Crown of Bones | An Inquisitor 54 campaign

These are the resources used for Crown of Bones, a campaign being run for a group of my locals using Games Workshop’s specialist 54mm game “Inquisitor”.

You can keep up with the battle reports at the bottom of the page or follow the Crown of Bones posts on the blog.

plot and setting
The story so far

The powerful Navigator House of Dacien have plied the stars for millennia, with lavish estates and opulent holdings all across the Imperium. When the Cicatrix Maledictum opened something stirred in the Dacien bloodline, and every ship they piloted was lost in the blink of an eye.

This cataclysm brought ruin to House Dacien overnight, and its few survivors retreated to an old estate on the edge of Imperial space to mourn and rebuild – a barren, scorched planet called Gehanna. With Elder-Novator Boreas Dacien missing, their previous head of the House, the remaining Navigators became locked in a leadership struggle.

Elder-Novator Boreas Dacien, art by @musketanna

Navigator Households are intensely private, especially to the prying eyes of the Inquisition, which makes their recent fleet activity even more inscrutable. They have raised a mercenary fleet to wage a trade war against a shadowy Rogue Trader. Archeological dig sites have sprung up all across Gehanna and the local black market is flooded with strange artifacts. One Navigator has even reached out to the Inquisition with a damning accusation about his own House.

Reports of disappearances from the Gehanna dig sites are currently unfounded, but rumours among the workforce sinsist the planet is haunted, and that House Dacien are kidnapping workers for secret experiments.

What is indisputable fact, however, is the strange arrival of the ghost ship Ius Soli coinciding with the discovery of an artifact that can reportedly predict warp travel. The artifact’s exact nature is unknown, with criminals and authorities alike scrambling to claim it before the inevitable Inquisitorial investigation.

Even its name is unknown, with only a rough translation from the voidcant of an intercepted vox message: the Crown of Bones.

Gehanna

Gehanna is a lonely planet baked by a waning sun and choked by stellar debris. The remnants of ancient civilisations both human and alien are strewn across its surface, and the outer reaches of the system is littered with the broken remains of expeditions who have tried to claim them.

A fierce heat blankets the surface. The temperature recedes enough at night for its scant wildlife to pick over the blasted earth. Sub-surface caverns stretch for miles, channelling cooler air and fresh water. Some caverns are naturally formed from tectonic movements or erosion, others are the product of long-extinct subterranean creatures, alien excavations, or the far-reaching catacombs of House Dacien.

Other than a handful of abandoned digsites or archeological colonies, the House Dacien estate is the only settlement on Gehanna. Great spires rise from its heart nestled in the mountains, and miles of structures of unknown purpose snake down into the wastelands below.

It was once a long-forgotten retreat on the edge of Imperial space, a footnote in the unfathomable wealth of House Dacien. Since the cataclysm it now acts as the last bastion of the fallen Navigator household, and the epicentre of an increasingly deadly conspiracy.

Briefing

Each player will have a warband of characters motivated by recent events to be involved in the Crown of Bones investigation. In such an isolated solar system warbands will clash over scarce resources to keep ahead of their rivals, and clues to the Crown of Bones’ true nature and location must be recovered swiftly and decisively.

The campaign is set over 10 weeks. Scenarios are split into Chapter missions (the main story) and Annex missions (dynamic side quests for settling grudges and gathering resources).

The overall objective is to accrue as many resources as possible to secure your warband’s position in the grand finale to decide the fate of the Crown of Bones.

Resources

Warbands start with a small number of resources – an abstraction used to quantify how well a warband is doing. They represent evidence, supply lines, contacts, blackmail opportunities, medical aid, personal wealth, and much more.

They are acquired by completing objectives during missions and are spent on assistance for your warband or buying into Chapter missions.

Warbands

A warband is a pool of characters commanded by a leader. There are no hard restrictions on your warbands, but your leader must be capable of social interactions with other leaders.

Warbands can also include Specialists that give them access to unique bonuses outisde of games, including Trackers, Physicians, Cartographers, Seneschals and Interrogators.

Factions

Blackbriar Corps: A mercenary group hired by House Dacien to fight their trade war with the Lucile Dynasty

House Dacien: A shadowy Navigator household fallen from grace

Inquisition: You have been told of the Inquisition. Everything you have been told is a lie.

Lucile Dynasty: A borderline criminal Rogue Trader dynasty whose fortune is made on slavery and xenos trade.

Mayweather Borers: An industrial meritocracy that specialises in deep void mining and excavation.

warbands
Motivation

Pick or roll a d6 to determine your Leader’s motivation. These will be used to work out scenario objectives and who your immediate rivals are!

Knowledge

Everything you have been told is a lie, so seek answers for yourself. What secrets are House Dacien keeping? Who is responsible for the disappearances? Why is the Ius Soli here?

Power

Nature abhors a vacuum, and the leadership struggle of House Dacien provides ample opportunities to grow your influence and authority. Install a puppet at the head of House Dacien who is indebted to you, or maybe claiming the Crown of Bones is key to usurping your masters.

Duty

Your involvement is sworn responsibility – no more, no less. There may be a key antagonist you’ve been tasked to apprehend, or perhaps you’ve pledged to solve the events of Gehanna in the name (and interests) of your organisation.

Hunt

Lawbreakers, heretics, vagabonds and other agents of disorder are attracted to such events like flies to grox-dung, and your pursuit of one of them has embroiled you in the sordid affairs of Gehanna. Perhaps you seek a priceless artifact, such as Shadow Khan’s phase sword, or the Crown of Bones itself.

Wealth

The trade war has attracted all manner of assassins and bounty hunters eager for a sliver of Navigator coin, and the Blackbriar contract means there is good money to be made capturing House Dacien’s mercenaries alive. Selling the secrets of House Dacien or the Crown of Bones itself could make you wealthier than money ever could.

Chance

It was only a routine patrol! The fates have conspired to implicate or entangle you in the messy affairs of Navigators, Inquisitors and Rogue Traders. Which allies can you call upon, and what secrets do you possess that others so desperately want?

Composition

A warband is a pool of 3 or more characters commanded by a leader. There are no hard restrictions on warbands, but the leader must be capable of social interactions with other leaders.

You will pick 1-3 warband members to take part in scenarios, the rest are performing tasks elsewhere in the universe. A large warband pool gives you resilience against long-term injuries and provides flexibility in scenarios. A smaller warband pool is less affected by Tracker specialists and can make ammunition stretch further when doing Resupply actions.

You can nominate up to 2 characters to be Specialists, which provide unique bonuses throughout the campaign, and should be modelled and equipped appropiately. They are:

Tracker, Interrogator, Cartographer, Physicial, Seneschal.

Stats, skills and wargear

To keep things fair and fun, warbands are encouraged to follow a community-driven set of guidelines called the Conclave Standard. These are not hard restrictions and with the GM’s approval anything goes, but a good starting point would be:

  • Bolt and power weapons should limited, ideally one of each per warband
  • Heroic and True Grit skills should be limited to one of each per warband, and not the same character
  • Lots of skills dilute a character’s essence – pick fewer skills that really sum them up
  • Ballistic Skill is a measurement of accuracy firing from the hip – a marksman is more likely to have a mid-range Ballistic Skill of 50-60 but have the Sniper talent to better reflect their abilities.

There are more good homebrew special abilities on the Carthax Wiki, although some of them can be a bit wonky so double-check with your GM.

specialists and campaign actions
Specialists

Players can nominate up to 2 characters in their warband to be Specialists. Each has unique bonuses and provides free buy-ins to certain Chapter missions. Players are expected to model and equip their Specialists to reflect their area of expertise.

Tracker

Once per campaign at the beginning of a scenario you may pick a deployed rival warband member (except a Leader) and swap them out for an undeployed character from their warband. If there are no spare characters to exchange, the warband deploys with one fewer member.

Interrogator

If you capture a rival warband member during a scenario, once per campaign you gain a Resource.

Cartographer

Once per campaign at the start of a scenario you may swap deployment zones with another warband or deploy anywhere on the board.

Physician

Once per campaign get a free Medical action.

Seneschal

Once per campaign get a free Resupply action.

Campaign Actions

Actions are warband activities performed between games and can be done any number of times, as long as you pay the associated Resource cost.

  • Medical: 1 Resource
  • Trade: GM’s discretion
  • Resupply: 1 Resource

Medical

One warband member may fully heal all Light, Heavy, Serious and Acute injuries.

Critical injuries require replacement limbs, perhaps vat-grown, bionic or stem cell treatment, and instead need a Trade action at GM’s discretion.

Trade

Warbands may find themselves in a hostage swap or exchanging supplies, or perhaps they need to locate a cache of rare ammunition or bionic replacements for lost limbs. These are resolved away from the tabletop as discussions or a few dice rolls between players and GM.

Trade actions also provide the perfect catalyst for Annex missions.

Resupply

You restock munitions and supplies based on how easily available they are. Equipment availability is listed in the back of the rulebook. Reloads are a full magazine of ammunition for a weapon (whatever the Shots value is), whereas a shot is a single round.

Roll once for each availability level and distribute throughout your warband as you see fit. These supplies are for your whole warband, not per character – those 2d6 Rare shots have to be split between your bolt pistol and heavy stubber!

AvailabilityAmmunition
Commond6 reloads
Rare2d6 shots
Exoticd6 shots
LegendaryGM’s discretion

A grenade counts as a reload for the purposes of Resupply actions, so only Frag and Smoke grenades can be resupplied.

Keep track of unused shots or reloads – they can be used later or traded with other warbands.

scenario types
Chapter missions

There are 5 Chapter missions: 4 story-driven scenarios that lead up to the grand finale mission. These will happen on a set date once every 2 weeks, typically on a weekend (with a schedule to follow shortly).

They are expected to run about 3-5 hours each with up to 4 players and Rob as GM. Not every warband can play in every Chapter mission, so players have to organise which they attend.

Attending a Chapter mission costs a Resource to ‘buy in’, and some Specialists grant their warband free access to certain scenarios.

If your warband finds itself short of Resources for the next Chapter they may need to organise an Annex mission beforehand…

Annex missions

These are smaller skirmishes with more narrative flexibility that can happen any time throughout the campaign. They are organised and GMd by players to win additional resources, but are also good opportunities to explore and expand on existing warband conflicts.

Perhaps a hostage swap goes awry, or a warband ambushes another to steal some secrets.

If the players have the time and inclination, Trade campaign actions provide the perfect catalyst for an Annex side mission. Not only does it add drama and intrigue to the campaign, but gives players the opportunity to walk away with much more than they bargained for!

Why spend a Resource to acquire a bionic limb when you could enact a daring raid on a convoy guarded by another warband? Perhaps a hostage trade goes south when a third party arrives wanting to walk away with both sets of hostages?

Warbands who complete their objectives may gain Resources on top of their original goal, making it a highly lucrative event. Players who GM these Annex missions will earn a Resource for their own warband whatever the outcome.

A modular scenario generator will be provided to help give structure to any missions that players choose to run.

persistent campaign mechanics
Resources

Warbands start with 3 resources – an abstract currency used to quantify how well a warband is doing. They represent evidence, supply lines, contacts, blackmail opportunities, medical aid, personal wealth, and much more.

Completing a Chapter mission objective awards 2 Resources. Completing an Annex mission typically rewards 1 Resource. There may be side plots, bonus objectives, or off-the-books rewards for enterprising investigators.

Resources are typically spent on campaign actions (Medicae, Resupply and Trade) and buying into Chapter missions.

Players are also encouraged to use them to barter hostages, bribe rivals, buy off NPCs – anything their nefarious minds can think of!

Wargear and ammunition

What a character starts the campaign with is considered their default equipment. Outside of scavenging during scenarios, warbands can only top up wargear with a Resupply action.

If a character runs out reloads with a Common scarcity weapon, they always start a scenario with the weapon fully loaded (but with no additional reloads). No matter where you are in the universe, you can always scrounge together a few bullets for a revolver or some heat for a lasgun.

If you run low on ammunition or other supplies you might need to take the Resupply campaign action between games, or launch a daring raid on a rival warband’s supply lines in an Annex mission.

Lasting injuries

Injury total and damage numbers on each location are set to zero after each game, and any Light or Heavy injuries can be removed. Serious or greater injuries stay on the character but their numbers are reset to zero. Characters start with any persistent effects, but no immediate effects.

If a warband has a Medikit or the Medicae skill, you may make a Toughness check on each warband member (including bonuses for Medikits or Medicae skills) after each game. A success means you may reduce one location by one injury level.

Critical injuries require replacement limbs to heal – perhaps vat-grown, bionic or stem cell treatment – and require a special Trade campaign action to acquire.

Annex missions
  1. Dust-up at Distro-19
Chapter missions
  1. No Souls On Board

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