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Tabletop Game / Dark Heresy

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Innocence Proves Nothing.

"Basically you're fucked like in Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, only instead of dying from blood poisoning caused by a dirty pitchfork you get to have your innards blown across the wall and then subsequently set on fire by a plasma gun (probably your own)."

Dark Heresy is a Warhammer 40,000 pen and paper roleplaying game published by Fantasy Flight Games using a mechanical system similar to Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay. It has the players assume the role of Acolytes of the Holy Inquisition in the grim, dark future of the 41st millennium, rooting out heresy among the Imperium wherever it may be arise. Notable for having over five consecutive pages entirely filled with Critical Hit Charts.

Dark Heresy is also the basis for a series of novels written by Sandy Mitchell, of Ciaphas Cain (HERO OF THE IMPERIUM!) fame. The novels star the "signature characters" used by the rulebook for its gameplay examples: former arbitrator Mordechai Horst, tech-priest Hybris Vex, sanctioned psyker Elyra Yivor, Redemptionist assassin Keira Sythree, and guardsmen Danuld Drake and Vos Kyrlock.


A second edition of Dark Heresy was released which updated the rules to the version used in Only War. As with Only War Fantasy Flight Games released a fully playable "beta" version for purchase prior to the official release (with people who purchased the beta getting a discount on the digital version of the official release).

See also Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay (its fantasy counterpart); Rogue Trader, Deathwatch, Black Crusade, and Only War (its sister games); and of course Warhammer 40,000, as Dark Heresy necessarily shares a great number of tropes with its parent game. Also check out Adeptus Evangelion, a fan-made conversion for running games set in the Neon Genesis Evangelion universe. Also see Servants of the Imperium, a Gaming Webcomic based on this game.

As of February 2017, Fantasy Flight Games has lost the license to publish games based on Games Workshop's IP, leaving Dark Heresy and its sister games out of print, although digital copies will be made available on DriveThru RPG. As of August 2017, Ulisses-Spiele, the publishers of The Dark Eye, have gained the Warhammer 40k license and are creating an entirely new RPG, Wrath And Glory, which uses a different system (although thankfully they are still selling this game and its sister lines at this moment). In 2019, Cubicle 7 took over the rights to publish the various Warhammer RPGs including the English editions of Wrath And Glory.


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    The game as a whole provides examples of 
  • Anatomically Ignorant Healing: Healing tests performed on aliens suffer a penalty, due to their Bizarre Alien Biology. Unless the subject is an ork. With orks you get a bonus, because they're so tough you can't possibly make the injury worse.
  • Anyone Can Die: And everyone usually does.
  • Arm Cannon: The Integrated Weapons from The Lathe Worlds. Also, the Forearm Weapon Mounting modification for guns allows players to keep and fire a pistol on their arm, while leaving the hand free, to wield a two-handed weapon for example.
  • A-Team Firing: This is the case when any character who is not optimized for gun skills makes attacks with weapons firing on fully automatic. Surprisingly, this is actually one of the more effective combat strategies, as the application of More Dakka to intentionally suppress targets will give the opposing force penalties regardless of how much actual damage it does, allowing those characters in the party who are optimized for gun skills to take careful aim to finish off suppressed foes.
  • Badass Normal: All player characters besides Psykers and Tech-Priests.
  • BFG: Bolters. The Space Marine version of bolter weapons deals more damage than the ones available to average humansnote . This is explained as being due to the fact that the ones listed in Dark Heresy are "scaled-down versions" to let anyone who A. isn't abnormally strong or B. doesn't have bionic arms actually use them. The human-sized heavy bolter weighs a few kilograms more than the real-life M2 Browning machine gun does. Even an attempt to make it feasible for non-genetically/cybernetic/surgically enhanced humans to use, they still stay firmly rooted in BFG territory.
  • BFS: The eviscerator, a chainsword the size of a zweihander. It makes a mockery out of armor, can deal a hefty chunk of damage with each hit, and gains a bonus on each Critical Damage roll.
  • Biomanipulation: The biomancy psychic discipline. Biomancers are able to mold flesh for shapeshifting or healing, channel the warp into their own body for superhuman speed, strength and toughness, or direct their natural electrical field into crackling bolts of lightning.
  • Black Magic: Chaos rituals and sorcery, as described (for First Edition) in Disciples Of The Dark Gods and The Radical's Handbook. Leads to Explosive Overclocking when combined with Psychic Powers.
  • Boring, but Practical:
    • Las weaponry in general. While most of them will struggle versus highly armored foes, they are among the most common and inexpensive weapons in both editions, have a large number of shots per power cell, and the lasgun, laspistol, and longlas sniper variants have a variable setting that can up their damage at the cost of using extra ammo per-shot. Las-weapons also have the Reliable quality by default, meaning you have to have some really bad luck to have a weapon jam with them. To top it off, power cells can be recharged, making ammunition plentiful; all you need is a compatible power source and the Tech Use skill to hook up the battery.
      • The longlas comes with the Accurate quality to it, which means whenever someone using them spends just some, or all of one turn Aiming, the gun get's a massive boost to the Ballistic Skill check, and extra damage for each degree of success. And pistol, gun, and long las weapons, also have access to Hot-Shot charge packs which are one-shot packs that increase damage, and hefty boost to armor penetration, and grant the Tearing quality to that shot which helps improve the chances of a good damage roll.
      • The Hot-shot Laspistol and Lasgun (aka: Hellpistols or Hellguns that Imperial Storm Troopers use) are this, when it comes to the higher end weapons that one can get. While more difficult to find, the fact that they use rechargeable batteries means its much easier to keep a healthy stock of ammo for them compared to other high-end weapons. They don't have any particular special traits, nor do they have any major drawbacks. They do however, pack enough Penetration rating for virtually anything short of the most monstrous and deadly of foes, while still packing very decent amounts of shots per power cell.
    • The Solid Projectile weapon class. Still pretty easy to acquire, and players will hardly look out of place carrying any of the pistols, and even a few of the rifles and shotguns, during investigations. The kicker is that solid projectile weapons can freely swap out their normal ammunition for Trick Bullets or Depleted Phlebotinum Shells, making SP weapons highly flexible once players build up enough thrones/influence to afford the exotic stuff. The other reason for the solid-projectile weapons is that autopistols, autoguns, and heavy stubbers all have access to a full-auto fire setting. Now combine that bit of info with the above mentioned special ammo, and put it all in the hands of an Acolyte who's got some decent Ballistic Skill scores, and suddenly there will be a lot of lead on target. Put these in the hands of one of the less combat capable Acolytes, and congratulations! Your warband has just found itself its new dedicated support gunner to spam Suppressing Fire actions to force Pinning checks on enemies.
  • Brown Note: Tech-priests can learn Feedback Loop, which is like a microphone-on-speaker hiss, except it paralyzes nervous systems.
  • Bulletproof Vest: Although Imperial Guard issue flak armor is derided in the wider fandom as having the protective qualities of a t-shirt against military-grade weaponry, it is actually some of the better armor that an acolyte can start with. Further, it is common and inexpensive enough that a group pooling its resources should be able to afford to equip every member with at least this, it is light enough that even physically frail characters can comfortably wear it, and it provides fair protection across the entire body. Considering how deadly combat is in this game, almost everyone needs some fair protection. This tends to put it into Boring, but Practical territory. Not to mention that full military-grade flak is so commonplace and Imperial culture so militaristic that the Acolytes can not only wear it in most situations without looking out of place, but they could even wear it as a disguise sometimes.
  • By-the-Book Cop: Any character from an Arbiter background who is played straight will necessarily be one. However, Imperial law tends to be pretty permissive about brutal enforcement as it is, "always err on the side of harshness" being a sanctioned policy. That said, Arbiters might take issue with some more Radical Inquisition operatives if those Radical options take them on the bad side of Imperial law.
  • Church Militant: In addition to the standard Cleric career path, the Inquisitor's Handbook offers Sisters of Battle as a character class option. The Blood of Martyrs sourcebook offers expanded options for both.
  • Conditioned to Accept Horror: The "Jaded" trait. Through either a lifetime of bad experiences, careful training, or just a callous nature, characters with this trait never have to take insanity checks from "mundane" sources of horror. Supernatural sources can still dredge up their fears though.
  • Continuity Nod: Two of the characters pictured in Ascension are easily recognizable to veteran Specialist Game fans as Inquisitor Covenant and 'Slick' Devlan, characters introduced in Dark Heresy's spiritual forefather Inquisitor. Ascension also finally attributes the "only the insane have strength enough to prosper" quote from the start of the Inquisitor rulebook to a specific individual: the rogue Inquisitor Felroth Gelt.
  • The Corruption: The Corruption Points mechanic.
  • Critical Existence Failure: Averted, being reduced to zero Wounds will not necessarily kill a character, but it will force a roll on the Critical Hit chart, which is always bad news. A low roll might just stun a character or scar them, but a really bad roll there can be fatal in increasingly gruesome ways...
  • Critical Hit: Eight pages of blood-spurting, limb-severing, organ-cooking, bone-exploding charts, though generally these only apply once a character drops below zero Hit Points Wounds. Also includes the more traditional "extra damage on a good die roll" version as Righteous Fury: rolling a natural 10 on a damage die gives a player the chance to continue rolling damage dice until they stop rolling a 10.
    • 2nd Edition toned down the effects of Righteous Fury significantly. Gone is the exploding dice mechanic. Instead, if an attack that generated Righteous Fury caused any damage after reductions, it inflicts a critical damage effect to the struck body part. If it failed to inflict damage because of said damage reduction, it simply does a single point of damage to their remaining Wounds. Of course, read the first point of Critical Hits, and you know that even with the limit of what effect is rolled to the first half of the chart, at best it's "The next few rounds of your life are going to be rather miserable, and possibly short if it knocked you unconscious" to igniting a target on fire, or cause them suffer from constant blood loss until they're patched up.
  • Chunky Salsa Rule: Taking more than eight cumulative points of Critical Damage will kill you in some horrendously gruesome and awe-inspiring way. Such as, oh say, "Both head and body are blown into a mangled mess, instantly killing the target. In addition, if the target is carrying any ammunition it explodes dealing 1d10+ 5 Energy Damage to anything within 1d5 meters." And that's just at 7. As 1d4 Chan puts it:
    "It has the best critical hit charts ever made. You don't even need the rest of the game (although it is all good, it's just a LOT). Just start a campaign, wing it, and whenever anyone gets a good hit, roll on the critical hit charts. Holy fucking hell, did boiling bone marrow just turn my femur into a frag grenade? Fuck."
  • Cult: Everybody, including the player characters. "The only cult that we do not abhor is that of the Emperor!"
  • Department of Redundancy Department: There is an Ascended Psychic Power called Malleus Hammerhand, which, of course, means Hammer Hammerhand.
  • Dodge the Bullet: Every character gets one "Reaction" move during their enemy's turn. Among other things, this can be used to parry an opponent's attack, or in gun fights used to dodge an enemy's shot. Of course, characters do only get one Reaction per round, which means it can be overcome by More Dakka on their enemy's part, unless that combat dodge is used to Take Cover!, which is the practical option when being shot at.
  • Draw Sword, Draw Blood: A Feral Worlder character can have this as a superstition. As in, his/her weapon doesn't actually have this trait (hopefully: this is 40k, after all) but s/he believes it does.
  • Everything's Better with Dinosaurs: Admit it, GMs, you're all waiting for an excuse to sic a Saurian Carnosaur or two on your hapless Acolytes.
  • Explosive Leash: Explosive collars are an available piece of equipment. If you play a Guardsman, you can elect to start with one still attached.
  • Generation Ships: Voidborn characters are the results of various Imperial warships and merchant crafts' centuries-long service along with their crews' family line.
  • Gorn: Just read the descriptions in the Critical Hit tables. Combat in this game is not only deadly, it is messy.
  • Hand Cannon: One of the handguns described in the game is literally referred to as a Hand Cannon. It's a solid-projectile firearm with recoil so powerful it requires a two-handed grip (or special gloves) to be used effectively. It is also the smallest pistol in the game that qualifies for this trope.
  • Harmful Healing: Rolling poorly enough on a Medicae skill test to treat injury deals damage to your patient instead, which can become life-threatening critical damage if their wound total is already depleted.
  • Heal It with Fire: Averted. You know the trope of lasers supposedly not causing bleeding because it cauterizes your wounds? It doesn't happen in this game. Getting badly hurt by almost any energy weapon means a living target will be geysering blood like a stuck pig. This applies to all the other 40K rpgs as well.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Encouraged in the Game Mastering section of the rulebook. The system is already pretty deadly, Player Characters have uncertain life-expectancy, and the GM is discouraged from softpeddling that, in order to underscore the brutality of the setting. However, the GM is encouraged to bend the rules a little when a character is facing certain death in order to make that death spectacular, with the explanation that a player should not be afraid of their character's death, but they should not feel like their character can expect to "die like a chump."
  • Heroic Willpower: The Inquisitor class gets the special ability "Indomitable Will of the Inquisition"; which allows them to pass a Willpower test perfectly once per session.
  • Holding the Floor: The "Blather" skill is primarily used for this, by a character who engages NPCs and holds their attention for an indeterminate amount of time by talking on and on. Having high ability with this skill enables such a character to guess effectively at what would get their attention and be able to go on about convincingly without tripping over their own words. The form this blathering takes will vary, from the Scum grifter hawking non-existent wares, to an Arbiter rattling off a list of convincing infractions someone has committed, to a Cleric going on quoting scripture and how it applies now.
  • Kill the Host Body: If someone manages to kill the possessing daemon component of a daemonhost without killing the host body, the possessed individual can survive, albeit highly traumatized. Given that Daemons are Made of Iron and tend to possess Squishy Wizard Psykers, this is incredibly unlikely. A daemon can briefly survive the death of the host body, but will eventually have to abandon a dead host.
  • Made of Iron: Every ten points a character has in their toughness characteristic translates into a "toughness bonus" which, in combat, allows them to negate an equal amount of conventional damage in a similar fashion to armor. Characters with particularly high toughness (60 toughness is enough to match a full suit of carapace armor) are therefore able to simply No-Sell weaker attacks.
  • Magic from Technology: Some of the "miracles of the Omnissiah" that Tech-Priests get access to.
  • Master Poisoner: Assassins and Tech-Priests can do well at this and Clerics can specialize in it, which is kind of worrying to think about.
  • Mind over Matter: The Telekinesis psychic discipline, which involves projectiles of kinetic force, barriers and object manipulation.
  • More Dakka: While this is Warhammer 40,000 we're talking about, because combat is quite a bit more in-depth and detailed, certain weapons get to demonstrate this better than they do in the regular wargame.
    • Any weapon with the Twin-Linked or Storm quality (such as the Storm Bolter) is automatically this from the get-go. Twin-Linked weapons use up more ammo, but gain a significant Ballistic Skill bonus when fired. And rolling well enough also adds on an additional hit from the Twin-Linked weapon. Storm doesn't grant an accuracy bonus, but does increase the number of hits scored.
  • Mushroom Samba: Hallucinogen grenades, whee!
  • No Range Like Point-Blank Range: All ranged attacks get a +30% to hit at point-blank range and weapons with the Scatter quality generate extra hits per degree of success at point-blank.
  • Off with His Head!: Happens when one scores high on a head critical hit chart. Scoring even higher leads to such pleasant outcomes as nearby combatants being showered with skull fragments and brain matter, the local area becoming difficult to walk through for all the gore on the ground, and the victim being killed so gruesomely that his friends must fight the urge to flee from his killer for a couple of Rounds.
  • The Paladin:
    • The Adepta Sororitas career introduced in 1st Edition's Inquisitor's Handbook. Each is an Action Girl, to varying degrees, and they can use Fate Points in unique ways to manifest "acts of faith." However, they lose these abilities if they gain more than a small amount of corruption points, and the very fact of who they are limits and dictates how they behave and what they do. For this reason, the book recommends limiting this class to experienced roleplayers.
    • For Ascension-level games in 1st Edition, the Daemon Hunter sourcebook includes the Grey Knights, psychic Super Soldiers who hunt daemons. They have similar roleplaying limitations as the Adepta Sororitas, with the further complication of being Purposefully Overpowered; the book actually suggests using them more as an occasional And Now for Someone Completely Different break than as permanent player characters.
    • The Crusader role in 2nd Edition's Enemies Beyond is a comparatively more mundane variant on the trope, being merely a formal Church Militant in service to the Adeptus Ministorum. Defensive melee specialists that can spend fate points to automatically pass fear tests, Crusaders also gain a scaling bonus to weapon damage and armor penetration whenever they attack an enemy that causes some degree of fear.
  • Playing with Fire: The Pyromancy psychic discipline allows a psyker to create and manipulate fire for a bevy of combat-oriented psychic powers.
  • Power Perversion Potential: Biomancers can do some... interesting things with their abilities. They also have a tendency to be huge party animals, as they can engage in gluttony and debauchery and still remain fit and healthy through use of their powers.
  • Properly Paranoid: Stands out as a games system where having paranoia is not a character flaw, but a purchasable Talent that grants bonuses (namely, +2 to initiative and the ability to make Awareness checks in situations normal people couldn't). A number of role-playing suggestions are given for people who take the Talent but nothing that mechanically impairs you in any way.
  • Psychic Powers: Psykers are available as a career path. They're powerful, but using psychic abilities has a chance of going horribly wrong if the Random Number God-Emperor does not smile upon you. All psykers can take a number of common "minor" powers, and can later specialize into a selection of themed disciplines — biomancy, divination, pyromancy, telekinetics and telepathy.
  • Psychic Radar: Numerous psychic powers can be used to detect or track the location of others, the most archetypal being Sense Presence. The Psyniscience skill can also be used to locate daemons and psykers, by way of Supernatural Sensitivity.
  • Religion Is Magic: The Blood of Martyrs supplement includes a lot of options of this nature.
  • Ridiculously Potent Explosive: Promethium (an all-purpose chemical fuel used in everything from flamethrowers to tanks to Titans) is, according to the math, potent enough that 500 million liters of the stuff (the carrying capacity of between 1 and 2 modern supertankers) results in an explosion more than ten times the size of the Sun.
  • Seen It All: The "Jaded" talent plays with this trope. An acolyte with this talent is said to have seen so much that mundane sources of horror — such as grisly murders or alien monsters — don't faze them anymore. However, they're still vulnerable to fear when it comes from unnatural sources, such as daemons, warp phenomena, or terror-inducing psychic powers.
  • Seers: The psychic discipline of Divination, a powerset that allows a psyker to peer into the future or past, perceive distant places, or track objects and people via empathic connections. Many Divination powers involve giving the psyker or his allies sizable bonuses to certain skill tests by employing Combat Clairvoyance.
  • Sharpened to a Single Atom: The mono-weapon upgrade, which allows primitive melee weapons to overcome their poor armor penetration against "modern" armor. In the second edition it's limited to edged weapons, but in the first it's not so you can technically have a mono-molecular staff or hammernote .
  • Shock and Awe:
    • A psychic power in the Biomancy discipline ("Bio-lightning" in 1st Edition, "Smite" in 2nd Edition), in which the psyker harnesses their own biological electrical field and projects it as crackling bolts of lightning.
    • Tech-adepts can learn talents that allow them to store energy and expel it via electoos. "Luminen Shock" gives them an electrical melee attack, while "Luminen Blast" allows them to launch balls of electricity at range.
  • Short-Range Long-Range Weapon: Very much averted, especially when compared to equivalent weapons from the tabletop game. However, thanks to their special rules, shotguns are still most effective at point-blank range. Notably, weapons generally have no Arbitrary Maximum Range, just a range beyond which scoring a hit is extremely improbable.
  • Short-Range Shotgun: Downplayed. Shotguns and similar weapons usually have an effective range of thirty meters, much like in real life. However, their special quality "scatter" encourages you to get as close as possible to the target, as shotguns become more deadly at short or point-blank range, while suffering damage penalties if fired at long or extreme range.
  • Shout-Out: Numerous.
    • One in particular is a quote from a Vindicare Assassin designated LIIVI, who (probably just) shares a name with a character from one of 40K's most popular fanfics, Love Can Bloom.
      • A name and a target: The cover picture of the Ascension GM section has a Vindicare stalking a Farseer...
    • One example from the core rulebook is a quote from one "'Verbal' Boze", a Scum.
    • Who was the rogue trader who discovered the Calixis sector, and whose family line continues to cause trouble there to this day? Captain Haarlock.
    • We're on a mission from the God-Emperor.
    • Adept Grendel, a character from a /tg/ copypasta famous for one-shotting a Charnel Demon was featured on the Radical's Handbook preview.
    • The Skin Taker of Fedrid is an invisible monster that stalks the jungle and kills seemingly at random, with a penchant for skinning its victims and taking their skulls. Sound familiar? Curiously, while "technologically-advanced alien big game hunter" is implied as a possible identity for the Skin Taker in its description, neither of the two writeups provided for it take this form.
      • The Inquistor's Handbook's section on the equipment of various feral worlds also shares a weapon utilized by Fedrid's hunters - a Deadly Disc reminiscent of those used by Predators.
    • The writeup for the Menagerie takes strong inspiration from The King in Yellow.
    • From a quote for one of the Imperial Psyker Career Ranks: 'He says he's solved the riddle of steel, sire'.
    • Among the Daemon Hunter career options is "Agent of Reliquary 26".
    • The possible Forge World homeworlds include Heterodyne Station, a feudal world where the Adeptus Mechnicus has integrated the Machine Cult with a more primitive general populace.
    • Book of Judgment includes a quote from a villain lamenting that she could have gotten away with it, if it hadn't been for those meddling Acolytes.
    • One of the "mental conditioning" backgrounds for Sanctioned Psykers in 1st edition gives mention of the character having a scarred right hand and lingering distrust of bald women.
    • The subtlety mechanism in DH 2nd edition explains a high subtlety rating with the words "Surprise is amongst the Acolytes' primary weapons."
  • Sniper Pistol: Easy and effective to set up. Red Dot sight (+10 to hit) and the Extreme Range talent (no penalty to shots up to double maximum effective range) mean you can take your hand cannon and start dealing with Heresy from any distance.
  • Space People: Voidborn, one of the "Homeworld" backgrounds for the PCs, are this trope due to being descended from crews who have served aboard the starships — many of which are large enough to hold a city-sized populace and cemented their status as Generation Ships — for centuries, if not millennium.
  • Splash Damage Abuse: An advantage of grenades is that they do not need to land at a target's feet to do their damage, they just need to land in the target's general area. This makes them ideal for cell members who lack combat specialization to still contribute in a fight. Chucking a grenade into the cover enemies are using will either significantly damage those enemies or flush them into the open for the thrower's more combat-skilled teammates to finish off.
  • Splat: The different character classes/career paths (Adepts, Arbiters, Assassins, Clerics, Guardsmen, Sanctioned Psykers, Scum, and Tech-Priests), as well as splats for world of origin (Feral, Imperial, Hive, or Void-Born). The Inquisitor's Handbook adds the Adepta Sororitas career path, rules for alternate homeworld types and specific homeworlds, and sub-splats (Background Packages, Alternate Career Ranks, and Elite Advances) dedicated to covering world-specific variants of the greater career paths and life-changing events in an acolyte's career. Ascension adds "ascended" versions of all the base classes (Sages, Judges, Death Cult / Vindicare Assassins, Hierophants, Storm Troopers, Primaris Psykers, Desperados, and Magi respectively, though there is some overlap), as well as the Crusader, Interrogator and Inquisitor ascended careers. And then there's The Radical's Handbook, which adds evil versions of a lot of these splats. Is your snowflake special enough yet?
  • Spy Catsuit: Appears as armor option referred to as an "armored bodyglove". The term "armored" is used rather loosely, as just about everything that has some armor penetration value will punch through it. But it is justified as a base layer of armor that can help provide protection to the limbs if they're lacking better armor pieces or if the top layer of armor should be damaged somehow. Or for those who prefer being stealthy, be it by not making a lot of noise or wearing highly visible armor or being able to conceal the fact they're wearing armor under regular attire.
  • State Sec: The Player Characters are members, ranking from minor operatives in the base books to high peers in Ascension.
  • Supernatural Sensitivity: The Psyniscience skill, in its most basic form, allows psykers or psychically-sensitive beings to detect the presence of warp phenomena, daemons and other psykers in the general area. Care should be exercised when using Psyniscience, because what the psyker learns by peering into the Warp could easily be communicated via a Poke in the Third Eye.
  • Supersoldier: If the Vindicare Assassin wasn't enough, the Daemon Hunter supplement includes rules for Grey Knights, the most superior of the Imperium's Super Soldiers. At least until 8th Edition gave us Neo-Custodians... Deathwatch also includes suggestions for how to integrate Deathwatch Marines into games of Dark Heresy.
  • Take Cover!: Given how deadly combat in this game is, and how effective cover is at preventing a character from getting hit, this is practically a necessity against opponents with guns. Even well-armored characters will usually want to get into cover to prevent a Death of a Thousand Cuts from the little Scratch Damage that manages to get through their protection.
  • Telepathy: The Telepathy psychic discipline, which comes in all the usual flavors of communication, probing, mind control and messing with perceptions.
  • Torture Technician: You are. There are plenty of rules, skills, and guides to cover all the fun and interesting ways players can extract useful information. Unique among RPGs is that the Cleric has the abilities to best fill this role.
  • Un-Cancelled: The unusual circumstances behind the game's cancellation and uncancellation, both within a month of its initial release, are explained more fully on that page.
  • Villain Protagonist: Seriously, if you play an inquisitor team faithfully and accurately to the background of this universe, you can rarely be anything BUT this. This can segue into But Not Too Evil or Even Evil Has Standards, depending on the group. Villains will still be Eviler Than Thou, though, even if you tortured to death every NPC you met.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Over the course of a campaign, you will bribe, torture, and murder. You may even set entire planets to the flame. You'll do it because everything you're up against is so much worse.

    Tropes specific to the First Edition and Calixis Sector 
  • Action Prologue: The Black Sepulchre, the first book of the Apostasy Gambit campaign trilogy, begins with the acolytes already geared up and en-route to raid the estate of Bulagor Thrungg — a nobleman guilty of collecting forbidden texts and relics — with the aid of the Scintillan military.
  • Aliens Are Bastards: The Slaugth are a race of manipulative, carrion-eating xenos from a region of space neighboring the Calixis Sector. Their favored meal is human brains, which for them is a Fantastic Drug.
  • Ambition Is Evil: The basis of the Brotherhood of Horned Darkness. Balphomael, the cult's daemonic patron, provides boons of power, influence, and longevity in exchange for ritual sacrifice, so the Brotherhood's membership naturally attracts ruthless, driven individuals among the upper crust of Calixian society.
  • And I Must Scream:
    • The Maiden of Pain, a psychic terror weapon employed by the Pilgrims of Hayte. It resembles an iron sarcophagus filled with blades and covered in chaotic runes, based loosely on the principles of binding daemonhosts. The mutilated psyker occupant of the Maiden of Pain is suspended in an agonizing half-life and compelled to obey the commands of the Pilgrims' masters, their sanity blasted away by the experience.
    • A Schismatical can infect the machine spirits of cybernetic implants, seizing control of Artificial Limbs, computerized brains and other devices. Tech adepts caught in Schismatical outbreaks often become terrified prisoners of their own augmetics, marched helplessly into battle by limbs that refuse to obey them.
  • Anomalous Art: The Radical's Handbook provides a painting titled The Glory of the Emperor in the Light of Dawn, depicting the God-Emperor greeting the rising sun over Terra. However, staring at the painting for any length of time induces feelings of vertigo and a sense of Being Watched, and closer inspection of the silver frame reveals it to be formed from thousands of perfectly-detailed human figures entwined in positions of ecstasy and anguish. The traces of varnish found on the edges of the painting is in fact human blood, and applying a fresh coat of blood allows a character with the Invocation skill to awaken the true nature of the Glory - a daemonic face that coalesces from the paint and answers the summoner's questions.
  • Anti-Magic: The "Untouchable" background package from The Radical's Handbook. Untouchables are extraordinarily rare individuals who cast no shadow in the Warp and inhibit psychic powers with their mere presence. An untouchable is entirely immune to all supernatural powers (even area-of-effect attacks) and is invisible to psyniscience or other psychic means of detecting their presence. Psychic powers manifested in the untouchable's presence become far more difficult, and creatures subject to warp instability take double damage from failed stability tests. However, their negative psychic presence is deeply unsettling to almost everyone they meet, and untouchable acolytes suffer from both a reduced starting Fellowship score and a penalty to all social skill tests — many untouchables suffer from very troubled upbringings and live lonely, bitter lives on the fringes of society.
  • Anti-Villain: Ascension gives us Imperial Governor Malaki Vess of Zweihan’s World, one of the few hive worlds in the Imperium that isn't a Crapsack World. However, the Administratum is about to levy heavier tithes that will change all that, and so Vess plans to secede from the Imperium in a desperate attempt to keep his world from falling apart.
  • Arc Words: Not for the game as a whole, but the phrase "come and see" is obviously intended to be used as Arc Words in any storyline involving the Menagerie.
  • Awesome, but Impractical:
    • If the GM is being stingy with the Thrones, the setting's iconic bolt-weapons can be made Too Awesome to Use, since each individual bolt round costs the same as three hundred and twenty bullets — leaving the poor acolyte to decide whether he wants to shoot the giant gribbly monster or eat for the next two weeks. And that's before you get to the fully-automatic heavy bolter. It costs four-hundred-and-eighty Thrones to fire this weapon for fifteen seconds. When the rulebook says that "a man might beggar himself to own one," it is not kidding.
    • Plasma guns. Prohibitively expensive at three-thousand Thrones, unbearably slow to reload (taking 8 uninterrupted combat rounds without talents to minimize it), prone to disastrous overheating, and they waste a turn recharging between each shot. All for a weapon only slightly more dangerous than a boltgun — the only tangible advantage is that plasma ammo is bought as whole clips, rather than pricey individual rounds. This was gradually addressed as the edition matured; the plasma weapons included in The Inquisitor's Handbook have a bit more bite to them, and Ascension adds the rules for "military-grade" plasma weapons first introduced in Rogue Trader.
  • Battle Butler: On the feudal hell of Sepheris Secundus, potential uprisings are prevented by strict rules about who is allowed what military power. Only nobles of baronial rank are allowed household troops, and only the Royal Scourges reporting directly to the throne above them are allowed carapace armor and lasguns. Nobles of lesser rank are not allowed any military force. However, it is an open secret that lesser nobles tend to employ a disproportionately large number of servants who happen to have combat training and can turn something like a kitchen knife into a deadly weapon, should the household ever be threatened.
  • The Beastmaster:
    • The Verminspeaker from Creatures Anathema, an alternate starting rank for the Imperial Psyker, is a feral, unsanctioned psyker with an instinctive knack for influencing animals via Telepathy. On top of starting the game with "Call Creatures", the rank comes with two unique powers to buy — The minor power "Verminspeaking", which allows the verminspeaker to observe whatever a nearby animal can perceive, and the major power "Bestial Ally" (tied to the Telepathy discipline), which permanently dominates the mind of an animal to create a loyal companion.
    • The Cyber-mastiff Handler alternate career rank for techpriests found in Book of Judgement. Trained in the operation and care of the cyborg Attack Animals employed by the Adeptus Arbites, these tech adepts are equipped with a custom interface that allows them to remotely coordinate up to five cyber-mastiffs and grapple-hawks (beginning play with one cyber-mastiff in their possession). Cyber-mastiff Handlers can also learn the talent "Wolf Pack Tactics", which imposes a sizable penalty to dodge and parry tests on enemies in melee, so long as the handler and one of his mastiffs are ganging up on them together.
  • Big Brother Is Watching: The Lords Dragon of the Lathe Worlds are a faction of the Calixian Mechanicus that have existed since before the Angevin Crusade brought the sector into the Imperium. Using archeotech, they've established a vast monitoring network called the Praecursator Grid, which allows them to spy upon numerous worlds via taps in cognitators and recording devices, watchful for any trace of tech-heresy. They actively foster a fearsome, paranoia-invoking reputation among the people of the Lathe worlds, and they serve as something of The Rival to the Inquisition's presence in the Calixis Sector (though the two groups often work together when it comes to mutual threats, such as the Malygrisian Tech-Heresy). Acolytes of the Adept, Assassin, Arbitrator and Tech-priest careers can become Agents of the Lords Dragon as an alternate rank, which allows them to gain limited access to the Praecursator Grid via the "All-Seeing Eye" talent.
  • Brain Food: Two species of alien encountered in the Calixis Sector — the Slaugth and the Simulacra — can consume human brains to temporarily gain their knowledge. Simulacra in particular need the information from brains to maintain their human disguises, and typically have three or four assimilated brains slowly digesting within themselves at any given time.
  • Brown Note: The appearance of Komus, the Tyrant Star, in a system has been known to drive entire planets insane.
  • Came Back Wrong: The Sarcosan Wave Generator a.k.a Anima Chorus is a Heretek device that originated in the Calixis sector and can bring the dead back to life. While the resurrected dead retains most of their old personality, the soul is gone so there's something off about the resurrected (though they do get superhuman strength and toughness in return). Additionally the resurrected depend on the unique energies provided by the Anima Chorus and if it gets disabled, they die again.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: The Pilgrims of Hayte, a powerful, if highly decentralized, Chaos cult that spans much of the Calixis sector. Utterly nihilistic and misanthropic, the Pilgrims care only for the destruction of the Imperial faith and the spreading of anarchy and hate. Disciples of the Dark Gods even describes them as being an ideal choice for straightforward and unsubtle adversaries, being exactly the type of unrepentant terrorist psychos that can be butchered by player characters without moral compunctions.
  • Cargo Cult: The world of Endrite is home to a primitive society of humans who worship the ruined hulk of an Imperial battlecruiser as part of their interpretation of the Imperial Cult.
  • Church of Happyology: The adventure Rejoice For You Are True features a particular cult of the Emperor called "The Joyous Choir" with a central dogma that the God-Emperor wants his subjects to be happy, and they can be happy by finding their true place in His plan. People are even judged on how close they are to their place in the Emperor's will by use of an electronic scanning device, and based on the results of that scan they receive coaching from the cult's priests. Many young planetary nobles have joined, and have indeed enjoyed greater prosperity for themselves since joining. Of course, a rational-minded Inquisitor will point out that by forming various cooperative and trade agreements between nobles who are members, of course they will find their fortunes benefit. In truth, they're a front for a Serrated Query operation that manufactures a potent drug from psyker brains, and the Choir's practices (such as the scanning) are designed to root out and foster latent psykers until they can be harvested.
  • Circus of Fear: The Menagerie, a Tzeentchian chaos cult in the Malfian Subsector whose modus operandi is to spread Things Man Was Not Meant to Know through performance art. What this actually entails is never described, but has resulted in horrific massacres and outbreaks of mutation. Notably, the Menagerie is considered The Dreaded even by other chaos cults, due to its habit of assimilating or destroying lesser cults in the subsector.
  • Cold Sniper: The Ascension splat book mentions that Vindicare Assassins tend to be very detached, methodical, and stoic thanks to their discipline and training, though they are known to sometimes express a very dry and fatalistic sense of humor.
  • Contagious A.I.: The shismaticals of Lathe-Hadd's infocrypts are malevolent digital spirits formed from heretical data that somehow developed sapience. Schismaticals are capable of propagating themselves by infecting cogitators, and can overwrite machine spirits to take control of servitors, weapons and facilities - anything that can receive data in some manner. A schismatical can even infect cybernetic implants, which results in hapless tech-priests becoming prisoners inside their own bodies.
  • Continuity Nod: In Book of Judgement, one of the flavor-text asides in Chapter 5 describes an Arbites investigation into hive gangs equipped with mysterious alien-designed energy weapons, which are suspected to be distributed by a rogue trader following the Margin Crusade. However, before anything can be done, the entire investigation is aborted by the High Marshal and all evidence is ordered destroyed. The core rulebook of Deathwatch (released two years before Book of Judgement) reveals that the Margin Crusade is actually an elaborate ruse to instead send military assets through an ancient warp-portal leading to the war-torn Jericho Reach, which is on the opposite end of the galaxy. With this in mind, it is heavily implied that the "hithero unseen xenos weaponry" are in fact Tau pulse weapons.
  • Crapsack World: Even with its sordid reputation and the general crapsack-ness of the Imperium at large, the Calixis sector has a few inhabited worlds regarded in-universe as particularly unpleasant places to live:
    • Sepherus Secundis, a low-tech mining world host to a severely feudal class system. As listed under Feudal Future, Sepherus Secundis is tithed to a far greater extent than most equivalent worlds thanks to the value of its mineral deposits, and the peasants toil in endless, backbreaking labor with primitive tools and hellish working conditions, without any of the Bread and Circuses given to the laboring classes of other worlds.
    • Sinophia, a planet-wide Dying Town at the edge of the Calixis sector. Its loss of prominence in sector affairs has resulted in a long, drawn out death by economic starvation and civil collapse. Criminality and corruption are ingrained in Sinophia's culture, whole cities lie deserted, and the local Machine Cult has all but disintegrated; creating a Scavenger World where tech-heresies of all kinds are able to flourish. Accordingly, the people of Sinophia are noted to be an extremely cynical, bitter and paranoid lot.
    • The feral world of Dusk, located at the very edge of the Halo Stars. Famed for both the lethality of its wildlife and the many, many frightening stories that have carried across the sector, Dusk has a very strong connection to the immaterium that causes strange and dangerous phenomena, as well as a great frequency of psyker births. The people of Dusk, with only basic black powder weapons to protect against the nightmares of their homeworld, are Conditioned to Accept Horror to such a degree that they reduce the severity of all Fear-invoking events by one level.
    • Hive Volg, on Fenksworld, exists for one purpose — to be a gargantuan sewage treatment plant for the other hive cities of the planet, collecting purified water and other resources from waste material and the mire upon which it sits. Death from disease, pollution, chemical spills or simple starvation are all common, and every railing in the hive is equipped with machine gun emplacements to protect against hideous creatures that emerge from the lower hive. Even in-universe, Volg "has a justified claim to being the most blighted, miserable, hell-sent place one could have the misfortune to be born in."
    • Tranch. An industrialized hive planet, the tyrannical oligarchs maintained their production output with the aid of a massive, enslaved mutant underclass, who were consigned to live in the filthy bowels of the hives. This changed after the mutants started to develop a growing tendency towards psychic potency, which resulted in the rise of a mysterious group of mutant witches called the Shroud Masters. The Masters rallied Tranch's mutants into a violent revolution, slaying millions within weeks and utterly destroying Tranch's infrastructure. While the Shroud Masters were broken up by the Inquisition and the world was deemed "officially pacified", Tranch remains a war-torn hellhole haunted by mutated abominations, crazed psykers and worse, with fresh Imperial Guard regiments being periodically rotated in amid a struggle to rebuild.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Some of the "background packages" that can be purchased at character creation involve that character having already been subjected to terrifying and dangerous experiences, sometimes leaving them with insanity and/or corruption points from the get-go. More often than not, these very events are what made the character of interest to the Inquisition, as they often leave the new acolyte with skills and resilience that an inquisitor might deem useful in an operative:
    • The Red Vaults of Luggnum: The arbitrator acolyte participates in a crackdown upon what's believed to merely be a cult lurking in a mine complex. Instead, the fifty-strong arbites force walks into a labyrinthine charnel house filled with corrupted murder-servitors that hunt them for the amusement of a powerful arch-heretic. The initial task force is butchered, and the few survivors (the acolyte among them) are left hardened by the horrors they saw.
    • The Mara Landing Massacre: A navigation error and engine failure force the troop-transport Vervilix into an emergency landing upon the frigid, quarantined world of Mara — an abandoned penal colony now home to unnatural phenomena and a virulent strain of psychneuein. They remain trapped on the planet for five long days before being rescued, and of the five-thousand guardsmen aboard the ship only a few hundred traumatized individuals survive, most of which are either executed for heresy afterwards or are simply Driven to Suicide by the memory of what they experienced.
    • Tranch War Veteran: What starts as a simple mutant uprising on the world of Tranch escalates into a total political collapse and a war that has never completely ended. Efforts to rebuild are ongoing, and fresh regiments of the Imperial Guard are rotated in for thankless tours of duty among the fire-blackened spires and soot-choked catacombs. Veterans of these tours come away with memories of starving refugees, cannibalistic infiltrators, mad psykers, and the sight of friends ripped apart by once-human monsters.
  • Decadent Court: Par for the course among the Imperial nobility on more established worlds, but this is the particular hat of the hive world Malfi, who take it Up to Eleven. They are not necessarily all evil, but it is an environment in which one must lie, mislead, backstab and maintain the courtly masquerade, or suffer long torments as those who do rip their rivals' houses apart over the course of years.
  • Deal with the Devil:
    • Particularly desperate or foolhardy characters can form Dark Pacts with daemons, making costly bargains and oaths of allegiance in exchange for supernatural boons. There are several types of Dark Pact available, each providing a selection of different benefits and powers, though the gamemaster is encouraged to invent their own.
    • Tontines are a form of annuity scheme in which a group of individuals (often guild members or manufactorum laborers) pledge funds into a kind of mortality lottery — as each signatory dies, their share of the annual interest is divided among the survivors. Enterprising sorcerers have devised a twisted parody of this compact, known as a "black tontine", tricking people into signing away their souls to the Warp so as to enrich the sorcerer's own power. Rather than administratum clerks, black tontines are enforced by daemonic assessors who drag their victims kicking and screaming to the Immaterium. Of course, should the black tontine be violated, the assessors' wrath will fall swiftly on the head of the compact's author instead.
  • Death Glare: A valid use of the Intimidate skill, per The Inquisitor's Handbook's section on expanded skill functions. The added rule "Fearsome Glare" allows Intimidate checks to be performed as a half-action (as opposed to a full turn), at the cost of making the test slightly more difficult and its intended effect last for only a single round.
  • Death World: The Calixis Sector has its fair share.
  • Didn't Think This Through: The leaders of the forge world Lathe-Hadd decided that their task of ammunition production was beneath their status, so they petitioned the Mechanicus Calixis to have most of their factories and assembly plants moved off-world to free up space for a new great work. After this was done, it turned out they didn't actually have anything in mind, so now the entire planet's labor force is standing idle while they try to think of something.
  • Dying Town: The world of Sinophia, at the edge of the Calixis Sector, was the staging point for the Angevin Crusade that brought the sector into the Imperium millennia ago. At that time, Sinophia's infrastructure and economy were greatly expanded to support the crusade, and the world benefitted as immigrants arrived, industry flourished, and the planet became wealthy and influential. However, as the crusade wound down and the conquered worlds settled fully into the Imperium, the importance and influence of Siophia declined. These days, the world is slowly decaying, in a perpetual economic downturn, with a shrinking population, an unmaintained infrastructure, and various noble houses bickering among one another with none able to wield the influence to steer the planet to recovery.
  • Enthralling Siren: The Lady of the Voids in Creatures Anathema, a Slaaneshi daemon breed that resembles several daemonettes haphazardly fused together at the waist. Manifesting itself by possessing starship astropaths, a Lady of the Voids quickly enslaves the crew using a hypnotic warp-song of primal screams and moans. Fortunately, those affected can be cured by simply covering their ears or silencing the song.
  • Everyone Is Armed: The culture of Gunmetal City revolves around its primary export: Guns, and lots of 'em. Even the lowliest hab worker or clerk knows how to handle a sidearm, and the gangs of Gunmetal's underhive are notoriously well-armed and trigger-happy. Guns are so central to the Gunmetallican way of life that acolytes from Gunmetal City suffer a -5 penalty to all tests if they're ever without a usable gun, or out of ammo for their guns, for any reason.
  • Exact Words: Assod Morirr, the Big Bad of the Baron Hopes adventure, has made a pretty sweet deal with the Ruinous Powers. In exchange for his service, he was promised that he could only be hurt by the blood of his Arch-Enemy, Baron Ulbrexis. When said enemy falls in battle with no heirs or relatives around, Morirr is convinced that he has become invincible. And sure enough, the players can't do any sort of damage to him... unless they choose to soak their weapons in the Baron's blood.
  • Fantastic Caste System: Misericord, one of the Generation Ships in the sector, implemented a rigid caste system based on the occupations of the crews.
  • Feudal Future: In line with the wider setting, but Sepheris Secundus takes the cake. The gap between the nobility and the serfs is wide even by Imperial standards, the world is technologically barely above Medieval Stasis, and yet is tithed more heavily than most worlds in the sector, for its minerals are quite valuable. While most serious mining worlds in the Imperium use powered mining tools and explosives for excavation, Sepheris has to get by on hand tools and backbreaking labor. While most populated worlds give their population some Bread and Circuses, the serfs on Sepheris get more work. While other Imperial citizens get to go to temples to worship, the Sepheris serfs get yelled at by lay-preachers while they push heavy mining carts. While other Imperial commoners have some flexibility in how they choose to serve the God-Emperor, vocation on Sepheris is determined exclusively by birth. The one time a local noble did try to introduce more advanced mining techniques, education, and progressive social restructuring, he was brought down by other nobles who thought he was making a power-play.
  • Final Boss, New Dimension: The end of The Apostasy Gambit involves the Acolytes entering a section of The Maze of Tzeentch that resembles a constantly shifting Hedge Maze. This is the domain of the Dei-Phage, a powerful daemon inhabiting the body of Saint Drusus who shelters there to perform a dread ritual that could tear that Calixis Sector apart.
  • For Science!: The Logician heretek cult is perfectly happy to slaughter millions of people (at a time) in the name of returning humanity to its technological golden age.
  • Founder of the Kingdom: Drusus, a skilled general of the 39th millennium who participated in (and later commanded) the Angevin Crusade, conquering the region of space previously known as the Calyx Expanse and becoming the first Lord Sector Calixis. After his death he was canonized as a saint, thanks to the tremendous cult of personality that had sprung up around him following his many victories and his miraculous survival of an assassination attempt. By the 41st millennium, the worship of Saint Drusus in the Calixis Sector is almost as common as that of the Emperor himself, with numerous shrine worlds dedicated to his memory.
  • Generation Ships: Misericord is one of these tropes due to its unending charter voyage from one planet to the next, which it stopped to replenish both supplies and crews (the latter needed to enrich its genepool).
  • The Gunslinger: The Metallican Gunslinger alt-rank, available for Assassin and Scum acolytes to start the game with (provided they also hail from Gunmetal City). Guns, gunplay and gunsmithing are the core of Gunmetal's society, but for some people the desire to master firearms goes further than that, and they set out to hone their skills and become figures of renown (or infamy) among their people. Metallican Gunslingers can learn a slew of talents that enable them to go fully Guns Akimbo with reflexes to match, but their unique trait forces them to eschew all ranged weapon training talents except those relating to pistols.
  • Hazmat Suit: The Vile Savants, daemons of Nurgle responsible for one of his Zombie Apocalypse plagues, take the form of a walking hazmat suit filled to the brim with pestilent filth and diseased maggots. You can also buy a regular Hazmat suit used by sewer workers that gives you resistance against fire and acid, but it's not meant for combat so it has heavy penalties to Agility.
  • He Who Must Not Be Seen: The Unknown Heretic is an in-universe example of this — the only person in existence to be branded Excommunicate Traitoris by the Inquisition without anyone being certain he actually exists.
  • Honest Rolls Character: Very nearly. You get one reroll for a chosen stat, as well as 400 Experience Points to further customize your new character, but all stats must still be rolled in order and there are no official rules for a Point Build System.
  • Horde of Alien Locusts: The Creatures Anathema supplement gives us the Xothic Blood Locust, a literal case of this trope. Interstellar travelers may unknowingly carry their eggs on their clothes or in cargoes they pick up, which can lead to disastrous swarms when they hatch on some other world. Their name comes from their preference for draining blood from living creatures, which a swarm of them can do completely in a matter of seconds, though they will consume almost any organic fluid they can find. The same supplement also gives profiles for Genestealers and Lictors, which are the harbingers of alien locusts orders of magnitude worse...
  • Horror Hunger: An early side effect of the use of a Halo device (see below). It just gets uglier from there.
  • Identity Amnesia: One of the possible character origins introduced with The Inquisitor's Handbook splat is that of a "mindwiped" character. This is generally done deliberately by the Inquisition for agents who have witnessed too many Things Man Was Not Meant To Know, but who have skills that would be wasted by the expedience of execution. While they are at it, the mindwipers add some Conditioning To Accept Horror and a few basic survival skills. However, such characters might be subject to unpleasant flashes of half-memories, and have a built-in Trigger Phrase to prevent them going rogue.
  • Immortality Immorality:
    • Dark Pacts of Survival, which involve striking a bargain with a daemon in exchange for a Healing Factor, Vampiric Draining, or becoming The Ageless.
    • The Halo Devices, which gradually turn you into an inhumanly cruel, cannibalistic, immortal, insane, super strong, nigh invulnerable, lightning fast abomination against all sanity.
    • The heretek magos Vathek, a Mad Scientist obsessed with restoring life to previously-dead tissue. He's the creator of the anima chorus/Sarcosan wave generator, a machine that reanimates nearby corpses as zombie minions. Vathek's own long-deceased body is propelled by a Scarosan wave generator built into his torso.
  • In Medias Res: Tattered Fates, the first book of the Haarlock's Legacy campaign trilogy, begins with the acolytes having already been captured by the adventure's antagonists and taken to the pleasure world of Quaddis, with the first act concerning them escaping captivity.
  • In the Blood: The Radical's Handbook provides "the Tainted Blood of Malfi" as a modification for the standard Noble Born homeworld; the result of Malfi's Decadent Courts, the many Tangled Family Trees, and the countless secret cults and conspiracies that flourish in their shadow. The genetic lineages of some families can become slowly corrupted over the course of generations, producing scions noted for their abnormal wickedness and fiendish intelligence. Acolytes of the tainted bloodlines gain a boost to their Intelligence characteristic, a bonus to deception checks, and a resistance to fear, but begin the game with up to ten Corruption Points and up to twenty Insanity Points.
    The blood that flows in your veins is like a snare that you cannot escape. At every moment it lures you to actions and thoughts that are both magnificent and terrible. You have great potential — but can you trust yourself not to become a monster?
  • Knight Templar: The main villains of the Apostasy Gambit trilogy, Maledictor's Hand— i.e., the people who believe the Calixis sector is utterly corrupt and should be cleansed... and use the power of Tzeentch himself to bring this about. At least the Inquisitors have a relatively high smart-to-dumbass ratio. The Maledictor's Hand doesn't even have that excuse.
  • Living Ship: The Eye of the Abyss from Creatures Anathema, a daemon-possessed warship that preys on vessels warp-travelling through the Hazeroth Abyss, even chasing them into realspace for brief periods. Resembling an Imperial cruiser of uncertain pattern, the Eye is coated in warp-flesh and crewed by legions of lesser daemons, with a gigantic eyeball embedded in its underside. It's weaponry — also living, daemonic beings — fire sentient projectiles of pure warp-stuff that corrode their way through armored hulls, and linger in shipwrecks long after their master has departed.
  • Low Culture, High Tech: The world of Uziel was first colonized around the time the Calixis Sector was founded, only to be cut off by warp storms and forgotten for centuries. By the time the Imperium reconnected, the people of Uziel had regressed culturally and technologically into a medieval society. The Mechanicum of the Lathe Worlds quickly claimed the orphaned world for their own use; however, instead of flattening the low-value planet to construct a new forge world, the tech-priests set about peacefully uplifting the natives and inducting them into the Machine Cult. Now, Uziel is home to knights that ride cyborg horses, stone castles armed with plasma cannons, and crop fields tilled by servitors.
  • Manchurian Agent:
    • The Cistron alt-rank from The Lathe Worlds sees an acolyte discover that he is actually one of these, implanted with a completely false identity to spy on behalf of the Lords Dragon. However, the very act of entering the alt-rank represents the acolyte somehow shaking off their programming long before they were meant to.
    • The Infil-traitor alt-rank of Salvation Demands Sacrifice is a more traditional example of this trope. Infil-traitors are kidnapped individuals that undergo hypnotic conditioning to embed them with pre-determined commands and knowledge, activated by a Trigger Phrase agreed upon by the player and the GM. This conditioning isn't perfect, however — being subjected to enough trauma (failed fear tests, critical damage, psychic attacks on the mind, etc.), or compelled to self-destruct by the logic of their programming, allows the infil-traitor to attempt a difficult willpower test (or sacrifice 200 Experience Points) to break free.
  • Medieval Stasis: While this is generally true of any world classified as "Feudal", the Calixis Sector has a few that stand out as especially strong and unusual examples:
    • Iocanthos is a world where a substantial portion of the population is composed of nomadic, semi-mechanized armies which wander the surface and clash with each other when they meet. These armies search for fields where the "Ghostfire Flower" grows, collecting them when they find them and turning them over to the Adepta as the planet's tithe. Because the pollen from these flowers can be refined into a variant of Frenzon, the tithe is quite valuable and the warlord of the army that gathers the most is considered the de facto ruler of the planet. The Ghostfire fields only seem to bloom in places where blood was spilled in great quantities, so farming it has proven ineffective, and it is generally in the Administratum's interest to keep the fighting there crude, so they accept the tithe and offer needed supplies, weapons, food, and fuel in return. With this external support, the economy can be focused entirely around mobilizing populations for war.
    • Sepheris Secundus is another example. See Feudal Future above for more detail on that. Suffice to say its mining techniques and infrastructure are all at pre-industrial levels, yet its tithe is so heavy it does not have room to back off and reinvest in better techniques. Even if it did, such a change in the way the society operated would threaten the careful system of hierarchical castes that benefit the ruling class immensely, and those with the power to modernize the planet have no political will to do so.
  • Mobile City: The "hive city" of Ambulon is built on the back of a titanic legged machine that walks across the unstable rocky centre of Scintilla's main continent. The machine itself predates the Imperium's arrival to Scintilla — Ambulon was built on top of the crawler over the course of millennia. The city itself is a mobile settlement, making endless tours of the planet's oil, gas and gemstone deposits to harvest resources to send to its other, static cities. As with all other complex technology in the setting, Ambulon's machinery is poorly understood and kept going mostly by ritual — no one knows exactly what would happen should it stop, and nobody wants to find out. As a result of these factors, the engineer guild that operates its engines and navigation wields immense political power. The city itself also experiences considerable Urban Segregation, driven by a need for stable housing against the sway of the city's movements — the powerful live in its center, the poor and the workers in more precarious spots along its edges, and the most disenfranchised and outcast have to cling to its underbelly and risk being scraped off when the city passes over a hill or ridge.
  • The Mole: Inquisitor Syresya the Forsaken, a veteran daemonhunter and long-serving member of the Scholerate-at-Arms. Publicly presenting himself as an out-and-proud Xanthite, in truth Syresya is a member of the villainous Phaenonites, and his stellar track record in the Ordo Malleus is thanks to his use of sorcerous techno-heresy. To preserve the ruse, Syresya refuses to work alongside other inquisitors in the field, and keeps all but his most trusted servants in the dark regarding his motives and methods.
  • Mole in Charge: The Apostasy Gambit trilogy reveals that Arch Cardinal Ignato, the highest religious authority in the Calixis sector, is one of the founding and leading members of the Maledictor's Hand, a group of Imperial priests dedicated to cleansing the Calixis sector of all sinners in a great religious apocalypse. One of the splat books reveals his number two man is the head of the Temple Tendency, a completely unrelated religious conspiracy.
  • Monstrous Humanoid: The end result of a Halo Device's decades-long transformation is something that is barely human on the outside, has alien thought patterns, and can (according to legend) come back from certain death (as in "from total physical obliteration").
  • Moral Myopia: The Oblationist sect of the Calixian Ordo Malleus are radicals who wield warp-craft and daemonic arms against the enemies of Man, characterizing what they do as a form of spiritual Heroic Sacrifice. However, the Oblationists believe that only they are pure enough to withstand the temptation of the warp in this manner: Anyone else who dabbles in sorcery — even (and especially) another inquisitor — is little more than a heretic that must be destroyed at any cost. When the ideology first emerged among hard-line monodominants, its earliest adherents annihilated each-other amid accusations of weakness and corruption, leaving only one nameless individual to create a Master-Apprentice Chain in the hope of preventing further self-destructive infighting. Ironically, their greatest enmity is reserved for the Xanthites — another faction of Malleus radicals who practice the exact same methods as the Oblationists, but for very different reasons.
  • Mind-Control Device: Invoked with Oblivion Volitors, heretek brain implants that literally eat your soul.
  • Muggle Power: The Cult of the Pure Form is a sect of the Ecclesiarchy that believes Cybernetics Eat Your Soul, emerging after the Malygrisian Tech-Heresy fostered distrust of the Adeptus Mechanicus. Rejecting cybernetics of any kind as blasphemy against the natural human form, followers of the cult cursed with them surgically remove all augments from themselves upon joining. The Pure Form's preachers, known as the "Reformed", make a show of opting for crude biological grafting to replace the rejected machinery, using vat-grown organs or the purified remains of servitors.
  • Normally, I Would Be Dead Now: A character with the Pure Faith talent, when about to spend their last fate point to avoid death, can instead opt for "martyrdom" at the GM's discretion. For a number of turns equal to their willpower bonus, the martyred character ignores all critical hits that don't render body parts useless, feels no pain or fear, ignores all Corruption and Insanity Point gain, and can freely use faith abilities as if they were burning fate points to enhance them. At the end of the time limit, the character finally dies from their injuries, and nothing can prevent this. However, every allied character who witnesses the martyr's death is so inspired that they re-gain a spent fate point.
  • Omniscient Council of Vagueness: At the heart of the Inquisition's high presence in the Calixis Sector is the Tyrantine Cabal: A secretive alliance of inquisitors drawn from many different ordos and sects, formed to investigate the Tyrant Star. The Inquisition being what it is, balancing the cabal's wildly different motivations and methods is noted to be extremely challenging.
  • Only Fatal to Adults: A Downplayed Trope is present on the world of Orbel Quill, where no-one lives beyond the age of forty years. Alarmingly, this also applies to offworlders, who rapidly sicken and die within thirty-six hours of landing on the planet (even if they're not biologically forty; years gained in warp transit or stasis still count). No-one is sure why this happens, but alien ruins are present on the planet and the eldar have been regularly glimpsed in uninhabited regions.
  • Our Ghouls Are Different: Hullghasts are feral, bestial humanoids descended from human crews who became stranded on wrecked space vessels, ruined stations, or often enough on remote, rarely-visited decks of the Imperium's immense and centuries-old ships. They're hairless, all but eyeless, and have mouths lined with fangs, and eagerly prey on humans who stray into their realms.
  • Outgrown Such Silly Superstitions: The ideology of the Serrated Query from Purge the Unclean, a highly cosmopolitan criminal syndicate that counts aliens, hereteks and even some Chaos worshippers among its ranks. Prospective members are given free access to mountains of unrestricted information, to break down their preconceived notions and Imperial dogma — that technology doesn't require Machine Worship to function, that aliens aren't all aggressive and evil, etc. As a result, the Query's membership is composed of cynical, atheistic free-thinkers "far closer in outlook to those of us belonging in the 3rd Millennium than the majority of Imperials in their own time".
  • Powered by a Forsaken Child: The Callophean Psy-Engine in The Radical's Handbook is an unstable, semi-portable psychic weapon powered by disembodied psyker brains.
  • Percussive Maintenance: The Lathesmaster alternate starting rank for Scum acolytes can learn the "Rite of Ignition" talent, an extremely informal ritual which allows them to substitute their strength characteristic for intelligence when performing tech-use checks to activate a machine. For obvious reasons, lathesmasters tend not to perform this rite in the presence of actual techpriests.
  • Prestige Class: The Ascension supplement allows players to transition max-rank characters into a number of higher careers to continue growing in power, including vindicare assassins, primaris psykers, and even fully-fledged inquisitors.
  • Production Foreshadowing: In Creatures Anathema, a story seed for using orks as antagonists presents the backdrop of a greenskin invasion upon the planet Kulth, which is marked on the Calixis Sector map as a "war world". This invasion and the circumstances surrounding it would go on to be the inciting incident of Only War, with Kulth being the homeworld of the seditious Severan Dominate.
  • Rabble Rouser: The Demagogue alt-rank in Salvation Demands Sacrifice, available to a variety of careers. These provocateurs are skilled at whipping up huge crowds of people to do their bidding, able to train the Charm, Command, and Deceive skills to their maximum level, as well as gain the "Master Orator" skill to multiply the number of listeners they can affect with interaction skills. Another talent unique to their class, "Inspire Wrath", gives Demagogues a hefty bonus to interactions geared towards inspiring and directing hate and anger in others, as well as the ability to affect even more people with interaction skills (stacking with "Master Orator" to a stupendous twenty times the normal number an acolyte can influence at once).
  • Random Power Ranking: NPC statblocks in most books are assigned a "threat rating", which roughly indicates how dangerous they are to a party of acolytes, and the threat they represent for the world/sector as a whole. These grades are also prefaced with a class indicating what type of threat they are, these being hereticus (human-origin threats), xenos (aliens and wildlife), malleus (daemons and other warp entities) and obscuro (threats of unknown origin, or pre-Imperial technology).
    • Minima: The lowest grade, dangerous only to isolated or weakened acolytes, or if present in vast numbers.
    • Minoris: Typical opponents that acolytes can expect to deal with.
    • Majoris: A considerable physical or moral threat, both to acolytes and a local civilian population. Often daemons, psykers or particularly dangerous monsters.
    • Extremis: These beings can easily pose a serious threat to whole worlds if left unchecked, and are highly lethal in combat. Tangling with these foes will likely force the acolytes to pull out all the stops in firepower and strategy, or seek assistance from local Imperial forces.
    • Terminus: Outrageously dire threats. Their mere appearance on a world is a sign that things have gone horribly wrong, necessitating full-scale military action - or, in the worst cases, exterminatus - if they aren't immediately neutralized or contained. Often so powerful that a direct fight with them is certain to result in heavy losses, if not a Total Party Kill.
  • The Remnant:
    • The Temple Tendency is a secret religious society within the Ministorum that traces its lineage back to the original version of the Ecclesiarchy, known initially as the Temple of the Savior Emperor. While it once dominated the Imperium, the Temple suffered from tremendous political corruption and collapsed at the end of the Age of Apostasy, when its last Ecclesiarch Goge Vandire was overthrown. Amid the ensuing reforms of the Ministorum, the Temple Tendency was formed from cardinals loyal to the old ways who resented the loss of their wealth and power. The Temple's adherents today are few in number and mostly centered around familial lineages, but remain hell-bent on infiltrating and destroying the modern Ecclesiarchy. They have a particular hatred of the Adepta Sororitas, who were originally Vandire's Bodyguard Babes until they famously turned against him.
    • The Brotherhood of the Horned Darkness is a high-society daemon cult that, at its height, managed to nearly get its claws into the governance of the entire Calixis Sector. A massive, covert purge conducted by the Inquisition put a stop to it, but new incarnations of the Brotherhood keep cropping up every so often — A fact that frustrates many inquisitors of the Ordo Malleus, who consider them "the one that got away".
    • The Phaenonite radical sect of the Inquisition was violently purged by the Calixian Conclave after they Jumped Off The Slippery Slope during the sector's early years, with the survivors scattering to the stars. However, they started to reunite after the Malygrisian Tech-Heresy drew their attention back to Calixis, and they realized how how easy it would be to hide their activities there. While they've built up a sizable power-base for their group's small size, there is perhaps only a dozen or so actual Phaenonite inquisitors in the entire Calixis Sector.
  • Renegade Splinter Faction: The Phaenonites, a heretical and outlawed sect of the Inquisition introduced in The Radical's Handbook. A spin-off of the Xanthites — a radical faction that believes the warp must be tamed and controlled by humanity — the Phaenonites augment their doctrine with techno-heresy, seeking to master the immaterium and remake humanity into a superior race of warp-powered cyborgs. They're noteworthy for being the only radical faction in the book to have completely Jumped Off The Slippery Slope, rejecting all faith in higher powers and styling themselves as mankind's destined masters. When their insanity was revealed, the Phaenonites were declared excommunicate traitoris and purged by the Calixian Conclave at the dawn of the sector's history. However, enough Phaenonites survived that the sect is slowly beginning to re-materialize, some two-thousand years later.
  • Riddle for the Ages: There are quite a few of these, since lots of mysteries are set up as plot hooks to be resolved however the GM desires. The biggest one is the true nature of the Tyrant Star.
  • Secret Circle of Secrets: The Brotherhood of the Horned Darkness, a Calixian daemon cult dedicated to an unaligned power known as Balphomael. The Brotherhood's membership is primarily composed of ambitious politicians, merchants, criminals and nobles who call upon the daemon's boons for the sake of power and wealth. While the religious fanaticism seen in other cults is largely absent, Balphomael demands a tithe of sacrifices in return for its continuing patronage, so members of the Brotherhood convene in secret temples — complete with robes and masks — to perform sinister rituals.
  • Small Girl, Big Gun: The cover of The Inquisitor's Handbook splat features a Sister of Battle (unusually fully helmeted) carrying a boltgun so over-built that it looks like she would have difficulty lifting it without her Powered Armor.
  • Subverted Catchphrase: The maxim of the Cult of the Pure Form is "The flesh is strong", an Ironic Echo of the famous Mechanicum/Iron Fists catchphrase "The flesh is weak".
  • Succession Crisis: The backwater feudal world of Acreage is suffering from a bloody civil war thanks to one of these. The ruler of the planet died without naming an heir, and the Administratum accidentally threw a wrench into the matter when they made a typo on the document declaring who would take his place, naming "Rhoze" as the new ruler. This inevitably sparked a war between the king's daughters, Rhozena and Rhozeia.
  • Super Supremacist: The Pale Throng is a popular uprising of the Imperium's vast Mutant underclasses against their oppressors, with a central dogma that mutation and the rise of psychic potency is humanity's next evolutionary step. The Throng's numbers thus include a great many mutants so warped that they can barely be recognized as human, as well as powerful unsanctioned witches — the most noteworthy of these being the mysterious "shroud masters" who orchestrate the cult. The original Pale Throng hails from the now-ruined world of Tranch and was ultimately crushed, but the meme of the insurrection has since spread throughout the sector, thanks to surviving shroud masters occasionally cropping up to ignite new uprisings under the old name.
  • The Syndicate:
    • The Amaranthine Syndicate is a cartel of traders and void merchants in the Hazeroth Abyss, involved in the smuggling of alien relics, piracy and other criminal operations. The truth, still hidden even from the Inquisition, is that the Syndicate is a front for the Slaugth, a gruesome alien race currently engaged in a campaign to infiltrate and destabilize the Calixis Sector.
    • The Beast House, a centuries-old interstellar criminal network from the Golganna Reach primarily associated with the illegal trade of dangerous alien lifeforms and the hosting of extreme bloodsports, for the pleasure of wealthy private customers. Probe deeper, however, and the Beast House's true depravity is revealed — Their worst monsters are Flesh Golems, modified and pieced together in hidden laborotories from human and alien body parts, and in secret they host sadistic games where innocent people are hunted and murdered in spectacularly brutal, nightmarish ways.
    • The Serrated Query, an ancient, widespread criminal empire believed by some to have existed since at least the Horus Heresy. Hyper-cosmopolitan, the Query is a decentralized collection of independent cells that include hereteks, rogue psykers, aliens and even Chaos worshippers among their ranks — The Serrated Query's overall stance is that they've Outgrown Such Silly Superstitions, and they pride themselves on being pragmatic, tech-savvy free-thinkers rebelling against Imperial dogma.
  • Title Drop: The High Gothic name for the Tyrant Star, Hereticus Tenebrae, is Dog Latin for "Dark Heresy."
  • Token Evil Teammate: Lady Olianthe Rathbone, a member of the Tyrantine Cabal who affiliates with no major ordos of the Inquisition. In truth, she is secretly a member of the Istvaanian sect; an extremist faction that believes in forcing the Imperium to evolve by engineering catastrophes. Her motive for investigating the Tyrant Star is the possibility of using it as a tool to destabilize the Calixis Sector and weed out the weak, and in the meantime works to spread strife and unrest in the sector's various noble houses.
  • Tomato in the Mirror: The Cistron elite advance in The Lathe Worlds. Cistrons are Manchurian Agents created by the Lords Dragon and dispatched into the general population of various worlds, usually programmed to gather information by infiltrating organizations over the course of years. An acolyte that takes this elite advance undergoes an unplanned awakening and discovers that his whole life has been a fabrication, leaving him with unfamiliar new skills and the animosity of either their handlers in the Adeptus Mechanicus, or whichever vengeful organization he was spying upon. To represent this, Cistron acolytes replace their career's usual characteristic advance scheme with that of a tech-priest, and can begin learning various stealth- and technology-oriented skills that may be outside of their career or current rank.
  • Town with a Dark Secret: The specialty of the cryptos, a race of telepathic Puppeteer Parasite Energy Beings. Favoring small, isolated communities such as mining outposts or starship crews, a group of cryptos will possess influential human hosts among the locals and then gradually brainwash the rest into obeying them without question. Once established, the cryptos will work to ensure their enthralled community remains beneath the notice of the powers-that-be, as they have little interest in anything beyond their own secrecy and protection. Once exposed, however, the cryptos will immediately rally every man, woman and child to serve as expendable cannon fodder to cover their escape.
  • Trap Master: Acuitor Mech-Assassins — an alt-rank for Tech Priest acolytes — are tech priests who have been initiated into a secret society of assassins that destroys percieved threats to the Mechanicus. Fiddling with tech so that it becomes deadly is the preferred method, and their unique trait "Cogs Within Cogs" allows them to prime devices to automatically activate on timers or by remote command.
  • Urban Segregation: Sepheris Secundus is a particularly extreme example of this, even by typical Warhammer 40,000 standards.
  • Utopia Justifies the Means: The Logicians are a "progressive" heretek cult that wish to return human civilization to the level it was at during the so-called Dark Age of Technology, and are willing to commit horrendous atrocities For Science! along the way. Their foundation traces back to a proscribed document titled "In Defense of the Future: A Logical Discourse", which posits that the Imperium and the Cult Mechanicus must be overthrown and replaced by an oligarchy of "forward thinkers" and "those fitted with vision and superiority".
  • Villainous Legacy: Explorator Arch-Magos Umbra Malygris, known to inquisitorial records as Malygris the Damned, was a renowned figure in the Lathe Worlds obsessed with the destructive applications of technology. When he went rogue in 742.M41, he fled the Lathe system with a fully-provisioned explorator fleet, conducting horrific, genocidal experiments on various worlds unlucky enough to be on his path towards the Halo Stars. Eventually, in 770.M41, his fleet was cornered and destroyed in a joint operation between the Mechanicus, the Inquisition and the Imperial Navy, but the events of the Malygrisian Tech-Heresy left a lasting mark on the sector's recent history. Malygris' research, while ruthlessly suppressed, can still be found in the hands of secretive tech-heretics (and even player characters, with the right Background Package). The rising distrust of the Adeptus Mechanicus provoked the rise of the Cult of the Pure Form, and within the Mechanicus itself, sects with militant leanings are regarded with suspicion and scrutiny. Most problematically, the Phaeonites' return to the Calixis sector began as a tentative scheme to form an alliance with Malygris; while the endeavour ultimately failed, they quickly discovered afterwords that Calixis had become a place rich in corruption and conspiracy, giving them ample opportunities to build a serious power base without arousing suspicion.
  • Walking Techbane: The Discordant elite advance in The Lathe Worlds turns a character into one of these. A Discordant acolyte gains the ability to disable advanced machines with a touch, and is impossible to detect or target with machine senses, at the cost of never being able to use cybernetics themselves. Furthermore, the Adeptus Mechanicus is understandably leery of someone capable of silencing machine spirits and ruining priceless technology, which leaves a Discordant acolyte with no shortage of enemies that want to kill or dissect them.
  • Weird Sun: The Tyrant Star, an eldritch black star that manifests above a world and drives its inhabitants mad, before disappearing without a trace. Among the biggest reasons for the inquisition's high presence in the Calixis Sector is to solve the mystery of the star's true nature.
  • The Worm That Walks:
    • The alien Slaugth are humanoid-ish aberrations who appear to be composed entirely of corrosive mucus and writhing maggots, though they usually hide their forms underneath special cloaks. They're even referred to by the trope name on several occasions.
    • The Vile Savants are daemons of Nurgle that manifest as sealed containment suits filled to bursting with putrefied gore and insectoid vermin. There is no humanoid occupant of the suits, and they're said to stumble around in a disturbingly boneless fashion. Vile Savants can release a pressurized spray of their suits' contents as a short-ranged attack, and when slain a Plague Swarm may emerge from their ruptured shells to continue the fight.
  • Zombie Apocalypse: The daemons known as Vile Savants are heralded by a warp-spawned zombie plague known as the Fydae Strain, which is more metaphysical than biological in nature. It is notably sapient to a degree, and will try to infect as much of the local population as possible before suddenly developing its fatal symptoms. The Plague Zombies created by the Fydae Strain function as fairly typical zombies, with the usual weakness — though with the extra details that holy weapons deal double damage against them, exorcism is a perfectly valid cure, and characters with the Pure Faith talent or a Dark Pact of any form are entirely immune to infection. The Vile Savants themselves emerge from the warp once the infestation reaches a critical mass, and start directing zombies to launch semi-organized assaults on survivor holdouts.

    Tropes specific to the Second Edition and Askellon Sector 
  • Awesome, but Impractical:
    • Light Power Armor. It's the best armor available to Acolytes in the base rule book... for 1d5 hours of use at a time. Absolutely great if your warband is gearing up, then immediately hitting a target location that you expect will lead to a very violent fight. If however you're planning to do anything that may take longer than a few hours? Then well, hope you enjoy being on a rather strict time limit before having your very rare suit power down on you. It's also not exactly the most subtle armor to be wearing either if your warband is trying to keep a low profile. The meager advantage in protection value it holds over Carapace armor, and the minor Strength bonus, hardly justify the weakness of the power supply and increased chance of being hit in the first place. In fact, it's much more cost-effective to take the Carapace armour and give it the Powered modification, and only activate it when needed.
    • Storm Bolters. They have have the Tearing and Storm qualities, meaning they can score extra hits, have a better chance at higher damage rolls, as well as Righteous Fury. The problem is, because they are extremely rare, and how requisitioning items works via Influence and Subtlety, just simply asking for ammo can draw unwanted attention to an acolyte or warband, and turn into a Luck-Based Mission unless they have plenty of Influence. The other option, is to choose to burn Influence, but the amount lost is random, and can be anything from minor, to a rather significant loss that can take several missions to recover. All just to acquire, and make sure the weapon has enough ammo to make the most use out of it.
  • City of Adventure: While the whole of the Askellon Sector is available to investigate, most of the granular setting detail in the core book and early modules is Hive Desoleum, which is vast enough to contain several adventures of its own.
  • Hyperspace Lanes: The Grand Processional, a corridor of extremely stable and well-mapped warp space passing through Askellon, with a few "tributary" stable but shorter warp routes branching off of it. Given the relative ease with which it is traversed, all of Askellon's most important worlds lie along the Grand Processional, and most are directly supplied by worlds along their nearest tributaries. This makes Askellon an economic powerhouse of a sector... when the Pandemonium is not raging across it.
  • I Gave My Word: Characters originating on Hive Desoleum take the oaths they swear seriously, as the whole social system of it is based on the swearing and honoring of oaths (see Weird Currency below.) As a result, they gain willpower bonuses on any checks that directly involve fulfilling an oath they have previously sworn.
  • Incorruptible Pure Pureness: Characters from the Adepta Sororitas background are so devout and pure of faith that they never gain corruption points. However, in any situation where they would have gained corruption points, they gain an equivalent amount of insanity points instead.
    • Power Born of Madness: The Battle Sister elite advance (only available to characters from the Adepta Soroitas background) has several combat talents that require certain minimum levels of insanity to purchase, and only get more powerful the greater her insanity score becomes. For a Battle Sister, damage to her psyche manifests as increasingly insanely faithful zeal.
  • Nay-Theist: Frohrn the Slayer, chieftain of the Gwydrae, the nomad tribe living in the wasteland outside the Desoleum Hive, hates all forms of religion and spirituality, seeing them as a threat to his people's traditional way of life. The chieftain is notorious for his exceptional cruelty towards representatives of the Ecclesiarchy, but on the other hand he has no mercy for Chaos cultists fleeing from Imperial persecution and trying to hide in the desert.
  • One Riot, One Ranger: The Calixis Sector has a relatively large Inquisitorial presence, owing to (and sometimes the cause of) the many conspiracies and strange phenomena that take place there. By contrast, the nearby Askellon Sector has very little Inquisitorial interest, despite its reputation as a Wretched Hive of damnation. Some think it is too far gone to save, and that it is prophesied to fall, others believe it can be saved and redeemed. Plus the last time there was a major Inquisitorial presence there they ended up fighting amongst themselves and destroyed several planets. Consequently, any Inquisitorial cell there will find themselves isolated from institutional backup.
  • The Perfectionist: The hat of Forge World Selvanus Binary, run by High Fabricator Dinuum. They practice an extremely orthodox interpretation of the Universal Laws, and their attention to detail in manufacturing is second to none. Everything is built to extremely exacting tolerances, and anything that deviates even the most minor amount from these tolerances is grounds to discard the entire thing and start again. As a result, Selvanian products have a reputation for extreme quality, but their rate of production is so necessarily slow that their overall level of output is well below expectation for a Forge World of its kind. The Quorum Primus tries to argue that Selvanus Binary needs to balance its quality of production with quantity of production, but Dinuum rebuts that any intentional compromise in quality would be blasphemous to the Ommnisiah, a point they cannot in good theology disagree with.
  • Police Are Useless: The Sanctionaries are the law enforcement force in Hive Desoleum, but their enforcement is almost strictly on making sure the oaths system is upheld, beating those who renege on fulfilling their oaths and ensuring counterfeiting or tampering with oath cogs goes punished. Unfortunately, this focus leaves them with less training or ability to investigate other issues. Those who can afford one will hire private investigators when they need to, and subversive or heretical elements can operate almost with impunity... until the Inquisition shows up.
  • A Storm Is Coming: The Pandemonium, a warp storm that comes and goes, shutting down warp travel and interstellar communication through and beyond the sector on a semi-regular, long cycle. However, each time The Pandemonium comes, it does so stronger than before, lasting longer and doing more human, economic, and moral damage to the sector than it did the previous times. In the "present day" of the game, portents, navigators, and psychic scrying show that The Pandemonium is approaching again, and this time with unprecedented fury. The greater danger in the sector at present is seen as a sign of its coming, and some believe that Askellon will not survive the coming period of darkness.
  • Weird Currency: Hive Desoleum uses sworn oaths as a form of currency, with the oaths that a person or institution owns recorded into fabulously complex clockwork devices with numerous tiny cogs. These oath cogs allow oaths to be transferred from one to another and are legal tender for public debts. The size of the oath cog is directly related to the wealth it can contain, so the lower class laborers typically have oath cogs the size of a wristwatch, a noble probably has one the size of a lantern, entire noble households and major institutions might have an entire room dedicated to housing one.


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