Fires of Perdition was a game I’ve wanted to run for a while, and is set in the Midwinter Expanse. The group 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.