Sunday, 9 April 2017

In the grim darkness of the far game table there is only heresy

I have started GMing again, and once again it is in the Grim Darkness of the 41st millennium. This time we will be playing Dark Hersey instead of Rogue Trader. One of my players had a little back story for his demon world background.  I thought it was neat and it got me thinking as it had a few hooks I could explore. Like why would an Inquisitor remove anyone from a demon world, and what would there life be like afterwards. I would assume the person would undergo memory blocks or manipulation to better protect the mind.  So I wrote a small introductory tale to introduce the character to the other players. I liked reading the  stories immensely and have decided, I will compile and chronicle the stories of this Dark Hersey game on this blog. Below is the characters background and then the introductory story I wrote for the same. I love it when characters in the game are interesting enough to inspire me to spontaneously write up some simple fiction. 

Zarkov has no memories before the age of 8, when he awoke on a Black Ship headed to Holy Terra where he and many other psykers would be tested. Surviving the arduous testing and training process, he graduated from the Scholastia Psykana and was deemed fit to serve the Adeptus Astra Telepathica as a sanctioned psyker. Instead of being sent to some far away planet to serve as an astropath or serve aboard a ship as its navigator however, Zarkov was transferred to the personal retinue of a mid-ranking noble on the hive world of Scintilla. Kept more as a status symbol than for his astropathic abilities, Zarkov is more or less free to come and go as he pleases due to most people wanting nothing to do with him. This was not the first time an unusual arrangement had been organized behind the scenes in his favour, and Zarkov wonders who or what has been looking out for him. (sic)


Kozel Zarkov was having the dream again. A city burned and people screamed, the lights in the sky had gotten closer. So close they had begun to kiss the buildings of the city, and sometimes the ribbons of light even wafted down to the streets. The shadows were there stalking the fleeing citizens. Kozel Zarkov was there too but his name wasn't Kozel Zarkov. His name was... My Love. He tripped and grazed his knee his young legs unable to keep up as his tiny hand slipped from the woman's grasp. The man picked him up slinging him against his chest with one arm as the other grabbed the woman by the wrist. They ran again. Hot tears streamed down My Love's face. The woman wiped them with the sleeve of her dress as they ran.

 ‘Don't cry My Love.’

Suddenly they stopped. They were at the house where everyone came together and sang. Many people were there the tall doors were closed and the people couldn't get in. They were hammering their fists against the doors and shouting. The woman held him now. Her warm embrace comforted him despite the hammering and the shouting.  

‘It's ok My Love. It's ok.’

The shadows were close again they sulked along the edge of My Love's vision he could hear sick laughter and hungry growls. Their shapes blurry and streaked like a pict that has had recaf spilled on it and wiped off. The forms smudged and the colours washed out. The shadows hungered for the crowd of people but were unable to approach. Fear washed over the crowd and the hammering intensified fists pounded the doors hard enough to crack skin, fingernails split as people tried to claw their way through. The woman held My Love tight and turned so he face away from the shadow things to the front of the song building. Above its door was the eagle shining bright, he never noticed it shining like that before despite all the times he had stared at it wondering about the heads. Why two, and why was one blind? The light intensified and he realized that the eagle was what was holding back the shadows. As the blurry shadows crept closer the brass eagle's light was incandescent like the filament of a glow globe. Until the brass was smouldering and the heat washed over the crowd. Suddenly it began to melt. Liquid fire began to drip and then run freely in streams off the surface of the sculpture. Where the molten brass touched the crowd clothing combusted and flesh evaporated into steam and smoke a crescendo of screaming ended the drumming of panicked fists against the doors.
The woman removed a wooden pendant from around her neck pressing into his tiny hands.

‘Run my love. Run!’

Kozel Zarkov awoke in his champers someone was outside his door about to knock. A member of the household staff. And... An Arbitrator Enforcer. The servant was nervous she didn't want to disturb Kozel and she had never seen the grim face of an Arbitrator mirrored helmet before. The door opened without her knuckles making contact with the door. 

‘You can go Sarifinia.’

As the relieved girl turned and quickly retreated down the hallway Kozel Zarkov addressed the Arbitrator 

‘Officer. How may I serve?’

He wore the standard uniform of all Arbitrators but had the precinct medallion of the Bastion Porphyr. He unrolled a scroll as he handed it over.

‘Your services are required elsewhere Senior Astropath Xiao has reassigned you’

Kozel Zarkov was a little intrigued. He normally wasn't required to perform any taxing labour. He infrequently sent messages his employer deemed urgent or sensitive enough to be sent directly to the astropathic choir at the Bastion Porphyr instead of using a courier. He knew that sending directly to the bastion was unpleasant for the choir as they strained their senses listening for whisperers that the bastion astropathic relays amplified and enhanced. His messages sent from within the same hive and not across the gulf of the universe were like a man shouting in a library. Reassigned? Xiao had the authority as the representative of the Adeptus Telepathica on Scintilla to direct Kozel's actions as he sought fit. Perhaps this was Xiao's way of punishing him. Kozel sighed. 

'One moment let me get my things.’

Outside the Arbitrator led him to a Repressor. Its armored side's reflecting the morning light.

After I emailed this around another player who is playing in the grim darkness of Games workshops far future universe for the first time also supplied his own starting fiction for his tech-priest character. I this its excellent and really captured the themes of Dark Hersey and 40k. I love the fact he researched some wikis so his story sounds authentic. 

Iacomus fidgeted.  Unconsciously.  His broad hands rubbed against each other, knuckles were flexed and cracked, his head nodded, his short, sturdy body rocked back and forth.  His mechadendrite limbs whirred and clicked in almost perpetual motion - straightening folds in his robes, twisting to view the oddities of Hive Sibellus through the tube-train windows, scratching at phantom itches in his flesh.  Wretched, pitiful flesh he corrected.  He breathed deeply and started reciting a litany to the Omnissiah to calm himself and caught himself enjoying the relative freshness of the air.  As a native of Lathe-Hesh, he had been fitted with respirator filter implants from the moment he had left the cradle-hab, implants that were necessary to filter the miasma of toxic chemicals that permeated the atmosphere on Hesh.  Of course, they could not remove the scent.  Newly arrived on Scintilla, stepping from the Arvus Lighter shuttle into the passenger terminal, it was the very first thing he noticed.  And so far, it was his favourite thing about the bustling hive.

His duties on Hesh had been very different from those assigned to him more recently.  He had been a simple rune priest and his days were mostly spent in huge marshalling yards - operating and communing with the Chimera transports and Leman Russ Battle Tanks newly constructed and ready for deployment with Imperial Guard regiments, or sometimes performing rites of repair on damaged weaponry and armour.  That changed once he met Brother Zebediah, a fellow adept who had befriended him during their acquaintance at work.  Most of his colleagues left him well alone, which suited Iacomus fine since he enjoyed the solitude, but Zebediah engaged with him about his affinity for the great warmachines, his interest in obscure technologies and he seemed attentive and smiled at those moments that Iacomus let slip his excitement.  Soon Iacomus learned that Zebediah was a member of an exclusive and very devout sect, The Scions of the Iron Sphere, and was invited to join them at their meetings.  He had felt welcome there among his brothers.  Although he had not been among them long, he came to know some of what believed.  His brothers had engaged him in long and fervent discussions on the limitations of the body and the path of devotion to the Omnissiah, a gradual replacement of flesh with sacred cybernetics. He recalled the impassioned sermons, the devotion on the faces in attendance... although when tried to recall the words that had been spoken his mind was strangely blank.  Peculiar.  Nevertheless, he was here because the Elder Scion had given to him a great honour.  He was going to be summoned to Scintilla, to the sector capital, to assist the Imperium and bring honour to the Mechanicum.  It had sounded strange at the time but the next day his supervisor delivered the same news.  The Mechanicus were sending a contingent of emissaries to Scintilla, to be assigned within the Adeptus Terra as required.  The Lexmechanic seemed as shocked as Iacomus.  "Explorator Makhana, do you know your task?"  "Yes," was all he could mumble.

Before his departure there had been a great ceremony, a 'Rite of Pure Thought' the Elder Scion had called it.  They had arranged for him to be fitted with wondrous and sacred technology, "to assist with the task ahead" it was explained to him.  The snakelike mechadendrite limbs protruding from his spine were part of that gift.  The other part ... Iacomus absently rubbed the scars on his temples as he thought of the memorance implant.  He thought of the ceremony, the darkened room, the hooded faces.  Strangely, his mind blanked again when he tried to recall the particulars of that night.  Maybe an aftereffect of his recent surgery.  "Please do keep in touch, Iacomus!  We should all love to hear of your exploits." insisted the Elder Scion with a knowing smile.  The gathering crowd of acolytes were all smiling too, offering their own well-wishes and prayers.  He had left Hesh then, first aboard the Maccabeus Quintus, a Tarask class Merchantman carrying chemical goods from Landunder between The Lathe-Worlds and the Malfi system.  Then he was transported to a Vagabond class mercantile voidship, Expedior, for the final part of a 6 month long journey to Scintilla.

The last missive received from the Mechanicum was a directive to attend at the Magistratum Precinct Fortress, Licinanus Inferior, CCLXVII by request of the Administratum of Scintilla.  Spotting the chrono display above the doors of the tube-train, Iacomus realised he would have time to review the information he had compiled on his new home.  And so he did, barking soft recitations of Techna Lingua from the databanks of his memorance implant and avoiding the quizzical looks of his fellow passengers as the train brought him closer to his destination.

My mind lets go a thousand things

like the dates of wars and the death of kings,

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