I say 'Inquisitor'... that's not technically true, in that we're not playing a narrative skirmish wargame. It's more like the 40K roleplaying game Dark Heresy, in that the gamers are each playing an agent in the employ of an Imperial Inquisitor, but then... it's not Dark Heresy because whilst its production values and content are excellent, I find the game mechanics long-winded.
Instead, we're using 20Eight (i.e. the barebones game engine I've been working on for the last year or so). I'm excited to use it in a futuristic context to see how well it holds up. We've hitherto played plenty of fantasy, and that's been great, but fantasy doesn't have guns, spaceships, and them funny-looking spehs ayliurrrns.
|The original Inquisitor cover art.|
Having put myself in GM mode, the first port of call was to send everyone a character pack. This is essentially a questionnaire to help people come up with an interesting character. In this particular case, though, I had a problem: three out of five players have no real experience or knowledge of the 40K universe.
40K is not a setting whose appeal can be got across in a single sentence, at least, not the flavour of 40K I like. One fan might summarise it as 'baroque dystopian pastiche' whilst another might say 'CHAINSWORDS FOR THE CHAINSWORD GOD.' In both cases, you have to be a fan already for that to mean much. Although chainswords are pretty hilarious, to be fair.
Either way, this meant I had to come up with a character pack that'd give people enough flavour to create something, without trying so hard to explain everything that it's 59,239,832,892 pages long.
Then I remembered that pictures tell between 750-1,250 words apiece. At this point, it's possible I got a little carried away. Here's a screenshot of the completed pack:
Having finally finished it, a thought occurred to me: that this could be a useful resource for anyone else running Inquisitor, Dark Heresy or of course Inq28. For one thing, I've collated a lot of very pretty pictures, many of them from Fantasy Flight Games, who make excellent stuff. For another, it contains a questionnaire which is designed to help players create an interesting character.
Thus, I shall transpose said character pack onto this blog. I've taken out references to 20Eight within the descriptions, since a) the rules aren't ready for public release and b) in no way is 20Eight affiliated with any particular game system, so whilst I'm combining someone's IP with my game in the privacy of my own home, I'm not crazy enough to release such an adaptation on the Internet!
As you might expect this character pack is lengthy, so if you wish to read on, you'll have to hit the jump. I'm afraid I can't do nice pretty layout like I did in the pack my players got, because Blogger's a bit more basic than Word. I'm sure you'll get over it.
[ CHARACTER CREATION ]
|Inquisitor of the Ordo Hereticus|
It is the 41st millennium. The Imperium of mankind stretches from one end of the galaxy to the other, a million worlds unified by the Adeptus Terra for the last ten thousand years.
In the vastness of the galaxy, mankind’s worlds are just scattered grains of sand on a black canvas. Alien fleets prey on unsuspecting colonies, and servants of the dark gods slaughter Imperial citizens in their billions.
Many if not most Imperial citizens live out their lives quite unaware of these cataclysmic threats. Whilst at any given moment there are thousands of wars being fought around the galaxy, the vast majority of the Imperium’s worlds are free of the threat of invasion.
This does not mean they are safe.
Daemon-worshipping cults, alien technology and rogue psykers all pose threats quite capable of damning an entire planet, and these threats cannot be defeated by the Imperium’s armies.
They are faced, instead, by the men and women of the Inquisition.
The mere mention of the Inquisition is enough to make most Imperial citizens glance over their shoulder in fear. An Inquisitor’s authority is absolute, superseding that of a planetary governor, fleet admirals, generals of the Guard, and the judges of the Adeptus Arbites.
How they use this authority varies greatly. Some Inquisitors work in secret, ensuring their enemies remain ignorant of their plans until it is too late, whilst others work overtly by temporarily assuming command of local law enforcement, military assets, and anything else they need to hound their quarry.
Inquisitors also vary in personality, origins, and philosophy. Indeed, the only thing any two Inquisitors tend to have in common is that they carry an Inquisitorial rosette: their badge of office. A rosette can actually take a number of forms, most often pendants, signet rings, scrolls, or badges of office kept out of sight in a coat pocket.
Inquisitors rarely work alone. Even the most secretive operatives have a small team of allies, whereas others might have hundreds of agents in their employ.
You are one such agent, newly recruited in the service of Inquisitor Vilem Kovach of the Ordo Hereticus, in the Cetus sub-sector of the Segmentum Pacificus.
It is a remote sector, far from ancient Terra. Inquisitor Kovach is one of relatively few Inquisitors in the area, and is therefore heavily reliant on his agents. It is his hope that one day, you and others in his organisation might become Inquisitors in your own right, thus swelling the ranks of the Ordos Pacificus.
For information on the region in which you are working, go to:
The bad news is that the above link is a bit minimalist. The good news is that if your character is originally from this area of space, you are welcome to add in details. Just talk them through with me, and I’ll add them to the wiki!
And now, onwards... to your character. You are new to the Inquisition and are about to embark on your first mission for Inquisitor Kovach. You are already accomplished or remarkable in some way – otherwise you’d be just another spod among the teeming masses! The question is, what makes you so terribly special?
To aid you in answering that question, there are three sections on the pages that follow. The first provides some broad character concepts. The second will help you decide what sort of world you come from, and the third section is designed to help you flesh out your character. After that, it’s time to fill your character sheet out! Or, if you prefer, you can just answer all the questions and then get me to fill it out instead. Whatever, really.
Highly educated and schooled in hunting, fencing and marksmanship, you are the perfect all-rounder. Your patron Inquisitor will have spent time schooling you in arcane lore to supplement your already extensive education, and will ensure that you have received additional combat training to mitigate your lack of field experience.
Nobles have slightly higher knowledge than average, but aren't as brave as someone with field experience.
Years of fighting for the highest bidder have taught you all the dirty tricks a ‘proper’ soldier is too honourable to employ. You aren’t here to be nice, you’re here to get the job done. Whilst you’re brutally effective in a fight, you don’t know much about ‘weird’ stuff. Whatever it is, it won’t enjoy getting shot. Or stabbed. Or blown up.
Higher combat skills, resilience and courage are offset by appalling mental stats.
As a priest of the Adeptus Mechanicus, you can fix, alter or dismantle anything (although dismantling machines might make you unhappy).
As you gain in rank, you may hope to become closer to your god—the Omnissiah—by replacing more and more of your weak human flesh with bionics.
Culturally, you are far removed from your fellow humans. For one thing, it’s much faster to communicate in binary code via your transmission implants, but the common citizenry insist on speaking Low Gothic instead.
You can choose to specialise in any scientific field, from the intricacies of interstellar craft to the equally fascinating mechanisms of the human vascular system.
Excellent knowledge of machinery and/or your chosen scientific area, as well as bionically enhanced strength and toughness. On the flipside, techpriests have poor combat skills and reflexes, as well as sub-par social skills and resilience to psychic attack.
If you can’t find the target, no-one can. Your tracking skills are as sharp as your nose for danger, and the doggedness with which you chase up leads makes you extremely useful to the Inquisition. You might even have done work for an Inquisitor before without realising it.
What you lack in straight-up combat effectiveness you make up for with decent skill in tracking, trapping, piloting and detective work.
As to your background? Anyone’s guess. Your career attracts folks from all walks of life. The more honourable among your fellow agents may well be suspicious of you, though. If you’re so skilled in apprehending people, why didn’t you go into law enforcement?
Was it for profit, or something even less savoury?
Mild buffs to knowledge, reflexes and gunplay come at an equally mild reduction in resilience, persuasiveness and psychic resistance.
Ignorance might be lauded as the surest way to righteousness by hard-line puritans, but Inquisitor Kovach is no fool, and knows that a deft mind is just as crucial as a strong sword arm in the pursuit of heretics.
As a gifted scholar, you hold knowledge to be a reward unto itself. Since joining the ranks of the Inquisition, you have been permitted to learn about things that most citizens have never even heard of, including pariahs, psychic phenomena, xenobiology, aetheric theory, and the histories of the Inquisition’s Ordos—almost everything, in fact, except the jealously-guarded secrets of the Adeptus Mechanicus. Perhaps, with the right connections, you’ve even learned some of those.
Another vital skill you possess is that of translator. Reading such varied texts requires familiarity with the different permutations of Low Gothic found throughout Imperial space, and sometimes, this will mean you’re the only member of the team capable of speaking to the locals.
Of course, all these weighty matters leave you with little time to worry about such trivial matters as personal fitness or, indeed, which end of a laspistol to hold.
Incredible knowledge, intelligence and mild resistance to psykers are offset by weaknesses on pretty much every other stat you've got.
Heed nothing but the Cult Imperialis! Love the Emperor, and pray for His mercy! Abhor the witch, the mutant, the alien and the heretic, for they are unclean!
Such has been your creed ever since you set out from the shrines of the Adeptus Ministorum to carry the Imperial faith to cratered battlefields and the foetid depths of underhive slums.
Your unwavering faith and oratory skills inspire your allies, weaken the malefic, and may even allow you to endure great pain, all whilst cutting something evil in half with a chainsword.
Priests have increased resilience, persuasiveness, courage and resistance to psykers, although they're fairly dreadful with ranged weapons and don't score well on the general knowledge front.
You’ve spent as much of your life as possible at the helm of anything that flies, honing your reactions and learning how to get the most out of your vehicle. Good pilots are essential for the Inquisition; the fate of an entire team of highly trained operatives often rests in a single pair of hands.
Your quick reflexes might also make you a dab hand in a gunfight, and you’ve probably picked up a thing or two from the tech adepts (they won’t have realised you were watching so closely).
You're going to ace pretty much anything to do with flying a ship, and you've got excellent reflexes, but your knowledge of things outside of a cockpit is limited, as is your persuasiveness and resilience to psychic attack.
Orphaned at a young age, you were taken in by the Schola Progenium and trained as a stormtrooper. You are tough, lethal, and psychologically conditioned to endure the worst the galaxy has to throw at you.
Of course, this makes it hard to think outside the confines of your training, but then, why would you?
One therefore has to wonder why Inquisitor Kovach has requested that you, specifically, be taken from your squad mates to serve in his personal retinue.
Hellguns, a high-powered variant of the common lasrifle, are the signature weapon of a stormtrooper, and they are as temperamental as they are lethal. As such, you have had to become adept at maintaining your own equipment, and in addition to your combat skills, you may find that your fellow agents have no idea how to field strip a plasma pistol, or how to rig demo charges properly.
Some of them haven’t even jumped out of a valkyrie assault carrier in mid-air or abseiled down the side of a hive spire. Unbelievable.
Solid combat skills and courage come in exchange for the sort of mental stats you'd expect from a psychologically conditioned jarhead.
|Sister of the Adepta Sororitas|
You have devoted your life to the God-Emperor and the Ecclesiarchy. The very sight of you inspires spiritual fervour. That’s not always a good thing; it’s hard to know how to control a crowd when you’ve spent your life in a convent!
You might have been a battle sister participating in holy wars, or a member of the Orders Hospitaller tending to the sick (both on the battlefield and off). It will have taken something dramatic to make you leave the company of your sisters and join Inquisitor Kovach. You might have been outcast for being too much of a thinker, or maybe you’re the last survivor of your order. Perhaps the Emperor has blessed you with a vision, and your Canoness has allowed you to leave the convent to pursue it.
Equipment: the Adepta Sororitas wear power armour, making them virtually immune to small arms fire.
Bravery, resilience to psykers and decent skill with bolt weaponry or medicae techniques are yours in exchange for sub-par knowledge and social skills.
At some point early on in your life, the authorities identified you as a psyker and sent you to your planet’s Scholastia Psykana to be assessed. You were screened for warp-taint, tested for strength of will, and then trained for five years so that your unnatural abilities might be of use to the Imperium. Those of inferior skill to you were taken away by the Black Ships of the Inquisition. Most never returned.
Following your basic training, you were given a choice: join the Imperial Guard as a Primaris battle-psyker, or join the Inquisition as an agent. You have chosen the latter.
Psykers vary greatly, but broadly speaking, they choose their powers from the following disciplines:
Pyromancy: manipulate fire.
Biomancy: manipulate biological energy and processes.
Telepathy: contacting and controlling the minds of others.
Telekinesis: convert psychic energy into a physical force.
Divination: predict the future and delve into the past.
Daemonology: banish daemons and unleash the warp itself.
Theosophamy: use careful rituals to confound daemons and seal breaches in the veil.
Your fellow citizens now look upon you with fear and suspicion; the ignorant often assume that you are one violent sneeze away from daemonic possession. You might still wear the robes of the Scholastia, making it clear you are no witch, or you might dress as everyone else to maintain the element of surprise.
Solid knowledge and high willpower come at a slight cost to all other stats.
|Adeptus Arbites Judge|
To the people of the Imperium, you are the law. The law is fair. The law does not make mistakes. The law is enabled to carry out sentencing at the scene of the crime, because the law has been equipped with a combat shotgun. The law understands that you may take issue with your sentence, and this is why the law has been supplied with extra ammunition.
In the event that the law is murky on the details, the law will arrest you and ask you questions. If the law is satisfied with your answers, you may leave.
The law will probably not pay for your grav-taxi.
The Emperor’s most holy Inquisition has found the law to have slightly more imagination than a mercenary, and slightly less irritating free-spiritedness than a bounty hunter. The law is now dispensing justice to things with horns, and the law is pleased.
The law has good aim. Unfortunately, the law hasn't had much experience of psykers before.
Whilst abhorred on many worlds, bloodsports are not uncommon in the Imperium. Screaming fans have bet on your life, or your death, and until recently you were someone else’s property.
Whilst the means by which you could have ended up in Inquisitor Kovach’s retinue are many and varied, there is one certainty: you are here because you are lethal in hand-to-hand combat.
Perhaps you were trained, or perhaps you just have excellent instincts. It doesn’t matter. You could build a small hill out of the heads you’ve taken.
It’s probably hard not to look at your fellow agents like they’re soft.
Incredible melee skills, decent reflexes, as well as solid strength and toughness, but poor aim and mental stats.
Fortune has always eluded you. It’s been said you just rub people up the wrong way. Even your parents grew irritable in your presence, no matter what you tried.
There is a reason for this: you have an incredibly rare birth defect which means you have no presence in the warp. Even the dullest mind will have some imperceptible flame, but you have nothing. To put it more bluntly, you have no soul.
The psychic null zone thus created makes you anathema to psykers and daemons.
This makes you extremely useful to the Inquisition, who view your mutation as a gift more than a curse. You might have been recruited early on in your life, or you might have struggled along far into adulthood before being identified. Either way, you are now an agent of the Inquisition. Your fellow agents, particularly the psykers, might find it hard to hold a conversation with you, but they all know how vital you are to the business of witch hunting.
Any attempt to cast a psychic power within three yards of a pariah will automatically fail, as will any psychic power targeting anything within three yards of them.
|Imperial Guard Veteran|
Almost a third of the soldiers sent into active warzones do not survive the first hour of active combat.
You have survived a decade.
Unlike the psychologically conditioned and well-equipped stormtroopers of the schola progenium, your survival depended on wits and creativity.
It’s hard to say if you could return to civilian life at this point. You’re either too addicted to the adrenaline rush, or too haunted to settle into a quiet life. You might be the perfect team player, directing the less tactically minded agents in fire fights, or perhaps you’re so used to your friends getting shot that you’re completely self sufficient, vanishing into cover at the first sign of trouble and striking only when you’ve got the right angle. Either way, you’re familiar with a wide range of weapons, and might even sport some grisly trophies taken from fallen foes.
Solid aim, above-average melee skills and reflexes, and high courage, but poor mental stats.
Deciding what sort of place your character grew up in has no specific effect in the game’s rules, but is a huge part of your character’s identity. In a setting featuring a million worlds, this section will necessarily deal in the broadest of brushstrokes, and the cultural traits described should be taken purely as stereotypes.
Within reason, any class can be from any world – feel free to combine things as you wish – but some combinations are counter-intuitive at best. Being from a feral world limits your options quite significantly, whereas almost anything goes if you grew up in somewhere as varied as a hive city.
And now, without further adieu...
Like the bulk of Imperial worlds, your home planet was largely self-sufficient, with an even mix of agriculture and industry. Some regions were quite poor and utilised cheap mutant labour, but for the most part, people are well looked after, and at the least, you will have been provided with a basic education.
Culturally, your world is extremely diverse, even though the globalised economy is run centrally by the Adeptus Administratum and ruled over by the Planetary Governor.
When the cities of your world ran out of room to grow outwards, they started growing upwards. After millennia of pollution and overpopulation, your world is entirely incapable of producing enough food to feed its own population, and must use its extensive industries to trade with nearby systems.
The heights of the hive spires reach up to the stratosphere, and the depths of the underhive slums sink deep into the continental crust.
Whilst your world’s nobles live in spire mansions, the bulk of the populace live in crowded hab blocks, and the poorest live in utter squalor. Gang violence in the lower levels is rife.
You find it hard to deal with silence, and find the press of the crowd to be comforting. You’re used to the presence of advanced technology.
Your ancestors arrived on this world in the old times, borne on sky chariots. You fight other tribes for land and livestock. That is how it has always been; your tribe will endure so long as the Sun-Emperor wills it.
Once in a generation, emissaries come on behalf of the Sun-Emperor, and the greatest of the warriors are uplifted, along with the witch kin. It is said that one day, the emissaries will stop coming, and on that day, the end times will begin.
There’s nothing so reassuring as the omnipresent hum of a ship’s reactor.
Your complexion is incredibly pale, and a lifetime spent surrounded by sailors has left you with a wide (some would say ridiculous) array of superstitions.
Adjusting to normal gravity is always something of an effort, and often leaves you nauseous, but then, others say the same of artificial grav.
Even when the front was hundreds of miles away, food was rationed and martial law brooked no frivolity. The government exists only to enact the will of the military, and a failure to meet manufacturing or food production quotas could result in the deaths of millions. Unsurprisingly, the experience has made you stoic (some would say unsympathetic).
Your home planet is ruled by the Ecclesiarchy. Ritual and dogma have been drilled into you from birth. Every city features cathedrals built in honour of martyrs and saints, and the population brook no deviation from the Cult Imperialis.
Your world attracts billions of pilgrims every year, all of whom gaze in wonder at the immaculately carved shrines, the mosaics on the pavements, and the prayer banners hanging from the boughs of the arboretums.
Sparsely-populated and strategically vital, your world is rich in the resources needed to farm on a macro-industrial scale, exporting foodstuffs to those worlds too industrialised to feed themselves.
Upon learning of your origins, people will expect you to be backwards, though in truth high levels of technology are often needed to reliably produce so much food every single year. The exact nature of your world’s output could vary wildly; some agri-worlds are primarily oceanic, some have the perfect climate for grox herding. Others might produce nutritious algal slime, whilst others feature nothing but endless grain fields. Most, however, are a mixture of all these things.
It is the Adeptus Mechanicus of Mars, not the Adeptus Terra, that claim lordship over your birthplace. Your world is one of the most strategically vital in the Imperium. It is the birthplace of Titans. A million tanks roll off the production lines every day. Countless orbital weapons batteries protect the shipyards, and the night sky is lit up by a constant stream of traffic.
Other than visitors, there are only three kinds of people on a forge world: tech-adepts, serfs, and Skitarii – the mechanically augmented soldiers who protect the Forge. Of all these the serfs are the least grandiose, but it’s quite possible the adepts would forget to eat regular meals without them.
Surprisingly, forge worlds are often nowhere near as polluted as hive worlds, primarily because the priesthood capture emissions and recompress the carbon into a number of useful materials.
Having settled on an archetype and a place of origin, it's time to put some flesh on the bones. If you can answer all of these questions, you’ll know you're pretty much there. If you can’t answer all of them, then perhaps chatting about it with the GM or the other players might get some ideas flowing.
Answer in one or two words.
Name (including nicknames):
What is your greatest quality?
What is your greatest flaw?
How old are you?
Describe your build.
Describe your body language.
Describe your looks.
How strong are you?
How tough are you?
How quick are your reflexes?
How easily do you scare?
Feel free to be as brief or as verbose as you like from here on in.
What is your greatest virtue/redeeming feature? (expand on your answer from the basics)
What is your greatest weakness/flaw? (expand on your answer from the basics)
How do other people see you? [demeanour, perceptions, etc]
How would you like yourself to be perceived?
Describe where or what you’d like to be in ten years’ time.
What makes you happy?
What makes you angry?
What are you afraid of?
What do you believe? (religion, general world view. Keep it simple.)
Describe your family.
Where did you grow up?
Describe your education.
Describe your pre-Inquisition career.
How did you end up in Inquisitor Kovach’s service?
List two things at which you’re brilliant (e.g. piloting, shooting, cooking, dressage, negotiating)
List three things at which you’re pretty good.
List two things at which you’re utterly lame.
Note: Just because it’s not in your character’s description doesn’t mean that they can’t do it or don’t know about it. We assume most people know how to use a doorhandle or use a kettle; the character’s description is there to get their defining traits rather than the totality of their being.
The optional extra mile
If there are other things you want to add, feel free! In no way should you feel like you can’t add flavoursome detail to your character just because it didn’t fit neatly into one of the questions above.
Now that you know your character, you can decide what equipment and weapons they have (if any). If you’re not all that familiar with the 40K mythos, ask your GM if there are any shiny toys your character could take if they wanted them.
That's it folks! I hope that's helpful. What other things would you add to the questionnaire at the end? And if there are any other things you'd change, I'd be curious to hear them too.