Inspiration needed for Western Front mission

Hi everyone,

I’m GMing two Band of Blades campaign — one with Shreya, the other with Zora. It’s going pretty well so far, and me and both player groups love it. I’ve been playing roleplaying games for more than 25 years and I find the game’s approach truly refreshing. Leading two games at once is a challenge, but they inform each other and help avoid over-preparing in favour for efficiency.

I’m wondering if I could get your help generating ideas for a Western Front mission both groups have chosen as their primary mission. Here’s the briefing, it’s a bit of a spin on a route recon scenario:

Operation Crimson Snake
Recon (Route)
Rewards: +1 Intel, -1 Time
Penalties: 1 Death (1 Morale) on next advance
Aldermani scouts informed the Legion that the Enemy had divided Its troops in three on the Western Front. While one group patrols the centre, two others block roads out of the Front on the northern and southern sides. For the Commander, this information confirms two things. First, the Enemy intends to trap the Legion and other remaining forces until It has enough troops to annihilate them. Second, It does not yet know in which direction the Legion will advance. If the Enemy could be tricked into redeploying Its troops, the Legion’s next advance would be less perilous. A squad must head South and provide the Enemy false information on the Legion’s next move.

One group opted to pretend scouting ahead for the Legion. They do a purposefully bad job at hiding their camps and marking their route South. The other created through a flashback false correspondence to commanders of the Eastern Armies indicating the Legion will follow after them. They look for opportunities to “lose” the correspondence to intelligent undead. In both cases, they face patrols of forces belonging to different Broken (Shreya/Blighter, Zora/Render).

While there are some differences with how things played out, both groups reached the same point after playing a couple of hours. While evading the undead, they crossed a battlefield engineered by Mattiar. They navigated a series of artificial hills and a network of trenches the Chosen created to trap the undead into chokepoints and ditches, and stumbled into the site where Gerholtz was broken and the tide turned against the Aldermani. After escaping this region, they sought refuge into the “Moserald” a blighted forest that has absorbed the corruption fallout from Mattiar’s battlefield and in which a Broken Gerholtz sought refuge a few years later. Both sessions ended with the groups being surrounded by another squad of soldiers, leftovers from the Eastern Armies who failed to catch up with the rest of the troops and are now desperately trapped.

While the mission’s plot is about feeding false information to the enemy, I want to make its story about the Legionnaires facing corruption. The players knew about corruption, but it’s the first time they’re taking corruption points as a consequence. I interpret corruption as a supernatural form of radiation and cancer. I draw inspiration from Chernobyl imagery (real life and HBO series) and my own experience caring for loved ones battling cancer. For example, a few of them carry reliquaries and as they arrived on the site of Gerholtz’s Breaking, they started to boil and make a clicking sound like geiger counters. Taking corruption points also makes them feel sick and nauseous. For now, they only saw inanimate corpses mutated by corruption, but they now will see its warping effect on the bodies and minds of some Eastern soldiers — turning potential allies into … something else.

SO, all this to say, while I have a handle on what story I want to tell, I’m not sure what role I want to give the squad of Eastern soldiers in the plot — either as obstacles or otherwise. One idea is that they would ask the Legionnaires to help them escape South and perhaps tempt them into deserting the Legion to go protect the Legionnaires’ homelands. Another would be that they are so desperate, traumatized (and corrupt) that they plan to steal the Legionnaires’ equipment or suspect them from being spies. I think these ideas are workable, but I wonder if you can think of something more creative?

Any idea of what role they could play in the plot?

As added help (or challenge), in both groups a PC took as devil’s bargain that, later in the mission, they would encounter an NPC they already know and that they really care about — could be a member of the Eastern army squad or somebody they’re preying upon.