News for April 2011
Serving the Servants 23
A look at minions in Black Crusade, the upcoming Warhammer 40,000 RPG
Black Crusade | Published 22 April 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 hit shelves in the third quarter of 2011. Today, we’re pleased to present a preview from Owen Barnes, one of the writers for Black Crusade. Among other contributions, Owen wrote about minions, and their place in a Black Crusade campaign. Thanks, Owen!

Say hello to my little friend

What would a champion of the Dark Gods be without followers to do his bidding? I’m not talking about the mewling hangers-on or floating skulls that follow Inquisitors around, or the legions of crewmen which maintain a Rogue Trader’s vessel; I’m talking about the weird, the wondrous and the down right terrifying entities which a Heretic can bend to his will. With this in mind, it seemed only right that players in Black Crusade should have the chance to take dedicated minions for their characters, whether they were daemons, rogue psykers, traitor Space Marines or pretty much anything they could think of.

To make this happen we have created rules for Minions. Minions are followers which are acquired by taking one of the Minion talents (bought with experience like other talents). The really cool aspect of Minions, however, is that a Minion talent doesn’t represent a specific Minion, such as a fallen Acolyte or death world carnivore; instead it sets a power level ranging from lesser (the weakest kinds of Minions) to Greater (the most powerful). The player then gets to create his Minion based on its level of power, making it into whatever he desires.

Minions are created in a similar way to characters, though given their diverse nature they follow their own set of rules. In essence when a player takes one of the Minion of Chaos talents for his character he builds his Minion by selecting characteristics, skills, talents, traits and equipment dependant on its level of power. This means that if he wants it to be a beast in close quarters fighting, he could put lots of points into Strength and Weapon Skill, choose skills (like Evasion) which will help it in close combat, choose talents (like Frenzy) to further enhance its abilities and traits (like Unnatural Strength) to really make it a force to be feared. Because Minions can be created using all the skills, talents and traits in Black Crusade (including psychic powers) they can really be anything, limited only by the points provided by the talent used to create them.

If you want something done right...

Minions differ from NPCs in that they are completely under the control of the player whose character they belong to, rather than being controlled by the GM. In this way, they are an extension of the player’s character and he can choose their actions, reactions and responses just as he would for his own character. This can be useful in combat situations where a Minion will work closely with its master enhancing his attacks and providing reliable support where even other Heretics might leave him to pursue their own glory. Players can even create Minions with this kind of support in mind, such as a heavy weapon mutant to lay down stubber fire while they charge in or a diminutive servitor with the sole purpose of following its master into melee to ward off attacks with its shield arms.

Minions can also be useful outside of the combat arena and players can create a Minion to cover a weakness in their character or a gap in his skills or abilities. For instance if a Heretic is fearsome in combat but lacks social skills, he might employ a sycophantic envoy with a honeyed tongue to do his talking for him or broker deals with merchants and warlords. Equally, if a Heretic lacks academic or scholastic learning he might carry with him a cogitator core with a powerful but tainted machine spirit to answer his questions, giving it a violent shake if it gets out of line.

While Minions are under the control of the player (and while in the presence of his character will generally do exactly as desired) they do still have minds of their own (or at least what passes for a mind in the case of servitors and the like). This means that if the player sends them off on their own or his character becomes incapacitated and cannot give them orders they might not do exactly what he wants. To reflect this, every Minion has a Loyalty score equal to its master’s Fellowship (plus or minus various modifiers). In situations where a Minion is not in the presence of its master, the GM makes a roll against its Loyalty. If this test is passed, all is well and the player can control the Minion (or it completes its task as instructed). If it is failed, however, the GM takes control of the Minion and chooses what it will do. While this doesn’t mean the Minion will turn on his master or work against him, it does mean it will almost certainly ‘get it wrong’. For example, a Heretic sends his tainted murder servitor to assassinate a rival in a crowded settlement, but it fails its Loyalty roll: there will be murder, but the odds of the target being among the dead are no longer certain.

Menagerie of Chaos

Heretics can have more than one Minion if they take the Minion of Chaos talent more than once. Minions can even be improved by upgrading the level or the talent and giving the Minion more points to spend on characteristics, skills, talents and traits. In addition, when a Minion dies, or is discarded by its master, the character does not lose the Minion of Chaos talent and can (when appropriate to the story) acquire a new Minion to take its place. All of this means that with a few talents the Heretic can surround himself with a core of loyal followers more devoted and specialised than any number of NPC followers or hirelings.

There are also numerous talents which will enhance a character’s Minions or give him more options when using them. Talents like Ancient Warrior and Demagogue will improve the Loyalty of Minions while Unholy Devotion allows a player to transfer hits from his character onto his Minions as they leap into the path of bullets and sword blows. My favourite Minion-related talent has to be Betrayer. This talent allows a Heretic to ‘burn’ a Minion rather than a Fate Point to save his life. The details are left to the player and the GM but one can imagine a Heretic bartering away one of his trusted followers to a cannibal tribe or using their body to seal a breech in void ship’s hull to save his own skin.

Overall the Minion rules reward creativity and allow players to create pretty much any kind of follower they can imagine, which is only just and right given the capricious nature 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 (23)

Night Lord
Published: 4/22/2011 10:55:04 PM
#11

wow.  Not only will we have near unlimited expendable NPCs, but we get literal badass henchmen like daemons to do our dirty work and WE get to control them?  I'm sorry, by the mathematical transitive property I read it like...
Minions can be Daemons.

You control your Minions.

You control Daemons.

FFG, tell the printer to go faster.

Psion
Published: 4/22/2011 7:34:12 PM
#10

Hmmm, sounds like an interesting idea but I trust there will still be incentive for players to work together?

Alpharius Omegon
Published: 4/22/2011 7:32:15 PM
#9

This is gonna be awesome!

Servitor_2152
Published: 4/22/2011 7:03:50 PM
#8

Not gonna lie, that picture near the bottom there made me laugh out loud.

Vorkuta
Published: 4/22/2011 5:14:06 PM
#7

hmmmm, what about a minion with the Horde Trait?

axabrax
Published: 4/22/2011 5:12:25 PM
#6

Sounds cool and bodes well for the higher power level I'm hoping for from this game--although I am really worried about what the chaos warrior in that picture is going to do next to his minion...

Decessor
Published: 4/22/2011 4:53:14 PM
#5

It's certainly a means of distinguishing Black Crusade from the previous RPGs. Also a handy way for characters to not have to rely entirely on other PCs for critical skills...

Drachdhar
Published: 4/22/2011 4:50:11 PM
#4

Yum... The image of my future heretic character using his minions as meatshields to prevent his godlike form from being marked by the bullets of the corpse emperors servants is quite vivid.

 

DreadLord
Published: 4/22/2011 3:40:27 PM
#3

Personally I think a daemonically possessed Land Raider would make the best minion.  After all a proper lord needs to travel in style.

csabesz
Published: 4/22/2011 3:04:36 PM
#2

This sounds pretty cool! I imagine this minion system will also be useful in Dark Heresy for Acolytes and Throne Agents. Keep 'em coming!

Huros
Published: 4/22/2011 2:44:34 PM
#1

 Think i will have the little yellow guys from Despicable Me! - "Bannanna?"

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