Dark Heresy Review - The Inquisitor's Handbook

In this review I will be going over The Inquisitor's Handbook, a supplement for Dark Heresy. I have actually ran through several sessions where players were using items out of this book and we had a good time with it.

The opening chapter of the book gives you more options for character creation. There are new traits and backgrounds and a whole host of charts to roll on. A few of the options include Noble Born, Mind Wiped, Schola Progenum, and even orphan. All of these have some pretty neat and unique abilities.

Next up we have a few different starting worlds that are takes on the homeworld archetypes (Void Born, Feral Worlder, etc.) These different starting worlds give you a slightly different buff or flaw than what you normally have access to.

Wrapping up chapter one is something new that has been added - the option of background packages that cost XP at character creation. Each differnet class has access to a couple of different background packages. Here is an example -

Guardsmen: The Mara Landing Massacre -
Mara is a wretched place, a cold world once home to a penal colony now long silent. No one goes to Mara; the space around it is quarantined, the Imperial Navy mounting infrequent patrols to keep any from straying too close. However, such accursed places seem to draw in the unwary and the unfortunate. When
a navigational error and mysterious engine failure caused the troop transport Vervilix to enter the Mara quarantine zone, forcing it to land, hell was visited on those unfortunates trapped there. What happened in the five days before the Imperial Navy reached the transport remains largely unknown. Only a few hundred gaunt and haunted individuals survived out of the five thousand Guardsmen that set foot on Mara, and of those, many were later were executed for heresy or simply disappeared—unable to live with what they had experienced. For those few who survived, they will never admit that they were onboard the Vervilix unless under duress. Only the sealed reports of the Ordos contain the accounts of comrades turning on one another, of walking nightmares, vile scratching and halfheard whispers at reality’s fabric, and the incessant buzzing of insectile wings on the edge of the mind. Survivors of incidents on Mara are likely to be of most interest to Radical Inquisitors who see the experience as
having armed them against the worst. Moreover, they are proven survivors if nothing else, and if some shadow of Mara’s terrible mystery lingers on in them, that too is worthy of attention.
Apply all of the following changes to your character:
Characteristics: Increase starting Willpower by +5.
Talents: You start the game with Resistance (Psychic Powers).
Corruption: Your experiences at the massacre means that you begin the game with 1d5 Corruption Points.
Fate Points: You gain one additional Fate Point.
Insanity Points: Unhinged, you start the game with 1d10 Insanity Points.

This is a pretty stout set of powers - +5 WP, Resistance to Psychic Powers, and and extra Fate Point - That Is HUGE! There is a slight downside in the extra starting insanity and corruption - but that is just part of the game.

Where chapter one focused on character creation chapter two is all about career paths. This chapter has several new alternate existing career paths and even has one new career path - The Adepta Sororitas. This is a fully fleshed out career path that even includes a few unique Talents.

This chapter also has what are called alternate Career Ranks. These function in a similar way to Prestige Classes from D&D. After you meet a set of pre-requisites you are able to start taking new ranks out of your alternate Career path. These paths aren't really paths so much as they are a large list of skills that you get to choose from. Moving into this career path also gives you special talents or abilities depending on which one you move into. There is a path for pretty much every basic Career Path.

The next three chapters deal with all the different types of worlds that you can start on - Feral, Feudal, Hive, Forge, Frontier, and the Void. Each chapter covers two worlds and includes tons of different types of Ranged Weapons, Melee Weapons, Armour, Gear, and Miscellany. Some of the more interesting items include a Blunderbuss and Plate Armour from a Feral World, a whole bag of different guns from the Hive Worlds, and a whole host of special weapons from Forge Worlds (including a Graviton Gun!)

Chapter Six introduces the concept of War Zones. These areas are treated like the planets in the previous chapters - there is unique weapons, gear, armour, and other items. Something of note is that the Power Fist gets stats in this chapter.

Continuing the theme of listing out special weapons, armour, and the like carries on in chapter seven. This chapter deals with the special equipment of the Holy Ordos. This chapter holds some of the most powerful (and possibly broken) weapons in all of Dark Heresy and Rogue Trader - Force Weapons. In the hands of a normal character these weapons arent that deadly, but give them to a Psyker and they will carve a swath through whatever you throw at them -

Force Weapons
Class: Melee (Primitive)
Made from the rarest materials and interlaced with psychic reactive and channelling circuitry of a design said to have originated with the Emperor himself when he walked among mortal men, force weapons are capable of channelling the mental power and aggression of a psyker into deadly, reality rending force. It is theoretically possible to create force weapons in almost any form, and several unique and potent variants, such as the Nemesis weapons of the Grey Knights and the legendarily destructive Daemonhammers, exist. The three commonest types of force weapons are given here, the force sword, force axe and force staff. Unless wielded by a psyker, force weapons simply count as a Good Craftsmanship Mono variant of their standard Primitive weapon type (see pages 128 and 142 of Dark Heresy). However, in the hands of a wielder with a Psy Rating, they are much more. For every point of Psy Rating the wielder has, the weapon’s Damage and Penetration increases by +1. For example, a force sword wielded by a character with Psy Rating 3 would inflict 1d10+3 R (plus SB) and have a Penetration of 5. In addition to normal Damage, whenever a psyker damages an opponent, he or she may, as a Free Action, channel psychic force and killing will into the blade. Treat this effect as a power with a Threshold 6. On a success, the wielder and victim make Opposed Willpower Tests. For every degree of success, the force weapon’s wielder deals an additional 1d10 points of Damage ignoring the victim’s Armour and Toughness Bonus. Force weapons cannot be destroyed by a power weapon’s field. A force staff also acts as a Psy-Focus (see page 151 of Dark Heresy)

From here the book moves into background/fluff mode and starts going over things like faith in the hive, holy days, contacts, and alternate uses for skills. There is even a small section on crafting.

Probably the most helpful section in the entire book is at the very end - the index. The index has collected weapons, armour, and equipment tables gathered from the entire book - this is invaluable as all of this stuff is scattered throughout the book in random places. Without the index the book wouldn't be near as usable.

Overall this is a really solid book with lots of good information and options for both players and game masters.