Black Crusade

I swear to make war on the Imperium and its people, and I will go to my grave tearing down the walls of that benighted, decadent, and foolish empire. It is not I, in the end, who have betrayed the Imperium; it is the Imperium who has betrayed me. It is the Imperium who has betrayed us all.     
   –Commander Phineas Gage, Master of the Voidborn Deserters

Black Crusade is a remarkable addition to Fantasy Flight Games’ popular Warhammer 40,000 Roleplay line, offering players an entirely new perspective on the conflict between the Imperium of Man and the forces of Chaos. This groundbreaking concept delivers the unprecedented opportunity to play as a Disciple of the Dark Gods, whether as a Chaos Space Marine or a human Servant of Chaos.

One common factor between Dark HeresyRogue Trader, and Deathwatch is Chaos, the ubiquitous antagonist responsible for much of what defines this immersive setting. But with Black Crusade, players can examine this exciting universe through an entirely new lens. Who are the characters, and what set them on the path of corruption? Are they willingly in league with the enemies of humanity, or are they merely the deluded slaves of forces far beyond their comprehension? More importantly, where will their paths lead them? Those chosen few who escape the obscurity of death or the horror of mutation may even earn the ultimate sign of their master’s favor: ascension to daemonhood.

Black Crusade offers players a chance to explore the depth of this universe in a unique new way, and it gives Game Masters of all four Warhammer 40,000 Roleplay titles the ultimate toolkit to create engaging new villains.

The Fall of the Imperium Grows Near

For more than a hundred centuries the Emperor has sat immobile on the Golden Throne of Earth. He is the master of mankind by the will of the gods, and master of a million worlds by the might of his inexhaustible armies. He is a rotting carcass writing invisibly with power from the Dark Age of Technology. He is the Carrion Lord of the Imperium for whom a thousand souls are sacrificed every day, so that he may never truly die.

Yet in his deathless state, the Emperor continues his eternal vigilance. Mighty battlefleets cross the daemon-infested miasma of the warp, the only route between distant stars, their way lit by the Astronomicon, the psychic manifestation of the Emperor’s will. Vast armies give battle in his name on uncounted worlds. Greatest amongst his soldiers are the Adeptus Astartes, the Space Marines, bio-engineered super-warriors. Their comrades in arms are legion: the countless Imperial Guard, the ever-vigilant Inquisition and the Tech-Priests of the Adeptus Mechanicus, to name but a few. But for all their multitudes, they are barely enough to hold off the ever-present threat from aliens, heretics, mutants—and worse.

To be a man in such times is to be one amongst untold billions. It is to live in the cruelest and most bloody regime imaginable. Yet there are those who rise above those teeming masses, rejecting the conformity and servile nature of mankind. The ignorant call them traitors, heretics, and the damned, but they know themselves as the Disciples of the Dark Gods.

Lead a Black Crusade

Service to Chaos is about personal glory, for ultimate power lies within reach of those strong enough to grasp it. Through the influence of Chaos, an individual can claim riches and fame beyond all imagining—or fall utterly into ruin. This path is no easy one and many falter along the way; whether mighty warriors or potent psykers, the Champions of Chaos must prevail by their own strength. 

By taking on the roles of Heretics in a Black Crusade game, players can chart their own course to immortality or damnation. Whatever his capabilities or background, a Heretic sets himself against impossible odds and an uncaring universe in pursuit of his goals. The perils are immense. The Chaos gods (if they notice such supplicants at all) may capriciously help or hinder their mortal followers from time to time, each of whom must forge his own destiny within the ever-changing schemes of the Ruinous Powers. The gods care little for their would-be Champions and delight as much in their fall as their elevation. 

A Heretic’s plans can be as diverse as subtly corrupting an august Imperial institution or leading a bloodthirsty pirate raid, and the agents of Chaos work at every level, both inside the Imperium and outside it. Heretics might battle Underhive gangers for control of illicit resources on one world while engaging with Merchant Houses to sell them on another. They may seek to co-ordinate hidden cults and cells, or else hunt them down and destroy them for the greater glory of their own gods. They might elect to build an army and lead it to victory, or choose to spread plagues and epidemics across the stars. They might even deal with daemons for forbidden lore and risk their souls in dire pacts. No overarching plan or great hierarchy exists to direct the Heretic's actions; they must achieve them through their own willpower and intellect. 

But all Heretics are, ultimately, running a race against both the corrupting nature of Chaos and time itself. Most will fall, either to the blades and bolters of their enemies or to the corruption that fills their bodies and souls. A few, however, may transcend this fate, watching their reputations spread across the Screaming Vortex. Only then, the Dark Gods may reward them for their accomplishments by raising them to become Daemon Princes. A rare few may even become so renowned, so feared, and so respected that warbands and warriors across the Vortex fight to serve under their banner, hungry for the plunder and glory that follows such an individual. These chosen champions of the Ruinous Powers can then control the Screaming Vortex and forge it into a mighty horde of destruction. With that, they can grasp the ultimate accomplishment—leading their armies on a Black Crusade against the Imperium itself. 

What Is Roleplaying?

In a roleplaying game (RPG), you create an alter ego, a fictional character that is your avatar within the game world. Perhaps you will create a stoic soldier, a wise scholar, or an inspiring leader. Next, you and your friends direct your characters through a series of adventures. Imagine a crime drama, adventure film, or war movie—except that instead of passively watching the story unfold, you control one of the characters, making his decisions, selecting his actions, and even speaking for him. The decisions of you and your fellow players directly affect the events of the story.

How can you affect these events? How do you decide what happens? That is the role of the game itself. Roleplaying games such as Black Crusade provide a framework of rules that describe how to design your character and operate him within the game. Rules can cover situations like shootouts, chase scenes, or investigating the records from a long-abandoned Space Hulk. Often, the rules require you to roll dice when performing an action, with some results indicating success and others indicating failure. While the rules provide structure and guidelines in the game, dice add an element of chance. After all, success would not seem so sweet if there were no risk of failure! Jumping from one cliff face to another becomes much more exciting when the slightest misstep (or bad dice roll!) may result in your character falling into the abyss below.

At first, RPGs like Black Crusade may appear to have a lot of rules. However, you will soon see that the rules are actually quite simple, easy to remember, and often very intuitive. To adjudicate these rules, each game has a Game Master (or GM). The GM is you, or one of your friends, chosen by the consensus of your group. He does not control a lone character during the game. Instead, the GM runs the game, presenting the story and the myriad situations that come with it. He controls the people your character meets in the game, controls the encounters and strange occurrences that shape your decisions as to your actions, and is basically both the game’s narrator and referee.

All of the other players control characters within the world around which the story revolves. These characters are known as the Player Characters (PCs). During the game, the players describe the intentions and actions of their characters to the GM, who then decides (based on the rules) whether those actions succeed or fail, and how the character’s words and deeds affect the game’s story.

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