06 June 2011
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.