Friday, June 4, 2021

Terror in the Baneblade

 Just as an update: A few weeks ago my father-in-law was suddenly hospitalized and remains in the ICU since, well over a month of being on the edge. In the middle of that *I* ended up in the ER with a serious health issue that I am still recovering from. Gaming, blogging, and writing have been pretty disrupted and I apologize.

On Memorial Day we switched from another session of Seaward and, instead, made new characters for Only War and I GMed the PCs as crew of a BAAAAAAAANEEBLAAAAAAAADE!

The PC's Baneblade is the 79th Super-Heavy Company of the 27th Benrei Super-Heavy Regiment. The Regiment is set up with Only War rules as a standard armored regiment but with combat drugs: recaf. The background is the planet Benrei is a major recaf hub, growing and exporting some of the finest recaf in the Imperium of Man. Flush with cash they purchase super-heavy tanks and train crews so that they can meet their conscription targets while minimizes population loss - after all, a regiment of super-heavies takes 40 men from the recaf fields while an infantry regiment takes thousands away!

The players made an officer type (the Honored Lieutenant, commander of the Baneblade), an enginseer, and a commissar. The rest of the crew were comrades.

The mission is part of the Night of 1,000 Rebellions arc and their task force is focused on subduing the planet Lamanarr where the troops in the middle of a levy rebelled, meaning the rebels have 3 PDF armies and a fully-equipped (if inexperienced) Imperial Guard army as part of their forces. The Commodore is dedicated to preventing this force from joing the Chaod fleets in the area. The task force's primary goal is the destruction of the rebel troops - all else is secondary.

79th Company is detached to the 6th, 7th, and 8th Regiments of the Zamaran Mechanized Infantry and the 1515th Combined Mechanized Infantry Regiment for a total of 60 chimera, each with a squad of infantry. They have been dispatched to engage and destroy a force intelligence believes to be 2 regiments of infantry, a regiment of mechanized infantry, and a regiment of Leman Russ armor. The commanding colonel was very accomodating tot he Honored Lieutenant with a Baneblade and allowed the PC to set up the formation.

The terrain was massive fields surrounded by centuries-old hedgeros that even a chimera would struggle with criss-crossed by roads wide enough to easily fit 4 chimera wide formations, but 2-4 meters below the level of the surrounding fields. The PCs had a screen of 4 chimera in front, then the baneblade, then a column of the rest of the chimera behind. Then they started the 600 kilometer road march.

Shortly after Noon a pair of hellhounds (that had somehow evaded the auspex systems) attacked the rear of the column as 3 Leman Russ tanks (also suspiciously unseen beforehand) opened fire from the front in a classic attempt to fin the column. The PCs (asting as force commander NPC, as well) ordered 10 chimera per flank to climb the embankment and establish a perimeter while the teriary gunner engaged the hellhous and the primary gunner engaged the Leman Russ still 1.5 klick ahead.

The sponson lascannon both hit the closest hellhoud (which was blocking fire on the other) and caused it to explode, which set off the other hellhound. And the combined explosion caused the closest chimera to explode. And those explosions caused ANOTHER Chimera to explode. Then that stopped, wheew.

The leman russ company was closing at their usual stately battlefield speed but their battle cannon shots were bouncing off the baneblade's glacis.The baneblade cannon took 4 shots to destroy two of the leman russ (unlucky rolls) but the third was taken out in 1. The baneblade took a few points of damage, but it was the eequivalent of scratching the paint.

The chimera that went to flank engage 5 enemy chimera per flank and a merry brawl of chimera and dismounted infantry was going on in the surrounding fields as the baneblade annihilated the enemy armor. In the end the Imperial task force lost 6 chimera (10% of forces!) in the ambush.

The PCs put out a scout screen for the remainder of the day's movement. As sunset approached the colonel sent a recon patrol then the task force laagered for the night with the baneblade the center of a circle of chimeras. Watches were set and the taskforce bedded down.

About 2 am local the XO woke the commander about an echo on auspex. Soon the commissar, enginseer, and commander were in the command deck looking at what looked like a patrol approaching. The enginseer burned some incense, splashed oils, and uttered a chant causing the auspex to show - cattle in a field. Just as the players were relaxing 20 krak missile hurtled toward the baneblade as 10 more ripped into the encircling chimeras. The surviving chimeras facing opened up quickly and the baneblade soon joined in, ending the fight rather quickly.

As the battle ended the auspex picked up a single space marine speeding offf via jump pack. The laager opened and the baneblade drove to the area of the fight to inspect and looed for clues. After discussion the dismounted baneblade officers realized both ambushes must have been "pre-set" to engage and slow any attack along the only real access to the defenders. They were probably in total radio blackout to avoid detection by the fleet and ground-based auspex, and just followed orders, baneblade or no. The two ambushes had alreadt inflicted 20% losses to the mechanized infantry on the *first day of travel*. Without the baneblade the task force might have been mauled enough to be forced to await reinforcements.

In a bit of roleplaying the baneblade officers invited the infantry officers to join them on the outer hull of the super-heavy tank on a set of camp chairs to enjoy recaf and lho sticks and watch the sunrise. The players were talking among themselves (we were also enjoying a bit of whisky and cigars in Real Life) when the discussion went something like this:

Jack/Tank Commander: "Odd. The enemy is a bunch of green Imperial levies but they keep camoflaging themselves enough to ambush a baneblade."
Nick?Commissar: "And their discipline is very high. The night ambush was foot infantry with missile launchers but they kept firing against APCs and tanks."
Sam/Enginseer:" And a lone space marine? It must have been a chaos space marine, but why did he risk using a jump pack at night in the open? It guaranteed we'd see him and we almost took the shot. Not even a chaos space marine wants to get hit by a lucky shot from a baneblade cannon. Really weird."
Jack: "Chaos space marines that are good at stealth? Chaos space marines that are good at stealth! COLONEL< I NEED YOUR MEN!"

soon an entire squad of infantry, two with meltaguns, are scouring the inside of the baneblade with the crew's help. In the bunk area they find - an Alfa Legion Chaos Space Marine! Initiative was rolled; attack rolls were made; and in a case of astounding luck the two NPC guardsmen with meltaguns both hit and, combined, killed the CSM.

A thorough search revealed that the lascannons had been rigged to explode the next time they were fired, the commander's chair had a grenade rigged to go off the next time he *stood up* after sitting in the chair, and the air scrubber had been turned off. The players talked about how it would have looked the next day - all day every hour or two another crewman would just - vanish until only the driver or someone was left, then the traitors would have an intact baneblade!

That's right, they thwarted my attempts to stage the movie Alien inside abaneblade.

We all had a ton of fun and will continue this side arc over discord during the weeks ahead.

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