Thursday, 14 August 2014

Scum, Subs, and Muties

More than any other game I know of, Inquisitor is the easiest to write content for. This is down to the fact that the rulebook doesn't acknowledge itself as the final word in Inquisitor gaming, and actively encourages GMs and players to get out there and do things however they like. It's a great little trick, and over the years it has let me come up with loads of things for the game, inspired by numerous sources. In recent years, the 40k RPG line has provided dozens of sourcebooks for those games, and all of them have been ripe for plundering for use in Inquisitor. I've taken many things from them and moulded them to fit in with Inquisitor. It's not as simple as copying and pasting though, as the games have as many differences as similarities, especially when it comes to skills and talents. I do love playing the 40k RPG line, but I do so for a chance to use my noggin to unravel labyrinthine plots, rather than the tense and exciting final showdowns that Inquisitor provides. Quite a few of the skills and talents used for the former seem a bit redundant or too complex for Inquisitor. Many of Inquisitor's writers described a game as the last ten minutes of a film or TV episode where the set-up has given way to the action (whether a nerve-wracking infiltration or pyrotechnic shoot out), and quite a lot of the skills a Dark Heresy acolyte might have wouldn't need accounting for on an Inquisitor character sheet. One would only need to agree with the GM whether or not your character would understand the words in a daemonic tome, or know how to activate the cogitator. Otherwise, the pace of the game is slowed down for dice-rolling and the checking of skill descriptions in rule books. Following the TV episode analogy, a Dark Heresy campaign would be a series arc, with all the scene-setting as well as the action.

Eve Crobuzon comes out guns blazing in the finale.

Some of you will be sitting here thinking why bother with Inquisitor then? Well, I feel that the action sections of an RPG campaign are just not as satisfying as manouevering a physical model around a tabletop. There's a disconnect between you and your player character when it's an abstraction of a battlefield, and no models duking it out. The answer may be to play RPGs with models, but with the rate that characters evolve and change through RPG campaigns it's hard to keep up with the modelling requirements, and time and space is a universal issue. Inquisitor also benefits from the fact that you can choose whether to be cooperative with other players or get into a fight with them. Hacking down your fellow characters in an RPG would shorten the playing experience considerably!

Hector Ganz isn't above a bit of backstabbing...

The latest inspiration I've taken from the 40k RPG line is to provide more options for less than noble character archetypes for Inquisitor. I think that the Scum archetype from Dark Heresy is just one of the best named careers in practically any RPG; it oozes distrust, lies and knives in the back, and is far more evocative than say, Assassin or Guardsman. It's more than a name too, as having a scummer on the books can give an Inquisitor access to the underworld of a planet, system or ship, where just about anything can be procured and anyone can be bribed. Amongst all the paragons of faith and purity in service of the Inquisition, a scummer is a bit more of a questionable character that wouldn't baulk at doing the dirty work often required of those in the service of the throne. All in all, having a scummer or two on the table provides for a bit less dogma and a bit more bending of the rules. The first part of the sourcebook I'm presenting today gives a hand to those who wish to develop a scummer for their warband, and includes a couple of related archetypes, thieves and reclaimators. You can find it here.

Hive Scum are just the worst.

As well as Scum though, the 41st millennium is full of other groups that are cousins to humanity, often abandoned to the worst of the galaxy and treated little better than the enemy. There are those whose minds have broken under the strain of the madness around them; those whose separation from their fellow men has changed their appearance forever; those whose origins owe more to flawed science than nature; and those hapless individuals whose genes have been ripped up and re-woven by pollutants and the warp. The second part of the sourcebook details The Insane, Abhumans, False Men and Mutants. You will find mental afflictions and mutations for the first and last groups; and for the second and third groups, archetypes for ratlings, variatus beastmen, scalies, Afriel Strain guardsmen and a group of gene-spliced False Men known as the Sons of Meridian.

You sump-sucking mutie.

The second part of the sourcebook then provides a wide-ranging number of options for creating your own characters from outside the common avenues of the Imperium. Abhumans can provide an interesting alternative to the common man without going as far as to recruit xenos (and certain accusations of heresy!) to a warband, while False Men and their flaws allow for the exploration of the terrible science of the 41st millennium. Mutants are something of a favourite of mine, and I'm sure other fans of terrible 80s sci fi will agree that they have a soft spot for the bug-eyed and tentacled freaks from the sump. The Insane presented a bit of difficulty in writing as such things can be a bit too real, and can cut far too close to the bone. In creating the section, I was keen to keep things relevant to the game above all else. I think I achieved a selection of afflictions that make for interesting quirks for Inquisitor characters.

You can find part two here.

I hope that you all enjoy the sourcebook, and welcome any feedback you might have. In a few weeks time I will put together a blog entry with comments from readers, both on the subject of the sourcebook and on the blog in general. Next time I am going to talk about the most important part of the game - cool miniatures!

The Carthaxian Inquisitor


  1. Oh, I'm loving the Insanity characteristics! ^_^

  2. Definitely some food for thought here.

    I agree with Macabre. Nice, simple rules, that don't divorce the player from their character, and aren't over-powered, while still effectively evoking the 'feel' of what's going on.

    I'm going to have to pinch a thing or two. And I may just have to design a character just to use some of those mutations.