Heresy World Book Structure

As the game continues to take shape and go through testing I find myself at a point where I need to write fewer new mechanics and instead shift my focus to writing the rest of the text for the book. I’ve already begun writing some of the sections below, including an Introduction and a few changes to the GM section. Before I continue writing these sections and the rest required for me to move to publishing, I’m going to detail what each section will entail. Here are the main sections, with subsections and descriptions written below:

  • Licensing
  • Introduction
  • Character Creation
  • Basic Moves
  • Special Moves
  • Classes
    • Assassin
    • Investigator
    • Warrior
  • Advanced Moves
  • The GM
    • Agenda
    • Principles
    • Moves
  • Missions
  • Equipment


This section is pretty simple; I’ll put all the attributions needed to use the Dungeon World text, and the clarification that this is an unofficial Warhammer 40K RPG and not all endorsed by Games Workshop. I’ll also list my own license information here.


This will explain what Heresy World is and what readers will need to know in order to play. The main sections for the introduction will be:

  • What is Heresy World? A brief description of what the game is and how it relates to Dungeon World and Warhammer 40k.
  • What do I need to play? It’s key to let people know that they must be familiar with Dungeon World and Warhammer 40k, and that they’ll need a copy of Dungeon World to play.
  • How is Heresy World different from Dungeon World? This subsection will need to talk about the difference in themes and the change in setting. A key thing to relate is that Heresy World is by nature less open-ended than Dungeon World simply because characters are members of the Inquisition who are sent on missions. The second important thing to list is the changes in game mechanics. I’ll list briefly here the moves that have changed, but I won’t go into the details. I’ll also briefly touch on the new equipment.

You can see the Introduction at time of writing here on GitHub. Many things are missing from the list of differences.

Character Creation

Character creation will copy much of the text from Dungeon World, with added sections that pertain to Backgrounds and Home Worlds. This chapter will guide players through the entire process of creating an Acolyte of the Inquisition to play in their first mission. It also includes a first person account of a character being created to act as an example. You can see the character creation section at time of writing here on GitHub.

Basic Moves

The Basic Moves section is for listing all of the new moves for Heresy World that are available to all classes, such as Aim and Fire and Throw Grenade. It also will list the full text of any moves that have been changed from vanilla Dungeon World, such as the Discern Realities move.

Each move will have an accompanying explanation detailing its uses and giving tips for play, as well as an example of play.

The Basic Moves as they exist at time of writing are here on GitHub.

Special Moves

This chapter will have the same structure as the Basic Moves section but will detail the new and changed moves that come up less regularly, such as the changed Last Breath and End of Session moves, and the new This I Know move. Like the Basic Moves chapter, the Special Moves section will have the full text of the moves as well as tips and explanations, and an example of play.

Full text for Special Moves at time of writing is here on GitHub.


The chapter on classes will start with a full listing of the available classes, with a short one to two paragraph description of the classes. It will also have a short paragraph explaining that your character is more than just their skills, they’re also their Home World and Background.

After the brief description of the classes there will be sections for each individual class with introductory text on their roles and specialties. All of the information needed for the character sheet will also appear here for each class: look, stats, starting moves, gear, advanced moves, alignments, and bonds.

Advanced Moves

After the section on classes that will list the advanced moves available to those classes, I’ll list the advanced moves that are available to all classes. I’ll start with an introduction on why some advanced moves are available to all classes and explain how moves from this list can be taken instead of class specific ones. The goal should be to clarify that characters can take advanced moves from this master list or their class list when they level up, and that there is no restriction on which list they choose from.

All the advanced moves I have so far are here on GitHub.

The GM

The GM section will assume that the same section in the Dungeon World book is available or known, and list any changes or additions that Heresy World introduces. Those main sections will be as follows:


The Agenda in Heresy World is slightly different than that of Dungeon World. The first two have been changed slightly to fit the setting, and the Agenda in Heresy World is to portray a grim dark galaxyfill the characters’s lives with danger, and play to find out what happens.


The Principles in Heresy World are almost exactly the same, but the principle “give every monster life” should be change to “give every enemy life” as you won’t be fighting “monsters” that often. Surely they will be monstrous at times, but a mutant isn’t a monster as the term applies to fantasy, and a daemon is more than just a monster.


All of the moves available to a GM in Dungeon World are still in play, but a few more have been added that let the GM introduce dangers that are more specific to the setting. Some examples of new moves include:

  • Test their will: at times characters will see something so horrifying that they must react to it in some way. When describing what the characters are seeing, the GM may decide that their will is tested by this sight and choose to test the will of the characters. This is done by describing the creeping mental effect of witnessing what is before them and asking them what they do. Testing a character’s will is a more specific form of the move “show signs of an approaching threat” as its outcomes are more likely to come from the following two moves.
  • Mutate them: when corrupted by Chaos or psyker powers it is possible under extreme and unfortunate circumstances for an Acolyte to undergo physical transformations. Here I’ll list some possible mutations you can have your players choose from or roll for, or for you to use as inspiration for your own mutations.
  • Traumatize them: terror can manifest itself in many ways, and an Acolyte seeing a Chaos ritual for the first time may succumb to the insanity of the situation and become helpless. Many of the possible negative outcomes I had for the Fight Your Fear move will be put here as options for the GM to use when a character fails to fight off the effects of the terrible sights they witness. In the same manner as the “mutate them” move I’ll list options here to choose from, roll on, or draw inspiration from.
  • Invoke a Setback: if your mission has a suitable Setback written that would fit into the game when the characters make an appropriate move, or when they fail a roll, you can check off a Setback that they’ll encounter further down the line. This move is sort of combination of the principle “exploit your prep” and “use a monster, danger, or location move.”

The GM section at time of writing is here on GitHub, but I haven’t added any of the Principles changes yet.


Missions are either a replacement or a supplement to be used with Fronts as an organizational tool for your campaigns and adventures. In this section I’ll list the items that make up a mission and give examples for each.

The mission section will end with all of the examples being compiled into an example mission ready to play, complete with blanks being filled in.

The mission section’s first draft is done and you can view it here on GitHub.


The Equipment section will start with an introduction that explains that not all options available in the Warhammer 40k universe will be listed below, and that players and GMs wishing to use more exotic weaponry are free to combine the tags provided and any additional moves they like to create their weapons.

After the introduction will be the subsections:

  • New weapon tags: the new tags available to weapons
  • Weapon list: the more common weapons likely to be found in combat or used by starting characters
  • Armor list
  • Grenade list: the list of grenades available to be found and thrown, as well as their effects
  • Gear: any gear that may be used during a mission. Some items listed are merely renamed versions of the gear in Dungeon World, and will be listed as such. For example Field Gear is the same as Adventuring Gear.
  • Upgrading gear: Characters are unlikely to progress from one type of weapon to another in a linear path of upgrades such as Laspistol to Lasgun to Bolter. Instead, they are more likely to make upgrades to their weapons, or find better versions of them as they progress. In this section I’ll list some guidelines on upgrading gear, the benefits of certain tags over others, and the mounting costs of adding more and more upgrades to the same weapon.
  • Artifacts: some ancient gear is gifted to the most loyal servants of the Emperor, and they come with special rules that help describe the powers that they have. In this section I’ll list possible effects to use for your own powerful artifacts, as well as give a few sample items I’ve created.

The current version of the equipment page is here on GitHub, but it’s missing a lot of the basic gear (vox casters, auspexes, magnocs, grapnels, etc), the upgrading section, and the artifacts sections.

This outline I have here is what I’ll be working off of in the near future. After I have written out these sections to my satisfaction it’ll be time to learn about InDesign and how to layout a book. I’ll also have to work on creating printable character sheets and move reference pages for play.

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