News for January 2010
Everything You Knew Was A Lie 23
A look at Ascension, the new sourcebook for Dark Heresy
Dark Heresy | Published 20 January 2010

+++Incoming Astropathic Transmission+++
+++Authorization: Code Sigma-12-5up/TG/Green+++
+++Welcome Inquisitor+++

Greetings, Dark Heresy fans!

Ross Watson here; I’m extremely pleased to begin talking about Ascension—a 256-page sourcebook that takes your Dark Heresy campaign to a whole new tier of power and intrigue. In Ascension, your Acolytes become Throne Agents; they are no longer pawns, but rather, they can change the very nature of the contest.

The Left Hand of the Emperor

As the lead developer for Ascension, I had some specific goals in mind when I crafted the vision for this book. I worked closely with Managing Developer Michael Hurley and Games Workshop to help craft Ascension’s broad scope, intricate mechanics, and details about the Inquisition and the Calixis Sector. I assembled a crack team of designers, including some exceptionally gifted wordsmiths of the 41st Millennium: Andy Hoare, Sam Stewart, John French and Alan Bligh, and Owen Barnes. Under the banner of our codename, “Project Rose,” we went forward with a plan to create the most important release for the Dark Heresy line since the core rulebook.

One of my driving goals was to fulfill the promise of Dark Heresy’s venture into the Inquisition. I wanted to bring in elements from the inspirations for the Dark Heresy line, such as the Inquisition miniature game and the Eisenhorn and Ravenor novels by Dan Abnett. My vision of Ascension shifts the game from investigating a single cult and instead “zooms out” a bit, involving multi-system conspiracies and the politics of the Inquisition itself. Once you take on the role of a pivotal member of the Inquisition, you tend to garner a lot of attention...and a lot of enemies! Different factions and rivals are sure to get involved with your investigation as friends and foes (and sometimes both at the same time!).

So, what will you find inside Ascension?

This book is chock-full of material to enhance your Dark Heresy campaign, including a lot of new additional rules, new ways to use Fate Points, an expanded Rank structure, a new approach to psychic powers, and a system named Influence that puts your characters at the center of your own operations, able to muster the resources of entire worlds to your authority.

Other chapters provide a selection of 12 all-new full Careers, including the ability to directly take on the role of an Inquisitor! Other options involve Careers known as Throne Agents—a step above Acolytes in both power and responsibility. Among their ranks are the Hierophant, Primaris Psyker, and Adeptus Arbites Judge just to name a few...

Later sections delve into the secrets of the Inquisition and how it operates within the Imperium of Mankind. There is a focus on the place of an Inquisitor as a peer of the Imperium, the power of Inquisitor Lords, and the nature of the Ordos.

One of my favorite sections of the book details the challenges faced by a Game Master running an ascended game of Dark Heresy. How to deal with issues of player-character authority within the game universe, as well as advice on creating wide-ranging threats and running long-term ascended campaigns are all discussed in detail.

Ascension also includes a complete adventure designed for ascended play. Murder comes to the great temple Aleph on Malfi during the investiture of a senior priest of the Ecclesiarchy. With power, wealth, and treachery in abundance, the Inquisitor and Throne Agents must find a way out of the maze of lies and blood. If they find the truth, do they let it be known—or substitute their own?

I’ve given you a pretty good overview of the book for this week, but don’t despair! I plan to go into more detail about the book in future designer diaries...and provide some tasty previews of the contents! I may even be able to provide some choice extras along the way...stay tuned!

The Next Step

Although I am very proud and excited to talk about Ascension, there are even more impressive books for the Dark Heresy line planned for the rest of this year and beyond! 2010 is going to be a good year for Dark Heresy, and I’m really looking forward to being able to tell you more about all the great books we are working on here at the Fantasy Flight Games RPG department. As always, keep checking the website for new information, and may the light of the Golden Throne guide your way!

Dark Heresy is a roleplaying game set in the Warhammer 40,000 universe, a setting in the grim darkness of the far future. Players take on the roles of Acolytes serving the Inquisition, rooting out heresy and corruption from within the galaxy-spanning Imperium of Man.

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Comments (23)

Published: 1/23/2010 8:19:21 AM

Generally it sounds interesting. The one thing I would ask is that the new character classes remain interesting like DH base classes. I have the RT book and found the classes there a little flat and bland (no branching class trees, universal proficiency sets, etc.).

Published: 1/23/2010 12:14:51 AM

i looking forwer to my Radical Ascension Throne Agents :)

Published: 1/22/2010 9:55:32 AM

I really look forwards to see this book. Gonna boost the play remarkably as my players are really hungry for power... Too bad they don`t fall for the dark pact trick...

Anyways, the next book I would love to see is "A Graphic Guide to the Calixis Sector" with tons of pictures and drawings. Places, people, ships aso. Can you do this as a custom order Ross? ;-)

Published: 1/22/2010 9:45:40 AM

 I would love to get a "Life in the Calixis sector" kind of book. Take a few Calixian worlds/cities/locations/ships and describe them in detail. How is life there? What kind of goods and services are available? What kind of institutions/power groups/heresies can be found there? As a visiting Acolyte, what do I need to know? Like a travel guide for Inquisitorial personnel if you will.

A sourcebook about the Adeptus Mechanicus would also be very welcome. Lot of potential there I think. Would be nice to get two different points of view: one that looks at the tech-cult from the perspective of the average Imperial citizen (or the innocent little acolyte), and one that  shows how the priesthood of the machine really works, with all the secrets, plots, factions, infighting and... heresy, that we suspect that august organization to be rife with.

Published: 1/22/2010 8:34:27 AM

(I was sure I'd already posted this (here and in the forums) and I can't think of a reason for it to get pulled, so here it is again):

I like mid level campaigns (powerful but not world shattering) and I like the look of this. The only thing I'd have held back on was the Inquisitor's whom I don't think I would have included at this level (though I'd certainly have explored Explicator's and Interogator's). I wonder what the new career's (beyond those mentioned) are. Besides, expansions for the existing carreers (such as the Heirophant for the Cleric) I'd like to see the Commisariat and Pilots (Imperial Navy/ Commercia) covered.



I wonder what the next line of releases will be? The obvious choice would be a new campaign arc (at higher tier), but this clashes with the Haarlock trilogy, which is still rolling out. Alternatives could be in depth looks at some of the major factions such as Puritan's, the Mechanicus, Assasin Cults, Scholastica Pskana, Ecclesiarchy, Arbites, Nobility (and the Sector body politic) etc.

Published: 1/22/2010 6:51:51 AM

 OK, so firstly, I completely agree with the Devil of Wormwood's take on the WH40K universe. But does this make it more likely to raise power levels in other supplements? I think not - in fact, having such a supplement out kind-of takes the pressure away from giving too much power at <15K XP. You can now simply argue that power armour and best-quality force swords made from lathe material are items belonging to 'Ascension' level.

As to Vindicare assassins - if they had rules to allow characters to start out as Vindicare Assassins (or Space Marines) level 0 at 15k XP, then I could accept that (well, maybe at 100k...). But the other classes seem like suitable extensions of existing ranks.

Note that an 'Inquisitor' career rank need NOT mean you become an Inquisitor at the first level. Perhaps for instance you start off at rank 'Interrogator' and then the final one is 'Inquisitor'? But if you start as inquisitor and end up as Inquisitor Lord then that's a tad over-powered.

And that's definitely a Vindicare on the cover - bet your life on it.

Published: 1/22/2010 6:25:21 AM


I second your thoughts on the Inquisitor career and the worry that Ascension will herald an increased power level in all future DH publications. I fully subscribe to the dark and gritty "one amongst billions" take on the WH40k universe and believe that the greatness of DH comes from successfully capturing this theme. 

Published: 1/21/2010 8:01:51 PM

mac40k - My understanding about Influence and the new psychic system is that they are indeed working from the versions presented in RT. I'm sure they'll be tweaked a little bit for DH, but they shouldn't be substantially different.

As far as Ascension goes, I'm not really interested in the power-level boost, myself. I've found in my own play that DH can emulate just fine Eisenhorn and Ravenor, and some things Ascension will introduce - like Vindicare assassins - I have a hard time taking seriously. I can't really picture a plausible situation where a Vindicare assassin, a AA Judge, a Primaris psyker, and an Inquisitor are hanging out together and busting heretics and demons on a regular basis. But I've also had to come to terms with the fact that my view of 40k is a lot grittier and insane than most people's (I was intro'd to 40k via the original Rogue Trader, so it makes sense). I really subscribe to the classic "To be a man in such times is to be one amongst untold billions. It is to live in the cruelest and most bloody regime imaginable" line about 40k. Power and heroism only earned by suffering and sacrifice...

But hey, I'm glad the people who want that stuff are getting it, I'm just worried about FFG taking DH in an overly "kewl pwerz"... if I wanted that, I'd play one of the 40k Exalted hacks :D I'm kinda concerned about the Inquisitor career too. The way my group's been playing it, a character from any career could conceivably end up as an Inquisitor, if they show enough intelligence and initiative and cunning and survival skill. After all, Inquisitors are a wildly varied bunch. I'm having a difficult time imagining how they'd do an Inquisitor _career_ without stripping out the variety... I just don't think Inquisitors should fit neatly into an "Inquisitor" box, either by fluff for by rules. Yeah, I know the gaming police aren't going to put a gun to my head and force me to use the new supplement, but I can still hope it'll be something I'll want to use. :)

In that vein, I'm VERY excited about the Influence rules! The old "counting your thrones" system was lousy, and was the only thing my group found really "brought down" the vibe of the game. I agree with everyone who says an Inquisitorial Acolyte shouldn't be scrounging for Thrones except in the most unusual of circumstances (or if they have a cruel Inquisitor/handler over them). Also, there's been a huge lack of info on how the Inquisition actually functions, how investigations are conducted, what sort of expectations the Inquisition has, and what sort of activities Acolytes need permission for, and what they can do freely (like, is an Acolyte expected to acquired evidence first, and then make a case for the necessity of death of an Imperial official, and then be issued a "Warrant of Execution", or can one just put a round in an official's head and say "hey, I work for the Inquisition, it's what I do"?) Sure, Inquisitors likely have their own personal expectations and methods, but there's got to be at least some established precedents. And how does the Inquisition interacted with the Adeptus Arbites, the offical law-enforcement arm of the Imperium? So yeah, I'm hoping Ascension will give info on these issues, an aspects of the hellish Imperial bureaucracy and jurisdictions that would surely impact =][= investigations. I don't need a treatise on the matter, but some acknowledgment of those aspects would be nice.

Also, where the heck are the vehicle rules?! If they're not in Ascension, I hope they're in one of the other upcoming supplements Mr. Watson alluded to. Yes, I know about the old Black Industries free pdf on the matter, but vehicle rules should really be in an in-print book, and not confined to an old pdf which is getting increasingly hard to find on the internet. At the very least, FFG should post the pdf in their DH support section.

So yeah, I'm looking forward to it, but with much finger crossing. ;)

Published: 1/21/2010 5:31:47 PM

FFG has been stellar with their handling of DH.  I'm really excited about this book.  Is that a vindicare assassin on the cover there.  Awesome.  I wonder if that means the other assassin temples will be represented as well.

Published: 1/21/2010 1:44:21 PM

psy power revampi sounds intresting! hope it doesn`t change things too much or els the psyer will start too moan and trow telecenetic bolts at me and that just won`t do

the power/nfluence setup will be a intresting read

and ofcourse the careers

most of all i cant wait too see the npc they will be fighting or the missions they will be going on

still my party so far been a oke lot bit combat prone but it has suited them so far.

still seeing there are more books coming wondering what there about then? oh well ffg will be gettiing money of my somehow anyway cant wait too how i`ll spend it

Published: 1/21/2010 10:45:17 AM

I'm curious about the "a new approach to psychic powers, and a system named Influence that puts your characters at the center of your own operations, able to muster the resources of entire worlds to your authority." Are these the RT systems adapted for DH or entirely new systems? Since I thought the games were intended to be compatible and support cross-game campaigns, it makes sense that FFG would apply lessons learned from developing RT to DH. In fact, many people have been toying with doing the adaptation of RT rules to DH themselves and an official version would please a lot of people. OTOH, if these are entirely new systems, then I fear that they could result in confusion for people that play both games and/or want to run an integrated campaign. Do we really need a 3rd approach to psychic powers? Option are good. Too many options risks things getting muddled.

Sister Cat
Published: 1/21/2010 9:47:46 AM

Sweet!!!  But I wonder how the difference in power-level/influence-level will apply?  I'd like to think that it would be a relatively smooth progression.  Anyway, can't wait!

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