Secret War VIII – Toolenay Falls

A vast conspiracy is reaching completion on the Floating Cities of Toolenay. After tens of thousands of years, the Ancient Ones and their willing puppets have brought together the 3 Eternity Stones.  If they can complete their ritual with the stones, the disruption of time and space will re-awaken their entire race and rain death and destruction upon the galaxy.  Standing against them are a few plucky heroes. To follow this story from the beginning, go here: SECRET WAR I.

Leaving Astropath O’Blivion  to monitor the Eternity Shrine for any action by the conspirators and Rosa (the gunslinger) to babysit him, the rest organize themselves for the coming battle.
Team One
Inquisitor Verhoeven, Agent Sophie, Bodyguard Ace Cannon and a Naval Security Team
Team Two
Major Guiscard, Sub-Ambassador Sulla Tigh, and a contingent of Eight Ball Command led by Sgt. Mannesman

For the Ancient Ones and their co-conspirators, 3 Lordlings, Cannoness Quintilla, and Baroness Niehoff are participating in “The Ritual”
To protect the participants, Cannoness Quintilla has brought Radical Inquisitor Gesthemene and a Squad of Soldiers from the Church Militant. 
Baroness Niehoff has contributed a Reich’s Assassin and 2 squads of Automs
Game Explanation
Skip this if you want to stay in the story.
I feel compelled by the unusual nature of this game to step out and explain its structure. First of all, I was reaching for a scenario that would be “different” and a complete counterpoint to my “Social Adventures” where there was no violence. (see "Party to Remember"). Another driver of the design was that I realized that since I wanted a certain big-picture outcome for the overall background and story of Sector Six, it made no sense to leave that outcome as an objective and thus to chance.

So I began to work with the concept that the setting was a huge battle and the game itself would take place as a small scale game inside of that. The best example I can think of to illustrate this idea resembles the Omaha Beach sequence of “Saving Private Ryan”.  As the carnage rages at Omaha, the movie itself squeezes down to a small group of characters and their objectives. So if I wanted to game that scene using Pulp Alley, I would treat the larger battle as the setting with large spaces of “extremely perilous terrain” or “impassible terrain” and the scenario itself would be the League Characters moving from one objective to the next (like the “Trail of Crumbs” scenario in the PA book).

I hope that explanation is clear enough, because the next step was taking that concept and implementing it to the specifics of this game.  The larger battle is not gamed, it is represented by a logical series of pre-programmed events that will cause the impassible, perilous (and extremely perilous) terrain to evolve each turn.  The Characters will have to deal with all of the chaos (and fight their enemies) as they try to achieve their objectives.

As the good guys arrive and the game opens, the bad guy minions (Automs, Assassin, Radical Inquisitor) are just finishing off the local cops/militia and the Ancient Ones (and the other bad guys) have begun their ritual. The Lordlings, Niehoff, and Quiltilla are not characters (they are too enraptured by the awakening ritual) they will be objectives.

Other objectives will be revealed based on events.

The game was played by 3 victi…(I mean volunteers) from my gaming club. I GM’ed.
The Battle
The Ancient Ones detect O’Blivion signaling the allies. The gunship strafes the building followed by a firefight between Rosa and a squad of Automs. Rosa is superficially injured, but 2 Automs go down.
The allies on are a strict timetable.  The Astropath can sense the psychic energy rising as the Awakening Ritual progresses, and he communicates that there is not much time before its completion.

Inquisitor Verhoeven decides to land his team on the north island, and the Naval Security troopers lead the way into the teeth of the enemy. 3 casualties on each side.
The Team led by Maj Guiscard drops the Eight Ball squad on the western island then sweeps around to the eastern island where the Major and Sub-Ambassador Tigh debark.
At this point the action seems to stalemate while the combatants cautiously trade shots, but time is running out. O'Blivion can sense the impending completion of the ritual. The allies are getting the better of the exchange, but their progress is way too slow.
With a telepathic warning from O'Blivion, Verhoeven recognizes the urgency of the situation, He charges with a maniacal frenzy and he tears into the enemy…
Guiscard radios the Helena - Admiral King, I think it is time for Plan B
Adm. King -Helmsman! Execute jump!
As the Helena is blasting targets at point blank range, Verhoeven seems unstoppable. 
He disptaches the Reichs Assassin in a single exchange
But just as the tide seems to be turning, the enemy gunship returns and catches the Helena with a full salvo amidships.
And it begins to lose control
Adm King: This is KCS Helena, we are going down.  Repeat, going down over the Eternity Shrine, everyone get clear.
All of the allies run for the shuttles and pods,
At the last second, O'Blivion grabs Verhoeven ... and with a blinding flash, he teleports them onboard the Passereaux
The allies are safely in orbit, and the Awakening has been stopped.
However, the Unknown gunship is escaping, and most tragically, the energies released from the ritual are scouring the surface of Toolenay.

The most advanced scientific institutions of Sector Six have been lost.
Although the enemy has been stopped, they have not been destroyed.  After a last evening spent with the whole band, Verhoeven and his entourage board a charter clipper to return to Krellborne IX.

The KCS Passereaux, Ambassador/Agent Sophie, and Eight Ball Command are returning to the Kingdom with the sad news of the destruction of the Helena, and the heroic sacrifice of Admiral King.

Friends have been made, and battles fought.  The Secret War continues.
Wow, it has taken forever to get this posted!
Thanks again to sho3box/cheetor for participating, what a blast.
Thanks to ALL  for your patience, and stay tuned!

Hello to our new Readers!:
and Warlord Paul

Welcome Aboard!


  1. Thats epic, proper blockbuster third act stuff. I quite enjoy knowing that the overall tragedy is pre-ordained.

    I have to say that it pleases me to see my toy soldiers performing so well halfway around the world. I imagine all the little guys bring their A game when surrounded by such beautiful terrain.

    I would love to see a breakdown of how you engineered the various big picture storytelling events. I have similar plans myself for a game that takes place in the vicinity of giant robots beating each other up.

    It does seem to be a shame that your beautiful Toolenay terrain wont represent a refined seat of learning the next time that we see it. If wargaming tables can look tranquil, then Toolenay did. Although it doesnt look very tranquil in the images from this game of course, it looks positively Bruckheimer.

    1. I put up a brief post with several links pointing to the lovely stuff here.

      Great stuff Major.

  2. Wow, this is totally ace, looks like you had a lot of fun! The whole aspect of everything here is great :)

  3. I wish I could +1 most of these pictures and comments. Very well staged/composed photos here. I love your various shuttles, guncraft, and spaceship as well.

    Let me add another voice to Sho3b0x's ask about how the events were engineered.

  4. Hi Guys,
    Thanks for all the compliments.

    So, here was the setup:
    I did not want a Necron invasion to take over the storyline, so the ritual was doomed from a narrative perspective. I wrote a backstory set of events that would stop it no matter what the players did. Whether the characters survived was very much in play.
    I put together the following "Macro" Events:
    Pre-game- Any area with black smoke was Impassible and Blocked LOS
    Turn 1. Nazi Gunship strafes Rose and O'Blivion and all the Allies arrive
    Turn 2. Last of the Local troops get wiped out and the building on the "North" island becomes extremely perilous terrain
    Turn 3. Guiscard calls in the Helena
    Turn 4. The Helena jumps in and fires at the enemy. The shots drift randomly and are large bursts. If they hit buildings, they cause fires and Impassible Terrain
    Turn 5. The Reich Gunship returns and cripples the Helena. It is obvious that Admiral King is going to crash her into the Eternity Shrine to stop the ritual. The objectives completely flip. Instead of trying to get "in" to the ritual, everyone is now trying to get "out" to the shuttles and peoplepods.
    End of Turn 6 and Game. The Helena rams into the ritual, which goes haywire and destroys the planet.

    The players were only told that assets would arrive and leave, and they had to achieve their objectives (stop the ritual) while maneuvering through the larger battle.

    At first the Allied players hung back and were way too cautious. It only took until turn 3, that Mike, the player running Verhoeven, suddenly clicked to the urgency of GALAXY WIDE DESTRUCTION, and YOLO'd it by charging headlong into the fight. He got lucky with some scatters with shots from the Helena, but he pretty much buzzsawed his way through Nazi robots and assassins. It was as impressive as it looked. Given another turn, he probably would have stopped the ritual on his own.

    As we got into the final turn and it was obvious that the bravest character was too far in to escape, Mike asked if O'Blivion could move to Verhoeven and make a skill check against his Cunning to try and teleport them clear (his argument was that O'Blivion, being an astropath and all, should have teleportation as one of his abilities, putting aside the fact that in the source material, astropaths have never ever (EVER) displayed that ability) . However, I caved to the pressure, and in the best cinematic style I allowed the attempt, but only all successes would get them out. He rolled an improbable 4,4,4 ...
    ...and the boys were home.

    I don't know if that is a complete enough explanation, just ask if you need more detail about anything.

    Thanks for reading Suber, welcome.

    By the time you read this I will have changed my header quote to:
    If you don’t like intergalactic secret agents leaping out of explosions to punch space nazis with glowing, powered gauntlets of righteous, high-tech fury, then do not click this image

    Too awesome not to steal!

    See ya'
    Maj G

    1. I know that you and share a similar like for, but not slavish devotion to the 40K background Major. That said (and this is where I go full nerdcore) I am still happy to say that Astropathic Teleportation is legitimate in the confines of the game as officially written.

      To cite precedent...

      (slides spectacles up bridge of nose)

      ...p.148 of Warhammer Rogue Trader defines the psychic powers available to Astropaths, which includes the usual suite of teleportation abilities that feature on p.50 and p.51. Astropaths had access to "The Gate" and "Teleportation" psychic power cards back in second edition too, even if that sort of behaviour would not ever really be regarded as typically Astropathic.

      So you can sleep easy knowing that the artistic license that you took to make an incredible game just that little bit more special was in fact entirely cromulent. Huzzah!

      Occasionally, the fact that I managed to convince a woman to tie the knot surprises even me ;)

    2. Strangely enough I was thinking about how navigator teleportation might be justified. In the Rogue Trader RPG (Fantasy Flight) once of the navigator abilities does allow short range teleportation. The fluff seems to indicate it's more of the navigator choosing a slightly different flow of time/possibility in which he(they?) were in a different location.

    3. LOL!
      Chapter and Verse, I have been out geek'd! not one, but 2 fellow gamers!

      I humbly stand corrected, and resolve to study the sacred documents more thoroughly in the future!


  5. To my everlasting shame, I have tended to overlook the Chronicles of sector Six, lately. An that has been an injustice. The upside is that I got to read the whole convoluted narrative in one go. All I can say is ... far out!

    The floating city of Toolenay has got to be about the coolest SF/cyberpunk/thingy I have ever seen as a playing arena. I think, you know, for this genre of gaming and storytelling, we just have to come up with a new nomenclature. Has 'Astropunk' been coined yet?

    Excellent, rattling good stuff, and from now on I'll be keeping my eye out for more of the same.

  6. It has been a distinct privilege to watch this game slowly unfold. Your terrain and truly masterful game direction are a thing to behold. If there is such a thing as a symphonic game, this is it. You have orchestrated this entire scenario with incredible precision, grand flourishes, and just enough room for improvisation to make it all an edge of the seat extravaganza. (Maybe it's the rare symphony that's almost a concerto. A character concerto. And Veerhoven's cadenza was brilliant. Symphonic Space Concerto No. 6 for flaming death: "The Eternal Stones of Toolenay"; Veerhoven concertante.) I just can't compliment this enough. Bravo, sir. Bravissimo.

  7. No problem Archduke, these episodes have been slow in coming. Thanks for checking in.

    Hi Composer, your metaphors with the classical music titles are great and the idea especially resonates with Verhoeven's slashing and crushing through the Nazi's. I love the title, "Symphonic Space Concerto No. 6 For Flaming Death".
    I'll bet shoe3ox slips in a mention on his own blog.

    Thanks again.

  8. Well, as my chosen screen-name implies I have a foot in the musical world as well. Thank you. I'm glad you enjoyed my metaphors. I was a little worried it would be too stuffy, as my own music tends to be, but your production demands a massive and orchestral allusion. I feel the need to go "Full Mahler" as it were.

  9. Beautiful pictures, very inspired, great job on them!


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