Designer Diary: Art and Artifice, or Pictures and Profit in Dark Heresy

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Incoming Astropathic Transmission

One of the things I love about the gaming community are the discussion forums you find all over the internet. For example, I used to check websites like Dakka Dakka and Bolter and Chainsword regularly when I was the president of my local 40K miniature gaming club. I met some really interesting people and encountered some really creative expressions by tooling around on forums like those and many others. Forums can be another tool in the GM's box, a gaming resource. They serve as a storehouse for ideas, names, and advice. The forums here at the Fantasy Flight Games web site are quite good for all of that! In fact, let me show you some of the things you might otherwise have missed.

For one, there's a thread on our forums with some rather nice character art. I've used some of that art during my own Dark Heresy game. There's also a thread which has some really nice pictures you can use for antagonists for your Acolytes. Alas, forum participation is a two-edged sword. While on the one hand it provides some insight into the industry, the hobbyists, and the game itself, on the other hand it can become a massive expenditure of time. If you're anything like me, that time is spent researching answers and double-checking posts to make sure you don't say anything stupid or make a grade-school spelling error!

Working on creating the best possible books we can make for the Dark Heresy line is paramount, so it's impossible for me to be as involved with online forums as I would like. In a perfect world, perhaps, I could do both!

Money, Money Money

One of the things that had me scratching my head when I first began reading Dark Heresy is the way that Income works. For instance, the Cleric receives a monthly "allowance" far greater than the Scum. That doesn't seem QUITE so bad until the Scum finds it difficult to afford ammunition for his laspistol! One of the things I like to do when I see a situation like this is to find some options for GM's — I like options better than simply making a ruling in cases like these, because every game is different, and a solution for my ideal game may not be appropriate at all for many other gaming groups. Thus, I will present my thoughts on a number of ways to look at Income with regards to a group of Inquisitional Acolytes.

First, there's always the Inquisitor himself. The GM could, for example, say that the Inquisitor hands out an allotment of funds to the group, ideally an equal amount to each character (although perhaps a bit more for the group leader or "Prime"). This method means that the Income for each career becomes a character's personal funds, but his Inquisitional allotment supplements his available funds and ensures that even a Scum can afford the basics.

A second option is for the group itself to pool its income resources. If each character donates their income into the pool, the whole amount then becomes available to use for the group's benefit rather than for any one individual. Some groups would work well with this "need before greed" dynamic, but I would certainly say that this option is not one likely to become widely embraced! Another upside to this approach is that the group feels more in control of their funds rather than being dependent upon the remote Inquisitor to dole out the lucre.

Lastly, the GM could set aside a certain amount of funds and equipment in the form of caches secreted within the Calixis Sector. These caches could have been put into place by the Ordos precisely for Acolytes to access whilst on the hunt for cultists. The advantage of this option is that the goods themselves become part of the story — what if the cache has been already accessed by a rival band of Acolytes, pillaged by heretics, or replaced with sabotaged or marked equipment? It also provides a perfectly reasonable opportunity for GM's to include more "very rare" gear into their campaign and control access to certain items he may feel are becoming too common or unbalancing. On the downside, this approach can fall prey to the same problems of the other two options, and add an additional wrinkle in that the group may rely on these caches so much that any complication involving the caches themselves may be entirely unwelcome.

The Next Step

As promised last time, I have taken the time to distinguish a portion of my design diaries for news and sneak peeks for upcoming products. I am very pleased to say that the next book for the Dark Heresy line is making great progress. It is called Creatures Anthema, a tome describing Aliens, Beasts, and Daemons lurking in the Calixis Sector… and how to kill them in the Emperor's Name.