06 June 2011

Dark Heresy

So I've decided that the next game I'm going to be running is the Warhammer 40k themed game, Dark Heresy. If you're not familiar with it, it's the game about Inquisitors, as opposed to Rogue Traders about wandering merchant guys, and Deathwatch which is about the most badass Spehss Mahreens going off to do the toughest jobs. Or something.

I know Dark Heresy isn't the oldest school of games, and there's something about the system that grinds me the wrong way (maybe something to do with the percentile thing that doesn't seem right, or maybe the way all the scores are low and they advance so damn slowly), but I like it. The biggest thing for me is that, despite the rules, the built in advice and setting help and the concept is great.

The setting stuff is honestly the reason that I like the game so much. The sample sector, the Calixis Sector, is both detailed and vague, with a description of major festivals and saints and important sections of the planets and some of the aristocrats, but some planets are given little more than a brief description of their climate and quirks, and (best of all) some planets are just names on the star chart in the middle of the section. It's enough detail that you can work with the given adventure plot (in case you don't feel like making up your own) and then totally branch off into your own stuff without worrying about "colliding" with any future adventures you might read about and want to run ("But how can anybody still be alive on Tartarus IX when it was almost totally destroyed by a warp storm?" "Don't worry about it, they got better and now there's some political intrigue...") It's the best of both worlds, and it's immensely helpful.

The setting, as usual, is pretty cool. Warhammer 40k is big and rich enough that it avoids the God-Awful Author plague, so you actually have some pretty good writing both from the Black Library psuedo-publishing house that produces 40k literature and in the actual game book itself. As a matter of fact, it's the setting itself that really makes me think that Dark Heresy would be better served as a stand-alone game than as a re-re-re-utilizing of the basic Warhammer rules. I know that the whole point is that the same system has to be used for Inquisitors, Space Marines, Rogue Traders, and the medievial Warhammer Fantasy Battle games, but it'd really be nice to see Inquisitors and their henchmen get some sort of special rules. And then, on the other hand, it kind of makes sense. You're not anybody special in Dark Heresy- you're just kind of a regular guy who's been called on by this shadowy agent to deal with some extremely bizarre stuff. And that's kind of what the rules are good for.

I really just wanted to talk about Dark Heresy without talking about the conspiracy I'm brewing up for my players, so that would be this.


  1. I like DH, but then I'm a WFRP fan, so I like the system. If you haven't read the Eisenhorn books, by Dan Abnett, you really should. They are a wonderful primer for Inquisitional stories.

  2. I have the Omnibus edition, actually.

    It's the reason I decided to run Dark Heresy again- I'd played it before and it was cool, but then my brother lent me his copy of Eisenhorn, and before I was halfway done with the first book, I told him "We're playing Dark Heresy again."

    Absolutely fantastic stories, and one of the few authors of branded fiction that I'd seek out.

  3. Aside: You have your comment RSS feed running to the RPGBA instead of your actual article RSS feed so on the front page of the RPGBA site the comments for your articles show up instead of the articles themselves.

    That said - I'm a huge DH fan myself. However I haven't had the opportunity to be a player in a DH game, just a GM. I did get to play a Rogue Trader in an RT game that just wrapped up and it was awesome.

  4. @Dyson: Thanks for the catch! I'm not sure how I did that, so I'm going to try to figure it out in a minute here.

    I've been the player in short one-off game as a belligerent Cleric who's managed to kill a couple of thugs for being aggressive and also less than tactful, and it was pretty fun. I still think that the mechanics aren't the greatest, but the way the setting is presented and the way they've tried to squeeze every inch of flavor out of the mechanics is great.

    I mostly GM, but really, that's where most of my fun comes from anyways. :)

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