Yes, it’s time for more 40k. Decided to try a campaign, as most of us who game at my local store really enjoy more narrative-driven gaming to encourage our painting and playing. One of our players, Tony Borzok, wrote up an idea that we decided to transform into a game–the following is almost entirely his write-up, with some edits and suggestions from the wider group.
Artifacts of the Dallaran Cluster is a map-based campaign in which players battle on 15 different planets spread out through the Cluster in search of their faction-specific artifact. Along the way players will attack foes, defend territory, earn planetary perks, build fortifications, and race to acquire their artifact to enable victory.
Prepare the Harvest, for They Will Scythe
The Veiled Region of the Segmentum Tempestus has long held mystery, shrouded in the myriad warp storms that rage and obscure Imperial travel. Yet suddenly, one area of the storms subsided–revealing a dense cluster of stars along the fringe of the sector. Imperial probes and a survey vessel were dispatched, and examination of the cluster revealed a higher number of planetoids than expected given the small size. The survey vessel’s crew launched signal buoys to cordon off the cluster while examination for heretical or xenos evidence was conducted. Naming the major star Dallaran, they completed an initial survey of it and its two companion stars, and filed the information among the millions of other reports making their way for Imperial administrative review to be opened for further exploration, colonization, and mineral extraction.
The system was largely forgotten until an Inquisitor, Jerubaal Valenhern, operating on a star base near the Dallaran cluster was called in for advice on what seemed like a routine customs arrest. A freebooter captain with a small ship attempted to avoid a customs search, and was caught trafficking illicit trinkets depicting heretical cult symbols and idols packed in strange, ill-smelling straw.
Inquisitor Valenhern carefully purged the few customs officials who observed the images themselves, then turned to interrogation of the captain: Beyal Fabian. Captain Fabian revealed under intense interrogation and psychic pressure that she had been cutting the cordon and retrieving these items from the Dallaran Cluster planetoids. She spoke of these as only the most transportable and easily moved goods, but ranted and raved about far stranger massive artifacts that she had seen. Her words began to slur and burble as she spoke of hidden temples, strange symbols, a cruel rod held on a pedestal that seeped pure purple energy, and more.
Reports are unclear from the station what followed. Inquisitor Valenhern dashed off a desperate S.O.S. message, appended with that much of the transcript of the interrogation. His plea for help was stunningly strange. He said the station was under assault from inside and that Captain Fabian was “no more yet even more”. His final words on the transmission were “Get here. There’s no helping the station. But scour the Dallaran Cluster for these artifacts. Prepare for the harvest, for They will scythe.”
Upon receiving the message, the grand Imperial war machine rumbled into action. Inquisitor Valenhern’s superior noted the potential need for extreme force, and dispatched not merely the usual Imperial expeditionary force. He earmarked it for a Titan Legion and the Adeptus Mechanicus as well. But the Inquisition was not the only one listening. What xenos awakened on the planets with Captain Fabian’s footsteps? What other races are watching the signs and stars, recognizing the portents of Chaos? And to what does the destruction of the star base and the strange words from Fabian and Valenhern mean for yet darker daemonic prophecies and quests? One thing was sure: the artifacts of the Dallaran Cluster must be found.
The Campaign will take place over a number of rounds, each of which has three phases: maneuver, battle, and wrap-up. Players start with a single planet that they choose based upon a roll-off for selection order.
Maneuver Phase: Every player secretly select and write down which maneuver they will take (and the target of that maneuver). They are then revealed starting with the player with the lowest total campaign points in that round (rolling for ties). The maneuvers are as follows:
Invade: Choose a planet controlled by an opponent and battle for control. If the opponent has an HQ or Shrine in that location, that becomes the target of the invasion (requires a second invasion to conquer the world).
Explore: Choose a planet controlled by no player, and gain control of it.
Build: A player chooses one of the planets they control, and select to build either an HQ or a Shrine in that location. A player can only choose the Shrine option if they are on their correct relic planet, but an HQ can be built anywhere. Players can only have one shrine and one HQ in the system at any given time. An invasion cancels a build maneuver if it is revealed first. If revealed after in the same round, then the building is completed just in the nick of time.
If multiple players select the same destination for occupation with Explore, then they will battle–with the winner taking control of the planet. When a player has one of their controlled planets invaded, they can choose to either battle or cede control. If they cede control, treat as an Explore. If they choose to battle, the winner retains/gains control of that planet. If several players choose the same destination, that’s fine–work out either sequential games or one larger multiplayer game to resolve the event, depending upon the narrative of who’s attacking where.
Battle Phase: Should be self-explanatory, but represents the clashes between armies on the various planets. Use the following missions for guidance, depending on the situation of the battle. If the players cannot decide on a scenario that makes sense for the battle as the story progresses, consult the other players in the campaign or roll a dice.
Invasion Scenarios: Meat Grinder, Blitz, No Mercy, Secure and Control, Tactical Escalation, Deadlock. For battles targeting an HQ or Shrine, instead pick one of the following: Sabotage, Rescue, Retrieval Mission, the Relic, Cleanse and Capture, Cloak and Shadows. Note that an HQ and/or a Shrine give different bonuses to models in these battles. HQ provides the controlling player 4 additional CP for the battle. Shrine provides the general of the army a boost to their morale and fighting presence: they automatically pass all personal leadership tests and gain +1 to two characteristics of their choice from this list: WS, BS, Strength, or Toughness.
Explore Scenarios: Ambush, Patrol, The Scouring, Big Guns Never Tire, Contact Lost, Spoils of War
Wrap-up Phase: Check which planets each player controls. Reveal to that player which perk applies for that planet. During the first Round of the campaign, do not include the Faction Artifact options in the random Perk selection pool. Players can make note of the perks of planets as they discover them. Adjust player campaign points score according to their current possessions. Check to see if the campaign finale threshold is met. If so, then plan the mega battle campaign conclusion for the following week. If not, proceed to another Round of the campaign.
Each of the 15 planets in the cluster will be assigned a perk, but that perk will be distributed at random as the planets are occupied. Players will know what they possess, and there may be reasons that it becomes visible to the other players–but there will be some mystery as no one will exactly know which planet provides what benefit. That will add some mystery in people’s quests to locate their faction artifact.
|King of Hearts||Imperium Artifact|
|King of Spades||Chaos Artifact|
|King of Diamonds||Eldar Artifact|
|King of Clubs||Necron Artifact|
|Queen of Hearts||Lost Settlers: A community of lost settlers has established a home here, eager to rejoin the Imperium after their time away. Imperial models automatically pass all Leadership tests (except for ones for or defending against psyhic powers) in battles on this planet, to represent their zealous defense of this populace.|
|Queen of Spades||Chaos Shift: The powers of Chaos can make or unmake worlds in their image. If the Chaos player possesses this world, they may choose to swap this world’s card for a randomly selected world card held by another player. This becomes the Perk of the world that loses its card, and the lost card becomes the new Perk of the planet that was the Chaos Shift.|
|Queen of Diamonds||Webway Portal: Set up one Webway Portal model on battlefields when this planet and an Eldar player is involved. Eldar players may use it as a part of their force as normal.|
|Queen of Clubs||Tomb World: This is the Necron tomb world in the system. All Necron models may gain the Deep Strike deployment special rule for battles on this planet.|
|10||Asteroid Defense System: Half of the attacker’s units (rounding down) must start any mission in reserve, owing to being slowed in deployment by the defenses. If an unsuccessful attacker tries to invade this planet again in their very next Maneuver phase, then this benefit does not apply the subsequent attempt.|
|9||Abandoned Xenos Hive: This world contains the ancient structures of a long-lost Xenos race (best translation Imperial scholars could manage is “The Future Land of Cleve”). Any battle on this planet must use a dense urban terrain set-up.|
|8||Death World: Maintaining a force on this planet is difficult at best, as the occupiers must deal with the constant attacks of the flora and fauna. The player who occupies this planet chooses a force that is 75% the points value of the attacking force during an invasion of this world (or add the same amount of points to the attacking force’s side as needed).|
|7||Null Planet: Something about the chemical composition of the soil dulls connection to the warp on this planetoid. All HQ characters on both sides of the battle gain the Deny the Witch ability, whether or not they are a Psyker.|
|6||Ash Wastes: Visibility is highly limited by the volcanic smoke columns and soot storms that sweep this planet.|
|Ace||Empty Planet: No Benefit nor Penalty|
|Ace||Empty Planet: No Benefit nor Penalty|
Campaign Points and Conclusion
Players each have a static campaign score that they carry throughout the campaign. Each Wrap-Up Phase players should check and adjust their current score.
Each player/side gains points as following:
- 1 Campaign Point for each planet they control
- 1 additional Campaign Point for controlling their Artifact world (immediately reveal that Perk card to the other players)
- 1 additional additional Campaign Point for controlling a world with their Shrine
- 1 Campaign point for every 500 points of their army that is fully painted and based (up to 3,000 points)
Thus, player campaign scores can range from zero to 23 (the latter representing one player controlling every planet, having built their shrine world, and have a fully painted and based 3,000 point army).
At every Wrap-Up Phase, the players should add all of their scores together. When that score totals 30 or more, the Conclusion Condition is met.
Conclusion Condition Effects: There are no further rounds of play, instead a large culminating multi-player battle–the story for this battle will be determined by the breakdown of Campaign Points, planetary possessions, and the story that has developed across the Campaign’s play. Relative campaign points in particular will come into play in determining battlefield position and secret objectives for the final mission.