For Profit and Headware
Heathen Trail Adventure
This adventure sees the Explorers traveling on from one location in the Expanse to the next, and engaging in a series of potentially highly profitable Endeavors at each port of call. The locations are not random, however, as each correlates to one of the estrands of fatef engraved upon the ancient Eldar star map encountered at the end of the first adventure?Eye of the Needle. Only by following each of these celestial strands to its termination can the final location of the Dread Pearl be ascertained. Having followed a strand to the enexus’ marked on the star map, the Explorersf Navigator will be able to take a reading of its celestial and empyreal coordinates. Once a certain number of readings have been taken, the coordinates of the Dread Pearl are revealed.
The Star Map Nexus Points
Chapter II: The Heathen Trail is broken up into five sections, each section detailing a different Nexus Point and the perils and wonders the Explorers find there. Each of the sections also includes an optional adventure the Explorers can pursue that relates to the location where the Nexus Point is found.
The majority of the five Nexus Points are presented separately from the accompanying gazetteers and adventures. This is to allow the GM to sidestep the adventures if so desired. The GM might feel that sufficient time and effort has been spent on previous adventures, and decide to move the action on to the third adventure in this book. By presenting the details of how and where the star map reading may be conducted, and keeping this largely separate from the events described in each adventure, this is entirely possible. In many cases, however, the Nexus is a mini-encounter in its own right, just to keep the Explorers on their toes!
The Explorers do not have to read all five of the Nexus Points in order to locate the Dread Pearl. In fact, they can make do with as few as three, if the readings are all performed correctly. However, this is not something the Explorers should be aware of. They should only know they have visited enough Nexus Points when the route to the Dread Pearl becomes clear in their minds and charts. This allows the GM to remain flexible. If his players want to move quickly to the third adventure, he can have them visit a few Nexus Points. If, however, the players want to search out all the Nexus Points, he can increase the required number. It is also possible that due to mishap, the Explorers may not successfully read some of the Nexus Points, which may drive them all the harder to track down the remainder.
If the GM wants to inject a sense of urgency or challenge, some of the Nexus Points the Explorers reach may have already been found and subsequently destroyed by the other Rogue Traders. This underhanded tactic could drive the Explorers to greater efforts, and also remind them they are not alone in this race. If this happens, the rival could even leave a calling card of some type next to the ruins, just to taunt the Explorers.
The Explorers should receive 225 Achievement Points for each Nexus Point they read successfully. Once the Explorers have completed a satisfactory number of Nexus Points, move on to Chapter III (page 95).
Reading the Nexus Points
Each Nexus Point glows with psychic energy, faintly, but detectable by psykers even at long distances. At each Nexus Point, the shipfs Navigator must read the starmap embedded in the Nexusfs structure. Each Nexus Point takes the form of a temple, not unlike the one the Explorers travelled to in the first adventure, but smaller in size and importance.
Each temple has a starmap located on its topmost floor. This starmap looks similar to the one the Explorers encountered in the first adventure.
Although the starmaps may seem like the key to discovering the location of the Dread Pearl, a Routine (+20) Navigation, Logic, or Scholastic Lore (Astromancy) Test reveals the map does not impart any useful information. Any psykers, however, instantly have the feeling that there is more to these maps than first appears.Any psyker may attempt to read the map with an Arduous (-40) Psyniscience Test.
Although any psyker may attempt this, a Navigator’s unique psychic powers allow him a better chance of success, and he gains a +20 bonus on any Psyniscience Test he makes to read the starmap.An attempt, successful or not, takes roughly 10 minutes. If the attempt is failed, the psyker may try it again, and the test becomes one step easier than the previous attempt. The attempts are dangerous and taxing, however, as the psyker is trying to make sense of something fundamentally xenos. If the psyker ever fails by four or more degrees, he suffers one level of fatigue and one Insanity Point as the alien information overwhelms his brain.
If none of the Explorers are a Navigator or other psyker, they must bring an NPC Navigator from their ship. In this case, the GM should have the Navigator simply succeed after 1d5 tries.
Dross is a feudal world of primitive religion and feral tribes. gDiscoveredh by the Rogue Trader Nejo Skylax, it is among one of the harder worlds in the Heathen Star to reach. This is due in part to the inexplicable storms that rage across its surface, boiling off into space itself. The storms are not born of the warp or seemingly of any known science, but have the power to wreak terrible damage on any ship that draws too close. Many a captain has meet his end trying to make a landing on Dross, only to be lost with all hands as his shipfs systems fail and it plunges down into the turbulent atmosphere. For the primitive tribes, however, such bounty from the Sky-Father (as they refer to their primitive god) is always welcomed. For more information on Dross, see page 83.
Cursed by parched mountains and dry sea beds, Vaporius is a primitive and feudal planet ruled over by the Priest-Kings. From their cities of glass and copper, they control the precious and divine springs, granting water to their subjects and letting their foes perish of thirst. Despite its arid and desolate landscape, Vaporius is not without its treasures, and travellers to this remote world speak of ancient technological wonders buried far out amongst the sands and the rare and special properties of the precious waters themselves, blessed by the Priest-Kings. There is even tell of a special mission by the Ministorum to turn the world to the path of the Emperor, hidden somewhere under the very noses of the Kings. For more information on Vaporius, see page 66.
A bloody war world, Zayth is a ruined and battle-scarred place of radioactive storms and smoking craters. The worldfs remaining inhabitants live in great moving city-fortresses, veritable battle-hives, which cross the planetfs blasted surface and wage never-ending war on one another. The descendants of soldiers and generals, they have never known a time without war, and fight on even though the reasons for conflict are forgotten, replaced with the simple need for survival. While visitors to Zayth speak of priceless salvage among the detritus of war, the true prize is the cities themselves, rare relics from before the Dark Age of Technology whose secrets would be worth untold thrones. For more information on Zayth, see page 57.
The Heathen Stars are home to more than mere worlds, and stories abound of unique celestial phenomena, rogue stars, and forgotten, treasure-laden space hulks. Rumours also persist of alien portals and stable warp conduits linking the Heathen Stars to other parts of the Expanse and beyond. One such documented portal, thought by the well-informed to be part of the Tattered Web, leads to the Processional of the Damned and has been dubbed the Damned Gateway. For more information on the Damned Gateway and the Processional of the Damned, see page 88. For more information on a particular space hulk, see page 73.
Throughout the Heathen Trail, the Explorersf competitors are trying just as hard to locate the Dread Pearl. Each goes about doing so in a manner appropriate to their character, situation, and the resources at their disposal. Rather than impose a rigidly-scripted description of exactly what each competitor is doing as the Explorers go about their quest, a set of guidelines is provided, allowing the GM to include the competitors as and when needed. The following is a set of ideas as to what each competitor might be up to, but bear in mind that the actions of the Explorers at the end of the first adventure?Eye of the Needle?may have changed things considerably. Itfs entirely possible that one or more of the competitors might actually be dead, of course!
The other thing to bear in mind is that there may be other means of locating the Dread Pearl, which the Explorers do not know about. Although they are following the so-called strands of fate, other competitors might have entirely different ways of fulfilling their quest. Exactly what these other methods are isnft important, and they are certainly beyond the scope of this adventure and not something the PCs are in a position to affect, but it wonft hurt for them to know that such methods exist and are actively being pursued. Still other competitors may be following the Explorers or other competitors, waiting for the perfect moment to strike.
It is entirely possible, and in some cases highly desirable, that the Explorers should cross paths with at least a handful of their competitors at some point throughout the Heathen Trail. This is really a matter of how involved the GM wants the competitors to be in the adventure, and how much interference the Explorers can take. For this reason, the six chapters that follow do not include specific guidance on how to integrate the competitors. Instead, the GM should use the competitors to add flavour and move the narrative on as and when needed. For example, if the Explorers are having an easy time of taking control of the Light of Terra, then why not have a rival turn up, one who has perhaps been trailing them for some time and has chosen their moment to strike. Alternately, should the PCs find themselves up to their necks in trouble, then a competitor with whom they have made an alliance might be willing to help out.
Don’t forget the Explorers can improve or worsen their relationships with the various competitors throughout the adventure. Itfs also possible some competitors have fallen since they were first encountered, and the GM should feel free to either ignore or alter the information given here.
Rogue Trader Fel is a canny veteran of many endeavours, and is quite capable of pursuing the coordinates of the Dread Pearl by way of his own ingenuity. It is possible that he may cross paths with the Explorers, and if he does, his disposition towards them depends very much upon their previous encounters, as discussed on page 25. Although Fel is someone who does not make friends easily, has a certain sense of his own superiority, and bears bitter grudges, he isnft stupid. He is a cautiously intelligent man who does not take unnecessary risks or allow himself to be diverted from his quest. Instead, hefll save his vengeance for later, striking when his own position is assured and his foes are most vulnerable.
Whilst the Explorers have been pursuing the star map Nexus Points, Jeremiah has been following the Heathen Trail on a very different route. Blitz encountered an Eldar vessel shadowing his own through the outer reaches of the Quppa-Psi system but, incredibly, was able to evade it, and later pick up its own trail. The Eldar vessel in question has been attempting to track the actions of the competitors, and interfere with them where and when possible. As a result, Jeremiah Blitz has been able to discern the pattern in the worlds the Eldar have visited, and along with clues gleaned from the actions of the other competitors has come to discover something of what is occurring. Towards the end of the Heathen Trail adventure, Blitz works out a rough location of the Dread Pearl.
Should Blitz and the Explorers cross paths, he will not be openly hostile towards them, unless the two groups have come to blows earlier on, in which case he is likely to shoot first and talk later. Although essentially self-centred, Blitz is unlikely to withhold his aid should the Explorers find themselves in a bind and he is on hand to help them out. Being the mercenary he is however, he will fully expect repayment, and may even demand a share in future takings, extracting an agreement from the Explorers before helping them.
Abel is a capable man supported by an equally-skilled coterie of men and women who have served the Arcadius dynasty their entire lives. He therefore takes the business of locating the Dread Pearl very seriously, and has gone about the quest in a highly professional manner. Gerritfs Navigator is just as capable as the Explorersf, and has read the same strands of fate in the star map. However, Gerritfs crew has found a different method of following the strands, utilising the archeotech sub-etheric sensor vanes Gerritfs vessel is equipped with. His quest takes Abel to the same systems the Explorers visit, although the manner of his following the strands of fate results in his vessel spending most of its time in the systemsf outer regions. It is up to the GM whether or not Abel Gerrit and the Explorers cross paths.
When it comes to any potential encounters, Abel Gerrit is a reasonable man, and is unlikely to instigate hostilities, unless they have occurred earlier. He will listen to any proposals, and negotiate fairly. However, remember that Abel Gerrit, being fairly low down the pecking order of his clan, does not have unlimited resources, has no desire to return to his clan empty handed, and would dearly love to be more influential within the House Arcadius than he actually is. These feelings can be used to add complexity and depth to any interactions the Explorers have with Abel Gerrit and might colour how he reacts to specific situations.
The last hope of the House of Armelan, Madam Charlabelle is pursuing the Dread Pearl with every possible resource she can bring to bear. She has stayed in the race through a combination of luck and sheer determination, and she obtained a fairly good description of the map from one of her Kroot mercenaries. Her Navigator now has a good idea of the coordinates of the Dread Pearl, and she is visibly energised as the chance to revitalise the fortunes of her house is almost within her grasp.
Should the Explorers cross paths with Madam Charlabelle near the beginning of the adventure, they are likely to find that she is willing to ally herself with them to a common cause?for the time being. If the two parties cross paths towards the end of the adventure, she will be less likely to enter into such pacts as she now has most of the information she needs and will become increasingly consumed with the desire to possess the Dread Pearl. However, if she has good reason to believe she will not be able to claim the prize on her own, her desperation may leave her open to a partnership. She is unlikely to react to the Explorers with overt hostility, but may take advantage of a chance to leave them behind if she has a chance of gaining an advantage over them and the other competitors.
Lady Sun Lee
The Matriach of the House of MafKao pursues the coordinates of the Dread Pearl with all the ruthless-yet-honourable professionalism for which her dynasty is known. First, she split her forces, dispatching her three raiders to keep an eye on those competitors she believed most able to contest the Dread Pearl, while she herself led her own investigations from her flagship. One of those raiders is assigned to tail the Explorersf vessel, a fact they may or may not become aware of, depending on circumstances.
Another of Sun Leefs raiders was set to monitor the progress of Lord-Admiral Bastille. This vessel was detected however, and a skirmish ensued in the outer reaches of the Delectus Nox system. The raider was badly damaged, and many of Lady Sun Leefs servants killed and wounded. When Sun Lee protested this incident to the Lord-Admiral, he roundly insulted her edevious and churlish tacticsf and threatened to attack her in turn. Sun Lee and Bastille are now sworn enemies, and it is entirely possible that their developing feud may escalate and engulf the Explorers and others amongst the competitors.
Lady Sun Lee is willing to form alliances that further her quest, and will be especially well disposed towards pacts hindering Bastille. Such agreements may drag the Explorers into the conflict between the two Rogue Traders, something that can add a further level of complication to their quest.
Djanko Scourge has gone about the business of locating the Dread Pearl in an entirely different manner to the rest of the competitors. Subtlety and guile are to Scourge signs of weakness and not characteristics he displays, and so his quest has seen him descend upon one world after another in search of clues to the Dread Pearlfs location. Although crude, this approach has in fact paid off, to a degree at least, as the Rogue Traderfs agents have clashed with those of several other competitors and gleaned from them, under torture no doubt, several pieces of the jigsaw. It stands now for Djanko Scourge to gather the final pieces, a task which he plans to set about in typically blunt style.
In the early stages of the adventure, it is unlikely that the Explorers will cross paths with Scourge, but they may well encounter his agents. These are ruthless servants of the Scourge dynasty, employed as much for their sadism as for their cunning. Djankofs agents will attempt to capture the Explorers or their own servants should they get the chance, and extract from them whatever they have so far learned of the Dread Pearl.
Of all of the competitors seeking the Dread Pearl, Lord-Admiral Bastille the Seventh has the greatest resources immediately at hand. Bastillefs cruiser flagship is accompanied by a number of other vessels, including escorts, troop transports, and merchantmen, and many of these have been dispatched to seek out the location of the Dread Pearl. One of Bastillefs Navigators has come to the same conclusion as the Explorersf regarding the need to take a reading at each Nexus Point, and will do so in the same manner as them.
Therefore, it is Lord-Bastille or his agents who the Explorers are most likely to cross paths with. At first, it may be apparent that others have been present at a Nexus Point not long before the Explorers arrive, and later on, they might actually come into conflict with agents of the Lord-Admiral. Note that Bastille is unlikely to accompany his agents to the Nexus Points, as he is usually busy commanding his fleet.
Lord-Admiral Bastille the Seventh is engaged in conflict with Lady Sun Lee, and will not treat with the Explorers if they have aided her. Since he has such overwhelming resources, the Lord-Admiral views his position as a strong one, and he uses the threat of military conflict as a major negotiating point. In fact, he is unlikely to see any benefit in an alliance with the Explorers, unless they are very convincing.
Unlike the resources of the Lord-Admiral, Krawkin Feckwardfs strengths are entirely hidden. Where Bastillefs advantage is overt and military, Feckwardfs is covert and criminal. The Rogue Trader pursues the Dread Pearl in a manner quite unlike the other competitors. Instead of hunting down leads himself, he utilises every underhand trick he knows and draws on every contact he can to gather the information covertly. This he achieves with his agents establishing contacts with the criminal underclass found amongst the crew of every vessel in every fleet, whether naval, mercantile, or Rogue Trader. By extending his influence by way of his contacts amongst the bilge-scum of his rivalsf vessels, Feckward slowly pieces together a picture that leads him and his advisers to an idea of where the Dread Pearl might be located.
It is entirely possible that Krawkin Feckwardfs reach extends as far as the crew of the Explorersf vessel. If the mutineer Krooker (see page 33) is still alive, then he makes a re-appearance, having sold out his masters for Feckwardfs coin. The Explorers then have to deal with this rogue element of their own crew before the quest for the Dread Pearl can continue.
Completing the Heathen Trail
As stated at the beginning of the adventure, the GM should have determined beforehand how many readings his players must take to learn the location of the Dread Pearl. When the players have accomplished the predetermined number of readerings, read aloud or paraphrase the following:
As the last reading is completed, your minds fill with a reprise of the vision you beheld at Footfall, when your witnessed the Foretelling of the Seven Witches. Once more, the Dread Pearl is revealed to you, but his time, you know with utter certainty where it is and how it may be reached. The perfect gem that, to your mindfs eye, represents that planet to which you must travel, is, even now, being unveiled as the storm that has long shrouded its perfect face abates.
This concludes the Heathen Trail, and they now have the coordinates to the Dread Pearl. The time and place at which the Dread Pearl will be revealed is now clear to them and especially their Navigator, who has the location and ability to plot their trip through the warp. Proceed to the next adventure-The World Beyond.
With the adventure concluded, and the Explorers hopefully all in one piece the GM should award experience points based on their exploits.
In addition to the standard rewards for surviving each play session (see page 292 in the Rogue Trader Rulebook) the GM can assign these additional rewards to each PC:
• For each Nexus Point successfully read: 100 xp.
• For every new alliance made with a Rival since the first adventure: 200 xp.
• For every alliance with a Rival established in the first adventure and preserved through the entire Heathen Trail: 50 xp.
• Each Rival defeated (though not necessarily destroyed): 200 xp.
• Establishing a new trade route from Zayth: 100 xp.
• Establishing a new trade route from Vaporius: 100 xp.