Into that Vast Expanse
Bottom Line campaign summary
Chapter I: A Dynasty regained, a Worm lost
Caldar Raethos regains control of his family’s warrant of trade, lain dormant for a decade following the events of the Dark Voyage. The Raethos economic empire has been gutted and most of the crew of The Bottom Line are dead. With Gorst, Caldar sets about replenishing the ranks of the ship. He acquires a new Navigator, Septima Sabina Mariana Laelia, from an allied Navigator house, and takes a gamble on hiring a voidsman, Nihilius de Wolfe, with many skills but a criminal past.
In search of a windfall to regain his family fortune, Caldar sets off search of a fabled wreck, The Emperor’s Bounty. The wreck is located, but it is inhabited by an undead monster, previously the ship’s Navigator, now dominated by a powerful Halo Artefact known as the Psycarus Worm. The crew defeat the Navigator and take the Worm. An Inquisitor, Hendrik Drogan, advises the party in no uncertain terms that the artefact must be destroyed.
When passing through the Maw, the crew make a discovery of a nonfunctional Warp Gate at the Temple station. The reactivated gate takes them to the Jericho Reach on a planet under colonization by Tau forces. Caldar negotiates with the Tau and they agree to give him control of the gate’s attendant space station if he puts down a rebellion of Kroot workers on a nearby moon and provides certain exotic items from the Koronus expanse. A lowly guardsman named Haggis distinguishes himself in valor in battle.
Returning through the gate to the Temple, Caldar learns that his personal stasis chamber on The Bottom Line has been raided and the Worm is missing, and many of his crew are dead. In a vision, a daemon named Mammon takes credit.
Chapter II: Eldar allies, Eldar enemies
The party is approached by an Eldar named Cir’Andros who claims he knows the daemon responsible. He directs them to a safer rendezvous zone and tells them of his master Forlunandril, who knew Caldar’s father and was able to save his soul from destruction in the Dark Voyage. Cir’Andros also warns of another Eldar, Thanadel’fin, who intends to kill Forlunandril and will oppose the party in finding him.
In exchange for additional aid, Cir’Andros requests that party kill a notorious Ork pirate in the area, Bludflagg, who is causing the Eldar trouble. Bludflagg’s fleet is routed and Caldar engages the Ork in personal combat with the aid of a newly decanted clone of the Blood Angel Sanguinius, discovered in a cloning facility on a nearby planet. But Sanguinius falls in combat, his skills not yet honed, and Bludflagg escapes with the loss of his arm.
The Bottom Line is nearly destroyed in the battle and returns to Footfall for several months of drydock and repairs. The party boards another ship in the Raethos fleet, the Hostile Takeover, and investigates the sabotage of a Raethos promethium refinery. At the refinery, they are ambushed by Thanadel’fin’s personal Harlequin assassin, Marb’aitor, and Gorst nearly falls to his death.
Chapter III: Dangers beyond the Gate
Still waiting for The Bottom Line’s repairs to finish, the party takes the Hostile Takeover through the Temple Gate to deliver trade goods to the Tau. They learn that a new faction of Tau have taken control of the planet on the other side, and they do not honor the deal that Caldar struck with the previous inhabitants. However, they mention there are other humans in the area and allow the Hostile Takeover to leave the area and investigate.
The first area of interest investigated is an ruined industrial world that houses an ancient matter fabricator. It also holds the dormant leaders of the unfamiliar Necron race, who are awakened by a detachment of Chaos Space Marines that arrive at the planet at the same time as the party. The Hostile Takeover escapes as the Necron signal shoots into the stars.
Next the party moves to rendezvous with a group of Strixis slavers known to have many human personnel on board. Caldar negotiates for the release of these humans—Imperial Nacy officers—and returns them to the Imperial fleet heading to engage with the Tau.
Gorst convinces the Fleet that the Raethos party should handle negotiations between Imperium and Tau given their prior experience with the xenos. The commander agrees, reluctant to engage with the xenos himself. Bartering with the Tau, Gorst skillfully prevents war between the species (which would be devastating to both sides) and secures Raethos control of the warp gate. The party returns to Footfall to acquire the repaired Bottom Line and holds a gala on Scintilla to announce their newly opened trade port.
Chapter IV: Searching for a holy relic
With The Bottom Line in fully functional condition, the party meets with Cir’Andros again, who tells them that Forlunandril is ready to meet them. His fleet is hiding from Thandel’fin in the ‘Undred ’Undred Teef, an area of the galaxy infested with Orks. Cir’Andros knows of a star chart dating back to the Drusian Crusade that will guide the ship to the safe spot where Forlunandril is hiding. He does not know the chart’s current location and lists several possible spots where the artifact may be.
First the party searches at Pulsar 484 Scran, a dead star orbited by an abandoned Mechanicus station and a gas giant. One of the gas giant’s moons contains the remains of a dead civilization but no human relics. It also houses Necron warriors who awake the Tombship at the heart of the gas giant. The party narrowly escapes with their lives and sends a distress signal to the Imperium marking the system for exterminatus.
The next location searched is Vaporius, a feudal desert world inhabited by heretical abhumans. Here the party is joined by Cadis, a Drusian missionary in search of similar relics. Although the priest-king of the city-state the party investigates takes them to a cathedral that obviously once held the remains of an Imperial saint, the Drusian starchart is nowhere to be found. The priest-king and his subjects are found to be in thrall of the Chaos God Slaanesh, and citystate is glassed from orbit.
The next area the party searches is Orn, a jungle planet with a ruined Imperium cargo ship. Records show that the ship was carrying important relics and biological samples. The party is prevented from landing on the planet by a Deathwatch contingent of Space Marines, who claim that the wreck is infested with dangerous xenos. They prove to be correct, and the Marines destroy the Tyrannid swarm and rescue the Drusian starcharts contained in the ship’s records—but they are not the right charts.
At this time, Nihilius begins to manifest dangerous psychic powers and nearly destroys The Bottom Line as his connection to the Warp obliterates the heretic he brought on board to instruct him in witchcraft. Caldar is not pleased but agrees to shelter Nihilius as he has proven his worth in the past.
Finally the party’s search takes them to an unnamed frozen planet in Winterscale’s Realm. The party is attacked by Marb’aitor and Thandel’fin’s forces in an ambush that nearly kills Haggis. Calling a truce, the Eldar reveal that they are in possession of the correct charts but lack the human nomenclature to decode them. Septima aids the Eldar astrogators in translating the chart and keeps a copy for herself. Their temporary alliance over, the two enemy ships race to the ’Undred ’Undred Teef to find Forlunandril.
Chapter V: Combat amidst the stars
Septima leads The Bottom Line through a dizzying path in the ‘Undred ’Undred Teef, avoiding Ork settlements and warp storms. At the heart of the calm spot the party encounters Forlunandril’s fleet and meets with him aboard his capital ship.
Forlunandril reveals that he shared a kinship with Caldar’s father and claims to have rescued his soul from the daemon who attacked The Bottom Line in the Dark Voyage. He tells them of a way to summon the daemon and destroy it, but it requires finding another Halo Artefact to bait Mammon.
Thanadel’fin’s fleet catches up and engages Forlunandril and Cir’Andros. The fray is joined by an Ork Waaagh—led by Bludflagg—who senses the battle and wishes to enact revenge on Caldar and Cir’Andros. The Bottom Line escapes the scene, but not before fighting Thanadel’fin’s warlock apprentice.
Chapter VI: Baiting the daemon
Putting the Eldar and Orks behind them, the party heads to the fringes of the Expanse to search for Halo Artefacts. The most likely place is among the Processional of the Damned, a massive starship graveyard in the outer reaches of the Halo Stars.
At the Processional the party encounters another Rogue Trader with a penchant for treasure-hunting. This Trader has a Halo Artefact in his possession, and is willing to trade it for charts to the stable Warp current leading to Pulsar 484 Scran from Footfall. Before the two ships can leave the Halo Stars, they are becalmed and attacked by a frigid daemon drawn to the Artefact’s power. Caldar’s crew defeat it, earning the other Trader’s gratitude but losing Haggis to the Warp.
Returning to Footfall by way of 484 Scran, Caldar learns that the entire pulsar system has been scheduled for exterminatus due to the Necron threat. The Navy there also inform him that his trade hub at the Temple gate has been commandeered by the Adeptus Astartes.
Caldar confirms that this is true while Gorst and Septima begin researching ways to summon a daemon with their new artefact. Nihilius engages in smuggling deals and begins making a name for himself independent of the Raethos line. Cadis rejoins the party, bearing a sacred censer that will aid in sanctifying the party’s endeavors.
After a hunting trip with the Trader he met in the Outer Reaches, Caldar earns the man’s trust and is given the location of a mysterious find on a death world full of sand dunes and giant worms. All that is mentioned is that the find related to ancient ruins and was too dangerous even for the big game hunter to investigate.
At the planet, the party discovers that the ruins are actually the tip of a giant starship sunk into the mantle of the earth. It holds several million humans in stasis, all with some degree of psychic ability. Ship records indicate that it is the Hand of God, a pre-Imperium ship known only in myth. Caldar rejoices at his find and begins to make plans to exhume the ship.
Chapter VII: Final confrontations
In orbit above the death world, The Bottom Line‘s astropathic choirmaster Argus Lin complains of head pains and is abducted from the ship. Septima senses a Warp disturbance left by his passing, as well as a daemon’s. The ship enters Warp and follows the trail, which Gorst and Caldar soon recognize leads to the site of the original Dark Voyage.
Several harrowing weeks pass in transit, and the crew are plagued by dark visitations. Members of the crew who were present for the Dark Voyage begin committing suicide, including Gorst’s friend Hephaestus, the ship’s enginseer. A few days before the expected arrival, a warp-scarred Haggis unexpectedly returns bearing Argus Lin’s body aong with a journal from Inquisitor Drogan describing his involvement in the Dark Voyage.
Exiting the Warp at the nondescript spot of dead space where the incursion took place, The Bottom Line is greeted by Forlunandril’s ship. Forlunandril explains that he anticipated that this would be where Caldar would go to summon Mammon and offers his services with a specially prepared summoning chamber. Caldar is suspicious of Forlunandril’s motives, and his suspicions are confirmed when Nihilius discovers a pair of Eldar sneaking into the storage chamber where the artifact is kept.
Subterfuge abandoned, Forlunandril reveals that he only wanted the artefact for himself and was lying about its ability to summon the daemon. The two ships fight, and Caldar leads his crew to the bridge of the Eldar vessel. Haggis and Cadis hold off Eldar hordes while the command crew first fight the farseer himself, then the Avatar of Khaine that he summons.
After only moments of respite, Mammon appears in the form of a hulking Aerik Raethos bound in fiery chains. Taunting Caldar, the daemon demands his Raethos soul. Caldar refuses, and his crew aid him in a pitched battle with the daemon. Gorst distracts Mammon and is crushed against the wall, while Septima is badly burned to unconsciousness. Nihilius takes careful aim and dislodges the Psycarus Worm from Mammon’s chest, banishing the daemon back to the Warp.
Caldar, now a legend of the Koronus Expanse, makes peace with the Valerions and joins the families in marriage. He calls in favors from the Mechanicus and Administratum to acquire a planet-cracker device to help extract the Hand of God, and devotes his dynasty to the ship’s excavation. He enters a long stasis sleep to oversee the project to its conclusion centuries later.
Gorst inherits Hephaestus’ estate, a manufactorum on Mars. With this immense increase in wealth he aids the Raethos Dynasty and purchases an Administratum seat for himself. Upon his death, he bequeaths his fortune to the orphan boy he trained as his successor as Master of Whispers aboard The Bottom Line.
Nihilius takes command of the Hostile Takeover and becomes a Raethos privateer, feared and respected by all. Corrupted by his developing psychic powers, he takes an unsettling habit of collecting bodily trophies from his combatants, adding to his reputation. He dies decades later on a cold and lonely world at the hands of his most hated enemies, teaming up to defeat him.
Septima, plagued by mental visions of the Psycarus Worm as she lay burning on the floor of the Eldar bridge, never forgives Caldar for making good on his promise to Drogan and throwing the artefact into a sun. She retires to become the matriarchal geneseed of the Laelia clan, but one day slips away to join her excommunicated brother in search of heretical secrets.