|Dark Heresy | Published 13 January 2010|
+++Incoming Astropathic Transmission+++
Greetings, Dark Heresy fans! This week, I have some guest words from the authors of Damned Cities, the second part of the epic Haarlock’s Legacy Trilogy, John French and Alan Bligh. John and Alan were kind enough to sit down and give me some of their thoughts on crafting this central portion of the trilogy, and how the adventure can affect the entire Calixis Sector!
Without further ado, allow me to present John French and Alan Bligh:
The Worst City I Know…by John French
Sinophia Magna is my favourite worst place in the Imperium. It is bleak, forgotten place that is decaying both physically and socially. It is a place that was once both beautiful and wealthy. Now it is a rancid grand dame of a city clad in rotting finery and begging for a coin while cursing those that spare one…
…and it always rains.
History in Every Stone
One of the reasons Sinophia Magna is my favourite worse place is that it is a place with history, a history that it is to say in gaming terms as well as background. It is a place that we have played in and used for games for years since long before the first copies of Dark Heresy touched the shelves. It predates the Calixis Sector both in its in game history and in its realty as a game setting: ‘The Empty Men of Sinophia Magna’ incident actually happened (well in a game at least) in its streets, in a 40k RPG game that predated Dark Heresy, as have many other investigations since. Inquisitor Herrod (That was me! –Alan) bisected a Logician flesh abomination in a warehouse in the Sinks and everything when horribly wrong as it only can in 40k. Junt Yaeger (who you may recognise in the future that is yet to come) lost his mind at the sight of the Risen Dead on the streets of the and nearly killed his comrades in his madness. In fact, both Alan and I have used many of our experiences playing and running games in Sinophia Magna in creating Damned Cities and making your time in that forsaken place as fun as ours have been.
An Atmosphere of Decay and Despair
In all of the adventures that we cooked up to create the Haarlock's Legacy campaign, the location for the adventure has a very strong character of its own: The House of Dust and Ash is threaded through with mortuary images, the smell of dry death and the cold of the grave. Quaddis is a city of masks, blood and lies, and forbidden Mara of course holds [purged by the order of the Tenebrae Collegium]. The character of Sinophia Magna is one of decay, bitterness, and lost dreams, and we have woven these qualities into every mouldering cranny of the place.
We imagined every sign of tasteful opulence and then let it rot: The streets of European cities, and places we’ve been such as Prague, Venice, Rome, and London informed much of the flavour and feel of the city: It is not a city of towering edifices but of crowded buildings with empty rooms. The physical city is of low buildings that press close over stagnant canals and narrow streets. Broken angels look down from vine-choked plinths, and the place reeks of damp and human misery. The characters that players will encounter in Sinophia Magna are deliberate mirrors of the physical corruption: even the best of them have a mote of darkness or despair in their souls.
Corrupt cops, well-dressed monsters and Victorian values, by Alan Bligh
Well, with John having already covered a good deal about the adventure’s setting, it leaves it up to me to speak a little about the plot and characters involved (without giving out too many spoilers!). One of the things I really am quite proud off is the setting that John and I wove for the plot was the ‘dramatis personae’ of the adventure itself: We did our part to cram it chock-full of the kind of remarkable, singular ,and often downright sinister cast of characters that you would expect to encounter in an Imperial city. We just ‘turned up’ the darkness and decay, from monstrously vain and jaded nobles, to psychopathic enforcers, murderous street scum, and of course, the poor downtrodden mass of normal folk in-between. There’s something I think ineffably both gothic and Victorian about the result, with its own logic and dark ambiance, and was a perfect backdrop of characters to get themselves unwittingly become embroiled in a major piece of the Haarlock puzzle.
One other interesting idea John and I had when putting together the adventures outline that really interested us, was the idea of setting it against the background of civil unrest: a worsening collapse of law and government in a capital city of an Imperial world, and thereby the impending threat of riot and civil war for the Acolytes to worry about. This also ties into the fact that in Damned Cities, the Acolytes are acting with inquisitorial authority, and with help, of a sort, from the powers that be, leaving them open to all sorts of potential entanglements in the city’s power politics as well as some interesting moral questions about who they should help, and where their duty lies. Of course, this being Dark Heresy, there are plenty of very nasty surprises hiding behind Sinophia’s rotting veneer as well.
The Mystery Unfolds
Damned Cities was written the ability to run it as a ‘stand alone’ adventure in mind, but is of course, part of the wider dark web of the Haarlock's Legacy. Its structure and scope offer what we hope is another change of pace and game play, from either the previous two adventures and something that Dark Heresy fans will greatly enjoy, and it also provides some more troubling answers about the secret of the legacy which will be realised finally in the adventures arc’s shattering conclusion, Dead Stars.
We hope to see you there!
The Next Step
Beginning next week, I’m going to start bringing to light possibly the most anticipated book for Dark Heresy...Ascension! Everything you knew was a lie -- it is time to Heed the Higher Call!
Dark Heresy is a roleplaying game set in the Warhammer 40,000 universe, a setting in the grim darkness of the far future. Players take on the roles of Acolytes serving the Inquisition, rooting out heresy and corruption from within the galaxy-spanning Imperium of Man.
Looking forward to this arriving in my mail box!