Ladder Campaign: The Secret of Orthos IV

Started by Wyddr, November 8, 2017, 01:32:57 PM

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The Imperial artillery thudded down without stop, without rest. What had been a rolling series of wooded hills had been reduced to naught but mud and rock and deep craters. Still, the orks survived--picking up their severed limbs, clinging to the stones, they pressed forward against the barrage until, at last, they dashed themselves against the weighty bulwark of the Frontier--a network of bunkers and trenches, overflowing with the bayoneted might of the Emperor's Astra Militarum.

When at last it had grown quiet, Fulmenix, Enginseer of the 314th Vostroyan Rifles, crept out of his bunker and headed south, across the cratered landscape, his two servo-skulls ranging ahead of him, scanning the ground with infrared and ultrasonic auspex. He clutched his power axe tightly, his augmetic eyes scanning the ruins for any straggling greenskins, but also for any Imperial patrols. He was out of bounds--acting outside the orders handed down by Graf-Colonel Varks--but the service of the Omnissiah was a higher calling than even the service of the Emperor. This *had* to be done.

It did not take the techpriest long to find what he was looking for. A pile of ork bodies, all torn asunder from the fragmentary shells of a Wyvern Stormshard mortar, pinged brightly in the eyes of his servo skulls. Fulmenix hurried to the place, his bionic limbs whirring as he travered the uneven ground at a run. This was it. This had to be it!

His servo-arm seized body after body, some still twitching and snarling, and cast them aside. His axe whirred, slicing through weak ork-flesh and foul viscera. Then, a glint of steel. Fulmenix plunged his hand into the charnel heap and pulled out an ork head.

Its eyes were open! Fulmenix almost dropped it as it snarled wordlessly at him, chopping its brass-capped teeth. His momentary fear fell away, however, when he saw the augmetic eye implanted into the beast's head. It was an imperfect job--crude beyond measure, ork work to be sure--but the device was divine. Hands trembling, he took great care to excise the implant, cutting away at the skull with an ultrasonic scalpel. When at last he held it in his hands and turned it over...Great Omnissiah!

It was an augmetic eye, but with a built-in power source he had never seen before and made of a sophisticated alloy. It seemed to allow the wearer to see well beyond the spectrum of visible light--not that it's latest bearer had any idea what to do with such information. It was a wonder beyond anything Fulmenix had seen, but the greatest mystery was this: it was very clearly of human design. Not *Imperial* design--human design.

This was evidence of something ancient. Something predating even the Imperium. Somehow this ork--and many orks like him--had stumbled upon some hidden cache of technology dating from over 10,000 years ago.

The servo-skulls recorded Fulmenix's entire investigation and transmitted it back to an astropathic relay for delivery to his superiors in the Adeptus Mechanicus. This was fortuitous, because he had scarcely pocketed the priceless artifact before the ork offensive began anew, and the artillery once again pounded the hills flat.

Fulmenix never made it back to the Frontier.

The Setting

Orthos IV is an agri-world technically under the authority of the Tetriarchs of Vostroya. Or at least it was. An ork invasion of its major urban and space-port facilities in the southern temperate regions has led to a long conflict between the Vostroyans and the Orks with few signs of abating. The Orks now hold most of the former agricultural territory as well as several cities, while the Vostroyans control the oceans, many islands, and both polar regions. Imperial reinforcements had been inbound to help annihilate the menace, but then the Crix Maleditrix cut Vostroya off and now the subsector is on its own. The battle is a stalemate.

The Adeptus Mechanicus, however, has found evidence that the orks, in their looting, have come across something priceless--an ancient cache of tools and materials dating back to the Dark Age of Technology. This is a find of unparalleled importance--far greater importance than some backwarter agriworld. The radical members of the Cult Mechanicus are marshaling their Skitarii and preparing to strike at the orks and find the tech, world be damned. They will use the Astra Militarum to club the orks and, in the confusion, make off with their prize.

Little do they know, however, that the Eldar are aware of this plot. They are the ones who have aided and abetted the Ork invasion, knowing it served to protect their interests. Now that the secret is revealed, they are forced to act more openly. A host of craftworld Aeldari are bound for the world as well, there to oppose the mon-kiegh and keep the ancient technology out of the hands of the nefarious Tech Priests of Mars.

The Campaign

This is a narrative ladder campaign. It will be played in a series of "arcs"--three battles oriented around a single strategic objective. At the outset, the AdMech and Astra Militarum are allied, while the Orks and Iron Hands pursue their own goals.

Campaign Objectives:

The Vostroyan AM want to protect and liberate the agriworld from the ork infestation, thereby protecting their own homes and the lives of Imperial citizens.

The Orks want to conquer the planet and use it to jumpstart a new invasion of neighboring planets/systems.

The AdMech wants to find and claim the ancient technology, somewhere in Ork-held territory, and will not permit anyone to interfere.

The Iron Hands want to cleanse the planet of tech-heresy, which includes the Orks, the radical AdMech, and may very well put the AM in the line of fire.

The Rules

We will use Matched Play rules, though we may well be playing Narrative Scenarios from time to time. Each 3-game "arc" will determine who picks the next strategic objective for their side (in other words, who has initiative).

Now, Roboknee has already played the first game of the first arc. Here's what it looks like:

AdMech Arc #1: Behind Enemy Lines

Under cover of the Imperial assault on Arendt, a small AdMech task force uses the confusion to infiltrate ork territory and search for signs of the ancient tech. Current scans indicate a factory--under ork control--that may yield clues. The Skitarii deploy to seize it!

Location: Temperate zone, industrial

Opponent: Orks

Strategic Objective: take control of the factory and return with any intelligence gained

Round 1: Penetrating the Perimeter

Point Level: 500

Scenario: No Mercy/Search and Destroy

Terrain: Trench Warfare

The first directive is to kill all orks who could hinder the advance of the techpriests. They mustn't be permitted to warn others.

AdMech Victory: No orks survive to warn their reserves. The element of surprise is maintained. Round 2, Scenario A

Ork Victory: Enough orks escape to raise the alarm! Round 2, Scenario B

Round 2: Search the Factory!

Point Level: 500

Scenario A: The Scouring/Vanguard Strike

Scenario B: Dawn of War/Tactical Escalation

Terrain: Industrial Ruins

The AdMech frantically ransack the factory facility before the larger ork force realizes they are there.

AdMech Victory: The factory is taken in an orderly manner and an organized withdrawal is possible. Round 3, Scenario A

Ork Victory: The orks are stronger than anticipated--run away! Run away! Round 3, Scenario B

Round 3: Back to Base
Point Level: 750

Scenario A: Dawn of War/Secure and Control

Scenario B: Vanguard Strike/Spoils of War

Terrain: Industrial Ruins

The AdMech must get the artifacts retrieved out of there before the orks close in! Hurry!

AdMech Total Victory (3 Wins): The operation is a complete success. The Magi have several fine artifacts to guide them towards their true goal.
AdMech Partial Victory (2 Wins): The operation sustains heavy losses and no artifacts are returned. Partial data streams are uploaded, however.
Ork Partial Victory (2 Wins): The AdMech is repulsed without gaining intelligence, but the orks take heavy losses and are unsure how to proceed.
Ork Total Victory (3 Wins): The weedy techpriests are crushed by the might of the orks--and the orks are now aware of a new foe to be fought!


Vostroyan Arc #1: The Push from the Frontier

The Vostroyan High Command has decided an all-out offensive is warranted in the central heartland of the planet's temperate continent. With no sign of reinforcements forthcoming and little sign the orks have weakened overmuch, the odds for an full-scale advance seem likely to only grow worse. The time must be now. The objective? The city of Arendt--currently in ork hands, but largely intact--whose factories could be re-purposed to support the war effort.

Location: Temperate zone, suburban landscape

Opponent: Orks

Strategic Objective: Reclaim Arendt and drive the orks further south.

Round 1: Over the Top!

Point Level: 1250

Scenario: Dawn of War/Big Guns Never Tire

Terrain: Trench Warfare

The Vostroyans attack, seeking to put a hole in the Ork lines!

Vostroyan Victory: The Imperium punches cleanly through the enemy lines! Round 2, Scenario A

Ork Victory: It looks like it will be a grinding, slow advance. Round 2, Scenario B

Round 2: True Grit

Point Level: 1500

Scenario A: Blitz (Vostroyans as Attackers)

Scenario B: Deadlock/Hammer and Anvil

Terrain: City outskirts

Men and equipment and weapons are poured into the bulge in the ork lines. If the orks break, the city of Arendt will be enveloped, cut off from aid.

Vostroyan Victory: Arendt is encircled, the ork defenders routed. Only taking the city remains. Round 3, Scenario A

Ork Victory:
The ork counterattack keeps supply lines to Arendt open. A tough siege awaits. Round 3, Scenario B

Round 3: The Second Battle of Arendt

Point Level: 1500

Scenario A: Firesweep

Scenario B: Secure and Control/Front-line Assault

Terrain: Urban

The climatic battle for the city! The Imperials seek to eradicate the orks while the orks stubbornly hold on!

Vostroyan Total Victory (3 Wins): The city of Arendt is in Imperial hands and, as hoped, is relatively undamaged.
Vostroyan Partial Victory (2 Wins): The city is taken, but is badly damaged in the fighting. It is not ready to be a staging point for the next phase of the campaign.
Ork Partial Victory (2 Wins): The city remains in ork hands, but the Imperials have siezed its outer regions and are dug in--the front has moved.
Ork Total Victory (3 Wins): The humans are repulsed! The stalemate continues, but the resources of the imperials has dwindled dangerously low.


Vostroyan Arc #2: Counter-techno-insurgency

It took four burly guardsmen to wrestle the techpriest into the bunker. The rust-red robes he (it?) had been wearing were long since torn away, revealing a being mostly machine and only partly human. The machine parts had seen much better days. The techpriest's captors had removed his legs with a plasma cutter and had taken hammers to his various diodes and vis-plates, smashing and scarring his metallic carapace. His human parts--his arms, half his face, his throat--were bruised and battered from rough treatment of the more organic kind. But he was still alive.

The guardsmen threw him on the ground in front of a Vostroyan senior officer--a Field Marshall, by his insignia. He was sitting in a folding chair and smoking a long pipe while reviewing various dispatches on a holo-slate. He let the techpriest wheeze on the floor for a few moments before finally putting away the holo-slate and favoring the prisoner with a placid glance. "I am Field Marshall Heironymous von Grune. You, or those under your direct command, fired upon my men without provocation. You killed nine people and destroyed valuable equipment needed for the war effort. Explain yourself."

The techpriests vox-grill buzzed briefly in Binaric before settling into Low Gothic. "Statement: My treatment has been recorded by my superiors. Your behavior is in violation of ancient agreements between the Church of the Omnissiah and Vostroya. You will be punished."

Von Grune tapped some ash out of his pipe. "Rebuttal: You stand accused of high treason and heresy on the field of battle. I have the corroborated reports of eight officers and NCOs as well as the vid-capture footage from two different vehicles, all of which back up my side of the story. Were you not a brother of the Adeptus Mechanicus, I would have had a bolt put through your skull the moment you were apprehended. This interview represents the extent of my regard for those ancient pacts. You have also dodged the question: explain yourself. Now."

"Explanation: Your war is of no importance. This planet is of no importance. Our task supercedes all of your mundane concerns. No further explanation will be given."

Von Grune stood and put out his hand. One of his attaches placed a bolt pistol in it. "Very well. I will find out the old fashioned way."

The techpriest's one true eye rolled back in his head. The body convulsed once, and then was still. The light from its augmetics withered and died.

Von Grune swore. "Dammit. He uploaded himself. He's gone, the bastard."

An attache bowed. "What should we do, sir?"

Von Grune put his pipe between his teeth. "I won't have heretics messing up my warzone. Bring me a map."


Field Marshall Von Grune has dispatched a part of his forces to isolate and eliminate any and all unauthorized AdMech activity in the Arendt theatre. The secondary objective is to identify what the rogue techpriests are up to, if anything.

Location: Temperate zone, war-torn landscape

Opponent: AdMech

Strategic Objective: Eliminate AdMech operations in the Arendt area.

Round 1: Hunting the Techpriests

Point Level: 1000

Scenario: Dawn of War/Roving Patrol

Terrain: War-torn battlefield

The Vostroyans patrol through No Man's Land, trying to identify and isolate AdMech activity.

Vostroyan Victory: The guardsmen have located the AdMech forward base! Round 2, Scenario A

AdMech Victory: The guard has been rebuffed--the AdMech base has time to call for reinforcements! Round 2, Scenario B

Round 2: Alpha Bravo Base Assault

Point Level: 1250

Scenario A: Last Stand (Vostroyans as Attackers)

Scenario B: Bunker Assault (Vostroyans as Attackers)

Terrain: Skitarii Base

The wrath of the Imperial Guard rains down on the Skitarii bunker complex. Can they hold out?

Vostroyan Victory: The base is crushed beneath the adamantium tracks of the Imperial Guard! Round 3, Scenario A

AdMech Victory:
The base is secure, but the attackers still need to be routed. Round 3, Scenario B

Round 3: The Killing Blow

Point Level: 1250

Scenario A: Kill Confirmed/Search and Destroy

Scenario B: Dominate and Destroy/Vanguard Strike

Terrain: No Man's Land

The final attempt by the Imperials to capture and destroy the AdMech presence. Can their operations last?

Vostroyan Total Victory (3 Wins): The AdMech forward base is destroyed, their forces captured or destroyed. They will have to re-enter the theatre elsewhere.
Vostroyan Partial Victory (2 Wins): The forward base is destroyed, but significant AdMech elements evaded capture and remain at large...somewhere.
AdMech Partial Victory (2 Wins): The base is secure, but the AdMech is in desperate need of reinforcements.
AdMech Total Victory (3 Wins): The Vostroyan attack is repelled and the Imperials lost significant men and materials--no further attack can be mounted at this time.

Uncle Tungsten

First round exposure to concerted guard firepower is lethal to the extreme. I can feel for Roboknee. Dem tanks! 


Vostroyan Arc #3 and Deathwatch Arc #1: The Secret Revealed

The ancient catacombs beneath the city of Arendt smelled of burned ork flesh and the sticky-sweet odor of unburned promethium. Flamer teams, working day and night, scorched tunnel after tunnel, burning up any latent ork spores. Watch Master Raziel watched their work with approval - no orks would be born in this city anytime soon.

"Sir...uhhh...milord...master..." the lieutenant saluting him was only tall enough to perhaps brush Raziel's breastbone, and that only if his stood on his tiptoes. "Right this way...your eminence..."

Raziel allowed himself to be led deeper and deeper into the subterranean tunnels that seemed to stretch in every direction. The orks had nested down here like rats, and like rats the men of Vostroya had burned them out and flushed them to the surface, where their artillery and tanks had churned them into paste. It must have been a glorious thing, to see the greenskins dealt with so handily. Raziel wished he had been there to see it.

As the went, he took note of the construction--what had once been sewers had now become...different. The arches were made of duranium alloys, the ground beneath his boots was pitted and worn smooth with great age. No mark nor glyph remained on the walls--worn away by the passage of millennia. This was a place much, much older than the city above it. Indeed, it was likely older than any written history of the Imperium. It was curious. What did Von Grune hope to show him down here? And why all the secrecy?

They passed a cadre of burly, scarred men, their long moustaches stiff with blood and ash - veterans, probably some of the Field Marshall's most trusted men.
They're guarding something, he thought. But what?

Beyond these guards was a large chamber full of dusty, half destroyed machinery. At the center of the room, graffiti-covered and dented, was a huge cogitator of truly ancient origin. From the look of it, Raziel would guess that it pre-dated the Imperium itself. It was an artifact of the Age of Technology. Slaved to its trapezoidal bulk were a dozen servitors, their mind-sockets plugged directly into the machine's arcane processors. These servitors vomited out long scrolls of parchment, inscribed with a myriad of runes and sigils. All of this was overseen by a seemingly young and over-eager techpriest, who checked on his charges like a worried mother tucked in her babes.

And there, his hands folded neatly behind his back, his greatcoat flaring, was Heironymous Von Grune, Field Marshall of the 314th Vostroyan Expeditionary Force. The lieutenant tugged on the senior officer's sleeve and he spun smartly on his heel. "Ah, Watch Master - how good of you to come."

"I lost men the other day at the request of your subordinates," Raziel countered, looking down his hook nose at the scarred old campaigner. "You must answer for that. I am here to recieve your answer."

If Von Grune were troubled by this, he gave little sign. "The orks are just the beginning of this, I'm afraid. There is more sinister things afoot. Heresy and madness. And this machine," he pointed to the cogitator with his swagger stick. "This is the cause."

"What is it?" Raziel asked, poking at a tangle of parchment with the butt of his huge spear.

The techpriest butt in. "Answer: this is a partial STC - a copy of a pre-existing STC that only exists on Holy Mars."

Raziel's eyebrows shot up. "Is this true?" he asked Von Grune.

"You know who killed your men, don't you?" Von Grune answered. "You tell me if it's true."

Raziel eyed the techpriest warily, but he was back to tending to the servitors, completely engrossed by his work. It had been rogue techpriest--techpriests with Martian provenance--that had slain Balthus and three of his Kill Team. Techpriests with the support of a rogue Knightly House. If they were there because of this STC...

"Vostorya cannot afford to lose this planet, Watch Master," Von Grune said. "Whether it be lost to techpriests or orks makes no difference - Vostroya starves without Orthos IV. You understand me?"

Raziel nodded. If Vostroya fell, than this subsector fell. If this subsector fell, others would follow. The fate of billions rested on this small agriworld and its peculiar secret.

"Do you trust me?" Von Grune asked.

"Heironymous Von Grune of Vostroya, I have know you all your long career, and in all that time you have proven yourself a faithful ally and dauntless soldier. I trust you as much as I trust  any man."

Von Grune pointed at the techpriest. "Then kill that man."

The techpriest scarcely had time to look up. In a flash, the guardian spear at Raziel's side split the man in two and the light died in his augmetic eyes. Raziel then waited for an explanation.

"The information on this cogitator is sufficient for my own men to construct a weapon that will end this ork invasion, once and for all. But I need time to do it, and the techpriests will not give me that time. That one you just did for has probably already contacted his superiors, and if his superiors know, then the tech-heretics know as well. I must prepare a defense.

"And you wish for the Deathwatch to handle the greenskins?"

Von Grune nodded. "They are in disarray, retreating, trying to regroup. I thought you might enjoy it."

Raziel's craggy, ancient face slowly broke into a broad grin. "You thought right."

The Deathwatch of Watch Master Raziel have been tasked with throwing the orks into chaos. He plans on making several targeted strikes against the enemy, each one eliminating a key warboss and his band.

Location: Temperate Zone, wilderness
Opponent: Orks
Strategic Objective: Render the greenskins leaderless and fighting among themselves.

Round 1: Cut Off the Head
Point Level: 1000
Scenario: Targets of Opportunity, Vanguard Strike
Terrain: Wilderness

The Deathwatch strikes at the retreating ork forces, seeking to eliminate key targets and leaders.

Deathwatch Victory: The Orks are disorganized and ill-suited to fight. Round 2, Scenario A.
Ork Victory: The Deathwatch attempts have only strengthened greenskin resolve. Round 2, Scenario B

Round 2: The Body Whithers
Point Level: 1000
Scenario A: Secure and Control, Search and Destroy
Scenario B: The Scouring, Front-line Assault

Terrain: Ork base

The orks manage a hasty defense against the lightning Deathwatch raids.

Deathwatch Victory: The main ork force is depleted and on the run. Round 3, Scenario A.
Ork Victory: The Ork base holds, and serves as a springboard for a renewed ork offenseive. Round 3, Scenario B

Round 3: Death Throes
Point Level: 1500
Scenario A: Scorched Earth, Dawn of War
Scenario B: Crossfire

Terrain: Ork-held territory

Will the Deathwatch purge the orks unchallenged, or will they be drawn into a trap?

Deathwatch Total Victory (3 wins): The orks are crushed, routed, and seeking escape from the merciless xeno-hunters.
Deathwatch Partial Victory (2 wins): The orks have suffered massive losses, but are still in control of large territories. The Deathwatch is not finished yet.
Ork Partial Victory (2 wins): The Orks have not totally destroyed the Deathwatch, but they have a kunnin plan.
Ork Total Victory (3 wins): The Deathwatch suffers massive losses and must return to their strike cruiser to reconsider plans. Meanwhile, the orks have rallied and are ready for a new offensive.


Vostroyan Arc #3

VonGrune has the plans necessary to construct an ancient weapon, but he needs the materials. A mining facility, high in the mountains south of Arendt, has what he needs. But the Here-tek AdMech cultists have gotten there first. It is time to dig them out!

Location: Mountainous Terrain
Opponent: AdMech
Strategic Objective: Acquire materials needed to construct ancient weapon system

Round 1: Scouting the Approach
Point Level: 1500
Scenario: Recon, Search and Destroy
Terrain: Mountainous Wilderness

The Vostroyan forces probe for a passage into the high mountains.

Vostroyan Victory: The forces of the Astra Militarum have punched a hole in the AdMech defenses and reinforcements follow. Play Round 2, Scenario A
AdMech Victory: The Vostroyans will need to pursue a more drastic course of action to seize the mines. Play Round 2, Scenario B

Round 2: Securing the Facility
Point Level: 1750
Scenario A: Retrieval Mission, Dawn of War
Scenario B: Tactical Gambit, Spearhead Assault
Terrain: Mining Facility

The Vostroyans attack the facility, but fighting is fierce. They must either secure it at all costs.

Vostroyan Victory: The facility is secure. Play Round 2, Scenario A
AdMech Victory: The Vostroyans have a limited time to get what they need and evacuate. Play Round 2, Scenario B

Round 3: Securing the Supplies
Point Level: 1750
Scenario A: The Relic, Hammer and Anvil
Scenario B: Last Stand (Stronghold Assault)
Terrain: Mining Facility

The Vostroyans have either extracted or are *about* to extract the exotic matter needed to power their new weapon. In either case, they need to hold it against a last-ditch AdMech counterassault.

Vostroyan Total Victory (3 wins): The Vostroyans have everything they need to build their super-weapon.
Vostroyan Partial Victory (2 wins): The Vostroyans get most of what they need, but the rest will have to be synthesized, which will take time.
AdMech Partial Victory (2 wins): The Vostroyans are prevented from seizing the material, but they have sustained heavy losses and have to retreat--there is nothing to stop the Vostroyans from coming back.
AdMech Total Victory (3 wins): The AdMech have prevented the Vostroyans from raiding the mines--the Astra Militarum will have to look elsewhere for the material needed.

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