So, the time came to pass for us to play the REQUIEM mega-battle. Some of the other participants have already begun to put up their recollections of the day - Neil has produced an excellent series of articles here and here; Keravin and Little Brother have put up articles on the Ammobunker detailing their experiences. Compared to them, I'm behind the times!
It became increasingly clear when planning for the November event that I wanted something rather grand in scale. Something that went just a touch beyond two small bands skirmishing. If we take the Eisenhorn trilogy into account (and I often use it as a starting-point for my work), then a reference might be when Eisenhorn and his retinue are part of the greater Imperial campaign against the Saruthi at the end of Xenos. Something where grand events are unfolding, but our focus is on the Inquisition.
I was very clear that I didn't want to play a game of 'Inquisimunda' or even true Warhammer 40,000. There are some players who might be able to use the same characters in different games systems (for example, taking an Inquisitor in 40k, Epic, even Battlefleet Gothic), but we were there to play Inquisitor, and that was at the forefront of my mind.
Precinctomega created a set of NPC rules for his 'Architecture of Hate' rules-set, and Conclave member Marcoskoll recently posted a revised set which I found useful. Although there would be other models on the board, I wanted the focus to be on the Inquisitors. Therefore, the players would be using their Inquisitors, with full Inquisitor stat-lines; some of the key enemy opponents, such as the True-Scale Chaos Space Marine I created, would equally have stat-lines. The rest of the figures on the board - the teeming hordes of the chaos renegades and the massed ranks of the Imperial Guardsmen - would simply serve as NPCs.
The image of Inquisitors marshalling the Imperial Guard and leading them into battle was something that appealed to me, so I got in touch with Steve Day, a long-time friend of the blog, and asked to borrow his Cadian Guardsmen. Each Inquisitor would have a contingent of Guardsmen. I decided to simplify their rules even further than Marco's NPC rules. They would effectively serve as extra Basic Injury levels for the Inquisitors, which represented them throwing themselves in the line of fire to protect these grand heroes of the Imperium.
With all fourteen Inquisitors taking to the field, we divided the board into two lengthways, effectively running two games simultaneously; I would GM one, and my friend Dazz would run the other. If a player character crossed into the other half of the board, they would be subsumed into the other GM's turn order.
And so the game began.
The players were tasked with escorting the body of the fallen Inquisitrix Madine from one side of the board to the other. They were informed that the cruiser they were on (the Sealed Fate) was in danger of being destroyed, and it was imperative that they removed Madine's body rather than allowing it to be desecrated.
Standing in their way was a wide variety of chaos figures. The bulk of them were made up of cultists from the Dark Vengeance boxed set (lovely figures!), although Nick lent us some Forgeworld resin renegades; RiseoftheMagi sent some converted Elysians he'd made for the Ammobunker's mega-battle at Games Day; Andy Old Guard provided us with some renegade Ogryn, Thistle allowed us to use a number of his pit slaves and PDH allowed us to use some of his figures from the Yggdrasilium board (more on that later!) We had determined that these Chaos forces would be allowed to respawn in waves, to provide an unending torrent of filth for the Inquisitors to battle through.
After some consideration, the players immediately got stuck into combat. What I found interesting about this game was that it was still a game of Inquisitor. The players were role-playing their characters brilliantly, even when we had characters who weren't that much use in the combat (Inquisitor Vendrake, for example) or who couldn't fight to their fullest (my Inquisitor Adorno, an accomplished sorceror, could not use his powers for fear of being discovered by his peers, and so had to resort to a laspistol!)
The veteran Inquisitor Bernadus Guidonis had overseen the transport of Madine's body from Dalthus Prime to the cathedral-world of Brythonis, and it was he who asserted command over the assembled Inquisitors - even though there were those who resented the commands he was giving - or even openly disobeyed them! It was supremely fitting that even in the face of such a crisis, the Inquisition was fractious and discordant.
In the midst of the chaos, there were players who were able to use their Inquisitors in very characterful ways. It's a prime rule of GMing roleplays that your players will always wreck your carefully-laid plans, and that held true when it came to Inquisitor, too; Fulgrim (from Tears of Isstvan) playing the arch-antagonist Thaddeus Velk, managed to circumvent almost all the fighting, stealing the shuttle that the rest of the Inquisitors were supposed to escape on, and leaving his Guardsman escort to die so that they could not tell the tale of his perfidy!
Fulgrim had been on Dazz's side of the board, and when I got told what had happened I had a real moment where I thought, "So what the hell do I do now?" After a few seconds of desperate thought, it occured to me that this made the game all the more interesting; the Inquisitors would have to reach the cargo bay and then hold out against the chaos hordes until rescue could arrive. The stakes had suddenly been raised considerably.
That's something special about Inquisitor - that given the space to be creative, the game becomes a partnership - an imaginative conspiracy - between the GM and the players. A shared creative space where anything can happen and the results are highly unpredictable!
After two hours of struggling, the players were able to evacuate from the Sealed Fate. The main success of the mega-battle had been in drawing to a close many of the events that happened in the INQvitational (though many questions do remain!) and setting up some more. There were a number of dramatic events, and every player had been able to take something away from the game.
There are still a number of games from the day that I have to tell you all about, and I'll get to those as work - and SWMBO - permit. But I would encourage people to try to push the boundaries of their gaming experience. The REQUIEM mega-battle was a grand (and fool-hardy) experiment, but it was only through the willingness of the players to participate that we created an exciting event that leaves us with fantastic memories - and that's the true spirit of gaming, isn't it?
Mastering the Mega-Battle
by Molotov | Nov 13, 2012