A Designer Diary on Inquests in Enemies Within
“We thought he perished during our last encounter, but the ritual markings undoubtedly show the involvement of that damnable heretic Zethor. I don’t know how he escaped the purge on Temperance, but with the Emperor’s guidance, this time we will make sure of his fate.”
–Witch-Seeker Arbella Syne
The Askellon sector groans beneath the weight of a billion billion souls and their numberless sins. Everywhere, heresy sprouts and blooms, infecting the innocent and spreading madness. For such unquestionable evil, there is only one certain cure: the cleansing fire of the Inquisition and the Ordo Hereticus.
Yet finding the roots of corruption is difficult. An Inquisitor’s Acolytes must develop a plan of investigation and follow the clues before they can confront the source of the heresy. In the Enemies Within sourcebook for Dark Heresy Second Edition, you’ll find new rules to give structure to your Inquests in the Imperium.
Today, Tim Cox shares his perspective on the Inquest rules he developed for Enemies Within!
Tim Cox on Inquests in Enemies Within
Mysteries and investigations lie at the heart of Dark Heresy Second Edition, as Acolytes and Inquisitors strive to uncover the threats to humanity, but mysteries also rank among the most difficult adventures for GMs to run and for players to follow. To assist players and GMs with running investigations and tracking the Acolytes’ progress, Enemies Within includes new rules for Inquests. These rules help players solve mysteries, conduct investigations, and hunt down the heretics, witches, and mutants that threaten the survival of Mankind.
When developing the rules for Inquests, I wanted to provide structure and mechanics to support investigative play without constraining GMs or players. Inquests needed rules that were flexible enough to represent any sort of mystery or heresy a GM might invent, while providing a solid foundation to ensure the plot advances. I also wanted to keep the focus on targeted investigations against known heretics and cults, while maintaining the flexibility to handle other types of mysteries.
Planting the Seeds
At their heart, the final rules for Inquests provide an organised system for conducting investigations, presenting guidelines that GMs can use to build their own mystery adventures. Although GMs can use Inquest rules for any investigation, they are best suited to handling investigations initiated by the Acolytes (or a Player Character Inquisitor). The beginning of an Inquest invites the Acolytes to plan the focus of their investigation, selecting their target and determining the Inquest’s scope – Minoris, Majoris, or Extremis. The scope is a reflection of the mission’s difficulty and length, and it dictates the Influence rewards for success.
The amount of player involvement in an Inquest means that Acolytes have the discretion to choose their target, the scope of their objective, and the resources they will use to accomplish it. This ensures that players and GMs are on the same page at the outset of the adventure and it further represents the discretion that trusted Acolytes and even Inquisitors exercise in deciding which threats to pursue and how best to prosecute their duties.
Chasing the Heresy
During an Inquest, Acolytes accrue Investigation points by finding clues and following leads, resulting in a tangible measurement for their progress. The number of Investigation points needed to complete an Inquest depends on its scope. A higher scope generally means more clues for the Acolytes to find.
In an Inquest, clues have an assigned Investigation point value, which can vary greatly based on the clue’s importance. In order for the Inquest to progress, the Acolytes might need to find a single vital clue or several minor clues. Acolytes gain additional Investigation points for successfully uncovering leads from a clue, but a mistaken interpretation or a false lead can actually cost them points.
Once the Acolytes have obtained a predetermined number of Investigation points, they trigger a Revelation, or an important break in the case. In order to benefit from the Revelation, they must successfully navigate a Confrontation – an important encounter with the potential to change the course of an investigation. Although Confrontations don’t always involve combat, they are often encounters with important heretics and lieutenants of the Acolytes’ target, or even with highly placed members of the organization the Acolytes seek to bring down. Confrontations may also be shocking discoveries, tense social encounters, or other important developments.
When the warband achieves the necessary total Investigation points, the results of their clues lead to the final Confrontation with their target, and the opportunity to successfully complete the Inquest. If the Acolytes are successful, they and their Inquisitor receive Influence based on the scope of the Inquest. Even if the Acolytes fail to defeat their foe, obtaining enough Investigation points nets them a reduced Influence reward. In some cases, such as during an Inquest against a particularly powerful Nemesis, just undoing his horrid schemes may be all that is possible.
Nothing According to Plan
One of my favourite elements of the Inquest rules is complications. At the outset of an Inquest, a GM can choose from a selection of complications or randomly determine one. Complications range from jurisdictional disputes with local forces or a branch of the Adeptus Terra, to local customs or practices that threaten to delay the investigation, to betrayal by a trusted ally. Each complication has mechanical effects and may cost the Acolytes Investigation points or affect their Subtlety.
Although players have a good deal more involvement in the selection, creation, and prosecution of an Inquest than they might in other adventures, complications provide a level of unpredictability and surprise that keeps the Acolytes on their toes. And although they may choose the target and scope of their Inquest, no Acolyte can ever tell for certain where that Inquest may lead them.
Doing the Emperor’s Work
I hope both GMs and players will enjoy incorporating Inquests into their games. Whether hunting down old foes or uncovering nascent threats, Inquests make up the work of the Inquisition. I look forward to hearing about the mysteries your Acolytes uncover and the threats you contend with!
Prepare to uncover the cults and heresies that fester throughout the Askellon sector with the new rules for Inquests. Check back for our next preview, in which we look at the new options available to your Acolytes as you work alongside the Ordo Hereticus.
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