Summary: Two brothers have been appointed as co-rulers of a town by their father before his death. Each one plots to kill the other and claim sole rulership of the town.
Discovery: The characters must make a subtlety check on arrival. If, as a result of the check, they appear to be powerful Imperium-aligned people (i.e. Imperium-aligned, subtlety check failed or Chaos-aligned, subtlety check passed and the characters are in disguise rather than ghosting entirely), Castor, one of the two brothers who co-rule the town since their father’s death, will contact them via a message handed off by a servant disguised as a beggar and ask for a private audience in a shady tavern that evening in order to discuss matters of heresy. The message does not mention who sent it.
If the characters decide to show up to the tavern, Castor is there in disguise. It is a Difficult(-10) Awareness check to notice he is disguised, and a Hard(-20) Common Lore (Imperium) check to know who he is after seeing through the disguise. It is possible the characters will already be familiar with Castor if they’ve made a point of meeting with the town’s co-rulers or have otherwise become familiar with their faces prior to the meeting. In this case, no Common Lore (Imperium) check is needed to recognize him, provided the characters see through the disguise.
More alarmingly, the characters may note that Castor has brought several private enforcers along to serve as bodyguards if they succeed on a Hard(-20) Awareness check. They are spaced out throughout the tavern, with the nearest being two meters away in the next table over from Castor, which makes them hard to spot, however a character specifically scanning for dangerous people needs only a Challenging(+0) Awareness check to notice that there are six heavily armed people (autoguns, hand cannons, a chainsword) here, even given it’s kind of a shady tavern. What’re the odds that six people with military grade weapons all end up in the same tavern at the same time as a shady meeting with an unknown contact?
Castor has a clever personality and a starting Disposition of 40. When the characters sit down to speak to him, he will claim to have information on heretical rituals being performed by one of the town’s co-rulers – his brother Pollux, naturally. A Difficult(-10) Insight check will reveal that Castor isn’t being entirely forthcoming about his brother, and a Hard(-20) Intimidate check will convince him to admit that he has no solid evidence that Pollux is up to something, however trying and failing the Intimidate check by exactly 1-2 degrees of failure will spook Castor into siccing the guards on the characters. The difficulty for intimidating Castor after his guards have been cleared out is only Challenging(+0), or Ordinary(+10) if the characters took out Castor’s guards right in front of him. Castor himself will not join the fight unless directly attacked.
If the characters decide to investigate Pollux, Castor will eagerly supply them with whatever help they ask of him, though he will not confess to being Castor unless confronted on the subject (he definitely won’t cop to it unless someone calls him out as Castor specifically – otherwise he’ll just say he’s a loyal subject of the Imperium whose identity is not important). This help can include access to the Lord Mayor’s mansion, PDF patrol schedules to make getting around without their notice easier, and information on Pollux’s daily routine, which is all fairly mundane. He eats breakfast prepared by his chef, he makes a few rounds checking in with the local PDF, Arbites, and Ecclesiarchy around town and his lord in Grey Harbour over vox, he breaks for lunch, he decides some cases concerning the peasantry, he has a banquet dinner and then retires to various decadent pleasures in his palatial personal quarters with however much booze and hookers he feels the need to indulge in that night.
If the characters blow off the meeting with Castor altogether, but are still identified as Imperium-aligned upon entry, Castor will assume they’re here as agents of his brother and send a PDF patrol to assassinate them wherever they’re staying for the night. The PDF aren’t going to be precise and discriminate when dealing with what they assume are fairly powerful enemies. Any characters awake and standing watch will see the PDF chimera pulling up with no check. Anyone awake but not standing watch gets an Ordinary(+10) Awareness check to hear its approach, which will give them about two full rounds to prepare before it arrives, although there is no indication that the PDF will be immediately hostile on arrival. Sleeping characters can make a Very Hard(-30) Awareness check to wake up, but get only one round to do anything before the chimera arrives (and bear in mind that they will have to stand up from prone as a half action). When the PDF arrive, they will fire blindly into the entire building with the chimera’s heavy bolter.
The PDF have no idea where exactly the characters are in the building, and instead just blanket the whole thing in bolter fire, which means it is a full auto attack targeted at a random character, with each additional hit after the first going to a random other character (provided that other character is no harder to hit). No one character will take more than one hit from a single attack roll regardless of the results, and all characters benefit from whatever cover bonus is provided by the material of the walls (probably AP4 wooden walls, but maybe something sturdier if they specifically sought out a rockrete or similar building with up to AP16 walls). Only after five continuous rounds of bolter fire into the building will the squad disembark from the chimera to attack the ruins, although if the characters get out of the building without being noticed, they will not suffer any more attacks, and instead the PDF will just blaze away at a building full of hapless NPCs.
Once the whole establishment has been chewed to whatever combination of splinters and gravel is appropriate, they will exit their vehicle in full force and comb through the ruins looking for survivors, and engage any living person they see in the remains of the building, including finishing off the wounded.
If the characters come in completely undetected, then the PDF carry out a similar hit on some of Pollux’s informants in the city that night instead. Roll a d100. On a 1, the characters have the dumb luck to be in the same building as the informants and are hit by the attack. On a 2-10, they are in the same block and may be caught in the crossfire if they go outside, but will be safe if they remain in whatever building they’re in. On an 11+, they are within a few blocks of the informants and will be able to approach from a safe angle if they so choose.
Exploration: Castor controls the PDF and the Arbites in the town. As the eldest son, the PDF came to his side early in the brewing conflict on grounds of tradition, and the Arbites appreciate that Castor largely leaves them alone to crack down on crime where necessary and leave it alone when prudent, rather than getting involved and often making a mess of things as Pollux does.
Pollux controls a network of loyal informants and has the support of the Ecclesiarchy. While the Arbites dislike Pollux’s meddling in day-to-day criminal judgement, the local preacher sees it as an opportunity to sway the decisions in favor of overlooking the indiscretions of the pious and loyal while ensuring the wicked are punished for their sins (whether or not those are, technically, the specific sins they’re actually in court for). The criminal underworld are allies of convenience whom Pollux was driven to when he saw all the real firepower lining up behind Castor. They have a few bruisers in their number and Pollux will send them after anyone who is giving him trouble as part of an ambush, and for that matter the local preacher is happy to bring his flamer to bear on a heretic if he has to, but Pollux doesn’t have anything that rivals the firepower of the PDF chimera or even the four local Arbites officers. Fortunately for Pollux, he also has the support of the aristocracy in Grey Harbour, which means any kind of outright coup against him would potentially lead to retribution from the much larger and more powerful PDF there, who might kill Castor for the crime of fratricide and install a new ruler from among the unlanded aristocrats of the city.
Getting knowledge of who is sided with who requires a Challenging(+0) Insight check when questioning a specific ally (i.e. the PDF, the Ecclesiarchy), or an Inquiry check at the same level, in which case the characters learn of the allegiance of one ally faction at random for each degree of success.
Despite Castor’s claims that Pollux is engaging in secret heretical rituals to secure his ascension, there is no such heretical activity going on. Pollux is a perfectly mundane contender for the throne, and other than being bold or stupid enough to try and use the Inquisition as a catspaw, so is Castor.
Confrontation: Castor and Pollux’s allies take a -20 penalty to Disposition checks to get them to switch sides, except for Pollux’s underworld allies, who take no penalty provided they are promised a blind eye turned to their activities by whoever ends up in charge. Castor and Pollux themselves take a -40 penalty to Disposition checks to get them to agree to put their differences aside, and both must agree to do so for the conflict to be resolved peacefully.
If Castor’s PDF and Arbites allies are wiped out, Pollux will assume command without issue. If Pollux and his allies are taken out, a noble from Grey Harbour will drop by within a few days accompanied by two squads of PDF, each with a chimera, to investigate the circumstances. If he is not convinced that Pollux was some kind of threat (i.e. a heretic or traitor, or simply some kind of renegade faction undermining the Imperium aristocracy’s influence in the region, possibly including his being loyal to the Ecclesiarchy over the aristocracy if a wedge has been driven between the two due to events of the campaign), he will return to Grey Harbour and come back 1d5+2 days later with a full platoon of PDF to capture the city from Pollux. If the PDF fail to capture the city and lose an entire platoon, Grey Harbour will bring a full company to bear, but will offer negotiation before the attack, and will be willing to cede the town to any Highborn character rather than risk losing even more men.
If both Castor and Pollux are wiped out, the aristocrats will send the same investigation, but he must now be convinced that both Castor and Pollux were somehow enemies of the aristocracy. Although exact penalties will depend upon exactly what lie the characters try to spin, it is likely to be at least a -10 or -20 to any Deception or Charm checks to convince Grey Harbour to accept the new rulers of the city.
Whether persuading Grey Harbour’s investigator to install Castor, one of the characters, or an unrelated NPC, any effort to convince them to simply accept a coup de’tat without convincing them that Castor and Pollux are guilty of some kind of treason (against the Imperium in general or the aristocracy in particular) will be at minimum an Arduous(-40) Charm or Intimidate check. Grey Harbour backed Pollux because of his loyalty, not his virtue or competence, and anyone who removes their preferred heir from the board is almost certainly someone who is not especially loyal to them.
Note that all of this issue with Grey Harbour means very little if the characters have already affected a shakeup of the city’s leadership and installed either themselves or their allies as rulers. The two brothers are squabbling over a relatively small fishing village, so if the characters are good friends with or owed a favor by the powers that be in Grey Harbour, those powers will gladly back any Highborn character they please for ruler, whether that’s Pollux or Castor or both or neither. This does mean that characters who already command Grey Harbour’s loyalty can solve this entire adventure just by withdrawing Pollux’s support and telling Castor to go ahead and send his PDF to shoot Pollux, the preacher, and any underworld heavies dumb enough to get in the way.
Rewards: The prize at stake is the town. Installing either Pollux or Castor or resolving the feud between them is worth 1d5 Influence for every party member who publicly affiliates with the victor of the feud, and if a party member is installed as ruler in place of Pollux or Castor, they will gain 1d10 Influence while the rest of the party gain 1d5. The town can be levied for 2 Influence to automatically succeed on a requisition check, and can provide anything that’s common or cheaper, any solid projectile weapon or service that’s average or cheaper and any medical care, low-tech weapon, or basic armour that’s scarce or cheaper.
If the party ends up backing Pollux, he can introduce them to his ally and patron, the Lord of Grey Harbour. There is no immediate benefit to this, but it means that the characters will be able to get an audience with him in the future if they need to bring his attention to some heresy in his city or convince him to commit his PDF to quelling some particular threat or what-have-you.