Chapter 2: Lost Hope | Inquisitor battle report | Scenario 5

This is the second Chapter mission of the Crown of Bones Inquisitor campaign, where three warbands clash in the lost colony of Fengel’s Hope. All are pursuing leads to the Crown of Bones, some picked up from their investigations on the Ius Soli. One warband has beaten the others to the area and has laid a cunning trap…

This is fifth scenario in the campaign, the others being Annex side missions like last week’s Silent Choir. The stakes are higher in Chapter missions, as it costs a precious Resource to buy in to the scenario. Fail too many Chapter missions, and your warband might lose its place in the finale for control of the Crown of Bones…

Setting the scene

Two Inquisitorial warbands are investigating an abandoned mining colony, conveniently ‘lost’ from all records, while a third warband lies in wait.

Archival data on the colony is scant at best. It is around a three decades old, predating the House Dacien cataclysm and the subsequent wholesale excavation of artifacts. It acted as a forward base for a chartered mining expedition for a Guilder called Foreman Fengel mining a rich seam of valuable ore, being profitable but otherwise unexceptional. Now, it is long abandoned.

The Inquisition are searching the colony as a result of their investigations on the Ius Soli. Something terrible happened in that cargo hold involving some agents of the Lucile Dynasty and House Dacien, and the only lead was a cargo manifest pointing to these coordinates. Perhaps a pick-up point for an alien artifact, or a front for a secret House Dacien base?

Dust squalls: Wind howls across Gehanna’s innumerable wastelands, and dust storms are frequent. All negative modifiers to ranged attacks are doubled, and Initiative checks are required to spot anyone over 24″ away. The tempestuous weather muffles sounds too, and all hearing distances are reduced by half.

Similar to Chapter 1, there are five pieces of evidence scattered across the map:

  1. The radar dish
  2. The exterior walls of every hab
  3. The central vox intenna (along with the Bonus Resource)
  4. The statues marking the entrance of the compound
  5. The interior of every hab

Characters had to be close enough to investigate each area and perform a relevant check (usually Sagacity) to collect the evidence. Gather more than half the evidence and it’s mission complete!

The warbands

Explicator Stigg has been studying the ship logs recovered from Von Horne on Skathi. They paint a picture of Novator Hypatos, the mouthpiece of House Dacien, and his movements before he died during an artifact exchange on the Ius Soli. This abandoned colony was Hypatos’ last known location.

Stigg is accompanied by his accomplice Rogue Trader Phaelon and one of Phaelon’s more unusual crewmates, a purple Ork called Morado.

From left to right: Rogue Trader Phaelon, Explicator Stigg, Morado, and Morado’s cyber-squig Gnasher

Inquisitor Holt’s warband makes a return from last episode, now with a bee in his bonnet about the entire affair, along with trusted compatriots Father Patroneus and Cultist Grapthar.

Holt had been contacted by Mistress Dacien, heir apparent to the Dacien throne and direct rival of Silvius Dacien. She tries to convince Holt that Silvius is duping him into engaging in petty squabbles with other inquisitors and unwittingly destroyed evidence of Silvius’s misdeeds at the Astropathic Spire.

She appreciates that Holt has no reason to trust her, but he can trust the evidence of his own eyes. She gives Holt the location of Fengel’s Hope, pointing in particular to the black box of the vox-antenna where all of Silvius’ dirty secrets will be kept.

As a final parting gift, she tells Holt to be wary of any pit fighters he encounters – some of the House Dacien labour force have been infiltrated by a Chaos cult lead by a gang of off-world pit fighters.

From left to right: Father Patroneus, Inquisitor Holt, Cultist Grapthar

Thanks to Crowblade’s warband‘s thriving infiltration of the House Dacien workforce, they have been contacted by a “mysterious benefactor” high up in the House Dacien food chain with an impossibly delicious offer: perform a simple black box switcheroo at the lost colony of Fengel’s Hope and be rewarded with the location of the Crown of Bones.

Owing to their success on the Ius Soli, Crowblade was able to reach the colony before the other warbands and switch the black box in the vox antenna for one provided by the mysterious benefactor before the game had even started. Now he simply had to play the part of goofy guardian, put up just enough of a fight, and escape once the dummy black box had been stolen.

From left to right: Karith, Schipka, Crowblade, Memotong

Both Inquisiton warbands could deploy anywhere near the periphery of the colony, and Crowblade could hold his warband back and deploy anywhere after the other two had set up. This is largely in the interest of speeding things up, as the first few rounds of a game are usually just spent walking towards the objective.

Explicator Stigg chose to deploy entirely behind the far hab, which has a door on both sides for easy infiltration into the compound.

Holt and Patroneus deployed at the entrance to the compound, with Grapthar crawling underneath a broken piece of fence at the far end to set up behind some barrels.

Crowblade split his warband in two. Both pit fighters loitered near the vox-antenna (with the dummy black box) and Crowblade and Karith set up near the radar dish hab to better observe what was about to unfold.

Game on

Holt and Patroneus approach the colony with apprehension. He had commanded Grapthar to skirt the periphery and cover their approach from a concealed vantage point, but was realising he might have used too many long words and had lost the cultist in the dust storm.

The colony of Fengel’s Hope was long abandoned. Despite the squall howling around them, the air in the compound was still, and dust hung in the air like it was trapped in amber.

An uneasy feeling clotted in his stomach. He glanced at Patroneus, who gave a small nod back. He felt it too. The deep stain left by the lightest touch of the warp.

As he squinted through the haze, he noticed some deep wounds gouged into the statues that marked the entrance to the compound. They were strange – heavy and uneven, perhaps made by some beast or vehicle accident, but no tracks or evidence of collision. (Holt picked up evidence 4 straight off the bat)

The marks continued along the corners and window frames of the hab blocks, and as Holt’s eyes followed them they settled on a figure appearing through the particulate.

A pit fighter!

He ducked behind cover, signalling Patroneus to follow suit, to observe and plan their next move.

Crowblade was agitated – something in the area was deeply unsettling him. He had felt this before, back on the corpse barge, but it was stronger now. Whatever it was had happened here more recently.

He tried pacing to keep occupied, but the wait was agonising. The sooner some Imperial lapdogs arrived to steal the wrong thing, the sooner he could leave.

Explicator Stigg pushed himself into a nook on the hab’s exterior to shield himself from the wind. The dust penetrated everything.

The Ork was keeping close to the ground, his elaborate optical headset can’t have been helping against these conditions, but he wore it anyway. The Rogue Trader hovered about like a fly on groxdung, eager to be ‘allowed’ to go poking around where he wasn’t supposed to.

If Stigg’s old master could see the company he kept these days, he wasn’t sure if he’d congratulate him or kill him. He let slip a mirthless chuckle.

“What is it?” Phaelon asked. He was a racing dog waiting for the starting gun. Stigg ignored him and moved the conversation on.

“You,” he pointed to Morado, then up to a nearby rocky outcrop, “Up there. Keep watch. Cover us.” The Ork had a blank look on his face. Stigg was already tired.

“Just.. stop anything from trying to kill us.”

Morado grinned, and in a blink had melted away into the sandstorm. Stigg had to hand it to him – purple Orks really were stealthy.

He produced a small leather box from his overcoat, pressing his thumb to the biocoder to unlock it. Inside is a single sliver of broken mirror, and trapped within is the fragment of a powerful daemonic entity.

Normally the mirror daemon reveals nearby psykers as part of a long-standing bargain with Stigg’s master, but today it was silent. It had pushed itself to the farthest recesses of the shard’s reflection and refused to cooperate. That was telling enough – there is something here that scares daemons.

He returned the leather box to his coat and looked at Phaelon, who was studying Stigg’s face for answers. Stigg said nothing, and poked his head through the entrance of the hab.

It was abandoned, a thin layer of dust coating everything. There was no sign of a struggle though – everything had been carefully packed up. Nobody abandoned this place in a hurry. There was even ore in hoppers next to processing stations. The mines were clearly still profitable, so why was this place abandoned? (Stigg grabs evidence 5)

“It’s empt-” Even as the words left Stigg’s mouth, the Rogue Trader was already pushing past. In a single stride he had touched and fiddled with half a dozen different things in the hab. Stigg sighed.

Memotong span his flail to distract him from boredom. Boss says to wait, so he’ll wait, but why does waiting have to be so boring.

Boss made the plan very clear. Boss says defend the vox-antenna until boss says to stop defending it. But defend it from what? He groaned under his breath, looking around for a distraction.

As if in answer to his prayers he heard a clattering from from a nearby hab, and a shadow move across the window. He jumped into action

“Oi! Whaddya doing? ‘Oo’s in there?” He bellowed at the hab window, loud enough for everyone in the compound to hear.

Fro the corner of his eye he spots another two figures peering through the dust, this time from behind some nearby pipes. He could barely contain the smile on his face as he raised his flail in accusation.

“An’ you too! ‘Oo a’ you?”

“I am Inquisitor Aubray Holt, here on official business. Identify yourself!”

Memotong gestures wildly with his flail. “Never ‘eard of you. Boss says no-one’s allowed ‘ere… so YOU’RE not allowed ‘ere.”

Holt steps forwards slowly and purposefully. “Stand down. This is your only warning.”

Stigg could hear some shouting from outside the hab. He figured Phaelon had been made, as he was making exaggerated attempts to be stealthy past all the windows. He heard the respondant, a booming authoritative voice claiming to be an Inquisitor named Holt. He’d never heard the name before, so clearly not from the local Conclave. The Crown of Bones must be bigger than he thought to attract outside attention.

He sidled up to the hab window to get a closer look.

Meanwhile, Morado had scaled the rocky outcrop with ease and had pulled himself to a peak that overlooked the compound.

He could hear shouting between two humans he didn’t recognise, but he was far more interested in a target directly below him. A hunched individual carrying a massive shoota, he was absolutely Target Priority One.

Morado shuffled closer to the edge, drawing his blade, and fantasizing about the most elaborate way he could carry out his orders to defend his employer. After all, the best form of defence…

Distracted, his footing slipped.

Grapthar pulled himself as upright as he could, his arms covered in painful cuts and scrapes from crawling through the perimeter fence. He squinted through the dust and could make out a few figures that weren’t his boss.

He grinned. Anyone who wasn’t the Inquisitor was fair game. He propped his heavy stubber on the barrels nearby and overwatched the two pit fighters.

If this goes well, he thought to himself, he’ll treat himself to another couple of crawls through that fence.

Some rocks fell by his feet, tumbling down from the outcrop behind him. Strange…

But no! This was clearly an insidious distraction by the Ruinous Powers to keep him from carrying out his mission. (He passed his Leadership test by an absurd amount to stay on-task of protecting his Inquisitor!)

Grapthar squinted down the sights, lining up the pit fighters perfectly…

Father Patroneus was furious. A thick vein bulged on his temple as he strode towards the blasphemous pit fighter.

“How DARE you question the Inquisitor’s authority? He is the WORD and FIST of the God-Emperor of Mankind!” Hand picked to root out and destroy heresy in all its forms, and wherever it may lie! Death is too good an end for a blasphemer like you!”

Memotong shrugged “Never ‘eard of ‘im. Boss says ‘e’s not allowed ‘ere, so ‘e’s not allowed ‘ere. Not you, not yer mate,” he gestured wildly at the hab block “and ‘oever you’ve got in there. Schipka!”

As summoned, the other pit fighter lumbered around the base of the vox-antenna to see what’s going on, stup pistol raised.

Holt raised an eyebrow at the prospect of a third party in the hab.

“Your boss is of no consequence,” Holt continued, walking forwards. “I have demanded you move, but you have not. Grapthar! Release!”

The roar of Grapthar’s heavy stubber, overlaid with his maniacal cackle, rips through the compound.

Memotong and Schipka are sprayed with hot lead and both dive for cover, but not before Schipka takes a few grazing rounds to his extremities. Schipka’s stub pistol goes sailing from his hand, falling in the dust nearby.

Crowblade had been listening to every exchange, using the southern hab as cover to get closer. As he watched high velocity rounds rip into his minions, he thought it was perfect cover to slip through the window of the hab.

Through the doorway he watched the cultist howl with excitement as he hosed the pit fighters with bullets. Crowblade readied his sword.

At the other end of the compound, Karith had worked his way into the radar dish hab and was keeping an eye on Inquisitor Holt and his priestly friend.

With the sound of automatic fire rippling across the compound, Karith took the opportunity to squeeze off a few shots at the Inquisitor. He loved sticking the knife in and slipping away, and this was the perfect moment for some delicious mayhem.

Phaelon didn’t want to miss out on the excitement. Gunfire was erupting all across the compound, and from his estimation he had the perfect run at the heavy stubber nest.

He could follow the fence round to the right, the barrels perfectly blocking the view of the gunner. Charging an emplaced heavy weapon using only hits wits and his sword, how daring!

He couldn’t resist twirling his moustache at the thought. He broke cover, leaving the hab behind him, and began making his way towards grapthar.

He barely took a few steps from the doorway when a streak of purple fell from the heavens. His heart sunk.

Morado whispered a small Waaagh under his breath and leapt, dagger raised.

He stumbled, catching his foot, and fell dramatically from the outcrop. He smashed both his legs on the way down, but with cat-like grace managed to twist his body so his weapon found its mark.

It plunged straight into the back of Grapthar’s neck, and Grapthar’s now lifeless body cushioned Morado’s fall.

It was an ambush! Holt wasn’t sure who was ambushing whom, but it was clear they’d walked into a trap. With gunfire coming in from every angle, he pressed himself against the base of the vox-antenna to take stock of the situation.

The heavy stubber fire had abated, but another gunman was keeping them pinned from a hab to the south. The auto-reader on Father Patroneus’ tome was already flipping the pages to the correct hymns of fury, and the preacher was belting out litanies to anyone within earshot.

The two pit fighters were rolling around on the ground, so Holt took his chance. He clambered up the ladder on the base of the vox-antenna, aiming to grab the black box of vox-data he knew was at the top.

Sensing a break in the gunfire, Stigg stepped from the hab. His head is on a swivel, keeping both eyes open for any more ambushers.

He noticed the exterior walls of the habs are all covered in messages painted in miners’ cant. They all seemed to be warnings or messages to the lost. “Gavinda, if you are reading this, we have returned to the estate. Saints guide you.” “A cursed place, do not enter” and “The temple should have stayed buried”. The colonists seemed convinced the mine at Fengel’s Hope was haunted. (Evidence 2 scooped up by Stigg as the bullets fly)

Both pit fighters were still scrabbling around in the dust, trying to hunker up near any sort of cover. He spotted a powerful-looking figure climbing the vox antenna, and made a safe assumption.

“Inquisitor Holt!” He yelled, “I am Explicator Stigg. I’ve been investigating here for some time – I don’t know your intentions, but I’ve been gathering evidence on an ongoing mission. Either vacate the area so I can continue unabated, or state how you will further the Inquisition’s mission with your actions.”

“How DARE you!” Father Patroneus shrieked, “How DARE you insult his lordship by questioning his actions! You don’t DESERVE to be in his presence! You are scum! Less than scum! You have no authority here!”

The preacher’s power sword fizzes and sparks from the atmospheric dust as he bore down on the Explicator and Rogue Trader, who now found themselves caught out in the open.

Morado had pulled his atoms back together and removed the dagger from Grapthar’s head. It all seemed to be kicking off in the centre, with even more humans and even more shouting.

He figured the safest place to lay low would be the nearby hab. There he could watch the carnage unfold and plan his next ambush.

Unbeknownst to him Crowblade had similar ideas, and had secreted himself just outside the hab. It was time to ambush the ambusher, just as planned….

The wind was knocked from Phaelon’s sails. Seeing Morado (at least, he assumed the angry purple blur was Morado) take down his intended target in such an impressive manner was a little deflating for the Rogue Trader.

Stigg was busy yelling at someone about something, and Phaelon was scanning the remaining combatants for signs of action.

One of the pit fighters had begun to recover and was reaching for his stub pistol on the floor. Not on my watch!

“Gnasher, fetch!” He swashbuckled with his sword in the direction of the pit fighter, who was now scrambling to his knees in a panic.

The mechanical creation bounded from the hab, pistons hissing and metal jaws chomping.

Phaelon drew his archeotech pistol in the other hand and pointed it at the other pit fighter to his left.

“Don’t move a muscle.” He said. Imagining how he looked to other people, a smile crept across his face.

Holt doggedly ignored everything around him and continued his mission, climbing the ladder to the vox-antenna. He could hear this so-called Stigg demanding fealty from the ground.

“I have complete authority to fulfil my mission in this sector!” Stigg commanded, “I request yourself or your master come and parley over what you’ve found in this supposedly abandoned location, or am I supposed to treat you as a risk to my mission?”

Holt arrived at the summit, and begun flicking switches and hitting panels looking for the black box release.

“Your needs are of no concern,” Holt responded, feeling around underneath the console “Stay out of our way and there will be no altercations.”

Crowblade wasn’t quite sure what he was looking at. It appeared Orkish, but the purple hue threw him off. Perhaps some kind of mutant? No matter. The creature was staring out the window and hadn’t heard him approach.

Crowblade thrust his sword into Morado’s thigh. He yelped in surprise more than pain, as pink-blue flames burst from the warrior’s blade and engulfed his midriff.

Morado staggered backwards, batting away Crowblades overhead swings and desperately trying to douse the unnatural flames.

Crowblade was impressed. This creature was both tolerant to flame, and a surprising swordsman. He could test his duelling mettle. Just as planned…

Stigg was asessing his options from the ground. This Inquisitor Holt character wasn’t playing ball, but he wasn’t actively shooting at him, so that was a positive.

“I will continue to secure the area,” Stigg shouted, turning round to look at Phaelon and Memotong, who had his hand and eviscerator raised in mocking surrender, “I hope whatever you find you’ll share for the betterment of us both.”

Stigg produces a set of magnacles from his coat and brandishes them at Memotong. “You’re coming with us.”

The pit fighters’ eyes glaze over, and his muslces twitch uncontrollably. The auto-injector roulette built into his spine had activated from some unseen signal, and the pit fighters were getting their random dose of combat drugs.

Schipka on the floor had been wrestling with Gnasher and suddenly found himself injected with Spur. With his newfound Initiative and Speed, he was able to throw Gnasher off and run for the hills, disappearing into the dust.

Memotong’s dose was less kind. He took a heavy hit from Barrage, doubling all his physical stats, and putting him to the top of the Speed order.

In his frenzy, he smashed Stigg’s magnacles aside and lunged at Phaelon. He fired in panic but the shot went wide, and Memotong brough his screaming eviscerator to bear.

Phaelon managed to get his sword up in time to parry, but the pit fighter’s sudden explosion of speed means he missed the back swing, and the eviscerator tore into his arm. The teeth of the eviscerator found purchase on his sword and span it high in the air, preventing the worst of the damage to the Rogue Trader’s arm.

Phaelon wasn’t taking any chances, and while the pit fighter was busy slavering and posturing, he leapt through the window on the nearby hab for cover.

Using the carnage as a distraction, Holt finally pulled the black box free from its hidey-hole and slid down the ladder, calling to Patroneus to leave (Grabbing evidence 3). The heavy stubber shooting had stopped, so he wasn’t sure what had happened to Grapthar, but he was sure they’d find him again after the dust had settled.

Crowblade slipped away from Morado, the dancing flames becoming too much of a distraction to fight him properly. The black box had been correctly stolen, just as planned, so it was time to retreat before any further casualties were sustained.

Crowblade slinked away into the dust storm, sending a telepathic message to his followers to do the same. As suddenly as he turned violent, Memotong simply downed weapons and sprinted off into the engulfing ash.

Stigg was left stunned. Phaelon came out of hiding, and a burning Morado tumbled out of a far hab to extinguish himself on the dusty floor. The abandoned colony was abandoned again. What had just happened?

The aftermath

This game was sadly cut short due to time, just at the moment that the pit fighters activated their combat drugs! We could squeeze in one turn of combat before calling it a night, and narrating the rest of the events based on how things went.

Luckily by this point everyone had achieved what they’d set out to, so we didn’t need to resolve any other conflicts.

Holt evacuated with the dummy black box, which contained lots of fabricated messages implicating Mistress Dacien in a series of kidnappings. Holt’s experts concluded that it was fake, meaning Holt had been stitched up twice by House Dacien. What will he do next?

Stigg’s warband were left with the site to themselves, so they could examine all the evidence at their leisure. They discovered a databank that would have stored all the vox and pict recordings of the original dig site when the colony was set up 30 years ago – they had been recently downloaded and wiped clean. More evidence of a coverup!

Crowblade successfully performed the switcheroo and returned to his House Dacien contact for payment – the location to the Crown of Bones. Perfect. Just as planned…

The scores

Holt managed to snag three pieces of evidence (claw marks on the statues, graffiti on the walls, the vox antenna) and even figured out the data on the black box he stole was planted, earning his victory 2 Resources a bonus Resource.

Stigg’s warband was left on the field, so had plenty of time to examine the lost colony after the game had ended. He gathered enough evidence during the game to earn his 2 Resources, but managed to paint a bigger picture of what happened here.

Crowblade’s plan worked perfectly – the box was stolen and evacuated before anyone knew he was there. 2 Resources all round!

the wrap-up

A very fun game to run, with a good mix of roleplaying, violence, and intrigue. Crowblade’s player gets a special mention – he was so committed to the con that he used Crowblade and Karith to ‘gather’ evidence as the game went on, convincing the other players he was after the same thing as them!

The biggest factor was, is, and always will be, Time. We started a bit later than intended and had a particular cut-off point that loomed just as we got into the action. Other than tapping my watch impatiently as players mull over early game actions, I have three plans to keep games on-schedule:

  1. Set a framework: If we take an average turn with 6-12 models on the board as being about 30 minutes, and we have three hours to play a game, state before the game starts we’ll get about 6 turns before we wrap up. Resolve your conflicts (violent or otherwise) before then!
  2. Reverse Initiative deployment: Don’t set warbands up in the corners and make their first few turns walking. Allow characters to deploy anywhere on the board, starting with the slowest character on the Initiative list. You can briefly narrate how your heavy weapon thug climbed up to a sniper’s nest before the game started, but was spotted by a rival minion who has snuck up to the base of the ladder… Plenty of scope to dive straight into the action when the game starts!
  3. No fighty, no dicey: No dice are rolled until there’s conflict to resolve. Everyone performs all their actions and passes all their tests until there is a confrontation, whether that’s taking a shot, or rolling off to snatch the glowing orb.

I’ve been using the Reverse Initiative system successfully in most of my games now (hence Grapthar setting up on the opposite end of the compound from his warband), but I’ll encourage players to get more creative with it. As for the other plans, watch this space!

The story is properly unfolding now. The warbands have all encountered one another, and some rivalries are beginning to develop. This helps the above problem too, as less of the game is spent finding out what everyone’s up to.

Something big and terrible happened in the mine around the lost colony, enough to abandon it long ago. But someone seems to have gone poking around in it and hidden the evidence… Who could that have been?

Previous scenario

The Silent Choir | Inquisitor battle report | Scenario 4

This is the fourth instalent of the Crown of Bones Inquisitor campaign, and it’s another annex mission (similar to last week’s Sundown on Skathi) between two new warbands in the campaign lead by rival Inquisitors.

In this scenario, both warbands are looking for the source of the encrypted message that catalysed the Crown of Bones investigation, and they have traced it to an abandoned astropathic spire in the middle of nowhere. They quickly realise the spire isn’t as abandoned as they’d hoped…

Bottom left: the encrypted message in question
setting the scene

Both warbands are looking for an astropathic spire in the dusty hinterlands of Gehanna, far beyond the walls of the House Dacien estate. It is the original source of Navigator Silvius’ distress message to the conclave, and the astropathic matrix inside the spire will likely hold more clues to the investigation.

However, a gang of thugs belonging to the crooked Lucile Rogue Trader Dynasty have already moved in and are looting everything in sight. They’ve not expecting company, but they’re well-armed and have set up defenses in case of surprise visitors.

Dust storm: Wind howls across Gehanna’s innumerable wastelands, and dust storms are frequent. All negative modifiers to ranged attacks are doubled, and Initiative checks are required to spot anyone over 12″ away. The tempestuous weather muffles sounds too, and all hearing distances are reduced by half.

The spire itself is in the middle of nowhere and tall enough to pierce the dust clouds (not pictured, I ran out of building blocks after the first storey). It’s surrounded by the rusting vestiges of supporting structures and strange rock formations.

There are four members of the Lucile thug squad – two on the stairs and balcony, one inside salvaging cables, and one loading servitor named Clamps moving crates onto the truck.

The warbands

Firstly we have a newcomer to the subsector, Inquisitor Aubray Holt, accompanied by his proselytising keeper-of-the-faith Father Sebastian Patroneus. They’re joined by a recent convert to the Imperial Creed, a heavy stubber-weilding cultist named Grapthar.

Holt holds strong Amalathian beliefs – it is the Inquisition’s sacred duty to let nothing threaten the status quo, the holy Imperium as laid out by the Emperor himself, that has lasted across the millennia. These particular beliefs inspired Navigator Silvius to contact him directly, informing him of the astropathic matrix within the spire.

Silvius told Holt of a threat to House Dacien – a radical splinter group lead by heir-apparent Mistress Dacien. Silvius alleges that she is in league with the Lucile Dynasty, getting them to do her dirty work. Silvius believes she is trying to gain access to the matrix so she can fabricate astropathic messages and bring ruin to House Dacien – a vital Imperial institution – and that this is a threat worthy of Holt’s attention.

Given no current reason to suspect anything, Holt’s mission is clear – destroy the astropathic matrix to prevent it falling into enemy hands.

From the left – Inquisitor Holt, Father Patroneus, and Cultist Grapthar

Secondly we have Inquisitor Vanth, a legendary and/or reviled name in this part of the galaxy. He is a radical Xanthite Inquisitor of the Ordo Malleus who has crossed swords with more young righteous upstarts than he can keep track of. He is only saved from the noose by a combination of manipulations, schemes, charisma, and exceptional results.

He is joined by two of his hand-picked bodyguard – the talent field medic Sergeant Honeis and the nigh-unkillable bionic warrior Corporal Topaz.

Vanth considers himself above chasing leads like other investigators. He prefers to go directly to the source and extract everything he needs to know. In this instance, he has tracked the origin of the encrypted distress call and will commune directly with the astropathic matrix.

Using his considerable psychic powers, he plans to scrape the matrix of any psychic residue left by its previous users and capture echoes of messages past. It’ll get him closer to the Crown of Bones, a useful tool in his master plan.

From the left – Sergeant Honeis, Corporal Topaz, Inquisitor Vanth

Vanth and his guard set up at the far end of the board, slightly closer to the spire but with lots of open ground. He’s relying on the dust storm masking their approach.

Holt and his companions deploy at the opposite corner near some structures that Grapthar can use as a vantage point. Holt has plenty of open ground to cover too, but isn’t concerned about masking his approach.

Game on

They had been travelling for hours. With the thick fug of dust and featureless terrain, it was easy to convince yourself you’d been walking on the spot.

Corporal Topaz glanced over at his master Vanth, who was studing his auspex carefully. Almost in response Vanth looked up, drawing the gaze of his two guardsmen to the wall of dust where the sky should be.

As if responding to his master’s will, a black shadow pierced the gloom ahead. A tower in the distance – tall enough to pierce the clouds. This was the spire they were looking for, exactly where Vanth said it would be.

Vanth briefly consulted his auspex again. He sent curt, practised hand signals back to Topaz – five individuals, two of them in patrol pattern. Advance carefully. Attack on his mark only.

Topaz nodded and signalled for Honeis to follow. They pressed ahead through the dust, reaching the base of the spire quickly and quietly.

On the opposite side of the spire, Inquisitor Holt and his team moved into position. Thanks to Navigator Silvius’ tip off, he knew to expect company at the spire.

He ordered Grapthar onto a nearby vantage point to provide cover. He was under strict instructions not to fire until Holt gave the word. Grapthar looked disappointed, but understanding.

Holt had no intention of sneaking around. He was in control of the situation and the spire was rightfully his. He would give these goons an opportunity to walk away, or suffer the consequences.

Father Patroneus beside him had his book of prayers in one hand and power sword in the other. Holt knew he’d been ready for violence from the moment they left, but he still wanted to check as a formality.

“Ready?” Holt asked. Patroneus shot him a look. He was ready.

Holt and Patroneus stride forwards. The dust clouds seem to part around the spire, and they step into the eye of the storm.

There are a handful of salvagers here – two on watch, while a heavily augmented invidual on the ground loads crates onto a truck.

“Looters of the Lucile Dynasty!” Holt booms, “cease your actions and walk away, this is your only warning!”

The looter with the bandana and bionic arm, Rockatansky, points his lasgun lazily at these newcomers.

“We don’t want no bloodshed, but we’re real good at bloodsheddin’.”

The looter in the helmet, Fetch, touches the vox-bead in his ear, speaking in voidcant and alerting the third looter inside the spire. He shoulders his rifle at Holt, and backs up his compatriot.

“That’s right,” Fetch yells, “Walk away old man, this ain’t anything to do with you.” The third looter, Zaal, appears from inside the spire, shotgun raised.

Father Patroneus splutters in outrage. “How dare you raise your weapons at an Inquisitor?”

In response, Holt raises his rosette above his head. “I am Inquisitor Aubray Holt! Your presence here is unsanctified. Remove yourselves or suffer the consequences. This is your only warning.”

With a note of panic in his voice, Rockatansky raises his rifle and shouts back “One more step and I’ll shoot!”

Both holy agents keep striding towards the spire, unphased by the looters’ threats. The Lucile rent-a-thugs seemed to be losing their nerve, it was time to act.

Holt bellowed, cutting through the howling wind. “Grapthar, now!”

Vanth and his team had made excellent progress. Topaz was scouting ahead while Honeis covered the rear. His auspex was reading some kind of congregation on the far side of the spire, but the reading was too obscured by the weather to make sense.

The sound of gunfire penetrates the shrieking gale. Heavy calibre, automatic gunfire. All three of his team instinctively press against the spire, trying to make out its origin.

Topaz and Honeis sweep the horizon with their lasguns while Vanth tries to hone in with his auspex. The machine spirit was not cooperative.

He signalled at his team: We’re not alone – the plan has not changed.

Grapthar’s heavy stubber roars, spitting a stream of lead towards the spire. He rakes it back and forth across the balcony, laughing maniacally, and catching all three Lucile looters in the barrage.

They dive for cover, but not before a searing hot round tears a chunk out of Fetch’s arm. His lasgun goes clattering to the floor, sliding off the balcony and onto the dusty ground below.

Father Patroneus presses the button on his book to auto-turn to the correct page for the ass-whooping he’s about to hand out.

He strides towards the spire under a hail of gunfire, his booming voice drowning out the throaty rattle of Grapthar’s weapon. He invokes Word of the Emperor, venerating faithful service above all else, stunning Rockatansky in his tracks.

“Clamps, get ’em!”

Clamps enters the fray. Clamping his clamps, Clamps charges towards Father Patroneus. He’s sluggish to attack, but he’s more than capable of rending limbs from torsos with a flick of his magnificent squeezers.

Patroneus dodges a few of his clumsy attacks, but can’t land a return blow with his power sword. Holt steps in, his neural whip crackling.

Strike after strike after strike is landed on Clamps, his augmented body shrugging off the damage like rainwater. His unaugmented mind however couldn’t shrug off the bio-electrical discharge from Holt’s neural whip.

His tiny lobotomised brain is overloaded. He goes stiff as a board and topples over, a bluescreen error message flickering in his eyes.

Vanth had been watching this entire exchange from behind cover. He knew every Inquisitor who operated in this region, and this wasn’t one of them.

Topaz was crouched in front of him. He had watched everything too, and had calculated the chance to engage against armour was high. His meltagun was raised.

“It’s considered bad form to melt other Inquisitors,” said Vanth, “So much paperwork.”

Topaz lowered his meltagun.

While this new Inquisitor and his allies were busy dealing with the loader-servitor, Vanth and his team slinked up the stairs. The looter at the top was preoccupied too, and a distracted mind is an unguarded mind.

With little effort, Vanth cast Terrify on Rockatansky. He forced visions of utter dread into the thug’s unprepared psyche, a phantasm of the spire bearing down on him, punishing for something he shouldn’t have stolen. Rockatansky flees in terror, bounding down the stairs and vaulting the railing, sprinting towards the getaway truck.

From his position on the balcony Vanth addresses the newcomers, gauntleted hands resting on the railing.

“Do you require any assistance, Inquisitor Holt?”

Holt turned away from the squirming servitor on the floor to see a robed figure on the balcony above him, flanked by two veteran guardsmen. He’d never met him before, but he’d read about him in many a junior Inquisitor’s final transmissions. The scarred, bald head. The sword that glows with a baleful light. The look of utter arrogance. Inquisitor Vanth.

“Things are in order Vanth,” Holt replied, “I didn’t expect to see you here.”

“Indeed Inquisitor,” Vanth enjoyed making a show of knowing his opponent, even if he only knew them by overhearing their name a few moments ago. “We are here to investigate the source of the distress message, which I and no doubt yourself received. You, unlike the other fools, did not attend the coordinates and instead came straight to the source. Good.”

Holt was on the back foot. Was he being sincere, or is this a trick? He changed tack.

“There was distressing news of looters and I had to get involved.” Holt gestured to the wounded servo-loader on the ground. “Friends of yours?”

“Goodness no. These peons serve the Lucile Dynasty and are of little concern. Do you require any assistance in dispatching them? It seems that one is causing you quite the struggle.”

“A minor concern!” Holt found himself flustered at the veiled insult. The reports were right, he had a way of getting under your skin.

“If there are any more, we shall take care of them.” Vanth spoke in a tone that suggested a teacher disappointed in his pupil. He turned to rejoin his team further along the balcony, moving round the spire and out of sight.

Holt turned round to Father Patroneus, who was still struggling with Clamps. “Are we done?” He spat.

“Duty calls, my lord!” Patroneus responded with a jovial lilt, before plunging his power sword straight through the eye-socket of the malfunctioning Clamps.

Fetch and Zaal took cover inside the spire’s astropathic matrix chamber. Fetch had practically done a lap of the balcony to avoid the gunfire, and Zaal was crawling across the floor clutching a bloody leg.

Exercising some seniority, Fetch relinquishes Zaal of his shotgun. It wasn’t a weapon of choice, especially not in these kind of dusty conditions, but it was better than a broken neck or a rump full of bullet holes trying to retrieve his own weapon.

The shooting stopped, and they could hear the sounds of bravado outside. It seems this stew has another cook. Time to get out of the kitchen.

He poked his head outside the chamber. Both warbands were converging on the spire, but only one of the exits was blocked.

He touched the micro-bead in his ear. “Rockatansky, bring the truck round back. We’re leaving.”

Vanth wasn’t sure what’s Holt’s goals were here, but it was surely to do with the matrix. He needed to get there first.

He quickened his stried and arrived at chamber, just in time to see a pair of figures leave through the opposite doorway. They were immediately followed by a blast of heavy stubber fire from Holt’s gunman.

Good, he thought. The vermin are taking care of each other.

Grapthar clanked up the stairs ahead of his master. He was hopelessly out of breath. The dust was awful in his lungs and his clothes chafed terribly. He was sweaty, tired, and hurt. He was having the time of his life.

His Inquisitor had ordered him to take up a forward position, so he had turbo-hobbled towards the spire during the exchange with vanth. He had finally pulled himself up onto the balcony when he heard a noise next to him.

Two of the looters emerged from inside, one wounded, and he savoured the shocked looks on their faces. He found his second wind immediately, squeezing the trigger on his heavy stubber that was barely even been pointed at them.

He wielded his weapon like someone powerhousing their patio. Heavy calibre rounds exploded off the floor and walls in a deluge of bullets. He wasn’t even sure if he’d hit them.

What he did know is by the time his gun clicked empty they had disappeared, replaced with the sound of an engine speeding away into the storm.

Vanth approached the astropathic matrix. It was cold, despite the baking heat, and covered with a fine layer of dust. Several panels had been prised off and components crudely hacked from the mechanism, but nothing valuable. He could feel its true value – it still hummed with psychic resonance.

He stretched out a hand. Astropathic messages were particularly hard to scry. They communicate in riddles at the best of times. This was like searching for a book in a ruined library with the words scrubbed off the spines.

An irritatingly familiar voice boomed across the chamber. “What are you doing Vanth?”

Holt was standing in the entrance on the far side of the chamber. Vanth could feel the heavy boots of his companions behind him taking up firing positions. He tried not to let Holt hear the irritation in his voice.

“This is the source,” Vanth growled back, “I’m attempting something incredibly delicate. Have you ever accessed such an arcane device before?”

“I’ve had no need,” said Holt with a wry grin, his inferno pistol outstretched, “and nobody will soon!”

The melta beam seared through the matrix, vapourising and liquidising anything it touched in equal measures. There was soon little left except bubbling pools of crystal and fragments of machinery.

Silence. Bated breath.

Both warbands stood across the chamber from each other, weapons levelled, daring the other to fire first.

Vanth broke the quiet with a disappointed sigh. Perhaps there was something still salvageable.

“Was that… necessary, Inquisitor?”

“Yes,” proclaimed Holt, a righteous grin plastered across his face. “To keep the status quo and stability of the Imperium!”

Vanth’s temper was bubbling to the surface. “You understand these arrays are for communication? Without them we can’t possibly operate as an Imperium, let alone find what we’re looking for in this Emperor-forsaken armpit of the sector!”

“Some communications are best not getting out.”

“The communication has already got out!” Vanth retorted. His anger was audible. “And it has caused half the sector’s Conclave to go running after some insane Navigator Household like headless chickens! The damage was already done! At least one of us was trying to mitigate further catastrophe!”

Holt simply smiled. He turned and walked from the chamber, his companions covering their exit. He was happy to leave without bloodshed, and the thought of the infamous Vanth rummaging around in the ruin of Holt’s own making gave him a flutter of pride.

He had done the Imperium a great service today.

The aftermath

In the post-game debrief, we talked about what the Inquisitors would do next. Holt was happy to leave Vanth in control of the spire, as he considered his work complete there.

We reasoned that Vanth wouldn’t give up there, and has utilised every tool in his arsenal to glean what he can from the astropathic matrix. No other warbands were threatening his position there, so he was happy to set up a forward base and study the remnants further.

He discovered that the matrix contained a distress message and timestamp sent by Junior Navigbator Silvius to the conclave, as expected. However, it also contained a myraid of other astropathic communications, their data inexpertly purged.

It apepars that Elder Koronis, the current head of the house, is missing in action. Novator Hypatos, the current heir, had been acting as a mouthpiece. Hypatos hasn’t been heard from in months, ever since he met with representatives from the Lucile Dynasty to make an artifact sale on the ghost ship Ius Soli

The scores

Inquisitor Holt destroyed the matrix, exactly as Silvius requested. He was awarded the Resource for completing his mission.

With some clever roleplay and some excellent Sagacity and Willpower checks made after the game, Vanth was still able to gain some information from the matrix. How he uses that information in the future remains to be seen…

The wrap-up

Some great roleplay with a dash of violence made this scenario one of my favourites yet. We’ve had two ideologically-opposed Inquisitors meet and exchange unpleasantries, and despite the skirmish with the Lucile thugs, neither of the warbands came to blows with each other. Since Holt literally blew up Vanth’s plans in front of him however, they might not be so amicable if they cross paths again in the future.

Holt is going to get a nasty shock when he finds out he’s been played by Silvius…

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Sundown on Skathi | Inquisitor battle report | Scenario 3

This is the third scenario of the Crown of Bones Inquisitor campaign. It’s another Annex mission, similar to Dust-up at Distro-19, and not as plot-critical as Chapter missions like last week’s No Souls On Board.

Despite it being a side-step from the core drama, the moon of Skathi had its fair share of drama. In this scenario, Explicator Stigg and his entourage get a tip-off from a Mayweather Guildmaster and meet him at his secure compound on Skathi to secure the information. Unfortunately for them both, Genetor Vacillus had different plans for the Guildmaster.

Setting the scene

The moon of Skathi is little more than a large asteroid, picked by Mayweather Borers as one of many forward bases around the system. It has a breathable atmosphere, but little in the way of life beyond clusters of spiky plants. The only environmental feature of note is its rapid day-night cycle, meaning sunsets can happen very quickly.

Sunset: Visibility starts at 50″. At the beginning of every round, visibility is reduced by 5″.

The Mayweather compound is a standard pattern – thick walls surrounding functional buildings that can be dropped from orbit. They have to work under all manner of conditions, often against native fauna or local rivals, so armed guards are needed around the clock.

There are three mercenaries present – one by the landing pad to welcome the Explicator, one by the gate, and one on the wall above the gate.

Fortunately for Genetor Vacillus, some routine maintenance is being carried out on an unprotected section of the boundary wall. Some labourers loyal to House Dacien have been planted in the compound. Vacillus knows he’ll be getting help from the House Dacien tracker, but he didn’t know the extent of the setup…

Guildmaster Von Horne is holed up in his private bunker, surrounded by ‘advisors’ and his personal guard. He knows he might not make it through the night and has drunk himself into a stupour, much to the annoyance of his guards.

The shipping logs are contained in a datslate carried by his valet servitor. It’s protected by sensor bafflers and EM shielding, so it can’t be accessed or wiped remotely.

The warbands

Explicator Stigg is back after his run-in with Crowblade’s pit fighters at Distro-19, now with an actual model! He returns with Rogue Trader Phaelon, an uneasy alliance of convenience more than anything else, and one of Phaelon’s crew – an “industrial servitor” called Evee.

Despite what you might suspect, Evee is of course a helpful automaton and not abominable intelligence. Remember, always look for the Aquila.

Explicator Stigg’s arrival is expected by the compound guards, and his goal is to meet up with Guildmaster Von Horne and receive his data in exchange for Stigg’s protection.

From left to right: Explicator Stigg, helpful automaton Evee, and Rogue Trader Phaelon

Genetor Vacillus is on Skathi thanks to the careful pathfinding of his House Dacien tracker, a kroot named Omar Anoke. Vacillus was tipped off to this meeting by a contact inside House Dacien, and for personal security has brought along his prototype arco-flagellant X-206.

Vacillus is planning on stealing the shipping logs for himself. Unfortunately Anoke has orders of his own – silence Von Horne before he can spill his secrets. The shipping logs are supposed to fall into enemy hands…


Vacillus’ warband sets up hugging the outer wall of the compound, near the breach at the edge of the board. They’re expecting to hop through and head straight for the bunker.

Stigg’s warband deploy on the landing pad after being dropped off by shuttle. They’ll have to find an alternate way off the board once they’ve secured the data.

Game on

The sun dips low in the sky. Anoke had been dragging his two charges for some distance, and he was frustrated at how little urgency they seemed to have. He was relieved to be at the compound – he could finally move at his own pace, do the job, and leave.

He gestured at Vacillus to follow him to a breach in the wall. On the other side were two labourers performing some kind of maintenance. Anoke stood in clear sight of them. The welding stopped.

“Ash and bone” he croaked in human-speak.

Without any kind of acknowledgement, they simply downed tools and left. Anoke knew they were off to sabotage the Guildmaster’s escape vehicle, but he’d keep that to himself. Vacillus would only be a liability if he knew Anoke’s real mission.

The shuttle dusted off, leaving Explicator Stigg and his retinue looking a little lost on the landing pad.

“Identification!” Shouted a mercenary in a yellow overcoat.

Stigg flashed his rosette.

“Explicator Stigg. This is Rogue Trader Augustus Phaelon and our faithful automaton Evee. I believe your boss is expecting us.”

Vacillus was surprised at how well orchestrated this infiltration was. The Kroot had only exchanged a few words with these labourers and they immediately left their posts. No matter. They needed to move on the target.

He tapped a few instructions into his datapad. X206 had been hovering behind them near silently, but sparks now snapped from its electro-tentacles as power surged through its body.

With House Dacien’s blueprint data, Vacillus entered target information into X206’s subroutines. X206’s orders were to sneak up on the bunker and await activation.

Swimming through the air like a deep-sea creature, X206 pushed passed the labourers and glided into the compound.

Anoke watched the murderous machine flow through the breach and past the labourers. It moved like something that knew it was at the top of the food chain. He expected Vacillus to show a little restraint with his murderous mechanical companion, but perhaps he midjudged him.

Anoke took up position on a nearby silo, clearing several storeys in a single effortless leap. He checked his weapon and took up position, overwatching the empty stretch of road between the bunker and the escape vehicle.

He watched the electric predator swim lazily towards the bunker. Wasp nest, meet stick.

The guard in yellow whistled a message across the compound, receiving several whistles and hand signals in return. He seemed satisfied at the response, and gestured at Stigg to approach the bunker.

The Guildmaster’s bunker was alive with coloured lights and thumping music, with sounds of merriment coming from inside. The Guilder guards looked particularly angry at this arrangement.

Stigg and Phaelon approached, Evee following behind with surprisingly delicate footsteps. Phaelon stayed outside, making ineffective compliments about the guard’s fashion choices, and Stigg entered.

“Inquisitor!” The Guildmaster roared and threw his hands in the air, knocking over a bottle of something bubbly.

“Explicator.” Stigg corrected to deaf ears.

Von Horne continued, as his ‘advisors’ giggled and fawned. “Come in, come in! I’ve been waiting for you! Come, we have time, pour yourself a drink, we have much to discuss.”

Von Horne reaches for a new bottle, but a guard leans over and plucks it from his grasp. “No sir, we do not have time for another drink.”

X206 had moved into position, finding an open window on the bunker. It was the perfect size for slithering in. He pressed close to the wall, waiting for his activation.

Sticking to the growing shadows, Vacillus took cover in an alcove by the foot of the stairs overlooking the bunker. It was a satisfactory overlook. He tapped his datapad and opened up a vox channel to Anoke. “Fire on my command.”

He didn’t require a response from Anoke, nor would he receive one.

He tapped his datapad again, changing channels. “X206. All organic targets except the valet servitor are viable. Activate.”

What happened next appeared in slow motion.

X206 slipped into the window, and in a heartbeat turned from sluggish sea predator into the blazing heart of a star.

Barely-contained energy crackled from every limb, charring everything it touched.

X206 became a hurricane of metal and fire. It lashed out at the nearest viable target, turning one of Von Horne’s advisors into strips of flesh with a flick of the wrist.

Chaos reigns. The murderous assailant lashes out indiscriminately, punctuated by screams of confusion and fear. Some guards leap forward to attack, throwing themselves between the machine and their master.

It is a bloodbath.

Amongst the violence, Stigg manages to place himself between X206 and the Guildmaster, dragging him outside to relative safety. The Guildmaster finds the energy to tell Stigg about the escape vehicle waiting outside the compound, while thick red gobbets of his bodyguards rain down around him.

Completely paralysed by shock, Von Horne finds himself being scooped under the arm of another machine. This time a towering industrial automaton. It speaks to him in soothing tones.

“You are being rescued, please do not resist.”

While all this violence is happening, the two turncoat labourers have made their way towards the escape vehicle.

They easily convince the guard to help defend the Guildmaster, leaving the truck completely undefended.

The sounds of gunfire mix with the thumping tunes from the bunker. Stigg’s laspistols are in his hands in the blink of an eye, and he opens up at point blank range.

Half a clip of ammunition barely scratches the arco-flagellant, and it turns its rage towards him. He shouts at Evee to get Von Horne to safety.

With the Guildmaster in his arms, Evee makes a break across the courtyard, right into the crosshairs of the waiting Kroot assassin.

With a sharp crack, the Kroot rifle punches through Evee’s protective casing and into the gut of the Guildmaster.

Waiting in the wings is Vacillus. He was surprised by the Kroot’s actions, but given the rapidly evolving situation, made a snap decision to roll it into his own plan.

He raised his organic cleanser at the incoming automata and fired.

The organic cleanser is a weapon of his own devising. It’s a single-shot weapon with a one turn recharge that acts like the Blood Boil psychic power. Its base function is to strip faulty biological components from broken servitors while keeping the cybernetics intact. It’s an extremely messy affair when used against a living target, of course.

Passing his Ballistic Skill test by 40, Vacillus liquifies all of Guildmaster Von Horne’s innards in a manner of seconds. He becomes a lifeless sack of bones and mush, flopping around in Evee’s arms.

Evee holds up his charge to examine the extent of the damage. It appears irrepairable.

As confusion and violence ripples across the compound, some of the guards looking for answers have just spotted a giant machine carrying the limp, lifeless body of their master. In a panic, they open fire on Evee.

The compound is a battleground, with skirmishes raging all over. Anoke drops down from his perch. His work complete, he slinks away through the breach.

At the bunker, X206 has murdered or grievously wounded every guard inside. Stigg and Phaelon pour gunfire into it, stunning it and slowing its advance, but failing to stop it.

Near the gatehouse, Evee moves to engage the Mechanicus adept who liquified Von Horne. He slams him against the statue and raking Vacillus’ arm with his servo claw, burning it to the bone.

Staggering back, Vacillus takes stock of the situation and decides discretion is the better part of valour. He orders X206 to destroy anything interacting with the valet servitor and slinks off through the entrance. He’ll have more luck picking over whatever X206 leaves in its wake, and there’s little his organic cleanser can do against this huge automaton.

On top of all this, guards are still firing at X206 and Evee. One mistakes Vacillus for a labourer, and shouts at him to get to the extraction vehicle while they cover their retreat.

The panicked surviving advisor runs through the compound, covered in blood.

The sun is gone, the compound lit only by its fading corona. Visibility was down to 15″, and everyone was making their last plays of the game.

Stigg runs over to the valet servitor and snatches up the data-slate. “We need to move!” he shouts at Phaelon.

The Rogue Trader makes a move towards the truck, but sees the guards still bouncing bullets off Evee’s armoured shell.

“Cease fire! The servitor’s with us!” he yells, hoping to get the guards on side, “We’re trying to protect you!”

The guards pause. The gunfire subsides. The quiet is interrupted by the sounds of arcing electricity. X206 has powered back up.

With frightening speed it beelines for the valet servitor, hell-bent on carrying out its new orders. It lashes out at the person nearest the target, and no matter how hard Stigg tries, he can’t dodge the electric storm of lashes that rains down on him.

Explicator Stigg goes down, bleeding from multiple wounds, his pelvis a bloodied pulp.

Without missing a beat it turns its attentions to the next closest – Phaelon. Energy arcs from its limbs as it prepares to spiralise the Rogue Trader, but suddenly stops short.

Evee has returned! He had grabbed X206 by its locomotive tentacles, and with a crackle of his own powered servo-claw, pulls the lower half of the combat servitor clean away.

X206 flickers and dies in a pool of machine oil and sparks of electricity.

With no more antagonists left on the board (Anoke was long since gone, and Vacillus was in retreat), the game was called to a close.

What remained of the Guild bundled the Explicator and his team into the back of the truck to evacuate. Stigg was barely alive, but they had secured the shipping logs of the Ius Soli. What additional secrets the Guildmaster had unfortunately died with him.

The scores

Explicator Stigg’s warband makes off with the data-slate and earn themselves 1 Resource, putting them on 4 in total. Given Stigg’s critical groin injury, it’s highly likely that fresh Resource isn’t going to be sticking around too long!

Vacillus’ team score nothing, and are likely going to need some extra help repairing X206. Vanth won’t be pleased that his plausible deniability failed to come up with the goods, and will be taking to the field personally in future.

The wrap-up

Easily our bloodiest game yet, and it’s hard to see how that level of slaughter could be topped! Dropping X206 in a secure bunker was like dumping piranhas in a pool and taking away the ladder.

The shipping logs were an unclaimed piece of evidence from Chapter 1: No Souls On Board. They show that the last activity of the Ius Soli was a trade taking place between Novator Hypatos and a group of xenologists. Hypatos was bringing a recently unearthed artifact codenamed “the circlet”. It appears this meeting was set up by the heir-apparent Mistress Dacien – the veracity of this claim is now a liquified sack of bones rotting on the surface of Skathi.

An exciting and deadly game of which giant monster will hit the other first, with a sprinkling of intrigue on the side. Let’s see what Stigg does with this information in the future…

See you next week!

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Chapter 1: No Souls on Board | Inquisitor battle report | Scenario 2

This is the first Chapter mission of the Crown of Bones Inquisitor campaign, the first plot-driven instalment of the five-part story. This is the second game played in the campaign so far, as we kicked off with the Dust-up at Distro-19 annex mission last week.

Chapter missions are higher stakes – you have to spend a Resource (in-campaign currency) to ‘buy in’, with higher Resource rewards for finding evidence and completing objectives. Failing to secure any leads in Chapter missions means your warband might not be able to attend later Chapter missions. These warbands might need to do some Annex missions on the side to keep up with the others…

In this scenario, two warbands stumble into each other while exploring the ghost ship Ius Soli. Both are looking for a lead to the Crown of Bones, and according to our source at House Dacien, there is a cargo manifest somewhere on the ship with coordinates of exactly where to find it.

Setting the scene

The Ius Soli, meaning ‘Right of Soil’, is a corpse barge adrift in the outer reaches of the system. It was once carrying the bodies of guardsmen from warzones across the galaxy to their eventual resting point. It went missing during the Dacien Cataclysm and mysteriously reappeared some months ago, adrift and unresponsive to hails. House Dacien have dispatched a vessel to destroy the Ius Soli, but our two warbands have beaten them to the punch. They have to find what they can and evacuate before the corpse barge and anyone left on board are destroyed.

The ship itself is derelict. The miracle of grav-plating is still functional, and there is enough atmosphere left inside its silent halls to sustain our warbands without penalty. However, it is pitch black inside, so warbands will be relying on hand-held flashlights in the absence of any bionic vision.

Pitch black: Vision is restricted to 1/10th of Initiative. Characters can be equipped with flashlights for free, but have to be held in a spare hand or attached to a weapon beforehand. They provide a vision cone of about 18″ and we use little blast markers bluetacked to bases to indicate when a flashlight is active on a character.

Deathly silent: All hearing distances are doubled. That means someone can hear a door open or close from 20″ away…

Some power conduits are also severely damaged in a chamber at the north end of the board (represented with little dark red cotton wool clouds), and electro-magnetic energy is pulsing wildly in there.

Damaged power conduit: Anything passing through is effectively hit with a Haywire grenade, electrical and energy items ceasing to function until they reboot during the recovery phase (25% chance) or a character fixes it.

The cargo bay is also wrapped in a network of maintenance shafts and access tunnels, represented by the space hulk tiles around the periphery. These are broken up with pressure doors and access vents, the latter allowing characters to move between the cargo bay and the maintenance tunnels. These access vents have purple arrow tokens on eithe rside to show they can be traversed.

The warbands would be fighting over five objective markers, each representing a piece of evidence that helps paint a picture of what happened. Some are specific to their location, such as number 5 being the cargo manifest terminal on the upper walkway. Others are more general, such as number 2 being all tarpaulin-covered crates in the cargo bay, not just the ones the marker is on.

The warbands needed to gather at least 3 pieces of evidence to consider their investigation a success, and would be rewarded with 2 Resources. There is also a bonus resource for claiming the cargo manifest at number 5, as it is particularly important to the Crown of Bones investigation.

Finally, there are 5 ‘blip’ tokens on the map (thank you, Space Hulk board game!). The combination of twisted metal, warp residue and pulsing power conduits has obscured any attempts to scan the vessel, and warbands are relying on short-range auspexes. These blips are the auspex reading the strange environmental conditions as life signs wandering about the cargo hold, but surely nothing could be alive here any more… right?

The blips move a little bit at the end of each turn (at my whimsy) and when they get within view of a character I flip them over. Some are simply ghost readings and are removed from play, others might be a little more hungry…

Five numbered objectives and five auspex blips
The warbands

Crowblade’s warband makes another appearance after successfully infiltrating a stevedore gang at Distro-19. This time they have a direct lead to the Crown of Bones, so Crowblade is bringing in his big guns. He’s bringing along his chief advisor Karith Once-Touched, who has been tasked with finding the shipping manifest and avoiding combat. His other new hire is Mulbrak Thrice-Bound, a fearsome shadowy daemonhost. Schipka is brought along too, rounding the warband out to four.

From the left, Karith Once-Touched, Mulkbrak Thrice-Bound, and Crowblade (Schipka not pictured).

Interrogator Amourah’s warband is new to the campaign, but her exploits go back almost a decade of Inquisitor games. She represents the hardline puritan Inquisitor Alexandus, and they are indisputably the most heavily armed and armoured warband on the board in any circumstance. This is nearly always necessary, as they are bad at making friends and great at getting caught in crossfire.

Amouah herself sports an inferno pistol and retractible power blade, joined by Imperial Guard veteran Sergeant Jackson and cybernetically-reconstructed explosives specialist Bill ‘Tin Man’ Teller. Jackson wears a suit of motor-actuated carapace armour and equipped with a fearsome wrist-mounted hellgun, while Tin Man carries a combat shotgun and a smorgasbord of explosives.

From the left: Sergeant Jackson, Interrogator Amourah, and Tin Man

After Crowblade’s warband ingratiated themselve so well among the stevedores of Distro-19, they gained enough insider knowledge to get the jump on the Ius Soli and got to deploy first.

They split their forces in two. Crowblade and Karith deploy in the maintenance tunnels near an access vent which comes out right next to objective 5. Their hope is to move in quickly and grab the cargo manifest while the other team “run interference”.

The other team is Mulbrak Thrice-Bound and Schipka, the surprisingly charming pit fighter who won the hearts and minds of the labourers at Distro-19. They had been tasked with investigating the cargo bay and dealing with any of the the auspex ghosts, should they turn out to be a little more material than just glitches on a scanner.

Interrogator Amourah’s warband deploy together inside the shuttle bay, having squeeze through an off-screen hatch to get there.

Game on

Both warbands begin advancing cautiously into the cargo bay, flashlights dancing through the racking and throwing unnerving shapes against the walls. Amourah’s team all have bionic eyes but no low-light vision, so they still relied on their personal light sources to see where they were going.

One by one they sneak towards the shuttle bay entrance, keeping their flashlights low and peering through the gloom. They strain their ears to pick up on the faintest sound of danger.

Schipka on the other hand, whacks his torch on maximum and marches into the cargo bay. Mulbrak slinks past him and slithers around to the right, pulling himself forwards on his massive claws.

Amourah sweeps the floor, walls and ceiling with her flashlight, checking for any signs of life. Bullet casings and blood stains lead to a scattering of bodies in the centre of the room – uniformed guards in the colours of House Dacien.

She doesn’t have time to investigate further as she spots the tell-tale twinkling of another flashlight across the cargo bay. She flicks the power button on her flashlight, moving into the vaulted room without making a sound. The rest of her team follow suit, wordlessly and well-practiced.

She wasn’t expecting company, but at least she’ll be able to keep an eye on them without giving her own position away.

In the maintenance tunnels to the south, Karith and Crowblade push through the hanging cables and pipes that crowd the headspace of the maintenance tunnels. His auspex reads movement in the room ahead, but he needs to press forward.

He knows from his crude deck plan that this room has a ladder to an access vent, which should bring him out near the cargo manifest terminal. Whatever lies ahead has to be dealt with.

Off in the distance behind them, Crowblade hears the gutwrenching sound of a pressure door opening. Something else is in these tunnels, and it has them surrounded. He has to punch through whatever lies in front of them quickly. He telepathically gives the order for Karith to advance ahead of him, who does so gleefully.

The pressure door slides back, and Karith nervously passes his flashlight around the room. Hissing pipes and swaying chains, but no sign of life. He lets out a sigh of relief – just a ghost on the auspex.

Crowblade wastes no time finding the access ladder, keen not to hang around to meet an auspex glitch can open pressure doors.

Mulbrak Thrice-Bound continues moving silently around the cargo bay, keeping close to the gantry overhead. He saw a trio of lights flicker and die across the room, and his nose is filled with the scent of blood. He has a target, and his orders are straightforward. Seek and destroy.

On the north side, Amourah’s uncanny sense pick up a figure in the darkness. She has an almost sixth sense for finding people, part of what makes her such a valuable asset to her Inquisitor. In game terms, we treat this as a Wyrd ability for the Detection psychic power, even though she’s not psychic.

She picks up subtle air movements, the shuffle of feet, the sound of teeth tearing at flesh. Something is feasting on the bodies in here. She draws her inferno pistol and sneaks towards the stairs that lead up to the walkway.

Jackson is not quite operating at her level of discretion however, and his servo-actuated armour rings out through the darkness. A bestial hiss replies from the blackness, and something stumbles forwards into sight. The first blip is revealed!

An emaciated figure clad in tattered ratings’ overalls clambers over the bodies towards Jackson. A sharpened blade is gripped in one hand and its eyes are a solid red. Blood and filth cake its mouth and hands.

This was perhaps once a crew member, touched by the warp after the vessel’s disappearance and driven to cannibalism and madness. Jackson felt brief pity for the wretched creature and began spooling up his hellgun.

His pity evaporated in the half-second it took the warp-touched malignant to cross the deck towards him. In a flash of steel the flensing blade scraped along his stomach, deflected by his armour.

He swung wildly with his hellgun, so shocked by the creature’s speed, but it ducked and weaved under his clumsy rebuke. Another glint in the dark, this time the blade finding its mark and piercing his bicep. A glancing blow, but only just. Next time it might not be so glancing.

He threw an intentionally heavy swing, opening up space to compose himself. The crewman was too close for his hellgun, but he always kept something for close encounters. In one swift motion, Jackson parried the incoming blade with a knife of his own. The sound of steel on steel echoes across the cargo bay.

Meanwhile, Schipka is calmly scooby-dooing his way through the cargo bay, stubbornly keeping his flashlight on and making no attempts to conceal his presence. Off in the distance he hears the sound of combat, metal on metal, and bestial hissing and screeching. He sweeps his flashlight round to settle on another emaciated crewman with a terrible hunger in his bloodshot eyes.

His two braincells whirred. His left hand is his prize possession – an implant claw. In his right hand is his flashlight. Drawing his pistol means putting down his flashlight, which means no light, which means no pistol. Think, Schipka, think!

He looked back at his claw again. Of course! It’s so simple!

With an excited bellow, Schipka charges into combat.

Schipka and the other pit fighters have a non-traditional approach to combat drugs. They have six different types in a roulette injector, designed by crowds who were bored of predictability in their pit fights. When they activate, every pit fighter on the board rolls a D6 to see what combat drug they get injected into them.

There was a cheer from the players as ‘hallucinogen’ was rolled, followed by mild disappointment as the ‘frenzies for one turn’ result followed. Schipka obediently charged into combat, and in a single action tore the face of the crewman clean off, killing him instantly. Another cheer from the players!

Interrogator Amourah spots a creature cloaked in billowing shadow on the edge of her vision – little more than two huge claws dragging a horrific tooth-filled maw. She lines up a shot with her inferno pistol but the deadly beam burns a hole clean through the floor where the creature stands, somehow missing a straight shot.

Mulbrak flattens himself behind some crates, leaving a billowing outline of where he once stood. Another screeching melta blast hits the floor. Taking his opportunity, he concentrates hard, drawing in malefic energies and attempting to manifest Curse of Charybdis. In a shocking display of dice rolls the warp ebbs away time and time again, leaving him wide open and with a splitting headache.

This time Amourah takes no chances. She whips her flashlight out, aims squarely at the daemonhost and opens up.

By now, Crowblade and Karith had negotiated the access vent and expertly positioned themselves within striking distance of their objective. Sounds of battle raged in the cargo bay.

He could see Schipka tearing the face off some unfortunate soul, his erratic flashlight movement showing the battle like some gruesome slideshow. There was clearly some more fighting going on elsewhere but he was blind to it, and the daemonsword in his hand egged him onwards to his goal.

And then another light appeared, this time illuminating Mulbrak. A melta beam strikes the daemonhost square in the chest, flooring him and consuming the area he stood in thick black mist. He couldn’t make out the target, but they were on the walkway, and they weren’t aware of him.

He telepathically ordered Karith to see to the terminal. He would deal with this problem himself.

While Amourah is distracted by Mulbrak, Crowblade sprints forwards. The daemonblade in his hand springs to life, crackling with pink-blue fire. The sword arcs towards the flat-footed Amourah, biting deep into her side.

She staggers backwards, failing to find her footing on the cat walk grating. She raises her pistol at her assailant, but it is too late. The blade gouges several inches from her skull, exposing the bionic components beneath.

She falls. Flames lick from the wound, her bionics sparking and failing. The light from her one good eye drifts away.

Crowblade rolls her over with the ball of his foot, checking for identifying marks. No obvious insignias, but he doesn’t recognise the uniform. An Imperial agent no doubt – well equipped and well connected – but just an Imperial agent. Their master is sure to reveal themselves after this incident, and Crowblade will be waiting. Yes. Just as planned…

He hears an excited yell from the catwalk behind him. “Master, I have it!”.

On the main deck, Jackson’s dance with the crewman continues. The crazed creature can barely penetrate the veteran’s heavy armour, but Jackson can never get far enough from combat to bring his hellgun to bear.

The stalemate was about to break however, necessarily in his favour, as the final blip moved through the shuttle bay access vent and revealed itself to be a third crazed crewman.

(By this point, the game had been going on for about three hours. Jackson moved about 12″ from his starting location and failed to make any successful attacks or roll more than two actions to break from combat. It’s very difficult to make that agonisingly funny poor performance sound thrilling.)

(By contrast, Tin Man had succeeded in rolling a single action every turn. He hadn’t been forgotten in this battle report, there just really wasn’t anything to report.)

Tin Man had been hiding behind studying a stack of stasis containers – evidence number 2. Fragments of bone littered the cargo bay deck, and corpses had been torn from their stasis. Only a handful of corpses seemed to have been eaten however – dozens, maybe hundreds, were missing.

Schipka dropped the ragged face of the crewman on the floor, rather pleased with how that went. The sounds of fighting echoed around him, but none of it seemed directed at him. He figured he’d use the opportunity to do a bit of sleuthing, which for a character with a Sagacity of 25 seemed like a long shot.

In an incredible series of dice rolls (008 and 003) he Sherlocked the shit out of his situation. He clocked the nearby stasis containers with missing bodies (evidence 2) and noticed strange battle damage on the walls and floor, almost like a whirlwind or large beast was thrashing around. These deep gouges lead towards the airlock, which had sealed over the drag marks, like whatever it was had been sucked out into the void. (Evidence 1).

Landing his flashlight on a pile of bodies in the middle of the room, he saw some dressed in Navigator colours, and some other rough-looking types. A particularly important body, dressed in Navigator robes, lay next to an empty container.

Sadly, or hilariously, depending on your viewpoint, this was the Sagacity test he chose to fail. He recognised the type of container from Distro-19, and despite it being empty and sat next to an important-looking Navigator dressed in House Dacien colours, he figured the box was the important part. Boss will be so proud.

Tin Man stepped out from behind the stasis containers. To his left, Jackson was fighting off two warp-touched crewmen. Up on the cat walk ahead was flashes of melta fire and the sounds of swords clashing. To his right, a flashlight bearing down on him.

He had faith in his team – they could handle a few bilge rats, and he wasn’t going to help anyone by shooting into combat. He levelled his shotgun at the incoming flashlight and fired. He thought he made out the silhuoette of a figure illuminated by the shot, they seemed to go down. He didn’t have time to check.

A hoarse screen sounded from behind him. He turned just in time to duck under a wicked blade aimed at his neck. One of the crewmen had peeled off the assault on Jackson and lunged at him!

Tin man found an opening and backed away down an aisle, putting a few rounds into the crewman as he went. The crewman enraged rather than hurt, so Tin Man readied another salvo.

The air around him grew cold. Despite it being pitch black, it somehow got darker. Loud rattly breathing was suddenly the only thing he could hear. He turned and saw the void itself stare back.

Having apparently saved up all his action rolls for this part of the game, he shoulder-barged the raving crewman out the way and ducked round the corner to the next aisle of racking, confident the two creatures would cancel each other out.

Mulbrak made one more failed attempt at manifesting Curse of Charybdis before abandoning that plan and going with something a little more hands-on: Warp Strength.

The crewman had other ideas. Although he immediately lost sight of Tin Man in the darkness, he found himself standing next to an extremely meaty-looking pit fighter rolling around on the floor. He sliced at him, the pit fighter deftly rolling out the way and pulling himself to his feet.

With an almighty crash, the newly hulked-out Mulbrak’s clumsy attempt to climb the storage racking ended with the aisle smashing apart, exposing a path to Tin Man.

Horror-movie style, the crewman with the ripped-apart face suddenly sat up. He had finally passed his True Grit check to get back in the fight. He pulled himself to his feet and found himself mere yards away from the person who tore his face off.

(And yes, Jackson was still fruitlessly wrestling with someone who couldn’t hurt him)

It was finally Tin Man’s time to shine. He was sick of this mire of mutants and monsters, and had a belt full of explosive solutions. The plan was simple: prime and throw a grenade, then retreat as fast as possible for all remaining actions.

The dice were rolled. He primed a grenade.

Mulbrak, now with a Strength of over 120, leapt forwards and smashed the par-boiled grenade clean from Tin Man’s grasp. It exploded harmlessly somewhere in the racking behind everyone, much to every player’s disappointment.

Jackson receives a garbled message relayed from their gun-cutter – the House Dacien kill team was almost here, they needed to finish up and withdraw.

With renewed vigour, he breaks from the terrifying emaciated lunatic with the rusty knife, and heads towards the stairs to find the Interrogator. He spools up his hellgun and fires wildly into the dark after the crewman, missing every shot.

Back on the catwalk, Karith hands over the data-slate to Crowblade, along with his findings. (Evidence 5) The cargo manifest contains largely unremarkable details of warzones these bodies have been collected from, but the last entry is particularly juicy.

A flight path of Novator Hypatos’ shuttle that started at a colony near Distro-19 on Gehanna. It ended docked in this very cargo bay some months ago. With some time, they could figure out exact coordinates and get closer to the Crown of Bones.

Crowblade took the dataslate and sent a message to Karith’s mind that he was pleased with his work. With another thought, he informed Schipka and Mulbrak that they had everything they needed – it was time to leave.

Tin Man received the withdraw orders from Jackson too, and decided it was time to stop playing about with the baby bombs.

As Mulbrak bore down on him, its awful maw ringed with teeth, he heaved a demolition charge straight down its gullet.

With a comedy belch of smoke, Mulbrak toppled over. He collapsed into the racking, engulfed by black smoke.

He had been saved by his Impervious trait, racking up a terrifying amount of damage but surviving a direct hit without permanent damage. Tin Man didn’t know or care however, as he had booked it across the cargo bay to meet up with Jackson on the stairs.

Karith and Crowblade left the board without fuss. They had what they came for, and Crowblade was confident that the other two would find their own way back to their shuttle.

Jackson and Tin Man met up on the stairs, pausing only to fill a screeching crewman that had been persuing them full of hellgun rounds. It felt good to finally hit something with that gun.

They grabbed Interrogator Amourah and evacuated back to their gun-cutter.

The last players on the pitch were Mulbrak and Schipka, who still stubbornly had his flashlight on. There were (somehow) still two crewmen left, but the pair made short work of them.

Schipka squared off against his old nemesis Faceless Guy, and in a statistically pleasing manner hit him square in the head again with his claw, crushing what remained like a paper cup.

The roided-up Mulbrak bore down on the final crewman, who had suffered shotgun blasts and stab wounds and yet still had barely a scratch on him. Mulbrak dragged himself up to the crewman, who had been busy duelling Schipka at the time, and pulled his arm clean from his socket.

With that surprisingly violent turn, the game was called to a close as our warbands fled the field.

The scores

With Amourah’s warband only getting a single piece of evidence, they failed their objective and lose 1 Resource from their buy-in. Not only that, but Amourah’s serious head injury needs serious medical attention which they’ll have to shell out another Resource for. Things are looking a little sparse on the ground for her warband…

Compared to Crowblade’s warband, who come out with +2 Resources overall. They lose 1 for the buy-in, but gained 2 for completing their objective (gaining 3 pieces of evidence) and an additional one for securing the bonus Resource.

Crowblade is victorius, and goes into the next game with incredible advantage.

The wrap-up

What a game! It had tension, investigation, knocking lots of scenery over, everything!

I’m very pleased with the board setup, it’s something I’ve spent a lot of lockdown hours on, and it’s finally paying off. I think I’ll definitely build more ‘filler’ walls – long pieces of foamboard with junk stuck onto them – to take the place of the more useful MDF wall pieces. It massively extends the amount of blocks I can use in construction and costs me next to nothing. It’ll also be helpful when I want to start creating individual buildings with this kit to help have some aesthetic differences.

I really liked using the space hulk tiles to have a secondary area to sneak around in. It’s a shame it didn’t get used very much, but I put that down to the third player being unavaible to play on the day. I think with a third party we’d have seen a lot more making use of all the crawlspaces.

I think we’re also seeing a shift in how some warbands are playing. We’re so used to playing one-off games, or scenarios that are only loosely linked by story, that other elements like persistent injury and ammunition has never come up. Tin Man burned through a lot of his expensive explosives, and Crowblade’s player felt guilty for immediately murdering Amourah by setting her head on fire.

All told it was an excellent game with plenty of laughs and dramatic moments. It’ll be great to see how these characters and relationships evolve over the course of the campaign.

See you next week!

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MOTB: Necromunda Ghast deposits

Finished product first!

As part of a misguided attempt to build every kind of scenario objective or narrative prop mentioned in every Necromunda scenario (which at time of writing is about a hundred), this time I turned my hand to one of my favourite scenarios, Ghast Harvest.

Previously known as Spook, Ghast is a combat drug that has existed in 40k lore since the olden times. It varies mechanically in each system, but it always performs the same function. Anyone who huffs it gets a temporary psychic power – anything from shooting lightning from your eyes, to warp strength or time travel – but doesn’t make them any good at it. Good clean chaotic fun.

Ghast Harvest is a scenario where rival gangs race to hoover up loopy juice from deposits scattered across the map. Ghast is incredibly rare and expensive, so the objective is to gather as much as you can without snorting it. Unfortunately some gangers miss the memo and rail huge lines of the stuff straight from the source, the match swiftly devolving into a coked-up fireball slinging contest. This is, without fail, always funny.

The brief

The scenario requires four tokens representing ghast deposits, and suggests using an obstactle-sized piece of terrain to be more thematic. There is basically no guidance on what ghast looks like in its natural habitat and I’ve seen some fantastic conversions using weird mushrooms or gangly radioactive trees made of hot melt glue.

I didn’t want to recreate things I already found on google so I had a dig around my bits box for something that looked really alien and cobbled something together.

Street urchin

I’d been dragging around some old tropical beach detritus since the 90s, some of which had gone into making some weird asteroid fields, and others had been sat in a box gathering dust.

These were sea urchin shells, washed and dried out, then packed with tin foil for structural integrity. I arranged them around some spare pipes and industrial bits to look like they’d been feasting and growing on whatever horrid waste had accumulated there. A bit of crumbled cork placemat for rubble helped blend the larger shapes together.

I also wanted some smaller structures, like they’d been spawning or growing more, but had no idea how to recreate the unique exterior texture.

The end plan was to make lots of little balls of green stuff and texture them with the urchin shells themselves. I had a few broken bits I didn’t have a purpose for, so after letting the balls cure for about half an hour, gently rolled them along the inside in different ways until I got a desired pattern.

I pushed the top of each ball into the exterior of the shell to finish the look, and ending up with something like the facehugger eggs from alien. A perfect look!

Eggshell blue

Once dried, everything got an undercoat of black, then brown. I masked off all the non-pipe areas with masking tape, then gave it a quick blast of grey. I had a colour scheme in mind for the industrial parts, but deciding on how to do the ghast orbs was a real head-scratcher.

I wanted an interior glow to clearly signpost it as something dangerous, and they could also then double up as other hazardous or explosive terrain as future games might require. My initial experiments with bone, green and yellow colours weren’t particularly gripping, but the minty-blue scheme really stuck with me.

It was using Nihilakh Oxide, a technical paint for representing oxidisation on copper and the like. It’s very watery (so not usually suitable for painting block colours with) but over the porous, rugged exteriors of the urchin shells it worked wonders. On with the painting!

Ghastly glow-up

The industrial sections were painted using a technique I’ve used on other projects, the deposits drybrushed various shades of blue, and anything in between was just a block colour with a wash over the top.

For industrial parts, the whole thing is primed grey and attacked with Agrax Earthshade, concentrating on pin washing panels and giving depth to textured areas. Watered down orange paint is applied in select areas to look like water damage from above. Finally, dark brown paint is sponged onto some extreme edges to look like chipped paint.

The deposits and glow effects were painted with layers of drybrushing. The deposits were painted in light colours first (Nihilakh Oxide), then drybrushed with darker shades of blue. The very tips of the ‘spines’ near the top of the deposits were very lightly drybrushed black to create that last bit of depth.

The glow effects were painted the opposite way round – the darkest blue was drybrushed on first, followed by successively lighter drybrushes leading back to the source of the light.

The bases were made from offcuts of MDF cut roughly into shape and bevelled with a sharp craft knife. They got two coats of black around the rim to seal them and tidy up the whole piece. And with that, they were finished!

Overall I’m extremely happy with how they came out. They were assembled from scraps from the bits box and uses some very unique pieces I’ve had for longer than I can remember.

With their eerie blue glow, they absolutely stand out on the battlefield and can’t be mistaken for anything except danger. They’ll be perfect as ghast deposits, dangerous flora, or any other scenario that needs some horrible glowy orbs. Roll on the next project!

MOTB: Forklift and flatbed truck

Finished product first!

Eagle-eyed viewers noticed a narratively-important piece of getaway scenery in last week’s Inquisitor battle report, and here it is in its full glory!

These are MDF kits from the australian company, which aside from having an awful name to try and remember, has the best MDF vehicle kits on the market.

The two I picked up are the Heavy Industrial Forklift and Humpt1 Mk2 flatbed truck, although I’ve just noticed they now do a Humpt1 Hauler

I picked these because a) they looked really cool and b) they looked completely scale-agnostic. I play lots of Necromunda and Inquisitor, both separate scales, and it’s difficult to maintain separate terrain collections for them. Vehicles are particularly tricky, so when I can find something that looks convincing enough at either size, it’s a must-have.


It unsurprisingly took a while to arrive, what with the company being the other side of the world and my silly little island deciding to make all imports harder so we can have a different coloured passport.

I was impressed at how compact the sprues were – the forklift was just over a sheet of A4. I consider myself an experienced builder, and combined with the impressive design and layout of most model kits these days, makes it straightforward to figure out what goes where. This was the first kit in a long, long time I had to knuckle down and follow the instructions step by step.

These were complex. Not difficult to follow mind, just lots of parts that I couldn’t spatially process how they’d go together.

For example, the truck wheels were each assembled from four different pieces, each slightly offset from each other to produce the wheel tread. Of course muggins here didn’t read the instructions and didn’t realise some of the wheels are oriented differently because of the front suspension arm doohickey and had to prise them back apart.

Ultimately though, these were lovely kits to build, and really showing off how versatile MDF can be as a hobby material.

The instructions did say where to pause construction and paint the interior, but sub-assemblies are for cowards and I pressed on.

There was no need to add extra details, so after a healthy dollop of textured paint it was time to hit the rattlecans.

Flat colours

As is now tradition for MDF pieces, I gave them both two coats of black undercoat to start with. MDF is a thirsty, thirsty boy, and saturating it with a (cheaper) undercoat helps the other paints go on easier, and makes washes go further rather than just soaking straight into the wood.

After black, I tend to give a zenithal highlight before painting. The forklift had a simple grey highlight, while the truck took a blast of Venetian Tan by TTcombat, which comes out much more yellow than it appears in pictures. I always intended the truck to be yellow and figured that would be a better starting point.

Both vehicles were painted with a similar technique, just different colours used. First, the entire chassis gets overbrushed with a lighter colour – Averland Sunset for the truck, Horus Green for the forklift

Tyes, tracks and flatbed get picked out with Eshin Grey, metallic parts get Warplock Bronze. Other base colours are layered on to pick out details, like lights or fuel pods.

Everything except the chassis gets a heavy wash of Agrax Earthshade, while the chassis of the truck got a little watered down orange applied to recesses.

The chassis gets an edge highlight of a slightly lighter colour, and then it’s on with the weathering!

Typhus Corrosion gets liberally applied to just about everywhere, concentrated on moving parts or areas likely to get bumped a lot during use.

Once that had dried, the final touch was to apply a very rough stipple/edge highlight of silver to areas most heavily affected by wear and tear. Rough splodges or scratch marks help sell the idea of badly-treated machinery.

Simple and effective, and helps to visually isolate the shape of the wheels compared to the rest of the vehicle.

And they were done! I’m always intimidated painting vehicles – I still haven’t developed a satisfying technique for weathering things larger than single figures, so I fall back on my usual technique and just scale it up. It produces nice results, but it is time-consuming (and uses a lot of expensive technical paints!).

Overall though, I’m extremely happy with how they came out. I used them almost immediately after finishing them in my latest Inquisitor battle report, and they’re likely to get re-used many times over. They’re such versatile pieces of scatter terrain that I can see them popping up in all kinds of scenarios.

Now, about that larger truck they sell…

Dust-up at Distro-19 | Inquisitor Battle Report | Scenario 1

It is the first scenario of the Crown of Bones Inquisitor campaign, and we’re starting with a bang.

This is an Annex mission, specifically one to test out some new character concepts that, in some cases, don’t have full miniatures yet. You don’t need perfectly painted minis to enjoy Inquisitor – when I got started, we would play with plastic Space Marine dreadnoughts and the cave troll from Balin’s Tomb. Don’t let perfect be the enemy of fun!

In this scenario, a newly-minted Ordo Hereticus Explicator team and a warband of Chaos Undivided descend on a busy distribution centre on Gehanna. Their target: a munitions depot.

Setting the scene

Distro-19 is a bustling distribution centre, similar to dozens of others scattered across the planet’s dig sites. Supplies flow in, archeological artefacts flow out.

Distro-19 maintains a reinforced munitions depot storing high explosives for blasting through bedrock, personally looked after by Foreman Ashford. With all this new Navigator coin flowing through the distribution centre he has secured each case with top-of-the-range shock-proof designs, and they can endure fire, shocks, or even gunshots. He often boasts “You’d have to blow ’em up to blow ’em up.”

Unfortunately for his paymasters he already has plans for these munitions, and he’s about to void a lot of warranties.

The munitions depot has two entrances and an interior roof ladder. The west entrance is next to the blue railcar, with the east entrance being opposite in the alley.

The warbands

Firstly is Ashford’s stevedore gang, a group of overworked, underpaid labourers of House Dacien who have been dealing with a spate of disappearances from their ranks. Through his network of contacts Ashford has sourced some weapons to arm his fellow stevedores, and they intend to take matters into their own hands.

Ashford in the top left and going clockwise; Staz, Grigori, Diogo, and Drummer

Explicator Stigg and Rogue Trader Phaelon make up the Inquisitorial representation, with faithful cyber-construct Gnasher in tow. Stigg is a freshly-minted Interrogator who has negotiated the use of Phaelon’s vessel and crew to investigate the Crown of Bones. What Phaelon gets in return is between him and the Explicator, but it’s reasonable to assume it’s not out the goodness of his own heart.

They are investigating a strange energy signature coming from Distro-19, a discordant but unmistakably similar energy signature that was present on the Ius Soli when it arrived in the system. Stigg has an auspex specifically tuned to this energy signature, which appears to be emanating from inside the munitions depot.

Explicator Stigg (currently a stand-in) at the top, with Rogue Trader Phaelon and Gnasher below

The Chaos warband is lead by a daemon sword-wielding mute called Crowblade, and is accompanied by an assortment of pit fighters who don’t display any outward signs of Chaos influence. Crowblade is bargaining on their relatively normal appearance to help him carry out his mission.

Crowblade also seeks the Crown of Bones, but is finding it extremely difficult to move about with so many rival agents in the system. He’s cooked up a few plans to keep authorities distracted so he can operate a bit more freely, and it starts with a bit of insurrection.

He has supplied a local disgruntled workforce with some small arms, and intends to carry out a false flag attack on their munitions depot to help galvanise them into action. They’re already on the brink with little trust left in their so-called protectors, and all it would take is a teeny-weeny explosion to set them down the correct path. Just as planned.

Crowblade and Shipka deploy north of the munitions depot
Pit Boss and Gunny prepare for a charm offensive and deploy close to the stevedores
Setting the scene

Gehenna is a sun-baked wasteland (not to be confused with the UK during a heatwave whose own sun kept blowing out my photos), and the tarmac surfaces of Distro-19 would be no exception. Although the game would take place during midday, the nauseating heat haze would require Initiative checks to spot anyone not obviously out in the open.

Not only that, but Distro-19 and its surroundings are still very much in operation. The clamour of rails, servo-lifters and machinery creates such a din that any listening checks would be halved.

Game on

Explicator Stigg and Rogue Trader Phaelon approach Distro-19 on the trail of a strange energy signature, but as they arrive things are not as they expect. Rather than the labourers going about their business, they are arming themselves in a courtyard while one of their number shouts about taking matters into their own hands.

Where these stevedores got so many weapons, and what matters they feel they need to be armed to deal with, are not his concern right now. His auspex is pointed squarely at the munitions depot in the middle of the distribution centre, and with all the labourers gathered in the courtyard, it is completely unguarded.

He pulls a small leather box from his pocket, pressing his thumb to the bio-coder to unlock it. Inside is a shard of mirror with a disturbing depth to its reflection. A haunting face leers back in the distance. A fragment of a daemon, bound to a mirror and broken apart. It hates the Explicator, but it hates the prospect of having a shard lost or broken into even more pieces, so it begrudgingly uses its powers to help while it bides its time.

With a hoarse cackle the mirror daemon reveals the presence of another daemonic entity near the distro centre, knowing Stigg would be compelled to investigate, and offers to commune with it to find out more. The Explicator hastily stuffs the shard back in its warded leather box. Stigg almost died preventing this daemon escaping from its mirror prison – he wouldn’t give it another chance.

He beckons Phaelon and Gnasher to follow and he breaks cover for a nearby railcar.

On the other side of the board, Crowblade’s daemon sword hums and squirms in his hand. He can sense the agitation of the workers here, and judging from the shouts coming from the courtyard up ahead, his supply of weapons has found their intended owners. He hears a voice in his soul. Yes… just as planned…

With his distraction in place, he makes his way to the munitions depot to weigh his options for havoc. Sadly these workers were better equipped than he’d thought. The explosives are reinforced for industrial-grade accidents, and nothing short of plunging his warpfire sword into them would set them off.

He’d need to find the remote detonator, usually in an office or with a foreman. He suspected he knew just where to find such a man…

While the rallying cries for safer working conditions continue, two more of Crowblades’ retinue approach the stevedores. Pit Boss, the more charismatic of the two, clears his throat. All the workers turn their heads to these augmented fighters.

He makes an impassioned plea to join their insurrection, citing vague similarities with his own non-descript working conditions, and that he works vaguely off over there somewhere, gesturing wildly. His Leadership check to convince them is appalling, and the stevedores look at each other nervously.

Gunny, another augmented pit fighter with guns for hands, staggers over to them screaming “LOOK WHAT THEY DID TO MY HANDS!”. He rolls a 001 for his persuasion, and against everyone’s expectation of how the game was going to play out, the stevedores welcome these two new augmented comrades into their fold with open arms.

Ashford cites these two as further examples of the cruelty that House Dacien can inflict on their workforce, with the two pit fighters nodding along. He explains they’re about to take all the explosives, load them onto the truck and ride to the next Distro centre, where they’ll bring their message of solidarity to the next lot of workers.

Ashford shouts that they’ll use the weapons of House Dacien against them, and asks Pit Boss and Gunny to use their augmented strength to help carry the munitions. Agape with how well this is going, they both agree and set off to the east entrance.

They spot Shipka and Crowblade in the distance, and signal that everything is going perfectly. Shipka and Crowblade double back, intending to check the covered containers for any more detonators.

Back on the other side of the depot, Phaelon and Stigg have moved swiftly and silently towards their target. Gnasher, on the other hand, has moved neither swiftly nor silently and his clanking alerts one of the stevedores, Drummer.

He shouts some demands at it, but it ignores his requests and clanks off into the distance. Drummer alerts Ashford, who orders Diogo to accompany Drummer and check it out.

Ashford stops Pit Boss and Gunny in their tracks with a click of his revolvers. “How many of you are there?”

Eager to please, the pit fighters insist it’s just the three of them. Ashford remains unconvinced, but time pressures mean he’ll have to give them the benefit of the doubt for now, and asks Staz to keep an eye on them while they load the trucks. Ashford takes Grigori with him round to the east side of the depot.

Largely oblivious to the unfolding drama, Stigg and Phaelon slip into the munitions dump. Phaelon orders Gnasher to keep watch, setting him to sound an alarm if anyone gets close to the entrance.

The auspex leads them to a keypad-locked container – the energy signature is coming from whatever is inside it. The Rogue Trader pushes past the Explicator to get a better look – there isn’t a lock he can’t crack.

At this moment exact moment Drummer appears at the west door, accompanied by Diogo, Pit Boss and Gunny. Gnasher’s bark-sirens go off, alarm lights beaming from his eyes.

Drummer bellows “Looks like we got company, boss! I think it’s a stitch-up!”

Ashford barrels into the depot, scanning the gloomy corners for signs of trouble. Phaelon realises both their exits are blocked, so the ladder next to them is the only option. With a successful Sagacity check, he spots some precariously-stacked girders in the corner.

With a flick of the wrist, he slices through their bindings and they topple, as predicted, towards the racking. Explosives clatter to the floor as the racking dominos across the room to the opposite racking. Ashford and Grigori dive clear of the crushing metal, Ashford ending up inside the depot, while Grigori is trapped outside the east entrance.

Phaelon tosses the box to Stigg, who drops his auspex to free up his hands. “Time to move!”

Crawling out from under the wreckage, Ashford is cursing like a sailor. “They gotta be House Dacien! They’ve sent some scum to finish us off! Shoot anyone who ain’t us!”

Phaelon didn’t like the sound of that, and sends a command to Gnasher to occupy Ashford long enough for them to make their escape.

Stigg knows stacked odds when he sees them and sets about creating an equaliser. He whips out an incendiary grenade in one hand, flicks the pin out with his thumb and rolls it into the west entrance. Drummers’ eyes widen. “Watch out, boss!”

Drummer throws himself onto the grenade, the blast punching through his gut, killing him instantly.

With the flames filling the doorway and temporarily equalising the fight, Stigg clambers up the ladder to the roof.

Ashford wails in anguish from the floor. He’s been around enough industrial accidents to know an instant death when he sees one. He fires his revolvers wildly at Stigg clambering up the ladder, shots pinging harmlessly off the racking.

“The Man is here, and he’s trying to kill us! Take ’em out boys!” He bellows, limping across the room and slamming a fist onto the emergency sprinkler system.

As the sprinklers burst to life, a horrible two-legged cybernetic construct launches itself at Ashford, its metal maw snapping.

Diogo pulls Drummer’s lifeless body free from the flames. Sobbing, he looks up at his new friend Pit Boss. He takes his shotgun off his shoulder and tearfully raises it at Pit Boss.

“I’m sorry, Boss says I gotta shoot you…”

Pit Boss somehow manages another convincing argument, explaining that The Man is the ones in there blowing things up, not the ones out here trying to help carry stuff. Diogo glumly nods and pulls himself to his feet.

Shipka, who had snuck up behind Diogo just in case, makes a “shall I kill this guy?” motion at Pit Boss. Pit Boss replies with a “No, definitely don’t kill this guy” motion while Diogo is isn’t watching.

Staz and Gunny have been at an impasse in the courtyard. Ashford shouted something about shooting people, but Staz would always measure twice, cut once. He had his combat shotgun trained on Gunny, and sweat was rolling down his face. He didn’t sign up for this level of decision-making.

Suddenly Stigg pops the hatch on the munitions depot, followed by a plume of black smoke. In a panic, Staz wheels his shotgun around to the newcomer and lets a few rounds fly. They all ping off the lip of the depot and Stigg dives for cover.

There is carnage inside the depot as Gnasher gnaws at Ashford, who is doing his best to avoid getting bitten. As the fire is extinguished, Diogo and Pit Boss leap into the fray to take out the ravening machine, who keeps dancing around his increasingly-frustrated opponents.

This continues for many, many turns.

Phaelon finally surfaces under a hail of shotgun fire from Staz, and following Stigg’s example keeps his head down to flee across the roof.

Gunny circles around the couryard to get a better angle for his guns, takes aim, and…

The injector rig on his back whirrs into life, a cocktail of drugs spinning in their frame like pinwheel. The games have begun!

A stray shot from Ashford’s revolver clipped Pit Boss’ injector rig, which has signalled to the other Pit Fighters’ rigs to activate too. As part of their creation they were fitted with a form of Stimm Roulette for the entertainment of the crowds. Nobody knew what kind of combat drug they’d be dealt once activated, and they could all be activated remotely from the master rig.

Drugs flood Gunny’s system and a red haze descends. He no longer wants to shoot, he wants to rend flesh from bone, to tear at limbs with his bare teeth. He has rolled Psychon, causing him to be subject to Frenzy, and he launched himself at the wall to clamber up after Phaelon and Stigg.

Even with guns instead of hands, his sheer bloody-minded determination to climb a wall saw him through, and with a wolf-cry of victory, gave chase across the roof.

Back in the alley, Grigori had picked himself up from the fallen racking. He barely had time to figure out what to do before a horrifying figure in a horned helmet came bearing down on him with a flaming sword.

He slashed Grigori across the chest, and even as Grigori tried desperately to reason and plea, the assailant kept silent. He simply stepped forward, parrying Grigori’s clumsy blows, and delivering more glancing hits on the stevedore, as though he wanted to take him apart piece by piece.

By now, Staz had run out of ammunition firing at the assumed House Dacien agents on the rooftop, and had retreated to a pillar in the alleyway to reload. He turned just in time to see an armoured warrior plunge a fiery blade through Grigori’s sternum, who slumped to the ground.

Panicking even more, Staz’s unpractised fingers fumble the magazine, and by the time he looked back down the alley, the horned fighter had disappeared.

Crowblade, annoyed at his botched silent assassination of the worker, had ducked behind a nearby shipping container. He wasn’t sure he could cover the distance between him and the gunman before he reloaded, and no amount of faith in the Changer of Ways can hold your organs together after a close-range gutfull of lead.

The chances of him getting hold of detonators at this point seemed slim at best, but circumstances had proven more favourable than he’d thought. A third party was somewhere else in Distro-19 stirring up trouble, and his minions had ingratiated themselves into the workforce better than he could have dreamed. He didn’t even need to create a false flag attack – someone else had done it for him.

While the gunner was distracted with reloading, he sprinted away down the alley and off the board. His work was done.

A voice cawed in his soul again. Just as planned…

With the crate firmly in hand, Stigg leaps from the depot rooftop onto some nearby crates. Checking over his shoulder, Phaelon is close by, followed by a frothing aug with guns for hands, clambering up onto the roof by sheer force of will.

Stigg wasn’t sure why the madman hadn’t taken a shot yet, but it wasn’t time to question. He slid down the tarpaulin and took cover near a flatbed truck.

By this point, everyone can hear sirens wailing in the distance. Authorities had clearly been alerted to the fire alarm in the depot and there was limited time left to make a getaway.

Stigg threw a hopeful glance at the truck. The keys were in the ignition…

Pit Boss, now juiced up on Reflex, finally puts an end to Gnasher. They take a moment to take stock of their situation, all of them battered and bruised but surprisingly unharmed.

Ashford clocks the sirens in the distance and signals to Diogo to grab some munitions. He points a revolver at Pit Boss, saying “I still don’t trust you, but we can deal with that later. Right now we have to grab these crates and scarper before more House Dacien thugs turn up.”

Pit Boss, overjoyed that his gossamer-thin cover story was somehow still intact, excitedly grabs a couple of crates and jogs towards the truck.

As Pit Boss loads his crates onto the truck, Phaelon steps out from behind his crate with a strange-looking flintlock pistol raised. He shoots, barely winging the brute, who turns to take a swing at the Rogue Trader.

As he does so, Pit Boss realises his hands aren’t hands anymore, but a mess of writhing tentacles. He panics and screams, looking around for help, dropping his axe in the process.

Ashford darts out the depot looking for the commotion and sees Pit Boss screaming at his (perfectly normal) hands. He doesn’t recognise the person in the fancy hat, but he looks ruling class, so has to be House Dacien. He aims carefully and squeezes off a shot with his revolver.

Bang! Phaelon’s conversion field absorbs the shot, firing off a blinding burst of energy in retaliation. Everyone passes their Initiative checks to avoid being blinded… except Stigg. He finds himself stunned for a dangerous number of turns with so many pit fighters bearing down on them.

Gunny had caught up with them, but in his frenzied pursuit had thrown himself off the roof and landed on his head, putting himself out of action for the remainder of the game.

The Rogue Trader had no choice but to draw his phase sword and duel with the pit fighter. Pit Boss realised his hands were fine after all and grabbed his axe to cut down this interloper. The Rogue Trader was well but his fencing days were behind him, and there’s only so much fancy footwork you can do against such raw strength and aggression.

In the midst of the cut and thrust, Phaelon managed to grab Stigg by the scruff and throw him onto the back of the truck. Sweeping the Pit Fighter’s leg, he dived into the cockpit and prayed it would start.

While the truck spluttered and coughed into life, Stigg’s vision had returned enough for him to draw his laspistol and fire wildly at the menacing blurry figures that had surrounded the truck.

The truck roared into life, and Phaelon slammed his foot on the accelerator. They left Distro-19 in the dust.

Pit Boss ran back to Ashford, demanding he detonate explosives on the truck. After a tense back and forth, Ashford finally agreed to part with those munitions (they were lost now anyway) and configured the detonator to explode only the ones on the truck.

Despite them being some distance away by now (well off the board), Stigg and Phaelon noticed the priming lights change just in time and threw themselves from the truck. With a thunderous explosion the mining charges tore the truck to shreds, setting off a small mushroom cloud of dust on the horizon.

Stigg and Phaelon disappeared into the wastes with their prize, and while all the workers and pit fighters at the distro were convinced House Dacien’s agents had been killed, Crowblade watched on from a vantage point. He didn’t know who they were, but he was sure he’d be seeing them again in the future.

Just as planned.

The wrap up

Both warbands were awarded 1 Resource for completing their objectives. Explicator Stigg made off with the source of the energy signature, and even though Crowblade didn’t blow up the munitions depot, he managed to infiltrate the stevedore’s gang so perfectly he didn’t need any other provocation.

Only a couple of pit fighters took any hits on the players’ side – and even then, only light or heavy injuries. Stigg and Phaelon never took any injuries at all! As per the campaign mechanics for injuries they both walk away with clean slates, but the same couldn’t be said for poor Gnasher.

We discussed afterwards that Gnasher is a good piece of wargear, but a carbon copy of the cyber mastiff rules didn’t fit his intended use as well as we’d hoped. He’ll be getting some slight tweaks for his next iteration – discussions were had about giving him a photon flash attack, or some kind of area denial effect like a webber or grease bomb.

The player would use the Resource he won from this mission to build a new Gnasher back on Phaelon’s ship, harder, faster, better, stronger. We look forward to seeing what Gnasher mk.2 looks like!

Next scenario

MOTB: Tarpaulin-covered cargo

Finished product first!

As part of my “build a honking great 54mm warehouse” project I envisioned some large scatter pieces to fill the aisles and cargo holds of the far future, but weren’t scale-dependent like cargo containers.

I shamelessly stole this idea from a regular at my FLGS Asgard Wargames many moons ago and I’ve kept it in the memory bank ever since (Thank you Ben Cane!). Now I had the time and justification to give it a go.

Ghost boxes

What appealed to me most about this idea was how gosh darn cheap and simple it was to put together. Step one: assemble any old tat. I had some spare mdf cubes that were just taking up space, as well as some smaller cardboard boxes and leftover spray paint caps.

Everything was kept in place by judicious use of hot glue. It didn’t matter that it wasn’t neat – everything was going to get covered up by the ‘tarp’ later on anyway.

After exhausting all the tiny boxes I had in my recycling bin, I assembled a few extra cubes from scraps of foamboard from my STC hab project. I figure if I’m building scenery, it’s worth building a set.

Once dry, I got some heavy duty tissues (thick but unpatterned) and cut them roughly to size. Using some watered-down PVA, I placed the ‘tarp’ on top of each pile and carefully (but liberally) dabbed on the glue mix.

I let the natural absorbancy of the tissue and gravity do most of the work. I avoided doing any brushing motions, instead using the large brush to gently tease the wet tissue into the desired shape. I found the only encouraging I needed to get the best results was trying to minimise the number of smaller creases on flat surfaces, to help with the sense of scale.

Once it was fully dry, I gave it another gentle coat of watered-down PVA to help strengthen it, then it was on to the painting!

It’s a tarp!

Painting was super simple as well. Everything got a heavy undercoat of matt black (making sure the tissue was well saturated), followed by a zenithal blast of whatever other spray colour I had at the time. In this case, a blue and a light brown/yellow.

Once sprayed, everything was drybrushed a lighter colour, then a wash of Agrax, then another final light drybrush. Finished!

Given how little time and money was needed for these pieces, I’m over the moon with how well they’ve come out. I wanted some large, line-of-sight blocking pieces that were setting-agnostic to be used just about anywhere, and I’m blown away with how well the finished product looks.

And they’re huge! Even at 54mm scale they take up a sizeable chunk of the board, and at Necromunda scale they’re perfect for having a whole shootout inside a hangar bay or cargo hold.

This is a great recipe for easy scatter, and it’s completely adjustable to your particular taste. Perhaps you want to get some cheap dolls house furniture and paint the tarps white to look like dust sheets instead? Or get some old minis you aren’t using and have an army of spooky mannequins?

Over the moon with this project, and I can’t wait to get some photos of them in action.

MOTB: Inquisitor-scale STC habs

Finished product first!

I’ve been on an Inquisitor kick recently, working on finishing some bits for an upcoming campaign with some chums. I’ve been finishing ancient WIP projects like Archmagos Quinne or Von Koppola, as well as building new pieces to furnish future battlegrounds.

This time I turned my hand to something different – building something new out of something old.

Standard Template Construct

Very few “official” pieces of Inquisitor scenery exist from the early noughties – just a handful of (absurdly priced) gothic resin scatter from Forgeworld and the iconic STC Hab, a single piece cast from hard foam.

It had seen hundreds of hours of tabletop use, usually representing settlements or frontiers, but its loneliness never sat right with me. I toyed with the idea of buying several more pieces off ebay to create a small town, but it was prohibitively expensive and I’d end up having to hack them apart to make them look different, which felt like sacrelige. What if I made my own?

With some bevelled MDF bases from ebay and some chunks of balsa wood to make the base, I had my foundations laid. My primary material would be foamboard – a material I’d never used before – as I’d pinched a load of off-cuts from work. It also was a landmark moment for me as it necessitated the purchase of a cutting mat.

For the first time in almost 20 years, I finally acquired a different hobby surface than my old high school sketch book.

A sticky(back) situation

The foamboard was 5mm thick, making it easy to roughly work out how many sheets I’d need to make walls different thicknesses. What wasn’t easy was realising I’d assembled a bunch of walls using sticky-back foam board without peeling the protective paper off. I had to pull it apart and start again.

I had two goals. Firstly to replicate the look and feel of the original design, and secondly to make a large playable space inside the buildings. As much as I love the original piece, you can barely fit three miniatures in there, not to mention plot maguffins. The new ones would need to have nice wide interiors.

Buttress on both sides of the bread

On the subject of the original design, the more I studied it, the more I realised there was none. It was a scenery designer cutting cool shapes out of I presume pink foam and gluing them together in a cohesive piece.

There are no rules or repeat patterns, very few standard shapes, and very little logic apparent in its construction. It is very warhammer in that respect, but that makes it very frustrating to copy.

I picked out a few designs I liked and replicated them around the buildings. Buttresses came in two widths – thick (20mm) and thin (15mm), and would vary evenly in height. Some touched the top of the wall, some exceeded it.

By this point I had got exceptionally good at hand-bevelling, as any sloped edges are at a constant 0.5mm depth.

Some corners were gien buttresses, some were left bare, and some were given 45 degree slabs to round them off a bit. I tried not to have any repeating patterns – the original doesn’t have a single corner the same as another.

The only exception is perhaps the larger square building with its uniform front. I wanted it to be more like an operational or commercial building (I had code named it ‘town hall’ in m head) so needed a slightly more impressive entrance.

I had thought about taking measurements to turn into a 3D model or used as a template for other people to follow, but honestly it would be almost as much work again. Every section had to be painfully measured, cut, re-cut, shaved down, wiggled round etc just to fit. If someone wants to pay me to produce a template though, I’m all ears!

Filler? I hardly knew ‘er

Foamboard is a great construction material – cheap, lightweight, holds its shape perfectly, but isn’t without its downsides. It has exposed polystyrene edges, which will melt if you apply superglue/poly cement or hit it with a spray can. Also, no matter how careful you are, several bits of foamboard stacked up will never have a flat edge – they’ll always appear like three little sandwhiches. I needed to fill the sides.

Enter the all-purpose filler, increasingly becoming one of my favourite hobby materials alongside PVA glue.

After adding a few strips of thick plasticard around the windows and doors help define them a bit, all the exposed edges got a thick covering of filler, applied generously with an old Tesco clubcard, and kept very wet throughout to help shape it.

I wasn’t worried about the look at this point, only for coverage. Once it dried I hit it with the sandpaper to define some of those corners and smooth the edges. The biggest downside to filler is that it’s porous and incredibly powedery when it dries, making it not ideal for regular tabletop use.

Luckily its porous nature makes it perfect for my other favourite building material – PVA glue (aka white glue, school glue, etc). Give it a very generous coating over the filler it sucks up the glue like a sponge and dries rock hard. I was shocked how well it worked even after one coat, I was expecting to have to do several to see any benefit at all.

On with the detailing!

Raising the roof

I raided my bits box for various plastic gubbins to break up the flat shapes of the walls. Many of the original greebling is lost to time, although I could definitely ID a few bits here and there, including parts from ancient space marine tanks and some classic warhammer Orc shield designs. The chances of me getting those were slim, so I improvised.

Random bits were applied all over, with vague and indistinct shapes to suggest function without particularly describing it. I tried to follow the original’s intent, even if I couldn’t copy the design.

Once all the plastic had gone on (and I’d figured out where my ladders were going), I started to shape the roofs.

This was about as unscientific as you could imagine. I roughly measured where certain buttresses would be that I’d have to cut out allowances for, but due to all the extra filler and creative placement of features, it ended up being far easier just turning the whole thing upside down and tracing the shape onto the foamboard, with extra fine-tuning to make it fit.

Ultimate heresy

I dared to believe I could improve upon the wisdom of the ancients. Once I’d figured out my roofing system, I applied that to the original STC hab and was a) surprised at how well it worked and b) felt a strange string of emotions as I changed the shape and silhuoette of something that has been in my life for almost 20 years.

And yet in all those years, I never once imagined what the roof would look like. This felt right.

The other roofs were similarly patterned. A second round of foamboard on top vaguely followed the flow of the walls and buttresses. This created natural empty spaces that I filled with plastic embroidery sheeting, or ‘granny mat’, a super-cheap material that works wonders as industrial flooring.

The roofs were given the same treatment of filler > sanding > PVA to smooth down the edges, and by the time that was complete they fit very snugly onto their relevant bottom halfs.

Some details I made sure to add was the long ammunition cylinder from the OG crates and tank traps sprue (still in production today!), as the original had a few of those crates stacked up at the far end, and I picked out a Warhammer Orc shield design to add to one of the buttresses like a weird gargoyle. Both buildings got ladders on them too, much like the original had.

The interior of the habs was covered in plasticard in an embossed treadplate design, and broken up with strips of flat plasticard to emulate the floor of the original hab.

Final details done, it was time to get messy.

True Grit

Everything got a healthy dollop of my homemade recipe for textured paint. Equal parts PVA glue, filler, modelling sand, and poster paint for colour. The colour isn’t particularly important but it is necessary – the darker, the better. As this mixture is getting poked into the deepest recesses of the model, it’s better to have it a similar colour to how you intend to have the whole model undercoated.

Spray paint inevitably misses some bits or fails to get into troublesome nooks, so having a dark neutral colour in the gaps as part of your pre-undercoating process helps cover up a whole heap of sins down the line.

Let us spray

Everything was given a couple of healthy coats of matt black undercoat, with a health checkup halfway through to ensure the paint wasn’t eating through the foamboard.

Satisfied my PVA trick was working, I gave them a coat of TTCombat’s laser cut brown spray. As a side note, as much as I like having access to affordable coloured sprays, they do have an annoyingly glossy finish.

A final zenithal coat of grey spray paint was applied, leaving plenty of brown in the cracks and crevices.

Changing rooms

Painting these big boys was a matter of drybrushing and washing. I didn’t want to do any detail work as I didn’t want to distract from the big vague shapes (and I’d spent enough time bevelling foamboard, I just wanted to get them done).

  1. The habs were given a drybrush of light grey to pick out the textures and edges
  2. Athonian Camoshade and Agrax Earthshade were sponged on, largely in corners were rot might gather, but also applied as drips of muck.
  3. The dirt was given a coat of brown paint, then lightly drybrushed. Agrax went over the top, with another even lighter drybrush to pick out the larger rocks.
  4. For metal parts, these were given a flat coat of Typhus Corrosion with a light drybrush of metal picking out key details
  5. The finishing touch was adding some posters I found on the internet (and some I’d made mself), printing them out and roughing them up a bit before attaching them with PVA.

They were simple to paint, with just a handful of colours applied in interesting ways. There’s not much else to add about that part, so on with the show!

The S-shaped one
The Town Hall one

I’m overjoyed with how well they came out. The only thing I’d change is perhaps go a little lighter on the weathering so they’re not so green, but otherwise I’m really happy with them!

I wasn’t sure it would be possible to create convincing replicas of an ancient kit with no instructions or design logic, but it was! I’m thrilled to bits with how they came out, and I can’t wait to put them on a tabletop and live out my sci-fi spaghetti western dreams.

Let’s just not talk about why they don’t have any doors, eh?

MOTB: Crates and racking

Finished product first!

A while ago I bought some wood in a Kickstarter and thought nothing of it. I had no idea what it would awaken in me.

Fast forward many moons and I have returned several times to MAD Gaming for their excellent modular wares. As part of one of those orders I picked up their rather excellent Warehouse Alfa 5 kit, which was ostensibly just a lot of shelves and boxes. Little did I realise just how many shelves and boxes I would get.

Wood you kindly

I’d been doing some terrain auditing during the Plague Years, and realised I didn’t have anything to represent interiors. The last Inquisitor game I played before The Long March of 2020 involved a warehouse raid, and I didn’t have anything particularly decent to bring that wonderful skirmish battlefield trope to life.

I was surprised at two things. Firstly, how little warehouse terrain is commercially available. You get the odd resin piece from Mantic or TTCombat, but trying to actually fill a warehouse with that stuff would be madness.

Secondly, how huge the MAD Gaming warehouse kit turned out to be. Not just in physical presence on the tabletop, but how well it scaled up to 54mm.

You can buy all the parts individually, but you save a bit of dosh with the bundle and pretty much get the crates thrown in. You also get lots of adorable little palettes, which I was a little disheartened to see that they didn’t fit any of the crates that came with the kit, so I tucked them away in the bits box for later use.

Crate expectations

Bad news first: building those crates was a very unpleasant experience. They look great when they’re done, but they were so fiddly to assemble. It wasn’t obvious from the instructions whether I had the wrong number of edge/feet pieces, or I was supposed to freestyle it.

The stacking crates (red-coloured ones in later pictures) were the main offenders. You build the six sides of the box, then you have to force the collars over each end, then secure them with the bars on top.

These have been cut to such small tolerances that you have to exhert an uncomfortable amount of force to squeeze them on, often bursting them in the process. I ended up having to shave down corners and edges just to make them fit. If I was to build them again I’d simply cut the collars in half and glue them in place.

Nice rack

A neat little touch is having the freedom to have the racking shelves at any height, and they come with lots of little L-shaped widgets to help you do that. You don’t get much leverage on them to push them into the holes as they’re barely 3mm across.

I made it much easier on my poor thumb by shaving down the pegs a bit so they slid in easier.

You’ll also want a couple of rubber bands to hold them in place while it all dries. You don’t want a wonky rack now, do you?

Mindless shelf indulgence

The good news now: Once built, it takes paint brilliantly and is probably some of my favourite terrain I own. Everything was tabletop-ready in an afternoon of rattlecans in the sunshine, with details and weathering taking another few hours.

The racking was given two coats of matt black spray, followed by a zenithal highlight of grey spray. A delicate blast of white spray was applied straight down the middle to highlight the shelves. A poor man’s airbrush!

Weathering was easy – a rough uneven pin wash of Agrax Earthshade in the corners, and Typhus Corrosion applied with a piece of torn off sponge. Done!

Did I mention they were big?

Fat stacks

Another trick that helps me with modular scenery is gluing smaller bits together into larger modular chunks, such as stacking crates or barrels. I’ve had some bad experiences with things being too modular, as you spend so much time setting up and tearing down a game board. Play with larger building blocks, and break it up with smaller pieces.

This is one example of a larger building block – five crates from the MAD set glued together with a smaller 40k plastic crate on top for garnish.

These were painted in much the same way as the shelves, but with block colours painted in before the Typhus Corrosion stage. A light flesh colour was used for the numbers, and the crates were Castellan Green, Nuln wash, then drybrushed with Straken Green.

The red crates were blasted with red spray (the white zone is for loading and unloading only), with a fiddly lot of masking tape applied for the hazard stripes and sponging on the yellow. It turned out not to be worth the bother in the end, as I needed to do so much cleanup with a brush that I may as well have brushed it on in the first place.

Grouping them into stacks makes it easy to drop them into the tabletop to create interesting shapes of cover, or pile them together into a megastack without worrying about stability if models decide to go for a climb.

Show me your wares

I was also careful assemble the shelves at different heights to accomodate different stacks of crates. Being able to pop in a stack makes the shelf look busy and populated, without having to do any of the actual menial work of stacking a shelf!

They look great combined combined with the racking, and I’ve got tonnes of other scatter that would look great on these shelves too.

If you leave enough loose crates spare, you can also create a pleasing mess when players inevitably knock them over (accidentally or purposefully).

Despite being unreasonably fiddly to assemble, the finished products are also very durable and stack perfectly inside standard-sized boxes (A4, A3 etc). They can be stored without packing with bubblewrap too, so you can fit a big battlefield in a small container.

racking my head for more puns

Despite my frustrations with assembly, I would still unreservedly recommend this kit. For Necromunda and other RPG games, I can see these crates and shelves being used as scatter to add flavour. Just be sure to trim down some of the close-fitting parts to save yourself lots of finger pain.

For Inquisitor players however, I can’t recommend how much you need these things in your life. These should be a must-have for anyone’s 54mm collection. The scale is perfect – I’d argue more suitable to 54mm than the smaller 28-32mm counterparts. Warehouses and hangar bays are the inevitable battleground for any investigation, so do yourself a favour and get yourself the best rack money can buy.