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Stage 2 (Revised) - Mission/Campaign Development


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#1
Brother Tyler

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Okay, now it's time to get to work on the campaign. I'm trying to find something lore-based to build upon. Neither the Black Templars codex nor the rulebook give any occasions on which the Black Templars have faced Tyranids (limiting my searches to the history part of the codex and the timeline in the rulebook, so there might be some other nuggets scattered throughout either/both of those publications that I haven't found yet). The rulebook does give us a Tyranid event without naming the Imperium's forces, and this might be a decent opening. It's on page 175 and took place in 138997.M41. The event is called the return of the Great Devourer and describes twin tendrils of Hive Fleet Leviathan striking at the underbelly of the Imperium through Segmentums Tempestus, Ultima, and Solar. This event is also referred to as the Third Tyrannic War. Looking at the inside back cover of the Black Templars codex, the Garon Crusade (132 members) and the Athalor Crusade (334 members) might work.

 

The Tyranids codex describes the Crusade of Wrath, with Marshal Helbrecht of the Black Templars leading a force composed of elements of 15 Chapters. That might provide good fodder, and much like the Space Hulk missions, features a hero who later goes on to bigger and better things (the Librarian, Calistarius, later becoming Mephiston and Helbrecht later becoming High Marshal). That crusade took place in 997.M41 against Hive Fleet Leviathan (though the Black Templars codex tells us that Helbrecht was elected High Marshal in 989.M41, so either  we have a disparity or Helbrecht was High Marshal when he led the Crusade of Wrath). Interestingly enough, the rulebook lists another Crusade of Wrath in 888.M41, pitting the Black Templars against the Word Bearers. With that, I'm not really inclined to use the event in the Tyranids codex. We can always make an event up.

Note that the Black Templars Space Marines used will be limited to Sword Brothers equipped as the models in Space Hulk, replacing the filthy witch Librarian with a Marshal (Captain). We're also working on rules for Apothecaries and Chaplains, but those are optional. With the Black Templars chosen as the poster Chapter for the project, we'll probably work in a mission that includes a Chaplain.

 

Note that our goal is to write a campaign whose missions provide Space Hulk players with more replayability. While the storyline is going to revolve around the Black Templars, things will be kept to a point where any other Chapter could be used in their place.

 

Limitations - the missions should only use the types and quantities of tiles available in the 3rd edition Space Hulk game. For now, that is. We'll need to discuss whether or not we're going to add additional tile types, in which case we're also going to need to develop the files and rules for those tiles. I don't want to play around with quantities, though.

 

I also envision this campaign consisting of at least six missions. The Captain/Marshal will be in at least one of those, but no more than two.


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#2
Octavulg

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Remember that Genestealers predate Tyranids proper, so there's a bit more time to work with if you want it.

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#3
Brother Tyler

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Very true, and this gives us thousands more years to play with.

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#4
Brother Tyler

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A Black Templars player pointed out the Hive Thetus Crusade, which he found on Lexicanum 40K:

On the planet Neveria II a small-but-dangerous cult of heretics had to be removed. An investigation by an agent of the Ordo Hereticus and a covert strike by the Deathwatch discovered the influence behind the cult: a broodlord had managed to infiltrate and infect the minds of a large group of inhabitants of Hive Thetus. This combined with years of crossbreeding had produced physical and psychic abominations to Mankind.

It became obvious that Hive Thetus was becoming a staging ground for a dreaded Tyranid vanguard force. The Xenos influence had to be removed and the Hive had to be cleansed. The Black Templars called to the challenge of returning the Emperor's Light to Hive Thetus with righteous zeal.

The Broodlord and its followers hid themselves deep within the Hive's blackened depths. It would take some considerable time and effort to removed them. The labyrinth of tunnels, accessways, ducts, and forgotten cities proved to be a deadly and unique battlefield. It was here that the Black Templars fought terrifying battles in cramped corridors against the Tyranid menace. Slowly and at great cost, each sector was cleared from the bottom up. Hive Thetus, and the entire world of Nevaria II with it, was made relatively safe thanks to the efforts of the Black Templars.

You can see the crusade banner at http://wh40k.lexican...etus_banner.jpg.

Note that I haven't found the source information (the GW site) yet as it appears to have been removed (along with the other articles). I'm still scouring the web, though, so any links to the official material would be appreciated.

My initial assessment is that this is a very good crusade to use as it pits Space Marines versus Tyranids in a setting other than a space hulk. The crusade sounds like it included genestealer hybrids, and though they won't be part of the Indomitus project, we might later create them for standard WH40K. This would enable us to create a larger WH40K campaign pitting the Black Templars versus the full range of opponents in the Hive Thetus Crusade, possibly using Zone Mortalis as our construct.

For the purposes of the Indomitus project, however, we are confined to Terminators versus Genestealers.

The crusade setting hasn't been finalized, though, so I'm continuing the search for other source material.

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#5
Brother Tyler

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Okay, it looks like we'll be going with the Hive Thetus Crusade.

In all likelihood, the campaign we develop for Indomitus will be part of a larger campaign. The other missions in the campaign might be played out using standard Warhammer 40,000 rules (probably with Zone Mortalis upgrades). These will feature power armoured Black Templars and units that are not part of the Space Hulk rules.

For our purposes, we're looking at five or seven missions. Three of them will be fairly bog-standard (Sword Brother) Terminator squads versus Genestealers. The remaining missions will have special twists, with only two of them including the Captain (Marshal).

The missions will be playtested/balanced for standard rules/models. Later, we'll look at replacements (e.g., using a Chaplain instead of the Captain/Marshal, using some non-standard weapons, etc.).

Another aspect of our playtesting will be using the Librarian. While he's definitely not part of the Black Templars storyline, it must be remembered that the Chapter used in our campaign is decoration. The storyline will definitely be written around that Chapter, but the larger intent is for players to be able to use their Terminator models from any Chapter in the missions.

For now, we're going to focus on the mission development and ignore the storyline. A simple progression from basic encounters to specialist missions will come into play later, so we're going to focus on the three basic missions.

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#6
Brother Tyler

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For the following, keep in mind the limitation of needing the actual 3rd edition Space Hulk game to play (can't violate GW's IP)...

The following is a conceptual outline. This is a starting point. The intent is to create the basic structure of the campaign from a capabilities/difficulty perspective. The purpose of the discussion right now is to refine the information below (not to develop the rules/objectives or anything). If the structure below looks fine to you, please say so. If you'd like to see it modified in any ways, please say so (and identify how/why).



Mission 1 - introductory mission
gallery_26_6416_808.jpg squad of 5 Terminators versus basic Genestealers
gallery_26_6416_808.jpg straightforward kill-them-all objective
gallery_26_6416_808.jpg Sergeant w/ power sword

Mission 2 - introductory mission
gallery_26_6416_808.jpg squad of 5 Terminators versus basic Genestealers
gallery_26_6416_808.jpg straightforward kill-them-all objective
gallery_26_6416_808.jpg Sergeant w/ thunder hammer

Mission 3 - intermediate mission
gallery_26_6416_808.jpg 2 squads of 5 Terminators (10 Terminators total) versus basic Genestealers
gallery_26_6416_808.jpg special mission objective
gallery_26_6416_808.jpg both Sergeants

Mission 4 - intermediate mission
gallery_26_6416_808.jpg 2 squads of 5 Terminators & Captain (11 Terminators total) versus basic Genestealers & Broodlord
gallery_26_6416_808.jpg special mission objective
gallery_26_6416_808.jpg both Sergeants

Mission 5 - advanced mission
gallery_26_6416_808.jpg squad of 5 Terminators & Captain (6 Terminators total) versus basic Genestealers & Broodlord
gallery_26_6416_808.jpg special mission objective
gallery_26_6416_808.jpg Sergeant w/ thunder hammer

Edited by Brother Tyler, 22 April 2013 - 10:17 AM.
BBCode doesn't want to play


#7
Brother Tyler

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I've found a more complete copy of the Hive Thetus Crusade information (here). I suspect that this was part of a series of articles displaying how different GW studio members painted their Black Templars armies, each giving some background behind their chosen force.
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Hall of Honour - Thetus Crusade
 
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The Cleansing of Hive Thetus - Black Templars were called upon to aid in the extermination of a small-but-dangerous heretical cult on the planet Nevaria II. This menace was investigated by an agent of the Ordo Hereticus working within the overpopulated levels of Hive Thetus. Soon, this agent discovered the towering spyres of Thetus held a more sinister secret than anyone first suspected. A powerful and malevolent influence was behind the cult. Further investigation, along with a very costly covert strike by Deathwatch Space Marines, uncovered a powerful Broodlord at work.

The creature had somehow managed to infiltrate and infect the minds of a large portion of Hive Thetus without anyone knowing. Years of crossbreeding the population had produced both physical and psychic abominations to mankind. It became obvious that Hive Thetus was becoming a staging ground for a dreaded Tyranid vanguard force. It had to be purged. The Black Templars stepped up to the challenge of returning the Emperor's Light to Hive Thetus with righteous zeal.

The Broodlord and its foul kin managed to anchor themselves deep within the Hive's blackened depths. The removal of this taint would take some considerable time and effort. The labyrinth of tunnels, accessways, ducts, and forgotten cities proved to be a deadly and unique battlefield. It was here that the Black Templars fought terrifying battles in cramped corridors against the Tyranid menace. Slowly and at great cost, each sector was cleared from the bottom up. Hive Thetus, and the entire world of Nevaria II with it, was made safe (relatively) due to the efforts of the Black Templars.

Distinguished Service and Bravery Medals
Heroic actions and deeds worthy of note were honored in the form of round coins that were spot welded onto the wearer's power armor. Brother Zatliev has earned two such medals during the fighting underneath Hive Thetus. The uppermost medallion is for exemplar performance during the fierce battles fought for possession of Zeta Hall. The other was awarded for pulling two injured battle brothers to safety while driving off a Lictor.
 
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[Note - The image above doesn't really matter for Indomitus except insofar as how it will impact how I paint the miniatures.]

Neophyte Assignment
When assigned to train and tutor a Neophyte, it is not out of character for the Initiate to mark his armor in a display of pride. During The Cleansing of Hive Thetus, a simple white Templar cross painted on the right knee was used to show such status within the mixed Crusader Squads.

Crusade Veteran
Veteran status during the Thetus Crusade was given to a Battle Brother who had successfully taken part in three major operations. This service was indicated by a red left knee pad bisected by a black-and-gold lined stripe. The three dots represent the three operations. Further successful actions by the veteran would be indicated by more white dots painted within the black band.

Thetus Crusade Badge
As is the case in nearly every Crusade, a unique badge is designated to signal that a particular Initiate is involved in its operations. On Navaria II, it was worn on the outer part of the right leg. A black dot within a shield icon represented the cancer that had to be rooted out and destroyed. These badges often help to identify who's who when diplomatic or other duties call a warrior from the battlezone.
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Now I've found at least one other member of the B&C that has used the Hive Thetus Crusade as part of the background for his own Black Templars army, but that was in his Marshal having ascended to that rank from among the Sword Brethren due to the death of the Marshal of the Hive Thetus Crusade. Whether or not that work will be integrated into our own is highly in doubt. I'm more inclined to treat each effort as completely separate versions of reality.

I haven't found anything else official throughout the Internet to provide any more information on the Hive Thetus Crusade, its members, etc. For now, I'm going to start working on fleshing out the back-story for each of the missions that will be provided as part of the Indomitus expansion.

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#8
Brother Tyler

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Ah, and it appears that the Black Templars faithful have recorded some additional stuff on the Hive Thetus Crusade for posterity.

Here is the campaign badge:
gallery_26_6416_8924.jpg

And with that, there is some confusion on the name of the crusade. While I've seen it most often referred to as the "Hive Thetus Crusade," elsewhere on the B&C I've also seen it referred to as the "Nevaria Crusade" (named for the world on which Hive Thetus is located). Based on the information in the post above, as well as on precedent established in the codex (the Jerulas Crusade was a cleansing of Hive Jerulas), the Indomitus project will refer to the crusade as the Thetus Crusade.

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#9
Brother Tyler

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Using the mission outline presented above (here), I'm working on the basic concept for each mission and an overarching plot line.

Very important - The concept behind the Thetus Crusade for Indomitus is that it will fit into a larger campaign that allows for gaming with the full scope of models available to each side. For the Black Templars, that means that the other elements of the crusade (not just the Sword Brethren Terminators) and for the Genestealers that means hybrids. So this means that in another project I'll be developing some homegrown rules for Genestealer hybrids (not at the B&C, of course, since that's verboten). These additional missions will most likely be played using the Zone Mortalis rules.

In addition, the five missions presented below are just the core missions. I'd be more than happy to create additional missions for the crusade, especially if we can include at least one with the (optional) Chaplain. Keep in mind that the cleansing of Hive Thetus was undertaken in three major operations. It seems likely that, while there may have been similarities in each of these operations, each of the operations had distinct objectives and challenges for the Black Templars.

The names below are both nominal and placeholders. If we decide to change the nature of a mission, the name will change appropriately. If the names I've chosen suck (and there's no doubt in my mind that at least one does), we'll make them better.

Mission 1 - Forcible Entry
Squads of Sword Brethren in tactical dreadnought armour are the first to enter Hive Thetus, clearing out locations so that strong points can be established and additional forces can be brought in. This mission represents one such squad in action.

Mission 2 - Flank Attack
As the Black Templars expand their lodgment, a force of Genestealers has breached the lines. A squad of Terminators must defeat the infiltrating Genestealers or risk the failure of the operation.

Mission 3 - Shut Down
In order to limit the flow of Genestealers into the area, a force is assigned the mission of shutting down power generators.

Mission 4 - Movement to Contact
Locating the most likely lair of the Broodlord that has dominated Hive Thetus, a hand-picked force of Sword Brethren Terminators is led by the Marshal to engage and destroy the creature.

Mission 5 - Showdown
As some of the Black Templars assault force holds hordes of Genestealers at bay, the Marshal leads a squad into the inner sanctum of the Broodlord for a final confrontation.

Edited by Brother Tyler, 31 August 2013 - 01:35 AM.

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#10
Brother Tyler

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In an effort not to reinvent the wheel, I'm going to use some of the older missions as starting points for each of the missions I've described above. I've collected as much of the old stuff as possible over the years, though I'm still missing a few things. None of these will be copies, however. The Forcible Entry mission, for example, is a scaled down version of the Seize and Secure mission from the old Harbinger of Despair campaign - the major change being a reduction from two Terminator squads to one. The intent is to playtest the initial versions and then to adjust them based on the results of playtesting.

Each of the missions will be developed in its own discussion, though I'll add the links to those topics in the reply above.

(Working on the Forcible Entry map and rules now)

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#11
Brother Tyler

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I'm having second thoughts on using the Hive Thetus Crusade. The reason for this is that I think that the crusade and its markings were created as back-story for a specific player's army (and I don't know who that player is, so this isn't about *him*). If so, then all of the key members and the outcome/conduct of that crusade exist. What I don't want to do is arbitrarily contradict any of that, even if it resides at the level of fan fiction. I'm not totally against using the crusade, but I'm still entertaining options for creating a totally new one for the purposes of this project.

I've drawn up an initial map for the first mission. I'm in the process of creating the playtest tools (an index for the map so that players providing feedback can have a handy way of identifying specific points and providing alternate solutions in a way that everyone else can understand). Before we get into playtesting, though, we'll need to establish a common understanding of our intended outcomes so that we're all working towards the same goal (rather than having multiple different understandings that would result in working at cross-purposes, making our efforts more difficult).

The guiding principles presented in the main Indomitus Project post remain relevant. However, some aspects of the Space Hulk game need to be discussed. What I present below is my own opinion and does not indicate a final decision for a way forward. Hopefully, feedback and reasoned discussion will shape conclusions from the broader perspective of multiple players; and we'll be able to use that broader perspective as our concepts for playtesting and finalizing the missions.

The most important thing to remember is that Space Hulk is a game in which one side is at a disadvantage. The Space Marines, encased as they are in the ultimate personal armour that the Imperium can provide, face horrifying odds. While some missions are easier than others, the general trend is that the Space Marines will suffer significant casualties. While luck is always a factor in games that use dice, if we assume an "average" for the luck factor (favoring neither the Space Marines nor the Genestealers), and if we also assume that the Genestealer player uses an "average" level of tactics, then the Space Marine player must employ good tactics in order to have a chance for victory. I've played games where victory for the Space Marines was by the slimmest of margins. I've also played games where simple bad luck took effective tactics and flushed them down the toilet of loss. The Genestealers have optimal tactics for each of the missions, but many players get by with some fairly basic tactics. Overall, the Genestealers are much easier to play and much more forgiving (though they can't just be used randomly).

So the relative power levels of our Indomitus missions will attempt to preserve that balance where the Space Marine player must rely on good tactics in order to have a hope of winning and where the slightest mistake might cost him the game.

As far as the maps go, there are several key factors.

First, how they are set up matters. The length of a corridor, where doors/bulkheads and corners are placed, the proximity of intersections - these things are what drive the Space Marine player's tactics and enable/limit the effectiveness of the Terminators. As far as corridors go, the number and length of tiles of which they are composed is especially important when it comes to the area effect weapons (the heavy flamer in the base game, but other weapons in our expanded list). While a corridor that is five spaces in length doesn't have much impact on movement, there is a big difference between that corridor using a single five space tile and a corridor using a two space and a three space tile (ask anyone that has fired a heavy flamer in the latter setup). Similarly, placement of corners has a significant impact on movement (mostly for the Terminators) as well as line of sight. This drives how/when blips are revealed and impacts overwatch shooting. So a ten space corridor presents different tactical choices than a corridor that consists of two five space corridor tiles that are perpendicular to each other. Doors present the same sort of tactical challenge, though this can be mitigated if they are left open.

Second, where the Genestealers start and where the reinforcement blips enter play drive both the Genestealer and Space Marine tactics. These offer the Genestealer player choices in how to approach the Space Marines; and they force the Space Marine player to ensure that his choices allow him to respond to whatever choices the Genestealer player makes. This is compounded by the number of blips the Genestealer player starts with and brings onto the map each turn - the more the better.

Third, the mission objectives drive the strategies of each player. A mission in which the Space Marine player needs to get a specific model to a specific point means that his whole strategy will revolve around protecting that model in order to get it where it needs to be and can do what it needs to do (all other models can be sacrificed as long as model X does what he needs to do). A mission in which the Space Marine player must destroy a certain number of Genestealer models is an entirely different challenge, however, and the Space Marine player will likely try to set up strong overwatch positions. Meanwhile, a mission where the Space Marine player needs to get a certain number of models to point X requires him to adopt a maneuver strategy, getting his models where they need to go while being able to deal with whatever Genestealers he encounters. The Genestealer strategy will generally be the opposite. In the first example above, the Genestealer player will likely focus his efforts on killing that one model; in the second example he'll try to bypass the overwatch positions or will swamp one or two of them in order to get within the ranks of the Terminators; in the third example he might come from as many directions at once and slow the efforts of the Terminators while setting up lots of Genestealers in key locations. And the Genestealer player can just as easily use the simple strategy of attempting to kill every Terminator model on the board. Generally speaking, the Genestealer player only has to prevent the Space Marine player from achieving his objective in order to win the game.

Third is the number/composition of Space Marine models and where they start. Using the Sergeant with the power sword presents a different tactical challenge than using the Sergeant with a thunder hammer. Likewise, the assault cannon and heavy flamer bring an increase in firepower, but the drawbacks of limited ammunition. While our missions will be playtested to the models provided in the basic 3rd edition set of Space Hulk, we must also keep in mind our expanded weapons rules and how these might change the tactics of the Space Marine player. For example, a mission where the heavy flamer model must do something becomes slightly easier if the combi-flamer can do the same thing (and the Space Marine player has a model with a combi-flamer). In missions where one of the heroes (Captain, Chaplain, Librarian) may be used, the special abilities of these heroes will have a significant impact on how the Terminators are used (and may even be central to the Terminator strategy). One of the key decisions that the Space Marine player will have to make is the starting positions of the Terminators.

Ultimately, achieving the "proper" game balance (difficult for the Space Marine players to achieve their objectives, but achievable) will be at the level of art. While there might be some scientific aspects, the aggregation of all of the elements cannot be done on the basis of a formula.

Additional ideas about Space Hulk can be seen at the Board Game Geek (BGG) pages for the game, especially the strategy forums (if you're not familiar with that site, scroll down to the forums header and then select the Strategy tab). I'll probably review the BGG discussions later and then attempt to present some key ideas here.

Feel free to comment on this so that we can adjust accordingly as we move forward into playtesting and finalizing the missions. Once we finalize our playtest guidelines, I'll present the first mission. We'll conduct each mission's playtesting/finalization in turn, focusing on one mission at a time.

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#12
Brother Tyler

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[post=http://www.bolterand...on-1/?p=3441255]First mission (Forcible Entry)[/post] playtest is underway (has been underway for awhile, but stalled due to GW's decision to make the mission packs limited in their availability via platform) so I'm going to move forward with the rest of the campaign. Much of that will depend upon the assistance provided by others. Some of the missions will simply recycle official missions, though with lore re-written for the Black Templars (and the sequence of the missions will not match the official sequence - this is a different space hulk, after all).

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