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LANCER: BATTLEGROUP - To Kill the Worthy King


Breaching charges blast through a security door leading into the maintenance cavity beneath the Hannibal's drives. "Come out, dirtbags!" shouts the Rittermeer security chief, leading his platoon of armoured troopers in.

They stop dead in their tracks. The mercs brought a mech. A small one, just taller than powered armour. Boasting powerful stasis tech and the finest engineering in all of pan-Union space.

The Harrison Armory Napoleon.

It sweeps a powerful displacer gun toward the security platoon, fires a devastating blast that incinerates the front rank. Then it raises shields, walling off the drive section from any retaliation.

The Mirrorsmoke marines still control the engine room.


Napoleon Art by Tom Parkinson-Morgan

Battlegroup Hannibal:
1) Maneuver: Heavy Kinetic Battery Fire, at Richard Wagner and We Demand Hazard Pay. Roll 11, which misses Richard Wagner, and 7, which misses We Demand Hazard Pay.
2) Albedo Cavalier uses Maneuver: 0 Beam to deal 1 damage to Richard Wagner and adds another heat token to 1 Beam (now 2 tokens).

Attempt to repel Fool's Gold marines: Roll 2, which fails. Those marines can attempt more sabotage during Boarding Step.

On the PCV-DN Hannibal's bridge, Captain Karina Ashanti watches grimly as the ship's batteries fail to land any hits on the Wagner or the mercenary carrier.

Aelita appears on the holographic display beside her. "Sir, we have a situation. Security has finally recaptured drive control."

"So...did we capture any boarders alive?"

"There was no sign of the boarders. We believe they're now moving through maintenance crawlspaces in the lower decks."

"Didn't we have combat subalterns guarding the crawlspaces?"

"They've been destroyed. But there's more. I picked up an Omninet intrusion attempt from inside the ship. An NHP-generated anti-cognitive viral memetic. It's gotten quite far, and we believe several legion nodes in Battlegroup Hannibal are potentially compromised."

"What, how bad is it?"

"I've isolated the infected Legionspace - it affects command and control of the Roy and the Albedo Cavalier. They're unable to act offensively and can't benefit from fleet legion networking in any way."

"Well, dispatch more security! Find the bastards! And how long before you can get our destroyer and mech ace back?"

"We can do it the slow way, which could take up to sixty minutes. Or we can cycle all the Legionspace partitions at once...which would be quick, but potentially painful. I would lose valuable data. Critical systems damage is a major risk."

Aelita displays helpful informatics for Captain Ashanti, all in red and green.

Ashanti purses her lips. "Survivability of the ship is our priority. We can't cycle. We can afford to take hits on our siege plating, but we can't risk the internal damage. Strike Captain Bannon said we have to play for time. The carriers will be here at any moment."

"Understood, Captain."

Boarding Step:

Mirrorsmoke Marines on the Hannibal attempt Deploy Ontological Payload to either disable all installed Legionspace upgrades, or disable all Wings and Escorts in this battlegroup. Roll: 11.

Roughneck Marines on the Nikolai Bukharin attempt Disable Primary Drives, roll 5, failed.
Roughneck Marines on the Shamokin Rising attempt Deploy Ontological Payload, roll 1, failed.

The Union security teams fight off the sabotage attempts. Running gunfights in the carrier hangars! Fun times.

Next: The Metaphor of the Sword
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The Sword, Part 1

Watching the chaos unfold around him, Captain Caspian Var stands still and erect, as if turned to stone, watching coldly as his crew frantically updates their targeting plots, as the ships of the Union and Purview fleets swirl around in their deadly dance.

"Sir, the Bukharin has lit up the Titania for us." CGO Bryant says, turning to him, "Just give the order, sir."

He barely nods, scowling at the approaching form of the Titania. "Direct all power to weapons. Begin retrograde burn," Bryant turns to her screen and hits the glowing red "ARE YOU SURE?" button on her her screen.

Immediately, the Wagner shudders violently with an audible groan. Lights blow out throughout the center of the ship, going off like popcorn as the violent energy surge slams through her systems. Within sealed off compartments, sparks fly as massive electric arcs burn through vital systems. On the bridge, the standard lighting goes out, replaced by a dull violet glow of clashing blue battle lights and red warning signs. The crew are flung against their straps as the staggering surge of power momentarily disables the ships' inertial dampners, slamming multiple Gs against her crew for a split second as she powers through her emergency deceleration maneuver.

"Starboard SPK now at 200%. Port SPK is at 150%. Standing by for termination," Bryant reports as the Wagner's massive bulk turns to face the onrushing Titania.

End of last round's actions, Battlegroup Splinter:

Maneuver: Retrograde Burn!
Move back to range: 3
Tactic: Maximum Power!
Starboard SPK is fully charged with 4 overcharge tokens

Richard Wagner takes 4 points of damage

For larger engagements, the GM is advised to bring in each reinforcement NPC battlegroup at the start of the round after an enemy flagship has been eliminated. At the start of the 3rd Round, before Logistics Phase, the Arminius arrives, dropping out of nearlight drive not far from the other Armory flagships.

In a blaze of light, the battlecarrier PCV-GC Arminius arrives from nearlight. Flak guns turn in their casemates, taking aim at the SWIFT AMITY ships. The three-tiered fighter decks spit out Mahler interceptors and Holst bombers by the dozen.

And spewing out from the ventral bays, a rippling drone swarm. Diluvia.

An ALLCOMMS broadcast: "This is Strike Captain Gopalakrishnan of the 2nd Expeditionary Fleet. Your forces are scattered and wounded, and I have more ships of the line coming in behind me. Speaking as the highest-ranked Purview Command officer present, I urge the Union and mercenary forces present to power down their arms. Those who stand down will not be harmed. I am offering your lives...or the sword!"

As the Wagner's energy signature blooms to match that of a small star, Captain Caspian Var turns to the comms and glares. "This is Captain Caspian Var of the of the Union 2nd Crisis Response Group. There will be no standing down today, Strike Captain. Not from us..." his face twists into a snarl, "...nor from you. You had your chance, and you and your commanders chose death." He turns to Bryant;

"Prepare to fire!"

Next: The Wagner's magnum opus
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The Sword, Part 2

Round 3.

State of the fleets:

2nd Crisis Response Group (Union Navy)

Battlegroup Eland (Range 4)
Interdiction 1d6+2
UNS-BB Nikolai Bukharin (25 HP), 2 volley tokens on 3x3 Block Short-Spool Cannons, boarding attempts by Tenacity 10 Marines.
UNS-CV Shamokin Rising (16 HP), boarding attempts by Tenacity 10 Marines.

  • 2x Fighter Wing (5 HP, 5 HP)
  • Destroyer Unicorn (6 HP)
  • Destroyer Undine (8 HP)
Battlegroup Splinter (Range 3),
Interdiction: 2d6+2
UNS-BB Richard Wagner (15 HP), 0 charge tokens and 4 overcharge tokens on Spinal Petajoule Kinetic, 1 charge tokens and 1 overcharge token on Spinal Petajoule Kinetic, Lock On. Bolstered.
UNS-LS Björn Járnsiđa (13 HP, 1 OS from Sandstorm). Bolstered.

The Wagner has taken quite a hammering, pretty much all self-inflicted.

Battlegroup Sour Brains (Range 3)
Interdiction: 1d6+2
MSMCS We Demand Hazard Pay (21 HP)

  • 3x Mounted Chassis Wing (1 HP, 3 HP, 3 HP)
  • MSMCS Facefirst (8 HP)
  • MSMCS Fool's Gold (6 HP)
2nd Expeditionary Fleet (Harrison Armory Colonial Legionate)

Battlegroup Hannibal (Gyre Center)
Interdiction: 1d6
PCV-DN Hannibal (Turtleback) (35 HP), Boarded by Tenacity 10 Marines. Deploy Ontological Payload: All Wings and Escorts are disabled until end of next turn.

  • 1x Brothers in Arms (8 HP), 2 charge token on Short-Spool Spinal Guns (1/2 strength)
  • Ace: Albedo Cavalier (8 HP), 2 heat tokens on 1 Beam.
Battlegroup Shaka Zulu (Gyre Center)
PCV-DN Shaka Zulu (Paladin) (-6 HP)

Battlegroup Titania (Gyre Center)
Interdiction: 2d6
PCV-DN Titania (UNKNOWN Man O'War) (35 HP), 2 charge token on Naphoros Omnigun, 2 charge tokens on Demisolar Lance, 1 reloading token on Pulse-Pack Missiles, Lock On.
- 4x Daggerflight (6 HP, 6 HP, 6 HP, 2 HP)

Battlegroup Arminius (Gyre Center)
Interdiction: 1d6+4
PCV-GC Arminius (Mastermind Breakwater) (25 HP)

  • 4x Fighter-Bomber Wing (5 HP, 5 HP, 5 HP, 5 HP)
  • Diluvia (18 HP)

An eerie darkness settles on the Wagner's bridge, both figuratively and literally as her crew silence her alarms, waiting tensely, taut faces highlighted by the dimmed glow of their screens. Her gunnery crew is particularly tense, knowing full well the fate of the battle will literally turn on their efforts in the next few hours. CGO Bryant carefully pushes the last few petajoules of power into the port SPK and runs her team through their final calculations.

The gloom is broken by the sudden flash of the Björn's Harbinger lasers as they reach out and touch the newly arrived Arminius: a harbinger, if you will, of the Wagner's impending wrath.

Battlegroup Splinter:
Remove charge token on the SPK, add one ovrecharge token. Take 1 damage
Harbinger lasers x2 : 4 points of damage on the Arminius

The Titania's missile racks unleash wave after wave of Pulse-Pack Missiles, seeding the area around Battlegroups Splinter and Sour Brains with nuclear mines. If the Union forces try to form a line at this range, they will suffer for it.

Battlegroup Hannibal: Brothers In Arms removes 1 charge token from Short-Spool Spinal Guns.

Battlegroup Titania: Titania removes 1 charge token from Demisolar Lance. Its targeting laser deals 2 damage to Richard Wagner. Titania adds an omnigun charge token to Naphoros Omnigun. Titania removes a Reloading token from Pulse-Pack Missiles, so it's ready to fire. The Titania blankets Range 3 with the Pulse-Pack Missiles (any hostile battlegroup ending their turn there takes 2d6 Area Damage).

The flash is blinding as the massively overcharged starboard SPK unloads its full fury at the charging Titania sending its hyperdense payload at it at barely below the speed of light. The shot slams headlong into the massive battleship, staggering it and tearing a colossal gash in its hull, several hundred meters longer and deeper than the gash that killed the Shaka Zulu.

But the Titania is apparently made of much sterner stuff. Despite the terrific impact, the ship continues to close, its energy signature glowing threateningly as it brings its own weapons to bear.

Then the second shot hits it dead center.

The titanic battleship flies apart as the second supercharged shot plows through it, gutting it like a fish from bow to stern. Ready use pulse-pack missiles cook off, turning sizable chunks of spaceship into tiny chunks of spaceship as the angry expanding cloud of fire and debris consumes its escorting corvettes even as they desperately flee the maelstrom.

SPK1 - Target: Titania Roll: 6 (4,2)
Reroll: 14
Bonus damage: (3, 2, 2, 1)
Total damage: 28

SPK2 - Target: Titania Roll: 6 (6)
Bonus damage: (2,2)
Total damage: 19

Impact step weapons fire simultaneously, so the Titania gets a parting shot with the Omnigun for 3 damage to Björn Járnsiđa. Destroying the Overshield on the Björn actually triggers the Sandstorm Vanguard's ability, dealing a further 3 damage to the Titania, which takes it into a level of destruction that leaves nothing to salvage.

The crew of the Wagner say nothing, watching the carnage with cold calculation. They have, within the span of the last 48 hours accounted for two entire Purview capital ships, but at hideous cost to their own ships' integrity. Everyone knows that. And watching the tactical screen and the barrage now barring the path between the Bukharin and the Wagner, they know that they are still alone. Many are silently cursing the mercy that held their hand against the Titania before. Now it is they who will have to pay the butcher's bill.

Caspian breaks the silence.

"Helm, engines, spool up," he points angrily at the image of the Arminius, "Point us at that spaceborne abomination. Gunnery, Security - prepare to launch everything we have left at that thing. Everyone else collision stations!"

Next: Animals

The Sword, Part 3

"We have fast movers heading towards the Arminius," reports Major Mahayhay. "The Titania's surviving corvettes."

It makes sense. With the Hannibal's legionspace nodes corrupted, it can't coordinate any escorts.

"Send our wings to intercept, finish those bastards," says Milch. He knows he's asking a lot from the mech pilots, who have already suffered so much. He puts the thought aside. The Corregidor-built carrier boasts rapid printers that can rebuild and rearm the corvette squadron in mid-battle. They need to be stopped.

The mechs begin their pursuit, diving to trade fire with the Daggerflight. The results are bloody and predictable. Only one corvette escapes.

"Point us at the Hannibal, jam her nav, and send more boarding parties," orders Milch. "How long before our mass accelerators are in range?"

"Fifty minutes, sir."

"Send message to the fleet: 'We're going to engage the Hannibal in CQB. We'll try not to die for fifty-one minutes.'"

Battlegroup Sour Brains:

1) Battlegroup Sour Brains:
1. Maneuver: Legionspace Siren. Sour Brains advances to Range 2. One enemy battlegroup must then choose; either they cannot take or benefit from actions or effects that would move player battlegroups any number of range bands until the end of their next turn or a Capital Ship of your choice in that range band takes 1d6 damage. Target is Battlegroup Hannibal. Captain Ashanti decides it isn't worth the damage.
2. Tactic: Raiding Party - order 2 Wings to perform Marauders (deal 1d3 damage to a hostile Escort or Wing and take that much damage in return). Bernadette Wing attacks the 2 HP Daggerflight corvette, rolls 3, destroys it and dies as well. Laurent Wing attacks a 1 HP Daggerflight corvette, rolls 1 and destroys it while taking 1 damage.

3. Facefirst uses Tactic: First On, Last Off to launch boarding parties at Hannibal.

The Facefirst marines have spent most of the battle in transit. Hours of waiting, riding their boarding pods, sealed in sour-smelling battlesuits, limited to intra-unit chatter with very little info about the rest of the fleet, who's alive and who's dead.

Launching, disembarking and trying to cut into their target ship. Desperate skirmishes with subalterns and security teams, being driven back. Scrambling to reembark on the pods, returning to the Facefirst worn and demoralized.

Short naps and a quick bite and drink. And now, getting ready for another launch. Drug injectors keep their much-abused bodies sharp and active - for now.

The Titania is gone. The Mirrorsmoke marines manage a few ragged cheers at the news, despite the frustration of not being able do contribute much, the pain of losing five landing teams on the Titania.

"We've got our marching orders, straight from the Colonel," announces a marine lieutenant. "We're going to the Hannibal. Keep it locked out of the fight."

"About time, sir!" shouts one of the corporals. "We can't let the animals from Fool's Gold have all the fun!"

They're ready to go it again. Once more into the breach.

Next: All Wings, Attack!

The Sword, Part 4

On the Nikolai Bukharin, more reports of the marine battle filter up to the bridge. "Captain, we have the invaders penned up at the main junction in Sector 40, but they still have sections they can retreat to...we'll try to get around them from outside the hull."

Aegis reports that, as feared, the long-range greywash swarm is beginning to reach the Bukharin. "There's risk of systems erosion on the port sectors, Captain."

The incoming strike craft are inside the Wagner's defensive perimeter already. Long-range bombers from the Arminius, and even one remaining corvette from the Titania. The leading missiles are meant to suppress the ship's point-defense systems and shields, opening it up to further damage. But the kilometer-long battleship has already taken so much internal stress, so many power failures, that there's almost nothing to suppress. And the Björn, still effecting damage control operations after the last Omnigun hit, is out of position and not yet able to screen for the Wagner. A hail of bomber-launched ordnance smashes into the Wagner, opening breaches and killing over a hundred crew.

"Losing power in Sectors 13 to 27, no, wait, 31," reports Chief Van Ghent. "Sir, we're losing her."

On ALLCOMMS, Gopalakrishnan speaks in a pitying tone: "You chose the sword, Captain. Die by the sword."

Battlegroup Arminius:

1) Mastermind Tactic: Strategic Insight. Arminius chooses the option: Until the end of your next turn, you or an ally may reroll one attack of your choice, but must keep the second result.
2) Tactic: All Wings, Attack! The Breakwater scrambles two of its Wings and gives them the Bombing Run command. They deal 1d3+1 each to a hostile Capital Ship or Escort. Target: Richard Wagner. D3 rolls are 3 and 2, for a total of 7 damage to the Wagner. Place 2 Reloading tokens on Bombing Run.
3) Tactic: All Wings, Attack! The Breakwater scrambles two of its Wings and gives them the Close Support command. One Wing gives the Hannibal +1 Accuracy to all Single Target attacks on the We Demand Hazard Pay until the end of their next turn. The other Wing gives the Hannibal +1 Accuracy to all Single Target attacks on the Richard Wagner until the end of their next turn.
4) Diluvia uses Tactic: Drone Control. It takes 3 damage and chooses the option: Engulf, apply 3 greywash counters to a hostile Capital Ship within range 4-0. It chooses Nikolai Bukharin.

5) Daggerflight (the last one) uses Maneuver: Battery Fire to deal 2 damage to Richard Wagner.

IIRC, The characters have positive and negative attributes. The can use positive ones to get a reroll. These recharge when a negative one is used. How does that work?

IIRC, The characters have positive and negative attributes. The can use positive ones to get a reroll. These recharge when a negative one is used. How does that work?
Actually, the positive attributes are used for +1 Accuracy (non-stacking +1d6 to a d20 check, additional Accuracy rerolls the d6), not a reroll of a d20. These are used outside of fleet combat, during free play (like in diplomacy and managing the fleet) or Uptime checks just before a battle.

Players may try to invoke those negative traits for rolls during narrative scenes, which will have their own stakes in the fiction (like whether the players can get the cooperation of an NPC), so they can recharge positive traits in preparation of important Uptime checks, since their lives and their ships can depend on getting advantages from the latter rolls.


I have a number of earlier space battle rule systems. I suppose I can always use another! The setting is intriguing as well. I am definitely enjoying your battle report / story hour!

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