Friday, 15 January 2016

Review: Dark Heresy

Something a little different this week, a review of a roleplay game, namely Dark Heresy by Fantasy Flight.
Traditionally our little gaming group has struggled to maintain the enthusiasm needed to keep an rpg campaign going. However for the past 18 months we have managed to semi regularly indulge in a cross between Warhammer Quest and Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay. 
Our intrepid band of adventurers....
Amazed by our own powers of concentration we decided to explore Games Workshop's other IP. Dark Heresy was originally released through Black Industries, an imprint of Games Workshop, and was based on the Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay system. It was then licensed out to Fantasy Flight, who have produced a number of RPG's set in the 40k universe with similar mechanics.
...what they might look like in game.
In Dark Heresy the PCs take the part of low ranking member of the Inquisition, an organisation tasked with rooting out the enemies of the vast galactic-spanning Empire. Not exactly good guys, but then there aren't really any good guys in the grimdark future of the 41st millennium.
d100s take some getting used to.
Other Fantasy Flight books allow the PCs to play as soldiers in the Imperial Guard, Space Marines, Rogue Traders and even devotees of the chaos gods. Warhammer 40k has been around since 1987 and has been expanded on in novels, computer games, board games, card games, comics, and who knows what else as well as the miniature wargame, so there is certainly plenty of background material to work with. 
Through the hatch, you see a scorched landing field, broken ground blackened from innumerable shuttle and lighter engines... Our GM captivates his audience.

There is apparently a 2nd edition of Dark Heresy, which we didn't know until mere hours before we played for the first time. From what I can gather the main difference is in the character generation, and as we had already done this, we decided to go with 1st edition. At some point we may upgrade.

Our party of adventurers consisted of Dripping Sump, a ratskin guide; Barak a Guardsman from an Agri-World; Silvanus, a cleric; and Mungo a top notch, salt-of-the-earth, hive scummer. Character generation in 1st edition is relatively simple. You choose a home world and a career, which gives you some basic skills and traits. They also give modifiers to basic stats which are randomly rolled (2d10). there a few other bits and pieces, like appearance, divination (a fortune cookie like prophecy with attached bonus or penalty) and quirks. Most of these can either be chosen or rolled for, as the player wishes. Finally each PC is given 400 experience points to boost stats or skills. More experience points are given out for adventures which can be spent in an increasingly wide range of ways.
Proxies and stand-ins abound
Combat is basically an expanded version of the 40k system and based around a d100 system (as is most of the game). WS skill is given as a percentage and you must roll below this to hit. Circumstances and choice of attack type (guarded, all out etc) give bonuses or penalties. A successful
hit means rolling for damage, depending on weapon type and strength. The target's armour and toughness is then taken from this total and the result is number of wounds suffered.

Our first game was adventure was clunky, but then that is only to be expected with a completely new system. It didn't help we only had one copy of the rulebook between us. I fully expect we will get faster, and the dice rolling will fade into the background, allowing the roleplaying to come to the fore. The adventure (from the rulebook) is intriguing, quite heavy on detail but seems promising.
Watch this space for more details....

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