News for April 2011
Corruption, Infamy, and Apotheosis 33
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.

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Comments (33)

Published: 5/3/2011 9:30:30 AM

I really like the way that BC is heading. This RPG seams to be good for more solo or small groups of players. With minions and self centered gameplay you could have a GM and 1-2 players and have a good campaign going. We all know its sometimes difficult to get 4-5 players in the same building for long periods of time.

If your gaming group is larger, your character that happens to become a Chaos Spawn doesn't really have to end, You can just roll up another character and if the Chaos Spawn is needed then play both or if possible have your old character as a minion. The rest of your group can carry on with the campaign. It all depends on your GM as most rules are just guild lines.

I believe that FFG is setting these rules to help GMs keep some control and group cohesion.

Alpha Chaos 13
Published: 5/2/2011 1:21:10 PM

Agreed Adam. I will soon be running the final story for a Star Wars RPG I have been GMing on & off for THIRTEEN YEARS. It has finally come time to end it & I couldn't be happier with the journey. A truly good & epic campaign can't be premade & packaged; it must unfold organically, just like real life. It's an odd paradox that of all the games to impose these restrictions on, they chose the Chaos one.

Night Lord
Published: 5/2/2011 12:23:21 PM


If you just go around virus bombing,enslaving, and sacrificing entire worlds to the gods, sure you're going to gain corruption points.  But Daemon Princes are considered Lieutenants in the armies from beyond.  So to show that you can indeed command and lead soldiers and you're worth more to them than just a mewling spawn, then you're going to have to amass a little bit of power along the way.  Make a name for yourself, and serve the gods by doing more than blowing up worlds.  More followers = more power.  More power = more followers. 

On the flip side, if you just so happen to not even try and please the gods, but gain a lot of power then BAM! Black Crusade for you!

Only the strongest can survive.  We're going to have to play a different kind of smart from the ones we're used to in DH, RT, and DW.

Adam France
Published: 5/2/2011 10:31:49 AM

A DH/RT character plausibly would be avoiding Chao taint, insanity, and corruption. I thought BC was about BEING a Chaos Champion. Not just being a Chaos Champion, but aspiring to rise through the ranks of Chaos infamy to lead a ... Black Crusade. It would be absurdly game-ick to suggest such an aspiring Chaos Champion wasn't fully embracing Chaos, or was trying to avoid Chaos's taint/or boons if you prefer, just so his 'corruption' score in-game doesn't go up and end the campaign.

It's a huge mixed message; aspire to become a Chaos warlord ... but y'know ... don't be too Chaotic. Slaughter worlds ... but ... run an orphanage on your off days. Ridiculous.

Published: 5/2/2011 8:43:44 AM

I do not really see the difference between having reached 100 corruption points or insanity points in Dark heresy or Rogue Trader and the Infamy and Corruption system described here.

Don't want the campaign to end early? Make sure you're not putting your character at the risk of becoming a chaos spawn. Don't want to make the campaign change focus by becoming a Daemon Prince? Give some kittens to the orphans or the like to reduce your infamy/corruption.

Seems straight forward enough to me.

Adam France
Published: 5/2/2011 6:53:56 AM

A preset ending to any campaign is a bad idea imo, even if you have a very firm idea of where the campaign is meant to go. In my experience ANY campaign can go in very unexpected directions, which is often one of the real pleasures of GMing, but that aside this rule means GMs will need to (some degree) work out where a campaign is going from the start - that's potentially another pain in the ass right there. Some of the best campaigns I've run have started without any clear direction (or planned 'story arc') and grown slowly in the telling, from standalone adventure to adventure.

FFG seem to love a) setting artificial in game limits within their systems ('when you get to this level of power you must stop')  and b) generally being vindictive to players through punishing pcs. 

Personally, I don't think a flat 'worthless spawn or super-duper daemon-prince' equation either fits canon (where we see plenty of VERY long live Chaos champions with no apparent 'deadline' approaching in their future), or makes for an enjoyable game mechanic, or a useful one for a GM who presumably could become hooked by the Corruption limits he set at the start of the campaign.

But ... hey, we shall see.  

Night Lord
Published: 5/1/2011 10:37:44 PM

Abbadon also consistently refuses daemohood.  He doesn't want it until the false-emperor has been deposed. 

But either Daemohood or leading a Black Crusade.  Interesting choice...

I choose both.

Published: 5/1/2011 3:34:23 PM

Most chaos lords do die out or become replaced.  Abbadon is a poor example, as no one other than Horus has ever gained the favour of all four gods at once (not to mention that someone has to stay consistent in the chaos dex other than Fabulous Bile).

Examine the plight of the Warsmiths of the Iron Warriors in "Storm of Iron" and "Black Sun Dead Sky".  The Sabbat worlds Crusade (from Gaunts Ghosts: Traitor General onwards) is another good example:  chaos (not unlike the imperial warmasters Slaydo and Macaroth) are constantly vying for power and stabbing each other to get it... or getting reduced to jelly by cosmic horrors beyond time.

Alpha Chaos 13
Published: 5/1/2011 1:55:49 PM

Comment thirteen. <grin>

Alpha Chaos 13
Published: 5/1/2011 1:55:14 PM

I'm not really feeling the concept of the campaign having a preset ending. I feel that it will prove to be an obstacle to the story. Additionally, I would hate to have to stop playing a treasured character "because." Chaos villains don't always "burn brightly, but briefly."  The traitor legions have been burning for millennia. Granted it's not always bright, but the point is that even an archfiend like Abbadon has had a very long career. I will reserve judgement until I can actually see the rules.

Published: 5/1/2011 9:37:12 AM

If the Heretic is dedicated to Nurgle, the limb oozes necrotic slime, which grants its attacks the Toxic (1)

Seems there are changes about how the "Toxic" traits works. Which is met by me. Their are different ways a toxic can work, so different trait options are a good idea.

@Gaining corruption
Perhaps...just perhaps.... us DH Gamemasters will now get a more detailed guideline on how, where and why to throw CP at the PC. ...hmmm

Published: 4/30/2011 7:25:24 PM

You get paid for being EEEvil?  Just like in real life (Amin, Bush), etc.!  (lol)

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