I Back-flip Into Holes

I’ve always envied you Emily.  You have maintained a focus on yourself and your goals your entire life.  You’ve been falling down holes for years.  And luckily its usually the same hole!

My hobbies shift with the times.  I get really into various things for like a year or two and then I move to something else.  Well recently I sold off the majority of my Magic cards.  I also traded in a huge portion of my Batman comics because I just couldn’t keep up.  Last year I was in an in between phase when I decided to run a Rogue Trader RPG campaign.

Its probably my only solid hobby right now.  I am reading for entertainment less, I’m not getting through my video game backlog, and I have essentially stopped watching shows.  I fancy myself an ‘immersive GM,’ so I spend my time writing what I hope are interesting settings, quests, and enemies.

I bring all of this up not to brag but to emphasize how much time I spend on this.  I’m always thinking about it, planning for it, and writing down ideas and quest lines.  Most evenings after work I probably sit down and write at least a little bit.  I agonize over it, but I really love it.  It’s fun and satisfying!

But Emily, I back-flip down holes.  I throw myself into whatever my current hobby is hard.

So I decided I’m going to run a Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition campaign for my work.  Some of my coworkers will get to be players in their very first campaign.  I’m going to have to write a campaign that’s not only exciting, but introduces these people to the campaign setting.  On top of all of that, the quest line needs to slowly teach them how to play the game.

One campaign was sucking up a huge portion of my time.  Now I’ve agreed to two!  I’m going the distance.

Did I mention I’ve never officially run a Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition campaign before?  So I need to learn how to GM it like a boss.

But fuck it, ya know?  I’m enjoying writing.  So much so that I am considering writing an official book.  So to keep my writing muscle flexing and getting swole, you and I are starting a brand new blog in which we will write a story back and forth, 500-ish words at a time!  Starting next Friday?!

BUT FUCK IT, YA KNOW?  I’m going to start my own writing project on my own goddamn blog.  I have been playing with the idea of writing a motherfucking prequel story to the Killian Rage from my goddamn Rogue Trader campaign.  It would be my first semi-serious online novella series.  Just to see how it goes, fuck it.

You may occasionally trip and fall into a hole Emily.  And its refreshing to see someone so dedicated to their self and their hobbies.  But I’ve never been known to trip.  My hobbies go too fast and hard for me to nurture them appropriately over the course of years.  So if I’m going to full enjoy a hobby, the only way I know how is to overload the machine and shove the whole damn thing into a hole.

And then I’m falling; surrounded by the elements of my work.  Running two campaigns, and potentially three blogs at one time?  Sometimes you see the the ground rushing up to meet you and all you can do is point and scream:

“ROLL INITIATIVE!”

Total Party Kill: How Did We Get Here?

This past Saturday I had to kill all of my players.

I was very worried because it was going to suck.  They had gone to a planet the previous session and then they were beset by a colossal creature from the clouds.  The Creature on Rain.

It was a perfect storm of unpreparedness, bad rolls, poor choices, and differing priorities.

As always: from the top.

When I had unleashed my party on the Koronus Expanse several of the players had interest in just sailing out into the infinite void and finding amazing things.  No matter how I explained it they never quite figured out that they can just sail into the void and discover systems.  So instead they took to information gathering: looking for rumors and discoveries that they could go and plunder.

As the GM I pointed out some “well known” planets.  These planets have legends surrounding them.  One was Burnscour, a planet just impossibly chock-full of shit that will kill you.  The expansion known as the Koronus Bestiary talks about vicious xenos creatures you can encounter, and a good chunk come from this single death world.

Another I posited was the planet Rain.  It used to have a settlement on it, but eventually a message was received from the planet.  I abridged the message to: “they are coming.  They are coming from the Rain.”   The planets colonies and population all vanished.  The book itself gives one paragraph as to what happened, enough to get a proper GM going.

I took what I found and created a monster fit to kill everyone who ever came to the planet.

The players weren’t exactly chomping at the bit to go, but they definitely made the comment that they want to eventually.

Back to the players.  Every time they were on Port Footfall, the character Zarko would search for information regarding alien worlds with valuable artifacts.  Befitting of his backstory, I would start to seed in some hooks.

Enter another player, Brute Wang, had helped the player look around for rumors, maps, or coordinates.  Over the course of a couple sessions Brute rolled well enough to forge a map that led to Rain.  Not by name, just by location.  Rain is a pretty infamous and feared location in the Koronus Expanse, and with the help of an NPC Chaotic was easily able to glean the coordinates.

Eventually Chaotic planted this map on a hooker.  The hooker eventually encountered the Rogue Trader in the party and gave him the map, who he then gave the map the Zarko.  They both rolled to see if the map was legit, failed spectacularly, and the map was deemed trustworthy.

They took the map to their Navigator who said he could take them there.  I prompted everyone to roll Common Lore: Koronus Expanse.  The coordinates are fairly well regarded since no one returns.

Not a single players who could have learned that lore by now bothered to take it.  I guess they were all concerned with getting their stats higher.

So they went to Rain.  And the very moment they entered the Warp to travel there I knew I was going to have to kill them.

Kill-Them-All

They arrived at the planet, gave it a cursory scan, and landed near three abandoned research posts.  They had all been torn apart during a previous attack as everyone tried to flee.  The players reactivated three vox communication arrays and the final message was relayed as an S.O.S.

“They are coming.  They are coming from the Rain.”

In between relaying that message and the attack itself I had to prepare for the next session.  A session where they would all die unless they were tremendously lucky.

I wanted it to be drawn out.  I wanted to evoke hopelessness and futility.  I definitely did not want this to be fun.

I can’t say too much about the Creature, but it vastly overwhelmed them.  It had the ability to send out smaller versions of itself.  They manifested as flyers, or the slower husk forms that were humanoid in appearance.  The players promptly made a break for it, but their ship was low enough in orbit to be sensed by the Creature.  Half the party made it back to the ship and blitzed for the command deck.  They all started individually being pulled down and suffocated- with the pilot and the navigator finally succumbing near the deck itself.

The second half of the party made it onto the ship but were overwhelmed by the smaller creatures that spawned.  They all died.  Zarko was the final one to succumb.

I had them all one by one turn their character sheets face down.  I wanted to have a discussion.  A talk about what they are doing and how they ended up here.  The party isn’t working together.  There are no discussions.  Half of my players just sit idly by while the other half makes decisions for them.  Decisions that got them killed.

Granted some of my players aren’t present all the time, but as the GM it did not look to me like this party should even still be together.  I had wrongly guessed that I could unite them with a rescue job when we started, but none of my players seem to have made any effort to really learn or interact with other characters.   Hell, one of the players had forged the damn map.

I’m sure that if I voiced this to the players many would protest, but talking about your characters as players is not the same as characters talking with other characters.  I falsely believed that we could have a party where there was no established leadership, but it was brought up that it was likely needed.  I had thought my players would be willing to speak up, deliberate, plan, and work together.  They don’t do this that often.  I have a couple of serious roleplayers, a couple of wannabe-power gamers, and couple people who are just there to hang out.

They lack self preservation, aren’t taking skills they could be using, and are presently aware that they are just numbers on a page.  I’m not going to sit down and chide them for playing how they want to play but they dove in headfirst into a TPK without research or preparation.

They asked no one on port whether they recognized this map.  They failed their checks yes, but even if I say “the map looks legit” doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do more research.  That’s where the “its a game” aspect comes into my players minds.  They don’t need to research.  Its a game so self preservation is worried about when its needed.

I’m debating having a structured conversation about this with them.  I think having all died once will make them take more deliberate steps with things.  We shall see.  Hopefully the TPK is a shake up and gives them a banner to unite under.

I ended up saving them.  One of their NPC’s had unparalleled connection with the Warp and used her own life force to push the Creature’s daemonic consciousness away.  She ended up dying as the cost of bailing them out.

-DTM

Murder Hobos to a New Extent

It’s almost fitting that this post follows my previous one debating what to do about my players inaction.

So Pretzel just glanced at my screen and burst out laughing.  So for those who do not know: murder hobos.

Murder hobos is a slang term for Dungeons and Dragons adventurers.  You are a murder hobo because traditionally the players go from town to town killing people.  A vagrant that walks into town, kills the local problem, and rides off into the sunset.

My players killed approximately 100,000 people in one stroke.  So my players are winning this unspoken competition.

As always: the explanation.  My players were sent to a planet owned by another Rogue Trader.  A queen from one of the kingdoms had recently been kidnapped and she wished to return to the feudal world kingdom to save her daughter.  When she attempted to return to the planet herself her reemergence from a space ship sent the populous into an uproar.  So she hires some intrepid explorers to go in and retrieve her daughter.

Stuff happens.  They manage to infiltrate the capital city where the castle is located (and presumably the princess) but the problem came when they had to escape.  The riotous mob had located them and it was a long, dramatic gunfight through a dense city.  Seven explorers doing combat with approximately 50,000 angry civilians.  It was a very tense ending to the session.

When my players returned to their ship, they silently agreed to destroy the city entirely.  They lowered their 8 kilometer ship into orbit and blasted the city into a black smear ala Rogue One.

I was really enjoying the session!  My players, for the first time, we’re working together as a unit.  They understood the risks and we’re working to make sure that everyone passed tests as a group.  I was very excited.

Then they committed genocide.  Now- it makes sense.  It was an emotional reaction to what they had just escaped.  The session was supposed to end on a juxtaposition of a reunited family against the burning capital city below.

What I found curious, and on some levels worrisome, is that they all just allowed this to happen.  There was no deliberation over the event.  There wasn’t a discussion about what the super advanced race of people should do.  They showed up as angry gods and delivered an apocalypse from the sky.

So an emotional reaction- which is fine.  But without anyone asking questions are debating what course of action should be taken, will they understand any repercussions I deliver against them in the next session?  I don’t jump in to remind them of things when they do discuss action together because I want them to ask questions.  I cannot expect them to know the universe, but on some level their characters do.

Should their be a penalty for them not asking, “What would happen if-?”

Realistically here’s what should happen:

The players failed to scan the system so they did not notice the reclamation satellites in the system, and more importantly the Aquila Magnificus located on the planet.

They knew that the planet was owned by another Rogue Trader.  They did not investigate who owned the planet at the time and did not ask what this Rogue Trader might do with a feudal world.  Things that some of their characters likely know, but they didn’t think to ask I suppose.

Now in their defense they didn’t know the city would rise against them and chase them through the city.  Killing civilians in self defense would not have warranted more than a miffed Rogue Trader.  Which I’m sure is what they thought when they vaporized the city.  But they also didn’t ask me, “Will they know?”

So given the circumstances.

Do I give them a break as the GM and gloss over this or do I do what should happen.

So killing approximately 100,000 people is obviously a cruel retribution.  And there is no way that the crew of their ship will be quiet about this when they return to Port Footfall.  So word will get out.

The Aquila Magnificus is a dedicated beacon that summons the Ecclesiarchy.  The Ecclesiarchy are the arm of the Imperium that spreads the Imperial Creed.  Similar to religious missionaries..  And a mysterious ship came and destroyed a huge part of their flock that was promised them.

So the Ecclesiarchy will be furious, and the Rogue Trader will essentially be out a lot of money.  Word gets out on Port Footfall.  Rich people grease some palms and the party will be discovered probably within 3 months.

It will likely be a much shorter time before that Rogue Trader knows.  Days I’d bet.  I know this because of super secret GM stuff, but the players will be finding out in the next session.

I’m not sure yet what I should do.  I don’t want to seem “unfair” because essentially to many of my players it will likely feel like I’m abusing my power as the GM to promote my agenda of not killing 100,000 people per session.  They didn’t ask me questions so they did not have a clear vision of what would happen.

Will they blame me for not telling them ahead of time?  Is it my duty to tell them ahead of time?

But at the same time the universe should feel like it has a real world feel to it with real repercussions for player actions.

So Emily.

What do I do?

-Agonizing GM

“We’re done. We’re ready for whatever…”

That was said to me by some of my players last session.

Maybe not verbatim but definitely that meaning.  They were done doing stuff and were ready for whatever I had in store.

This really disheartened me.  And in some ways it confused me.

During my last post I talked about how they finished the first quest and they were free to roam the Koronus Expanse.  And I was really excited about this because it means I didn’t have to railroad them.  I didn’t have to explicitly control what they do.

I wanted them to feel slightly underpowered in the beginning.  I gave each of them a boon (kinda like a wish) and they each got some totally bitching archeotech (analogous to magical items) equipment.  So now they are powerful, they are much richer, with a spaceship that they had to work together to protect.

It also meant that I could slow down the missions and take more time to write them since my players have the option of fucking off around the Koronus Expanse.  I prepared a lot of star systems to explore so that there were real things they could encounter.

I wrote missions and populated a job board for them with options.  Quests they could take to represent people coming to the party and looking for explorers to hire.

I prepared a lot for the first session of freedom in the Expanse.  We sat down and I presented them with their badass equipment.  I was eager to see what they wanted to do.  After most of an hour they all sort of just looked at me.

“We’re ready for whatever.”

I-

What?

You can do whatever you want?  I’m taking my hands of the wheel for the first time.  Does no one have anything they want to do?  I think in the moment my façade broke and my exasperation showed.  Not a single player in seven had something they wanted to pursue.  The players talk a lot but I was hoping this was the moment that character building moments and events could take place.

After I prompted them they finally decided on a mission.  But I’ve been thinking about that moment all week.

Maybe the issue is that the world is too big?  The ‘blue sky’ problem definitely comes up.  When someone comes up to you and says, “You can do whatever you want!” you get far more intimidated and stumped than when someone says, “Choose A or B.”

A bit of it must be that the people aren’t familiar with the Universe.  And there isn’t shit I can do about that.  The lore is all available but I’m not going to demand that they read it all.

Also the fact that its a sci-fi universe is more difficult as well.  Dungeons and Dragons should just be called “Familiar and Safe Tolkien Fantasy Tropes.”  Its way easier to function in DnD campaign because its much smaller in scope.  A sci fi universe typically involves spaceships and galaxies.  You don’t have magic to rely on, you have to get clever with your thinking and how you use technology.

Part of the opening missions was teaching them about the various things that can be done.  How to information gather, negotiate, evaluate stuff.  I was hoping that would carry over but maybe they thought the only reason we were doing this was for a specific events.  I suppose I can still be explicit about what needs to be done but I want to put currency back in the players hands by pitting them against interesting challenges.  If I write the challenge and then prompt them on how to beat it its less satisfying for them.

I think in my effort to teach everyone first and let them free second I’ve accidentally set up a standard of “you don’t need to do anything because its all preordained.”

On another level I think that some of the players aren’t really fully invested.  No one asked me to run a campaign because they wanted one.  I decided to run one and asked who wanted to play.  And that distinction is important.

Ellis is going to run a Dungeons and Dragons 5.0 campaign and some players seem to be much more excited.  They are really diving into the rule books and looking at how their character is going to develop.  This is a campaign that people asked Ellis to do, so they are far more excited.

This isn’t a bad thing but I think my Rogue Trader campaign isn’t necessarily a huge deal.  Saturdays (when we play) isn’t necessarily “we play Rogue Trader on Saturdays” as much as it is “we all hang out on Saturday and play Rogue Trader.”  It seems the same when its written but the difference is that for some of my players they don’t care if we play or not.  Hanging out is what we do on Saturdays.  They don’t look forward to playing Rogue Trader, they look forward to hanging out.

Hell, one of my players brought board games to play when he came to session on Saturday “in case we didn’t play.”

In the end we have fun and that’s what I prioritize.  I have fun and I think most of my players do.  Their personal engagement might not align with mine but in a group of seven players its probably hard for all of them to be on the same page.  Writing for Rogue Trader has been a fun and unique challenge.  Learning to manage my players and expectations will just be a new challenge.

And don’t get me wrong, some of my players get really invested in certain scenarios and that’s so much fun for me to write for.  Its a mixed bag but hopefully with time everything will be sculpted into a deep, rich campaign.

I just wasn’t ready for, “We’re done.  We’re ready for whatever…”

-DTM

 

 

 

Flee to the Koronus Expanse

Rogue Trader is an RPG system set in the 40k Universe.  The primary setting is the Koronus Expanse; a vast region of space beyond the Halo Stars.  It sits behind two great Warp storms: the Screaming Vortex and the Void Dancer’s Roil.  The gap between the two is known at the Maw.  What makes the Koronus Expanse the primary place setting is that until recently it had been lost.

Faster than light travel involves entering an alternate dimension known as the Immaterium, more commonly known as the Warp.  A realm made of emotion made manifest and an infinite number of daemons.

The route through the Maw into the Koronus Expanse was re-discovered within the last two or so hundred years.  It’s an entire segmentum of the galaxy with hundreds of millions of planets for the taking.  The players play as a party of explorers under the helm of a person known as a Rogue Trader.  A Rogue Trader has been granted the right to represent and claim planets and territories in the name of the God-Emperor of  humanity.

So go explore and have fun!

So naturally I did not start my group in the Koronus Expanse.  I started them in the Calixis Sector.  I have seven players and five of them have never played Rogue Trader, it’s a brand new d10 system they need to learn, and the classes do not translate straight across to fantasy (i.e.  there is no designated ‘tank’ or ‘healer).

I wanted to start my party in the Calixis Sector because its a much easier place to introduce the world.  It’s a part of the galaxy under the influence of the Imperium of Man.  I never liked the “you all meet serendipitously” method of starting a campaign- so I like to start them in a “you’ve all been hired for X” plan.

Writing the ‘Opening Mission’ was the most difficult thing I’ve written by far.  Mostly because I wanted to introduce almost all of the mechanics of the game to them.  Combat, Space combat, interaction challenges, exploration challenges, covert ops challenges, space travel, warp travel, investigation, purchasing personal things, outfitting the ship, entering and exiting port, etc…

So I wrote an escort mission.  My players began on the Hive World (industrial/labor planets) of Gunpoint and they commandeered a ship that was provided for them and they set off.  A lot more happens in between missions but the short hand goes like thus:

The players were assembled on the planet Gunpoint.  They were briefed: they had to go to a penal planet of Sheol XVII.  They needed to escape Gunpoint, however, because there were armed men hunting them.  They were promptly ambushed but managed to escape.  Once upon their ship they fled the planet.  The first mate aboard the ship was named Havoc, and he explained a little more of the situation.  They made their way to Sheol XVII.  Having duped a pair of ‘police’ ships, they got inside the planets perimeter.  They picked up a man named Killian Rage.  Havoc and Killian Rage go way back, having known each other for several decades.

Killian explained that Sarvus Trask, a prominent Rogue Trader, was hunting him.  Sarvus betrayed Killian; he used him as a scapegoat for a political deal and had him imprisoned as a sign of good faith.  So now Killian Rage is attempting to return to the Koronus Expanse and Sarvus is trying to stop him.

Once they escape Sheol XVII they go to the feral world Endrite to raid a facility belonging to Trask.  They successfully make it planetside, make their way on foot to the facility, and raid it for all of the supplies.  Unfortunately though, the supplies that were supposed to outfit their ship were merely cleaning chemicals.

They then went to Thical, a prominent hive world near the Maw.  They went to fence the stolen goods but they were met with a counter proposal from their agent: retrieve my stolen valuable thing and I’ll pay you well.  The players expertly infiltrated the facility and found the relic, but had to chase the men down to retrieve it.  They returned it to the agent who paid them and re-supplied their ship.

As they were about to leave Thical Sarvus Trask found them.  In the final days of the re-supply he encountered and captured Havoc in the city.  Amassing a fighting force, he appeared suddenly, murdered Havoc in front of them, and stormed the players ship on the dock.  It was a fight for their ship and their freedom.  It also turned out that their one time ally had been paid to turn on them and dealt a serious blow to the ship.  During the battle several players were critically wounded including Killian Rage who had his left arm completely chopped off.

They escaped after repulsing Sarvus Trask and fled to Port Wander, the final stop this side of the Maw.  On Wander they got their ship re-supplied, hired a new crew, and fixed their broken components.  Once ready, they plunged through the Maw into the Koronus Expanse.  Port Footfall is the stop on the far side of the Maw.  Once on port, Killian introduces them to his old flames father, Zulfikar Raheem, who pays them handsomely.

And then Killian leaves, unsure whether he’ll ever see the party again.

So a lot of this mission was a “connect the dots” sort of mission that allowed me to teach my players the various components of being alive and in the 40k universe.  A lot of this was just me being like, “Hey, this could be totally cool.”

But a small portion of the missions were me reconciling my last campaign that was a failure because I had never GM’ed before.  My first campaign as GM was fun but it got super duper turbo derailed because I didn’t understand how to tell the story.

Killian Rage was an NPC pirate lord in my first campaign.  For me, and I think for my players, he was one of the popular elements in the campaign.  So I began having him show up just to keep interest high and to give them a “Team Rocket” sort of half-antagonist.  He was eventually killed by the party.

Killian Rage represents me in the campaign they are currently playing in.  I gave him no voice, I made him very Mary Sue, and he didn’t talk much but he always knew or had just what the party needed (because I am the GM).  His plan to get them to the Koronus Expanse was a representation of my first campaign and how it goes terribly wrong.  Killian assumed it would be really easy since he knows everything he needs to but doesn’t consider that others will act in ways he can’t predict.  My players behaved in ways I didn’t predict.

Sarvus Trask kills his blood brother Havoc in front of him and Killian becomes ‘disarmed.’  He literally lost his left arm when Sarvus Trask cut it off, a nod to my loss of control from the first campaign, and his brother  Havoc was killed in front of him, a nod to Killian dying in the first campaign.  And when Killian lost Havoc he was lost without him- a feeling I felt when Killian was killed in the first campaign.

So the ‘Opening Mission’ ends with Killian introducing the party to Zulfikar Raheem.  Zulfikar agrees to pay the party when he learns that Killian lost Havoc.  Zulfikar had a daughter once, but she fell in love with Killian and left with him to go on adventures.  She never returned, and Zulfikar blames Killian for her absence.

So when Killian returns asking for a favor (that he knows he has no right to ask) Zulfikar only grants that favor when he learns that Killian is experiencing the same grief that he is.  He pays them, but as a mockery to Killian.  As Killian is leaving the facility, unsure of his future in the Koronus Expanse, he dons Havoc’s blood stained cloak and leaves.

The mockery and departure of Killian, and generous payment to the players, is a reminder to myself that this campaign is happening because of the mistakes I made in the first one. I learned from my experience and here we are now.  My first one was a confused mess but it makes me a better GM for my players now.

My players are here, they’ve earned their wings, and now I don’t need to escort them anymore.  

I feel like this campaign is already way better than the first.  For instance, people actually liked Killian as an NPC.  I even had an instance of a player conversing with him in character.  That last session where they make it to Footfall and Killian leaves- I have been told was a really good session by a few and in one instance a players favorite they’ve ever been in.

That makes me smile to think about.  I think I have a lot of room to grow as a GM in this campaign and I look forward to it.  So yeah, I feel better about this campaign.  Especially now where we get to the point where its really easy to lose control.  But I’m ready.

And don’t worry.

Killian will be back.  Eventually.

-DTM

 

So you want to be a Dungeon Master?

Over the last few months we have been talking nonstop about Rogue Trader and the campaign you would be running for your friends. I know next to nothing about Warhammer or Rogue Trader, but I’ve been enjoying listening to your story ideas and helping you brainstorm. I love telling stories and creating stories for real people to act out is a new and fun challenge.

Well, today you told me I should run my own tabletop campaign. I quickly responded with a no thank you. While I am a storyteller and it has been SUPER fun talking to you about your campaign, I really don’t think I’d make a good dungeon master. I don’t have the motivation to create a game, much less the patience to run it for a group of people. It sounds like a very quick way to ruin friendships and give yourself a headache.

But not everyone feels the same way, of course. Obviously there are people out there who get a great deal of satisfaction out of building and running games for their friends, otherwise Dungeons and Dragons would have disappeared years ago and it definitely wouldn’t have spawned the thousands of other role playing games on the market today. A game can’t explode in popularity like D&D did without some people out there who really love reading up on tons of rules, creating complex but adaptable plotlines, and wrangling sugared up nerds. I know lots of people who DM. Hell, I married someone who likes to DM.

So what’s the pull? It can’t just be the storytelling aspect. Like I said I love telling stories  and, honestly, running a campaign sounds like hell to me. But it’s obviously heaven to others.

I think it all comes down to how people tap into their creativity. Everyone, well most everyone, likes to be creative, but not everyone likes to express their creativity in the same way. Some people paint, others play music, and I like to write stories. My DM friends also like to write stories, but in a different way.

When I write a story, I start with a concept. Usually, it’s a single scenario that I’ll put my characters in and then, using what I know of the characters, I’ll let them write the story. Basically all of my fiction stories are campaigns, except I get to be the DM and all of the players. And I like it that way honestly. I’m an introvert by nature and I like writing my stories by myself. I’ll let other people in when they’re done, but they definitely don’t get to be there during the creation process.

Well people who like to DM like to write stories just like I do, except they like involving other people in their creation process. Some people like creating in groups, which is perfectly fine, just not my cup of tea. Also, allowing people to be a part of your story means the story will be more dynamic and unexpected. There’s also little change for writer’s block. An entire group of people can’t get writer’s block at the same time.

However, as appealing as that sounds, I’m not running a game any time soon. I am the textbook definition of an introvert. I can barely play in a D&D campaign, much less run one. But at least I understand where the motivation to be a DM comes from.

-EMS

The Mutiny of Juxx the Red

The Exarch Infinitum.  794.M41

Was I ever destined for more?  Was it always my fate to follow?

Today I will spit in the Lord-Captains face.  I will besmirch his entire legacy.  A man with his power doesn’t deserve it.  Inheriting a legacy is not the same as having defined one.  Growing up with a Writ of Trade as your inheritance certainly skews your vision of your life.  Insurmountable wealth, vast influence, power and security the rival that of massive armies. Adruesus Kahlmor wants for nothing.

Life is different for those born in the void.  You learn to embrace fear and uncertainty.  The cold is your ever present companion.  You are told what you are.  Life and destiny are legends you hear about during your travels.  Lucky individuals never need to know fear because we exist.  The voids-man, the crew, the dregs.  For all of our want we receive little.  You can work on a ship for your entire life and never meet your Lord-Captain.

I lost my first captain.  My home was destroyed in a xenos attack.  I lost my father.

Life is different for those born in the void.  You learn to embrace fear and uncertainty.

Working for Lord-Captain Adruesus Kahlmor has not been the promotion I needed.  A man devoid of want so he grows up not seeing it in others.  He subjugates entire races of people without a thought.  He has sacrificed crewmen, my brethren, in the name of profit and plunder.  Even his closest crew members merely exist to serve.  I am merely a slave.  Expendable.

I cannot abide this anymore.  A man without wants should not have the right to choose for others.  He trusts me.  When I do cross him I’ll never find work within the Imperium of Man again, but I’ll make due.  It is time to teach this man, this Rogue Trader, what it is to want.  It is time to teach him to embrace fear and uncertainty.

His precious ship the Exarch Infinitum is where we set our stage.  I have been planning this for weeks.  I’m going to wrench my freedom from his weak, groping hands.

The crew doesn’t trust me enough to stage a mutiny, so I’ll have to hold them at gunpoint.  I have set charges in numerous hidden compartments all over the enginarium.  A voids-man might not fear death, but being sucked into the Immaterium is pointedly not death.

With the crew under my thumb I will control the Teleportarium.  That wretched device has been used to slaughter countless people and destroy entire stations.  I can’t destroy it yet, but I can definitely sell it to the Adeptus Mechanicus.

Dealing with Commander Lysander will be a problem.  He is quite loyal to the Lord-Captain.  I harbor no ill will against him, but he cannot be allowed to stand in my way.

He is on the far side of Port Footfall.  He’s negotiating a re-supply of the ship.  Easily several hours away by port transit.  My next move will need to be through our vox caster; this way he can hear me tear his legacy to shreds.

Walking to the Teleportarium, I take a deep breath and march in.  The acolyte recognizes me, maybe with a hint of confusion.  I draw my pistol and savagely swing it hard into his jaw.  He collapses in a heap but he’s still conscious.

“Acolyte, teleport Commander Lysander to the far side of Port Footfall or I put one through your good eye.”  I feel bad for him.  But its necessary.

He works the console while blood dribbles down his chin.  His jaw is already beginning to swell.  He will need some extended medicae care or he’ll be eating through a straw for months.  There is an electric sound and I see Commander Lysander appear in a flash of lightning.  He swings around abruptly and looks me in the eye.  Resignation spreads across what remains of his face.  I believe he knew this day was coming.

With one more electric flash he’s gone.  I throw the acolyte out and lock the door.  I use my hellpistol to weld the metal shut.

I march out and announce through the vox caster, “To the crew of the Exarch Infinitum, this is Voidmaster Juxx.  I have seized control of the ship.  Prepare the ship for immediate launch.  If we aren’t up and moving in 30 minutes I will blow the enginarium.

In my pocket I find the detonator and it the button two times.  I have two muffled explosions on the port and starboard cargo holds.  Nothing of value and no one should be there, but it gets the threat across.

I head to the command deck.  Everyone I come across is looking at me in either wonder or disgust.  My face is a mask, I hold it in as grim a look as I can manage.  Fear threatens to crack it but there is no turning back now.

The ship rumbles to life and the engines begin to roar.  We begin to pull away, locking our guidance on another trader ship that is about to enter the warp.  We will use their ship as beacon to traverse the Warp without our resident Navigator.  I man the helm and I hear through my micro-bead, “Juxx.  Unhand my ship.”

Impossible.  He can’t be this close.  I look through a portside window and see him standing on the dock.  How did he get here this fast?  It should’ve been impossible.  Its almost like the intervening hand of a God has turned the tide of this game.

His xenopelt cloak wavers in the currents cast off from the ship.  An imposing figure, even if he is one man.

I have contingencies.  I expected him to follow but this moves everything up.

I order the ship full ahead and we pull away.  Space dust and debris clouds the dock.  As if from no where a one man flyer erupts from the dust.  We weren’t bringing any aboard so I’m not sure why there was one on the dock, or even where it came from.  How convenient for him.

He approaches the stern of the ship near the cargo bay.  I make my way down the cargo bay and wonder where everything went so wrong.  I had planned for weeks, I had succeeded against every obstacle.  Standing in the cargo bay I wait for the telltale sounds that let me know he’s attempting to attach his flyer to the door.

When I hear it I click the detonator four more times.  My helmet visor helps against the blinding white light as four more demo charges blow the door out where his flyer was attached.  As the door blows off I see the cockpit of the flyer open and Adruesus Kahlmor himself leaping from the wrecked ship.  In a jump that I can only assume was aided by the benevolent hand of a god he flies through the explosion to land on the floor of the cargo bay.  Standing there without his void suit on.

It is at this time that I know I cannot win.  He is an unstoppable juggernaut in close combat.  And somehow he has with him all four of his swords even though he was on a routine trip to a local merchant.  It seems something far darker is plotting against me.

At this distance I open fire with everything I have.  He effortlessly floats around all of my shots and closes the distance.  He strikes me with hilt of his ghost sword.  Anticlimactically he puts a boot to my chest and orders me to disarm.

I wake up in a pod.  I am bound and disarmed.  How long have I been out?

I see Commander Lysander through the window on the door.  Staring at me.  I can’t register what he’s thinking through his bionic eyes.  I do my best to stare back.  To keep my resolve.

“Why did you do it?” I hear the Lord-Captain ask me through a nearby vox caster.

I make my way over and speak into it, “I have never known what it is to be free.  Free of what amounts to slavery, free of your wretched demands, free of want.  I am a voids-man, and you see us as less.”

There is silence.

I continue, “I cannot follow you.  I cannot abide.  If I am to continue my journey through the void, it will be as a free man.  I am done being your follower.”

Still silence.  Then he chimes in slowly, “We are in orbit above a death world.  You are to be exiled here for your transgressions.  You were an excellent void master.  I wish I had been a better judge of character.

“We have dropped another pod with your equipment and some supplies.  We are going to drop you ten kilometers from it.  There are dangerous creatures lurking in the jungles.  Poisonous lakes and carnivorous plants.

“I will give you what you ask for.  Here is your freedom.  If I ever meet you again I will kill you where you stand.”

I feel my pod disconnect.

Life is different for those born in the void.  You learn to embrace fear and uncertainty.  I get one more look at the Exarch Infinitum as I plunged towards the surface.