|Dark Heresy | Published 12 May 2010|
by Mack Martin
+++Incoming Astropathic Transmission+++
In last week's Designer Diary Ross announced that I’d be taking over development for Dark Heresy and with that I’ve inherited this awesome privilege: Informing you that Dead Stars will be on shelves soon! I am filled with two complimentary emotions. First I am excited that this fantastic trilogy of adventures by the illustrious Alan Bligh and John French is coming to a climax. It’s a story I have been enjoying through the eyes of my Noble born Guardsman Emric. I remember some particularly memorable moments escaping some kidnappers. I’m sure many other groups are looking forward to seeing how things come to a head as much as I am.
That brings me to the second emotion I’m quarreling with at the moment. Anticipation. In my new role at the helm of the good ship Dark Heresy I get a birds eye view. It is a rare privilege to observe others as they discover the surprises and twists that this adventure series offers. Secrets seeded into the conception of Dark Heresy will finally be revealed and I can’t wait to watch the fans to uncover them too.
It’s tough to write about an adventure, as I don’t want to spoil it for the players. This wouldn’t be much of an announcement if I didn’t at least talk about one of my favorite new things. The Maccabian Janissaries are a Calixian Imperial Guard regiment. That really speaks to me as a fan of the Guard and as a player of one in this very campaign.
“These regiments are raised from the arid planet of Maccabeus Quintus, a place of fierce and stoic people and iron-strong puritan faith in the Imperial Creed. The Conclave Calixis has oath bonds with the fifth Maccabian regiment and has called on the honour debts owed to them to procure the services of ten of the most resolute and effective soldiers in the sector, lead by two experienced NCOs. The Janissaries are tough and battle-hardened men and women who are bound by oaths made in seven shrines on Maccabeus Quintus. They see serving the Emperor’s will as a sacred duty and have a grim attitude; they are not given to frivolity or humour. They spend much of their time preparing for their mission, either performing combat drills or weapons maintenance, in prayer or studying information on the environment and situation of the station on Mara.”
Not only am I looking forward to overseeing the release of Dead Stars, I am also keeping an ey on the future of the entire line. I’m certain that many of you are wondering who I am and what I plan to do with the game we love.
I’ve been playing Roleplaying games for just over 20 years now. I cut my teeth on Shadowrun. That quickly changed into a campaign of Gary Gygax’s Cyborg Commando thanks to a copy of the box set we found at a local dollar store. I picked up Warhammer 40k back in the second to third edition transition. I love the IP like no other, in particular the Inquisition and the stories that can be told through the themes that run in its veins.
I’m also a net-geek. I helped found a Warhammer 40k podcast and blog site that let me meet a lot of interesting people and learn quite a bit about the hobby on multiple fronts. It’s fun to look back and see how much my opinions have changed and grown in a short time. I understand the power of the Internet and love that I have the opportunity to supplement the game line with PDF’s. I caught the bug for designing books by building a few supplements for my gaming club to use.
A few years ago I decided I wanted to break into the gaming industry. I set my goal and began documenting the trek online. During this time I interviewed Ross Watson on my podcast and he has been a mentor and advisor to me as I developed the skills I needed to become a serious designer of tabletop RPG’s. It’s been a long road to where I am and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. I now have more road ahead (to extend the metaphor) and planning for this new adventure is exhilarating.
I have given some serious thought to what I love about Dark Heresy and how I can bring that into a full design philosophy. Roleplaying games have the strength of a referee at every table whose entire job is to interpret the rules and come up with new ways to use them on the fly. As a designer it becomes very important to carefully craft these rules so that GM’s can easily integrate them into their games. Mechanics must assist the theme and story, giving players a way to interact with the game world.
One of my favorite themes in all of 40k is that of Heroic Sacrifice. From the lowliest servitor to the Emperor himself men and women give all for the cause of humanity. This isn’t just seen in moments of glory where someone trades their life for success of the group, but also in people who give their sanity or every waking hour. There are dozens of other personal stories to tell. At the end of the day the journey of the players character is personal and resonates with the player. Dark Heresy needs to create moments of choice for characters and give players options to tell those stories.
Memorable villains and locations are important to every story but to Warhammer 40k they are imperative. The Calixis sector is rich and deep with possibilities. Dead Stars sees the closing of the Haarlock’s Legacy series, so gaming groups will want more adventures. Tools to build brilliant stories help everyone. GM’s and players alike can benefit from a variety of background options for adding new themes to their campaign and characters.
The actors and the stage can be extremely interesting and compelling but how they interact crafts the tales we tell for years. Dark Heresy is all about the mysteries and conspiracies that get uncovered. This investigation brings the game to life and gives players a chance to tell their personal story as they are entertained by the GM’s larger plot.
So what does all this mean for the future of Dark Heresy? It means I have a lot of work to do! Going forward we have a lot of ground to cover in some very exciting ways with a focus on the player and GM experience at the table. Keep your third eye on this website in the future; I plan to share every step of my journey with the fans of Dark Heresy!
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.
It would be nice to hear what products to save for.
I'm looking forward to yours and your writers' innovations!