RPG scenarios

Warhammer 40K Dark Heresy plot thread

‘THE CACOPHONOUS CHOIR’

Clementus, a minor Shrine World in the Askellon Sector, is noted for its talented musicians and writers, performing lovely tributes to the Emperor of Mankind and easing the cares and woes of many a Hive Worker or Guardsman.  Within the last six months, the output of the musicians’ guilds have tripled and the surging influx of pilgrims has been surprising for such a lesser planet.  Perhaps a reason for this is the claimed discovery of a cache of writings by a famous long-dead artist?

These songs and plays have reached unprecedented popularity, to levels of obsession in numerous cases throughout the Sector; citizens often neglect their duties to enjoy the  transcendent works, and some even join the Choir, swelling its ranks where even novices somehow manifest skill with pitch and tone.  Indeed, it would seem that a particularly vibrant and perhaps extreme brand of the Imperial Cult is forming around the Clementus Choir in the city of Carmina.  Some in the ranks of the Adeptus Ministorum and the Adeptus Administratum have begun to mutter that these works of art are unhealthy and perhaps dangerous; certainly the descriptions of fell beings and dark deeds in the days of the Saints and Crusades touch on matters best left unspoken.

The Acolytes of Inquisitor Reye Orbys, Ordo Hereticus, are dispatched on their first mission, to aid the rulers of Clementus and discern whether this turn of events is a harmless fad, or the stirring of Heresy…

[SPOILERS FOLLOW!]

200 years ago a singular child prodigy, a singer and composer named Bendix Petrius grew to prominence in recognition of his majestic arrangements of traditional hymns and his own peerless devotional arias.  The soaring tenor of Bendix, proclaiming the love and warmth of the Emperor’s light brought humble pilgrim and hardened warrior alike to tears.  As his fame grew, he and his troupe roamed the world sharing songs of faith and inspiration with the visitors to Clementus, until in his 12th year he had the honor of a performance before the noble houses of the sector capital on Juno.

Fate can be cruel.  Enroute to Juno, a particularly nasty Warp storm flared up and a warband of twisted Chaos Marines attacked the ship, slaughtering and torturing those aboard in abominable ways in an orgy of sacrifice to the Prince of Pleasure.  Bendix, seeing his death before him, asked only to praise his Emperor one last time.  Amused, the Marine relented and even in his debauched, jaded existence he felt a surge of rapturous ecstasy as Bendix’s voice soared to unparalleled heights of beauty.  Sergeant Amduscias of the Flawless Host perceived the great irony of bringing a famed instrument of Imperial glory under the sway of Chaos, and seized him as a candidate for indoctrination into the ranks of the Noise Marines.  After months of torture and psychological programming, the sheltered boy from Clementus was broken and molded into a Chaos Marine, a worshipper of Slaanesh.

Now Brother Bendix is a perverted fiend who composes blasphemous orations mocking the Corpse-Emperor and glorifying the Ruinous Powers.  His attractive form and face is heavily pierced and brightly tattooed, ears pointed, his rainbow-hued hair long and braided with needles and hooks that catch and pierce the scalp.  Incongruously, his vox amplification customarily deepens his voice to a palpable rumble, his sweetly boyish voice only loosed in the throes of combat.  Though he partakes of the vices common to all devotees of Slaanesh, he is addicted to his own harmonious vocalizations over all.

He is indeed the secret author and conductor of these new compositions, each one a bit more complex in arrangements and execution, requiring greater talent and more players, working in obscure notations and novel instruments under the talented guidance of the Noise Marine.  The whisperings of Heresy are gradually worked into the lyrics and subject matter as the works grow in popularity and the listeners hunger for performances of greater length and extremity.  

This first scenario sets the scene for a campaign against the cult of The Word, the doctrines espoused by the Word Bearers Traitor Marines in an insidious plan to subvert several minor world seeded by the followers of Lorgar.  [Inspired by the novel ‘Dark Omega’ by Felix M. Bloom] The overall plan is to claim some of the worlds near the Warp Storms to as a launching point for plunder, recruits and harassing attacks, expanding influence until they can strike at the primary worlds of the Sector’s military strength and governance.  There will of course be red herrings and treachery on the PCs’ way to discovering this threat to the Imperium, with the possibility of a Genestealer cult, mutant Hive gangers venerating a curious xenos idol, and a pack of witches hunting them and their Inquitor patron(s) and allies as complications or side quests to the primary mission of stopping the cult.

The Acolytes may face the Space Marine at the end of the adventure as a sign they have uncovered the beginnings of something truly dire.  Aside from the enjoyment his role brings him, the GM may wish to ascribe motivations to Bendix for undertaking such a dangerous role.  Perhaps he is there to foster heresy and dissent as an end goal, a distraction, or a deadly trap for unwary Inquitors.  He is very likely in the employ of the Cult of the Word; possibly they know of tech or a xenos artifact he desires to reach new heights of depravity, or power?

 

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