Sunday, September 3, 2023

The Rot of Hondious: Battle Reports Games 1-3

The Rot of Hondious - Martin McCoy

Last month we had the absolute pleasure of attending the hobby meet-up Rich Grimmond 2023, hosted by Martin McCoy and Mike DeBolt. One of the highlights of the event was a narrative Inq28 campaign called The Rot of Hondious, that Martin and Bill Ford (of the Mordheim 2022 fame) co-ran. It centers around a backwater feudal planet largely shunned by the Imperium. Its isolation has escalated into a strict quarantine in the last twenty years as the planet has been wracked by a curious plague. The Red Joy seemingly takes hold of its victim’s central nervous system, compelling them to dance with joyous abandon, a rictus smile on their face until they collapse dehydrated, blood leaching from their pores. The Inquisition has recently taken an interest in the phenomenon, and the plague has started to become sentient, having infected the planet's meager psychic population. We played a Red Joy warband at the event and wanted to use this post to describe the narrative and how the event went!

Each game had three players (aside from game 3 which everyone took part in), with each player controlling one of the three major factions (Inquisition, Red Joy, Feudalists). The ruleset was a modified version of Forbidden Psalm that Steve (sovthofheaven) devised. All of the boards (four in total) had their own special scenario, complete with secret special objectives unique for each faction. In addition to the objectives, each player had a selection of tactics cards that could be used for special abilities in each of the games.

A selection of the wax-sealed secret objective envelopes, scenario overviews, and a victory point tracker using 3d printed teeth.

Lucretia Barghest used to curse getting stuck on the backwater planet of Hondious. Her glorious pilgrimage to Terra to bask in His radiance stymied by warp storms and the ill-fated rogue trader Mathias Torvald, or was it Sorvald? It didn’t matter. Her convictions were changing. No, not changing. Evolving. Transforming into something that could better celebrate His majesty. Something that could truly stand tall, projecting His magnanimous spirit. And those convictions were not based around walls. Not built around architecture, minarets, or spires. Everything was so much simpler now, the scriptures of the Arxvs Dedicatvm finally clicked into place. It was not mortar, brick, or ferrocrete that formed the building blocks of the Imperial Faith. It was Flesh. She could hear them calling clearly now. She could hear them discussing it everywhere. Finally, there were no secrets. And what a joyous revelation it all was. Knitting everything together. Or rather everyone together.

Game 1: Wytches in the wood

Scenario special rules - written by Bill Ford

Overgrown shrines at the outskirts of the city of Highcrown. The forests of the Altarwood - created by 7he_blindman.

Lucretia Barghest and her merry band of Red Joy make their way through the forests of the Altarwood. Her congregation continues to grow and word has it, the forests are home to a coven of psychically gifted witches. Such a gift belongs with the collective flesh!

The Doomguides, a group of Feudal Knight led by Giles Rupert Faulkner (noclearcoat), march into the forest determined to locate and protect the mysterious Sisterhood of the Altarwood. The psychic abilities of these Sisters will no doubt bolster the resistance effort against the ever growing Red Joy menace.

A tide of Red Joy spawns emerge from the undergrowth, approaching the Sisters of the Altarwood. In the cover of the trees, Faulkner’s Doomguides ready their rifles to provide covering fire for the Sisters’ retreat.

Renegade Inquisitor Minamoto no Yorimasa (underworldalliance) makes planetfall with his retinue. With a little luck, the Red Joy contagion can be contained and eventually even harnessed for his own purposes. His initial goals are to observe those overcome with the Red Joy. How is it they are capable of fusing with their victims?

As the Red Joy begin to surround the Sisters, Inquisitor Minamoto no Yorimasa shifts his priorities and goes on the offensive, ordering an orbital strike on the forest. The heavens erupt in a searing cataclysm, scorching the forest and leaving those in its wake crippled.

Desperate to shield the retreat of the Sisters, Doomguide conscript Erik charges into combat against the Red Joy.

Faulkner’s Doomguides continue to cover the retreat of the Sisters of the Altarwood who escaped the destructive force of the orbital barrage.

Lucretia Barghest steps from the shelter of an Altarwood ruin, eager to take advantage of the destruction around her and meld with the half-dead Sisters writhing on the forest floor.

Following the devastating strike from above, the forces of the Inquisition press their advantage, scything down anyone in their path. This planet has harbored heathens for far too long. The Emperor will suffer their presence no longer!

Lucretia finds one of the fallen Sisters and taps into them, drawing in their life essence and becoming one with their thoughts, pushing their screaming conscience into the deepest recesses of her mind.

Having taken in the flesh of the Sisters, Lucretia and her followers fall back into the dense forest. The chaos of the ensuing melee between the Inquisition and the Feudal Knights allow them to slip away unhindered.

One of the Red Joy stragglers tries to fuse with the injured Doomguide Erik, but isn’t able to infect the stoic fallen conscript.

With her newly elevated psychic prowess, the pleading in the depths of Lucretia’s mind reaches a fever pitch. For the first time, the realization dawns on her that she is being drawn, called for, by some greater power. The destination for her masterwork of flesh crafting and devotion to His majesty is now clear.

Game 2: Panic at the silos

Scenario special rules - written by Bill Ford

Highcrown grain silos - created by sleepykamistudios

Lucretia Barghest and her growing band of followers enter Highcrown amidst a riot. On the brink of insanity and starvation, the lowborn of the city storm the grain silos. This presents a unique opportunity to bring new members into Lucretia’s bloody flock. Since entering the city, Lucretia’s mind is abuzz with intrusive thoughts of other psychically active minds. Another opportunity to expand her psychic capabilities…

The Feudalist’s iron grip on the city of Highcrown could not falter. An example needed to be made of the riotous lowborn civilians. Lady Misersoph, a Knight Eradicant of the Feudalists (weirdingsway), powered up her combat augments and lifted her mace. Her battle retinue formed around her, readying their weapons for the coming slaughter. None of the treacherous lownborn would be spared.

Following the slaughter in the Altarwood, Inquisitor Minamoto no Yorimasa and his surviving party focus their purge on the city of Highcrown. Their holy work is far from complete.

Brother Griffo Manutius, Lady Misersoph’s Sanctioned Scrivener, surveys the chaos amongst the silos. He weighs their options and evaluates the most efficient means to cull the rioting serfs. The situation might require God’s intervention. It was time to contact Ser Ulapf, their Prophet of God’s Wrath.

Highcrown’s few remaining guards struggle to contain the riot and protect the grain silos from the hunger-crazed citizens.

With the aid of a Labor Servitor, Prophet Ser Ulapf begins the ceremony to call down God’s wrath from the heavens. The ancient war satellite in low orbit of Hondious awakens from its slumber.

A wall of blinding light pierces the ground in the Highcrown grain district, incinerating anything in its path (mostly the miserable lowborn).

Deathly afraid of explosions and bright lights, Prophet Ser Ulapf stumbles backwards in sheer terror from the calamity he invoked. He turns and runs for the safety of a nearby building.

Narrowly avoiding the laser bombardment, the forces of the Inquisition cautiously work their way through Highcrown, their rifles at the ready. The heathens of Hondious would know the Emperor’s fury! If any were still standing…

Lady Misersoph’s focus is pulled away from the riot as she is beset by a towering armored behemoth. Inquisitor Minamoto no Yorimasa activates his power sword and unleashes a devastating assault on the Knight Eradicant. Caught off guard, Lady Misersoph barely manages to fend off the attack, with her shield taking the worst of the strike.

Lady Misersoph throws her buckled shield to the ground while assessing the rapidly deteriorating situation. Other ominous figures in black are closing in on her position rapidly. It would not be long before escape was impossible. Willing her combat chassis into overdrive and focusing all power into her leg augments, she disengages from the melee with a mighty leap. Her fight with this armored giant would have to wait for another day. She would show this offworld dog he was not welcome on Hondious. He had made an enemy of the wrong person. Photo courtesy of weirdingsway.

The brutalized cityfolk slowly begin to pick themselves up off the ground. Their rebellious cries were replaced with revelry and joyous laughter (newly arisen spawn created by sleepykamistudios).

The streets of Highcrown run red with blood as the slaughter continues, the brutal melee between the forces of the Inquisition, the Feudalists, and the Red Joy showing no signs of abating. Lucretia Barghest psychically ushers her minions onwards through the city. Her priorities were elsewhere. The voices in her head are a beacon, leading to the site of her great masterwork venerating His image. Her journey is soon coming to an end!

Game 3: Beast and blood

Scenario special rules - written by Bill Ford

Thule Survey Station - Original Imperial reconnoitering site of Surveyor Prefect Miscaruss - created by Bill Ford

For the past sixteen weeks, Red Joy from across the planet have made a slow pilgrimage to the northern reaches of the planet and to Thule Station. They found themselves inexorably drawn towards the Beast, a grotesque amalgamation of the most potent psykers on the planet, as if it was broadcasting some beckoning signal. As the first of legions of Red Joy begin to arrive at the survey station, the once derelict facility rings with cries of jubilation and exaltation, and the floors are slick with blood and viscera.

An oppressive dread hangs in the air, one that can be felt by all sentient creatures on the planet, a chill running down their spines even in the equatorial tropic latitudes. While everyone is loath to admit it, they can feel it in their bones that the affliction has reached a point from which there can be no recovery. The fragmented and few wretches of Hondious that have not already succumbed to the plague think of their families and the futures they will not have, whereas the Inquisitorial agents think outward, beyond the scope of Hondious and to the stars. Inquisitor Minamoto no Yorimasa fears that if the Red Joy is able to encompass enough psychically active beings, it might reach a critical mass capable of psychically teleporting off world. Why else would there be such an exodus of the bleeding celebrants towards a largely forgotten Imperial Relay Station with abandoned deep space transmission equipment?

Lucretia Barghest and her joyous coterie enter Thule Station. There is much to do. This will be the site of a new architectural wonder, one of flesh and sinew, one fitting for His grand design.

The remnants of the Inquisition forces gather for one final attempt at thwarting the Red Joy from gaining a foothold onto other nearby planets. Of the Inquisitors that made planetfall mere weeks ago, only Inquisitors Minamoto no Yorimasa and Tandros Vadrin can be accounted for. At Thule Station, if they can slay the psychic abomination within, they will buy the Imperium precious time and allow for reinforcements to arrive to expunge the Red Joy once and for all. Or perhaps they can even convince the High Council that Exterminatus is necessary.

An uneasy alliance forms between the Feudal Knights of Hondious and the forces of the Inquisition. For the time being, they have a common enemy. The two forces orchestrate a coordinated assault on Thule Station, each breaching a different section of the station. The stalwart knights of Hondious enter Thule Station led by the indomitable Jeremias Oktober, Blight of the Red Joy (pied_pewter_piper). Jeremias carries his badge of office, a vermilion executioner's blade, Foe-Eater. At his side are some of the most renowned Knights of Hondious, Lady Misersoph (weirdingsway), Giles Rupert Faulkner (noclearcoat), and Heimdall, Seventh of his Name (stone.jaw). Each a veteran of the Red Joy wars.

Another joyous band of dancing monstrosities (colecifer_xxviii) pour into the Imperial facility, drawn by the whispers of the Beast.

The forces of the Inquisition and Feudal Knights make their way through the facility, meeting little to no resistance. The attention of all the Red Joy is focused entirely on the abomination at the center of the station.

The red tide converges on the Beast, desperate to fuse with the Beast and augment its power and influence over reality.

With time of the essence, the forces of the Inquisition throw caution to the wind and charge headlong into combat with the horrifying amalgamation of flesh. The first to reach the Beast is the ogryn servitor Zodd; his powered armor augmenting his stride and combat prowess.

The Red Joy that reach the Beast lash out with reckless abandon, driven to a frenzy with the urge for assimilation. Such is their fury that a mortal wound is inflicted on the Beast (avchobby). As the Beast crashes to the station floor, the surrounding Red Joy surge forward and begin to fuse with the dying creature trying to wrestle control of its consciousness.

Mistaking the death of the Beast as a victory for the Knights of Hondious, Heimdall, Seventh of his Name (stone.jaw) shifts his attention to eradicating the Inquisition. Burning with hatred, Heimdall swings his chainsword in a brutal arc at the Inquisitional ogryn Zodd (sleepykamistudios). The mighty blow glances off the ogryn’s armor and with it any hopes for the tenuous alliance between the two forces.

As the Inquisition and the Feudal Knights turn towards violence against each other, the Red Joy continue to pour into the station and crowd around the Beast. The sounds of laughter and mirth ring louder and louder in the station, as the halls grow slicker with blood.

Inquisitor Tandros Vadrin curses under his breath. This operation has been a disaster. Despite ample evidence, he had been unable to convince the Grand Inquisitor to support his efforts here on Hondious. Time was up; his operation was a failure. The bloody contagion would continue to spread throughout the galaxy. It was time to regroup and revise his plan of attack. He began clearing his mind in preparation for teleportation.

A shrill buzzing fills the air, like the buzzing of a baleful swarm of insects. Then a staccato flash pulses through the corridors, but Inquisitor Tandros Vadrin does not materialize in the teleportation bays of the light cruiser in geosynchronous orbit above Thule station. Panic seizes those on the bridge of the centuries old vessel (The use of critical failures and successes in the event provided natural opportunities to introduce narrative into the games).

Zodd cleaves Heimdall in twain with their power axe, adding more bloody pulp to the roiling mass of bodies.

Battle-crazed and fueled by hatred for the Feudal Knights, Zodd charges down the corridors of Thule Station looking for his next victims. Giles Faulkner (noclearcoat) fires off a volley of laser fire at the charging ogryn, before drawing his sword to meet the aggressor in single combat. Photo courtesy of sleepykamistudios.

Lucretia Barghest pushes past the mindless drones around her and lays a hand on the fallen Beast. She calms her mind and reaches into the aether, searching for the combined psychic consciousness of Hondious. Even with just a fraction of that power, she could set about covering the planet with towering architectures of flesh suitable to honor His name!

Jeremias Oktober, Blight of the Red Joy (pied_pewter_piper) is unceremoniously struck down by Inquisitor Minamoto no Yorimasa (underworldalliance). Lady Misersoph’s eyes narrow as she looks at the foolish Inquisitor. She does not let a grudge down easily, and as she sees the current situation with the corpulent monstrosity in the main chamber rapidly devolving, she refocuses her efforts into an outcome she can control. Shouting out a challenge, she lunges at the towering Imperial agent.

Decades of rage is channeled into her blows. Rage at being left adrift in an uncaring galaxy, spurned by the Imperium. Rage at only being acknowledged now by this misguided Inquisitor, after things were irreversibly broken, her world in ruin. In a dull crump, her mace caves in the visor of Minamoto no Yorimasa’s helmet and he topples to the ground. Now he was doomed too, as cries of elation continue to crescendo ever upwards in the echoing halls around Lady Misersoph.

A stream of Red Joy continues to flood into the facility, each eager to become one with the Beast and claim its psychic prowess. With its psychic mastery, any one of the disparate strains could become the dominant one and gain the ability to teleport off-world and spread their plague of elation and joy to other planets!

Lucretia pulls her hand from the pulsing mass of flesh before her, having siphoned a modicum of its psychic capacity, and knows her work is done. The galaxy would finally be spared suffering and sadness; war would give way to unbridled joy.

Finally, with a sickening squelch, a towering herald of the Red Joy's (avchobby) pallid flesh merges with the dying beast, delicate axons forming synapses with the corpulent mass. In a flood of noradrenaline and acetylcholine, their nervous systems unite. The room's temperature plummets, fractals of ice crazing every surface, as the joyous revelry swirling around the blooded Beast reaches a deafening pitch. Then in the next instant there is a flicker in reality, as though a pict-recoder had been tuned to a dead channel, and the Beast is gone. There is now a little more joy elsewhere in the galaxy.

Lucretia’s mind drifts back to making contact with the majestic fusion of limb, body, and mind, her hand gracing the pulsing mass of flesh as her mind connected to the gestalt of its psychic consciousness. In an instant it was as though a shroud was lifted. The scriptures of the Arxvs Dedicatvm were laid bare; soon the galaxy would be an unified organic whole. A colony of hyperorganisms stretching to the skies of countless worlds, buzzing with joy and blissful contentment. And at its center He would be there.

- Adam and Eric Wier


  1. Such an awesome read through. I loved seeing these encounters unfold through Lucretia's eyes!
    Will she make an appearance at future events, even though she's been given away?

    1. Not sure if she will make an appearance in the future. It would be fun if she did!

  2. Absolutely incredible content coming out of this event. Really enjoyed the episodes of your podcast both during the event and the wrap up afterwards. Then all of these posts are incredible. Just in awe of the models, the scenery and the setting. Incredible stuff!

    1. Thank you for following all of this! I am glad we have been able to share it as much as we have. Anything we can do to promote others for doing similar things the better!

  3. Finally read through all this properly. Very cool event, the scenery and models, and lore is all so tight and has come together very well considering the number of people involved.