News for March 2011
Into the Screaming Vortex 18
A preview of Black Crusade, the upcoming Warhammer 40,000 Roleplaying Game
Black Crusade | Published 31 March 2011

Black Crusade, an upcoming roleplaying game that offers players a new perspective on the conflict between the Imperium of Man and the forces of Chaos, will be corrupting players this summer. Today, we’re pleased to present a preview from Andrew Hoare, one of the writers for Black Crusade. Among other contributions, Andrew wrote about the various regions in which your Black Crusade campaign might take place. Thanks, Andrew!

Black Crusade takes a departure from Dark Heresy, Rogue Trader and Deathwatch, presenting its own unique corner of the Warhammer 40,000 universe – the Screaming Vortex – but wrapping its questing pseudopods about the Calixis Sector, the Koronus Expanse, and the Jericho Reach too. The Screaming Vortex is a warp storm, situated between the Calixis Sector and the Jericho Reach, and within its boiling heart, Chaos rules supreme!
Campaigns of Black Crusade can be set in any of these four locations, or all of them. Each offers a different sort of game, providing a grand arc that can see characters rise from ambitious aspiring champions all the way up to mighty Chaos warlords.
While the Calixis Sector, the Koronus Expanse and the Jericho Reach are all detailed in their own core rule books and supplements, the Black Crusade rule book presents the Screaming Vortex. Players and GMs are free to begin their campaigns wherever they like, drawing on the information presented in any of the Warhammer 40,000 Roleplay books, but the Screaming Vortex is designed as the ideal jumping off point. After all, what would-be champion of Chaos would not seek to gain dominance over his rivals before turning his fell attentions onto the hated Imperium of Man?

Where Chaos Reigns

The Screaming Vortex is the ideal setting for beginning characters to gain skills and experience and, most importantly, garner the dark blessings of the Ruinous Powers. So anarchic is the region within the Screaming Vortex that no coherent system of governance exists, though many warlords have sought to impose their will upon it. Instead, each world stands alone, the savage populations masters, or victims, of cruel fate.
While a region of tempestuous and random energies, the interior of the Screaming Vortex can be divided into three broad categories. No map or star chart can ever describe the true configuration of the vortex, for it exists as a hybrid of the real and the unreal, and is subject to no natural law. The ebb and flow of its tides can be imagined as a vast celestial whirlpool, the tides of the Sea of Souls wild and heaving on the outer edges and becoming increasingly rapid and perilous nearer the centre. The outer edges are host to a myriad of planets known as the Gloaming Worlds. These are accessible via the 13th Station of Passage, a hidden portal located deep within the Koronus Passage, and each is a savage place of anarchy and war. Past the Gloaming Worlds is the so-called Inner Ring, where the interface between the real and the unreal truly breaks down. The worlds of this region are places of insanity and Chaos, nightmarish regions shaped by the will of mad gods and brutal warlords. Beyond the Inner Ring is the Lower Vortex, a region entirely steeped in the raw stuff of the Warp. Here, the only planets to be found are horrific Daemon Worlds, where the servants of the Ruinous Powers make eternal war upon one another. At the heart of the Lower Vortex lies the Frozen Heart, and the Ascendant Spiral, a route by which a mortal strong or insane enough to have looked upon that which lies at the centre of the Screaming Vortex might escape, if the Ruinous Powers will it.

Games set within the anarchic Screaming Vortex are all about power. The player characters seek to gain dominance over their rivals, earning as they do so the dark blessings of the Ruinous Powers. Adventures within the Vortex can encompass a massive range of types, including simple battles for territory to complex and involved conspiracies. The deeper one travels into the Vortex the more power one might amass, for the worlds within the Inner Ring and the Lower Vortex hold secrets millions would, and indeed have, died for. Artefacts of terrible potency await those with the strength to seek them out, and beings of incalculable power dwell on the Daemon Worlds of the Lower Vortex. Of course, the ultimate goal of any truly worthy champion of the Dark Gods is to unite the disparate factions within the Vortex and to lead them in a Black Crusade against the unsuspecting Imperium, smashing through the 13th Station of Passage and descending on the weakling defences of the Calixis Sector.
The Unholy in a Pilgrim’s Land

Those who choose to take their campaigns outside of the Screaming Vortex will find a setting at once familiar and alien. If the Calixis Sector is a threatening environment for an Inquisitorial Acolyte, consider it from the point of view of a Disciple of Chaos! Institutions that appear from within as crumbling and impotent are to the outsider vast, cyclopean edifices of galactic domination. Players of Black Crusade get to see the Imperium afresh, through the eyes of those who hate it and seek to tear it down. But beware, for the agents of the Inquisition are everywhere, and no one can be trusted!
The Koronus Expanse is a region ripe for conquest, and one where those who tread the Path to Glory can carve out entire empires beyond the light of the hated Emperor. With countless worlds and resources just waiting to be discovered and claimed, and numerous secrets predating the rise of man buried beneath the surface of long-dead worlds, the Koronus Expanse offers unlimited possibilities.
Lastly, there’s the Jericho Reach. Here there is only war. The worlds surrounding the stellar phenomenon that is the Hadex Anomaly are completely under the sway of Chaos, and their peoples have rejected the crusading Imperium. Upon the scorched battlefields of a hundred war worlds and more, the servants of Chaos face the greatest champions the corpse-god Emperor can muster, and slay them in the name of the true powers – the Gods of Chaos.

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 (18)

Published: 4/7/2011 11:25:41 AM

I'm still wondering how most GMs will keep group cohension, when the setting is Chaos VS Chaos.

You would have to either make your group go one faction or solo play each player to one goal, which would be a nightmare if you didn't have the right people playing or a snooze-fest if you had more than 4 people waiting to get their turn play their character.

Will be interesting to see how FFG works this out.

Published: 4/6/2011 3:28:48 PM

I can see it being to get a cohesive group of character going, lets face it dedication to the dark gods is about personal improvment and ones own acsendence those thing tend to be destructive in a roleplying group. Im interested to see how the quest structures are goin to work. Will a more powerful character issue missions or will it be a free for all with the group pulling in many directions. The chance to get involved in the chaos side of things is very cool, im looking forward to rolling up a spod and decdicating there soul to the service of Khorne!

Looking forward to it. Gonna need to find a good GM though cos im my groups Deathwach GM and I wont commit Heresy!

Published: 4/6/2011 12:30:52 PM

@ Borithan; So everything's between the two.

Actually, the Screaming Vortex is the warpstorm on the spinward side of the Maw, as can be seen on the inside cover of Rogue Trader.

Alpharius Omegon
Published: 4/4/2011 11:24:12 PM

Don't think of the Vortex as a "Chaos Only" area - think of it as a playground for your Ascended Imperial characters to face challenges worthy of their considerable powers!

Published: 4/4/2011 6:49:07 AM

So... how can something be between the Calixis sector and the Jericho Reach? They at opposite ends of the galaxy. Did they mean between the Koronus Expanse and the Calixis sector?

Published: 4/3/2011 5:30:05 PM

I'm somewhat less excited about the Screaming Vortex.  Having read the books Hammer of Daemons and Daemon World from the Black Library I'm not the type to get all excited about Daemon Worlds.  Honestly, I'm not the type to get excited about facing other worshippers of Chaos either unless it is about gaining the power, artifacts, and favor of the Dark Gods.  In fact I feel its kind of lame that the Screaming Vortex seems to be a "Chaos only" area.  Its as if FFG doesn't want to antagonize those who don't like playing as the bad guys so they invent an area where people wouldn't mind being bad guys by having them only bash on other bad guys.

Personally, I can't wait to get stuck in a as Chaos Space Marine to deny the forces of the Corpse-Emperor the Jericho Reach.  Like others who have voiced their concerns on how much attention Black Crusade will pay the Chaos Space Marines I'm equally concerned as to how they are going to split their attentions between Chaos Space Marines and Heretics of Chaos.  My concern is that they either are going to split it 50-50 and end up with half-complete systems for both or they are going to need a REALLY, REALLY big book to give each path the attention they deserve which will end up being uber-expensive.

In my humble opinion I think that the Heretics of Chaos are a nice idea, but one that should be put on the backburner and released as a supplement later down the line with FFG giving their full attention to the Chaos Space Marines.  Especially with this whole Screaming Vortex thing with Chaos battling Chaos, if Heretics were left in they'd get crushed because even without the gifts of the Dark Gods Chaos Space Marines outclass the average Chaos worshipper in every respect.  It would be like having a Dark Heresy Acolyte cell going up against a Deathwatch killteam.

Besides, if I remember correctly it was the Traitor Marines nearly toppled the Imperium during the Horus Heresy not the Traitor Imperial Army or some Chaos cultist covens.

Published: 4/2/2011 12:45:13 PM

@ axabrax:

Remember Chaos Marines aren't cultists who grow into their power, they are Marines who turned to Chaos.  As such, I would not be surprised if the simplest way to have a game of Chaos Marines would be to design the Space Marine form the Deathwatch template and then start advancing them using the XP rules in this book. 

Since that would require players to buy Deathwatch, they probably will also offer a 10,000 to 13,000 XP template in Black Crusade.  In fact, a few templates at different power levels for different character archtypes and then free-form advancement from there seems reasonable.

Published: 4/2/2011 12:25:31 PM

This game looks really good; while I'm not rushing to play Chaos worshippers the open format nature of the game appeals, as does the classless and level-less system.

I did wince at the reference to the game 'corrupting players' in the introduction of this article; I know we're a long way from the 'Mazes & Monsters' mentality of the 1980s and the moral minority accusing roleplaying of corrupting people, but it still makes me uncomfortable when we write things as a community which could be misunderstood by those looking to misunderstand things.

Published: 4/1/2011 11:10:09 AM

Very interesting! I'm impressed on how massive and detailed the rpg area of the 40k setting is becoming.

Published: 4/1/2011 10:33:10 AM

"Unfortunately it will probably be at 13k xp."

I would be fine with that. I just don't want to have to spend a year of gaming to get the PCs into their powered armor. I suppose it will probably be a best of both worlds scenario where the GM can either do a low level cultist campaign or a higher level CSM campaign. I guess if worse comes to worst, you could always just endow your characters with 13K+ xp and start wherever you want.

I'm also hoping a "stand-alone CSM book" won't be necessary; I'm presumimg that's what Black Crusade is going to be. I mean it should have write ups for the major CSM chapters akin to the Deathwatch rules to begin with. We shall see...


Published: 4/1/2011 8:23:33 AM

I am hoping they release a standalone source book for Chaos Marines.  They deserve their own book and it'll probably be less confusing than to try to mix the career-free "tree?" of Black Crusade with the relatively more structured Space Marine setup.  If they throw them into the back as an appendix, I could foresee a lot of angry GM and players! 

As for the settings, I cannot help but relish the paradox of providing a set of rules for a Daemon World.  I am devilishly anxious to see how that bit goes! 

And on a side note, I think that it would be pretty interesting if they later included a source book for playing Dark Eldar.  While probably not the ideal system to do it in, this is the only really anti-Imperium core they'll probably ever release.  

Published: 4/1/2011 7:21:13 AM

Kinda reminds me of City of Villains. What's the point of being a villain if all you have to beat up is other villains?

Fortunately, it sounds like it will be easy to port out of the Vortex (and, who knows, the Vortex setting could be omgwtf awesome). I'm certainly planning a Calixis campaign. The lowly cultist angle is what intrigues me the most.

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