Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Anachronista 40,000 - A Warhammer Campaign Begins

The Imperial Navy prepares to weigh anchor.

Sunday was the start of May and the start of a Warhammer 40,000 campaign being played with a few of my chums.  I haven’t actually played much lately so taking part was intended as a way to force me into getting some games in and hopefully recharging my Chaos Space Marine mojo.

40K Dave was the original organizer of this endeavour, inviting me and four other people to take part.  He sought my assistance at set-up because he didn’t know quite how he wanted the campaign rules to look – heavy or light, map or narrative – nor did he know how to justify it in story.  Being a roleplayer first and foremost this is something that he thought I would be able to help with, since he and I often swapped in-character messages before and after our games anyway.

Therefore I was asked to justify everyone using their armies, which included Space Marines, Chaos Marines, Chaos Demons, Sisters of Battle, Imperial Guard…

In the grim darkness of the future there are only bookmarks.

...and Horus Heresy Space Marion Legions.  Who only exist in a time millennia before the rest of the armies in question.

Nae pressure, eh?

Sister Faraday before the incident in which she lost her leg.
In those daft story pieces we wrote together, Imperial troops would discuss the latest intelligence on my Chaos Space Marines, Inquisitors would request his Sisters of Battle come to combat me and then after-action reports in which heroic soldiers were praised and concessions to the enemy were condemned.  Usually I wouldn’t post as my own general but instead I’d post as a loyal Imperial Inquisitor who was monitoring my army’s movements and requesting assistance from outside forces.  I had such a character in my bank because I’d made one up for a Rogue Trader campaign I ran taking a nod from the first every edition of Warhammer 40,000 and the original sample Inquisitor of Obi-Wan Sherlock Closseau, I named this Inquisitor Benjamin Mycroft Sellers and established he was part of the c-list Inquisitorial grouping the Ordo Chronos.

Remember kids, Warhammer is serious business and not at all a string of in-jokes made into a game!

When I shot out a bunch of different ideas to Dave about our campaign, the Ordo Chronos proved to be the hook which enticed him.  It is an established part of lore that interstellar travel through Warpspace has time phenomenon associated with it and the journey time between any two planets is highly erratic.  Reliable, safe channels tend to be slow but steady – more dangerous routes might be quicker but bad luck and unfortunate warp currents can delay or destroy a ship.  There is the risk that ships could emerge years, centuries, maybe even millennia later than they set off… but relative time on the ship might only be a few weeks or months from launch.  Even more confusingly, the warp sometimes spits a ship out before it set off.  It is these temporal oddities that the Ordo Chronos are charged with solving.

So, our somewhat gonzo plot was to involve time travel – which is a bit out there even for 40K, but not really any stupider than a planet called Birmingham or a tank with skulls everywhere and a crotch-gun.

You know maybe when we make a new Chaos plastic kit we should make it for one of the other gods.... LOL J/K MORE KHORNE AND SKULLS

The short version is that a dark magical ritual has opened a new warp rift in Mungo Sector, one which allows ships to navigate through it and emerge ten thousand years ago.  This hole in time and space has been created by a Daemon Prince of Tzeentch, god of magic and secrets, with allies from the other Chaos gods joining him on a journey back to the 31st Millenium and the period before the Horus Heresy.  Their exact purpose is unknown to the Ordo Chronos but almost certainly involves changing the flow of time at this vital stage in mankind’s development, nudging things just slightly in favour of Horus’ rebellion so that Chaos conquers Earth and mankind’s soul can be devoured en masse by the forces of darkness.

Don't call him chicken.

Inquisitor Sellers, then, has organized a Battlefleet to go into the rift and seek to preserve the flow of time.  Dave would command his Sisters of Battle, once again going on a crusade against Chaos, with a little Imperial Guard backup; Charles would put his Orks aside for the moment and show off his newly painted White Scars, going back to a point when their own legion was present in the sector; and a gentleman called Doug would bring along some Dark Angels keen to put bolter shells in traitor heads, no matter the time.

Painting white isn't easy, but Charles seems to be doing alright.

When they arrive the forces darkness are already entrenched in the system and must be expunged post-haste.  Chaos are commanded by Jamie’s Daemonic horde, with representatives from all the gods but Tzeentch theoretically in charge.  My Emperor’s Children have also joined the assault in glorious technicolour!  We were originally going to have a third partner, Graeme, with his Chaos army – but a mixture of personal and work things mean he just can’t find the time.

Rules wise, we wanted something reasonably liberal to cope with the players and their real world concerns – we have multiple parents of small children to schedule around for one thing – so we went with the rules in the 6th Ed Crusade of Fire book.  These have a campaign map of a sector, something Dave was keen on having, but without super strict rules on who plays who and with what army size/scenario.  Instead it’s open enough that if Dave and I only have time for a kill-team game, or if Charles wants to play a 2000 point tankfest against Jamie, there should be ways to make it happen.

The Mungo Sector of the 31st Millenium.  Click to Embiggen!
I knocked the map up using a little RPG-mapping program.  Each planet is not just a single-biome world, it also represents a kind of terrain I know we have access to – so Maripullium is my ash wastes and ruined buildings, Acanthus is Dave’s jungle terrain and Fanisteg is everyone’s craters and barren terrain.

Like Crusade of Fire we’ll be playing turns and it was my intention we should have special scenarios at the middle and end point to bring everyone together for some sort of multiplayer game.  If I had my way it would be a Zone Mortalis game in the middle and some sort of large battle near the end, but no-one died and made me Campaign Dictator so it’ll depend a lot on people’s interests.

Every new piece of rocky terrain moves my table closer to looking like Utah.

The first game has taken place on Sunday, with Dave and Charles teaming up against Jamie.   Their battle took place on the jungle world of Acanthus, and as per our first turn deployment map they're trying to budge Jamie off the command post his demons have taken over there.  Dave has asked to fight against me in the near future and Doug is angling for a game against one of the chaos forces this weekend. 

Occupied hexes as per the start of the game.  Blue and Pink runes are Chaos controlled, Jamie and I respectively.  Red, Yellow and Green symbols are controlled by Dave, Charles and Doug of the Imperial forces.

This campaign has crucially stuck a bit of a fire in all of us to get painting and modelling.  Dave is working on some coastal terrain for D-Day style beach assaults; Charles is working on painting up more of his White Scars; Doug is adding more Ravenwing-like bikes to his force; Jamie’s picked up a model to represent our Daemon Prince overlord; and I….

Two parts Vallejo Off-White to one part Vallejo Pink, in case you're wondering.

...I’m finally painting something Sister Superior got me quite some time ago.  The Imperial Knight is finally pink, ladies and gentlemen and ready to be a Chaos engine of destruction!  Let’s see if this gives the forces of Slaanesh the edge.

More updates to come, hopefully!

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