Ristin's Campaign Construction Center
From the First Founding
Please bear in mind this is a concept construction site. The reason this is not a complete campaign concept is it’s a work in progress. Brainstorming stage.
General Concept and Theme
(From the Black Crusade musing page)
The idea that immediately springs to mind for a Black Crusade game is for a first-founding squad of space marines who would then live-out a series of past and present encounters. As effectively ageless chaos space marines they could be part of a truly epic story arc spanning from before the Horus Heresy up until the current time. From their origin as loyal space marines fighting alongside the Emperor, through the fall of their chapter under Warmaster Horus, then snippets of the thousands of years hence (major events only, naturally) and periodic squad reunions.
That’s a concept, anyway. It would take a lot of GM work and then character participation (and backstory) to even attempt such a project, fleshing out the character’s human-life origins, their induction as space marines, their rough career and choices through the fall and then their reactions to life as chaos space marines.
Would they be regretful, eager for redemption? Would they be loyal to the ’liberator’s’ cause against the Emperor and pursuing plans against the Imperium? Or some personal project like seeking immortality through demonhood, or perfecting the arcane arts, or something else?
Possibly a safer approach would be to begin with a Deathwatch game set during the Horus Heresy with the players knowing they’re in a chapter that goes heretic and play that out, then run the Black Crusade game as a sequel? This would have the advantage of the “un-corrupted” character sheets to work from later.
Getting to the point:
I am thinking a game cutting back and forth across the character’s timeline, for example the movie Highlander.
Chronologically, the game would begin with the characters as (loyal) Space Marines of one of the chapters that go to Chaos under Warmaster Horus. Or possibly doing a “training and conversion” phase. More ideally the PCs would have a coherent enough backstory that we could have their un-augmented / pre-augmented stats.
With less rambling…
The story would start (chronologically) with the characters as loyalist space marines, and cover part of the Emperor’s crusade and the chapter’s corruption and fall. (Possibly easiest to start as a actual Deathwatch mixed-chapter elite team to give PCs the maximum of the limited character creation options). At this stage characters would be campaign-start-EXP Deathwatch characters.
There would be some intermediate scene-story elements of the transition following the fall of the Warmaster Horus and the traitor legions retreat to the Eye of Terror, and then carving out a niche there. At this stage characters would be campaign-start-EXP Black Crusade characters, and/or transitioning from their Deathwatch sheet to Black Crusade sheet.
Snippets from the following millennia covering significant events (including the acquisition of any chaos artifacts or major traits or chaos-ie psychic powers). Also if any of the characters have or had a major changing-chaos-power event. On that topic, i’d allow PCs to start as non-psychers and become chaos sorcerers…since that seems to happen a fair bit where the chaos powers are involved.
Since the retreat to the Eye of Terror, the effectively-ageless Chaos Space Marines would split up and reunite repeatedly, pursuing individual agendas (such as, perhapse, ruling a city…or in a wizard’s tower pursuing demonhood and immortality, or as a champion for the armies of chaos). At this stage, it’d be a mix of Black Crusade EXP levels, but probably mostly “starting EXP”, “EXP when you got your artifact but before you got it” and “current EXP”.
Also dark rituals to resurrect a fallen comrade aren’t out of the question, so even if felled in a flashback-scene, this wouldn’t be critical (but ideally wouldn’t be too common).
“The present” in the game would be in the current era (41st Millenium) of the Warhammer 40k setting. The PCs would spend, say, at least 50% of the campaign-time in “the present” pursuing current events. Between current events and flashbacks,information would build up showing there’s a grand design spanning the entire timeline and leading to . . . something (that’s still a WIP). Bearing in mind these would be First Founding marines who could easily have met and fought alongside (and against) the Emperor. At this stage it’d be current EXP.
Intended Gear and Style Statement
This pretty much sorts itself. The characters would be Space Marines in power armor and using an assortment of space marine weapons. I’d be tempted to try to limit characters from seeking Terminator armor.
At this stage my general idea is to let PCs pick a few items of Chaos gear (artefacts, etc) and make these the focus of flashback-scenes where the PC in question rallies their old squadmates and quest for fabled treasure (or overcome the champion that holds it, or quests into demon-domains for it…or what have you).
So initially a fairly standard Deathwatch arsenal, which would be their regalia and wargear from the Horus Heresy and convert over (for the most part) to be the starting Black Crusade gear. Which means possibly it’d need to be desecrated or abandoned or be defiled and converted, reconsecrated to the chaos gods, etc.
Possibly one specific abandoned item could be the artifact for the end-game. For instance a medal given to one PC by the Emperor himself that he discarded as trash after (or during) the Horus Heresy but then it turns out that could be used as a powerful talisman for a ritual and strike directly at the Emperor today. Possibly it’s a holy relic in an Imperial temple now and the PCs will have to raid it and lay waste to the slaves of the Emperor to get it, etc.
Building upon that, possibly the PCs themselves are also all required? Maybe all five are needed for a ritual and to form the five points of a ritual pentagram, each bearing a certain item linking back to the time before the Emperor was entombed in the Golden Throne.
The PCs would begin with a Deathwatch arsenal, convert to a Black Crusade gear and then pick up some (PC selected) rarer gear over the following millenia. Remember that in Black Crusade ammo and supplies are harder to come by than in Deathwatch, so I would not be surprised if the PCs end up with an arsenal of equipment and weapons over the ages. But the real signiature items should be relatively unique.
Campaign Logistics and Rules
It may be worth combining Black Crusade, Deathwatch and Rogue Trader. Using the Rogue Trader character generation system to flesh out what sort of origin the character had before becoming a Space Marine (including some skills they wouldn’t get access to in Deathwatch. Between Deathwatch and Rogue Trader, a simplified “before becoming a Space Marine” sheet could be constructed.
The character would then have a Deathwatch sheet (boosted by some background related skills, preferably a set amount / number but now benefiting from their improved Space Marine stats.
The character would further have a Black Crusade sheet modeling their post-fall self starting their career as a Chaos Space Marine.