Thursday, April 25, 2013

Dark Heresy RPG Character Creation


In this installment of the Company of the Damned, we will be discussing the process of character creation in the grim dark roleplaying game of Dark Heresy.  Dark Heresy, published by Fantasy Flight Games, is a futuristic roleplaying game based in the Warhammer 40k universe where you play an Acolyte of an Inquisitor.  As an Acolyte of the Inquisition, the secret police of the Imperium of Man, your character is tasked with carrying out your Inquisitor’s wishes in the name of the God Emperor.  The process for character creation is broken up into roughly five steps: Home World, Characteristics, Career Path, Experience and Equipment and finally Backstory and Concept.

Step One: Home World

So the first step in character creation is to decide upon what type of Home World from which your character hails.  This is the Dark Heresy equivalent of determining your “Race” much like you would in Dungeons and Dragons. 

In the Core Rulebook they have four options to choose from: Feral World, Hive World, Imperial World and Void Born.  There are additional Home World options in other supplements but for the sake of this article we will be concerning ourselves with only the Core options.

1.       Feral World – also known as a “Death Worlds”, this home world breeds big, strong and tough characters that usually excel at fighting.

2.       Hive World – these worlds generate characters that are usually quick on their feet and able to talk their way out of situations.

3.       Imperial World – these worlds are the most numerous throughout the Imperium and provide the most well rounded characters.

4.       Void Born – These characters are born within spaceships or in spaceports.  While these are not the most physical of characters, they do possess a strong will and are very lucky.

The choice of Home World also provides Skills, Traits and determines your base stats which are used in the second step which is Characteristics.
 
Step Two: Characteristics

This system uses the d100 dice mechanic where you try to roll under the target number for success.  Therefore the higher the characteristic is the better chance of success the player will have of passing the challenge or test.  The system uses nine characteristics to define the character’s physical and mental capabilities: Weapon Skill, Ballistic Skill, Strength, Toughness, Agility, Intelligence, Perception, Willpower, and Fellowship.

1.       Weapon Skill (WS) – this denotes your ability in hand to hand fighting using either a fist or a hand held close combat weapon.

2.       Ballistic Skill (BS) – this reflects your character’s accuracy with ranged weaponry.

3.       Strength (S) – this describes how physically strong your character is.

4.       Toughness (T) – this defines your durability and ability to shrug off damage and toxins.

5.       Agility (Ag) – this reflects your characters quickness, reflexes and poise.

6.       Intelligence (Int) – measure of your characters knowledge and reasoning.

7.       Perception (Per) – this reflects your character’s awareness and acuteness of senses.

8.       Willpower (WP) – this is the measure of your characters ability to withstand the mental horrors of space, war and beyond.

9.       Fellowship (FP) – your characters ability to beguile charm and interact with others.

Your base characteristic modifiers are dependent upon the Home World you chose in Step 1.  See the table below:

Characteristic
Feral
Hive
Imperial
Void Born
Weapon Skill (WS)
20
20
20
20
Ballistic Skill (BS)
20
20
20
20
Strength (S)
25
20
20
15
Toughness (T)
25
15
20
20
Agility (Agi)
20
20
20
20
Intelligence (Int)
20
20
20
20
Perception (Per)
20
20
20
20
Willpower (WP)
15
20
20
25
Fellowship (Fel)
15
25
20
20

Once you have determined what your base characteristic modifiers are, you are then able to choose one of two methods to generate your characteristics. 

You may roll two 10 sided dice (2d10) and add them together then add them on to the characteristic modifier – example: you roll a 3 and a 9 on 2d10, you then add the 12 to your Ballistic skill making your characteristic 32.  You then repeat this eight more times until you have all of your characteristics rolled out.

The other method and the method I actually prefer is taking 100 points and allowing the players to divide up the points how they wish amongst the 9 statistics with no more than 20 points being allocated to a singular characteristic then you add the characteristic modifier for the final result.  Example: you devote 20 points into your Weapon Skill (WS) characteristic and then you add it to the modifier making your Weapon Skill (WS) a 40.

You also will determine your characteristic bonus as well for each characteristic at this stage.  The bonus is the first number in your overall statistic.  So if you have an Agility of 32 then your Agility Bonus is going to be a 3.

Step Three: Career Paths

Now that you have determined your Home World and your Characteristics, it is time to choose what Career Path your character is going to take while serving the Inquisition.  There are eight career paths available in the Core Rules of Dark Heresy:

1.       Adepts – The knowledgeable scholars and logisters.
2.       Arbitrators – The tough law-keepers and judges.
3.       Assassins - Skilled killers and slayers.
4.       Clerics – Priest, diplomats and leaders of men.
5.       Guardsmen – Warriors, soldiers, and brawlers.
6.       Imperial Psykers – Practitioners of psychic disciplines.
7.       Scum – Thieves, outcasts and for lack of better term…scum.
8.       Tech-Priests – Keepers of mysterious and lost technology.

Once you have chosen which Career Path you with to take, you will then choose the Starting Skills, Starting Talents and Starting Gear that each Career Path provides.  You will also then determine your Staring Rank (Usually it’s Rank 1 unless your GM is staring you at a higher level.)

Starting Skills – determine the group of trained skills your character has access to without having to spend experience.  These generally help define the career path’s function.

Starting Talents – these are special abilities and options that each class has access to in order to provide additional functionality or flavor to a player character.

Starting Gear – This is a set of equipment that is provided to each character based on their career path, free of charge.

Step Four: Experience and Equipment

At this point in the character creation process, you have determined your Home World, Characteristics and your Career Path (or to put it in generic D&D terms, your race, stats and class).  You will now determine your characters Wounds, Fate Points, Movement Rate and Starting Wealth.  Once those have been determined you then move on to Spending Experience points and Buying Equipment.

1.       Starting Wounds – Each player rolls a 1d5 (a 10 sided dice where 1-2= 1, 3-4=2, 5-6=3, etc.)and add your Home World modifier to the roll.  So a Feral Worlder would roll 1d5+9 whereas a Void Born would roll 1d5+6.
Home World
Base
Modifier
Feral World
D5 +
9
Hive World
D5 +
8
Imperial World
D5 +
8
Void Born
D5 +
6

 
2.       Starting Fate Points – Each player rolls 1d10 and references the table to see what their Home World provides for Fate Points.  Example: A Hive World character rolls a 9 and therefore has 3 Fate Points when he starts the game.
Home World
Dice Roll 1-4
Dice Roll 5-8
Dice Roll 9-10
Feral World
1
2
2
Hive World
1
2
3
Imperial World
2
2
3
Void Born
2
3
3

 
3.       Movement Rate – Your movement rate which is broken up into 4 different sections is determined by Agility bonus.  So if your Agility Bonus is 3 then your Movement (in Metres) looks like this:
Agility Bonus
Half Move
Full Move
Charge
Run
1
1
2
3
6
2
2
4
6
12
3
3
6
9
18
4
4
8
12
24
5
5
10
15
30

4.       Starting Wealth – All Acolytes receive a monthly stipend while under the employ of an Inquisitor.  Each Acolyte will consult the table below for their starting wealth.
Career
Throne Gelt
Adept
100 + 1d10
Arbitrator
50 + 2d10
Assassin
120 + 3d10
Cleric
300 + 5d10
Guardsman
70+ 1d10
Imperial Psyker
50 + 1d5
Scum
10 + 1d5
Tech-Priest
150 + 1d10

Characters are then able to purchase equipment and weapons using their starting wealth. 

Once the characters have purchased their gear, determined their wounds, fate points and movement rates then they are able to spend the 400 starting experience they receive.  All characters begin play with 400xp to spend on Advancements which they may use to increase Characteristics, acquire or improve Skills, acquire new Talents and so on.

For example: If I were playing a Void Born Assassin I could spend 100 experience points on a  Simple Weapon Skill Advance, 100 points on the class skill Inquiry, 100 experience points on Heightened Senses talent and finally 100 points on Sound Constitution to increase the number of wounds I possess.

Step Five: Backstory and Concept

At this stage of character creation, you have chosen your Home World, Characteristics, Career Path and fleshed out your characters gear and other statistics.  You are ready to add the final finishing touches in the form of gender, description/appearance, the past, divination and nature.

Most everything as far as description and appearance, the past and nature you may readily choose if you do not want to use at the table.  The Divination however should be rolled using a 1d100 and consulting the Divination table.  Each Divination adds or subtracts a specific characteristic such as adding +3 to Willpower or gaining Insanity points. 

Once that all of this been determined, you need to do the most important step of all.

Pick a name and play.

I hope this walk through helps simplify the Dark Heresy Character Creation process.  It is a great game which is why I have chosen to run a Dark Heresy Campaign this spring/summer as part of a segment for the Deployment Zone podcast.  We currently have five Acolytes signed up for the campaign and it’s going to be an absolute blast.