Campaign synopsis: The Man in Vault Zero

By Sinisalo2, in Rogue Trader Gamemasters

Greetings, fellow Bearers of the Warrant!

Here are some of my ideas on a Rogue Trader campaign that ties into the Haarlock Legacy background in Dark Heresy. Please comment or offer your suggestions!

Contains spoilers for the House of Dust and Ash scenario in Dark Heresy.

The campaign is called (working title)

THE MAN IN VAULT ZERO
or
The Death Squad of a Salesman

Here's the pitch: the players (unfamiliar to DH) eventually find out that their ship and dynasty share a history the dread Haarlock. In fact, one of the PCs will be the Scion of Haarlock, his/her ancestors having been hidden during the Haarlock vendetta of terror, previously unaware of their ancestry. Now the PCs step up to reclaim their legacy: after a century or so, their salvaged ship is being recommisioned in secret and the dying caretaker of the estate has called them to command it once more.

Unfortunately, the caretaker is moments away from death and utterly insane, burdened by his task. On his deathbed, he hands them the Warrant of Trade and utters his last warning: "Beware the Man in Vault Zero".


Taking the ship and the Warrant, the players launch into their endeavours. During their first travels, a group of pilgrims ask for passage, offering generous pay. The pilgrims are a group of Haarlock cultists - the very same that maintain the House of Dust and Ask on Solomon - in disguise, having heard that a ship from the old Haarlock fleet is setting sail again. They wish to find out if, in fact, a scion of Haarlock is commanding it. And they know of Vault Zero.

Deep in the ancient ship is a secret vault, protected by impregnable Warp magicks. On the door, the following warnings are inscribed on the ship cant:

1. BEWARE THE MAN IN VAULT ZERO
2. THE MAN IN VAULT ZERO ALWAYS LIES
3. WHEN THE HEIR APPROACHES VAULT ZERO, THE TOMB ON SOLOMON OPENS

...and possibly other edicts, perhaps written in a cipher unknown to the players, future plot hooks once the PCs manage to decipher them.

The Haarlock cultists will attempt to open the Vault, possibly releasing Hull Ghasts or similiar beasties sealed into the previously unopened secret parts of the vessel, giving players hint that something fishy is going on their ship. Following the cultists PCs will eventually discover the hidden Vault. Upon the Scion approaching the Vault, the mechanism sends a message through the Warp to Solomon, letting the cultist leader on Haarlock estate know that a scion lives. Once the cultists aboard the ship discover this, they will reveal their true colours and attempt to murder the Scion.

The PCs will soon discover that the Vault cannot be opened. However, the Scion may ask questions through a hatch on the Vault, sometimes receiving whispered, cryptic answers. And of course, now they have a destination: something sinister is going on on Solomon.

The Man in the Vault is Haarlock's brother and the PC's ancestor, trapped in eternal torment by the Mad Haarlock, plotting revenge in his Warp prison. He - or it - will lie, cheat, corrupt and manipulate the players to get his way, dropping hints along their travels.

On Solomon, the players will discover that the Dust of House and Ash on Solomon has been opened and is waiting for the PCs to arrive to start the auction - and to launch Haarlock's trap (see House of Dust and Ash from Disciples of Dark Gods for details). The auction items, of course, hold special significance to the PCs. The Greyskin Psalter contains many directions to Haarlock's horrible discoveries from the Halo Stars: the Slaught worlds and the home for the Children of the Kingdom, for example. The pauldron is from Haarlock's old allies, a battle group of fallen Chaos Space Marines. The Bloody Seal hints to the legacy of Gorge Vandire in Calixis. And the Silver Key? Does it open Vault Zero?

And so forth: a legacy of horror for the PCs to discover, exploit and be damned by. And the Man in the Vault Zero will gladly "guide" the PCs to his hated brother's treasures.

Do comment or feed me more ideas!

The potential problem with this I see is that you really need the PC's to react a certain way for the story to work. Personally, if I had a sealed box covered in wards I couldn't get off my ship I would freak out about possibly carrying a demon around and undertake the following steps:

1) Fight pirates

2) Steal pirate ships

3) Populate with new crew

4) Release crew of old ship

5) Tow old ship into a star.

I think you'll need to give the PC's some powerful motives to keep the man in vault zero around.

And I'm thinking HBO's "Carnivale!" with the man in the vault as 'Management',

SJE

I agree that you are reliant upon having the PC's react in a fairly specific way but in my experience if you show the PC's a closed and locked door at least one of them will always alow curiosity to get the better of them!!!

All in all I think you've got the basis of a cracking campaing there that I may just end up stealing some of the ideas from lol

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Maxim C. Gatling said:

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Brilliant! Warp-tainted heir to a Rogue Trader dynasty in a can!

Captain Harlock? Sounds like a Rogue Trader to me!

nick012000 said:

Captain Harlock? Sounds like a Rogue Trader to me!

Yeah, the anime connection is pretty apparent, though I haven't seen the anime in question. Don't know if you have read the Dark Heresy RPG books, but it's Big Campaign series focuses on a Rogue Trader "Captain Haarlock" (ooh, 2 "a"s) and his legacy. Owning the books I wanted to recycle some of the plot elements.

Given the DH campaign themes, in retrospect it probably should be "Vault Thirteen". Then again, there is a "Vault 13" in the Tattered Fates scenario book...

Why should the pc not leave the ship?
Best way is to tie this ship into their Warrant of Trade. There part of the Harlock line is only allowed to command THIS ship as RT. If they abandon it or it is no longer space worthy, the Warrant is forfeit.

Idea:
Leave some space (other adventures) between them getting the ship, finding the vault and and the pilgrims. Otherwise, it is to obvious. About the man in the vault... do not make him mechanically "always lying". He will say them after a while that "you ┬┤ve been told I would always lie. I say, I always lie. No, how does that match?" (He knows that because EVERYONE IN THE PAST MILLENIUM reacted to him that way). Still ,the pc will understand that he is malevolent. But this will keep them from using him as a "compass always pointing south".

Well then - two years later and we actually finished the beast!

"The Man in Vault XIII" campaign had 66 game sessions, seven player characters and took the better part of two years of regular play. In the finale most of the characters were rank 7 or 8 - and also living saints, legends of the expanse, metaphorical gods of death with storm bolters... and also, some of them, daemonhosts, hereteks and madmen.

I'd like to say thanks to FFG for publishing the grand space opera game I've spent most of my gaming life seeking. And indeed, it was the game I was born to run. I might share some of my house rules and campaign notes in the forum later on, but for now I just wanted to thank the publisher for the game - and the forum for a big pile of ideas which I used in the game.

sinisalo said:

Well then - two years later and we actually finished the beast!

"The Man in Vault XIII" campaign had 66 game sessions, seven player characters and took the better part of two years of regular play. In the finale most of the characters were rank 7 or 8 - and also living saints, legends of the expanse, metaphorical gods of death with storm bolters... and also, some of them, daemonhosts, hereteks and madmen.

I'd like to say thanks to FFG for publishing the grand space opera game I've spent most of my gaming life seeking. And indeed, it was the game I was born to run. I might share some of my house rules and campaign notes in the forum later on, but for now I just wanted to thank the publisher for the game - and the forum for a big pile of ideas which I used in the game.

Thats sweet! Makes me want to keep playing the epic game I've just started now.

I'd like to hear some tid bits about this campaign