News for February 2010
Mastered Skills and Paragon Talents 20
A look at the new character abilities in Ascension
Dark Heresy | Published 03 February 2010

+++Incoming Astropathic Transmission+++

Greetings, Dark Heresy fans!

This week, I would like to talk more about some of the cool stuff you will find within Ascension, the new upcoming sourcebook for Dark Heresy. Specifically, I’d like to talk a bit about Mastered Skills and Paragon Talents.

During the development of Ascension, one of the first things we did is create some Rank 8 Dark Heresy characters to get an idea of where most characters would be coming from as they begin their journey towards heeding the higher call. It quickly became apparent that the character sheet was quite full already, and we knew that in Ascension, we needed to address that issue while still bringing something new to the table. That’s where the idea for Mastered Skills and Paragon Talents came in...

“Knowledge is power: power beyond that of guns, or swords or thronging armies. It is power because in a realm of ignorance those with knowledge are lords of all.”
–Corwanius Tare

The purpose of Mastered Skills and Paragon Talents is to give ascended characters abilities that reflect the status and position they have achieved. These abilities are deliberately powerful and approximate the qualities of many lesser abilities that can be acquired separately. They are the abilities of true lords and masters of the Imperium in their chosen paths. They are also intended to reduce the number of entries on a character sheet and remembered or referenced by a player. It is intended that ascended characters have fewer, more powerful abilities, with a greater scope of application than characters created from the Dark Heresy rulebook and other Dark Heresy supplements.

Mastered skills represent a character’s mastery over a broad area of endeavour which contains a number of individual skills. Mastered skills replace a number of individual skills, or skills with a number of skill groups with a single Mastered Skill. This grants the character a bonus to all of the skills that is replaces. Mastered skills can also be used in conjunction with a number of characteristics depending on the type of skill test being taken. Mastered Skills also allow for the possibility of a character having a particular speciality within a Mastered Skill.

For example, a character may have had the Acrobatics, Climb, Contortionist, Dodge, and Swim Skills, all at different degrees. When he purchases Athletic Mastery, however, he would remove all of these individual skills from his character sheet and simply use the bonus granted by Athletic Mastery to all of the skill tests that would have been covered by the individual skills.

Paragon Talents work in much the same way as Mastered Skills, replacing a number of related Talents and usually grant a further benefit in addition.

The following is an example of one of the Mastered Skills found in Ascension:

Decadent Mastery
Replaces: Carouse, Gamble, Performer (all skill Groups),
Decadent mastery is the fruit of a life spent in epicurean indulgence and reflects expertise in imbibing all forms of intoxicants, gambling, and revelling with abandon.

Ascension Wallpaper #2
As a special bonus, this week you can find the second of four special Ascension wallpapers on the Dark Heresy support page! Enjoy!

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.


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Comments (20)

Lucas Adorn
Published: 2/10/2010 2:09:51 AM

Hehe. You obviously haven't given it a serious try (wfrpg3rd) , But thats ok. some people like the math and min/max of stats and some people like to use that time for roleplay and storytelling. Personally I'm converting dark heresy to the WFRPG system as it gives you more freedom to roleplay.

Published: 2/9/2010 7:22:03 AM

I feel compelled to STRONGLY agree with Peacekeeper here.  What I want in Ascention is to make my DH game "more epic" and more macro in scale.  What I DON'T want is something like the abomination that Warhammer Fantasy 3rd ed is.  Wizards destroyed D&D that way and FFG did the same to Warhammer Fantasy.  Do NOT turn Dark Heresy into a stupid card game with funky special dice and a blank spot on top of your card mat to write your stack of ability cards' name on them.   My players and I will cheerfully move to longer character sheets (most of them use expanded character sheets already) but kindly do not dumb our game down. 

Published: 2/9/2010 4:55:15 AM

Hate to point it out but Vampire, mage and werewolf had a cool way of doing skills - would keep it simple too

Lucas Adorn
Published: 2/8/2010 2:05:38 AM

no doubt it would be part the waters

Published: 2/7/2010 5:04:29 PM

Well Lucas Adorn, if they ever do change over to a 3E WFRP style system, they can do it without me. I am all for a 2E DH/RT/40KRPG system, but only if it keeps the same general system and rules, all I would want to see revised is Char Gen and Car Advancement.

Lucas Adorn
Published: 2/7/2010 2:42:15 PM

I find this very interesting and perhaps a hint of where Dark heresy is moving towards. This is probably why ascension was delayed for so long as the designers stumbled upon another group in FFG about to design WHFRPG 3rd edtion.

Personally I think they shoud make second edition now a redo the system like WHFRPG 3rd. That way I wouldn't have to remember hundreds of rules and take two hours to get through a medium gunfight. Of course thats just because My GM insist we run it by the book which makes it much like a tabletop game.

Here's to the future.

Published: 2/6/2010 5:57:31 PM

Well, well... it knda killed some of the excitement about Ascension.

A skill group to substitute a bunch of individual skills, while nice, isn't very exciting. Also there's a XP cost problem. How much would these cost? Would them be attractive as a XP sinking advantage?

Maybe the example isn't the best, maybe all the mighty "mastered skills" are that plain dumb. The majority of my players don't take skills (even if available to them) that don't make sense from a character background / personality / purpose standpoint. Or should all the good dancers be good gamblers and party animals?

Universal Weapon Use, Universal Mechadendrite Use seems ok paragon talents, but as others have said I hardly can see how to group other talents this way.

Anyhow, all players should keep notes, somewhere, of their character abilities, bonuses etc and the GM should help them by knowing their character sheets (at least a minimum) remebering them of their abilities and whatnot.

Published: 2/4/2010 4:04:21 PM

 Go listen to that DG Generation episode. It has more information on the subject IIRC.

Published: 2/4/2010 1:52:05 PM

 I'm jumping in the "I'd rather have [skill] +30/+40 than a 'skill package' "-camp here.
That being said, I can see the advantage if all of the skills need not be mastered already, but just one or two. In such a case, it'd save XP (being meticulous and a bit of a bookworm, I'd note down all of the details just the same, though).

Still, I'm looking forward to Ascension (and praying to the God-Emperor that Ascension will allow for existing DH characters to jump into these new careers rather than having to convert them.
Though I would like Weapon Training (Universal) to be used (as it was in RT), as it's annoying the heck out of me with the Talent being split up.

Published: 2/4/2010 1:11:49 PM

@dirge93 Sounds like a perfectly good idea to me. Shame it also sounds like you're afraid to use it, and was hoping for an official ruling to make it okay.

Its not a matter of being affraid to use, but dissappointed that it isnt an official idea. I like to stay RAW as possible for ease of using all the sourcebooks with as little modifiers as possible.

It seems to me that Mastered Skills and Paragon Talents are just fancy terms for package deals. A way for a player to record four or five skills in a single entry, but otherwise the rule mechanics are not truly changing. Its just a more simplistic way of creating/upgrading a character.

Of course, this is just the first glimpse at what we are to receive, with any luck, it is more in depth then so far shown.

Published: 2/4/2010 11:44:05 AM


"Overall when I first heard Mastered Skills I was hoping it was going to be Skill +30, Skill +40 and so forth which would save some skill bloat (I have had many players state they would gladly spend 200,300, 500 XP for such ELITE ADVANCES)."

Sounds like a perfectly good idea to me.  Shame it also sounds like you're afraid to use it, and was hoping for an official ruling to make it okay. 

Personally, I find this article to be somewhat underwhelming.  "We're trying to streamline the system and record keeping a bit.  Here's a useless example of what we're talking about."  How does a character -get- a Mastered Skill (I'm assuming there's more requirements than just being Rank 8)?  What mechanical advantage does it offer beyond reducing entries on a character sheet?  How is it balanced with Rogue Trader's system?  For that matter, is it something you could use in RT?

The Hobo Hunter
Published: 2/4/2010 9:22:31 AM

@Peacekeeper_b: I agree with what you first envisaged too, except for the RT character sheets. +30/40 skills, universal weapons training, and skills in 'weapon focus' so you can be a superbadass swordsman or whatever with 100% accuracy while not retaining a BASE WS/BS past the 50s, for example.

Except maybe the Rogue Trader sheet part. I fecking LOVED everything in Rogue Trader with the exception of two parts - the Career trees and the character sheets provided. The character sheet because it gave no indication of what skills were basic or advanced, which while not a problem for those of us who also play Dark Heresy, was absolutely HELL on those new to 40kRP. The career trees, because we, particularly myself and my GM, found them heavily single-minded, with little wiggle-room for characters of the same career, and with a heavy emphasis on characteristic advances rather than individual skills and talents.[RT rant ends here]

Don't get me wrong, I'm all for these new talents/influence/enemies/ways-to-die that Ascension will bring, as the new stuff, which overrides the old in addition to new bonuses, doesn't exactly *take away* from what a character can already do. But I don't think it's going to cut down on the notekeeping as much as FFG thinks it will.

If anything, I'd rather have *extra* room on my charactersheet (another page would honestly be more than enough) so I can fill in a line of summary for each talent/power I buy.

The only times I've really had a problem is when I've written up a new high-ranking NPC and forgetting what talents they have in the middle of an encounter because I've made them in one afternoon. And that was less forgetting what the talent *does* as it is what talents I *have*. Any PC/NPC that's been around a while (we've been playing close to a year), the player should have a pretty good idea what their skills and talents do. Which, considering the subject material of Ascension, shouldn't be out of the ordinary.

Sorry to sound elitist, but I really don't think Ascension should be played by a group entirely new to DH, for their own benefit, and consider the idea of 'fresh' characters as something for people whose characters died/retired or otherwise would not continue with the Inquisition at this power level).

If you've played through 8 ranks of assassin and don't know what Lightning Attack does, God-Emperor help you if you replace half your combat talents with a single word titled 'Bladedancer'.

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