Friday, March 2, 2012

Fantasy Flight Games: Black Crusade

I've been collecting and playing 40k for the better part of about 15 years or so. Like most 40k players, I had my beginnings in pen and paper RPGs like Dungeons & Dragons, Star Wars, and unfortunately, Vampire the Masquerade. Those games were fun and I still associate them with some very fond memories with friends. However, 40k really blew my mind, so I slowly began to phase RPGs out of my life. The concept of action based table top wargaming mixed with a strong hobby element was just more consistent with my interests as I became older. Hence, I haven't rolled a d20 in many years...

As my passion for the game of 40k grew, I became more and more submerged into the the lore and canon behind the game. I started picking up Black Library novels and doing more and more reading of "Index Astartes" articles, and eventually the whole 40k universe began to expand before my eyes. On top of that, you have the release of the "Dawn of War" video games and all of the sudden 40k became an empire of cool shit to satisfy my nerd cravings.

A few summers ago, Greg mentioned "Dark Heresy" to me. There was a group of guys (Sam, Dan, Jay, a few others) that played and they were wondering if it was something I would be interested in playing. My first thought was, "ya, sorry, I'm a grown up now". Like seriously, who plays RPGs anymore with all the coolness of 40k within our grasp?

I remember going home that day to rethink my initial conclusion. I mean, I hadn't played D & D in many years because I thought that style of gaming was reserved for a category of "nerd" that I had transcended. But, what a minute... 40k RPG? Something about those two words put together sounded somewhat consistent with my intense fanboyism for 40k. So, I thought about it more, but I decided that "Dark Heresy" was based around a more subtle part of the storyline. I thought that the idea of playing a random human minion in the 40k universe was a pretty niche interest, especially when you have Space Marines, Eldar, Orks and the other common images associated with 40k. So, I decided to put "Dark Heresy" (and hence 40k RPG) in that category of "shit that is maybe kinda cool but I got no time right now". Then, over the last few years, I noticed that 40k RPG began to really expand...

Dark Heresy, Rogue Trader, Deathwatch... BLACK CRUSADE

What the fuck, "Black Crusade"? Is this a game where you get to pretend you are a Chaos Space Marine and burninate the Galaxy?

Alrighty then. That changes things entirely. So, I picked up all the Black Crusade stuff and started reading. Pretty damn cool if I do say so. You can be a human heretic or a Chaos Space Marine, and each of those two races gives you 4 basic starting packages. From those starting packages, it looks like you can really take a character in whatever direction you want. The system is quite different than the D20 system I was used to, but I am starting to get the hang of it.

One of the coolest things in Black Crusade is the alignment system. They did a great job of capturing the different Ruinous Powers and how a character changes depending on its pull towards the factions of Chaos. For example, if you want a really choppy character, all the Skills and Talents for being choppy will pull you towards Khorne. And if you stay on that path, future Skills and Talents associated with Khorne become cheaper for you to purchase. Your alignment also plays a big part on the special abilities you gain further on. As part of the advancement system, you gain Corruption Points. While Corruption points can be seen as both good and bad, they trigger "Gifts of the Gods" which are basically mutations. But as you become more powerful, you can use your power to influence the Gods to give you "Rewards" instead of mutations. Those rewards differ greatly depending on your alignment. This is just but a few of the many ways that the "Chaos" aspect runs front and center in the gameplay in Black Crusade.

Because the alignment system plays such a huge part in the game, the variation for characters goes much deeper than the 4 starting packages offered for each race. A Nurgle Chosen would play much differently than a Slaanesh Chosen. Not just in combat based scenarios, but in the roleplay aspect as well. The wide variety of talents and skills are integral to the game, and each one is associated with a direction of Chaos in some way. Hence, you can really develop any kind of character you could imagine, from a Khorne Tech Priest to a mighty Sorceror of Tzeentch

Doombolt... Doombolt... Doombolt... Sleep!

Now, because I never played any 40k RPG, the whole system will take some getting used to. It is not a user friendly system, where lots of modifiers and degrees of success and failure must be considered for most rolls. I'm sure the game is a simple transition for people with experience in Dark Heresy, or any of the other 40k RPG games, but it is definitely a lot to digest when all you have been doing is rolling d6's and dropping blast templates for the last 10 years.

So, I definitely like the game. I own all the books available (that's right, actual printed, bound, and paid for books)... the problem is time. When I was a teenager, time was not really an issue. I think that is why the old D & D campaigns used to be so fun because back then we could keep a good flow. That is definitely not the case now. How do you start a game when you can barely commit to playing tabletop 40k once a month with your friends? And then there is the other things I am interested in as well. I also really want to start Malifaux, and for a while, I was even considering starting Warhammer Fantasy Battles. I always thought it was weird that I played 40k for sooo many years but never owned a single WFB mini. So, this year, I considered starting an army. I threw together an army list and added up how many models I would have to buy and paint... Nah, not worth it. There is just way too many great things going on in the world of 40k, why split my wallet and painting time in half. Fuck it, I'm a sci-fi nerd and I'm sticking to it. If I want to play a creature from mythology on the tabletop, I'll just ask Sam to make another penisaurus.

Causes fear, pinning, and the feeling that you are a lesser man

Until then, I'm a 40k fanboy through and through. Black Crusade looks awesome and I really want to play. I guess I need to find a few nerds in Gimli, Manitoba that will play with me. Ya, good luck with that...

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