Battle Report (Narrative)

Inquisition investigates Haruspex cult

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A tall mutant with bloated belly and a chainsaw takes on three PDF scouts on the outskirts of Ungolath.

“Our mission is simple: Learn what we can about the Haruspex. Is he a living individual or a propaganda tool? If he’s alive, where is he? Can we kill him? Can we crush this dangerous anti-Imperial cult before outright war breaks out on Morkai?”—Inquisitor Gideon Locke, Ordo Hereticus

Background

Centuries ago, the Haruspex, a semi-religious leader known for his genetic deficiencies, led a mutant rebellion on the desert world of Morkai. It was defeated, and the Haruspex was heard of no more.

But today, word spreads of the return of the Haruspex, and incidents of terrorism and sabotage by mutant laborers increase. Organized military forces begin to attack isolated settlements and caravans around the ruined, mutant-held hive city of Ungolath, and there are increasing rumors that open rebellion against the Council of Electors is in the offing.

The Ordo Hereticus learns of this threat to Imperial rule, and Inquisitor Gideon Locke is sent to investigate. On 3 850 739.M41, the inquisitor and a small reconnaissance team entered the outskirts of Ungolath to gather information about the Haruspex. (This battle was fought by attendees of the Shorehammer Convention just weeks ago, and the results of that battle are documented here.)

A short story, “Shorehammer Report: Cult of the Haruspex,” was published as a prelude to the battle. Click here to read it.

The outskirts of Ungolath. The Inquisition force struck first at the two-story shanty and red bunker in the top-left of the photo, then worked their way toward the power plant in the lower-right corner.

Imperial Forces

  • Inquisitor Gideon Locke, agent of the Ordo Hereticus
  • Interrogator Liam Drax, agent of the Ordo Hereticus
  • Autosavant (assists in target accuracy)
  • Death Cult Assassin
  • Crusaders x 2, armed with laspistols and power swords
  • Sgt. Maêl Basione, commander, Inquisition stormtroopers
  • Inquisition stormtroopers x 8, armed with hotshot lasguns
  • Local PDF scouts x 8, armed with lasguns and grenade launcher

Cultist Forces

  • 10 Cultists, randomly walking in area
  • Unlimited reinforcements (2 to 3 per turn after discovery of Locke’s forces)

++ Ordo Hereticus Departmento Analyticus ++

+ —Mission Report, Morkai, Vengence System— +
+++ Report of Inquisitor Gideon Locke [0291-Q93-66/d/84-766], Ordo Hereticus, Ultima Segmentum +++
+ Truthsayer: Clement Bartha, Sanctioned Pskyker, Hekaton Grade, Ordo Hereticus +

++ Although the events transcribed occurred on 6 850 739.M41, this transcript was not officially included in Ordo archives until 3 901 737.M41. ++

Early Detection

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Sgt. Basione, commander of the Inquisition stormtroopers, fires from behind cover. Little does he know that the drums are filled with promethium, and if they’re hit by enemy fire . . . .

The previous day, Inquisitor Locke quietly captured a number of mutants on the outskirts of the city and interrogated them about information on the Haruspex and the surrounding area. Although none of the prisoners provided any useful data about the Haruspex or his location, they did identify six locations—an abandoned data collection site, a local warlord’s residence, and a still-operating power plant, among others—that indicated they would be potential sources of information.

These sites were selected for a search-and-capture mission. All prisoners were executed as heretics.

On the morning of the attack, Locke and his forces attempted to approach the six locations covertly. Alas, a mutant unseen on an upper level of a refinery tower spotted the approaching Imperials and sounded the alarm. Battle was joined.

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PDF scouts led the advance on the mutant bunker.

As the mutants were scattered and uncertain as to the threat they faced, their early opposition to Inquisition forces was easily overcome. The ranged fire of highly trained stormtroopers quickly dispatched the majority of nearby mutants, although some mutants took cover and engaged in largely ineffective, yet somewhat dangerous sniper fire.

Over the next ten minutes, Inquisition forces advanced under cover. Their initial target was a high-priority target: an underground bunker used as a headquarters by the local warlord.

While Interrogator Drax and a stormtrooper searched the warlord’s nearby residence, the majority of stormtroopers and PDF scouts reached the entrance of the bunker, only to find the plasteel doors locked from the inside. Using krak grenades, the bunker was opened, and a number of data crystals were found inside that would later prove to contain useful information about mutant troop strengths.

It was about this time that the sound of gunfire began to draw mutant reinforcements to the area. A three-meter-tall mutant, with a grossly bloated belly and chainsword, charged several PDF scouts above the bunker.

Despite being outnumbered three-to-one, the mutant managed to kill two scouts before the third stepped back and dispatched the heretic with a lasgun shot.

Locke’s Advance

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Inquisitor Locke walks defiantly in the open as he advances in the face of mutant fire. The mutants had no weapons, not even a powerful mining laser, that could stop him. The pict is of poor quality as it was hastily taken by a PDF scout with an illicit pict recording. (Taking such images are frowned upon by the Inquisition.)

The frightening power of an Imperial inquisitor was made clear as Locke chose to advance on the next-highest priority on his list of targets: a nearby power plant. Despite growing mutant fire, Locke strode down the rubble-lined street, in the open, using psychic fire to strike down mutant after mutant cowering in cover as they fired at him.

The mutants fire appeared to have no effect on Locke. At one point, a mutant armed with a mining laser struck the inquisitor with a beam of pure plasma, and despite the likelihood the beam would incinerate him, Locke suffered only a small wound.

No doubt this had a profound impact on mutant morale, as most mutants withdrew in the face of the inquisitor.

More distant mutants maintained their fire on the rest of the Inquisition team. Another PDF scout and two stormtroopers suffered minor wounds from the constant and increasing fire from autoguns and lasguns. Using cover as best they could, the Inquisition force successfully managed to keep up with Locke’s steady advance.

Along the way, Drax managed to reach an abandoned Administratum building that, unfortunately, had been abandoned millennia earlier. At the direction of Locke, two stormtroopers and a Crusader seized a trading shack and acquired a number of data crystals and Groxskin parchments with useful information.

Stymied

After nearly half an hour of effort, Locke was within sight of the power plant, but it appeared that a mutant leader had arrived on the scene and rallied the retreating mutants. A formidable firing line of autoguns and mining lasers had deployed amidst the rubble and rooftops of nearby buildings, and a full-scale assault would have been required to seize the site.

Pulling a small cherub out of a stormtrooper’s backpack, Locke launched it with orders to rise above the surrounding buildings and identify troop moments. Within two minutes, the inquisitor learned to his disappointment that hundreds of additional mutants were approaching his location, accompanied by an assortment of primitive walkers and armored transports.

Such a force was clearly beyond the ability of his forces to defeat, and Locke reluctantly ordered an immediate withdrawal from the city.

The decision was wise. More than 100 mutants gave chase, and only after several desperate firefights, did Locke manage to lose their trail amidst the tortured landscape of rocks, low ridges, and shallow fissures of the desert basin to the southwest of the city.

Traveling at night, and hiding from roving search parties of bikers and armored trucks, Locke finally reached a flat desert plain where he could call in PDF Valkyries to transport his exhausted and wounded force to safety.

++ END REPORT ++

TheGM: The event, “Cult of the Haruspex,” was fought Thursday night of the convention, using Shadow War: Armageddon for rules. In the end, the mutants won a morale victory, as the Inquisition players were rolling hot die, and despite reinforcements, the mutants simply could not get control of the battle.

Still, the Inquisition did not seize the power plant. The bunker and power plant were worth 3 victory points each, while the other four objectives were worth 1 v.p. each. As it was, the Inquisition earned 6 v.p. in total out of 10, which was a marginal victory.

But, there was a wrinkle to this scenario: The Inquisition had to roll 2d6 after the battle. If they scored equal or less than their v.p., they found something significant about the Haruspex. With only 6 v.p., they only had a 42% chance (give or take) to get that information.

They rolled a 7.

If they’d seized the power plant, their odds would have jumped to about 84%. But, to be frank, playtests showed that seizing the plant was tough—one reason there were so many 1 v.p. objectives.

So, the end result: Inquisitor Locke’s reconnaissance mission was mildly successful. Imperial military leaders have obtained some useful military information on the mutant rebel force. It turns out that the mutants are a more significant military threat than realized, as the factories of Ungolath, while ancient, have been refurbished and put into action building military-grade, if low quality, weapons of war.

As to the Haruspex, little useful information was uncovered. The mystery of this so-called messiah of the mutants is yet to be answered.

Thanks to all who participated.

The Corvus Cluster is a Warhammer 40K blog documenting our gaming adventures in the fantastical sci-fi universe of Games Workshop.

 

 

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