“The fool, the coward and the ignorant proclaim that the Warp is a realm of unknowable peril and indescribable terror, that it is the hell of countless ancient myths and legends. This is a lie, told by those whose authority is based on lies long forgotten, to keep the masses terrified of the unknown. The Warp is limitless in power and infinite in the secrets it contains; it is knowledge and strength, life and death, and the untapped potential to make and remake worlds. It takes only the discipline and the will to shape it; those who lack that clarity of purpose are liable to be shaped by it instead."
–Ahzek Ahriman, Sorcerer of the Thousand Sons
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 Nathan Dowdell, one of the writers for Black Crusade. Among other contributions, Nathan wrote about the mechanics for Psychic Powers. Thanks, Nathan!
One of the defining factors of the Warhammer 40,000 universe is the Warp. Its presence shapes and informs much of the way the setting works, from the simple necessities of travel and communication across interstellar distances, to the abyssal horrors that dwell within the Immaterium, and the ravening power that a few can draw from it.
Such thoughts were foremost in our minds as we worked on one of Black Crusade thematic and interesting chapters, developing the latest iteration of the psychic power rules and other matters arcane and sorcerous.
The Power of the Warp
Psychic powers are an additional layer in any Warhammer 40,000 Roleplay game, requiring extra rules and abilities above and beyond those that non-psykers use. The system remains essentially the same as the versions in Rogue Trader and Deathwatch , however we took the chance to add some additional material and versatility.
One of the largest changes was the introduction of varying difficulties for powers. Some psychic powers are more or less difficult to wield than others—an element of Dark Heresy ’s original psychic rules—so we chose to apply the range of standard difficulties to the Focus Power Tests needed to use different abilities. Added to that is another interesting concept: a variety of characteristics used for Focus Power Tests. Willpower is still king for most Psykers, but diviners may have a strong inclination towards Psyniscience, and some of the nastiest powers in the book are extensions of a tainted soul, powered by the Psyker’s accumulated Corruption.
Of course, the powers themselves are nothing without the means to employ them, and the Black Crusade team set out from the start to ensure that a variety of different techniques and styles were available to psykers in Black Crusade . The core rules don’t change for any of them, but through a variety of effects collectively known as Paths to Power (ranging from burning your own life away for power, to human sacrifice, to rites and ritualistic incantations), and the selection of background and alternative names given for each power, there should be sufficient tools and encouragement for a Psyker character to be unique and distinct.
The powers themselves are numerous, and Black Crusade contains an extensive and diverse collection of psychic powers, spread across three disciplines of generic powers (Telepathy, Telekinesis and Divination) and five alignments of Chaos-specific powers (Unaligned, Tzeentch, Nurgle, Slaanesh and Exalted – the latter being a small collection of dangerous, expensive powers for the mightiest of Unaligned Sorcerers). Some of these powers, such as the infamous Doombolt and deadly Bolt of Change, have long been staples of the Warhammer 40,000 Universe. Others, such as the terrifying Primordial Annihilation, are newer fare. However, in either case, we strove to provide a psyker character with diverse, thematic, and even balanced psychic powers, whether those powers are re-imagined classics or something completely new.
To end the chapter, Black Crusade expands on concepts first developed in the other Warhammer 40,000 Roleplay lines—rituals. Rituals are a staple of chaos cultists across the Warhammer 40,000 universe, and Black Crusade allows players to create their own with some simple but customizable rules.
Thanks, Nathan! Keep checking back for more, and look for Black Crusade on store shelves later this quarter!