Tales From the Maelstrom Xmas Battle.
With Christmas rapidly drawing closer and the realisation that we hadn’t had a game for a good long while, when Andy suggested we should have another xmas game I not only thought it an excellent idea but jumped at the chance to host this one.
This was not an entirely altruistic gesture. For a start it meant I could remain in the comfort of my own home on a particularly foul day but more importantly it meant I could get a chance to use some old 80s limited edition Christmas models that had been sitting in the cabinet upstairs unplayed with for some time.
So with a date arranged and a prior evening spent running up a scenario and playsheets all that was needed was for the maelstrom lads to turn up – and this time nobody had to worry about forgetting any models as I’d provide all the forces (not entirely true as Colonel Kane was press ganged into bringing a fair bit of his own scenery over!). Regrettably on the day one of our number couldn’t make it down but this was no detriment to the battle as I’d planned this to be a GM’d scenario and I’d just take over the third party myself.
So on to the plot… On the distant imperial backwater planet of Yoole, Rogue Trader Saturnalius Klaus and his warband have arranged a clandestine meeting with the dreaded Eldar Pirate Prince Oberon. Klaus is hoping to obtain luxury Eldar novelty goods to deliver to decadent imperial xenos artefact dealers and in return the Eldar are expecting a shipping manifest of Imperial trade convoys ripe for the picking… simples eh?
Only there were, as always, a few spanners in the works. Neither party actually had the promised goods or any intention of handing the real items over (the elder crates contain the 40k equivalent of pound shop tat and the ‘shipping manifest’ is the known route of an imperial hazardous waste disposal scow); furthermore unbeknown to both parties the fanatical and zealous Inquisitor Scrooge and his retinue have discovered the deal and are waiting to ambush the traders as soon as contact is made.
Should our third player have made it he’d have found his own task fraught with complications, not only are his glorious back banners constantly getting in the way (moving through any doorway or window is barred on a D6 roll of a 1) but his veteran space marine bodyguards are blind drunk – having discovered one of the few alcoholic beverages in the Imperium that causes complete failure of the marines hyper efficient poison removal glands and implants!
So without further ado on to the battle.
At first both sides warily made their way to the town square to the rendezvous underneath the towering statue of justice, while the Rogue Trader causally screened himself behind a meat shield of Servitors the Eldar Prince decided to cover his own approach by sending small band of warriors to the high ground. In the few turns it took to meet up Andy’s Rogue Trader secretly used his astropath to scan several of the central building for any sign of an ambush but by chance failed to nominate the Tavern that inquisitor Scrooge was using as a hide out.
As both parties met a discussion was roleplayed out that reached an inevitable stalemate, the tension was broken by the Elda psyker prince casting ‘wind blast’ buffeting the rogue trader’s forces to the ground.
With the Rogue Trader floored, the Eldar wasted no time in running their hands over his sack for the shipping manifest and not a moment too soon as at roughly the same time as two of the burly servitors picked themselves up, the doors of the tavern burst open. The Inquisitor stated that they were all under arrest, however, the two drooling space marines flanking him obviously didn’t add too much gravitas to his words as at that moment the proverbial excreta hit the fan…
As brutal short range firefight broke out that would be somewhat tedious to explain in detail but needless to say the Eldar second in command leapt from point to point with his jump pack and flamed the marines while the remaining elder warriors had a shoot out across the roof tops with the Inquisitors own astropath, his tech priest and his loyal Gyrinx ‘sak-kat’.
Beneath the statue several rounds of a brutal close combat took place between the aliens and the Rogue Trader which eventually ended with the timely remembrance that the Rogue Trader carried a webber.. One blast of this in close combat literally wrapped things up with Prince Oberon immobilised! Still taking fire from the Eldar on the rooftops the retinue decided to scurry off with the prince as there prize rather than the gift crates!
At this point the firefight turned into something of a benny hill chase as the asropath teleported across the table carrying the bound elder noble and the elder gave chase led by the lieutenant born aloft on his jump pack... lumbering behind waving their bolters in the Inquisitor and his retinue began a long pursuit of both the miscreant parties.
Eventually the elder managed to jump pack their lieutenant to within flamer range and down the rogue trade with a burst of searing fire – at around the same time the jokearo managed to hotwire the power loader outside the tavern. As the jokearo slammed the walker into top gear to rescue his leader and the astropath, he came under a hail of shuriken catapult fire which did minor damage to the vehicle itself but did manage to cause special damage to the accelerator, forcing the jokerao to race around at top speed.
The inquisitor moved closer to the Rogue Trader in an attempt to rescue and then arrest him but was cut down by the remaining elder warriors – shot in the back of all things! His space marines were similarly disposed of and so, leaderless and without their ‘muscle’, the techpriest and asptropath decided discretion as the better part of valour and legged it.
Meanwhile a confusing climactic hand to hand combat took place as the jokearo and astropath took on the elder 2ic and his last few warrior... but alas las pistols are no match for a powerclaw on a 16ft high armoured walker and after several round s the jokaero emerged triumphant; with a bound elder prince carried aloft in the power claw and the body of the rogue trader draped across the back decks.
All in all it was an entertaining and classically ‘rogue trader’ game that really did need a GM as a lot of improvisation and ‘winging it’ became the order of the day. I’d attempted to put in as many classically rogue trader elements as possible (gyrinxs, jokearo, psykers, hidden items, porta racks, webbers etc etc) and perhaps there was too much as much remained unused or forgotten. A good example would be Andy’s jokero who started the game with enough basic and close combats weapons in component parts to potentially be able to make a las cannon in a few turns, but with so much else to think about this fun element was overlooked… luckily the jokearo’s mechanical ability came to some use in fixing the power loader that saved the day!
In retrospect I should also have assigned psychic powers in advance rather than letting players have a random amount of abilities and points… while on average this works, this time according to sods law Martini Henri ended up with an Eldar Prince with one measly power and only a handful of points with which to use it and for my own part I completely forgot the Inquisitor was a psychic also!
It might have swung the battle massively if i’d have remembered to give the Eldar the web solvent and webber I was planning to give their side too but to me the chaos and randomness is part of the Rogue Trade charm.
So with that one under our belt at the end of 2011 we all feel a little more invigorated to get in a bit more gaming in the new year.. I hope so as I need an incentive to actually paint the other few kilos of 80s lead sitting in the painting queue!