted to do two things - I wanted to try out the "Unseen Enemy" rules from the citadel journal (one player doesn't know the map and has to explore it as he goes), and I wanted to give the players new forces entirely, not just more marines.

The first point became kind of problematic for all kinds of reasons. Flamers don't work nearly as well because you don't have the ammo to waste blocking junctions which may or may not be there and you can't afford not to block a section which will kill you if it does turn out to be a junction. In the end I went for a combination of introducing flares and a version of flamers closer to the SHv2 rules. Flares went down well with the group (including a comedy moment where a guardsmen hurled a flare directly into the door which turned out to be a square in front of him), but they hated the flamer rules almost as much as they hated them in SHv2. Personally I loathe the over-simplicity and lack of realism that the v1/v3 rules have but you gotta go with the crowd pleaser right? I'll post up my version of the "In the Dark" rules in the near future for anyone interested. Overall the "In the Dark" part was great fun though and something I might come back to given a chance.

The second point neatly segued into Inquisition forces and all the wonderful variety they have at their disposal - not to mention the wonderful modelling opportunities. I'll come back to this in future, but again I went with a set of rules which was overly detailed and character focussed but lacked simple playability and ended up being too disruptive with the learning curve. The version I've posted does away with that in favour of some stream lining.

And then there was one other major problem. The finale.

As the campaign designer you want to have the big dramatic showdown, you want all the players involved, and you want a certain amount of ...EPIC. It's a trap! We spent as much time playing the last mission as the four before it. Big maps are an absolute time killer, as are high numbers of models on the table, and I was also guilty as GM of not controlling the flow and playing the gribblies too hard, but what I din't learn that time and what I have since learned after my secodn campaign is that the number one time killer is having too many players. It's a deal-breaker for me not to have everybody playing the boss level but just like in actual military missions polite consideration and discussion amongst the principals just gets everyone killed. You need to have a firm commanding hand, and you need decisions to get made snappily. I still don't have a fully formulated solution to this but I'm working on it.

So what did I learn?
  • Keep things simple. Try and paint the background characterisation in one rule, not two.
  • Give people what they want. Work with expectation, bend it don't break it.
  • Don't ever, ever, try to have more than a dozen "marines" in play at once, and don't ever try to build a map with every board section you own.
If you want to do me the honour of taking a look or even trying it yourself, the campaign resources can be found on the rules page here.

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