Monday, April 11, 2011

Dark Heresy: Making a Character and Getting Started

For those of you in our immense worldwide audience unfamiliar with it, Dark Heresy is Fantasy Flight Games' roleplaying game set in the dark future of the Warhammer 40,000 universe. Originally published by the venerable Black Library itself, it was licensed to FFG and the folks there have done an amazing job continuing the tradition of quality BL established. Dark Heresy is the first in a (so far) three game interchangeable system. In Dark Heresy, players take the part of an Inquisitor's retinue - charged with rooting out corruption in the Imperium and ever vigilant for the taint of the heretic, the traitor, the mutant, and the xenos.
The series continues with Rogue Trader, in which players adventure by ancient warp craft to the far flung reaches of the known universe, and Deathwatch - in which players take on the roles of the Emperor's Finest themselves: the Space Marines.

If you've never played a roleplaying game, this might not be the article for you, but in brief: in a roleplaying game, players create an imaginary character who is placed into an evolving cooperative storytelling adventure. The Game Master (a player chosen to run the game) creates stories and scenarios for your character to be a part of, and you decide how your character behaves in those scenarios-shaping the story. The rules of the game determine how that interaction works, and provide background and enemies for your game. That's where the Dark Heresy Rulebook comes in.

The Dark Heresy rulebook is a gorgeous, lavishly illustrated 400 page hardback that contains detailed information about adventures in the forty-first millenium. Of particular interest, especially to players of the 40K tabletop game and the "fluff" of the Warhammer universe, are the sections from chaper IX onward detailing life in the Imperium, the structure of the Inquisition, the Calixis sector (the game's default setting), and the mutants and foul enemies of Man. The book has everything you need for adventures in the GrimDark future, so let's get started!

The first thing you will need of course is a character. Character creation in Dark Heresy is interesting, deep, and flavorful, which I find is a hallmark of a great RPG system . You really get a sense of what the game is like from just the initial stages of character generation . Walk with me as I create Eremet Sleene, Imperial Psyker...

The first step is determining your homeworld, which you can determine randomly, or roll for. I roll 2d10 (d100) and get a 96! Eremet Sleene is Void Born, meaning he was born on a massive Imperial craft and has spent most of his life in the space between the stars. Void Born gets me the traits Charmed, Ill-Omened, Shipwise, and Void Accustomed. Charmed gets me a 10% chance of keeping a fate point, which sounds pretty cool. Ill-Omened makes average people nervous around me, giving me a penalty to Fellowship tests. Freaky. Shipwise gets me Stellar Navigation and Pilot Spacecraft as basic skills, and Void Accustomed makes me immune to space travel sickness. Sweet. So my guy is creepy, and handy on a ship.

Next we generate characteristics, which are my characters stats for WS, BS, S, T, etc which are like those in the tabletop game, and Ag (Agility), Int (Intelligence), Per (Perception), WP (Willpower), and Fel (Fellowship). Characteristics are generated by rolling 2d10, adding them together, and adding homeworld modifiers. In my case, I end up with +20 to most everything and +25 to WP (handy when you are playing a game about heresy) but only +15 to S (strength sapped by too much antigravity). I end up with:

WS 23

BS 28

S 21

T 39 (!)

Ag 32

Int 32

Per 29

WP 35

Fel 38 (handy, considering I'm Ill Omened).

I get one reroll, and decide to reroll Int. This could be disastrous as I have to keep my second roll, but fortune smiles as I end up with a 39. Not bad! My dude is a terrible fighter, an average shot, and an amiable genius. These may get modified later...

Next I select a career path. Since my guy is a creepy brainiac from the Void, I choose Imperial Psyker. You can roll these randomly, too, but not all career paths are available depending on your world of origin. Imperial Psyker gets me some basic skills, which I add my Homeworld skills to. It also gets me some talents, including a Psy Rating of 1, and some starting equipment. Eremus Sleene has

Skills: Speak Low Gothic, Psyniscience, Invocation, Trade, and Literacy

Talents: Melee Weapon Training (primitive), Pistol Weapon Training, Psy Rating 1.

Starting Gear: Axe or Sword, staff, compact las pistol and 1 charge pack, Psykana Mercy Blade, quilted vest, tatty robe (poor quality clothing), book of Imperial Saints, Psy Focus, Sanctioning Brand.

The Imperial Psyker career also gets me the Trait "Sanctioned Psyker"-I have boarded the Black Ships and set foot on Holy Terra. I have endured the powerful and very painful rituals designed to test my mettle. My sanctioning side effect is Tongue Bound: My lips, gums, and soft palate are tatooed with hexagrammatic wards! I have to make a -20 WP check to even speak the names of the Ruinous Powers, and I stutter when I speak of Daemons. Sweet.

In Stage Four I note my wounds (9-ouch!), get my starting wealth (55 Throne Gelt), Note my Fate Points (3) and Movement (determined by my agility bonus) and then recieve my Starting Experience (400). With my starting XP I can buy increases to characteristics or skills, or buy traits. I buy a WP advance bumping me up to WP 40! , a new skill-Forbidden Lore (The Warp), a Minor Psychic Power, and given that my Psyker is tatooed with Hexagrammatic wards against Daemons, I decide to buy him Hatred: Daemons (giving me a +10 to WS against them) probably pretty terrible since I suck in melee, but flavorful!

Finally, It's time to round out the character with appearance. I roll on the charts, modified by my Void Born origin. Eremet Sleene has bluish skin, watery blue eyes, copper hair, long fingers, and is 32 years old and skeletal in build. What a freak! I'm already excited to play this guy and shoot some lightning until my head explodes.

As a final touch, the last step is consulting the Imperial Tarot for a divination about my character. I get "Thought Begets Heresy". Perfect! This divination also gets me a +3 S, which I desperately need. I buy a flak vest, which is all I can afford, and I'm off! Eremus Sleene, the creepy Imperial Psker is ready to play!

Character creation in Dark Heresy is simple, flavorful, and fun. Time to roll some dice! Oops, that's Crimson Wraiths line...erm....LOATHE THE HERETIC! PURGE THE HERETIC!

No comments:

Post a Comment