News for March 2011
Shades of Grey 41
A look at Black Crusade, an upcoming Warhammer 40,000 roleplaying game
Black Crusade | Published 04 March 2011

“We live for Chaos so that we may die for ourselves.”
     —Grand Marshall Angelica Benoit of the Free Systems Coalition

Last week we announced the upcoming release of Black Crusade, a remarkable roleplaying game that offers players a new perspective on the conflict between the Imperium of Man and the forces of Chaos. In this exciting new addition to FFG’s Warhammer 40,000 Roleplay line, players have the unprecedented opportunity to play as a Disciple of the Dark Gods, whether as a Chaos Space Marine or a human Servant of Chaos.

Chaotic Morality

Players will find that Black Crusade brilliantly lends itself to the creation of deep, dynamic characters with complex motivations. After all, one of the fascinating things about the Warhammer 40,000 setting is there are no “good guys.”

There are, of course, good individuals: lone heroes fighting against an unjust and uncaring universe, striving to make a difference. But in the grand scheme of things, there are no virtuous and ethical organizations. The Warhammer 40,000 universe is a cruel, lonely place where any faction or race finds itself alone, beset by a host of enemies. Even those with the best intentions may frequently find themselves compromising their ideals to survive. The Imperium of Man, the galaxy-spanning human empire, is one of the most brutal and totalitarian regimes ever known. It sacrifices thousands to feed its Undying God-Emperor, uncountable millions in its unceasing industry, and trillions in its endless wars. It conducts bloody purges of any other races it can find, while its faith preaches a creed of righteous hatred of all that is not human.

In past games, you’ve been able to play those who work within the Imperium. Whether as an Acolyte of the Inquisition, a Rogue Trader, or a Deathwatch Space Marine, you’ve operated within the auspices and strictures of the Imperium of Man. You very well might have been one of those lone heroes, fighting from within to make your little corner of the galaxy a better place. Or you might have been a loyal servant of the Imperium, seeing the acts done in the God-Emperor’s name as one more necessary evil so that humanity could survive against its myriad enemies. But always you worked within, aligned at least on some level with the Imperium of Man.

Now, Black Crusade provides the chance to leave that servitude behind. As a Heretic in Black Crusade, you are beholden to no one but yourself. You can taste true freedom: the freedom to travel where you will, become whom you choose, and destroy the crumbling monolith that once crushed you beneath its oppressive weight. The freedom of Chaos.

The Devil in the Details

From the perspective of those within the Imperium, the forces of Chaos are terrible, bloodthirsty monsters, defined by the Gods they swear allegiance to. Those who fight for Khorne, the Lord of Skulls, are blood-crazed killers who slaughter all they come across. Devotees of Slaanesh, the Dark Prince, are debauched degenerates who indulge in the most hideous perversions imaginable. The Disciples of Nurgle are disgusting, filth-soaked creatures the presence of whom would cause immediate retching. Finally, the worshipers of Tzeentch are scheming plotters constantly conspiring to destroy.

Though these charges are undeniably true, they are only facets of a much more nuanced picture. Khorne is the God of bloody slaughter, but he is also the god of martial pride and honour, setting oneself against the most dangerous foes and winning against the odds. A devotee of Khorne is as likely to be an honourable champion in combat as a blood-crazed slaughterer.

Slaanesh is the God of hedonism and excess. But this is true in all things, not just carnal pleasures. Those who desire to indulge in the finest culinary delights, the most beautiful artworks, even the most sensual clothing, could all be amongst Slaanesh’s disciples. Just as importantly, Slaanesh is also the god of perfection. The singer striving for the most beautiful song or the warrior who seeks the perfect fighting techniques, both could be devotees of Slaanesh.

Nurgle is the god of death and decay, to be certain, but he is also the god of rebirth. After all, decay is simply one part of the cycle of life, without which no new life could grow. In the same way, Nurgle is also the god of perseverance and survival. While those who wish to spread decay and corruption are certainly amongst his followers, there also those who wish to endure, to become tough enough to handle the threats of an uncaring universe.

In many ways, Tzeentch is both the best and least understood of the Dark Gods. Almost everyone knows he is the God of Fate, plots, and schemes, as well as the god that exemplifies the ever-changing nature of the Warp. However, Tzeentch does not plot towards some end (at least none that can be comprehended); he schemes simply to scheme. He is constantly building, even as his devices unravel under their own complexity. At the same time, he is the god of knowledge and comprehension, and his devotees may be those who seek an understanding of an enigmatic universe.

The Road to Hell...

Suffice it to say, the motivations of the Disciples of the Dark Gods are as complex as the Ruinous Powers themselves, and cannot be distilled down to murder, destruction, and depravity. In fact, few characters in Black Crusade even see themselves as “evil.”

While it’s true that devotees to Chaos are out for personal glory, it is in their individual justifications that they are subtly defined. Characters may be ideologically attracted to Chaos, reasoning that it’s the natural state of the universe, and that the Imperium represents an unnatural state for mankind. In many cases, a character’s path to corruption may begin with noble intentions, as with a would-be ruler who believes he’ll remain benevolent and just. Some may even be fully aware of the temptations Chaos presents, but pridefully believe themselves morally strong enough to master its influence. Whatever the reason, these tragically deluded figures ultimately find themselves actively opposing their own kind.

Not that the universe’s alien races are much better. Whether ancient xenos that see humans little more than vermin, mindless species that see them as food, or upstart newcomers on the galactic scene that feel it’s their manifest destiny to rule the galaxy, humanity has no friends amongst the stars.

Black Crusade 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 Disciples of the Dark Gods, working against the rule of the galaxy-spanning Imperium of Man and in pursuit of personal glory.

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Comments (41)

Published: 3/4/2011 2:23:50 PM

+++Suffer not the heretic to live+++

Fedris The Red
Published: 3/4/2011 2:03:19 PM

I read the article, I nodded, I smiled and I gained about ten corruption points... Er... can anyone else smell promethium?

Published: 3/4/2011 1:59:08 PM

Damn... There goes another 60$

FFG, please do less cool stuff. It's getting expensive for me. ;)

Mal Reynolds
Published: 3/4/2011 1:50:31 PM

This will be my next rpg game. The philosophies arround Chaos and their "other" aspect is an intriquing one. As it was said, there are no good guys in the uncaring and cold universe of 40 K. And for some Chaos represent freedom from the Imperium's tyranny.


good gaming

Published: 3/4/2011 1:38:20 PM

Very cool, looking forward to this one.

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