Friday, 20 January 2017

Deathwatch RPG - Kill Team Theta - Session Four

The mission logs of Kill Team 'Theta' of the Deathwatch.

This sessions attendees are...
(GMGarreth  - Iron Hands Techmarine Marcus
Matt - Black Templars Assault Marine Klaus
Tristan - White Scars Assault Marine Hakim
Matt - Space Wolves Wolf Scout Bjorn
Gareth - Imperial Fist Devastator Marine Arno Tyr
Jon - Raven Guard Apothecary Validus
Designated Leader - Assault Marine Klaus
Kill-Team Oath - Oath of Glory
Mission Requisition - N/A

Martin was unavailable to GM due to a family matter so I filled in again. Therefore my Iron Hands Techmarine Marcus will be an NPC for this session along with the absent Ultramarine players character Claudius.

The characters current stats can be found on this page here together with a few explanations about liberties that were taken with the character creation process. Other missions from this and other campaigns can be found here.

Note - As I was GMing and obviously had notes and intro bits written down I've just pasted them into this article directly so they'll be in a 'reading to the group' style. This'll save me a lot of time writing out everything again and hopefully wont effect your reading enjoyment too much bouncing between the two styles of writing. Out of character notes that shed light on certain events will be in red...

Mission Four - Unforeseen Complications
After successfully locating and neutralising the distress signal threatening to reveal an Imperial presence on the planet you return to your cache site and open an encrypted vox transmission to your headquarters and report in. Though you get the distinct impression that the execution of an ally might not have been the way they would have resolved the issue themselves it is accepted that you acted within the broad guidelines of your mission brief. You are however ordered to hold your current position while the rest of your report is quickly analysed.

Editors Note - I then gave them the opportunity to change their designated leader and Oath, restored their Fate Points and let the Apothecary have a chance to heal every-one still full of holes from the last mission. They decided to leave the Black Templar in charge and keep their existing Oath of Glory, The Apothecary also healed every-one with the exception of a point here and there.

After a short time you receive a vox transmission, The report that there are Vespid on the planet has caused some concern as their weapons anti-armour capabilities and aerial manoeuvrability are a factor that may effect the balance between the Tau and Tyranids in the favour of the Tau due to the lack of airborne Tyranid bioforms currently detected. It has therefore been decided that a reconnaissance of that area is needed to see if this was a single scouting unit or part of a larger influx of Tau allied creatures before any further assaults can be planned. 

Additionally a malfunction has been detected in part of the servo-skull network which despite having limited effect on auspex capabilities has meant that several of the networked skulls are now locked in position and are no longer utilising their evasion protocols and though small in size and currently in locations devoid of xenos this issue needs resolving. Given your techmarine is the only person capable of undertaking such repairs he is ordered to see to this problem while the rest of you investigate the potential Vespid issue.

Editors Note - I wanted my own character out of the way for this session and it justified the Ultramarines absence as well.

Marcus hands over the Auspex, Elucidator and Jamming system to Klaus for allocation. He assures you that now he has access to the Tau communications system this and his own in-built scanners will enable him to avoid any enemy contact that he deems worthy of avoidance. Given that you have already been allocated several unforeseen missions and resources may become scarce he has adapted a number of the Tau Photon Grenades for you to use should you run low of Astartes issue Grenades. Due to there smaller size he's clumped several together so they're easier for powered armoured individuals to handle...

As Good a Place As Any...
The team decided to start their search at the location of the Vespid ambush and see if their scout Bjorn could pick up a trail. After a few false starts the Wolf Scout managed to catch a familiar scent.

You find an occasional track and the remnants of a scent trail here and there that could conceivably have been made by the same creatures who assaulted you here earlier. They seem to indicate that they originated from further along the ravine you circumvented in your earlier mission.

Assisted by the Raven Guard Apothecary who despite having some trouble analysing the readings from the Auspex showed more than adequate tracking skills of his own the scout once again picked up the trail they'd been originally following. It seemed to lead down a collapsed section of the ravine that they'd noted during their last mission which led into the river though at this point Bjorn lost the scent completely.

Editors Note - Bjorns player Matt had been abandoned by his dice gods so far this fact not just abandoned...they appeared to have cursed him first...and then left this plane of existence completely...

The river begins to become deeper and faster as it flows between the sheer cliff faces however some distance ahead you notice that a rockfall has created a separate slower moving stream that disappears into a cave entrance that was concealed from view from the ravine edge. The scent trail detected by your Wolf Scout earlier seems to be originating from that direction.

Having little other option the team waded into the water which was fortunately only waist deep at this point. The riverbed was slippery in several places causing a couple of the Astartes to lose their footing and causing their progress to slow considerably. Given the potential vulnerability of their current location Apothecary Validus attempted to scan the are with the Auspex handed to him by the Techmarine but could make no sense of the readings at all. Bjorn also seemed to be having trouble maintaining his grasp of the scent even with his heightened senses. These two failures were about to have unforeseen and dangerous consequences...

You notice movement in the slower moving waters ahead a moment before several long reptilian creatures with jaws filled with rows of large triangular teeth burst from beneath the water.

Somewhat fortunately for the team one of the creatures was slightly ahead of the others and their superhuman reactions enabled them to act a moment before the lead Crotalid could grasp one of them in it's jaws. Bolt rounds and shotgun blasts from a variety of Astartes weaponry tore the monstrosity apart though caught by surprise as they were more shots went astray than would normally have been the case. The Templar attempted to add a Frag Grenade to the carnage but fumbled the throw and dropped it into the water where it's effect was blunted by the water. The team was hoping that the blood filled water would distract the rest of the pack but a moment later the rest of the reptiles were upon the them.

A submerged creature tore through the leg of the Apothecaries leg armour while several of the other Astartes took minor damage as impossibly powerful jaws penetrated their armour in a number of locations. The White Scar Hakim activated his Jump Pack and as he launched into the air he put a shot from his Bolt Pistol through the back of one of the reptiles. Bjorn unleashed a full auto blast from his Assault Shotgun but inexplicably hit nothing but water while the rest were somewhat more fortunate with their Bolt Pistols.

More minor wounds were inflicted upon the water-bound Space Marines with the Apothecary, Templar and Wolf Scout getting the worse of the encounter. More Bolt Rounds accounted for a couple of the monstrous Crotalids and Klaus's Maul tore a massive chunk out of one of the creatures sides despite a second inflicting yet more damage on him. Noting that Klaus was still in danger of being overwhelmed Hakim leapt into action and using the full power of his Jump Pack and his own significant strength drove his Power Sword neatly through his attackers skull.

A moment later Bjorn narrowly avoided decapitation as he avoided a creatures gaping maw as it leapt from the water before finishing the culprit with a close range shotgun burst. With enemy numbers reduced severely the team quickly finished off the last few before Validus urged his comrades to hurry to a ledge within the cave to which they were originally heading so they could get out of the river and allow him some time to patch up both their and his own wounds. Without a Techmarine to see to the armour damage they were forced to patch up the holes themselves with their dwindling supplies of repair cement.

Editors Note - The number rolled to hit relates to the hit location and one of the Crotalids attacks did indeed hit Matts Wolf Scout character in the head. As Deathwatch Scout Armour doesn't come with a helmet there's a good chance that had he failed to dodge we would have needed a new Scout as the hit had also done critical damage...

The cave entrance opens into a larger area with a raised side area large enough for your team to walk along two by two though it does narrow to single file in several areas. It does however look fairly sturdy. The flow of water runs alongside this rocky walkway...

Editors Note - Due to time constraints I used a random dungeon map from the internet as a basis for this part of the mission...I mean...a cave, is a cave...right? I've added letters to the map so you can see where significant events occurred...

(A) The Space Wolf and the Raven Guard as the most stealthy of the group went in front with the Black Templar and White Scar just behind. The Devastator took up the rear though he did point out that this would limit his effectiveness if the rest of his team didn't get out of his way should he need to open fire at anything. The cave system was very dark but the Astartes Power Armour Auto Senses combined with their Heightened Senses made this only a minor inconvenience.

(B) A short distance into the cave network there was an entrance on the right to another cavern and Bjorn was sent ahead to investigate. This opened into a cave with a narrow passage at the rear. Advancing as stealthily as he could he moved to this opening but detected nothing of note other than some animal scents and from his viewpoint could see nothing in the adjoining cavern that indicated that anything Tau or Vespid had passed through here so he returned to the previous passageway.

Editors Note - If he'd have bothered to actually enter the room he would have found something but as he kept telling me he was using his Heightened Sense (Smell) he got given no information as to what was in there because it didn't have a scent worth noting. It was a kinda cool sub-plot as well...never-mind...I'll re-use it later, lol.

(C) At a crossing of passageways ahead some-one had constructed a primitive bridge which the Imperial Fist immediately doubted the integrity of with regards to an Astartes in full Power Armour. After some discussion it was decided that if some-one had bothered to build a bridge then it must lead somewhere of importance and Bjorn also detected a familiar set of scents in that direction so the other two passages were ignored for now.

Through trial and error the depth of the water was ascertained to be slightly shallower than an Astartes was tall so with the Devastator giving covering fire they waded across with the exception of Hakim who simply jumped across using his pack. As they were unsure of what they might encounter ahead it was decided that the Raven Guard was a better choice than the Wolf Scout as his Power Armour would give him more protection than Bjorn's lighter Deathwatch Scout Armour. Validus followed the corridor ahead as stealthily as he could while the rest of his team readied themselves should he require any assistance. (D) After a short period the corridor opened into another cavern.

(E) The corpses of several large creatures lie dead in the next caves entrance. The cause of death is clearly the distinctive wounds caused by Tau Pulse Carbine weaponry that have punched through their armoured carapaces...

As he knew that the rest of his kill-team was waiting Validus decided to attempt to lure out any threats that might be in the adjoining chamber by hurling an Astartes Frag Grenade through the entrance and then retreating as noisily as possible leaving any pursuing enemy in no doubt about the direction of travel of the cause of the explosion. Seeing no reason to delay he immediately implemented the plan...unfortunately the attention he drew was from a completely unforseen direction...

(F) The rockface beside you explodes outwards as a several metre tall hulking monstrosity with an insect-like armoured carapace launches itself at you with huge oversized arms tipped with iron-hard claws. A pack of similar though marginally smaller creatures bursts through the newly created side passage just behind...

The initial charge of the lead creature smashed the Apothecary into the opposite wall with some considerable force as it's claws began a concerted attempt to crush the unfortunate Raven Guard to death. The Power Armour began to fail in several locations as claws designed to tear through rock showed equal ability at rending apart armour.

Klaus was the first to arrive and seeing the danger that his comrade was in immediately launched himself at the largest of the monstrosities that had him pinned against the wall but despite several powerful strikes failed to loosen it's grip. The Imperial Fist arrived a fraction of a second later, braced himself and aimed a burst of Heavy Bolter Rounds past the melee and into the second wave of cave creatures felling at least two and possibly wounding another though the dust made it difficult to tell exactly. Moments later Bjorn arrived and after a moments hesitation switched his Assault Shotgun from Full Auto to single fire mode so as to minimise the chances of catching the pinned Apothecary in the blast as his armours integrity was now none existent in several key locations. Fortunately his single shot was accurately aimed and only hit enemy targets...

Editors Note - Or more correctly Bjorns player said "I ready my Shotgun..." and I made that smiley face that GM's wear when something both terrible and hilarious is about to happen but before I could do anything the four other players all yelled variations of "For F@#K's sake don't fire that on Full Auto you'll F@#King kill him"...I was admittedly a little disappointed...

Validus used his Bolt Pistol to fire into his ambusher but despite further damaging it couldn't get it to release it's grip. Seeing that Klaus was already assisting Validus, Hakim then hurled himself into the melee neatly bisecting one of the smaller attackers and severely wounding another. The combat quickly became a confusion of close range bolter fire, brutal melee strikes and the sound of razor tipped claws ripping through power armour but gradually the Astartes began to gain the upper hand despite the surprise of the initial attack and eventually though battered and bloodied the Kill-Team managed to prevail. After a pause while the Apothecary patched up his own wounds and those of his comrades in arms the somewhat worse for wear group continued onward ignoring the newly created side passage in favour of their earlier objective. Validus seemed to be getting the hang of interpreting the Auspex readings as he detected several mechanical devices in the next cavern space and so the advance was slowed in order for the stealthier team members to scout out this new threat.

(G) At the rear of the cavern three Tau Drones appear to be guarding a large alcove caused by a recent cave-in. Two of these are armed with paired Pulse weapons though at least one seems to be without weapons, it's purpose currently unknown...

Concerned that the third of the drones might be a transmitter of some kind they decided to target this as a priority and despite his Sniper Rifle being primarily an anti-infantry tool the Wolf Scout hoped his 'Ultra' Pattern weapon still packed enough of a punch to disable a drone. The Raven Guard targeted one of the armed devices with his Stalker Pattern Bolter while the Devastator removed his weapons belt feet and inserted a clip of Stalker Rounds instead and took aim at the final alcove guardian. The Devastator had also positioned himself so he could strafe across into the other devices should his fellows fail. He needn't have doubted them however as each of them accounted for their targets.

Editors Note - Well kinda...there was a brief moment when none of them had bothered to co-ordinate exactly who was aiming at which drone and I was planning on having them all shoot the same one...unfortunately I may need to work on my poker-face as once again they fine-tuned their plan at the last moment...

(H) The alcove has in it's ceiling a vertical shaft seemingly recently revealed by a cave-in or collapse, a ledge can be seen about ten metres above.

Perhaps still weakened by their earlier violent encounters both the Raven Guard and the Space Wolf had particular difficulty climbing up the shaft and were far less stealthy than would be considered ideal. Eventually after several attempts the more lightly armed Wolf Scout made it to the top and transmitted what he observed to the rest of the team via their linked systems.

Ahead you can see and hear (and smell) signs of significant activity. A vast cavern has been turned into a staging area of some description. Crates of equipment are piled here and there, racks of the strange Vespid weapons are along one wall and what looks like a communications array is standing unmanned in the far corner. A honeycomb like network of indentations has been created around several sections of the upper walls and many of these are occupied by Vespid Stingwings with even a superficial count revealing at least forty occupants. As you observe, another group appears from some shadowy concealed entrance just beyond what must be for these Xenos a living area of some sort so there must be at least one exit to the outside.

Rather than being entirely natural it looks like this area has been widened significantly by some mechanical means as large structural supports have been added at regular intervals around the outer perimeter no doubt as a precaution against collapses such as the one that created the area from which you entered. Indeed the outer perimeter area beyond these supports is conspicuously devoid of activity presumably due to there still being some measure of danger of collapse.

Klaus asked Bjorn to stay where he was and see if he could get them a better view of the support structure as the Imperial Fist Tyr had stated that destroying these supports might be a more efficient way of dealing with the situation than an all out attack. Concealed beneath his Camo-Cloak Bjorn moved slightly to get a better view. Despite his camouflage something had alerted a trio of Vespid who began to move towards where he had concealed himself but he was fortunate that they only briefly scanned the area presumably blaming the intermittent rock-falls for the noise. Once they'd returned to the caverns central section Bjorn continued his observations and Tyr's experiences as an Imperial Fist gave him a good idea of the sufficient force needed to bring the roof down.

Between them they still had a significant number of Astartes Krak Grenades but only a single dedicate demolition charge though this was a formidable Melta-Bomb. Tyr estimated that though a pair of Krak Grenades might be sufficient to break the support, three would be better and that the Melta device would actually be overkill. As the Wolf Scout transmitted more information the Imperial Fist identified four key supports whose destruction would almost certainly bring the entire caverns ceiling down on the Xenos creatures and hopefully take out the whole force in a single strike.

Editors Note - The Devastators player was rolling particularly well...unfortunately one of the other players...wasn't...

Realising that despite the Melta device having very flexible timer settings the Krak Grenades they were using had a much shorter maximum countdown so they'd need at least two of them to activate the furthest explosives then detonate the ones closest to their escape route on the way past. Hakim also suggested adding some of the Photon Grenades given to them by Techmarine Marcus so the Xenos would be too disorientated to escape the trap should some of them realise what was occurring. Only the Wolf Scout and Raven Guard had any chance of setting up the explosives undetected so Validus joined Bjorn and they began to implement the Imperial Fists plan.  Despite several near misses with Vespid guards the supports were rigged and ready and the two Marines coordinated their retreat...then disaster struck...

As the first timers were set and the Astartes tried to combine stealth with speed Bjorn was spotted and made the mistake of stopping to avoid detection. Unfortunately the last of the timers were now set and this delay gave him dangerously little time to make his escape. Validus leapt down the shaft and turned only to discover that his comrade wasn't there as planned...then the detonations started...

Editors Note - Deathwatch characters have things called 'Fate Points' that can be used for re-rolls, healing damage and other useful bonuses. They can also be permanently sacrificed in order to prevent a character from dying if a conceivable (even if unlikely) scenario can be come up with. Fortunately for Bjorns player a Fate Point can still be 'burnt' even if already used in the normal manner...

As the explosions began Kill Team Theta waited a moment longer before evacuating to give Bjorn a few seconds longer. Just as they had abandoned hope the scout was blasted through the opening in a shower of rocks and flame by a powerful explosion from within. Not knowing if he was alive or dead Hakim and Tyr scooped up the battered and bleeding figure in the tattered remnants of his Scout Armour and hurried for the exit as the cave network collapsed around them...

They watched for some time to ensure that no survivors emerged from the now obliterated cave complex while their Apothecary tried his best to stabilise their critically wounded scout. Eventually after several tense hours he declared that their fellow Marine would survive though he'd have an impressive new collection of scars and burns to commemorate the event...

Back to Reality.
Despite still being sprung on me I had slightly longer to write this mission than the previous unscheduled one so it had a bit more structure...though I did steal a map from the internet and tweaked what I'd written to match that map...

Overall I was happy with how it went and other than having to tweak some event timings due to them completely ignoring one half of the cave complex (The 'Ambull' ambush was meant to occur before the discovery of the Ambull corpses when I initially wrote it) and subsequently missing out a carefully written sub-plot the players acted roughly as I expected.

Some terrible dice rolls occurred during this game with both the Apothecaries attempts at Auspex operation and stealth failing more than they succeeded and the Wolf Scout managing to botch a concealment test despite having +40 in bonuses to the roll and then failing to outwit an explosion. Of course this being an RPG about the adventures of Space Marines in the Deathwatch there's going to be a heroic death at some point but I'd rather it didn't happen during a filler mission by a guest GM, lol.

Every-one was given 500XP and a couple of points of Renown with Hakim's player getting a bonus of 150XP for his inspired Crotalid kill and Photon Grenade idea.

Thoughts and comments are (as usual) most welcome.

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