Starting the First Front: Shattered Hope

Most Dark Heresy adventures are much more linear than Dungeon World fronts, and have a far richer background of information that is predetermined. When it comes to fronts I’m either going to have to find a way to keep a good balance or just tip the scales in one direction or the other. I suspect I won’t have even a clue if it’s good until I can play test.

For now I think I’ll replace some of the lore aspects of the mission with questions either to be asked of the players at the start of the mission, or to be found out by both the GM and the players as play progresses.

This first front that I’m creating for Heresy World is a conversion of the Shattered Hope free demo that you can find at Fantasy Flight Games. It tells the tale of a group of Acolytes sent to investigate a mine that was sealed off by the Imperial Guard. The Guard was on the planet to quell a rebellion but something led them to seal off the entrance to the mine and call for the Inquisition.

Mission briefing

We have received a request for aid from a detachment of the Imperial Guard who were sent to a nearby planet to quell a rebellion. Details are scarce, but what we know is that while fighting the rebels near one of the mines the world is known for, they encountered something worse. A more experienced team from the Inquisition is en route, but you are tasked with heading to this planet, meeting with the Commissar located there, and gathering as much intel on the situation as possible.

Questions for the players:

  • What is the name of this world?
  • What type of harsh climate does this world have?
  • What do they mine on this world?
  • What type of world is the regiment of Imperial Guard from?

I’ve taken a lot of the detail out of the description of the original Dark Heresy adventure and put some of those details into questions for the players.

Cast: Imperial Guard

Edwin Jurtz: A young and hopeful guardsman, who believes the Acolytes are here to save them. Bright red hair, freckles.
Instinct: To trust in the Imperium

Sergeant Raynard: A gruff guardsman with a bald head and a tattooed scalp. His right arm ends past the elbow, and attached is a metal rod with a disturbing array of attachments. His right eye is a crude false one.
Instinct: To keep order in his camp

Commissar Nihilius: The Commissar is a man in his late thirties with coal black hair and coal black eyes. He wears a simple uniform adorned with a few badges showing his service and a flak vest.
Instinct: To perform his duty to the Imperium

These cast members are pulled directly from the original Dark Heresy campaign. All I’ve added are their instincts, which I’m trying basing off of what their intentions and actions show in the adventure.

Danger: The Brotherhood of Malice

The Brotherhood of Malice is a desperate cult of beleaguered and desperate miners, menials, and laborers. Their goal is to provoke the Imperium to such an extent that they purge the entire world, freeing them and their loved ones of the endless cycle of strife that they live under.

Instinct: to bring about their own doom

Grim Portents

  • A captured prisoner of the rebellion reveals the Brotherhood’s true intentions
  • A mutant with M-A-L-I-C-E tattooed across his six fingers is found, revealing the cult’s Chaotic taint
  • Word spreads of who, exactly the Brotherhood of Malice worships

Impending doom: The world slips further into anarchy as rebellion spreads

Things to find out:

  • What ancient heresy inspired the founding members of the Brotherhood?
  • Who does the cult worship? Is it one of the four Ruinous Powers, a great daemon, Chaos Undivided, or something else?

The original DH adventure explains the past of the Brotherhood of Malice, in which their beginning comes from them finding the books and tomes of a previous heresy that the Inquisition believed had been completely erased. I’ve turned that into a Things to find out question and left it a bit more open. It could be a book, or an old member, or even a possessed human.

Danger: Antithesis Stone

This pink glowing stone can be found deep within the mines. Its very fabric is tainted with powers of the warp.

Grim Portents:

  • The stone spits out a half-formed lesser daemon that wanders the mines before dying of “natural” causes
  • The stone attempts to mutate any that enter into its presence
  • The stone summons a weakened but whole lesser daemon

Impending doomA portal to the Immaterium is opened, releasing warp energies that mutate and lesser daemons that slaughter

Things to find out: 

  • What does the stone look like?


Custom Move: Antithesis Energy

When you enter the chamber of the Antithesis Stone, the stone pulses in anger and its energy attempts to mutate you. Roll+CON, on a 10+ you resist the stone entirely. On a 7-9 you resist with much difficulty, take -1 forward. On a miss you take -1 forward and roll a d10. Consult the table below for the stone’s effect:

1 Skin Change: The character’s hair and
flesh turn a bright shade of pink with grey
marbling just below the surface of the flesh.
2 Brute: The character grows muscled
and brutish, but their head shrinks. The
character increases their Strength by 1
but reduces their Intelligence by 1.
3 Tentacles: A sloppy mess of purple and
warty tentacles sprout from the character’s
middle and flail about madly.
4 Huge Eyes: The unfortunate character’s
eyes grow huge, about the size
of saucers. The Acolyte gains +1 to all rolls involving his sight, but takes -1 to all rolls while in bright light
5 Huge Head: The character’s head swells
to three times its normal size, filled
with strange fluid that aids in thinking.
The character increases their Intelligence
by 1, but reduces their Charisma and
Wisdom both by 1
6-10 The character gains a random debility

In the original DH campaign players must make a Toughness Test with a +20 bonus and anyone failing by 30 takes on a mutation. Assuming a Toughness of 30, which is the average starting value, players would have a 20% chance of mutating. The chance to fail a roll with 2d6 and no bonus is 42%, which I thought was too high.

Missing on this move makes the players roll on a table with negative effects, with half of them being the mutations as described in the source material and the other 5 having the player gain a random debility. This means that failing the roll is still bad, but it only has a 50% chance of being disastrous. That puts your chance of mutating at 21%, which is closer to the source material. With a +1 from CON your odds change to 13% and with a -1 it becomes 29%.

For a regular campaign I would say this move is too harsh. Being mutated like this means your character is essentially done for. You can continue the mission, but someone is eventually going to put a bullet in your brain. Since I’m mainly using this front as a testing ground I’m going to leave it and try it out.

My next post will deal with the monsters that are likely to be encountered on this mission. In brief they are:

  • Rebels: human with basic melee and ranged weapons
  • Mutant guardsman: a former Guardsman that has been corrupted by the Antithesis Stone that is limited to melee attacks
  • Mutated rebels: slightly tougher version of the rebels with random mutations who sport the same weaponry
  • Mutant abomination: a grotesque giggling mutant whose remaining humanity is barely discernible
  • Lesser daemon: a weaker version of a daemon of whoever the cult worships. Its description and moves depend on which of the Chaos gods the cult worships

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