Bill Heron: Gaming in Edinburgh and other RPG stuff

Dark Heresy

Fires of Perdition – Only War & Dark Heresy Setting

Fires of Perdition was a game I’ve wanted to run for a while, and is set in the Midwinter Expanse. The group will play Adeptus Arbites (wh40k Judges), solving crimes in the hive city of Perdition.  I though its would be fun to run a game that didn’t focus on Chaos, Daemons, or Xenos – instead one that focused on dealing with the realities of the 41st Millennium – crime, social unrest, and good ole-fashioned bad guys. For more information, there’s more detail on the ORC Edinburgh Wiki here. It’s also given me some ideas for the Mutant Chronicles Dark Symmetry campaign.

What’s interesting (to me, anyway) is that I’m using the “Only War” wh40k RPG for Fires of Perdition. This might seem an unusual choice, as Only War focuses upon Imperial Guard, not the Adeptus Arbites, which you can play in Dark Heresy. There is method in my madness however. Dark Heresy is a flawed book and it has taken several volumes for Fantasy Flight to get the balance right. I’ve played through most of the wh40k RPGs from Fantasy Flight. I’ve a number of criticisms of the books that are more layout related and setting specific – such as being properly laid out, a better index, etc.

They can be pretty intensive with some of the rules (e.g. squad rules in Deathwatch) that to my mind get in the way of a smooth sessions running. Given that a third of the books are usually fluff as well, I’m more than happy to stick to a single simplified rules set. In the past we’ve had these fairly weighty tomes, but they all share a similar rules set. So I’ve basically taken Only War and applied the skill aptitudes to the Arbitrator from Dark Heresy. This was before the second edition of Dark Heresy came out! As you may have noticed, there’s a similarity to 2000AD’s Judge Dredd. This is by design: the Arbites are mentioned as being somewhat similar to the Judges in early editions, and I thought “So why not?”

I’ve also added a little more variety to the Arbites roles, as well as coming up with some decent vehicles that they might have. This way, not all the Arbites PCs will be the same in Fires of Perdition. All Arbites begin with the following skills: Common Lore – Adeptus Arbites, Common Lore – Imperium, Common Lore – Perdition, Inquiry, Scholastic Lore – Judgment. All Arbites begin with the following talents: Weapon training (Bolt, Las, Power, Solid Projectile) They begin play with the following standard equipment: Bolt pistol, Carapace armour (Head, Arms, Body, Legs), helmet with micro-bead and respirator.

Creating Arbites PCs for Fires of Perdition

There are a number of different roles in Perdition’s Adeptus Arbites. Some are extremely specialised, but the majority of Judges are Street Judges (but that shouldn’t stop players choosing, say, PsiDiv). When creating Arbites PC, roll 2d10+20 as normal for stats. For most PC Judges in Fires of Perdition, their homeworld will be Crucible. They can come from a different world – roll a D10: if a 10 is rolled on a 1d10, they can come from a different world entirely (using the rules in Dark Heresy). PCs all start with D4+1 Fate Points and D6 +12 Wounds.

Street Judge (Vigiles Civitas)

The rank and file of Adeptus Arbites are Street Judges. They are Judge, jury, and all-too-often, executioner. They are uncompromising, tough and hard-bitten, and only a few survive to retirement. Street Judges usually know their territory or “beat” extremely well.

  • Characteristic Bonus: +5 Ballistic Skill
  • Starting Aptitudes: Ballistic Skill, Defence, Finesse, Offence, Strength, Toughness, Weapon Skill
  • Starting Skills: Awareness, Charm or Intimidate, Interrogation
  • Starting Talents: Double Team, Quick Draw or Rapid Reload, Take Down
  • Specialist Equipment: 2 Stun Grenades, Power Maul, Heracles (Perdition Pattern) motorcycle

Templars (Vigiles Doctrinas)

Sometimes called Templars and Temple Guards, these Arbites are tasked with keeping the Imperial Faithful in line. As well as being ceremonial guards for the Ecclesiarchy, they also investigate possible claims of miracles or heresy and are well versed in religious law and doctrine.

  • Characteristic Bonus: +5 Intelligence
  • Starting Aptitudes: Ballistic Skill, Defence, Intelligence, Knowledge, Weapon Skill, Willpower
  • Starting Skills: Awareness, Common Lore – Ecclesiarchy or Common Lore – Imperial Cult, Intimidate, Scrutiny, Forbidden Lore – Cults
  • Starting Talents: Cold Hearted, Peer (Ecclesiarchy), Weapon Training (Low Tech)
  • Specialist Equipment: Power Sword, Ceremonial Glaive (Great Weapon)

Tech Judges (Vigiles Vestibulum)

Tech Judges, often called TekJudges or TekDiv, are trained in the ways of the Mechanicus Ominissiah. Most station houses have their own TechPriest, but there is a requirement for technical knowledge in the field. TekJudges are trained to deal in all manner of forensics, computer or otherwise, as well as documenting a crime scene.

  • Characteristic Bonus: +5 Intelligence
  • Starting Aptitudes: Ballistic Skill, Fieldcraft, Intelligence, Knowledge, Tech, Willpower
  • Starting Skills: Common Lore – Tech, Forbidden Lore – Adeptus Mechanicus or Logic, Interrogation or Security, Operate (Surface) or Operate (Aeronautica), Scholastic Lore – Chymistry or Scholastic Lore – Cyphers, Tech Use
  • Starting Talents: Exotic Weapon training – Webber, Technical Knock, Weapon Training (Any two from Flame, Heavy, Launcher, Melta, Plasma, Power)
  • Specialist Equipment: Combi-tool, Dataslate, Multikey, Interface port.

Vigiles Medicae (Medical)

Medical Judges or MedJudges often work closely with TekJudges. As well as carrying out autopsies, they provide biological and chemical forensics. They are also authorised to carry out first aid on wounded Judges as well as forensic work.

  • Characteristic Bonus: +5 Intelligence
  • Starting Aptitudes: Ballistic Skill, Fieldcraft, Intelligence, Knowledge, Perception, Willpower
  • Starting Skills: Interrogation, Logic, Medicae, Scholastic Lore – Chymistry, Scrutiny
  • Starting Talents: Cold Hearted or Jaded, Master Chirurgeon, Peer (Adeptus Arbites)
  • Specialist Equipment: Medikit

Vigiles Psykana (Psykana Division)

The PsiDiv, or Vigiles Psykana, are tasked with dealing with what they call the “Weird stuff”. They deal with reports of mutants in the sewers, conspiracy theories, and other strange events that other Judges cannot handle. They are tasked with hunting down rogue Psykers as well and often are called upon by the Inquisition or Adeptus Astra Telepathica in such instances.

  • Characteristic Bonus: +5 Willpower
  • Starting Aptitudes: Defence, Intelligence, Knowledge, Perception, Psyker, Willpower
  • Starting Skills: Common Lore – Adeptus Astra Telepathica, Forbidden Lore – Psykers, Intimidate, Psyniscience, Scholastic Lore – Occult
  • Starting Talents: Jaded, Orthoproxy, Resistance – Psychic Powers or Dead Eye Shot
  • Specialist Equipment: 2 Stun Grenades, Power Maul

Anti-crime (Vigilum Antisclersis)

Sometimes known as “The Wally Squad”, Judges from this division are used to spending a vast amount of their time undercover in the Hive gangs or within the criminal underworld. They are usually somewhat paranoid, and often display idio-synchratic behavior, a legacy of their undercover work.

  • Characteristic Bonus: +5 Fellowship
  • Starting Aptitudes: Ballistic Skill, Fellowship, Fieldcraft, Intelligence, Knowledge, Perception
  • Starting Skills: Charm or Intimidate, Common Lore – Underworld, Deceive, Survival
  • Starting Talents: Unremarkable or Cold Hearted, Peer (Underworld), Light Sleeper or Street Fighting
  • Specialist Equipment: Las carbine, Autopistol (Compact), Hab clothing, papers with multiple cover identities.

Vehicles of Crucible’s Adeptus Arbites

The Judges of Crucible use a variety of vehicles but the most common vehicles they use are:

  • The Heracles (Perdition Pattern) motorcycle is the most commonly seen vehicle and is as much a symbol of the Arbites themselves. This heavy motorcycle has twin-mounted bolt guns and is amazingly durable; capable of pulling more than five times its own weight easily. It has repeatedly proven its worth in armed pursuits. This is bike is my own creation, so I’ll have to come up with some rules. it probably looks pretty much like the Space Marine bikes but smaller.
  • For general transportation the Imperial workhorse, the Chimaera, is the most favoured. For pure intimidation value or the armour it affords, it provides better cover and security than domestic vehicles or the Heracles.
  • Despite the coverage of pict-corders, it is sometimes necessary for an “eye in the sky”. TekDiv have a small squadron of Landspeeders kitted out with heavy bolters. Piloted by TekJudges, they are rarely seen but are carefully maintained.
  • When the Governor refused to open fire upon citizens during the early Food Riots, the Arbites requisitioned a number of Hellhounds from the PDF. The flamers were replaced by TekDiv with water cannons, and later used in both crowd suppression and the fires that started.

Fires of Perdition Links & Downloads

  • The ORC Edinburgh Wiki which holds details of the campaign and up to date rules.
  • Only War Combat cards – combat summaries that could be used with miniatures or as a reference tool.

Plans for 2013

My work life is pretty much leaving me with very little spare time. Working the hours I am right now, I’m pretty tired when I get back. I’m still able run RPGs, and play in them, but some of my other projects are going to have to be shelved for the time being.

The Mandragora: Ashes of Freedom RPG is a casualty of this, unfortunately. I just can’t find the time right now, nor the energy. With the success of the FATE Core Kickstarter, that could be for the best: if I wait for that to come out, then I might not need to come up with the necessary stresses, aspects, etc. I’ll come back to it at a later date.

I’m definitely going to try and write my short story though, in November, featuring Kayle Wynter. It should be an interesting exercise. It’s going to be a sort of espionage whodunit, set in the world of Ashes of Freedom. I’ve not participated in NaNoWriMo before, so it should be an interesting experience.

I’d also planned to return to D&D and to the Ashes of Freedom world, possibly using some of the DNDnext rules. Again this looks unlikely. There just won’t be enough time. However, its quite likely that I will be running some one-off games at ORC – its a good way for folk to get to know other people outside of what can be a small gaming group. They’re quick and easy and fun to run, plus they give everyone  a chance to try some systems that they may not have otherwise tried. My D&D 4e Watch upon the Border mini-campaign (and drop-in game for ORC Edinburgh) will finish shortly.

I’d also thought about running my Necroscope game at Conpulsion , the Edinburgh University RPG convention. I was going to run the New Forest game (the one that had the burning orphanage – yes, that one!). The game is usually is a blast for those players who’ve never experienced that kind of game… Although it is still some way off in April its probably best if I prioritize my time right now.

I’m also still planning on running a number of wh40k-themed games, as part of wh40kforty. Although I may have mentioned this elsewhere, a number of my friends are hitting 40 this year. The idea behind wh40kforty is to run a number of games, both 40k battles and also the RPGs (Dark Heresy, Rogue Trader, Death Watch, and Only War – plus Black Crusade!). I have some interesting ideas, as do a number of the other folks involved. The real trick will be forging it into coherent whole.

And finally: I’ve a couple of posts that I need to get underway with: one relates to Shadows over Bogenhafen, the WFRP adventure I recently ran; the other to “magic as technology” that is still sitting as draft from December…

ORC: Looking forward, looking back

It is hard to believe that I’ve been maintaining the site at for over a year after taking stewardship from Dave @ KOA. I got my renewal reminder from the hosting company the other day. Hopefully I’ve managed to continue the same tradition of keeping the community open to all gamers in Edinburgh. The various bells and whistles I’ve added to the site seem to be working okay, especially the wiki.

For me, it’s been an interesting year: I’ve had some great times with the RPGS I’ve run and the games I’ve played.

  • Participating in the New World as Rafael has been a blast – I’m enjoying playing a totally manic PC with a truly jammy streak, even if I’m partially responsible for the real nastiness of the setting.
  • My Through the Looking Glass (Cthulhutech) game was enjoyable, and I may return to Edinburgh 2085 in the future – although it is a complicated system, it gets easier to run over time. Some day I may even get to play in a Cthulhutech game myself again.
  • Ashes of Freedom has been fun to run and people have said good things to me about it, and will continue next year, at least till the end of the current story arc. The Dwarrowdelve scroll incident was one of my best ideas ever, and the sounds of the player’s jaws dropping was music to my ears. Mix in a cursed dagger and time travel and you have good times!
  • Against the Odds has been building up slowly, more due to the dates involved and will continue next year: Elven terrorists, zombie workgangs and the bad guys are serious, organised, and in power. I’m planning to keep at least one spot open in the game for new/visiting players.
  • I intend to run Masks of Nyarlathotep for Call of Cthulhu next year, but will need players for this epic campaign, which will also include some side adventures, including one in Arunstoun, a setting near Edinburgh. There’s something of a pattern there – hopefully familiarity doesn’t breed contempt!
  • I’ve played a variety of characters in the 40K RPGs, mainly on Thursday nights – had a whale of a time there. Although the background can make things a little complicated when you don’t know much about 40k, the systems work well.
  • I’m hoping that the Star Wars Dawn of Defiance campaign is resurrected. The Squib Jedi will rise again! Given his past history this may result in him getting spaced by the other PCs…

ORC itself has changed a little over the last year or so, maybe due to the new location.  Although we have less regulars weekly, we certainly have more folk coming along. Many are first timers or returning to RPG after “many years in the wilderness”. Campaigns are now pretty much a regular occurrence at ORC Saturdays and many of our players turn up just for those games. In the main, everyone has at least been civil and friendly to each other and there haven’t been any critical hits – I’m always surprised at how well-behaved ORC members are!

My personal highlights a player this year and thanks to:

  • Any game in the New World where my PC Rafael has been amazingly lucky, whether it is riding a T Rex or hitching a lift on a Pteranodon (thanks, Chris).
  • Whorl, the Dark Heresy Assassin, using a combine harvester to liberate his colleagues from manor house (thanks Craig).
  • Valexos, my Rogue Trader Navigator: from being a pretty naff PC to something else when he started to mutate – thanks, Stephen.
  • Sammeal the Space Marine literally bringing the house down with a Krak grenade (full of Genestealer cultists, so it was justified). Thanks Grant.

As a GM:

  • Revealing the Dwarrowdelve scroll to be a fake in Ashes of Freedom.
  • The “Where/when the hell are we?” moments in Ashes of Freedom during the Storm of Ages.
  • When the Leviathan Mech and Deep Ones turned up in Cthulhutech: Through the Looking Glass to face off against the PC Tagers in Leith. Actually, creating the setting was a highlight too.
  • The first game I ran of Against the Odds, for the sheer what-the-hell-just-happened moments.

The release of Deathwatch (one the Warhammer 40,000 RPGs, along with Dark Heresy and Rogue Trader) has encouraged a lot of  wh40k gamers into the hobby too. I guess there’s something in Deathwatch that appeals to the power gamer in all of us, including me (I’m playing a Dark Angel Apothecary Marine called Sammeal on Thursday nights): maybe because you’re the ultimate bad-ass!

Unfortunately this can be a bit intimidating for many people (newbies and oldies alike 🙂 ) at first, but hopefully this will change over time – I encourage anyone to welcome new folk to ORC. GMs, you can keep one PC free for visiting players perhaps? In a similar vein: if you’re a GM and looking for players, it is worth posting in other forums at ENWorld or WoTC that you’re running a game at ORC. Plug the website at every opportunity :)!

What games do people want to run/play next year? More D&D? Shadowrun? Ecplise Phase? Cthulhutech? Call of Cthulhu? What’s been the rpg highlights of the year for you?

To all my players, GMs, and those on the ORC site: Merry Xmas!

Here’s to another year at ORC and RPGs!

Cthulhutech Edinburgh – Tick Tock Tick Tock

Gaming-wise, I’ve a new PC in Rogue Trader: Diogenes Valexor is the new Navigator. It took a while to create him and again the rulebook is badly laid out – yeah, it looks pretty, but two pages on how to create a PC would be nice! I’m hoping that he develops a little bit more, as I thought he’s a bit of a one-trick pony last game. I didn’t have much to do apart from translating the ship to the Warp, delaying us, then getting the Tranquillity (our ship) caught in the gravity well of a planet. Great start.

Finally, here’s the germ of an idea I’ve had for a Cthulhutech game:

2024: David Wilkinson, a happily married father of three, and an office worker at the Scottish Parliament with no history of criminality or mental illness calmly walks into the Parliament chamber. He then detonates a home-made bomb, demolishing the structure, and killing over 400 people in the blast. Forensic scientists are baffled at three unknown elements found in the bomb fragments. The NUN orders the transfer of Scottish government to Edinburgh Castle.
2033: Research into D-Engine technology at Cockenzie Power station goes badly wrong. A attempt to bring the power grid online using D-Engine technology results in a rift that swallows Port Seton and results in the area being quarantined by NEG forces. No one goes there any more.
2030-2045: A marked rise in psychosis and criminality in East Lothian residents cause the Seton Quarantine zone to be expanded. A large number of people disappear in the area before the zone is secured.
2046: The oil rigs of the North Sea are mothballed. The former Rosyth and Loch Fine naval bases are brought back online as NEG Naval bases.
2048: The Granton Arcology is the first to be built in Edinburgh.
2055: An unknown agency infiltrates the Beltane fire festival society. Only quick thinking by the GIA and Eldritch Society members prevent a catastrophe. The NEG pass the Hopkins Act, which makes any kind of neo-pagan or cult activity illegal without a permit.
2056: Protests against the Hopkins Act result in riots. The NEG deploy violent force to control the streets during the Edinburgh Festival.
2057: Forces belonging to the Esoteric Order of Dagon attempt to establish a foothold in the Western Isles. They fail, and their underwater city of G’llho is believed destroyed by NEG forces, who field mecha for the first time.
2060-2063: Edinburgh is plagued by a serial killer. The identity of “the Handyman” is never discovered.
2063: Nazzadi and Migou bombings during the first Arcanotech War destroy much of the citys landmarks, including the Scot Monument and Holyrood house.
2079: The famed Nazzadi artist, Tanyla, is killed in reprisal for the Arcanotech wars during an exhibition of her work at the Edinburgh Festival. Her killer, Julie Milne, is later found to be suffering from Aeon War Syndrome.
2080: An outbreak of Enhanced Tuberculosis (ETB) causes a part of Leith’s Shore district to be quarantined. A fire later sweeps through the tenement blocks concerned and is blamed on a ruptured oxygen tank. No bodies are ever found.
2081: The Handyman killings resume.
2085: Rosyth Naval base receives their first Engels; three Hamshalls.

This is the Strange Aeon. This is the future of Edinburgh. This is Cthulhutech.