+++Incoming Astropathic Transmission+++
Greetings Dark Heresy fans!
This week I’m bringing you another glimpse at the contents of The Radical’s Handbook ...specifically, in the realm of daemonhosts. These vile creations involve coercing a creature of the warp into possessing a mortal host, and then binding the possessed body (and the daemon within) with specially-forged chains of psy-active materials, ancient words of power scribed into the host’s flesh, and other mysterious methods.
Once bound, a daemonhost is a vessel of great power, and they have been used as tools for both good and ill by the Inquisition. However, their use is condemned by the Puritan factions, and those Inquisitors who resort to creating a daemonhost are branded amongst the most shunned of Radicals. Even some Radicals consider them too dangerous to tamper with!
Chapter V: The Dark Arts explores (amongst other things) the creation of daemonhosts, a fact that I took advantage of when creating a daemonhost for my Dark Heresy campaign. Imagine, if you will, the evil laughter even now echoing within my office! However, let’s get down to business. The first thing one must decide when creating a daemonhost is, naturally, what kind of daemon one wishes to bind. There are many daemons to choose from, including several in the Dark Heresy Rulebook and many more within the pages of Disciples of the Dark Gods and Creatures Anathema .
In this instance, the daemon at hand is one “Spayr,” an unspeakable creature summoned by a cult magus in a bid to stave off his enemies. This daemon is commonly known as a “Dispayre” (found on page 352 of the Dark Heresy Rulebook), and performs well as a malefic hunter that the cult can use to stalk the Acolytes of the Inquisition.
The next requirement for a daemonhost is the host itself, a willing (or more often, unwilling!) victim. In this case, the cult magus captured an Assassin serving Inquisitor Antonia Mesmeron. With both daemon and host at hand, the cult magus could perform his ritual and thus create the daemonhost. Although the Acolytes of Antonia Mesmeron attempted to disrupt the ritual, they were too late, and were confronted by the form of their former comrade. Her eyes glowing, her body floating several feet in the air, tendrils of raw warp-stuff crackled from her fingertips, and a bloody battle was joined.
Generating the Daemonhost
A GM can approach creating the statistics for a daemonhost in two different ways. The first, and probably the simplest, is to use the rules for daemonhosts found in the Dark Heresy Rulebook on page 355. Simply generate the appropriate statistics following the rules on those page (skipping the part that determines what level of binding the daemonhost possesses, since that has already been determined).
However, since the binding process applies to a specific daemon, the GM can follow these steps instead.
First, the daemon keeps its Weapon Skill, Ballistic Skill, Intelligence, Perception, Willpower, and Fellowship at the levels before it was bound. Then, take the daemon’s Strength and Agility. Reduce each stat by 1d5 per level of binding (so a twice-bound daemonhost’s Strength and Agility would reduce by 2d5). Then, take the daemon’s Toughness and Wounds. Increase each stat by 1d5 per level of binding (so that same twice-bound daemonhost’s Toughness and Wounds would both increase by 2d5).
The Spayr daemonhost was twice-bound, meaning that it lost 2d5 Strength and Agility, but it gained 2d5 Toughness and Wounds. After making the rolls, Spayr’s profile looks like this:
The GM can roll randomly for the daemonhost’s Unholy Changes and Daemonic Presence. Alternatively, he can select ones he feels suits his particular daemon. For Spayr, I chose the second option, and selected Inner Fire. Its daemonic presence creates the smell of burnt paper and hot metal.
Instead of rolling for Psychic Powers, the daemonhost possesses any Psychic Powers it had while a daemon. A once-bound daemon has a Psy Rating of 5, twice-bound have a Psy Rating of 4, and thrice-bound have a Psy Rating of 3. Being twice-bound, Spayr possesses a Psy Rating of 4 and the special Gaze of Oblivion Psychic Power, meaning that Spayr inflicts Intelligence Damage and Insanity Points upon its enemies.
Finally, the daemon keeps any and all Skills and Talents it possessed. It replaces its Traits with Daemonic, Dark Sight, Fear 4, Flyer (AB), From Beyond, and Natural Weapons (Fangs, Claws, or Fists). A daemonhost’s Natural Weapons do not count as Primitive. If the GM desires, he can have the daemonhost retain certain Traits that are thematically appropriate. For this particular daemonhost, the circumstances of its creation revolved around the cult magus’ desire for an unstoppable slayer-of-men. Therefore, I decided that Spayr gained the Regeneration Trait to represent that element of enduring hate that had been part of its creation.
Fortunately, the Acolytes did manage to destroy both the cult magus and his dark designs—including the eventual exorcism of their former comrade. Many daemonhosts mean that the victim used in its creation loses his or her soul utterly in the process. However, the strength of the Assassin’s faith was strong, and she retained her identity throughout the ordeal. Now, cleansed of the daemon’s taint, the exorcised assassin known only as “Seraph” serves at the right hand of Inquisitor Antonia Mesmeron—for Inquisitor Mesmeron is a Radical of the Oblationist faction, and has little difficulty using such a tool against the enemies of Chaos that she opposes.
The Next Step
Next week, prepare yourselves for the opening of the 2009 Dark Heresy Adventure contest! This year’s contest has a Radical theme, and the grand prize is a signed copy of The Radical’s Handbook . Until next time, may the light of the Golden Throne show you the way...and hopefully guide your steps away from the dark path of the Radical.
Dark Heresy is a roleplaying game set in the Warhammer 40,000 universe, 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.