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“…and in their wickedness shall be revealed unto them the Retribution of Angels”

Inscription on memorial stone on Retribution (Formerly Vipinicix Magna)

Observers may wonder why the lopsided vendetta between the Vipinicus and von Kroyer dynasties has continued for so long. Until recently the von Kroyer dynasty could muster only three starships and held no colonies, while the stellar empire of the Vipinicus commands resources beyond the wildest dreams of most Imperial nobles. The truth of the matter is that House Vipinicus have been embroiled in a much more deadly conflict. A private war against nothing less than the Emperor’s Angels of Death: The Astartes of the Knights Atomic. 

Shortly after the quarantine was lifted from the Morana Gulf, the dynasty began a series of endeavors under the leadership of Lord Captain Oriel Vipinicus. Chief among these was the conquest of Sovortana, an industrial world with a high tech base far from the Imperium’s borders. Since their defences were more than a match for the Rogue Trader’s forces, he enlisted the aid of the Knights Atomic. Surrender came after a devastating campaign, but in the aftermath it became clear that Vipinicus had acted in bad faith. Sovortana had already been visited by officials of the Administratum and had submitted willingly to Terran authority and the Imperial Creed. Realising they had been duped into attacking loyal Imperial subjects, the Knights Atomic opened fire on Vipinicus’ ships, captured his daughter in a brutal boarding action and withdrew to plan their vengeance. A month later, Vipinicus’ prized colony world was subjected to a brutal and sustained assault by the Astartes; not a single stone was left resting upon another.

For decades since, Vipinicus has been embroiled in a private war against the Imperium’s foremost warriors. The Knights Atomic, unflinching in their persecution of mankind’s foes, have better things to occupy them than a duplicitous rogue trader, but still inflict crippling losses on Vipinicus forces when the opportunity presents itself to enact their vendetta. For their part the dynasty simply weathers these losses and defends their investments as best they can. They yet remain a formidable power, with many allies (particularly among those who disapprove of the Knights Atomic and their brutal disregard for the wishes of mere mortals). There is a certain power in being at the head of a dynasty which has warred with Space Marines and yet survives.

House Vipinicus

“Nemo me Impune Lacessit – No One Assails me With Impunity” 

Motto of House Vipinicus

By many estimations, House Vipinicus is the premier power of the Gulf. Even in their weakened state they are the masters of dozens of hidden colonies, and their investments through shell companies and blind trusts grant them a large stake in many others. Though they have recently made many unwise enemies, Vipinicus count both the Imperial Navy and the Ecclesiarchy among their allies. 

Junior members of the dynasty often complete a tour of duty in one of the the Nimbus Trident’s three battlefleets before assuming their birthright, learning valuable skills in void combat and command, while also being shielded from vengeful astartes: even the iconoclast Knights Atomic would not stoop to attacking the Imperial Navy. 

The dynasty’s close relationship with the Ecclesiarchy is predicated largely on substantial sums left in the proverbial collection plate. Many a temple roof has been repaired thanks to Vipinicus’ largesse, and not a few pleasure-palaces frequented by the region’s Cardinals.

Dramatis Personae

Quisker Vipinicus

“It might not be Imperial yet, but when it is I want to make damn sure it’s my arms emblazoned on all the banners!” 

Lord Captain Quisker discusses his ambitions for the Morana Gulf

A man without shame or honour according to many, Quisker Vipinicus is a cruel, imperious presence. Many know him only for the open secret that is the Private War with the Knights Atomic, and admire a man that can contend with Astartes and still turn a profit. But those more intimately acquainted with Lord Captain know him as a man of seemingly bottomless arrogance and ambition. Though his ego has cost the dynasty dear in recent times, Quisker’s strategic genius and calculating avarice should not be underestimated. 

Reluctant to extend his neck beyond Imperial borders while his conflict with the Knights Atomic lasts, Quisker can often be found at his estate “Heart Grove” on the pleasure world Eno, playing the game of high-stakes politics. Conveniently enough, on Eno you are rarely more than a stone’s throw away from a member of society with a weakness to exploit.

Void-Mistress Sebela Indri

“Ooh, my knee is acting up! The starboard gravity pump must be misaligned. Be a dear and throw the maintenance crew in the oubliette, make sure it doesn’t happen again.”  

Mistress Sebela diagnoses a system fault

A truly ancient woman of diminutive stature and stooped posture; many have underestimated Indri, to their cost. Having outlived every other serving member of the Vipinicus dynasty, there is no-one left who can speak to the void-mistress’ origins: she was already serving as XO of the flagship Silverheart when Quisker became head of the family. 

Over a century of service has left Indri with an encyclopedic knowledge of every ship and officer in the gulf, and by her iron will is the dynasty’s battlefleet maintained as the envy of every rogue trader. Though she is ruthlessly pragmatic and far from merciful, those who serve under her come to develop a nostalgic fondness for “Auntie”. Since the dynasty often freely trades officers with the Imperial Navy, Sebela is never without plentiful allies in the local battlefleets.

Galahad Vipinicus

“A masterstroke of a plan uncle Quisker, truly inspired. I like it even more today than when I suggested it yesterday.”  

Galahad formulates a stratagem

One of the dynasty’s many ambitious second-cousins, Galahad was able to distinguish himself in terms of amoral cunning and was chosen by Quisker to serve as his Seneschal aboard the Silverheart. Having had the benefit of the finest education available at the renowned collegia of Aurochs IV, Galahad served briefly in the Imperial Navy before a mysterious illness saw him discharged days before his battlegroup was assigned to fight the Orks of WAAAGH!! Morgakz. 

Following his miraculous recovery, Galahad was free to wage a machiavellian shadow war against his siblings and cousins in the dynasty, taking his destined place at Quisker’s right hand at the tender age of twenty-four Solar years. For now, the pushy young buck is content to consolidate his already considerable power, lending narcissistic charm and sociopathic cunning to the family cause. Many who know the dynasty well are already wondering privately when his ambitious gaze will turn to his uncle’s Warrant of Trade.

Other notables

Captain Blackthorne: A distinguished officer of the Imperial Navy’s skeleton presence in the lawless fringes of the Morana Gulf, serving from the cruiser Ironeyes. Blackthorne was mentored by Mistress Sebela as part of an exchange program in his youth and remains a staunch ally of the dynasty. A hard, belligerent man, Blackthorne has been known to use his authority as an officer of the Navy to persecute the dynasty’s enemies on their behalf. 

Frer Nitrous: The leader of the dynasty’s vassal death cult, the Church of the Final Detonation. Nitrous leads a band of steely-eyed zealots descended from an Imperial Guard demolitions team abandoned on a frontier planet centuries ago and now suffering from several generations worth of mission creep. The cult were rescued from the fringes by Quisker’s father, and they now believe the dynasty will deliver them to their prophesied target, so they might bring about the Final Detonation and win their place at the Emperor’s right hand.

The Hollow Spear Kindred: Though the dynasty prefers to use the Navy to do their dirty work when possible, more hazardous or morally suspect assignments are left to the Kroot mercenaries of the Hollow Spear. Led by the ancient shaper Vraakis Krahw, the kindred has lately specialised in fighting and consuming Orks which threaten their employer’s investments. This diet has left the kindred green, mean and even more impulsive than is usual for their kind.

Current Endeavors

The Private War

With both sides unwilling to parlay or compromise, the grinding war between the dynasty and the redoubtable Knights Atomic shows no sign of ending. Though they rarely deviate from their divine purpose of slaying mankind’s foes, the astartes strike at Vipinicus assets and allies whenever easy opportunities present themselves. 

For their part, the dynasty has adapted its strategy, frequently hiding behind Imperial institutions such as the Navy and Ecclesiarchy, and arming their elite troops with special weapons such as meltas and plasma cannon. While attempting hostile action against the Space Marines themselves would be suicide, Vipinicus has seen some success in attacking lesser factions with whom the Knights Atomic have friendly dealings. Such was the case when the Vipinicus massacred the Navigators of House Tolovinius, who had employed the Knights Atomic as bodyguards.

Siege of Vipinica Ultima

Though its isolated location protected the colony world of Vipinica Ultima from the wrath of vengeful astartes, it also made it an easy target for the depredations of Orks spilling from the Devil’s Maw nebula. Although the planet remains a productive and profitable industrial colony, the dynasty is now required to pour increasing resources into defending the world’s infrastructure. Ork attacks are now almost constant, with fresh Kroozers and Roks arriving in-system on a weekly basis. Many fear that this single-minded assault may be a precursor to a massive WAAAGH!! 

Reconquest of Sovortana

Despite their underhanded betrayal of the world, Vipinicus were still able to profit in the aftermath of the Sovortana treachery and assumed a majority stake in many of the world’s industries and trade routes. Unfortunately this happy status quo was recently ended when the decimated defense forces of Sovortana fell to an invasion by another non-Imperial human faction from the technologically advanced Nanech system. To make matters worse, the dynasty’s sworn rivals the von Kroyers are mustering a crusade to retake the world for the Imperium in their own name. Vipinicus are currently scrambling to assemble their own invasion force with which to retake their investment from the Nanechi Kingdom, but ultimately they care more about saving face than taking the planet, and they would burn Sovortana a second time before letting their rivals claim it. 

Game Hooks

Rogue Trader

Introduction: Though they are undoubtedly one of the most powerful factions in the gulf, the Vipinicus dynasty have currently spread themselves across too many fronts and are badly in need of allies. Quisker has contacted the explorers through an intermediary, offering them a silent partnership. By secretly assisting Vipinicus with their endeavors they will be spared the wrath of the Knights Atomic, and the dynasty will pay generously for every mission the explorers successfully complete.

The explorers must be prepared to be interdicted by the Knights Atomic strike cruiser Teleotys, carrying the 5th Company led by the terrifying Captain Cyvarax, who favors a “launch nukes first, ask questions later” approach

The conflict with the Knights Atomic has made Vipinicus hesitant to deploy their own fleet. Although the Astartes tend to restrain themselves from attacking non-combatant vessels, they consider any Vipinicus warship a valid target. The explorers are contracted to escort a convoy of war materiel to Vipinica Ultima, an endeavour which would be hazardous with the Orks alone. The explorers must be prepared to be interdicted by the Knights Atomic strike cruiser Teleotys, carrying the 5th Company led by the terrifying Captain Cyvarax, who favors a “launch nukes first, ask questions later” approach to negotiations.

In the aftermath of the Sovortana Treachery, the Knights Atomic abducted Quisker Vipinicus’ sister Kornelia and have been holding her hostage ever since in a secret location. The Vipinicus dynasty have at last obtained a lead on her whereabouts: a notorious pirate claims to have seen a woman matching her description while lying low in the fortified asteroid temple of an eccentric faction of warrior-priests. Quisker has hired the explorers merely to meet with this pirate and learn the location of the fortress, but were they to take matters into their own hands and rescue Kornelia themselves, they would have the undying gratitude of the Vipinicus (or a powerful bargaining chip to use against them). Beware, the Knights Atomic are unlikely to take kindly to outsiders interfering in their private war.

The loss of Sovortana to the frontier forge-kingdom of Nanech has become the fulcrum of the von Kroyers’ public admonishment of Vipinicus. They have curried enough political favour to organize a military expedition to retake the world, but they have distracted themselves with using their army to further their own ambitions. Vipinicus is desperate to beat their rivals to Sovortana – whether that means sending an advance expedition to the planet or actively sabotaging the von Kroyer effort.

Dark Heresy

Introduction: Due to their exceptional legal status outside the Imperium’s borders, Rogue Traders are always of supreme interest to the Inquisition. Vipinicus, with their strong alliances to both the Navy and the Ecclesiarchy, are a particularly frustrating challenge for the Inquisition, almost to the point of being untouchable. For this reason, the Holy Ordos have empowered an elite cell with exceptional privileges and a mission to operate independently in the Gulf to investigate the dynasty and further the Inquisition’s interests in the Great Game being played across the lawless frontier.

The Ordos suspect that a Vipinicus death squad looted a cache of extremely rare, classified star charts following the assassination of  the Novator Tolovinius. The acolytes must track the death squad back to the Vipinicus fleet, and contend with a rival cell of operatives from a shadowy Navis Nobilite cabal calling themselves the Nocturnal. If the charts can not be safely delivered to the Inquisition, they should be covertly destroyed. 

Posing as an unknown ensign from a distant sector and his or her attendants, the acolytes must gain the trust of the Vipinicus command and identify any key personnel who might be persuaded or coerced into becoming agents of the Inquisition.

The Inquisition desperately need a covert operative aboard the Vipinicus flagship Silverheart, but have thus far been thwarted by the ruthless cunning of Mistress Indri and Galahad Vipinicus. A new window of opportunity will shortly open when Vipinicus take on a fresh batch of junior officers from the Naval academy. Posing as an unknown ensign from a distant sector and his or her attendants, the acolytes must gain the trust of the Vipinicus command and identify any key personnel who might be persuaded or coerced into becoming agents of the Inquisition. 

Together with powerful factions in the region, the acolytes’ Inquisitor has decided to make forceful preparations against a vast alien threat from beyond the galaxy. If the Astartes and the Rogue Traders are killing each other, it means fewer men and weapons to leverage against the Tyranids. The acolytes must find a way to end the Private War, and the feud between the dynasties if possible – be it by truce, reconciliation, or capitulation.

Only War

Introduction: A Rogue Trader can always find use for professional soldiers, be it their own house troops or Imperial Guardsmen called in with a favour. While the officers of the Imperial Navy find serving with the Vipinicus a privilege, to footsoldiers it is the worst punishment detail imaginable. The dynasty’s ground holdings are currently under occupation by Orks and technologically advanced human factions, and the Knights Atomic are quick to attack anyone who declares for Vipinicus. 

An outlying mining settlement on Vipinica Ultima has proved a strategic liability and the dynasty has decided it should be abandoned. As a massive wave of Orks descends from orbit, the guardsmen must oversee the evacuation of civilian personnel and valuable materiel, destroy any equipment which can not be salvaged and collapse the mines. Once these objectives are complete, they finally have permission to retreat to safe ground as the greenskins rampage across the countryside.  

Sovortana has evolved into a true quagmire, with battles raging planet-wide between no less than five factions, all with constantly shifting allegiances.

In a mad scramble by the Vipinicus to beat the von Kroyers to the reconquest of Sovortana, the dynasty has managed to covertly drop a few platoons of troops onto the surface of the occupied planet. The guardsmen must scout strategic sites across the world while ideally evading detection. The Nanechi invaders are an independent forge-kingdom with a technological base comparable to that of the Adeptus Mechanicus, while the native Sovortanans are mounting a tenacious resistance against the invaders. Guardsmen intending to ally themselves with the native partisans should beware, if it becomes obvious they serve the Vipinicus the Sovortanans will attack them on sight. 

The Reconquest of Sovortana has evolved into a true quagmire, with battles raging planet-wide between a half-dozen factions, all with constantly shifting allegiances. The guardsmen are stationed at a provincial fortress in a district currently occupied by Vipinicus coalition forces when advance warning comes of an enemy assault inbound. The guardsmen have a few hours to prepare a defense before a lethal complication becomes apparent: The Sovortanan partisan forces are backed up by a space marine of the Knights Atomic. If the guardsmen flee at the sight of the Angel of Death they will have to fight their way through the rest of the Vipinicus forces. The marine will show no mercy should the guardsmen try to surrender. Perhaps the only honourable course is to go down fighting? Who knows, perhaps the guardsmen will succeed in bringing down a space marine? (Note: They won’t, but it’ll be fun to watch them try)

Notes for GMs

Players allying themselves with the Vipinicus will find the relationship to be rather transactional. Confident in their superior position, the Vipinicus will only provide resources or favours if they have something of equal or greater value to gain themselves. Their enemies, however, will find themselves attacked on all fronts, with the dynasty deploying political, military and covert tactics to neutralise their rivals. That said, unless the players make a particular effort to wound Quisker’s pride or show themselves to be a clear and present threat to the dynasty, the Vipinicus may simply forget about the players as they scramble to contain the crises developing across their multiple fronts. 

In void-based battles the Vipinicus model themselves after their allies in the Imperial Navy, fielding heavy cruisers armed with devastating broadsides and protecting them with small groups of escorts. A potent combination, but their rigid formations may be vulnerable to unorthodox tactics. 

In the political theater, Vipinicus will often call on their allies in the Navy to engage in surprise “inspections” of rival Rogue Trader ships. They may also pull strings with their allies in the ecclesiarchy to arrange for the player characters to be excommunicated or made the subject of witch hunts (a particularly favoured tactic of theirs when dealing with unwanted attention from the Inquisition)

“A word of advice my Lord Captain: Don’t start anything your descendents can’t finish” 

Famula Superior Aruna, Order of the Sacred Coin

Rogue Traders excel above all at excess. Their opulent holdings and grandiose acts inevitably dwarf those of the Imperium’s lesser nobility. To the little people they are as gods of the material realm; every word is a commandment, every deed is legend. Never is this more evident than when two Rogue Trader dynasties go to war.  

The origins of the feud are long forgotten, but the great houses of von Kroyer and Vipinicus have been embroiled in a slow war for generations. The game the two dynasties play has sprawled across civilised space and into the frontier regions of the Morana Gulf. Assassinations, smear campaigns and interplanetary wars have all been but minor moves. The worst excesses of the conflict have seen entire planetary civilisations derailed, unwise alliances struck and invincible enemies made. 

Now the conflict stands at a crossroads. Both sides have fought to a stalemate. An opportunity presents itself for outsider factions who may wish to profit from this ancient feud. A well placed finger on the fulcrum of power could decide how the next stage of the conflict will play out. 

House von Kroyer

“Omnis Mundi Est Scaena – All Worlds Are a Stage” 

Motto of House von Kroyer

The extended war with Vipinicus and a string of unrelated misfortunes have seen the power of the von Kroyer dynasty at a low ebb. This once-mighty house has been reduced to a single small fleet of raider-class ships (albeit fronted by the ancient and formidable Havoc the Star Wyvern), a few commercial transports and a cluster of business ventures in the safety of Imperial space. A recent and particularly humiliating blow to the dynasty was the assasination of its patriarch, the Lord Captain Magnus von Kroyer, on his own bridge by agents of House Vipinicus. Kennoch, a distant cousin of Magnus and seemingly the last heir to the von Kroyer warrant was quickly fetched from the pleasure world Eno to take up the mantle of command. 

Though eccentric, Kennoch has since been able to assemble a senior command crew of singular talent and ambition and begun a small number of profitable ventures to restore his house to its former glory. Perhaps fearing that such small steps will not be enough to keep Vipinicus from finally crushing his dynasty, Kennoch has also taken the controversial decision to form an alliance with the enigmatic Zero-One, Arch-Magos of Serenhold. This frontier tech-wizard is undeniably powerful and has absolute control over a nascent forge world, but Kennoch’s other allies fear that entering a pact with such a grey eminence represents a devil’s deal. The most cynical among them believe the dynasty has essentially consigned itself to become a vassal of the Adeptus Mechanicus for all eternity.  

Dramatis Personae

Star Wyvern bridge crew c998M41

Kennoch von Kroyer

“This very pleasing alliance will bring us many treasures and grand adventures. Now, let the dances be commenced!” 

A bargain is struck

Flamboyant, erratic and perhaps secretly a machiavellian strategist of rare genius, Lord Captain Kennoch von Kroyer is exactly what many expect of a rogue trader. Kennoch has never been seen in public without a mask, and travels everywhere with two identically masked and costumed companions. His bodyguard comprises a troupe of dancers and acrobats, as highly trained in the arts of performance as in the more subtle arts of killing. 

Everything the rogue trader does has an air of drama and pageantry about it, from his cryptic style of speech to his habit of subjecting business partners to impromptu dance recitals. Those who write him off as a decadent eccentric should be warned, Kennoch has a keen eye for talent and is as generous in courting the loyalty of his allies as he is scrupulous in vetting them for signs of treachery. 

Alise Barrow

“If you unjustly injure any one of my men, I will reduce every city on this planet to rubble.” 

Triumphant address to the people of Vanshaya

Born into service to the dynasty aboard their flagship the Star Wyvern, Barrow advanced up the ranks from deck gang enforcer to sergeant of the ship’s watch, before rising to become Lord Kennoch’s trusted second. She regards the crew of the Wyvern her family and stops at nothing to punish those who threaten them. Barrow leads the armsmen and troops of the dynasty with equal parts inspired loyalty and ruthless terror, and is known to take great glee out of inventing cruel punishments for traitors and saboteurs.

Given authority to execute the strategies of the dynasty, Barrow has championed the restoration of the von Kroyer House Cohorts and orchestrated several planetary invasions to secure the house’s means of exacting vengeance on the Vipinicus. While Alise trusts her underlings to get most jobs done, she is not one to lead from the back. She is a champion street fighter and fencer, often first through the breach on boarding actions, and legends abound that she once bested the space marine Mihu Metal-Teeth in single combat.

Piers Vypus

“I am an honourable man. If it falls to me to atone for the crimes of my so-called cousins then I will do everything in my power to set things right” 

Count Vypus cuts ties with the Vipinicus dynasty

A recent addition to the von Kroyer inner circle, Count Piers Liupold Xenon Vypus is the head of his minor noble family who has pledged the services of his own house to the dynasty in exchange for protection. Although publicly the alliance was a mutual business transaction, in truth house Vypus is a cadet branch of the Vipinicus family. Weary of Vipinicus’ treachery and fearing the dynasty may be standing at a precipice, Count Vypus has quietly defected to the von Kroyers. 

In exchange for fealty and information about key strategic weaknesses in Vipinicus’ empire, Lord Kennoch has granted Piers the command of the raider Black Star and a considerable stake in the dynasty. The urbane and good-natured Count Vypus appears to have placed absolute trust in Kennoch and his house, and has fought and negotiated alongside them in a number of key endeavors. 

Other notables

Mobius Oblidus: Lord Kennoch’s taciturn Astropath Transcendent is a telepath and telekine of frightening power. Unbeknownst to the dynasty, he is also an undercover mole reporting regularly to the Inquisition. Oblidus is a zealous devotee of the Imperium and follows a peculiar heterodox creed combining worship of the Emperor with that of the Omnissiah. Despite his ulterior allegiance, in public he has never shown anything but complete loyalty to the von Kroyer dynasty. 

Myrrine Ruhk: A scion of a disgraced navigator house. Navigatrix Ruhk’s previous career steering for an infamous fleet of corporatist pirates saw her serving time on a maximum security penal asteroid before the dynasty had her released into their service. Though a Navigator of singular talent, Ruhk is capricious, avaricious and almost pathologically reckless. Though she is currently loyal to the dynasty (and to Barrow, of whom she is particularly fond), the promise of greater excitement and profit could lure her into the employment of another house. 

Valtyr: The grave and serious Explorator, cognomen “Valtyr-137” is the dynasty’s most senior enginseer, and their primary contact with the mechanicus. A specialist in ancient voidcraft, Valtyr sees his placement on the venerable Star Wyvern as a sacred duty and rarely leaves the ship. As an independent Explorator with allies elsewhere in the Mechanicum, Valtyr has no great love for Zero-One, and deeply regrets the alliance Lord Kennoch has struck with the egomaniacal magos. 

Current Endeavors

The Ranamanda Syndicate

After delivering several senior executives of an up and coming industrial cartel to inspect an ork-infested mine, the von Kroyers were able to leverage the threat of an imminent greenskin attack to negotiate a partnership in the Ranamanda Syndicate. Although the presence of a Rogue Trader among the syndicate’s membership brings some extremely useful perks, some senior partners are not happy with the prospect of their cartel being hijacked and have begun to plot against the dynasty in secret.

Simia Saltatores

Named for its “dancing” binary stars, the Saltatores system was discovered and claimed by the von Kroyer dynasty while exploring somewhat aimlessly in the Redstorm Reach. Surprisingly for a binary system, Saltatores hosts life-supporting worlds: Saltatores V, an ice world home to some primitive jelly-like organisms, and Saltatores IV aka Simia, named for the large variety of massive ape-like beasts which fill the role of apex predators on five of its seven continents. The dynasty is now working to establish a colony, hoping to profit from giant ape safaris and from the abundance of uranic elements beneath the planet’s crust. 

Reconquest of Sovortana

Sovortana was a rarity: a civilised non-Imperial frontier world which was extremely friendly to the Imperium, even actively pursuing political integration in order to protect itself from hostile neighbors. Alas, integration did not come soon enough to save Sovortana from invasion by another interstellar human kingdom, one which is far from keen on a close relationship with the Imperium. In order to drum up public support and attract a zealous rabble to their cause, the von Kroyers have blamed the fall of Sovortana on historical interference and treachery by house Vipinicus and launched a media blitz to gather resources for a grand reconquest. Since their accusations are not entirely baseless they have won some modest support for their people’s crusade, including the endorsement of several subsector governments and even the blessing of Cardinal Skommosa of Diadoch Primus.  

Game Hooks

Rogue Trader

Lord Kennoch has approached the explorers’ own dynasty with a proposition of alliance, acting as a silent partner to elude the wrath of Vipinicus. If the explorers assist the von Kroyers with their endeavors they will receive a hefty share of the profits and a possible senior partnership in the Ranamanda syndicate. 

The von Kroyers have identified several colony worlds in the gulf in which Vipinicus have a significant stake. Under the guise of a benign trade or supply mission, the explorers could covertly sabotage these colonies to ensure Vipinicus never collect on their investment. Depending on their preferences and strengths, this could take the form of physical damage to infrastructure, fostering rebellion among the colonists, cunningly diverting colonists to their own projects, or even bringing the worlds to the attention of other factions who might make it difficult for Vipinicus to turn a profit. The von Kroyers will pay handsomely for every colony sabotaged. 

They have asked the explorers’ dynasty to offer up one of their own (perhaps even one of the explorers) as the prospective bride or groom.

The von Kroyers have promised another noble ally of theirs a politically advantageous marriage in exchange for hefty investment in their endeavors. They have asked the explorers’ dynasty to offer up one of their own (perhaps even one of the explorers) as the prospective bride or groom. Once the engagement is made, a suitably lavish wedding will need to be organised, wealthy and powerful guests persuaded to attend, and the ceremony will need to be protected from the interference of house Vipinicus. Even if the ceremony goes off without a hitch, the newlywed may have some outrageous demands of their own. 

Confident that their new ally is reliable and trustworthy, the von Kroyers have issued the explorers’ dynasty with an official letter of marque. This document is endorsed by their allies in nearby sector governments, and authorises the explorers to freely raid and plunder Vipinicus shipping convoys travelling outside Imperial borders. The convoys are usually extremely well defended, but they might be tricked, outmaneuvered or otherwise induced to lower their defenses. Any loot, ships and hostages seized will belong to the explorers. 

Dark Heresy

Working through the same network of shady back-channels and Inquisitorial task-groups to which the astropath Mobius reports, a frontier Inquisitor has recruited your cell to operate from deep cover within the von Kroyer dynasty. As long as the goals of the dynasty align with those of your handlers you have been ordered to covertly assist them, but occasionally your missions may involve sabotage, assassination and the leaking of dynasty secrets…

The acolytes’ handlers are convinced she has intelligence which could lead to the capture of several heretics wanted for crimes against the Imperium.

The dynasty’s Navigatrix Primus was previously a chronic recidivist with an extensive network of underworld contacts across the sector. The acolytes’ handlers are convinced she has intelligence which could lead to the capture of several heretics wanted for crimes against the Imperium. Sneaking into the navigator spire and rifling through her belongings is an option, but like most of her kind, Navigatrix Ruhk is fairly paranoid and formidably powerful. Her fondness for illicit substances and high-stakes gambling is another possible approach, or she may respond to being approached directly. If asked openly for the information there is almost no chance she will part with it for free, and will likely ask the acolytes to perform some fairly strange and dangerous errands herself.  

An acolyte of a rival, ideologically opposed Inquisitor has evaded capture by your handlers’ own faction and has gone to ground on Serenhold, the Adeptus Mechanicus holy world ruled by the dynasty’s ally Zero-One. Under normal circumstances outsiders are not permitted to tread on Serenhold’s soil, but an exception has been made for Lord Kennoch’s servants. The acolytes are to use any means necessary to get themselves assigned to the next away mission to Serenhold and use the short time available to them to track down and capture (or at least kill) the rogue acolyte. The acolytes’ handlers would prefer they also complete their assigned away-mission task so as to maintain their good standing with the dynasty. 

The von Kroyers have made overtures to certain parties indicating they are interested in hiring a specialist in assassination and undercover work to be retained indefinitely. The acolytes are to put forward one of their own as a candidate to be recruited, but they should expect a gruelling trial against the best operatives in the region. Under the dynasty’s trademark twisted blend of theatrics and brutal efficiency, the acolytes must put their candidate through an undercover battle royale against a dozen deadly rivals aboard the Star Wyvern. Success will mean the end of the acolytes’ previous mission with the dynasty, and the start of a career as double agents.

Only War

The Guardsmen are either soldiers of the private von Kroyer Cohorts, mercenaries or a Guard regiment sworn to the service of the dynasty through a pact with the Munitorum. They have been placed under the direct command of Arch-Militant Barrow and her subordinate, Colonel Albus Hion to see that the dynasty’s military objectives are met. 

Lord Kennoch has insisted on personally inspecting a number of industrial sites, natural wonders and other points of interest on a planet known to be crawling with dangerous partisans openly funded by House Vipinicus. As a security measure a number of dummy tours with fake Kennochs have also been organised. The guardsmen have been assigned as a security detail for one of these jaunts but have not been informed whether their charge is the real Lord Captain. One or more guerilla ambushes and assasination attempts are all but assured, and should any harm come to the VIP (even if it’s a decoy) Barrow has promised to personally neuter the entire security detail to prevent them inflicting their ineptitude on future generations. There is also a very real risk that the Lord Kennoch the guardsmen are escorting will get bored on the road and insist they take part in some kind of eccentric game or daredevil test of skill for his amusement. 

In an attempt to drum up interest in their fledgling colony in the Saltatores system, the dynasty have concocted a scheme to capture one or more giant apes from the planet surface to display to wealthy patrons in civilised space. Big game hunters have had some success killing the animals for sport but some serious manpower will be needed to capture them alive. The guardsmen are given nonlethal weaponry and the unenviable task of tracking, subduing and restraining a six meter tall alien ape. The mission is complicated by the other hostile fauna on the planet, and a faction of renegade colonists who have begun worshipping the savage beasts. 

With no friendly ships currently in orbit able to provide support, it falls to the guardsmen to quickly fortify the pleasure-palace and repel the military attempt on their employer’s life.

Plans have gone awry and the von Kroyers have provoked Vipinicus into a truly reckless attack. Lord Kennoch is vacationing at his palatial estate on the pleasure world Eno when word reaches him that a large land force of Vipinicus troops and vehicles are rapidly inbound. With no friendly ships currently in orbit able to provide support, it falls to the guardsmen to quickly fortify the pleasure-palace and repel the military attempt on their employer’s life. The Lord Captain would also appreciate it if this could be accomplished without damaging too many priceless artworks, heirlooms and sentimental souvenirs, or disturbing the intimate party he’s throwing for his two hundred closest friends.   

Notes for GMs

How the von Kroyer dynasty and its various allies and agents should be portrayed in your games depends entirely on whether the players are the dynasty’s allies or enemies. When dealing with allies the von Kroyers will be generous, often lavishing them with gifts and assisting with any endeavors or missions the players might have. If the players take this generosity for granted however, it may be swiftly withdrawn (usually at the worst possible time). Enemies of the dynasty will be treated to a dizzying array of shock and awe tactics, including a hefty dose of trickery, false flag attacks and theatrical misdirection. In the political sphere, the von Kroyers will use intelligence-gathering, blackmail and extortion to attack the players’ allies and undermine their position. 

In void-based battles the von Kroyers field a small fleet of raiders led by the Star Wyvern, a Havoc class raider. Though fragile, the Wyvern has powerful weapons and is extensively outfitted for stealth and silent running. Enemies engaging the dynasty in space will find it very difficult to pin down their fleet as it constantly darts in and out of range, attempting flanking maneuvers, daredevil turns and making full use of debris fields and nearby planetoids to spring ambushes. If the fleet is horribly outgunned or outmaneuvered there is a strong chance that Navigatrix Ruhk will attempt an insanely risky warp translation, possibly pulling the dynasty’s enemies into the immaterium unprepared. 


Only War

The Von Kroyer Cohorts

“If you desert down there, you better pray I don’t find you – because I will drag you back into orbit and then kick you out the airlock myself. You ligann blivits will not betray me for a planet.” 

Alise Barrow addressing soldiers preparing for shore leave

Life for soldiers in the private employ of the von Kroyer dynasty can be very comfortable compared to that of the rank and file in the Imperial Guard. Their equipment and rations are often better, their uniforms more flashy and their personal freedoms while off-duty are unparalleled. The glaring downside of the arrangement is that the chain of command is short, and at the top is a whimsical aristocrat who is equal parts gangster, pirate and theatrical director. 

The von Kroyer cohorts comprise a small private army of variable quality. Some of its members are transfers from the Imperial guard, or the veterans of mercenary companies bought outright by the dynasty, and comport themselves with dignity and professionalism. Others are criminals and no-hopers who had the misfortune of being blackout drunk when the dynasty’s recruiters kicked down the door of the spaceport’s saloon.  The latter group soon learn that failure is often met with a swift kick out of the nearest airlock. 

The Von Kroyer 2nd Light Recon

Characteristic Modifiers: +3 Ballistic Skill, +3 Fellowship, +3 Perception, -3 Willpower

Starting Skills: Awareness, Commerce, Scrutiny

Starting Talents: Combat sense, Die Hard, Pick one; Street Fighting, Sure Strike or Takedown. 

Private Enterprise: Mercenary regiments are able to concentrate their resources for maximum impact. Characters from mercenary regiments start with an additional 10 logistics rating. Unfortunately the profit motive of the mercenaries makes them less likely to risk life and limb in battle. Any command tests to convince characters from a mercenary regiment to risk life and limb take a-10 penalty.

Commander: Col. Albus Hion (Sanguine)

Regimental Doctrine: Reconnaissance Regiment

Equipment Doctrine: Demolitions – The regiment gains a +10 bonus on all Logistics Tests made to obtain grenades, missiles, explosives, and special tank ammunition.

Wounds: Standard

Standard Regimental Kit: One M36 lasgun and four charge packs per Player Character (Main Weapon), two frag grenades and one krak grenade per Player Character, 1 suit of light carapace armour, 1 set of best quality field gear (Fancy uniform, high-tog cold weather gear, bandolier, rucksack, set of well-machined basic tools, mess kit, water canteen and hip flask, comfortable blankets and sleep bag, rechargeable lamp pack, fine grooming kit, set of ident tags, 1 copy of Ye Dynastia von Kroyer, 2 weeks tasty rations), one opulent parade uniform per player character, one flask of Chateux von Kroyer amasec per player character, One Sentinel Scout Walker per Squad, and one set of magnoculars per Player Character.

Favoured weapons: Bolter, Multilaser

The 2nd cohort pull double-duty for the dynasty. Their primary mission is rapid recon and sabotage on frontier worlds and facilities controlled by the dynasty’s rivals. Whenever not engaged in the theater of war they are expected to look dashing in parades arranged in the dynasty’s honour, and to act as escorts for the Lord Captain’s motorcade. 

New Regimental Origin: Mercenary

Cost: 3

Characteristic Modifiers: +3 to any two of the following characteristics – Ballistic Skill, Toughness, Fellowship

Skills: All mercenary characters start with Commerce and Scrutiny

Private Enterprise: Mercenary regiments are able to concentrate their resources for maximum impact. Characters from mercenary regiments start with an additional 10 logistics rating. Unfortunately the profit motive of the mercenaries makes them less likely to risk life and limb in battle. Any command tests to convince characters from a mercenary regiment to risk life and limb take a -10 penalty.

A Motley Crew: Mercenaries often hail from a variety of backgrounds, united only by a common aptitude for violence. Characters from mercenary regiments may choose one of the following talents – Street Fighting, Sure Strike or Takedown

Starting Wounds: Mercenary characters generate starting wounds normally.