Dark Heresy Second Edition

From 1d4chan

NOTICE:: As of 9/9/16, FFG announced that the contract with GW has "expired" and they will no longer be producing anymore 40K or WFB products. We've got until Feb. 28 of '17 to stock up, and then all of their products with GW's IP will be removed from the catalogues. It seems that the 40K RPG lines are currently and officially dead until/unless GW finds a new contract to carry on the legacy or builds an in-house team to do it.

ADDENDUM: The 40k RPG license has since been acquired by Cubicle 7. The new 40k RPG, Wrath And Glory, released in 2018.

This page refers to the newest edition of Dark Heresy. For the first edition, see Dark Heresy.
Dark Heresy 2nd Edition
RPG published by
Fantasy Flight Games
Rule System d%
No. of Players 3+
Session Time 10+ minutes (because you might well die in the first 10 minutes)
Authors Andrew Fischer
First Publication 2014
Essential Books Dark Heresy 2nd Edition
  • Game Master's Kit
  • Forgotten Gods
  • Enemies Within
  • Enemies Without
  • Enemies Beyond

And lo, on 0556013.M3, the gods did decree to place upon us Dark Heresy 2nd Edition.

Dark Heresy 2nd Edition is a repainting of Only War to make it palatable for hunting heretics and daemons. As such, it has ported many aspects from Only War, which makes it varying degrees of both awesome and/or fail, depending on who you ask.

STOP THE PRESS! A new supplement has been announced for the last quarter of 2015 - Enemies Without! Dedicated to the Ordo Xenos, it will provide a host of new weaponry and a new role dedicated to driving things ("the Ace"). The "Enemies" announced are Eldar of all kinds, Kroot, Orks and Tyranids. Additional hopes include Xenos vehicles, some new stuff for Radical puritains, and Xenos PCs and Henchmen.

Before the Xenos supplement has even hit the shelves, FFG has announced Enemies Beyond, the Malleus supplement, for the first quarter of 2016. It will expand on the Radical side of the Inquisition, including rules for the creation of daemonhosts and the forging of Dark Pacts. In addition, there are new home worlds (Quarantined Worlds and Penal Colonies). It will also reintroduce Exorcised PCs.

Already infamous for having a fucking horrendous binding. Seriously, this shit was falling apart weeks after it was released. However, FFG showed their This Guy-ism by sending out free copies of the books to those who bitched.

So, what's new?[edit]

In Dark Heresy Second Edition, a number of game mechanics have been overhauled from the first edition. If you've played Only War, you'll be familiar with some of these changes;

  • Character Creation: Character creation has been significantly changed, with career paths and ranks being replaced with backgrounds and roles. Unlike before, where each home world limited your career choices, an acolyte has the freedom to select whichever world, background, and role they want. Rank advancement has been removed and replaced with "aptitudes" that affect how much skills and talents cost. This means that while it is possible to build an adept sniper, it will be much easier to have him focus on knowledge and investigation skills.
  • Aptitudes: These things govern how much xp everything costs. You can only get them at character creation (or if your GM lets you buy the psyker elite advance in-game for some reason), so choose carefully! Note that if you manage to get a duplicate somehow, you can instead choose any Aptitude with the same name as a characteristic (like "Weapon Skill" or "Fellowship").
  • Skills and Talents: Skills are basically the same as in Only War, so there is quite a bit less bloat than in 1E. Talents are still talents. Moving rapidly on...
  • Psychic Abilities: The psychic system is much like that of Black Crusade, Only War, Deathwatch, and Rogue Trader - it's based on characteristic tests (generally Willpower or Perception) or skill tests (Psyniscience for Divination) to activate powers. However, while it is possible to "push" to increase your psy rating (and the horrible consequences of gazing into the warp), it is not possible to cast at the "fettered" power level: every single power used now has a chance of causing deadly perils! Furthermore, note that each point of Psy Rating no longer gives you a +5 on the Focus power test, so powers are a bit harder to cast than before. The capabilities of these powers have also been nerfed: a psyker is now less useful/overpowered than in Only War or Black Crusade.
  • Influence and Subtlety: Influence takes the place of Thrones as the equivalent of currency; rather than corresponding to material goods it represents the party's ability to control others and generally get what they want, whether it's getting new equipment delivered, pulling strings to speed up an investigation, or getting an advantage in social interactions by dropping the right names. Subtlety is an entirely new addition, reflecting how good the party is at keeping its presence a secret- the higher it is, the less likely it'll be that others will know who the party is and the less transparent their actions will be. The GM is the only one who knows the party's exact Subtlety score (although they can try to find out what the score is, usually by way of Awareness or Inquiry tests), but as a rule anything that conceals the party's identities will increase their Subtlety and more overt actions will decrease it. High Subtlety isn't always a good thing, however- getting your allies to help you will be a problem if they don't even know what you're up to, and the same cover story that keeps local authorities from interfering with an investigation can backfire on you if those same authorities catch you trying to break into a corrupt noble's mansion.
  • Righteous Fury: Continues the tendency of the game line to reduce how overpowered Righteous Fury is as new games are released. When a die rolls a 10 to damage, you have achieved righteous fury. Roll 1d5 on the appropriate critical hit chart, and the target suffers its effects (without actually immediately going into negative hit points). If the target would have taken 0 damage from the hit, it instead takes 1 point of damage but no mini-crit. Heavy burst weapons with Tearing can now easily inflict 2 or 3 mini-crits with each volley to "stunlock" enemies while dealing massive damage.

Character Creation[edit]

The Class system is now 3 levels deep. This can allow for some pretty ridiculous character customization, like a Feral World Tech-Priest Psyker or a High-born Adeptus Astra Telepathica Assassin (although all of these characters - especially the second one - do have a fluff basis), but if you've got good players it can be pretty neat-o, too. Since the roles are generic, if you have an idea of what kind of character you want to play, like a Tech-Priest or a Bolter-bitch, you can pretty much make it with the new rules.


A quick explanation of what the choices do, first.


Aptitudes make things cheaper. Characteristics, Skills, and Talents have aptitudes; for every aptitude the character shares with them, the character spends less experience. Characteristics all have two aptitudes; most Skills and Talents have two, but some only have one, where the other aptitude is "General", which everyone has, so no-one pays the aptitudeless cost; conversely, there are rare cases (notably some Inquisitor talents) which only possess one aptitude, period, so no-one pays the cost for matching twice.

To better understand the Aptitudes, here are the Aptitudes and how they map to Characteristics and Skills.

Name Characteristics Skills
Agility Agility
  • Acrobatics
  • Dodge
  • Operate (X)
  • Sleight of Hand
  • Stealth
Ballistic Skill Ballistic Skill -
Defence Toughness
  • Dodge
  • Parry
Fellowship Fellowship
  • Charm
  • Command
  • Deceive
  • Inquiry
Fieldcraft Perception
  • Awareness
  • Medicae
  • Navigate (X)
  • Operate (X)
  • Stealth
  • Survival
  • Ballistic Skill
  • Agility
General -
  • Acrobatics
  • Athletics
  • Common Lore (X)
  • Linguistics (X)
  • Scrutiny
  • Trade (X)
Intelligence Intelligence
  • Commerce
  • Common Lore (X)
  • Forbidden Lore (X)
  • Linguistics (X)
  • Logic (X)
  • Medicae
  • Navigate (X)
  • Scholastic Lore (X)
  • Security
  • Tech-Use
  • Trade (X)
Knowledge Intelligence
  • Commerce
  • Forbidden Lore
  • Logic
  • Scholastic Lore
  • Sleight of Hand
Leadership - Command
  • Weapon Skill
  • Strength
Perception Perception
  • Awareness
  • Psyniscience
  • Scrutiny
  • Survival
Psyker Willpower Psyniscience
Social Fellowship
  • Charm
  • Deceive
  • Inquiry
  • Interrogation
  • Intimidate
Strength Strength
  • Athletics
  • Intimidate
Tech -
  • Security
  • Tech-Use
Toughness Toughness -
Weapon Skill Weapon Skill Parry
Willpower Willpower Interrogation
  • So, for example, the Assassin role can provide the Agility, Ballistic Skill (if chosen), Fieldcraft, Finesse, and Perception aptitudes.
    • This provides a double match for:
      • Ballistic Skill
      • Agility
      • Perception
      • Acrobatics
      • Awareness
      • Operate (X)
      • Stealth
      • Survival
    • And a single match for:
      • Dodge (Defence would pick up a second match)
      • Sleight of Hand (Knowledge would pick up a second match)
      • Medicae and Navigate (Intelligence would pick up a second match)
      • Psyniscience (Psyker would pick up a second match, but this would be very difficult to do)
  • And, of course, talents also have aptitude matching.

Characteristics gain 5 each time they are upgraded, up to a maximum of 5 times (+25).

The first rank if you have two aptitudes is straightforward; its cost is 100 experience. For every other combination of rank and aptitude, the formula is quite strange:

Characteristic Increase Cost = 250 * (1 + rank + floor(rank/(4+aptitudes/2)) + 3*floor(rank/(5+aptitudes)) - aptitudes)

Skills and Talents[edit]

Skills gain 20 the first time they are upgraded, followed by +10 each additional time, up to a maximum of 4 times total (+30).

Skill Cost = 100*rank*(3-aptitudes) in experience.

Talents have a fixed cost - the ones that you can take multiple times cost the same every time. Instead, their cost depends on both their "Tier" (1-3) and aptitudes; their cost is the same as a skill rank one step above the talent's tier:

Talent Cost = 100*(tier+1)*(3-aptitudes) in experience.

Characteristic Bonuses and Penalties[edit]

By default, the 10 characteristics are all 20 + 2d10, so 22-40, with an average of 31 (most GMs will let you generate your 10 scores, then allocate them, but RAW, you generate them one at a time, and live with what you are given). You can, instead, use point buy, which gives you 25 in every characteristic and then 60 discretionary to distribute, with a maximum of 40; if you distribute your points evenly, you will have exactly 31 in every characteristic.

A characteristic bonus works differently for each model. If you are rolling, a characteristic with a bonus is 20 + 3d10 keep the two highest, which means your two characteristics with a bonus become, on average, 33.475 rather than 31, or a net bonus of +2.475 to each (4.95 total). By contrast, the one with a penalty is 20 + 3d10 keep the two lowest, which drops it by 2.475 on average (typically to 28.525).

If you are using point buy, instead each of your bonuses adds 5 to the relevant characteristic and your penalty subtracts 5 (giving you the only legal way to start with a characteristic at 20).

Fate Points and Wounds[edit]

For both of these, your starting number is also the maximum you regenerate to - if you start with 4 Fate Points, the most you can have is 4, and if you start with 2, the most you can have is 2 (Fate Points come back every session, but your maximum can come up if you encounter a mechanic for getting more mid-session). Same with Wounds - whatever you start with is how many you can be healed up to.

You gain more maximum wounds later with the Sound Constitution talent (300 experience, 200 with the Toughness aptitude, per buy, maximum buys Toughness Bonus + 1); you only gain maximum Fate Points as the GM's discretion, and the rulebook has a stern warning that this should be given out very rarely for monumental accomplishments or selfless sacrifices. However, you do get a chance to start with one extra maximium Fate Point via the Emperor's Blessing; roll a d10 and if it's greater than or equal to the result designated by your homeworld you'll get the bonus.


First is the homeworld for your first aptitudes, characteristic modifiers, fate points (and your chance of getting an extra Fate Point from a successful Emperor's Blessing roll), and homeworld bonus. The homeworld bonuses are a mix of old standbys from the previous edition and some new ones.

Homeworld Choices
Homeworld Aptitude Benefit Book Char. Bonuses Char. Penalty Emperor's Blessing Starting Fate Points Expected Starting Fate Points Starting Wounds Expected Starting Wounds
Agri-World Strength An Agri-World character starts with the Brutal Charge (2) trait. Enemies Within Fellowship, Strength Agility 7+ 2 2.4 8+1d5 10.5
Agri-World: Kalto Strength Deny Thyself: A character from Kalto ignores any effects from his first level of Fatigue, and counts his Toughness bonus as two higher for the purposes of determining starvation. Enemies Within Fellowship, Strength Agility 7+ 2 2.4 8+1d5 10.5
Agri-World: Novabella Strength Strength from the Harvest-Father: A native of Novabella counts his Strength bonus as 2 higher when using a Low-Tech weapon, and when throwing a grenade or similar weapon. Seeds of Heresy Fellowship, Strength Agility 7+ 2 2.4 8+1d5 10.5
Daemon World Willpower A Daemon World Character starts with one rank in the Psyniscience skill. Should he gain this skill again in Character Creation, he gains another rank in the skill. Note that he cannot buy more ranks in Psyniscience unless he has the Psyker aptitude. He also begins with 1d10+5 Corruption points. Enemies Beyond Perception, Willpower Fellowship 4+ 3 3.7 8+1d5 10.5
Daemon World: Tuchulcha Willpower Inured to the Horrors: A character from Tuchulcha begins with 3d5 Corruption points. In addition to the normal uses of Fate points (see page 293 of the Dark Heresy Core Rulebook), once per encounter he may spend a Fate point to count as having the Adamantium Faith talent until the beginning of his next turn. Enemies Beyond Perception, Willpower Fellowship 4+ 3 3.7 8+1d5 10.5
Death World Fieldcraft When a Death World character is surprised, non-surprised attackers do not gain the +30 bonus to their Weapon Skill and Ballistic Skill tests when targeting this character. Enemies Without Agility, Perception Fellowship 5+ 2 2.6 9+1d5 11.5
Death World: Yanth Fieldcraft Craftsmaster: A character from Yanth gains a +20 bonus to Crafting special uses of the Medicae and Survival skills, and halves the time needed for completion. Enemies Without Agility, Perception Fellowship 5+ 2 2.6 9+1d5 11.5
Feral World Toughness When a Feral Worlder wields a low-tech weapon, it is no longer considered Primitive and gains the Proven (3) quality. Core Strength, Toughness Influence 3+ 2 2.8 9+1d5 11.5
Feral World: Gregorn Toughness Manners are All: A character from Gregorn has a highly ingrained sense of honour and custom. Should he discover that another character has lied to him (such as by winning an Opposed Scrutiny versus Deceive test), he gains the Hatred talent against that character. Enemies Without Strength, Toughness Influence 3+ 2 2.8 9+1d5 11.5
Feral World: Rund Toughness Zeal of the Convert: Characters from Rund start with the Hatred (Heretics) talent. They also count as having the Hatred talents possessed by any clearly identified member of the Adeptus Ministorum within 10 metres. Enemies Within Strength, Toughness Influence 3+ 2 2.8 9+1d5 11.5
Feudal World Weapon Skill A Feudal World Character ignores the maximum agility value imposed by any armour he is wearing. Enemies Within Perception, Weapon Skill Intelligence 6+ 3 3.5 9+1d5 11.5
Feudal World: Hrax Weapon Skill A Keen Blade: The first time a character from Hrax inflicts damage on a target with a bladed melee weapon each encounter, he gains a +10 bonus to Weapon Skill tests to attack that target with that weapon until the end of the encounter. Enemies Within Perception, Weapon Skill Intelligence 6+ 3 3.5 9+1d5 11.5
Forge World Intelligence Forge World natives begin with either Weapon-Tech or Technical Knock. Core Intelligence, Toughness Fellowship 8+ 3 3.3 8+1d5 10.5
Forge World: Pellenne Intelligence Guard the Pure-blooded: A Pellennian character starts with the Resistance (Radiation) talent and the Trade (Prospector) skill at rank 1 (Known), plus either the Hatred (Mutants) talent or the Dark-sight trait. Enemies Within Intelligence, Toughness Fellowship 8+ 3 3.3 8+1d5 10.5
Forge World: Selvanus Binary Intelligence Obsession to Tech-Ritual: A character from Selvanus Binary always seeks to follow the proper rites associated with correct usage of holy technology. As a Full Action, he may make a Difficult (–10) Logic test before using a device. If he succeeds, the device counts as being one level of craftsmanship higher (Poor becomes Average, Average becomes Good, etc.) until the end of the encounter. If he fails with a number of degrees of failure greater than his Willpower bonus, he gains 1 Insanity point Enemies Within Intelligence, Toughness Fellowship 8+ 3 3.3 8+1d5 10.5
Frontier World Ballistic Skill A Frontier World character gains a +20 bonus to tech use tests when applying personal weapon modifications, and a +10 bonus when repairing damaged items. Enemies Within Ballistic Skill, Perception Fellowship 7+ 3 3.4 7+1d5 9.5
Frontier World: Temperance Ballistic Skill Cleansing of Flames: Due to the constant threat of mind- mould infestation, every Temperance citizen masters the use of flame weapons from an early age. A character from this world begins with the Weapon Training (Flame) talent. Enemies Within Ballistic Skill, Perception Fellowship 7+ 3 3.4 7+1d5 9.5
Garden World Social A Garden World character halves the duration (rounded up) of any result from the Shock or Mental Trauma tables and can remove Insanity points for 50xp per point. Enemies Without Agility, Fellowship Toughness 4+ 2 2.7 7+1d5 9.5
Garden World: Forraliss Social The Perfect Host: A character from Forraliss scores an extra degree of success on successful Charm and Deceive tests. Enemies Without Agility, Fellowship Toughness 4+ 2 2.7 7+1d5 9.5
Highborn Fellowship When a Highborn would have to reduce his influence, it drops one point less than it would normally. Core Fellowship, Influence Toughness 10+ 4 4.1 9+1d5 11.5
Hive World Perception Hive World characters can move through crowds as if they were passing through open terrain, and gain a +20 bonus to the Navigate (Surface) skill when in enclosed spaces. Core Agility, Perception Willpower 6+ 2 2.5 8+1d5 10.5
Hive World: Desoleum Perception The Sacredness of Oaths: Desoleum’s main hive exists in a tangled system of involute oaths, and for its denizens this has become an ingrained part of their mentality. If he gives his oathbond word, a character from this world gains a +10 bonus to Willpower-based tests involved in fulfilling that oath. If he ever goes back on his oathgiven word, however, he gains 1d5 Insanity Points. Forgotten Gods Agility, Perception Willpower 6+ 2 2.5 8+1d5 10.5
Hive World: Snope's World Perception Attention to Nuance: A character from Snope’s world starts with one rank of the Deceive skill and one rank of the Scrutiny skill. He also gains a +20 bonus to tests he makes to determine the warband’s Subtlety value. Enemies Within Agility, Perception Willpower 6+ 2 2.5 8+1d5 10.5
Hive World: Vouxis Prime Perception Art from Below: A character from Vouxis Prime starts with the Blind Fighting talent and Trade (Sculptor) as a Rank 2 (Trained) skill. Enemies Without Agility, Perception Willpower 6+ 2 2.5 8+1d5 10.5
Penal Colony Toughness A Penal Colony character begins with one rank in the Common Lore (Undergrounds) and Scrutiny skills, and in addition, starts with the Peer (Criminal Cartels) talent Enemies Beyond Perception, Toughness Influence 8+ 3 3.3 10+1d5 12.5
Penal Colony: Nexum Toughness Find the Weak Spot: Whenever a character from Nexum inflicts Critical damage, he may add +1 when determining which result to apply from the appropriate Critical Effects table. Enemies Beyond Perception, Toughness Influence 8+ 3 3.3 10+1d5 12.5
Quarantine World Fieldcraft Whenever the warband's Subtlety would decrease, it decreases by 2 less (to a minimum reduction of 1) Enemies Beyond Ballistic Skill, Intelligence Strength 9+ 3 3.2 8+1d5 10.5
Quarantine World: Kul Fieldcraft Myth Made Truth: A character from Kul counts as having the Forbidden Lore (The Warp, Daemonology) skills each with a number of Ranks equal to half his Intelligence bonus (rounded down), unless the number of Ranks would be higher otherwise. Enemies Beyond Ballistic Skill, Intelligence Strength 9+ 3 3.2 8+1d5 10.5
Research Station Knowledge When a Research Station character reaches Rank 2 (Trained) in a Scholastic Lore skill, he also gains Rank 1 (Known) in one related or identical Forbidden Lore skill of his choice. Enemies Without Intelligence, Perception Fellowship 8+ 3 3.3 8+1d5 10.5
Research Station: Dark Echo Knowledge Dark Obsession: If faced with a Fear-causing subject or situation for which a character from Dark Echo possesses the associated specialization in the Forbidden, Common, or Scholastic Lore skills, he gains a bonus equal to ten times his ranks in that skill. Enemies Without Intelligence, Perception Fellowship 8+ 3 3.3 8+1d5 10.5
Shrine World Willpower A Shrine World character rolls 1d10 when spending a Fate Point; on a roll of 1, he gets to keep the Fate Point. Core Fellowship, Willpower Perception 6+ 3 3.5 7+1d5 9.5
Shrine World: Ossuar Willpower Absolute Faith in the Past: In addition to the normal uses of Fate points (see page 293 of the Dark Heresy Core Rulebook), once per encounter a character from Ossuar may spend a Fate point after he fails a Fear test to count as having passed it with 1 degree of success, but also gains 1 Insanity point. Enemies Beyond Fellowship, Willpower Perception 6+ 3 3.5 7+1d5 9.5
Shrine World: Thaur Willpower The Dead are Watchful: The first time a character from Thaur suffers Critical damage each session, after determining and resolving the Critical Effect, he gains back one spent Fate Point (this cannot exceed his Fate threshold). Forgotten Gods Fellowship, Willpower Perception 6+ 3 3.5 7+1d5 9.5
Voidborn Intelligence Voidborn start with Strong Minded, and gains a +30 bonus to tests that involve moving in a zero gravity environment. Core Intelligence, Willpower Strength 5+ 3 3.6 7+1d5 9.5
Voidborn: The Oath Unspoken Intelligence Master of the Drunnels: All those from the Oath Unspoken have become expert at the art of haggling and trading from time spent in the Drunnels or from working with their Rogue Trader Captain. A character from this vessel gains a +20 bonus to Opposed Commerce tests and tests for the Evaluate special use of the Commerce skill. Forgotten Gods Intelligence, Willpower Strength 5+ 3 3.6 7+1d5 9.5
Voidborn: Port Aquila Intelligence Forceful Negotiations: A character from Port Aquila starts at rank 1 (Known) in the Commerce skill, and can use his Strength or Willpower characteristic instead of Intelligence when making Commerce tests. Enemies Within Intelligence, Willpower Strength 5+ 3 3.6 7+1d5 9.5
Voidborn: The Emperor's Song Intelligence Attuned to the Warp: A character from The Emperor’s Song gains the Deny the Witch talent. Enemies Beyond Intelligence, Willpower Strength 5+ 3 3.6 7+1d5 9.5


Next, you pick your background to determine starting skills, talents, equipment, background bonus, and background aptitude. Background bonuses are mostly new stuff. Background choices are:

  • Adepta Sororitas: (Introduced in Enemies Within) The bolter gals are immune to Corruption, but receive extra Insanity points any time they're exposed to something that would normally cause Corruption. Additionally, only they can take the Sister of Battle Elite Advance. The strange thing, however, is that it doesn't say anywhere that your character has to be female. This could mean that this also allows for the existence of the Frateris Militaris - that ad-hoc (and technically illegal, the best kind of illegal) army the Ecclesiarchy uses to make riots and shit without having a literal army.
    • Starting Skills: Athletics, Charm or Intimidate, Common Lore (Adepta Sororitas), Linguistics (High Gothic), Medicae or Parry
    • Starting Talents: Weapon Training (Flame or Las), Weapon Training (Chain)
    • Starting Equipment: Laspistol or hand flamer, chainblade, armored bodyglove, chrono, dataslate, stablight, micro-bead
    • Starting Aptitude: Offence or Social
  • Adeptus Administratum: Dealing with the Administratum's clusterfuck of bureaucracy lets characters with this background count the availability of an item as one level more available than it would usually be when requisitioning (e.g. an item of Average availability counts as Common).
    • Starting Skills: Commerce or Medicae, Common Lore (Adeptus Administratum), Linguistics (High Gothic), Logic, Scholastic Lore (player's choice)
    • Starting Talents: Weapon Training (Las) or Weapon Training (Solid Projectile)
    • Starting Equipment: Laspistol or stub automatic, Imperial robes, autoquill, chrono, dataslate, and medikit
    • Starting Aptitude: Knowledge or Social
  • Adeptus Arbites: Arbitrators can reroll any Intimidation and Interrogation test, substituting their willpower bonus for degrees of success on the reroll.
    • Starting Skills: Awareness, Common Lore (Adeptus Arbites, Underworld), either Inquiry or Interrogation, Intimidate, Scrutiny
    • Starting Talents: Weapon Training (Shock) or Weapon Training (Solid Projectile)
    • Starting Equipment: Shotgun or shock maul, either Enforcer light carapace armor or carapace chestplate, 3 doses of stimm, manacles, 12 lho sticks
    • Starting Aptitude: Offence or Defence
  • Adeptus Astra Telepathica: Experience dealing with the Warp allows an Adeptus Astra Telepathica character to grant Psykers within 10 meters that roll on the Psychic Phenomena table an increase or decrease on the roll by up to the Telepathica character's willpower bonus, making them a godsend to psyker-heavy parties. If the character is a Psyker himself, he will also gain the Sanctioned trait for free; anyone else with the advance is considered a rogue psyker, which never ends well.
    • Starting Skills: Awareness, Common Lore (Adeptus Astra Telepathica), Deceive or Interrogation, Forbidden Lore (The Warp), Psyniscience or Scrutiny
    • Starting Talents: Weapon Training (Las), Weapon Training (Low-tech)
    • Starting Equipment: Laspistol, staff or whip, light flak cloak or flak vest, micro-bead or psy-focus
    • Starting Aptitude: Defence or Psyker
  • Adeptus Mechanicus: The cogboys' obsession with cybernetics makes all cybernetics two levels of availability higher than usual (e.g. Rare becomes Average).
    • Starting Skills: Either Awareness or Operate (player's choice), Common Lore (Adeptus Mechanicus), Logic, Security, Tech-Use
    • Starting Talents: Weapon Training (Solid Projectile), Mechadendrite Use (Utility)
    • Starting Trait: Mechanicus Implants
    • Starting Equipment: Either Autogun or hand cannon, monotask servo-skull (utility) or optical mechadendrite, Imperial robes, 2 vials of sacred unguents
    • Starting Aptitude: Knowledge or Tech
    • Note: Can be very versatile; careful selection of cybernetics around your chosen role is critical.
  • Adeptus Ministorum: Those who serve the Imperial Creed gain a 20+ bonus to tests instead of the usual 10+ bonus when spending fate points to gain bonuses to tests.
    • Starting Skills: Charm, Command, Common Lore (Adeptus Ministorum), Inquiry or Scrutiny, Linguistics (High Gothic)
    • Starting Talents: Weapon Training (Flame), or both Weapon Training (Low-tech) and Weapon Training (Solid Projectile)
    • Starting Equipment: Hand flamer (or warhammer and stub revolver), Imperial robes or flak vest, backpack, glow-globe, monotask servo-skull (laud hailer)
    • Starting Aptitude: Leadership or Social
  • Exorcised: (Introduced in Enemies Beyond) An Exorcised character counts his Insanity bonus as 2 higher for purposes of avoiding Fear tests (so they start the game immune to Fear 1). Additionally, he can never again become possessed by the same Daemon that once possessed him; the jury is out on whether that means the same type of Daemon or the specific Daemon who possessed him the first time.
    • Starting Skills: Awareness, Deceive or Inquiry, Dodge, Forbidden Lore (Daemonology), Intimidate or Scrutiny
    • Starting Talents: Hatred (Daemons), Weapon Training (Solid Projectile, Chain)
    • Starting Equipment: Autopistol or stub revolver, shotgun, chainblade, Imperial robes, 3 doses of obscura or tranq, disguise kit or excruciator kit, rebreather, stablight or glowglobe
    • Starting Malignancy: Starts with one Malignancy chosen from the Core Rulebook Malignancy Tables
    • Starting Aptitudes: Defence or Knowledge
  • Heretek: (Introduced in Enemies Without) Knowing something as a Heretek makes a Tech-Use test to comprehend, use, repair, or modify an unfamiliar device, easier as he gains a +20 bonus if he has one or more relevant Forbidden Lore skill specialization at least Rank 1 (Known).
    • Starting Skills: Deceive or Inquiry, Forbidden Lore (pick one), Medicae or Security, Tech-Use, Trade (pick one)
    • Starting Talents: Weapon Training (Solid Projectile)
    • Starting Trait: Mechanicus Implants
    • Starting Equipment: Stub revolver with 2 extra clips of Expander bullets or Man Stopper rounds, 1 web grenade, combi-tool, flak cloak, filtration plugs, 1 dose of de-tox, dataslate, stablight
    • Starting Aptitude: Finesse or Tech
  • Imperial Guard: Team players as well as fighters, Guardsmen can reroll damage rolls of 1 and 2 if attacking an enemy that an ally attacked since the end of the Guardsman's last turn.
    • Starting Skills: Athletics, Command, Common Lore (Imperial Guard), Medicae or Operate (Surface), Navigate (Surface)
    • Starting Talents: Weapon Training (Las), Weapon Training (Low-tech)
    • Starting Equipment: Lasgun (or laspistol and sword), combat vest, Imperial Guard flak armor, grapnel and line, magnoculars, 12 lho sticks
    • Starting Aptitude: Fieldcraft or Leadership
  • Imperial Navy: (Introduced in Enemies Without) Close Quarters Discipline gives Imperial Navy characters one additional degree of success on Ballistic Skill tests made at Point-Blank range, at Short range, and while engaged in melee.
    • Starting Skills: Athletics, Command or Intimidate, Common Lore (Imperial Navy), Navigate (Stellar), Operate (Aeronautica or Voidship)
    • Starting Talents: Weapon Training (Chain or Shock), Weapon Training (Solid Projectile)
    • Starting Equipment: Combat shotgun or hand cannon, chainsword or shock whip, flak coat, rebreather, micro-bead
    • Starting Aptitude: Offence or Tech
  • Mutant: (Introduced in Enemies Within) Being a warp-tainted freak forsaken by the Emperor isn't entirely terrible. Sure, you start out with 10 points' worth of corruption and a mutation (obviously), but on the bright side you can choose to fail tests to resist malignancies and mutations and choose to take a mutation in the place of a malignancy.
    • Starting Traits: One of the following: Amphibious, Dark-Sight, Natural Weapons, Sonar Sense, Sturdy, Toxic (1), Unnatural Agility (1), Unnatural Strength (1), Unnatural Toughness (1)
    • Starting Skills: Athletics or Acrobatics, Awareness, Deceive or Intimidate, Forbidden Lore (Mutants), Survival
    • Starting Talents: Weapon Training (Low-tech, Solid Projectile)
    • Starting Equipment: Shotgun (or stub revolver and great weapon), combat vest, heavy leathers, grapnel and line, magnoculars, 2 doses of Stimm
    • Starting Aptitude: Fieldcraft or Offence
  • Outcast: The dregs of society are tougher than they seem, counting their toughness bonus as two levels higher when determining fatigue.
    • Starting Skills: Acrobatics or Sleight of Hand, Common Lore (Underworld), Deceive, Dodge, Stealth
    • Starting Talents: Weapon Training (Chain), either Weapon Training (Las) or Weapon Training (Solid Projectile)
    • Starting Equipment: Autopistol or laspistol, chainsword, armored bodyglove or flak vest, injector, 2 doses of Obscura or Slaught
    • Starting Aptitude: Fieldcraft or Social
  • Rogue Trader Fleet: (Introduced in Enemies Without) Having to deal with aliens, a Rogue Trader Fleet character gains +10 bonus to Fear tests caused by aliens and +20 bonus to Interaction skill tests with alien characters.
    • Starting Skills: Charm or Scrutiny, Commerce, Common Lore (Rogue Trader), Linguistics (pick one alien language), Operate (Surface or Aeronautica)
    • Starting Talents: Weapon Training (Las or Solid Projectile, Shock)
    • Starting Equipment: Autopistol or laspistol (fitted with Compact weapon upgrade), shock maul, mesh cloak or carapace chestplate, auspex, chrono
    • Starting Aptitude: Finesse or Social


The last level of character creation is your "Role", which determines the last of your aptitudes along with a talent and role bonus. Most of the role bonuses are geared around added bonuses for use of fate points in game, with the three exceptions being Mystic, Penitent, and Desperado. All of them come with 5 additional aptitudes and 1 additional talent. Most roles have at least one aptitude they either shouldn't have but do or should have but don't in order to satisfy their own description; however, the right homeworld or background choice can compensate for it. Role choices are:

  • Ace: (Introduced with Enemies Without) Expert drivers, pilots, or riders. As experts of any mount, machine and beast alike they can commune with their vessel and predict its behaviour rather than reacting to it. By spending a Fate Point they may immediately succeed on an Operate or Survival test involving vehicles or steeds.
    • Aptitudes: Agility, Finesse, Perception, Tech, Willpower
        • This Role desperately needs Intelligence and Fieldcraft, which are crucial for skills that will help you pilot and maintain your steed; consequently, the best homeworld choices are Death World, Forge World, Quarantine World, and Voidborn. Your best background depends on what you plan to pilot; go with Imperial Guard if you plan to stick with tanks and ground vehicles or Imperial Navy if you want to pilot aircraft and voidships.
    • Talent Choices: Hard Target or Hotshot
  • Assassin: Cold-blooded killers dedicated to the precise elimination of their targets. They can act as stealthy ambushers, snipers, or experts in poisons, and may spend a Fate Point to inflict bonus damage on an attack dependent on their degrees of success on that attack's first hit. One of the best roles in the game in terms of actually having appropriate aptitudes for their described purpose.
    • Aptitudes: Agility, Ballistic Skill or Weapon Skill, Fieldcraft, Finesse, Perception
    • Talent Choices: Jaded or Leap Up
        • The main weakness of this role is the poor selection of Talents, so any background that offers Weapon Training in the killing tool of your choice is a good bet. While it is possible to play this as a fast melee attacker, its aptitudes are best suited for snipers, so keep that in mind. You'll notice that without Defence or Toughness, Assassins are predisposed to becoming glass cannons.
  • Chiurgeon: The obligatory combat medic, specializing in keeping his allies alive and well (as far as that's possible in the 41st millennium, of course). However, they can also double as torturers, using their knowledge of medicine to inflict as much pain on their victims as possible without causing permanent injury or death. They can spend Fate Points to automatically pass failed First Aid tests with degrees of success equal to their intelligence bonus.
    • Aptitudes: Fieldcraft, Intelligence, Strength, Knowledge, Toughness
        • This Role badly needs Perception to diagnose illnesses and prepare medicines, although Social could help if you want to play the interrogator angle. You can get Perception with the Hive World background, or by getting any dulplicate Aptitude and allocating one of them to Perception.
    • Talent Choices: Resistance (Pick one) or Takedown
  • Crusader: (Introduced in Enemies Beyond) Paladins of the Imperial Faith, whether in single combat against enemy champions or as a shield against the horrors of the warp, Crusaders will always be at the front, wielding sanctified blades and holy fire against all enemies of mankind. They can spend Fate Points to automatically pass a Fear test with a number of degrees of success equal to his willpower bonus. Additionally, whenever a Crusader hits with a melee attack against a target with the Fear (X) trait, he inflicts X additional damage and counts his weapon's penetration as being X higher.
    • Aptitudes: Knowledge, Offence, Strength, Toughness, Willpower
        • Weapons Skill and Defense are must-haves for this role, since the former helps you hit things in single combat better while the latter makes sure that you won't be killed by the counterattack. The negation of armor penalties that the Feudal World homeworld provides makes it a perfect fit, and it's excellently supplemented by the Exorcised, Adeptus Arbites, and Imperial Guard backgrounds.
    • Talent Choices: Bodyguard or Deny the Witch
  • Desperado: Pirates, renegades, and other criminally inclined types, with silver tongues backed up by their wits and the occasional concealed weapon. They can perform a standard attack with a pistol after moving as a free action.
    • Aptitudes: Agility, Ballistic Skill, Defence, Fellowship, Finesse
        • The lack of the Social aptitude is the most obvious issue, but Knowledge is also a good thing so you can improve your Deceive and Scrutiny. While Garden World can fix the latter, Snopes' World is also a good choice. Administratum, Outcast, and Rogue Trader Fleet are all good choices that offer a good deal of flexibility as to whether you want to charm people or fill them with bullets.
    • Talent Choices: Catfall or Quick Draw
  • Fanatic: (Introduced in Enemies Within) Another self-explanatory class, in that even by the notoriously lax standards of the Imperium of Man these guys are absolutely obsessed with something (which usually tends to be the destruction of the Imperium's enemies). They can spend a Fate point to gain Hatred against an enemy of their choice for an encounter, but if they try to leave combat with said enemy they gain an insanity point.
    • Aptitudes: Leadership, Toughness, Offence, Weapon Skill, Willpower
        • Getting the Social aptitude is generally a very good idea, to get easier access to the Interrogation skill to help you find heretics better while also improving your rhetoric, and Strength will let you use Hatred to its full potential. An interesting choice for this role would be Feral World (Rund) - not only does it offer the Hatred talent right away, it also lets you borrow that talent from others in the right circumstances so you can hate even more people!
    • Talent Choices: Deny the Witch or Jaded
  • Hierophant: A typically fanatical priest/cleric, who uses his charisma to rouse his allies' spirits even as he charges in with a chainsword or flamer. Fortunately for him, he's as good of a meatshield as he is as a face. He can use a Fate Point to automatically pass any Charm, Command, or Intimidate skill test with degrees of success equal to his Willpower bonus.
    • Aptitudes: Fellowship, Social, Offence, Toughness, Willpower
        • Leadership is practically mandatory if you want to actually do anything with Command or Intimidate, and having the Strength aptitude helps with the latter as well. Needless to say, Adeptus Ministorum is probably your best choice for this one, and its improved use of Fate Points synergizes well with Shrine World.
    • Talent: Double Team or Hatred (Pick one)
  • Mystic: A psyker, who naturally begins with the Psyker elite advance. All the stuff that applied to psykers in 1st edition applies here (which is to say, beware Perils of the Warp, especially if you're a rogue psyker).
    • Aptitudes: Defence, Intelligence, Knowledge, Perception, Willpower
      • Fieldcraft is needed for Psyniscience, but your other aptitudes should be based on what type of powers you want to use: Defence and Toughness for Biomancers, Agility and Finesse for Pyromancers, Fellowship and Social for Telepaths, and Intelligence and Knowledge for Telekines and Diviners. That said, if you don't select Adeptus Astra Telepathica as your background, you will have a greater risk of triggering Perils of the Warp than you would otherwise, so consider whether the extra aptitudes are worth the risk.
      • Special: Because this role's special is a free elite advance, and that elite advance comes with the Psyker aptitude, you get a sixth aptitude with this: Psyker.
    • Talent Choices: Resistance (Psychic Powers), Warp Sense
  • Penitent: (Introduced in Enemies Within) Masochists bent on making themselves suffer for their sins, whether they're real or imagined. Any time he suffers at least one point of damage (after reductions for Toughness bonus and Armor), a Penitent gains a +10 bonus for the next test he makes before the end of his next turn.
    • Aptitudes: Agility, Fieldcraft, Offence, Toughness, Intelligence
    • Talent Choices: Die Hard or Flagellant
  • Sage: The nerds and smart guys, useful for the inevitable lore tests. They can spend a fate point to auto-pass a Logic or Lore test with degrees of success equal to their Intelligence bonus.
    • Aptitudes: Intelligence, Knowledge, Perception, Tech, Willpower
    • Talent Choices: Ambidextrous or Clues from the Crowds
  • Seeker: Natural detectives with a knack for ferreting out even the most insignificant of clues to an investigation. They can use Fate points to automatically pass an Awareness or Inquiry test with degrees of success equal to their Perception bonus.
    • Aptitudes: Fellowship, Intelligence, Perception, Social, Tech
      • This role lacks the Fieldcraft aptitude, which is really necessary for someone trying to improve their Perception and related skills without the xp costs becoming too ridiculous. Fieldcraft is one of the Aptitudes that is hard to get, because you can't just get a duplicate aptitude and allocate one to the aptitude of your choice (that only works for aptitudes that correspond to characteristics). The Death World and Quarantine World homeworlds provide Fieldcraft, as well as the Imperial Guard, Mutant and Outcast backgrounds.
    • Talent Choices: Keen Intuition or Disarm
  • Warrior: The name says it all- they're the go-to combat specialists of any warband, and can be effective in either melee combat or gunfights depending on how they're set up. After making a successful attack test, they can spend fate points to substitute either their WS or BS bonus (depending on the attack) for the degrees of success scored.
    • Aptitudes: Ballistic Skill, Defence, Offence, Strength, Weapon Skill
      • The Warrior role is clearly intended to be a bit of an all-rounder fighter (which fits the examples given in the rulebook - like Imperial Guardsmen). The aptitudes given make all kinds of builds possible, but they'll rarely be the optimal choice if you're aiming for a very specific type of build (snipers are better served as Assassins for example). The warrior background really shines when you get the Finesse aptitude, because without it it's a bit skewed towards melee brawlers.
    • Talent Choices : Iron Jaw or Rapid Reload

Elite Advances[edit]

Elite Advances are special bonuses that can make your character absurdly powerful, but each one either has steep requirements to actually acquire or comes with a bunch of undesirable effects to go with it. In any case, they all open up extra talents that only characters with those advances can use.

  • Inquisitor: That's right; if you play your cards right, you can be a full-fledged Inquisitor in-game.
    • Experience Cost: 1000 XP
    • Minimum Influence Requirement: 75
    • Also requires GM approval/some kind of action that makes another Inquisitor inclined to promote you
    • Instant Bonuses: Peer (Inquisition) Talent, Forbidden Lore (your choice) Skill, Leadership Aptitude
      • While the Inquisitor isn't entirely the designated protagonist of a given warband, he is arguably the linchpin that holds it all together. His unique talents mainly emphasize a much wider use of Fate Points, including the ability to outright cancel any Insanity/Corruption gain, modifying subtlety, granting another character an extra Fate Point, or even asking the GM for a little extra insight into his current situation. With the Jack/Master of All Trades talents, he's guaranteed to be able to do a little bit of everything. Good luck saving enough XP to buy all those cool talents, though.
  • Psyker: You know them, you may or may not love them, but your mindbullets have to come from someone. Taking the Adeptus Astra Telepathica background with this Elite Advance is strongly advised- mostly because it comes with the Sanctioned Trait and will make you that much less likely to be lynched for being a witch. Mutually exclusive with Untouchable, for obvious reasons.
    • Experience Cost: 300 XP, or free with Mystic Role
    • Minimum Wlllpower Requirement: 40
    • Instant Bonuses: Psyker Aptitude, PR 1 (2 if Sanctioned), 1d10+3 Corruption Points (if not Sanctioned), can buy psychic powers and PR advances
  • Untouchable: The flip side of the Psyker, complete with a set of anti-Psyker abilities befitting his unique nature. While this makes them excellent at foiling witches and Daemons, their soulless nature makes them awful for social interactions and they can't benefit from the good effects of psychic powers either. Never take one with a Psyker in the party unless you want a lot of trouble.
    • Experience Cost: 300 XP
    • Instant Bonuses: Resistance (Psychic Powers) Talent, Fellowship halved for tests (reduced to 1 when interacting with anyone with a PR or Psyniscience), unable to benefit from friendly psychic powers or anything else that calls on the Warp, ignores effects of all non-Perils psychic phenomena, and gains 30+ bonuses on all tests to resist Perils effects.
      • The rules here are quite different from those depicted in fluff (notably the Eisenhorn and Ravenor novels). In Dark Heresy if you're playing an Untouchable you can rather easily get excellent Deny the Witch bonuses and even grant Deny the Witch to allies standing close (which is rather useless considering how hard it is for most other characters to get good Willpower) as well as a +20 to their dodges against psychic powers, but this is still limited by their Reactions (so you're not immune to psychic powers: you have a chance of resisting the first one targeting you each turn, and this will also remove your normal defences). However, if you're willing to invest a lot of XP into countering psykers (and already have WP 55+), you can gain an aura (typically with a 5m or 10m radius) in which psykers have their psy rating reduced (potentially to zero). As such, you aren't a shield against psykers that your allies can hide behind, but you are a perfect way of shutting psykers down in melee. Of course, this will require multiple (10+) expensive, often single-attribute Rank 3 talents to pull off, so it isn't something you'll get at character creation!
      • Untouchables were expanded upon in the Enemies Beyond sourcebook, where they got access to a few new talents that make them better against daemons, as well as even more bonuses against psykers.
  • Sister of Battle: (Introduced in Enemies Within) When you need a whole bunch of heretics burned yesterday, a Sister of Battle is who you turn to. Their faith in the Emperor grants them near-miraculous abilities that inspire their fellow Acolytes even as they purge anything that looks that it might be heretical.
    • Experience Cost: 750 XP
    • Minimum Influence Requirement: 50
    • Minimum Willpower: 40
    • Adepta Sororitas background only
    • Instant Bonuses: Peer (Adepta Sororitas) and Weapon Training (Bolt) Talents, Scholastic Lore (Tactica Imperialis) Skill, Willpower Aptitude, get Adepta Sororitas power armor and Godwyn-De'az bolt pistol (those can be acquired by a character with Adepta Soraritas background without the Sister of Battle elite advance, but it would be highly unlikely to succeed in doing so without the use of an Inquisitor's influence, and even then it's only about even chance, typically)
      • Remember how the Adepta Sororitas background makes you gain Insanity Points when you would normally gain Corruption? As it turns out, a lot of the SoB unique talents actually require you to have a minimum Insanity score and even get stronger as you accumulate Insanity points. In WH40k, "crazy" is just another way of saying "faithful".
  • Astropath: (Introduced in Enemies Beyond) A more specific path for a psyker, this not only requires the Telepathica Background, but this also requires the Psyker Advance, and in exchange they gain extra protection from warpy stuff and a focus on telepathy with their special powers.
    • Experience Cost: 300 XP
    • Instant Bonuses: Soul Bound (which always leaves the character blind) and Unnatural Senses equal to their Willpower Characteristic (this can be increased though talents later). The fact that Astropaths are sensing things through the Warp seems to imply that they aren't necessarily constrained by the limits of the material world - like walls!

Important Things to Remember[edit]

  • Grim darkness is grim.
  • Nobody expects the Imperial Inquisition.
  • When the Psyker attempts to use his powers, watch for strange things happening. Preferably twenty metres away, behind an Untouchable and a blast door.
  • Get an Untouchable. Put huge amounts of XP into this often useless elite advance. Laugh at daemons and psykers as you ignore the Daemonic trait and can Deny the Witch with huge bonuses, cry when your GM decides you'll be playing a social infiltration game against dark eldar and their cold trader servants.
  • That guy over there looks strange. He is probably a heretic.
  • If you meet a Chaos Space Marine; you're already dead, you're just too stupid to realize it yet.
  • Flamers are fun and good for you, or at least if you're the one using them.
  • No clue is too insignificant to be used in an investigation.
  • Just because you can use a weapon that's obviously tainted by Chaos doesn't mean you should actually do so.

Doing Combat[edit]

How To Survive A Firefight[edit]

Dark Heresy has something of a reputation for being highly lethal - your average starting character has somewhere between 9 and 14 wounds at most, and most rifle-class weapons do 1d10+3 damage on a hit - but assuming your GM isn't a complete dick and your characters fight intelligently, you can generally come off very well against most varieties of human opponent, and careful planning and equipment selection can even the odds even when fighting against xenos or demons.

Crucially, nobody takes as much damage as you might assume at first glance. Although the listed damage of weapons seems high compared to a character's total wounds, your toughness bonus and armour points both considerably reduce incoming damage. A starting Warrior ignores between 6-8 points of damage from every attack, and that's assuming he's standing in the open like a gormless idiot. On top of this, one of the most commonly forgotten aspects of the Dark Heresy combat system is that everyone gets one Reaction per round, which can (among other things) be spent at any time to attempt to dodge or parry an attack, completely negating it. Although the odds of success aren't always fantastic, it's better to try and dodge that shot or parry that axe than sit there and take it!

Equipment selection is also very important. Although badass characters can indeed be very dangerous even with poor gear, even a low-rank inexperienced character can dramatically improve their combat effectiveness by making prudent choices when it comes to their loadout. If an acolyte cell plans together and chooses their equipment to complement each other, they can make themselves very deadly as a team. For a start, a set of Flak Armour is inexpensive, commonly available, comfortably wearable by all but the most unusually weedy characters, and dramatically improves your resilience to incoming fire. Any cell of acolytes that expects serious combat should be able to at least equip all its members with a set of Guard Flak, if it can't afford anything better.

When it comes to weapons, anyone can and should carry a few grenades if at all possible. Even for a character with low ballistic skill, all you need to do is land them reasonably close to whoever you're trying to hit. Depending on the precise situation, you might even be able to get away with dropping them on unsuspecting opponents from above or letting them roll down slopes to your foes, and they have the potential to injure multiple enemies at a time. Used properly, then can help turn the tide in a battle where you find yourself outnumbered.

The cell's primary firearms should be chosen to work well together. Weapons that can fire fully-automatic and weapons that have the Accurate quality are generally your best choices. A good hit with a full-auto burst can do serious damage to enemies, but by far their most important aspect is the ability to lay down Suppressive Fire. Crucially, even if you have terrible ballistic skill and no training with the weapon you're using, your ability to suppress enemies is completely unhindered. Your burst of fire almost certainly won't hit anything, but the difficulty of the test your foes must make to resist being pinned is unchanged regardless of how well you can aim. This can give less combat-oriented careers, such as the Sage, an important role to play when it comes to a fight, where they might otherwise have been reduced to hiding behind something heavy and occasionally plinking away with some crappy pistol.

High BS characters can be quite dangerous with fully automatic weapons, but should give serious consideration to using Accurate single-shot weapons, especially if they've picked up the Talents for making Called Shots at reduced penalty. Not only does an Accurate weapon grant an additional bonus to your chances to hit if you take the time to aim it, it can do extra dice of damage on a good shot - unlike a full-auto attack, this is a single hit that does more damage rather than multiple hits that are each individually subject to reduction by the target's toughness and armour. This makes Accurate weapons great at punching through the damage reduction of particularly tough enemies, particularly if combined with the Called Shot to aim for a part of the target that is less well armoured or isn't in cover properly. With appropriate weapon modifications and a Half Action to aim, the acolyte is looking at at least a +30 bonus to hit. Most firefights will take place well within an Accurate weapon's effective short range, raising that bonus to +40. Get to higher ground (grapnel and line can help you go up on structures Batman-style), and you're looking at +50.

Combine these two classes of weapon within your group, and you'll have some acolytes that lay down suppressive fire and force enemies into cover and some who can take accurate potshots at the suppressed enemies to take them down with little fear of receiving effective return fire. Any foe who manages to find cover sufficient to shield him from all shots can probably be reached with a well-placed grenade.

Another good investment is Flame weapons: although they are generally pretty obvious and won't help your Subtlety score, anything will die when on fire. Your average flame weapon can hit multiple enemies automatically and deal enough armour-ignoring (if only someone could invent ceramite armor.....) damage to instantly kill even some Elite enemies (and certainly most mooks!). Another often-forgotten aspect of Flame weapons is the fact that when set on fire, enemies must take WP tests to act (even before getting a chance to turn the flames off). As most enemies (and even daemons!) have a pretty weak base WP score, they will be locked there taking damage more than 50% of the time! Flamers are often almost impossible to dodge (the reaction, not the AG roll that replaces a Flamer's to-hit roll) if in the right conditions, as the target must have enough AG bonus to move out of the entire flamed area in a single move action: short of Eldar or Slaaneshi daemons, everything under Master status will take damage and probably spend several turns standing there getting burned and shot by your team. There's a reason why the Ordo Hereticus favours a fiery death for Heretics...

A good rule of thumb for any firefight is that if you're not in cover, all you should be doing is trying to change this state of affairs. Even if you're a tough guy in decent armour, the small amounts of damage that come through will add up if you're under fire by a lot of enemies. Take cover as quickly as you can whenever you can, and you drastically increase your odds of survival. Just as importantly, you must not be afraid of running away! The feeling that the group has to defeat every encounter that comes their way leads to many deaths. Sometimes, retreating in order to fight again some other day, hopefully better prepared, is the best option. If the fight isn't going your way - you're getting surrounded, taking too many injuries, or running out of munitions - make a break for it.

A cell of acolytes is at its most dangerous if it can prepare the area of the fight beforehand. Your role doesn't always have to be offensive, kicking in the cultists' door and firing wildly, hoping for the best; if you can figure out some way to lure your enemies to a carefully prepared killing zone (for example, your cell might pose as black market merchants with whom your enemies try to trade for supplies in order to bring them out of hiding), you hold a significant advantage. Heavy cover can be prepared in advance, with machine-gunners ready in hiding to cut down unsuspecting foes; scenery where enemies are likely to try and take cover once the fight begins can be rigged with booby traps or remote-detonator explosives. You can also position your group to surround the enemy and possibly attack from above, making it very difficult for them to find effective cover in the first place. Note that this kind of thing is easier to achieve with proper information-gathering and a high Subtlety rating, so make an effort! Unless your GM is a complete dick, it'll always pay off.

For psykers, you have ridiculously high chances of your brain exploding. Only cast if you need to, and think carefully what sort of mind bullets you'll throw. Remember that the Inquisition kills every civilian who witnesses psychic phenomena! Don't waste the lives of the Emperor's faithful - they belong to the Emperor, so that's HERESY.

In conclusion, equipment and cohesive tactics are what make or break an acolyte cell in a serious firefight. Although having experience, high skills and plenty of talents helps, a lack of these is more than made up for by pimped out gear and a good plan. If you have both, your cell can become a force to fear even for very well trained and equipped enemies.

Getting Close And Personal[edit]

When it comes to effective Melee weapons, Chain weapons are a good choice, as they usually give you more damage than a typical rifle and with Tearing, there's a higher chance of Righteous Fury, allowing you to potentially stun-lock the enemy.

Low-tech warhammers make the opponent test Toughness at -10 or get stunned on every hit and fall prone (unless they're very strong, and you roll badly on damage). This offers opportunity to stun-lock opponents without relying on getting Righteous Fury and rolling the right effect. Their only problem is the Primitive (8) quality, but that can be resolved by giving it to a feral worlder, or applying mono upgrade (can be done for starting character for the price of one requisition), or both. Flip side, leaving the Primitive quality can be a good idea if you intend to capture some of the weaker opponents alive for interrogation.

Sample Combat[edit]

The party of bold/stupid/adventurous and ignorant members (perfect =][= material really) was investigating a psychic disturbance up on a large hillock of shale and scree. Upon getting most of the way up, the Arbites slips arse over head on loose scree and goes tumbling down, taking the Scum with him in the process in a manner which would please the chaos gods with its twisted irony... despite the Arbites denying it was deliberate as they tumble down together.

Both him and the Scum are really busted up in a tangled mess of broken bones, skulls and dirt at the bottom of the hill. The well-intentioned but stupid Psyker decides to save the day by announcing that he'll fix them up, and before Angry Nun can finish screaming out "no don't the veil is weak here!" he's happily botching a power roll.

"A Horror of the ruinous ones appears!"
Arbites promptly passes out in fear
Desperado runs screaming, defecating and hobbling
Tech Priest runs behind the truck, soiling his robes
Psyker runs screaming so he can die tired
Angry Nun gets angry(er)

Round One!
Horror sets Psyker on fire and sets off in pursuit
Angry Nun hauls out 10G sawn-off and holy plasms of banishing, begins chasing the Horror (bold and foolish!)
Psyker burns a bit but is still mostly functional at running
Tech Priest snaps a shot off at the horror with las-carbine, doesn't do very much, resumes hiding
Desperado: "Weeeeza gunna diiiiiie!"; runs screaming for cover
Arbites: "zzzz"

Round Two!
Horror lands a good old fire-bolt to the back of the Psyker and sets the truck on fire
Angry Nun scores a good hit with some banishing water and hurts the Horror a bit
Psyker is in a fair bit of pain, still on fire and running around going "Ow! Ow! Ow! Oh God-Emprah it burns!"
Tech Priest notices the sacred machine is in pain and needs fixing
Desperado does what scum do and hides under the truck
Arbites: "zzzz"

Round Three!
Horror bolts the Psyker a bit more
Angry Nun grievously hurts the Horror a bit more
Psyker is still on fire and roughly at about 0 wounds and about to go into criticals, agony level of about 8/10
Tech Priest is doing badly at putting fire out
Desperado catches fire underneath the truck
Arbites: 'zzzz'

Round Four!
Horror blows the foot off the Psyker with a bolt
Angry Nun is busting up the Horror pretty good, but a bad roll on the dice means a lot less damage than hoped (even after a re-roll on a fate point)
Psyker, still on fire, minus foot and now crawling in agony
Tech Priest manages to get the truck fire under control
Desperado rolls around on fire
Arbites wakes up, shrieks a bit and passes out again

Round Five!
Horror lands another bolt...
Angry Nun snaps off some serious pain on the Horror, he's looking very wobbly now
Psyker detonates in a shower of meat, shrapnel, armour and exploding munitions; the area is now safe, except for the Horror
Tech Priest gets injured by chunks of Psyker
Desperado gets injured by chunks of Psyker, continues burning
Arbites: 'zzzz'

Round Six!
Angry Nun vs Horror at the same initiative
Angry Nun pulls trigger on sawn-off shotgun
Horror lets loose with a Psychic Scream
Angry Nun falls down on 5pts of Fatigue, Horror explodes in shower of gibs and returns whence it came
Psyker rains down on the landscape in burning chunks
Tech Priest puts the Scum out
Desperado is much happier now that he's not on fire anymore
Arbites: 'zzzz'

Keep in mind that this example features a lesser Daemon. If this were a greater Daemon, our heroes wouldn't have survived past the second round.

Differences from 1st Edition[edit]

  • Character creation is very different, being a reskinning of Only War for Inquisitorial twats. Whether this is good or bad, you decide.
  • Like the majority of the other FFG 40kRPGs, there is no codified system of money; rather, DH2nd does away with individual thrones and uses a stat called Influence that's used in a similar way to Rogue Trader's Profit Factor mechanic.
  • The technical term used to describe the PC party is now "[Inquisitor Name Here]'s war band", compared to Dark Heresy's "The Acolytes,".

Splat Books[edit]

  • Game Master's Kit: Standard stuff, comes with a screen with some meh art on one side and handy rules on the other, and a book containing a fairly entertaining adventure in the charnel houses of Hive Desoleum.
  • Forgotten Gods: Three-part splat in which the warband tries to stop some cultists from resurrecting some ancient gods. It starts in the wastes outside of Hive Desoleum, leading onto a Rogue Trader's ship and ending on some BFE cemetery world with lots of trees. Allows using the three locales visited in the adventure to be used as new homeworlds for character creation.
  • Enemies Within: The first full supplement, focusing on the Ordo Hereticus and the myriad cults that infest the Askellon sector. It added Frontier Worlds, Feudal Worlds, and Agri-Worlds as selectable homeworlds, along with new backgrounds, a more elaborate form of investigation called an Inquest, and the addition of Sisters of Battle as an Elite Advance. It also recounts a brief overview of several of the Askellon Sector's worlds, as well as a few of the Radical schools of thought believed to have originated there, and the Vaxi Atrocity. It was released in the first quarter of 2015.
  • Enemies Without: The second supplement, focusing on the Ordo Xenos and the xeno species that infest the Askellon sector (specifically, Eldar of all types, Orks, Kroot, and the occasional Tyranid, as well as hints that the Necrons may also be active there even if they're not referred to as such). Death Worlds, Garden Worlds, and Research Stations are added as homeworlds, and a few more backgrounds and roles are added too along with another more open-ended form of investigation called an Explication. Some more worlds in the Askellon sector that have been particularly affected by xenos are given an overview as well, along with a general profile of the local Craftworld and Dark Eldar Kabal that operate in the region.
  • Enemies Beyond: The third supplement, focusing on the Ordo Malleus in the Askellon sector. Released February 2016, highlights include the Astropath elite advance, Sanctic and Malefic psychic power trees, sanctified/possessed weapons, and some new character creation options, specifically the Exorcised background and choosing a daemon, penal, or quarantined world as your home planet. The new toys you get are Heavy Power Armor, Obsidian Plate, a magic stick for banishing daemons, empyrean brain mines, and psyoccula. GMs get tools for generating Daemonhosts, Daemon Princes and incursions, as well as daemonic possessions and other Warpy goodness.
  • Seeds of Heresy: Multiple choice adventure set on a backwater agri-world that's been cut off for decades that's overseen by 3 factions, any of which can be either loyal (incompetent), criminal (regular corrupt), or heretical (Chaos/Warp corrupt). Adds the new homeworld if you need more characters while you're there.

Sites for Fan Content[edit]

  • Roll for Heresy - Back in the days of 1E and lasting until early 2E, there was a site called Dark Reign. Since the site has gone under and the webmaster (Messiahcide) has given up on restoring it, Messiahcide decided to make a different website to post stuff. Of note is a massive fan-book that expands on psychic powers (All my materials were removed from the internet. This is no longer available). Half available thanks to the time magic of The Internet Archive's Wayback Machine! Praise the Omnissiah!
Warhammer 40,000 Role-playing games made by Fantasy Flight Games
Dark Heresy - Rogue Trader - Deathwatch - Black Crusade - Only War - Dark Heresy Second Edition