"I was content to spread my Father’s Blessings across these stars with rust and decay, but you now grow into many and try my patience. You did not spawn here and I insist on learning from where your trails led. There must be even more of you there, and they too need to embrace my art.”
–Intercepted Vox Transmission during the Third Battle for the Amaros
Back in May, we announced the upcoming release of The Achilus Assault, a supplement for Deathwatch . This guide to the fires of war raging in the Jericho Reach, from the numberless tides of the Tyranids in Hive Fleet Dagon to the hellish legions of Chaos pouring forth from the Hadex Anomaly, provides Game Masters with a surfeit of antagonists and mysteries to confront a Deathwatch Kill-team. Today, we’re pleased to present a preview by contributing writer Tim Huckelbery.
For The Achilus Assault , one goal was to create some adversarial characters, organizations, and locations to challenge our fearless Space Marines across all fronts in the massive crusade taking place in the Jericho Reach. Among other things, I worked on a character that I’ll be talking a little about today. His name is Mephidast the Plaguereaver, Daemon Prince of Nurgle, leader of the Blessed Tides, and Artisan of the Thousand Thousand Plagues. I’ve always loved Nurgle-themed Chaos, so it was a lot of fun to work on him.
It would be easy to simply make Mephidast very powerful and thus a worthy opponent, and as a daemon prince he certainly won’t suffer there; he can draw on untold legions of devoted cultists, renegade militias, and even Plague Marines to back his not inconsiderable personal might. He is also a puissant sorcerer as well as a skilled artisan of new deadly diseases. It is his background and motivations, however, that make Mephidast a bit different.
Born in a voidship during a Gellar Field malfunction, it is certainly possible that something infected him on that fateful date. Or worse yet, his already diseased soul perhaps attracted similarly foul beings that sensed kinship. He is constantly striving to express this pestilent spirit, first to the unfortunate world of his early years and now the entirety of Jericho. This driving need is above any simple desire to kill or destroy those who encounter him or his creations, though those who fall victim to his many plagues or abominations certainly care little in any difference.
Having long ago been granted immortality by his appreciative patron Father Nurgle, Mephidast launches visions that may take decades or even centuries to unfold across the Acheros Salient, which he has come to view as his personal property. He often has dozens of such designs festering at any given time, ranging from rapid plagues that will collapse a hive spire overnight to smaller, more subtle and slower moving rots that could devastate entire systems. With literally all the time in the world he can enact his virulent conceptions at whim, orchestrating them towards his glorious vision of an entire galaxy similarly devoted to his Father.
A minor setback
Up until recently that is, for now the Crusade is interfering with his plans. The Deathwatch and Ordo Malleus are more active than ever, ruining his plagues before they can reach fruition. What was mere frustration has become bitter hatred at these disruptions in his grand purpose and he is becoming more active himself to squash these nuisances. The Deathwatch will perhaps be assigned to investigate signs of his foul tampering, sometimes even through actual Omega Vault direction. Often, though, they may stumble upon the subtle traces of his plots unknowingly, uncovering layer upon layer in a plan that could cripple the Crusade if not stopped.
Examples might include overhearing word of a sudden rise in the mortality rate in a world they are already investigating on another matter, or a series of unfathomable crop failures that seem to leap from one agri-world to the next, or mass suicides that perhaps were perhaps not suicides after all. Mephidast will take unkindly to disruptions that the players might bring to his plague-filled aspirations though and will unleash multitudes of his followers, both daemonic and mortal, against them. Or perhaps he will visit them himself, for he is never above hands on work when his art is involved.
What is even more threatening is that he is also actively working to discover the source of this new surge of combatants. Covering Acheros and the Reach with his necrotic designs was always what drove his immortal life in the past, but now he knows there must be an even larger and more untouched part of the galaxy to be touched by his pestilent hand. Should he be able to unravel the secret of how to travel to these unspoiled worlds, his immortal life would be truly complete. Ah, what plagues he could make on them... should the Deathwatch falter in their duties.
Keep checking back for more, and look for The Achilus Assault on store shelves in the third quarter of 2011!