one of GW’s weirdest systems produced under the Specialist Games license

posted by Hedningen Original SA post

There has been a lot of WHFRP in the thread, as well as discussion of the 40k-based systems that use the same basic guts (and the many issues related to that), but there’s an important bit of DNA missing in this chain. While we can trace the system’s roots back to the 80s with the first edition of WHFRP, the missing link is one of GW’s weirdest systems produced under the Specialist Games license - Inquisitor, a narrative skirmish game based on the small-scale, clandestine operations of the Inquisition and other rag-tag groups of characters in the 40k universe. Rather than pitting armies against one another, you take the part of a single small group performing the quiet duties outside of the wars that define the setting.

What makes this an interesting system is that it’s completely bizarre to most people familiar with modern game design. It has a few mechanics that are very clever, and others that hearken back to the earliest days of wargaming. It’s a wonderful, strange mess of a game that I started playing again after years of forgetting it even existed, and I’m doing this write-up to take a deeper dive on the mechanics and background.

For a broad overview, here are the mechanical bits that are most striking when players first crack open the book:

Scale comparison: 54mm scale on the outside, 28mm scale between the two.

As you can see, it’s a weird mess at first glance. However, the appeal, at least to me, lies in the hobbyist framework to the mechanics - you’re expected to come up with a unique crew of individuals to play out a story adjudicated by a GM, who might play the opposition, or who might preside over a game between two or more players. Losing can be fun, because it’s intended to be a thematic experience where you’re looking to create a story on the tabletop. It’s intimidating to anyone unfamiliar with this kind of gaming, radically different from your basic Slamming of Hams in the grimdark future, and - to be frank - a bit of a half-finished system that commits the cardinal sin of modern game design by requiring significant GM legwork and rulings, but there’s something there.

As part of this review, I’ll be pulling from assorted outside sources to help explain design decisions, give context to some of the game’s ideas, and show how the community around the game have kept it somewhat alive, as well as commentary from Gav Thorpe, the original designer of the system. A few resources I encourage people to check out are the Conclave, a group of die-hard players that host the out-of-print (and, for a time, freely obtainable from Specialist Games) rulebooks and articles for the system, as well as fan-made content from Dark Magenta, which was another fan-group who kept it going after its official gameline death. Another recent development is the launch of Inq28, an online hobbyist magazine showcasing 28mm-scale conversions for use in the system that also looks to revitalize play in that scale.

Finally, to really get the idea behind Inquisitor, you need to know that much of the design aesthetic and art comes from John Blanche. His art - and the resurgence of the ‘Blanchistu’ style of miniature painting and conversion - is a huge part of the appeal. The use of a limited palate, striving for desaturated colors and small details to drive home the rather dark aspects of the game, are a major element of why this has hung around. It’s cool art that emphasizes the grim over the goofy elements of the setting, and that can be pretty neat.

Next time: External Background - Who Are The Inquisition?

External Background - Organization of the Imperial Inquisition

posted by Hedningen Original SA post

External Background - Organization of the Imperial Inquisition
For those unfamiliar with the general 40k structure of the Imperium and the Inquisition, I figured I would do a quick overview of the various parts of it and the stated purpose. This is a broad-level overview, in part because Inquisitor doesn’t really care about going over this, at least in the Living Rule Book that I have access to, but it’s important to understanding what an Inquisitor is and it contextualizes what we get in the introduction next time.

The Inquisition is, broadly, the secret police of the Imperium of Man - their job is to root out heresy, cults, and threats to the Imperium by any means necessary. Thanks to this, they are given absolute authority in matters, and someone bearing the Inquisitorial Seal, also known as “That stylized letter I with the skull in it”, is seen as operating with the direct authority of the entire Imperium. Considering that they exist as absolute authority that moves about secretly, they tend to be talked about fearfully.

Because there is no Inquisitorial hierarchy and their roles are so ill-defined, one way to determine what they do is by their specialization or areas of interest. These are the Ordos of the Inquisition, an unofficial-but-not-really gray area where individuals set themselves up. The three major Ordos are:

There are also minor Ordos, which all can work fairly well here. Most of them are a little more “out there” than those you saw above.

As you can see, the Inquisition is a pretty broad organization. Like all bureaucratic nightmares, it’s grown so large that parts are working at cross-purposes. This is part of why Inquisitor works as a concept - because so much of their role is small-scale, human engagements that can be equal parts subterfuge and violence, you can create some interesting conflicts just by having two groups working at cross-purposes. From just the above Ordos, here are some sample game types:

The system can sort of handle pretty much all of these, which is cool.

Now that you understand the kinds of Ordos there, you should have a fairly good knowledge of the Inquisition’s roles and general philosophies.

To keep people engaged (and to get me to try this project), let’s make an Inquisitor so I can show how this system works by having a character around. To start, pick an Ordos for a background - other elements will come up as we go through the book.

Next Time: Everything You Have Been Told Is a Lie

Everything You Have Been Told Is a Lie

posted by Hedningen Original SA post

Everything You Have Been Told Is a Lie
Thanks to everyone for the incredibly unanimous recommendation - it seems our example Inquisitor will be a member of the Ordo Scriptorum, working to ensure that all paperwork is filed correctly and that the monthly TPS reports are free from the dangers of chaos. I’ll be slowly expanding on our example character as the mechanics are introduced (and skipping around a bit in the book to help out and make our example Inquisitor easier to work with), but for now, we have Inquisitor Janoslav Ballas of the Ordo Scriptorum. As a petty bureaucrat myself, I know the power of bureaucracy.

Finally on to the LRB! It begins, as most games do, with a bit of in-setting fluff; a minorly redacted communication detailing an overview of the structure of the Inquisition to a representative of the High Lords of Terra. To be fair to the redaction - it’s only the name of the individual writing this communication, which is a Good Use of the redaction writing device - it puts the reader in a place where they are focused on the text and trying to determine what agenda the writer is serving. This overview is important, because it emphasizes the real key to understanding what the Inquisition is.

Above all else, the Inquisition is something that is incredibly weird to anyone used to reading about the 40k universe - it is a group of humans with authority in the Imperium that are encouraged to think, look into the philosophies and reasoning behind the interpretation of Imperial edicts, politically maneuver so as to challenge dangerous orthodoxy, and maintain the Imperium by actually showing individual initiative and judgement, rather than the implied “grimdarkness forever!” that you get when people look at the idea of Inquisitors and the whole universe as filtered through the popular consciousness.

The author of this report acknowledges that yes, some folks do go overboard and end up trying to excommunicate anyone who is opposed to them, but the overall document points to the idea that these ideas need to be examined carefully and watched as they progress, both on an individual and a ‘movement’ level, unless they want to descend into heresy themselves or miss when someone else is doing so. It’s a weird point to see in 40k - these are people who encouraged to look into the gray areas, to think for themselves, and to look to the past and avoid mistakes that came from it.

The author then goes on to describe the major philosophical divides in the Inquisition. Their grouping system is based around the broad dichotomy between Puritans and Radicals, who have their own sub-philosophies that tend to align more-or-less with this interpretation, at least as written here. The distinction is mostly between their methods and interpretation of doctrine - Puritans try to uphold the letter of the law, while Radicals are more interested in the spirit of the law. However, the classification is a rather broad one that tends to rely on shades of interpretation by the individual Inquisitors.

Puritans - Thorians
The Thorians, whose philosophy is named after Sebastian Thor, the leader of a rebellion against a corrupt Lord, are the first Puritanical philosophy of the Inquisition. Their philosophy hinges on the idea that there are individuals who are imbued with bits of the Emperor’s Will at times, and that it is by studying the Warp, Demons, and other psychic phenomena that they can bring about a new golden age. Typically found in the Ordo Malleus and the Ordo Hereticus thanks to their closer interest in Warp and psychic phenomena, they are nonetheless found in all areas of the Inquisition.

One of the key beliefs of the Thorians is that the Emperor is currently dead, at least in physical form, and that while his will is going through the Warp and occasionally fills the bodies of the Imperium’s heroes, no one is able to contain his entire essence. By studying the Warp, possession, and other interactions between the world, they hope to determine how to bring the Emperor back to life so that he can lead bodily, as well as spiritually. Some of them work with Eldar to better understand the creation of Slaanesh, while others investigate ancient Necron tombs to see how they trapped the C’tan, in the hopes of unlocking the secrets of these linkages.

A Thorian Inquisitor, taken from the only sourcebook released for the gameline which details and expands upon the Thorian philosophy.

My thoughts: It’s definitely a tone-setter when the first group of Puritans, the so-called conservative Inquisitors, are radically different from what you’d expect. I like this particular philosophy as a game element, because it lets you simultaneously have the sort of standard game narratives while also showing that not everyone is going to be inflexible and unable to entertain odd ideas.

Puritans - Monodominants
The Monodominants take their name from a philosophical treatise written by Inquisitor Goldo in the 33rd Millenium, titled “Monodomination - The Right of Man to Rule the Galaxy in the Emperor’s Holy Name”. It was originally seen as a pessimistic view of the galaxy written by someone trying to comprehend the sheer scale of the universe and falling to pessimism, but it was revived by Inquisitor Jeriminus of Paelutia.

I think you can guess the theme here - the destruction of everything that is Not Mankind, including aliens, mutants, chaos, psychics, and heretics, is the only way humanity will survive. The book is pretty clear that these are the young, overly-brash Inquisitors who hang around doing militant things.

A Monodominantist Inquisitor, obviously interested in negotiation and carefully considering the role of diplomacy and reason.

My thoughts: Well, there’s always one. My reading of the description seems to indicate that the author thinks that they’re idiots, but if someone else wants to weigh in, I’d like to hear it. They’re definitely not anything new or exciting, though - kind of my least favorite Inquisitorial philosophy. Still, you have options for decent heroes (in the action sense) and villains (in the “anyone sane who reads about the Monodominationists” sense) for a campaign.

Puritans - Amalthians
The Amalthians are almost the opposite of the Monodominants, in that they are optimists who were spurred on by the rebuilding and victories found at the start of the 41st Millenium. With the Imperium regaining strength, this philosophy is fairly sensible - anything that would destabilize the Imperium should be dealt with in a way that maintains the status quo while everything continues to rebuild and improve.

The central tenant here is that it is the institutions of the Imperium that provide continuity, and that the endless politicking between them is part of what leads to everything going wrong. Unity is how things have lasted this long, and that unity is their strength. The more ‘minor’ crimes of heresy, witchcraft, and mutation are generally not as important as ensuring that the Imperium persists, as they consider it impossible for mere mortals to understand and guide the will of the Emperor, as some Inquisitors do.

Inquisitor Eisenhorn, the archetypal Amalthian and star of his own novels which I have never actually read.

My thoughts: They’re centrists who nonetheless present a fairly decent point - half the issues in the Imperium are caused by the fact that everyone is always at each other’s throats, and it’s better to let some smaller stuff slide and let the Emperor’s Will sort things out in the end, rather than demanding such purity that everyone eventually falters. It can create an engaging campaign - whether they’re trying to stitch together a group of disparate factions to keep the Imperium’s strength up, or if they’re the cause of a disaster due to shortsighted plans to help everyone get along that end up doing more harm than good.

Radicals - Xanthites
Xanthites are one of the oldest philosophies in the Inquisition, dating back to the 32nd Millenium and the trial and execution of Inquisitor-Master Zaranchek Xanthus for the accusation of Chaos worship. While he maintained his innocence from corruption, he did indicate that he used Chaos sorcery and demonic artifacts on occasion, reasoning that their usage is not inherently corruptive, but rather the spiritual corruption is something that could be watched and guarded against. After all, the Imperium makes use of psykers, the Warp is used for travel, and other things that were once seen as purely the domain of Chaos can be bent to the will of the Emperor.

Within the Xanthites, there exists an even more radical sect, the Horusians, who see Horus as the perfect example of the great powers of the Warp, as well as a warning of what happens when you aren’t careful enough with it. Their goal is to figure out how to create a new Horus to lead mankind, except this time, it would not involve enslaving all of them under the gods of Chaos. Understandably, a number of the other philosophies do not exactly agree with this line of reasoning, but as this is the oldest philosophy in the Inquisition, there are some powerful connections up there.

Xanthian Inquisitor showing about the usual level of caution they’re known for.

My thoughts: Xanthites are an incredible plot resource. Equal parts “let’s use this amazing thing we have access to and figure out how to do so safely,” and “I wonder what happens if I try to light this cigar with a half-ton of dynamite”, you can get some incredible mileage out of their interest in the artifacts of Chaos. Horusians are a bit more . . . ehh . . . but you can use them as a cool forward-looking philosophy that’s trying to recapture the whole “great man of the Imperium” idea and realizing that it would be a terrible idea.

Radicals - Recongregators
The center of the Recongregator philosophy is the opposite of the Amalthians - namely that the institutions of the Imperium have grown overly corrupt and the whole thing works in spite of them, rather than thanks to them. It’s in the best interests of the Imperium to investigate its institutions, reform those that can be useful, and scrap anything that is keeping mankind stuck in the past and trapped.

They recognize the power that exist in institution and the grand continuity of the Imperium - rather than simply taking extreme and direct action, they are looking to disassemble and reassemble the Imperium to serve and protect mankind. Being too radical or hasty could lead to the premature destruction of the Imperium, which would end up dooming all of humanity. They make use of their Inquisitorial powers to steer rebels towards organizations that they believe need reform.

Even the most radical of Recongregationist Inquisitors still believes in the bedrock of the Imperium: slapping skulls on stuff.

My thoughts: Recongregators are great. While there’s room for the drama here, they’re presenting the most optimistic picture of the Imperium’s purpose by simultaneously recognizing that there is value in these institutions and that they are in desperate need of reform. I am clearly biased, so if anyone else has thoughts on these guys, let me know.

Radicals - Istvaanians
The Horus Heresy officially began with Horus’s virus bombing of Istvaan III. The Istvaanian philosophy holds that this conflict - the beginning of the fall of the Imperium - is part of what has strengthened Mankind in the darkness of the galaxy, and so it is by conflict that the Imperium can grow and show its true strength. They work to make sure that there is always war and conflict, so as to see the Imperium continually tested and strengthened.

They frequently are at odds with other Inquisitors because much of what they do is create trouble for the Imperium through disruption, rebellion, and maneuvering various cults into attacking Imperial institutions, insufficiently tested planets, and (often enough) one another, all so that humanity can grow stronger. It’s hard to tell if they have gone bad or not, because much of what they do is already so far beyond what you might expect an Inquisitor to be doing that their intent is more important than some of what they end up doing.

Istvaanian Inquisitor, clearly enjoying the general plotlines used in 40k since the introduction of their philosophy.

My thoughts: A great source of conflict, and an even better source of characters, they’re the kind of plot generators that are always great to have. You can set them against pretty much any other philosophy or Ordos, and you’ll have something to go on. Admittedly, the philosophy itself is a little too “strength through totalitarianism/militarism/violence” for me, but you could extend these approaches in all sorts of ways.

The report closes with what I consider to be the defining quote of the themes behind this game.

Inquisitor posted:

.. . an idea can never truly be killed, hence the bitter extremes some Inquisitors will employ to eradicate what they, rightly or wrongly, perceive as heresy within our own ranks.

In all, such dedication is to be encouraged, and diversity of thought and initiative has always been more valued in our organisation than adherence to written creeds and rules. Careful manipulation of our agents and information regarding the factions is desired, and we should continue to observe rather than dictate, as has always been our way in such matters.

We now need to choose a philosophy for Inquisitor Janoslav. This philosophy plays a part in what kind of plots and inspiration might come up when writing out a scenario - this game is all about narratives and fluff, so these backgrounds are important from a not-quite-mechanical-but-sorta-mechanical standpoint.

Next time: The Anatomy of a Character

The Anatomy of a Character

posted by Hedningen Original SA post

The Anatomy of a Character
So, our Inquisitor is a Recongregator of the Ordo Scriptorum. Seeing as this ties into some very fun concepts, Inquisitor Janoslav is starting to come together conceptually.

The mechanics of Inquisitor should seem moderately familiar with anyone who’s played the 40k RPGs, mixed up with a bit of Rogue Trader and their own unique design elements. It is, after all, a miniatures game, for all that entails, and so it sits in an incredibly strange place when compared to other wargames and RPGs.

The goal of a game of Inquisitor is to create a story using the rules of this book, along with the terrain and miniatures that you are using. This was conceived as something that is vastly different in scope and tone to the mainline game; as mentioned before, you’re not fielding mighty armies, but individual models that should have backstory and motivation. This is not a wargame, but rather, a Narrative Wargame, in the style of old scenario-based games.

The 54mm miniatures that were set as the “default” scale for Inquisitor certainly help that. There’s an apocryphal story that the reason for the scale choice was so that players wouldn’t be tempted to turn it into another 40k game and ignore the flavor and intended themes by porting in all of their aliens and space marines. After all, what would be the point of writing a game about weird members of the Inquisition and their retinue if all players would ask for is how to stat up their favorite space marine character to go fight orks, but larger?

One essential player that could take wargamers by surprise is the Gamemaster, who is described as the impartial observer and referee of Inquisitor, who prepares the scenarios, makes in-game rulings based on what players want to do if it isn’t covered by the main rules, and sometimes even controls a few models, although most of the time, they are there to adjudicate, inject tension, and make the game go smoothly.

My thoughts: This is almost word-for-word some of the concepts that have been brought up by the OSR movement. It’s weird to say, but I think my current view of Inquisitor is influenced by that - there’s the similar sense of it being an ‘evocative’ game where the concept of balance is eschewed in a lot of design for narrative convenience. It’s the kind of old-school throwback that’s gaining popularity, except it was made in 2001, before the whole OSR movement as we know it got started. As someone pointed out, this is obviously a passion project for Gav Thorpe, and he still answers questions about it, much like Tuomas Piranen still gives answers about the design and ideas behind Mordheim.

Aside from that, there’s the usual spiel about materials needed to play the game. The basic resolution system is d100 roll-under-stat, though it has some unique twists that are part of what I decided to do this writeup. When explaining these dice mechanics, they helpfully point out what to do about fractions, modifiers, and distances. Fractions round down if less than 0.5, up otherwise. Modifiers do division/multiplication, and then addition/subtraction. Distances are all given in yards, but they recommend 1 yard = 1 inch. Nothing incredibly exciting.

Characteristics should be mostly familiar to people who have seen the other WHFRP/40k RPGs here. They’re split into Physical and Mental, and most of them were carried over into the later games. They are on a scale of 1-100, with 100 being essentially the human maximum and certain things allowing you to surpass that:

You’ve probably noticed a few things about the averages - for one, none of them seem to be on the same scale, so a 50 in BS is a lot more impressive than a 50 in WS. There’s also the fact that it’s pretty clear that Initiative is the key stat, as with all games with an action economy. This, of course, brings us to the Derived and Miscellaneous Stats, which is where we determine some other stats based off of the bigger numbers.

This section is my first real quibble with the organization, as there are a few derived characteristics that can be calculated now. I would have included the other derived statistics here as part of the general characteristics, rather than waiting to introduce them. Most of them are static during a game, so there’s no real reason to wait, although when looking at the game as a teaching aid, it does make sense to have them come up later in the book.

Since we’re preparing our own Inquisitor, we’ll skip ahead to rolling for stats - it should be noted that there are absolutely no guidelines for character creation beyond some suggested stat ranges. We’ll use the suggested stat ranges for a standard Inquisitor for Janoslav:

Character generation generally makes a badass Inquisitor. Seeing the above stats, you can see that he’s a damn capable combatant, with pretty high skill in melee, great reaction and willpower, and generally high abilities. Other members of his Inquisitorial warband will a little less ridiculous.

Now that we have these stats, let’s see how Inquisitor Janoslav can perform actions. There will be a few more derived stats later on, but they’re pretty quick to figure out. Now that we know how well he can do things, let’s see how to actually do things.

To keep up participation, suggest concepts for the other members of this little Inquisitorial cell. As badass as Inquisitor Janoslav is, he can’t reform the Imperium’s Most Holy Bureaucracy on his own, and I can pull a few more archetypes out to show how other characters are made. Rather than rolling, the GM can assign characteristics, and this lets me make less ridiculous characters for some of the other roles. Plus, it’ll play a part in a secret aspect of this review.

Next time: Actions and movement!

The Turn Sequence

posted by Hedningen Original SA post

Welcome back to Inquisitor, where we’ll actually get to how you do stuff during the game! Today’s coverage includes the turn sequence, how actions work, and how movement works. All of these things are somewhat interesting, slightly quirky, and may or may not be an inelegant implementation of a fairly complex system designed halfway between a traditional RPG and a wargame.

The Turn Sequence
In Inquisitor, turns are structured as follows:

Fairly basic turn style that should be familiar to most gamers.

Declaring actions are where the game gets interesting. When a player activates a model, they perform the following steps:

You can already see how this makes the game a bit more complicated - you’re guaranteed a single action, but there’s a variability in how many actions you can take. You declare all your actions before rolling to see if any of them are successful, so multi-stage plans that require multiple actions to perform can get pretty risky. Plus, you need to think about prioritising specific objectives, especially in a firefight with something that can blow your character’s head clean off.

Some actions are Risky Actions: things like sprinting across icy ground, or firing a plasma pistol. If you roll more 1s than 6s on the Action Roll and perform a Risky Action, then it will go wrong in a very dangerous and unfriendly fashion. The GM is encouraged/required to tell you when an action would be Risky. Additionally, when performing a Risky Action after other, normal actions, the non-risky actions (if declared first) will still happen, and if you don’t have enough rolled Actions to get to the Risky Action, then it doesn’t matter how many 1s you’ve rolled, as that action doesn’t get to happen.

The game also makes space for Combined Actions, where a model does things that make sense that they would be able to do at the same time. If it’s an action that would cause a test, then the chance of success is halved.

Pause For Breath is a unique action designed to interact with the action declaration system above. If a model takes a Pause for Breath action, they may suspend declaring actions for that turn until after the actions up to the Pause for Breath are completed. This, in effect, means you get to roll Speed to see how many actions you have and then declare your actions according to how many times you can act. While it can be useful to do, it’s a double-edged sword in that you’re using up one of your actions during the turn to do so - you can either look around with certainty and hesitate a bit, or you can try to push forward. If you hesitate too much - such as, for example, pausing for breath as your first action and rolling no successes on your Action Roll, which meant you did nothing during that turn beyond clear your head a bit.

Finally, a kind or merciful GM is encouraged to let players revise actions on the occasion where it would be impossible to complete them given the failure of other actions during a turn. For example, if a player declared that they wanted their Acolyte to burst through a door, roll into cover, pop up and shoot someone, and then huddle, and they fail to open the door? It’s likely that they would take different actions. If they change, however, they must spend an action as a sort of retroactive “Pause for Breath” as they reconfigure their view around what they can do now.

The chapter on Movement starts out with the usual description of models as representing dynamically-moving figures, hence the need to declare changes in stance. You’ve got three - Standing, Crouching, and Prone. You have to use an action to change stances, but that can be freely combined with any other action - if you do something, you can declare that your stance changes at the end of the action, bearing in mind the action declaration restrictions we’ve already talked about in the last post.

Movement also covers a bit of Facing - namely, unless you declare otherwise, your model faces towards whatever its last action was towards, but turning and doing other stuff is free. There’s not a lot more to say about that, except it can lead to over-describing actions, and the GM is encouraged to be more or less lenient about facing stuff depending on the players.

Actually declaring movement interacts very nicely with the action mechanic: rather than saying “My character will attempt X movement actions”, you declare where your model is going, and at what speed they’re going. Then, after declaring your other actions, you measure and determine how many actions it takes to get there at the speed you indicated. If you don’t have enough to get the entire way there, you take as many movement actions as you can and hope that things go well.

There are six “general” movement speeds:

In addition, there’s a few special movement types:

As with all games, terrain changes how you can do stuff during an action.


There’s also the effect of combining actions with movement. Crawling, Jumping, Evading, and other forms of movement like crashing through windows all give the usual Combined Action penalty of halving the relative skill. All other movement types (Sneaking, Walking, and Running) give a 2% penalty for every yard traveled that turn.

So, when Inquisitor Janoslav is chasing down a scribe who willingly altered the official departmental coding on several envelopes, he spends 1 action Running, and another action Running and Shooting. As such, his BS is (12 yards moved x 2%) -24%, plus all other modifiers that might come from range, the target’s movement, cover, and other such factors.

The movement system is actually kind of good when you play it as written. The idea that characters should be moving to objects and locations, rather than just declaring movement actions and using a tape measure to decide where they go. It’s a little penalize-y if you want to run somewhere and you end up just short of it/using up all of your actions to get there, but it’s a neat dynamic that makes you think about how your dudes would move to keep them alive.

As you’ve all been quite helpful, our generated characters for Inquisitor include:

While I haven’t detailed their stats here quite yet, these characters will be referred to in examples and used to show how different skills can be used in this game.

Next Time: Violence, At A Distance and Up Close


posted by Hedningen Original SA post

Welcome back to this F&F of Inquisitor, a skirmish game by the Specialist Games division of Games Workshop. So far, you’ve learned that the action system is complicated and doesn’t guarantee a ton of actions each turn, as well as how movement has a variety of speeds that either allow or disallow you from doing multiple things at once. Since this is set in the grim darkness of the 41st Millenium, it’s now time to discuss violence and how to perform it with your Inquisitorial cell.

Shooting is an important aspect of the 40k Experience (Copyright Games Workshop), and so it gets covered in-depth. Weapon tracking is a little more granular than in the more zoomed-out games; you’ll be handling everything from the weight of the weapon (and its ammunition) to a complicated table of ranges available that detail a weapon’s effectiveness at various distances.

Ranged weapon statlines are as follows:
Line of Sight is the first rule covered. The general idea here is kinda close to the true line-of-sight rules that GW loves, but helped by the fact that the GM is the ultimate, final arbitrator of what is and is not in LOS - it actually makes TLOS kind of work! The rule of thumb for it are as follows: whatever a model did for its last action dictates its silhouette in relation to cover. This includes a handy chart of “what’s exposed when you do X!” and the requirement that a model is only in LOS if there is one full hit location visible. We also get some rules for cover, which comes in three densities, each denser and harder to see through than the last.

Vision Arcs are important - they dictate what that model is aware of, which is actually incredibly important because there’s action stealth mechanics available. Essentially, there’s a 45 degree arc that’s the facing of your dude, and you can freely rotate when performing an action.

Shooting tests are deceptively simple - take BS, add modifiers, and roll under. 01-05 always hits, 96-100 always misses. A single firing action (i.e. an action spent firing, no matter how many shots) has all effects happen at once, even if you resolve them for each shot that was fired - so, if your shots knock an enemy out of LOS, the other bullets you shot don’t magically disappear.

BS modifiers are as follows:

Pretty exhausting list of modifiers, but it’s . . . okay, it’s a bit annoying in play, but if you position a dude carefully, then you can stack a number of bonuses and really make shots count.

Instead of criticals, we have Placed Shots - if you roll 1/10th of the required number to-hit after all modifiers, then you’ve made a placed shot. So, if my modified BS target is 55%, then rolling a 6 or lower would be a placed shot. When this happens, you can add or subtract 20% from the hit location, which comes up later in injuries but, suffice to say, this can be incredibly powerful.

Aiming makes Placed Shots even easier - if you Aim, then your chance of a placed shot is BS Target minus Range - so, if Inquisitor Janoslav had aimed before that 55% target (who was 17 yards away), then he scores a Placed Shot on a 38 or lower. This is insanely powerful and part of why aiming can get scary.

Pinning is what happens when a model gets shot at. Whenever a model is shot, they need to roll Nerve - if the shot didn’t hit, then they get a bonus. Fail the test, and they dive d6 yards into cover and sit pinned until they can recover. You may choose to fail this test to get your models into cover, and there is no auto-failure caveat - a model with a Nerve of 100 or more is straight-up immune to pinning.

Now that we’ve covered most of the basic rules for shooting, we can move on to the more advanced rules for special weapon types.

Full Auto allows you to put out an insane volume of fire, at the cost of inaccuracy for individual shots. You nominate a group of enemies, who must be within 5 yards of each other. If you really want to, you can increase the size by adding “blank” targets that follow the 5 yard rule. You then determine range and other BS modifiers using the furthest model in the group, divide your BS by the number of shots you will be firing, and then multiply that by the number of enemy models you’re firing at. After rolling all of your shots (yes, you roll them individually), you then assign them randomly to targets in that group. It’s a rare situation where fully automatic weapons are useful, but when they are, they’re incredibly deadly.

It should be noted that Full Auto weapons are changed from how they were originally in Inquisitor: the rules were originally worded in such a way that it could all be targeted towards a single model. As you might imagine, that volume of fire was enough to shred even the hardest of targets - the new version does a better job of making it good for shooting into crowds, but not as effective when attempting to hit a single model with a fully-automatic bit of wargear.

Flame Weapons essentially use the above Full Auto rules, with a few changes: for one, you can choose to focus on a single target, and the target’s movement affects how many hits you get. You also cannot fire a flame weapon unless you are walking or standing still.

Example time! Sister Bernadotte is interested in incinerating a trio of Heretics who have inappropriately used a magenta folder for a mauvish-red class document, incorrectly omitted the Omnissiah’s Comma, and shot a few desk clerks. Using the Dialogus-approved Heavy Flamer, she shoots at the three of them. Her modified BS ends up being 54% - she has an 18% chance of causing hits. Heretic 1 is foolish, and did not move - she gets d6+1 rolls against him. Heretic 2 is smarter, and started running. She only gets d3 rolls against him. Heretic 3 is sprinting, and she only gets 1 roll against him.

Flame weapons are terrifying if you’re pinned down, because you’re generally stuck as stationary. You should also bear in mind that a Heavy Flamer has 8 shots, does 3d6+4 per hit, that was only one shooting action, and flamers cause pinning. Flame weapons will absolutely fuck a dude up.

Blast weapons are fired similar to regular weapons, but if you fail to hit, the difference determines the scatter: d10, +1 yard for every 10% or fraction thereof that you missed by. So, missing by 33 - that’s 1d10+4 scatter. No matter what you roll, however, the blast cannot scatter more than one-quarter of the distance from the shooter to the target. Blast weapons also have two additional bits in their statline - Area, which is how far the blast extends from the point that the shot is centered on, and Blast, which is how many hits a model in the area suffers, -1 hit for each yard of distance between the model and the center of the blast.

Thrown Weapons include knives, shuriken not shot out of cannons/launchers/rifles, and other such solid projectiles. They work like other shooting weapons, except you can draw and throw in the same turn, with a general maximum range of Strength/2 - Weight. Additional rules are given for throwing things like barrels and small alien mammals, but the advice is really just “Work with the GM”. Thrown weapons can also be thrown back; if it hits the target, then it’s assumed that it’s sticking in it, and otherwise, it scatters d6 yards, though actually marking this is not required.

Thrown Blast Weapons include grenades. Throwing a grenade is always a Risky action, and it takes two actions to properly throw a grenade - one to draw and prime it, and another to throw it. Throwing unprimed grenades is an option given those rules, although none currently exist for cooking off grenades using flamers. Grenades have a unique way of doing range - you mark the point, measure back from it, and if it’s longer than the maximum range, draw a line straight back until it’s in range for the thrower. Then, scatter it in a random direction by 2d10 yards. Grenades can pinball around, which is hilarious.

Indirect Fire is similar, except it automatically scatters d10 yards, with -1 for every 10% you pass it by, and +1 for every 10% you fail it by.

Melee combat is the other important option for violence in Inquisitor. Melee is . . . somewhat less fiddly in a lot of areas, but also more fiddly in others. It’s the classic “hitting your opponents with weapons at very close ranges,” which can lead to a bunch of edge cases if needed.

Melee weapons have three elements to their statline:

To enter melee, you need to Charge - it’s a run action that gives you a free melee attack at +10% WS. If you have to draw your weapon while charging, then you forego the bonus. When two models are within 1 yard of each other, they’re in close combat. The only exception is weapons with Reach 4 or more - they can stop 3 yards from someone and still be in close combat.

While in close combat, you no longer have to declare all your actions before rolling Action dice. If you start your turn in melee, you can roll your Action dice, then declare your first action and resolve it, then declare your second action and resolve it, and so on. If you charge as one of your declared actions, you don’t have to declare any actions that would take place after the charge, and you can still perform up to six actions that turn depending on Speed and how well you rolled on the Action dice - it’s a bit like a more violent Pause for Breath that combines movement and charging into melee. This is, of course, offset by the fact that you have limited options when engaging in close combat.

Your options while in close combat are as follows:

So, it’s a surprisingly tactical little system, aided by the fact that you’ll have very few models on the board at one time.

Attacking, as with all other tests in this game, has numerous bonuses and penalties associated with it. A weapon’s Reach is compared to the defender’s Reach - for every point you beat their Reach by, +10%, and with the opposite subtracting from your WS. Having the high ground gives +10%, attacking a prone opponent does +20%, using your off-hand is -20%, and attacking with two weapons at once is -20%. Critical hits remain - if you roll 1/10th of the required number, then that’s a critical hit - double all damage after rolling and adding all modifiers, which is as hilariously brutal as it sounds.

Parrying is how you defend against close combat attacks. Models automatically parry attacks, but there’s a bit of maths involved. The first parry per turn is at base WS. The second is at half, the third at one-quarter, and the fourth is at one-eighth, and so forth and so on. The maximum number of close combat attacks from someone is 12, which would lead to . . . 1/2048 of WS for that final parry, which is a fun example of why these kinds of systems can lead to fun edge cases. Standard roll-under here: if your parry is successful, the enemy’s attack is negated.

Parries have a few modifiers which, you should note, are factored in AFTER the above ridiculous excess. Reach is the same as when attacking, Parry Penalty adds/subtracts a bonus because swords are better at parrying than axes, the high ground works in favor of the defender, and having to turn to face your opponent gives a penalty - turning up to 90 degrees to face your attacker is -20% to your parry, and turning more than 90 degrees gives -40%. Using your off-hand weapon to parry gives a -20% penalty,

You can also dodge, which is a parry that gives +20% and lets you move 2 yards directly away from your opponent (if in close combat), 2 yards to the left or right (if At Arm’s Length), or 1 yard to the left or right (if currently prone). This movement will take place no matter if you are successful or not, and it’s the only possible way to defend against a pistol. However, you cannot Counter-attack if you dodge.

Parrying with two close-combat weapons is pointlessly complicated, but also kinda neat. Parrying with both at once gives +20%, gives the best Reach, Parry Penalty, and Counter-Attack Chance for this. Parrying with only one of them means that the other one is considered “fresh” - i.e. you can still use your full WS when parrying using the other one, so someone with an axe and a sword can parry once with the Axe at full WS and then once with the sword at full WS during a turn.

Counter-attacks are why close combat can get risky for the attacker - if you successfully parry by more than the weapon’s Parry Penalty, then you get a free attack action. So, if our modified WS for Inquisitor Joachim’s parry during the turn was 67%, and he parries using a Chainfist, which has a parry penalty of -25%. Rolling a 42 or lower means he gets a free action that can be any of the typical close combat actions. Yes, counter-attacks can be procc’d off of your opponent’s counter-attacks, and an exchange can happen where you’re continually rolling attacks.

Combat ends when:

If the active model still has actions when one of these things occur, they Pause for Breath, and then have to declare any remaining actions.

Unarmed and improvised melee weapons are covered right at the end. Unarmed attackers (unless given a talent or ability to override this) have Reach 0, and their only parry option is dodging. If the character has any sort of weapon (or can find one, like a chair!), then they have an improvised weapon - it has Reach 1, Parry Penalty -30%. Oh, and tucked in here is the surprising rule that, if it’s not the first turn of a combat, then Reach 4 Weapons count as Improvised weapons unless At Arm’s Length.

Combat is good-ish, but really, really requires a GM for adjudication - good thing Inquisitor was designed with that in mind, although it really is kind of a “papering over some flaws” design decision.

Next Time: Injuries, Awareness, and Spoooooooky Psychic Powers!

Injuries and Awareness

posted by Hedningen Original SA post

Injuries and Awareness
Sorry about the delay on Inquisitor explanations; enough life stuff has been happening that it’s hard to spend time explaining such a weird game. Either way, we talked about combat last time, so let’s talk about what happens when you actually manage to hit someone!

Inquisitor utilizes hit locations; any attack has a chance of striking the Leg, Groin, Arm, Abdomen, Chest, or Head. Note that each limb is tracked separately, so it’s technically Left Leg, Right Leg, Groin, Left Arm, Right Arm, Abdomen, Chest, or Head, with the GM deciding whether it’s the left or right that gets hit depending on their best judgment.
Hit location is decided - as in many cases - with a d100 roll. Melee attacks naturally go higher, so you can choose to say that you’re aiming high before rolling hit location and add 10 to your Hit Location roll. You also can add a bonus of 10 if you have the high ground. This is pretty powerful, as you might imagine, as it’s both harder to armor the higher locations and the injury effects are much more dangerous. I do not recall offhand if there are rules for lava, but I suspect I’ll be able to find them somewhere.

Armor is pretty much the same as the later roleplaying game types: it has a rating and a location. Any hit to that location has its damage reduced by the rating. Armor ratings (at least, the man-portable sort) go from around 2-10, topping out at Power Armor. You also have force fields, which have a random Rating for each hit, and do nothing in melee. Finally, cover provides an armor rating, which is mostly useful when being shot at - if the rolled hit location ends up being behind cover, you get some additional armor. As such, it’s possible to be shot through cover, which is something that I always found kinda neat/incredibly frustrating.

So, what does damage even mean?

To start, we need our Base Injury Value, which is Toughness divided by 10. So, for Inquisitor Janoslav, his BIV is (62/10) 6. This means that for every 6 points of damage he receives in a location, it has another injury level. This is up to - so 1-6 points would be 1 injury level, 7-12 points would be 2 injury levels, 13-18 would be 3 injury levels, and so forth. Most locations have these levels: Light, Heavy, Serious, Acute, and Crippled. The Head and Groin, however, do not have a “Serious” level.

The BIV is also factored in for each hit - so if the same location was hit three times for 3, 4, and 7 damage during the same salvo, then it would go Light Wound - > Heavy Wound -> Acute Wound, even though, by counting damage, it would normally just be “Serious”. This makes these things pretty dangerous, especially if you’re stacking multiple hits on a single location. Yes, you do track total damage taken, but you only record the Injury Level for each limb.

Injuries have two effects - Immediate and Persistent. Immediate is what happens immediately, persistent is what carries over between turns. There’s a nifty chart of them based on location and level - when an injury is inflicted, do whatever Immediate results come up, and track any changes made by the persistent damage. The two big ones are Stun and Bleeding, which tend to be the most common injury effects. Stun is simple - the model drops prone and cannot make any actions for X turns. Bleeding does D3 extra damage at the end of each turn for each location that is Bleeding - so, if you’re bleeding from three locations, that’s 3d3.

So how do you take someone out of combat? There’s three general thresholds to keep in mind during a game. System Shock is an excellent series the first major injury threshold, at Toughness divided by 5. Any single attack that does that much (or more) damage requires a Toughness test - fail, and the model goes out of action. Inquisitor Janoslav’s System Shock is 12 (12.4, round down), so not too hard to do. Consciousness is the next one, at Toughness divided by 2. If you have more damage than this, then you pass out. Inquisitor Janoslav has a respectable 31 Consciousness value. Finally, Instant Death is just Toughness - if a model takes damage equal to its toughness, then it’s automatically dead.

When a model is taken out of action, it doesn’t disappear - no, it stays on the field, and you need to rescue it if possible! Remember that dragging movement type that was mentioned way back when? That’s how you can move them off the field. Any model that wants to attack an unconscious model can do so, and they hit automatically, auto-crit, and can choose where they hit. Do not let this happen.

Injury recovery is a persistent thing - each turn, models get to make a Toughness test, and if they succeed, they regain d3+(1*every ten points of toughness over 50) damage per turn. You can also spend actions during a turn to recover wounds in the same manner, with the added bonus that success on deliberately attempting to staunch wounds reduces injury levels, though never to more than 2 levels lower than the worst injury that location has received.

We then get the fancy chart of injury levels, which goes over effects. Nothing super interesting, but useful nonetheless, and easier to reference than a list. This also ties into why the Automatic rules were changed - can you spot how “Injury level always increases when any damage gets through” and “lots of attacks at a time” led to issues with high-toughness targets ending up being pasted by automatic fire getting focused on them? It’s still possible to do so, but it’s much less likely now.

Awareness is the next big thing, and part of why this game would be a nightmare without a GM. It’s also what makes this sort of an RPG/wargame hybrid - you are expected to make sure that your models interact with the world from their point of view, and the game explicitly mentions that a good GM should be strict about players who take actions like a game, as opposed to taking actions that make sense for the individual models on the board. The general rule is, “If a model isn’t aware of what the other model is doing, then it shouldn’t act in a way that relies on that information.” Note that this is in regards to every model on the field - friend and foe alike.

Vision is the first way a model can be aware of what’s happening around them. Models have a 45-degree vision arc (as seen under line of sight), and can see anything that is in their line of sight that is not in cover. If a model is in cover, then you’ll need to spend an action looking around, where you need to pass an Initiative test to be aware of it, with bonuses for every yard the model you’re trying to spot has moved in its last activation and penalties for distance, lighting conditions, and how much of the other model is behind cover. Note that looking at a specific bit of terrain helps (which is, again, called out for GM advise that the model doing the looking should have a valid reason to look there), moving while trying to carefully look around makes it a combined action, and if somebody shoots without managing to hide the flash, then everyone in line of sight becomes aware.

Hearing is also factored in. That’s right - Inquisitor actually covers this. A general suggestion list is given - it’s easy to hear weapon reports because they’re loud and directional, and some noises are really distinct like glass breaking, but if some people are talking, it’s hard to hear them unless you’re about as close as they are to one another. An important point made here is that the difference between “Being able to hear someone talking/shouting” and “Being able to understand someone talking/shouting” is explicitly called out in the rules. These are rules that should be highlighted more - if you’re not running vox channels between your dudes, then actually coordinating a battle plan becomes a challenge.

Helmets, despite protecting your thinkin’ bits and preventing an untimely death by shrapnel injuries, also impact your general awareness. An open helmet gives lesser penalties to a closed helmet, and not wearing a helmet is the sensible choice for any Inquisitor who wants to be recognized for their excellent characterization be really good at spotting stuff.

A key consideration that I want to bring up is “what does all this awareness stuff mean in play?” when looking at how Inquisitor can be understood. In my experience, this is the part of the game that newer players will struggle with, and that make Inquisitor interesting - it’s really hard to get in the mindset of “I can see the heretic behind that wall, but Acolyte Bumblefuck has no real way of knowing,” and until you’re fine with the idea of losing-as-narrative, it seems harsh and unforgiving, especially with a bad GM. So, you either run your Inquisitorial Squad ‘realistically’ in a tight formation with frequent orders and contingencies, or set up the crazy strategies ahead of time for your particular cadre of agents. You can also decide to just enjoy seeing how the narrative plays out when sticking to these things - sure, you may get ambushed because you can’t hear the Genestealer hiding in the vents that dropped down and ripped the face off of Acolyte Bumblefuck (whose sacrifice will not be remembered), but you can also generate some excellent experience in a game that clearly and explicitly calls out that it relies on cooperation between all players, that the GM should strive to make things entertaining, and that everyone should be looking at this as a narrative. If some of these issues and vague cases were in any other game or - god forbid - a game that implied it was meant for competitive play, it would be immediate garbage, but it kind of works here if you’re willing to accept the basic premise and can find the Unicorn-with-Hen’s-Teeth that is a group interested in playing Inquisitor and that is capable of looking at it as an experience generator rather than the classic Ham-Slamming that GW is known for.

Also, the chapter has backstabbing rules. If you can get into melee before someone notices you, then you roll an attack as normal - fail, and it’s a normal attack. Succeed, and it’s like a critical that cannot be parried. Backstabs hurt.

Next time: Abilities!

Abilities, Psychic Powers, and Endless Lists of Stuff

posted by Hedningen Original SA post

Abilities, Psychic Powers, and Endless Lists of Stuff
Haha, this may have been marked abandoned, but like all good overly-fiddly and archaic narrative wargames, there’s always a revival waiting to happen. For those who have forgotten, Inquisitor is the 54mm-scale narrative wargame produced by Games Workshop’s Specialist Games division, intended to explore the darker corners of their Warhammer 40k universe through the lens of an Inquisitorial Team.

I won’t lie, the next two chapters are part of why I stalled out at first - big lists of stuff aren’t particularly interesting, and a lot of these sections are basically giant lists of stuff, along with some mechanics that can be kinda interesting but are otherwise a bit buried in other stuff. So, rather than going through absolutely everything, you’ll get the high-level stuff here, along with my own understanding of how this can be used to create flavorful and interesting characters.

Talents are just what they sound like - innate or practiced skills that a model has that lets them do things better or take some different types of actions during a game. A few highlights are:

Otherwise, most of these talents are stuff like “You can ignore various penalties while shooting” and “Better at X action”, which is a nice way to make individual models feel more granular despite having similar/close numbers. I like the idea behind it, but as has come up quite often in these kinds of reviews, a bunch of small, fiddly bonuses can really slow things down. The issue I mentioned above (namely, that these feel like they’re either letting you ignore mechanics or are hyper-specific) seem somewhat at odds with the narrative focus of the game - it’s still clutching onto the idea that if you’re not keywording a bunch of options, anarchy will reign and no one will play. Still, on the other hand, in a game where your characters are meant to be a motley crew, they can add variety to what is otherwise a block of numbers and a model - an otherwise-incompetent adept who somehow manages to land on their feet is an interesting idea and puts them in a position where you may try unexpected tactics during a game.

Psychic Powers
The big “science fantasy” element of 40k, psychic powers are the sole domain of psykers, whose connection to the Immaterium allows them to do stuff like make things explode with their brains or act like a radio station in order to relay communications/whatever the 40k equivalent of annoying earworms are.

Psychic powers are basically like using a weapon, except the character’s brain is the weapon. Concentrate for your standard dime bonus of +10%, modified by range to the target, line-of-sight, and the difficulty of the power itself. The rules text explicitly mentions that powers that don’t require LOS get a bonus for having LOS to the target, while those that require it get no bonus for having it.

Failure can lead to brain damage for the psyker - for every full 10% the psyker fails a psychic power test by, they lose d10 willpower. So, from 0-9% nothing, 10-19% is 1d10, 20-29% is 2d10, etc. No chance of horrifying warp portals due to a critical failure unless that’s part of the scenario dreamed up by the GM.

Powers can also be nullified - if a psyker is affected by another psyker’s ability, they can attempt to nullify it by passing a Willpower test, with a penalty equal to the degree by which the original psyker passed the test to activate their power. This is a free action, so might as well do it as soon as the original psyker’s power activates.

After going over these mechanics, we get a bit list of assorted powers for psykers, divided into disciplines.

GMs are cautioned to limit what psychic abilities are available in a scenario, as well as to tailor what both sides have access to so as to keep things interesting. Overall, I think Pyromancy is the most boring of the disciplines, with Daemonology and Telepathy managing to be remarkably interesting and flavorful thanks to the conceits of the setting.

Miscellaneous Abilities
Finally, there’s a list of random grab-bag abilities that can be used to build up options for the players, including stuff like regeneration, vampirism, spitting acid, natural psychic abilities that always work, and various daemonic abilities. Most interesting, however, is the advice on how to use these abilities and talents; the GM is encouraged to set caveats and combinations on abilities so as to create a more interesting character. For example, they recommend combining vampirism with regeneration, with the regeneration only working on a turn where they successfully make a vampirism attack.

Weapons and Equipment
The next big chapter is gear porn. It’s a giant block of numbers for the most part, so I’m just going to talk about the more interesting options here.

Weapons are pretty obvious - we get stats for various types of las-weapons (including the venerable Necromunda-pattern semi-auto las rifle), solid projectile weapons (everything from single-shot muskets to assault cannons), bolters in every configuration you could imagine, melta, plasma, and flame weapons, along with all sorts of throwable sharp objects.

Then we get to the fun stuff.

Because Inquisitors have access to weird stuff, you get stuff like needle rifles, gravity guns, web shooters, neural shredders, and the hilariously deadly psycannon. There’s also the option to take reclaimed Xenos weaponry and utilize it in whatever dark missions are required in the Imperium of Man - everything from Kroot rifles to Necron gauss flayers are available, most of which is hilarious overkill. We also get stats for the Hrud fusil, from back when they were hinting that the Hrud were space-Skaven.

Close-combat weapons follow a similar pattern - stats for more stuff than you’ll ever need in the form of axes, staffs, knives, chain knives, Eviscerator-pattern chainblades, and armored gauntlets, followed by power weapons and force weapons. Then, we get the classic Daemon weapons where the wielder is fighting possession every turn but also gains access to various powers, with the first set of rules being for how the GM should try to create a unique weapon if any ever appears. There’s a whole grab-bag of powers for them, and they are appropriately powerful to make up for the insane risk of touching a daemonic weapon. We also get exotic melee weapons, which is mostly stuff that seems to have been made for the Dark Eldar, and optional attachments like bayonets and chain-bayonets.

After weapons, we get grenades and explosives. As expected, they’re heavy, come in a wide variety of hyper-specific options (anti-plant grenades are an essential part of an Inquisitor’s equipment), and even have rules for blowing up structures, setting timers, and generally doing sneaky Inquisitorial stuff. Explosions are, as one might expect, ridiculously damaging, with the peak probably being attaching Meltabombs to things, which do d3 x 20 damage to a single location. Although the rules specifically state that you can’t attach them to non-inanimate objects, there’s nothing to say that the GM can’t let players improvise.

Armor is . . . armor. We went over the mechanics earlier, there’s a bunch of types and fields, including ones that are more useful against daemons, psykers, darkness, melee, and ranged weaponry, as well as the classic “teleport you in a random location upon activating” type fields. Power armor remains the best, which means that you’re supposed to maybe have one person wearing something like it.

Now, onto the weird miscellaneous equipment! We’ve got bionics, which replace missing bits with either crude prosthesis or advanced technology - there’s a bunch of penalties/bonuses available depending on the quality, and it is possible to mostly ditch your meat-form by getting bionic arms, legs, a head, a brain, lungs, heart, and various other items, including the ever-classic Mechanicus Mechandrite tentacles, implanted weaponry, the necessary hookups to pilot a Titan, and psychic booster circuitry.

Combat drugs are next on the block - they do a wide variety of stuff, and it’s actually a cool part of Inquisitor that you expect your guys to use them to get an edge in the dark dealings of the world. Models can huff their stimms, inject them, use an auto-injector, or just get implanted with a gland that constantly floods them with violence-drugs, all of which have nasty side-effects and which will likely lead to a dead member of your retinue before too long. Viruses and toxins are handled similarly, except there are no good effects and a cool table of hallucinations.

Finally, the last bits of equipment are miscellaneous stuff like weapon sights for small bonuses, servo-skulls in several varieties, psyber-eagles to let your Inquisitor do psychic powers through a two-headed bird, cyber-mastiffs for having Good Dogges to attack dudes, and various things like motion trackers, psychic hoods, and solvent for web guns.

Okay, my long nightmare of equipment is over!

Next time, on Inquisitor: character creation recommendations!

Making Characters for Inquisitor

posted by Hedningen Original SA post

Making Characters for Inquisitor
Once again, it’s time to talk about everyone’s favorite 54mm-scale wargame/narrative generator set in the grim darkness of the 41st millennium, Inquisitor. Last time, we talked about the genre staple of gear porn and an endless series of items getting statted out, whereas now we get to character creation.

To begin, the game lays out a few important guidelines:

So, a lot of this is the idea that it’s an experience generator, rather than a strictly balanced game. As such, there are some huge variations in what you’re doing, but overall, they stress designing to a narrative and what would be fun in order to help players get engrossed. They then present a series of archetypes, with options for rolling some random “generics” alongside the examples they provide.

Inquisitors are, obviously, the main thing this entire book is about. I’ll spare the descriptions, but we get some basic statlines and recommendations, as well as three example Inquisitors: Inquisitor Covenant of the Ordo Malleus, Witch Hunter Tyrus and his bombastic Monodominant philosophy, and Inquisitor Eisenhorn of the Highly-Profitable Book Series from Black Library. They each show that, using the same basic template, you can create wildly-different characters - one of them hates psykers while the other is one, all of them are described as using different techniques to inquisit, and they’re all characters that feel somewhat fleshed out from the brief description.

Space Marines are the biggest dudes, and absolutely ridiculous in Inquisitor, which is why the game warns that they should only show up as a cameo at some point. If you don’t know their history, then I suspect this is your first time browsing any sort of gaming space, in which case I hope you enjoy what you’re reading and also that the dudes yelling about the Emperor of Mankind aren’t too offputting.

The Adeptus Mechanicus are, obviously, the folks who are adept at mechanized stuff. Game roles include being super pro-cyborg, acting as a mission patron, and blithely causing Necron invasions by refusing to listen to any sort of reason or sanity around cool machines. The sample character, Magos Delphan Gross, shows the other advantage of writing Mechanicus characters - you can create some weird technology and prosthesis if you’re interested and willing to play with mechanics, which is a fertile ground for modelers and converters.

Rogue Traders have their own RPG, but it boils down to “Hyper-colonialist adventures in space”, so I think you can see where they might fit in Inquisitor - either as an asset in a game or as the leader of a quasi-Inquisitorial retinue that seeks even more incredible wealth from the galaxy.

Cultists and Fanatics are self-explanatory. Because this is the grim darkness of the future, they are clearly going to be on all sides of any conflict.

Imperial Guard are members of the interplanetary fighting forces that, while not exactly the Imperium’s finest, are still some of humanity’s finest soldiers. In general, if you’re including a Guardsman, you’ll stick with the general soldier archetypes - grizzled veteran, complete rookie, individual on penalty duties thanks to some crime, or any other number of soldier-y concepts.

Desperados are something fairly unusual to the typical 40k experience, however! Outside of the military organizations, Desperados are loner mercenaries with some code of honor - think any of the wandering protagonists in a western. They’re good gunfighters, bad at working with others, and exactly the kind of fringe figures that end up working with the Inquisition.

Enforcers are cops. Obviously. They can be Judge Dredd, hilariously corrupt Keystone Kopps, or anything in-between in Inquisitor. They make interesting characters because they’re the visible agents of order in what might otherwise be a band of ne’er-do-wells, and one suggestion is having an Enforcer ‘watching over’ some of the less-wholesome members of an Inquisitorial investigative squad, both to provide cover and help deal with the inevitable friction between people.

Mutants are people diverging from the baseline genetic patterns of humanity. Seen as an underclass, they’re definitely the sorts of folks who will be fanatically loyal to an Inquisitor that has decided to bring them under their wing.

Ecclesiarchy are priests of the Imperial Cult, giving sermons and doing other crazy-religious 40k stuff. Basically your classic protestant preacher as filtered through science fiction.

Arco-Flagellants are enhanced, lobotomized agents of the Imperium, kept calm through neuro-feedback helmets and drugs. Then, when things need to get wrecked, they activate them via combat drugs and point them in the direction of whatever needs killing. They are fucking terrifying on the board - their Nerve is 160, to give an idea - but they’re a one-trick pony that need a babysitter to do much of anything.

Assassins come in several varieties, including random thrill-kill cultists all the way up to official members of the Officio Assassinorum. They’re hired to go in, kill the target, and then leave, getting good weapons and training (especially if an official member of the Officio Ass.).

Daemonhosts are people with daemons in them. The daemons do not want to be there - instead, they want to be causing havoc, possibly temporarily manifesting in the real world in order to destroy and cause chaos. These are pretty much intended as objectives to kill.

Following these examples, there’s quite a bit of advice on acting as a gamemaster and designing scenarios.

Apart from some scenarios and the single most worthless “point calculator” ever created, that’s the end of Inquisitor. It’s a strange game, and yet its DNA can be found in a ton of stuff that’s around today, because it was an ambitious game that didn’t really get the traction it deserved. There’s even people playing in 28mm scale, given the abundance of neat kits available now for various Imperial groups in 40k. So, if not a revival, then at least a greater understanding of what Inquisitor has brought to the world of sci-fi wargaming.