Makes me think of Suffering Marshal's making an appearence in the not to distant future (either planetary Enforcers or actual Arbites). If they were Arbites they would know eactly how much Inquistorial henchmen or Acolytes (or Throne Aggents or Inquisitors) could ignore the Lex Calixis and how much authority they actually posess. They'll likely know the different Carta and kinds of authority that could be granted too...
MARK OF THE BEAST
169.816.M41. Dark clouds have rolled down from the nearby mountains during the night, and by morning they are unleashing a torrent of rain. The Acolytes are awakened by the Colonel’s servants, who lead them to the dining room where a sumptuous breakfast has been set out. Colonel Calidus and Sheriff Rann are already present, as is a man whom the Colonel introduces as the captain of his guard staff. As the Inquisitorial agents take seats and dig in to the delicious meal, the Colonel asks how they intend to deal with “-the wholly unacceptable intrusion of the Ruinous Powers” into his domain.
“We are going to root out the foul mutants’ den,” says Venris, “and kill them all.”
“Toward that end,” interjects Nicodemus between mouthfuls of food, “we will need to conscript some of your guards to accompany us.”
The captain of the guards has been expecting this. “Half of our guards were on duty all night, and are in no shape to go hunting monsters,” he says. “I won’t leave the Colonel’s property unguarded, so you can take half of the remainder. That’s six men.”
“And yourself, of course?” says Nicodemus.
The captain looks at him coldly. “Of course.” The Acolytes, not sure how much trouble the Colonel can cause for them if they get on his bad side, decide not to push for more than six men.
After breakfast, the Acolytes meet with the six guards who will be accompanying them, telling them what they will be looking for and impressing upon them the importance of not allowing any of the creatures to escape. Everyone dons rain slickers- the Colonel provides some for the agents- and the guards mount their horses as Kaarl brings the Outrider around. The captain hands out two hand voxcasters, keeping one for himself, and the Acolytes synchronize their microbeads to the guards’ vox frequency. Soon the group is making its way toward the ruins of Crymwell.
It is a few hours before noon when they arrive at the lost townlet. A quick search reveals that the ashes of the two buildings burned by Venris have been disturbed, and the charred skeletons of the mutants consigned therein scattered. Finding no signs of immediate danger, the Acolytes decide to proceed on foot to the hot springs. One of the buildings has a largely intact stable, where the horses are placed out of the rain. Denathor volunteers to stay behind and guard the Outrider. [Editorial Note: Denathor’s player missed this session, making it easy deciding who got stuck with the boring job…] Eyeing the narrow trail through the wood that leads to the hot springs, Nicodemus is concerned about being ambushed. A quick meeting between the Acolytes, Sheriff Rann, and the captain of the guards produces a plan: they will divide into three groups (two of each of them plus two guards apiece) and they will proceed with one group following the trail, the other two paralleling through the woods on either side.
It’s slow going, as the two groups proceeding through the woods on the sides of the trail are reduced to a crawl to avoid making too much noise. Nicodemus has an idea, and calls over his microbead for the groups to call out if they come upon any tracks in the soft ground. Soon the frequency is filled with calls of “Tracks here,” “Got some here,” “More here,” and even a few calls of picked carcasses of caelstag, to the point that Nicodemus cancels his request. It is clear that this whole area has become the hunting grounds of the beastmen.
Twenty minutes after leaving Crymwell, one of the guards attached to Nicodemus’ group says “What’s that?” pointing to something sticking out of a knothole on a large tree. The psyker tells him to go get it as the rest keep a sharp eye out for an ambush. The guard retrieves the item and presents it to the Acolyte. It appears to be a handwritten journal. Nicodemus thumbs through it; the early pages contain a day-by-day account of the establishment of the townlet of Crymwell and, later, updates of geological survey work conducted by the settlers, interspersed with bits of local gossip, all written in elegant feminine handwriting. Flipping to the final entry, Nicodemus finds the crudely scrawled message AM BEAST- HERD IS ALL. Realizing this is important evidence of the fate that befell the townspeople, Nicodemus pockets the journal and then orders the group forward.
At one point the trail crosses a small ravine via a wooden bridge, forcing the three groups to come together to get across before splitting up again. From here, steam is clearly visible rising from the foothills about two kilometers ahead.
Shortly after crossing the bridge, the group led by Venris and Sheriff Rann and attacked by two of the hideous mutants. The beastmen charge one of the guards, but fail to connect with their primitive weapons. Venris doesn’t hesitate, blasting the scene with his flamer. The beastmen both dodge out of the path of the flame- but the guard does not, and dies screaming in agony. Unwisely, the beastmen split up, and a quickly dispatched by Venris, Sheriff Rann and the remaining guard. The other two groups, hearing the battle, converge on the scene; the guard tells the captain about his comrade’s death via ‘friendly fire’, and the Acolytes realize they may have a problem. Conferring in secret, the agents debate if the guards can be allowed to live after what they have seen. They know that some of them are former Imperial Guard, but two of the others are native-born men with no military background. The Acolytes decide that the former Guardsmen can probably be trusted to follow orders and keep the events of today a secret, but the locals cannot, and thus should not be allowed to return alive…
Soon the trees become thinner as the trail approaches the base of the foothills of the Urquhart Mountains. A large cave mouth can be seen in the nearest hill, with steam pouring out into the cold air. The driving rain has developed into a full-fledged thunderstorm, adding an ominous pall to the already grim mission. [Editorial Note: Back when I was DMing AD&D, I usually did things the most complicated way possible. That included determining the weather: I had a whole elaborate system, based on latitude and ocean currents… When I started running DH, I resolved not to fall into the trap of believing that complicated=good; I left determining the weather to a simple d10 roll, with ‘1’ being the best possible weather conditions for that season, and a ‘10’ being the worst, rechecking each hour. This day began with an ‘8’, which, for early autumn, I decided would be driving rain. When the party reached the hot springs, I rolled again and got a nicely melodramatic ‘10”.]
At the edge of the woods, the party is again ambushed by a pair of beastmen. One is killed, but the other is only wounded, and manages to flee down the trail. The Acolytes and their allies give chase, but the creature makes it up a terraced cluster of rocks and into the mouth of the cave. The Acolytes pursue cautiously. A stream of hot water flows through the center of the cave. “Nice place to spend the winter” notes Nicodemus. Deep in the cave, chanting can be heard. Spotting an alcove to the side of the entrance, Kaarl decides to investigate- and is promptly attacked by the wounded beastman hiding within. The techpriest kills the mutant, then voxes the others to take a look at what he has found. The alcove appears to be a lava bubble formed in the distant past; light enters through a small hole in the ceiling. Propped up against the far wall is the long-dead corpse of one of the creatures- obviously female despite the advance state of decomposition. A crown of woven flowers rests on the corpse’s head- fresh flowers. The cause of death would appear to be a massive injury sustained to the belly: the flesh is shredded in this area, and the lower ribs and pelvic bones are broken. Broken outward. The Acolytes come up with some theories to explain this body- none of them pleasant…
The Inquisitorial agents summon the Colonel’s guards to follow them into the cave; the captain sets his men up in positions of cover within the cave entrance “-to provide covering fire.” After the death of one of his men by Venris’ flamer, he is obviously not willing to see the episode repeated. This suits the Acolytes just fine, and, together with Sheriff Rann, they proceed into the main body of the cave- a great oval chamber, with the stone walls covered in primitive drawings depicting animals and… symbols, crude attempts at honouring the Chaos Powers. On a ledge at the far end of the chamber, a gray-haired beastman seems to be holding court over some manner of ceremony, as the other creatures chant in barbaric rhythm. Upon spotting the intruders, the creatures attack. They are led by an especially burly beastman wielding a great weapon, and many of the creatures have the wild-eyed, frothing-mouth look of the frenzied berserker from the previous night. All the while, the gray-haired ‘bray-shaman’ attempts to invoke the powers of the warp. Alas, the creatures fail to co-ordinate their actions in such a way as to maximize the effectiveness of their superior numbers, and the shaman fails to produce any significant effects with his primitive attempts at sorcery. In a brief but bloody battle, all of the beastmen are killed, with the Acolytes taking only minimal damage.
With no danger apparent, the group tells the guards at the entrance to stand by, and they proceed to search the cave. In a series of small alcoves in the wall behind the ledge where the shaman made his last stand, the agents find a half-dozen mewling young, miniature versions of their blasphemous parents. Clearly the beastmen have discovered the secret of overcoming the reproductive problems of being first-generation mutants: earning the favor of the Chaos Gods with human sacrifices. There is never any question about what to do with the young- Venris unceremoniously brings his flamer to bear…
A side-cave attracts the Acolytes’ interest, since the cave-floor in front of it shows built-up layers of muddy drag-marks. They proceed cautiously into the pitch-black cave, relying entirely on their photovisors to see in the darkness. Within the oval chamber, two-thirds of the floor is taken up by a ‘pond’ of volcanically-heated mud, bubbles occasionally bursting on its surface. The crescent-shaped stone ‘beach’ area is crisscrossed with more muddy, indecipherable tracks. Nicodemus focuses his psyniscience and determines that there is a life-form other than themselves in the cave. He manifests his psychic energy into a hand-like force, and uses it to slap the surface of the mud repeatedly. His efforts are rewarded by a sudden burst of bubbles near the area of his disturbance, followed by the emergence of a fleshy, worm-like shape from beneath the mud. A large bulge visibly moves up the length of the tendril, reaching the tip and stretching the skin until it splits, exposing a glossy red orb. With a start the Acolytes realize that this is an eye, and it is looking at them. The mud-pond roils as a huge shape drags its bulk up onto dry ground: a terrifying Spawn of Chaos! The hulking abomination is a grotesque mass of muscle, horns, hooves, clusters of red eyes, and fleshy tendrils that sprout from and retract into its body at random. Clearly, giving birth to this monstrosity was what killed the female in the alcove at the front of the cave. Despite its limited intelligence, the mutant can recognize that the party are not members of its herd, and thus, must be killed. Nicodemus is badly shaken with fear, and Kaarl is forced to flee from the chamber. Quintilla and the Sheriff are rooted to the spot. Only Venris is unaffected by the sight of the many-limbed abomination, and he stands his ground. Their first wave of attacks does minimal damage to the spawn, while its charge against Venris fails to connect. Quintilla remembers that she has three Blessed bullets, that might prove more effective against the unnatural opponent; unfortunately, they are a smaller caliber than her ‘grox rifle’, necessitating an awkward weapon swap with the Sheriff. As the assassin loads the special rounds into the hunting rifle, the Chaos spawn sprouts a half-dozen limbs to attack Venris; miraculously, all of its attacks miss. His autopistol proving ineffective against the monster, Nicodemus tries a gas grenade- to no effect. The Blessed bullets, however, overcome the spawn’s resistance to injury, and Quintilla grieviouly wounds the thing. Still, it doesn’t fall, and Nicodemus considers following Kaarl’s example and fleeing the cave, when Venris unleashes righteous fury upon the mutant, bringing its unnatural existence to an end.
Nicodemus sends Sheriff Rann to give the all-clear to the guards, then confers amongst his fellow Acolytes about cleaning up the ‘loose ends’. As the rest of the group rejoins the guards in the main cave and swears them to secrecy, Nicodemus asks the two local-born guards to give him a hand in the cave with the mud-pond. Once they are out of sight of the others, the psyker quick-draws his autopistol and kills the two men with a full-auto burst. He dumps their bodies into the mud, then tells the others “There was one more hiding in the cave! It killed the two guards before I could shoot it!” Sheriff Rann is skeptical of this story, but is too much a creature of duty to protest. Instead, he leaves cave in disgust. Venris joins him.
“Your devotion to duty is much appreciated, especially in the face of such difficult circumstances. We must often follow orders that we find personally distasteful, but such is the burden of being a loyal servant of the Emperor,” says the cleric. “Please accept this this token of the Inquisition’s gratitude.” He then dips into his considerable personal fortune and presents the Sheriff a gift of a few hundred of Thrones. Sheriff Rann hesitates, but, being the owner of a struggling farm and very much in need of cash, he reluctantly takes the money.
Kaarl, his panic having run its course, emerges from the woods and joins them. The Sheriff eyes the entrance to the cave. “There’s a mining supply store in town,” he says. “I should be able to pick up enough explosives to collapse this entrance.”
“An excellent idea,” says Venris.
After making a final sweep of the caves and making sure their cyberskull has recorded everything of interest, the group takes their leave. Although they have accounted for all twenty-two mutated townspeople, the Acolytes decide to be cautious and follow the same pattern they used to approach the caves: splitting into three groups, one following the trail while a group parallels through the wood on either side. Their progress is aided by the fact that the thunderstorm has passed, leaving the woods eerily still.
As they round a bend in the trail, Kaarl, Sheriff Rann, and one of the guards are startled to see an enormous caelstag with silvery-white hair standing in the middle of the path. It regards them calmly for a few seconds, then bounds off into the woods. “I don’t believe it- the Forest King!” says the sheriff. “I’ve heard stories about it from old timers, but I never believed it was real…” [Editorial Note: Yes, this is a nod to the movie Princess Mononoke, representing the natural world’s relief at the purging of the unnatural taint of Chaos.]
Soon everyone arrives back at the ruins of Crymwell. The guards, leading the horses of their dead comrades, can only trot, but Sheriff Rann rides his horse flat-out. The Acolytes pace their Outrider with the sheriff, and soon they are back at the Colonel’s ranch. The Colonel is delighted to hear of their success, and invites the Acolytes to attend a celebratory dinner. The sheriff, after helping himself to a few belts of the Colonel’s amasec, bows out and heads back to town.
After cleaning up and donning some appropriate clothes provided by the staff, the Acolytes make their way to the formal dining hall where Colonel Calidus greets them in his formal uniform. The food is impressive, but the experience is marred by the Colonel’s insistence on regaling his guests with stories of his ‘glorious’ career in the Imperial Guard, focusing on his ‘heroism’ in refusing to adjust his strategies in spite of the number of casualties suffered by his troops. It’s obvious why Sheriff Rann didn’t want to stay; it takes more than a few glasses of wine to tolerate the Colonel’s lack of self-awareness. Despite his insufferableness, the Acolytes accept his invitation to spend the night. They enjoy their last taste of civilized comforts before they have to make the long journey back to Myrvorn.
The inspiration for this scenario hit me when I was looking through my collection of wargame terrain. I wanted a change of pace from the industrial/urban/underhive settings that the Acolytes had thus far encountered, but the only other terrain pieces that I had enough of to fill a table were the ruined buildings from the Mordheim game. I already had plenty of beastman figures, so the rest just fell into place…
Unfortunately, I wasn’t quite adept enough at using hand-to-hand opponents against missile-armed pcs to make the beastmen as scary as I intended. I wanted the initial encounter in the ruins of Crymwell to turn into a Night Of The Living Dead-style all-night siege, but when the time came, too many failed Bestial-trait rolls made it clear that 22 beastmen just wasn’t going to be enough- and I had already established that as the population of the town, so I couldn’t add more after the fact to compensate for my screw-up. That was my biggest disappointment with this scenario- well, that, and the fact that I couldn’t roll under 60 on any of the Chaos Spawn’s attacks!
I was worried that I might not be able to impress upon the players how disconcerting it would be for their strictly-urban characters to adjust to the unspoiled wilderness of a frontier world. We had all played D&D together previously, where sleeping on the cold hard ground of a forest floor is commonplace, and I was afraid that they would carry that mindset over to the 40K setting. Fortunately, my players got into the spirit, very effectively roleplaying their characters’ disgust with nature.
My 'fan-created content':
[Yikes! Has it really been that long since I updated this journal? Emperor forgive me…]
MARK OF THE BEAST
170.816.M41. After a restful night’s sleep and a hearty breakfast, the Acolytes thank Colonel Calidus for his hospitality and take their leave, driving their Outrider back to the town of Cullen. There, they check in at the sheriff’s office, but Sheriff Rann is not present. The town is small enough that it takes only a few minutes to find him and his deputy, carefully loading explosives from the mining supply store onto a horse-drawn wagon. The party thanks the local lawman for his help and say their good-byes, leaving on friendly terms. They make the drive to Ryconnoch well before nightfall, and decide not to press on. Most of the party decides to save money by spending the night in a tent they requisitioned back on Scintilla, but Nicodemus opts to spring for a private room.
171.816.M41. Awakening bright and early, the group makes the long, uneventful drive to the town of Balvain.
172.816.M41. It is mid-day when the Acolytes cross the county border and approach the Colmsten grox ranch, which sits adjacent to the highway. Eager for a second ‘meeting’ with the bully Deggan and his crew of ruffians, Nicodemus convinces his fellows that they should stop and talk to the owner of the ranch, to see if he is aware of his employees ‘extracurricular activities’. Bored by the long drive, it doesn’t take much to get them to agree…
Pulling up to the main entrance of the ranch owner’s mansion, the agents pile out of the Outrider and present their Inquisitorial cognomen to the butler, ‘requesting’ an audience with the owner, a man named Balfore. The butler relays their request, and soon they are led into the office of the ranch owner. Balfore sits behind a large carved-wood desk; used to commanding respect from the local populace due to his wealth, Balfore tries to act unimpressed with the Inquisitorial agents. Also in attendance is Balfore’s factotum. “To what do I owe this unexpected visit?” says the ranch owner.
“A week ago, we had some trouble in town with men who are apparently in your employ,” begins Nicodemus. “The ‘ringleader’ was a man named Deggan.”
“Yes, Deggan works for me- as a ‘regulator’, protecting my stock from rustlers,” says Balfore. “A week ago, you say? In town? That would have been their day off. In any event, what does that have to do with me?”
It’s a good question, and Venris tries to spin a viable answer. “We came to this planet on official Inquisition business. Deggan’s attempt at accosting us shortly after planetfall raises the suspicion that he may have been attempting to prevent the completion of our mission- a possibility that must be investigated.”
“Ridiculous!” exclaims Balfore. “Deggan may be a bully and a lout, but he’s no heretic!”
“But you are aware of his… disregard for the law?” says Denathor.
“I know he and his crew like to raise hell on their time off, and Sheriff Wallis has my full confidence in dealing with them when they get out of line.” The ranch owner doesn’t appear to be concealing anything, and his resistance to their intimidation tactics irritates the Acolytes.
“Be that as it may, we will still need to speak to them,” says Nicodemus. “Where are they now?”
Balfore turns to his factotum. “When was their last check-in?”
“About two hours ago- they were coming up on the southeast corner of the property.”
“You have a way of contacting them?” asks Nicodemus. “Have them come in to the house.”
The factotum gets an Imperial Guard surplus voxcaster and tunes in a specific frequency before handing the set off to Balfore. “Deggan, this is Balfore, come in.” After a few seconds a reply crackles forth: This is Deggan. “There are some people here who want to talk to you, about something that happened in town. They say they are from the Inquisition.” There is a pause of several seconds, then: I can’t hear you, boss, my battery’s dying. Repeat? “Deggan, do you read me?” Silence is the only answer. Balfore looks at the Acolytes and shrugs.
“The southeast corner, you say?” says Venris. “Do you have any objections to us venturing out there to speak with Deggan?”
Balfore sighs. “This is all highly irregular, but I suppose that would be acceptable.”
“There is one more thing,” says Nicodemus; he then unleashes a Psychic Shriek to render Balfore and the factotum unconscious. The power works, but with unintended consequences: the psyker triggers a warp phenomenon. A banshee wail blasts through the mansion, shattering every window and panicking the household staff- not to mention shocking the other party members.
“What the hell was that?!” yells Quintilla.
“I- I thought it would be better if they couldn’t do anything behind our backs!” says the psyker. The sounds of frightened commotion in the hallways make it obvious that the time has come for the Acolytes to leave the premises- Nicodemus helping himself to a decanter of amasec from Balfore’s desk along the way.
After getting into the Outrider, the Acolytes drive off toward the southeast corner of the sprawling grox ranch to confront Deggan. It takes about twenty minutes to cover the distance; for the last few of those minutes they are unknowingly observed via magnoculars by their quarry.
The southeast corner of the ranch consists of some hilly terrain and a few copses of trees. As the Outrider bounces along the rutted trail, one of Deggan’s crew deliberately spooks a group of grazing grox, causing the irritable beasts to stampede in the direction of the approaching vehicle. The great beasts batter against the Outrider in their panicked flight, but cause only cosmetic damage. The Acolytes are enraged by the attack, and when Deggan’s crew makes a two-pronged horseback charge of the vehicle, they are only too happy to engage in combat. Quintilla, Venris, and Nicodemus hop out of the Outrider. The assassin’s heavy rifle and the cleric’s flamer whittle down the grunts, while Nicodemus concentrates on Deggan himself, blazing away with his autopistol. Kaarl, meanwhile- never the best at dealing with sudden surges of adrenaline- guns the engine of the Outrider and mows down a mounted regulator- and proceeds to slam into a tree. Within seconds, the Inquisitorial agents are taking stock of a battlefield littered with the bodies of Deggan and his crew… and a few horses as well. They quickly loot the bodies and get back into their vehicle.
As the Acolytes pass the mansion on the way out of the ranch, they see that the occupants have responded to Nicodemus’ psychic outburst by fortifying the building as best they can. Armed guards on the roof call out: “We’ve called the sheriff- you witches are gonna be in a lot of trouble!” Deciding not to aggravate the situation, the party drives past.
On the highway into town, the group is intercepted by Sheriff Wallis and two deputies on horseback. “I just got a call from the Colmsten Ranch- something about a group of off-worlders engaging in sorcery. I don’t suppose you would know anything about that…?”
The agents struggle to come up with a plausible explanation. “We were following up on a thread of our investigation. Some of the employees of the ranch attacked us, so we had no choice but to defend ourselves,” says Venris.
“By the Emperor,” mutters Sheriff Wallis, “I’m gonna be filling out paperwork for months over this…”
“We apologize for any inconvenience we may have caused you, but I assure you it was unavoidable,” says Venris, turning on the charm.
The sheriff sighs. “Well, let me take statements at the ranch, then I’ll follow up with you. With only one spaceport on the whole planet, I suppose I can trust you not to flee…?”
“Of course- we will be happy to cooperate,” says Venris. The sheriff and his men ride off toward the ranch, while the Acolytes drive to Myrvorn.
After arranging for quarters within the city, the Acolytes seek out the local astropath, whose offices are located within the central Administratum building. They are met by the astropath’s young disciple, who refuses to allow them to see his master personally- as the planet’ s only link to the rest of the Imperium, he cannot risk unnecessary contact. The agents present an Inquisitorial voucher authorizing the use of the astropath’s services to contact the Tricorn Palace on Scintilla. They dictate a short message to Inquisitor Montag saying that their mission has been a success, and give the disciple their contact information for a reply. When this transaction is complete, the Acolytes seek out accommodations.
Later that day, the Acolytes are contacted by Sheriff Wallis. “Old man Balfore is hoppin’ mad about the commotion you caused at his place- he’s insisting on pressing charges.” Since their Inquisitorial authority is limited to enacting their mission- a mission which was ostensibly complete at the time of their ‘visit’ to the Colmsten Ranch- the agents realize that they may be in real trouble. Sheriff Wallis brings them into his office one at a time to take detailed statements. The Acolytes try as best they can to spin their stories to make it sound like they were the victims. Later, Prefect Leyland conducts his own interrogation of the Acolytes; still smarting from the way they tried to intimidate him when they first arrived on planet, the Prefect clearly relishes the chance to make them squirm. It is quite late when the Acolytes are able to retire for the night.
173.816.M41. Shortly after breakfast, a courier delivers a message from the local astropath’s office:
Congratulations, Acolytes. I’m pleased to hear of the speedy resolution of this ‘incident’, and look forward to reading your full report.
I’m arraigning passage for you on the next Scintilla-bound ship scheduled to put into port at Palinurus Rhys: a freighter called The Spinward Wind. It is due at your location in approximately seven weeks. Consider the wait a well-earned vacation. You’ll be able to draw your stipend from the local Adeptus Treasury.
Take some picts of the local scenery for me. I wish I could see it first-hand, but I fear I will be detained on Scintilla for some months yet.
The Emperor protects-
The Acolytes all groan upon hearing how long they will have to remain on the planet- they clearly don’t share their patron’s love of wilderness and natural beauty. More pressing is the receipt of an official summons to stand trial the next day. The group discusses their options, eventually agreeing to go through with the trial and hope for the best- but Nicodemus and Quintilla make it clear that they will not allow themselves to be taken into custody if the judgment goes against them. With only one spaceport on the planet, escape off-world is highly unlikely, and life as a fugitive on this backwater mudball is a grim prospect indeed…
174-175.816.M41. The trial for the deaths of Deggan and his crew, and the vandalization of Balfore’s residence, takes place in the Administratum building. Given the defendant’s connection to the Holy Ordos of the Inquisition, it is presided over by the highest authority available: planetary governor Rache Kestyr himself.
Prefect Leyland begins the prosecution by calling Balfore to testify; he paints a damning portrait of the Acolytes abusing their authority to go on a rampage, killing his employees and destroying his property. Given the wealthy landowner’s standing in the community, it is obvious that the Acolytes will have an uphill battle to earn a favorable judgment.
One by one the Acolytes take the stand and give their version of events- Venris particularly makes a favorable impression, turning on the charm and using his impressive public speaking skills to best advantage.
Aiding the Acolyte’s defense is Sheriff Wallis’ testimony, recounting Deggan’s extensive criminal record. He makes it clear that Balfore uses his influence to get his men released from jail whenever they run afoul of the law. Finally, Sheriff Rann is contacted remotely; he confirms the seriousness of the Acolyte’s mission on Palinurus Rhys. With the testimony complete, Governor Kestyr retires to consider his judgment.
[The Governor is conflicted: the Acolytes made a favorable impression with their testimony, but Balfore wields a great deal of power and influence within the county. Ultimately, he decides that it would be unwise, given the planet’s desire for increased economic support from the Sector capitol, to risk making powerful enemies on Scintilla.]
176.816.M41. The Acolyte’s trial reconvenes, and the agents anxiously await their judgment. Governor Kestyr issues his ruling: the Acolytes are deemed justified in their actions, and all charges against them are dismissed. Balfore is outraged by what he sees as a nakedly political verdict, but the party is too elated to notice. They immediately relocate to a nearby tavern to celebrate their good fortune.
Some hours into their revelry, the agents receive some more good news- or at least they interpret it as good news- as a messenger delivers another astropathic communique from their patron:
Change of plans- I’ve just become aware of a situation that requires immediate attention, and you are the closest operatives that I have available.
I’m directing the Imperial Navy frigate Shield of Faith to pick you up; it should be arriving at Palinurus Rhys within 48 hours of the receipt of this message
A full briefing with mission details will be waiting for you aboard ship.
Sorry to cancel your vacation. ‘Tireless are the hands that toil at the Emperor’s work’, as scripture tells us…
The Emperor Protects-
The Acolytes gladly pack up their gear; having never considered a protracted stay on this backwards frontier planet to be a ‘vacation’, they are eager to return to proper Imperial civilization.
My 'fan-created content':
What happened next?
It's coming, slowly but surely. Between my abysmal typing speed, and the time I have to put into prepping for future game sessions, these updates will never be prompt, but I'm not giving up on them…
My 'fan-created content':