Saturday, July 2, 2011

A Pleasant Little Chat - In the Emperor's Name AAR

The following is a detailed after-action summary of my first campaign-linked game of In the Emperor's Name (or ItEN for short). The scenario in question is entitled "A Pleasant Little Chat" and was generated using the ItEN campaign system. Please see my earlier blog post for more information on the awesomenes that is ItEN.

I deviated slightly from the rulebook's direction in creating my retinue. I wanted it to be personalized and characterful, but with some surprises. So rather than just creating a retinue using the instructions in the rulebook (which is terribly easy, anyway) I selected my favorite 40K character models and selected appropriate stats and point values from the retinue lists,  wrote them on 3x5 cards, gave them names, and identified the retinue list they were drawn from. I then simply drew cards until I had reached the 120-point limit for a new retinue. This gave me a surprisingly colorful and balanced Retinue.

The retinue's composition includes Jodocus, a Space Marine librarian (as I did not draw a card for an inquisitor, I am taking it for granted that this is one heresy-snuffing librarian who has been seconded to the Inquisition for unknown reasons), the veteran Imperial Guard Stormtrooper Osbrecht, two Interrogators, Luc Lesueur and Arakana, a priest called Gracchus, an Arbites Judge known as Dimartus, and a pistol-toting bounty hunter called Kruger.

The second step in ItEN campaign creation (after creating your retinue) is to select a campaign with a die roll. The campaign type gives you a brief storyline and lets you know what enemies you will be facing: both your primary foe and his or her supporting retinues. I randomly selected a campaign involving an Imperial planetary governor who has been acting strangely in recent times. A xenos influence is suspected (possibly a genestealer cult), so the player's retinue is dispatched to investigate.

The initial scenario gives the player a chance to get his investigation underway by following up a minor lead related to the suspected heresy. The investigative scenario I rolled up involved tracking down a suspected underling of the governor who must be "interrogated" with extreme prejudice. Success would result in earning 2 Victory Points (ten are needed to attempt to win the campaign) and open up the opportunity to play a breakthrough scenario that can allow for major point gains. Failure, on the other hand,would result in a punishing round of retribution from enemy forces in a Survival mission.

Corin and his hybrid bodyguards
The cultists' safehouse compound

According to the scenario setup notes, the enemy agent (I named him Corin) is a genestealer hybrid travelling to cultist safehouse compound. Corin must be intercepted, taken down, and interrogated before he could disappear into the safehouse. To complicate matters, the safehouse is teaming with armed cultists who are on hand to cover Corin's route. Rolling up the enemy force, I learned that Corin would be accompanied by three other tough hybrid bodyguards, and that a dozen cultists would be waiting inside the safehouse.  Corin would have to make his way across the table and to the rear of the compound in order to escape.

TABLE SETUP: Corin starts in the northwest corner of the table (upper left corner-see below) and would try to reach the compound in the SE corner (bottom right corner). Brother Jodocus and his team start in the NE corner (bottom left corner). As soon as any members of the retinue engage Corin's party, the cultists in the compound will pour out and engage the Imperials.                                                        
The field of battle. For report purposes, the left edge is "north "
The Imperial team hustles after their quarry
Jodocus and his team deploy near the local fuel depot, gain initiative, and immediately begin moving at a run to attempt to cut of Corin and his xenos-tainted guards. Meanwhile, Corin's team moves directly south (along the upper right edge of the table) at a run toward the safety of the compound. Meanwhile, the compound itself remains quiet.

Tense cultists remain vigilant at the compound

The Compound interior

The hunters and hunted at the start of Turn Two

The Imperial team breaks into two groups, with the faster members led by Jodocus hooking right to attempt to get ahead of the enemy agent, while the slower members plod go left to attempt to come up from behind on Corin one his group is pinned down by the first. The plan is to overwhelm them before help from the compound could arrive, interrogate Corin (those who have read Dan Abnett's excellent Eisenhorn series know exactly what type of interrogation I am talking about), and fall back as soon as the cultists arrive. Meanwhile, Corin's group continues to plod south along the table edge.

The faster Imperial group surges ahead, but it looks like Corin might slip past them, as the Imperials catch sight of the two-man hybrid rearguard, with Corin safely behind the last building between him and the safety of the compound. The leftmost pincer of the Imperial retinue is  meanwhile not even close to engaging the enemy agent's team.

Corin flies for the safety of the compound
Corin leaves two of his bodyguards behind to delay the Imperials while he surges around the corner of the building providing him cover and attempts to dash across the intervening open space into the protective embrace of the waiting cultists. All he has to do is get to the building at the rear of the compound, and he can escape down an access tunnel into the protective maze of the city's Underhive. If he wins initiative on the next  turn, he is as good as gone.  The fast Imperial team moves at a run to intercept, but have no time to get off a shot.

Jodocus moves in for the kill
The Imperials finally get a break and win initiative. Brother Jodocus dashes to get into contact with Corin, hoping to lock him into close combat long enough allow the rest of the team to catch up.  He just reaches the xenos agent and engages him. Jodocus registers a hit, but Corin handily makes his Grit roll and shrugs off the attack. His one hybrid bodyguard still in tow also joins the melee, hoping to allow Corin to break away and continue his flight. The standoff takes place right outside the main entrance to the compound, so it is only a matter of time before the cultists come pouring out.
A desperate diversionary attempt....
 Meanwhile, Arakana, Luc Lesueur, and the Kruger bounty hunter hold back to provide covering fire against the inevitable onslaught of cultists. The two rearguard hybrids attempt to surprise this group but run right into the the Arbites Judge, priest Gracchus, and the stormtrooper. A tense firefight ensues that rages on for several turns.

Cultists scramble to cover their agent
The cultists gain initiative. With his last bodyguard distracting the Space Marine, Corin breaks away from the melee and dashes toward the compound entrance. Simultaneously, the cultists come pouring out with autoguns blazing. Jodocus breaks away from melee with the bodyguard, shrugs off a free strike that results (as a penalty for disengaging from melee) and attempts to shoot Corin in the back. He fumbles with a 1.

A general firefight ensues as Corin attempts to slip away.

 Meanwhile, the judge, stormtrooper, and priest battle to keep the main force from being outflanked by the pair of hybrids (you can just see them in the background of the pic to the right, scrabling for cover).

A Torrent of Fire...

The cultists win initiative again, and Corin slips well into the confines of the compound, with the ill-equipped but numerous cultists fiercly resisting the Emperor's finest in close range combat. They use the Torrent of Fire rule to good effect, forcing the Librarian to make to Grit rolls in the one turn.
Sanctuary at last?

It looks as if all hope may be lost for the Imperials, as the Corin, the Agent of the Enemy, seems only one move away from safety. Arakana, Jodocus, and Luc Leseuer all manage to take down cultists in the raging firefight at the compound entrance, but there seems no way to cut through so many and reach Corin in the limited time remaining.

Osbrecht cuts down a hybrid
Elsewhere, Osbrecht's hellgun manages to bring down one of the hardy hybrid bodyguards.

Never trust a bounty hunter

The Imperials win another initiative just in the nick! Kruger and Gracchus move swiftly from the corner of the compound where they had been engaged in the gun-battle to a point in the outer wall that affords a view inside....

Corin is gunned down at the last possible moment...

....and promptly gun down the elusive Corin just before he reaches safety. Of course, Jodocus still must reach and psychically probe his dying mind....

Jodocus cuts a bloody path

...while simultaneously, outside, Jodocus and the supporting Interrogators cut down the remaining cultists.

Two for two

...and Osbrecht puts to rest that final pesky hybrid, only after he had come close to bringing Judge Dimartus down twice in the close range gunfight.

Mopping up

The battle outside the compound winds down, and Judge Dimartus leads then Interrogators and the veteran guardsman in mopping up the remainder.

The compound is breached

While inside, Brother Librarian Jodocus finally reaches the inert body of Corin and begins his dark interrogation....

A bloody interrogation

....but not before dispatching the last of the cultists. With Corin's mind laid bare, the Imperial team can claim victory. With the secrets gleaned from the enemy agent, Jodocus learns of traitors among the local Imperial Guard regiment as well as the Administratorum. It appears the governor himself could be implicated in this web of Xenos subversion....

 That's all for today, folks.  This was a delightfully fun solo game thanks to the excellent core rules of the ItEN game system. I am also pleased to say that the campaign generator I wrote for the project managed to generate a surprisingly fun game, with enough scripting to make it interesting but enough randomness to keep you guessing. Of course, it can still bear plenty of tweaking, and I would love to hear feedback from anyone who tries it. Stayed tuned for the next scenario in my In the Emperor's Name campaign. After consulting with the dice gods (and the appropriate ItEN campaign charts) it looks to be a mission entitled "A Confluence of Corruptions." And remember.......
FINECAST IS HERESY! And what do we do with heretics?


  1. I read through the ItEM rules last night and was very impressed.
    The campaign system is genius!
    As I only have 15mm mixed sci-fi models, I plan to "re-skin" it to a more classic space opera vibe. Do you have an editable version of the file you could send me at thespacejacker(@) It would save me transcribing the PDF... No offence if you'd rather not. :)

  2. Spacejacker, sent you an email.... :)

  3. Hey Jason blog is looking good.
    Working on an ork retinue to play against you
    Hopefully soon.should be available late July early august.
    Can travel. Say hi to Kelly for me