|Corruption, Infamy, and Apotheosis
A preview of Black Crusade, the upcoming Warhammer 40,000 Roleplaying Game
|Black Crusade | Published 29 April 2011|
Black Crusade, an upcoming roleplaying game that offers players a new perspective on the conflict between the Imperium of Man and the forces of Chaos, will be on store shelves in the third quarter of 2011. Today, we’re pleased to present a preview from Andy Hoare, one of the writers for Black Crusade. Among other contributions, Andy wrote about the mechanics for Corruption and Infamy. Thanks, Andy!
No roleplaying game about playing the nefarious servants of the Ruinous Powers would be complete without a system for awarding player characters with the ‘gifts of the gods’. Many such gifts boost a Heretic’s abilities, each successive blessing granted turning him into a living manifestation of the dark majesty of Chaos. Others are capricious or unknowable, for no mortal can truly wield the raw power of the warp without succumbing to random mutations of mind, body and soul. The ultimate goal of any true champion of the Chaos Gods is to attain the ultimate gift – Daemonhood – before too many such mutations turn him into a gibbering, thrashing Chaos Spawn.
All of this and more is addressed in the form of the rules for Corruption and Infamy, which we’ll take a look at here.
Corruption is a measure of how steeped the Heretic is in the fell energies of Chaos. It could be thought of as a means of gauging how ‘favoured’ he is by the Ruinous Powers, but that would be misleading, because even the most powerful mortal is but an insect to the unknowable denizens of the warp. Rather, Corruption measures how much of the dark blessings of Chaos the character has earned. Corruption is measured on a scale of 1 to 100, with a Heretic moving along the ‘Corruption Track’ by earning Corruption Points in a similar way to amassing Experience Points. Various deeds earn the Heretic Corruption Points, and upon reaching various thresholds he has the opportunity to gain the blessings of the Chaos Gods.
The gifts of the Chaos Gods take the form of mutations, and many of these have a two tier effect. Such mutations have a primary effect, which applies to every character that gains it, and a secondary effect, which is applicable to characters dedicated to a particular Chaos God. For example, a classic Chaos mutation is the Additional Limb, the primary effect of which is to grant the Heretic the Multiples Arms Trait. If the Heretic is dedicated to Khorne, the new limb bristles with bony spines, granting attacks made with it the Tearing quality. If he is dedicated to Slaanesh, the limb is so lithe and dextrous in its movements that its attacks are carried out at +10 to the character’s Weapon Skill. If the Heretic is dedicated to Nurgle, the limb oozes necrotic slime, which grants its attacks the Toxic (1) quality. A character dedicated to Tzeentch is gifted with a limb that darts and writhes in such an unpredictable manner that he can use it to Disarm opponents as a Free Action.
Infamy describes how, well, ‘infamous’ a character is. It determines how feared he is, how legendary the tales told of his deeds, and the esteem in which other dark champions hold him. A character’s Infamy stat has several uses in the game, one of the most important being as a marker of the resources available to him. Instead of spending money to gain resources (for the denizens of the Screaming Vortex barter in nothing but souls) the player characters are able to obtain weapons, armour, services and the likes according to their Infamy. Especially infamous characters can simply demand whatever they want from the fearful inhabitants of the Vortex, while less infamous ones must beg, steal and borrow the tools they need.
Apotheosis or Spawndom
There is one key instance when both Infamy and Corruption come together, and that is when the characters approach the final stage of their careers. At the beginning of the campaign, the GM decides the relative ‘difficulty’ of the story arc. Characters are judged or held to account by the fell denizens of the Warp when they reach the stated Corruption threshold, which is generally 75, 90 or 100 Corruption Points. Depending on how much Infamy the characters have amassed throughout their brief service, they might be judged wanting and be reduced to seething, howling Chaos Spawns. If they have amassed a high level of Infamy when they reach the Corruption threshold, they may – just may – have attained the ultimate favour of the Ruinous Powers and be granted the gift of Apotheosis, becoming a mighty and eternal Daemon Prince, the ruin of worlds and ultimate foe of the Imperium.
Most characters will never become daemon princes of course, and the majority will die before the risk of being reduced to a Chaos Spawn presents itself. Those who attain 140 Infamy before reaching 100 Corruption face another fate, one that the GM may handle directly through a drastic change in the direction of the campaign, or indirectly. Such characters have the chance to lead a Black Crusade, amassing a mighty army of heretics and fiends and descending upon the weakling Imperium of Man to reduce all to ruins.
And this is the point of Black Crusade – the path to glory is truly strewn with the shattered bones of those that sought to wield the powers of Chaos without considering that all but the strongest fall by the wayside in the process. Only the very strongest survive, those willing to gamble all for power and immortality. Campaigns have a set time limit, determined by the GM and the players, and the characters burn brightly, if briefly as they rise to ultimate power. Only at the very moment of their judgement, when they reach their pre-arranged Corruption threshold, do they discover the ultimate fate of their very souls. Whatever the result, it can be guaranteed that GM and players will have many tall tales to tell as a result!
Black Crusade 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 Disciples of the Dark Gods, working against the rule of the galaxy-spanning Imperium of Man and in pursuit of personal glory.
Just going off of what has been released thus far. If I'd seen the rules, I'd be giddier than a kid in a chocolate factory. ;)
Dreadlord... we are now best friends. lol
You either die a villian or live long enough to become a god.
Ok, point taken. An end date to a campaign does kind of say that you either be awesome in a short amount of time or the gods find a way to make the rest of your time in the mortal realm a living hell. But I've already talked to my future GM about this. I'm just going to say that the "terminal point" is when I either die or wish I was dead.
Also, as a small counter point, doesn't this mean that the Gods are watching you and their time is short and precious? So you have very little time to prove your mettle before they decide your fate. An end point could be years down the road (of either game or real time).
But I suppose in this, a small mixing of the words from a famous quote is in order:
"You either die the hero, or live long enough to see yourself become the villain."
Just switch the words hero and villain in this scenario. lol
Well ... yes, naturally, you are right house rules can solve almost anything. But that doesn't really negate the negative that you needed to house rule in the first place.
It doesn't change my opinion a built in 'end date' for any rpg game/campaign is an inherently bad and completely unnecessary concept.
@Deinos, I'm hoping that they will add rules for apotheosis in either the core book or a supplement so I can do just that. And playing as a mewling spawn could be kind of hilarious and violent lol. I dig it. But If they fail then someone in this circle of people who obviously know what they're talking about can very easily come up with quite the simple and useful version for the purposes we seek. Then the game won't end. And then this argument is moot.
Am I right, gentlemen (and possibly one or two ladies)?
Alpharius ... have you seen the rules, or are you simply making assumptions?
Oh great, I hate arbitrary "you win the game/you lose the game" moments in RPGs. I say, let players continue to play as a Daemon Prince or even Chaos Spawn. Being a crazy tentacle monster can still be fun.
@Alpha Chaos 13,
A legitimate concern, but I think the system FFG has come up with is a decent balance in portraying the fickleness of the Chaos gods while allowing the player some measure of control over the fates of their character.
But if players manipulating the system is a concern, why not make the GM keep track of the numbers instead of the player? Keep 'em guessing!
@ Alpherius Omegon - The Realm of Chaos books are the crown jewels of my library. I fully agree with your points. It's the set ending for the campaign that I don't like. As you will recall, the Chaos Warbands from RoC earned Rewards & Attributes for their champions (and followers to a lesser extent) using random tables. When a champion rolled Eye of God (which was 90-something to 100 on 1d100), the champion is assessed by his patron deity. If he had too many Attributes, he became a Chaos Spawn. Enough Rewards earned the champion daemonic apotheosis. If he did not have enough of either, he got some kind of boon & continued his career. This concept is perfect for an RPG. It's the jarring end to the game I don't like. I think it's a bad idea for the players to know that they are close to the "cut off" & have the ability to attempt to play with the numbers. I like the idea, just not the way it seems to have been implemented. As I said, I will reserve judgement until I can see the rules.
I suggest you read up on Chaos Lore a little. Firstly, I don't think Corruption is going to be a karma meter, with bad deeds upping your score. Instead, it'll probably be a measure of the actual taint of the warp your character has accumulated - and those who receive too much of this taint without having the power to control it and without being interesting enough for the Powers That Be to be elevated run the risk of being consumed and mutated into spawn. That's always been that way.
Wise characters will generally abstain from using the powers of the warp that directly, instead making do with what they have rather than begging papa nurgle for more at every chance until he's bored with their constant nagging.
@Adam France and Alpha Chaos 13,
I don't think FFG is being contradictory at all. If you ever owned the original Realms of Chaos or have read much of the Games Workshop books, you'd know that the end of the road for any Chaos champion has always been described as either ultimate power or spawndom.
And Corruption is a perfectly legitimate way to keep track of your progression towards spawndom. It's not so much a case of being "too evil", which is a ridiculous way of putting it, but rather it's a way of seeing just how far gone your character is. One either masters Chaos or becomes its slave (or more of a slave than others) and Corruption is the process of letting Chaos get the better of oneself.
Infamy, on the other hand, is a score that measures how well you are able to turn your deeds into benefits. People like Stalin were able to turn their evil into power while people like Henry Lee Lucas were only ever able to turn their evil into body counts. The former is an example of Infamy, the latter is an example of Corruption.
All in all, I think FFG is doing a great job and I'm looking forward to Black Crusade's release.