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Dark Heresy 1e: Inquisitor`s Handbook

Inquisitor's Handbook

This rules expansion delves deep into what it means to be an Inquisitor, providing a wealth of information about the setting of Warhammer 40K and the Inquisitor's place within that setting as well as a host of options to consider in customising your character - everything from new origins and professions to details of different worlds, the religious philosophies he might be exposed to and the nature of life as an Acolyte. There's a lot here, a lot to take in!

Chapter 1: Advanced Character Creation is the home of many of these new options. Building on the core rulebook, there are new homeworlds, backgrounds and character origins from which to choose. Neatly, the Homeworld table from the core rules has been rewritten to incorporate the new ideas so you can just read through (or roll if you prefer a random origin) the one collection rather than having to juggle the information from two books at once! Various sub-options have been provided to allow for even greater variety. This all serves to enhance the rich tapestry of the setting, it's worth reading through the options you don't intend to play just to get an idea of what else is out there!

The chapter moves on to review some unique worlds of the Calixis Sector - useful if you will be visiting, essential if you (or the dice) decide that is where you come from. There are also optional background packages, tailored to suit characters of different career paths and designed to help you give depth and personality to your character - another neat idea. In choosing them other requirements quite often need to be met, ensuring that the background fits your character well.

Next, Chapter 2: Calixian Careers suggests a new career path and offers modifications to existing ones as well as an array of what are described as elite advance packages. First, though, in the male-dominated environment that is the Inquisition, comes the Adepta Sororitas or Daughters of the Emperor, which consists of various orders involved in all aspects of endevour from warfare to diplomacy, teachers to investigators. They're powerful and very straight-laced, unable to tolerate the slightest deviation from orthodoxy or taint of the forbidden. It's not so much a career path as a whole battery of them, driven by faith and providing a wealth of opportunity for those who'd like to play a female character. This is followed by a collection of alternative ways to follow existing career paths, allowing you to customise a character in depth. Interestingly, all the alternatives are rooted in conspiracies, organisations or cults to be found in the Calixis Sector, helping to embed the character deeply into the region in which they operate. You won't change career path, but your advancement through your chosen one will take twists and turns unavailable to others. Each option comes with copious background notes as well as new skills and abilities to apply to the character. Elite advance packages, on the other hand, allow the character to remain on the core career path but take a few non-standard options as they advance, often due to something they've done or experienced along the way.

Chapter 3: Feral and Feudal Worlds begins a look at a vast range of weapons and other equipment that can be found on specific planets within the Calixis Sector. Characters who come from a given world ought to be at least familiar with them and may choose to wield them, others may take a liking to them when they encounter them and go to great efforts to seek them out and learn how to use them to effect. The next two chapters, Chapter 4: Hive and Forge Worlds and Chapter 5: Frontier Worlds and the Void, continue this pattern. Hive worlds are manufacturing centres with high population densities, while forge worlds are also industrial but in the grip of the Adeptus Mechanicus with many things rich and strange (and deadly) to be found there in the shape of the techno-devices that they make. As Calixis Sector is on the edge of the Imperium, there are quite a few frontier worlds which are even more dangerous that one might imagine. And then there is the void. The black between all these worlds and the ships that ply the spacelanes. Naturally, special skills and equipment are needed to survive let alone prosper there. Acolytes often have to travel as part of their duties, sometimes a vessel will be provided but often they will have to find their own way, the details here will help both party and GM organise transportation when it is required.

This survey is followed by Chapter 6: War Zones. There are plenty of them in Calixis Sector (indeed, anywhere in an Imperium which thrives on and is sustained by warfare), and this chapter touches on the weapons and equipment needed to survive there. Properly the domain of the Imperial Guard, there will be occasions when Acolytes' duties take them close to the action. Those interested in military weapons will find plenty here.

Next, Chapter 7: The Holy Ordos takes a look at some of the specialised and rare items used by the Inquisition itself, some are actually unique or extremely specialised for a specific task. Whilst Acolytes are expected to deal with situations using whatever resources they have to hand, it can be useful to know what is available and where to get it if the need arises.

Chapter 8: Religion and Superstition is more philosophical in tone, talking about religious faith within the Imperium. Belief in the God-Emperor is a given - it's not faith, he's actually there, a tangible presence: and he does not tolerate those who do not worship him. However, not everyone is devout, not everyone wishes to listen to preachers, even if they'd say that they venerate the God-Emperor as they should... and here you can find out about the varied roles religion plays in citizens' lives. The priesthood, saints, relics and pilgrimages that may feature in an Acolyte's religious life are discussed here, as well as common heresies that he might encounter. It all helps to add depth and flavour to the setting.

Finally, Chapter 9: Life as an Acolyte gives an inkling of the day-to-day existence that is the character's lot. Threats to overcome, positions to jockey for, the ways to stand out and gain advancement... and how alter-egos and contacts work, both mechanically and in-character. Sometimes an Acolyte does not wish it to be known what he is, hence the need for alter-egos, legends and disguises. And if you are investigating something, contacts always come in useful - as they do if you need something specific to complete the task in hand. Notes on expanded skills and the ability to craft things round out the chapter, and then an Appendix contains collected weapons tables from throughout the book.

There's a lot here, but all serves to contribute to the rich variety of the setting. The sheer scope, the vast sweep, is what makes the Warhammer 40K setting what it is, and this work encapsulates that nicely, bringing information about places and equipment, organisations and ideas, to your hands, and should prove valuable to players and GMs alike.

Return to Inquisitor's Handbook page.

Reviewed: 26 March 2015