A couple of weeks back I decided to take a break from DMing my regular Monday game, i’ve been running for roughly 3 years straight and i’m pretty burnt out, much as I don’t like to admit it. So, I asked a friend if he’d take over for a little while to give me time to recharge and after a little group discussion we settled on playing Dark Heresy, 2nd Edition.
I found myself pretty excited at the prospect of being a player, it’s something I don’t get to do all that often and so I threw myself into Character Generation and since i’m pretty pleased with the result I thought i’d talk about it.
First of all, the Rules. I went into it expecting Dark Heresy 2nd ed to be pretty similar to 1st ed and I was very, very wrong. Second Edition is a much more flexible game with a higher power level that is more in line with what I expected from the First Edition. Characters are no longer tied to specific talents and skills through a tier system and, in principle, everyone can access everything if they are willing to spend the XP. The downside of the rules for character generation and advancement is that they feel cumbersome, especially in regards to the way aptitudes work but i’ll go into that when I do a full review of the 2nd ed.
Character generation is split into a few sections, you pick a Homeworld, a background and then a Role, all of which give you skills, talents and aptitudes and form the basis of your character. From group discussion i’d already decided that I was going to play a Psyker and that meant taking the Mystic role.
Initially I was thinking about a male character who came from a Deathworld with the Feral homeworld and building an unsanctioned Psyker from there. The more I thought about it though the more that didn’t quite click for me and so I started looking online for miniatures. The idea was to look for some kind of daemonhost model, since that was what I was thinking about but a couple of curious clicks brought me to a selection of female psykers and things started falling into place.
First thing was homeworld and this changed to Highborn since the woman I was thinking about had a noble bearing about her. I imagine her tall, lean and with sharp angular features dressed impeccably in dark fur-trimmed clothing. She is pale, with white hair, almost Scandinavian, and all of this made me think that she came from a cold planet, probably an Ice planet and a quick search of latin terms gave me the name Frigore. I got the name by doing one of my favourite things when playing a 40k RPG, going to English to Latin on Google and trying related words and, in this case, cold translated to Frigore.
So, next is background. This was fairly simple as, in my head, my character had been identified as a psyker young and because of her families connections she was treated well and enrolled in the Adeptus Astra Telepathica. Rather than be taken to the front lines and thrown at the enemy like many psykers she received a position in Intelligence as an interrogator and it was from there that she was recruited by Inquisitor Corbin Inarus some time later.
Finally was the Role. Again this was straight forward as the only way to be a psyker is via the Mystic role, so thats what I picked, taking the Sanctioned trait since it was now significantly more fitting than being unsanctioned.
With the character’s history developed I moved onto characteristics (stats). In Dark Heresy there are 10 characteristics, 9 of which can be improved via XP and 1 that can only be improved via GM awards. I considered what my character should be good at and set her Willpower and Appearance to maximum, which is 40 in character generation. Highborn characters need neither strength nor toughness, so i set those at 25 and 20 respectively, the minimum possible for them.
I considered that she probably would have indulged in hunting and so be adept with a gun so her ballistic skill was set at 40 while her weapon skill was minimised at 25. She’d need to be perceptive, so that was set at 35 but I imagined that she’d more rely on her looks and charm to get her by than her wits and so left her intelligence at 25. Lastly I set her agility at 35 simply because characters that can’t dodge don’t last long in Dark Heresy.
I don’t normally min/max but it’s hard not to in Dark Heresy as characteristics start at 25 for the most part, max out at 40 during generation and can’t be voluntarily reduced. All things told I think my choice of characteristics made sense for the character I made, based on how I think her life has unfolded up to this point.
With this done I had the 1,000XP you get at the start of the game to spend. This is a whole lot more than in 1st ed but when you are a Psyker it doesn’t go all that far. I made a list of the skills I wanted, and it was a long list, and narrowed it down to just picking up Charm and Dodge, the former because I think a noble, high society upbringing will have taught Pandora etiquette and the latter for the metagame reason that I know that she won’t last that long without being able to get out of the way of attacks.
I didn’t even take a look at the talents, I was pretty sure I wouldn’t be able to afford any if I wanted to be vaguely competent Psyker and so that brought me to Psychic Powers. Looking through the different trees narrowed me down to Pyrokinesis, Telepathy and Telekinesis with the two latter trees winning out simply because the first power in the Pyrokinesis tree, Control Fire, was too circumstantial to be of use.
Given that Pandora was an interrogator and that’s where she drew the eye of the Inquisition Telepathy was a given and Telekinesis seemed like a natural extension of that. From Telepathy I took Telepathic Link, to pull information from peoples minds, Erasure to prevent them remembering that I had done so and Hallucination for when I needed a distraction. From Telekinesis I took Telekinetic Control for it’s varied usefulness and Assail to use as a direct weapon.
Later I plan on taking Pyrokinesis, although I’m probably going to talk to my GM about reskinning it as Cryokinesis, based on my homeworld of Frigore. There will need to be a few workarounds, to make it work properly as a power, especially the Control Fire ability since Control Ice isn’t as easy to adjudicate as Control Fire.
In terms of equipment my GM was happy for us to have fairly easy access to reasonable equipment requests and so I only had to worry about the choice items you start with. I wanted a nice pistol, just because it made sense for Pandora to have the best of everything, so i took one of good quality, which had no in game effect but fits for who she is. Beyond that I took some Guard Flak Armour for added protection, a rebreather for toxic or contaminated environments and night vision contact lenses, for when she has to operate in the dark.
The final touches were a small puzzle box that she carries, which was a present when from her mother when she was a child and something she keeps on her person at all times. In my mind it looks like the Hellraiser Puzzle Box-
I toyed with this being her Psyfocus but it felt a little too obvious and despite the fact that she never goes anywhere without it, it would be cumbersome to pull out during combat, or when she was trying to be circumspect. In the end i thoughts that her Psyfocus would be better served being something less obvious and so I decided that she would wear a necklace, something delicate, that would be adorned with a small vial of Permanent Ice, a resource from her homeworld and the source of her families wealth. Permanent Ice, I decided, would be a valuable commodity prized by the Mechanicum for it’s ability to cool cogitators and machinery.
That was it. I found a couple of models that would represent her if it came to it, both from the Malifaux Neverborn faction, both representing the character Pandora-