News for January 2010
A Wicked City, Indeed 13
Words from the authors of Damned Cities
Dark Heresy | Published 13 January 2010

+++Incoming Astropathic Transmission+++

Greetings, Dark Heresy fans! This week, I have some guest words from the authors of Damned Cities, the second part of the epic Haarlock’s Legacy Trilogy, John French and Alan Bligh. John and Alan were kind enough to sit down and give me some of their thoughts on crafting this central portion of the trilogy, and how the adventure can affect the entire Calixis Sector!

Without further ado, allow me to present John French and Alan Bligh:

The Worst City I Know…by John French

Sinophia Magna is my favourite worst place in the Imperium. It is bleak, forgotten place that is decaying both physically and socially. It is a place that was once both beautiful and wealthy. Now it is a rancid grand dame of a city clad in rotting finery and begging for a coin while cursing those that spare one…
…and it always rains.

History in Every Stone

One of the reasons Sinophia Magna is my favourite worse place is that it is a place with history, a history that it is to say in gaming terms as well as background. It is a place that we have played in and used for games for years since long before the first copies of Dark Heresy touched the shelves. It predates the Calixis Sector both in its in game history and in its realty as a game setting: ‘The Empty Men of Sinophia Magna’ incident actually happened (well in a game at least) in its streets, in a 40k RPG game that predated Dark Heresy, as have many other investigations since. Inquisitor Herrod (That was me! –Alan) bisected a Logician flesh abomination in a warehouse in the Sinks and everything when horribly wrong as it only can in 40k. Junt Yaeger (who you may recognise in the future that is yet to come) lost his mind at the sight of the Risen Dead on the streets of the and nearly killed his comrades in his madness. In fact, both Alan and I have used many of our experiences playing and running games in Sinophia Magna in creating Damned Cities and making your time in that forsaken place as fun as ours have been.

An Atmosphere of Decay and Despair

In all of the adventures that we cooked up to create the Haarlock's Legacy campaign, the location for the adventure has a very strong character of its own: The House of Dust and Ash is threaded through with mortuary images, the smell of dry death and the cold of the grave. Quaddis is a city of masks, blood and lies, and forbidden Mara of course holds [purged by the order of the Tenebrae Collegium]. The character of Sinophia Magna is one of decay, bitterness, and lost dreams, and we have woven these qualities into every mouldering cranny of the place.

We imagined every sign of tasteful opulence and then let it rot: The streets of European cities, and places we’ve been such as Prague, Venice, Rome, and London informed much of the flavour and feel of the city: It is not a city of towering edifices but of crowded buildings with empty rooms. The physical city is of low buildings that press close over stagnant canals and narrow streets. Broken angels look down from vine-choked plinths, and the place reeks of damp and human misery. The characters that players will encounter in Sinophia Magna are deliberate mirrors of the physical corruption: even the best of them have a mote of darkness or despair in their souls.

Corrupt cops, well-dressed monsters and Victorian values, by Alan Bligh

Well, with John having already covered a good deal about the adventure’s setting, it leaves it up to me to speak a little about the plot and characters involved (without giving out too many spoilers!). One of the things I really am quite proud off is the setting that John and I wove for the plot was the ‘dramatis personae’ of the adventure itself: We did our part to cram it chock-full of the kind of remarkable, singular ,and often downright sinister cast of characters that you would expect to encounter in an Imperial city. We just ‘turned up’ the darkness and decay, from monstrously vain and jaded nobles, to psychopathic enforcers, murderous street scum, and of course, the poor downtrodden mass of normal folk in-between. There’s something I think ineffably both gothic and Victorian about the result, with its own logic and dark ambiance, and was a perfect backdrop of characters to get themselves unwittingly become embroiled in a major piece of the Haarlock puzzle.

Failing States

One other interesting idea John and I had when putting together the adventures outline that really interested us, was the idea of setting it against the background of civil unrest: a worsening collapse of law and government in a capital city of an Imperial world, and thereby the impending threat of riot and civil war for the Acolytes to worry about. This also ties into the fact that in Damned Cities, the Acolytes are acting with inquisitorial authority, and with help, of a sort, from the powers that be, leaving them open to all sorts of potential entanglements in the city’s power politics as well as some interesting moral questions about who they should help, and where their duty lies. Of course, this being Dark Heresy, there are plenty of very nasty surprises hiding behind Sinophia’s rotting veneer as well.

The Mystery Unfolds

Damned Cities was written the ability to run it as a ‘stand alone’ adventure in mind, but is of course, part of the wider dark web of the Haarlock's Legacy. Its structure and scope offer what we hope is another change of pace and game play, from either the previous two adventures and something that Dark Heresy fans will greatly enjoy, and it also provides some more troubling answers about the secret of the legacy which will be realised finally in the adventures arc’s shattering conclusion, Dead Stars.

We hope to see you there!

The Next Step

Beginning next week, I’m going to start bringing to light possibly the most anticipated book for Dark Heresy...Ascension! Everything you knew was a lie -- it is time to Heed the Higher Call!

Dark Heresy 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 Acolytes serving the Inquisition, rooting out heresy and corruption from within the galaxy-spanning Imperium of Man.

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Comments (13)

Published: 1/16/2010 11:26:42 AM

I completely disagree with the statements about Amazon; they have always delivered, on time; sometimes even earlier than expected!  Maybe it's just all funky around the world outside America (The Continent)?

The Laughing God
Published: 1/16/2010 3:36:01 AM

About the 'spiralling out of control part' in Damned Cities .. is this the same climactic chaos as can be found in House of Dust and Ash and Tattered Fates?

The Laughing God
Published: 1/16/2010 3:35:11 AM

I'm also in the Netherlands :) guess I'm going to order once the book reaches or or whenever the American Book Store in Amsterdam has it. Takes forever through all these channels.

Published: 1/15/2010 7:24:48 PM

Also looking forward to this book, should be arriving in the mail any day now (I'm also in the Netherlands, so waiting for it to get to my local game store was taking a bit too long...).

And apparently the final adventure of the arc (which really is a quadrology rather than a trilogy if you count Dust & Ash) will be set on Mara, of Mara Ice Station fame? Hmm, why do I have images of John Carpenter's Thing in a 40K setting all of a sudden...?

Ordo Hydra
Published: 1/14/2010 3:33:05 PM

Just got my copy today!  Looks awesome.  Credit to John French!  I love any games designer who has a setting where it always rains!

the 8 spider
Published: 1/14/2010 9:30:20 AM

why damned cities? their is no pub? welle if it is the case they are damned.

Published: 1/14/2010 6:58:11 AM

{I had a friend visit NY just after this came out - so I got it in the Netherlands five days ago :-)}

Down and out in Sinophia Magna?

Actually, this setting has a beautiful feel to it. Imagine watching 'The Crow', but without the happy young girl - so yes, it *can* rain all the time. The only problem I'd have with the plot is that the 'spiralling out of control' part doesn't sit too well with the setting. In fact, I'd say the book is a lot stronger as a setting than the adventure is in itself. Being a DM planning on running this, I'm not going to put any intrinsic 'deadlines' in the adventure - completely the opposite to, say, Tattered Fates or Shades on Twilight. Instead of conducting investigations in real-time, I'll be using extended rules - emphasising the many days of a pc quietly sitting in a bar drinking their amasec until the lead shows up. Then at the end things can progress more rapidly, but I think the game needs it's quiet time. Especially after Tattered Fates, where the characters begin in the frying pan and escape into the fire...

So good work guys, I liked this a lot.

Published: 1/14/2010 4:32:07 AM

My lokal bookstore here in Switzerland has been able to get everything. It takes time but eventually I get my FFG stuff in the post. Its a bit like waiting for xmas over and over.

Published: 1/14/2010 3:43:26 AM

 Amazon has a terrible distribution network. Hell... they don't even call their warehouses 'warehouses', they call them 'fulfilment centres'. Go corporate-speak. *rolleyes*

Anyway, everything I've got DH/RT related from Amazon has taken weeks more than it should do... actually everything I've ever ordered from Amazon has taken longer than it should do. Sadly, FFG uses UPS and only UPS, meaning that shipping to Australia is higher than the cost of the items themselves, and because our government places such idiotic taxes on foreign books, getting it here is cost prohibitive - so Amazon is often my only choice.

Nevertheless, once Ascension hits, I'll be one of the first in line. I just hope our preview clarifies whether this is going to be another Inquisitor's Handbook/Radical's Handbook (ie. a bunch of alternate ranks), or a book with actual full-blown alternate careers.


The Laughing God
Published: 1/14/2010 1:47:19 AM

Amazon is so weird in this.

Published: 1/13/2010 8:27:26 PM

Don't be too impressed with Amazon for delivering FFG books.  Yet again the book is on shelves in local game stores and Amazon apparently does not even have it in their warehouse, yet they are strangely not allowing me to cancel the order.  I am in the US, so it is not a Euro-transhipment issue; in fact one of the major Amazon warehouses is right here in Phoenix.

The Laughing God
Published: 1/13/2010 3:09:04 PM

and it also provides some more troubling answers about the secret of the legacy which will be realised finally in the adventures arc’s shattering conclusion, Dead Stars.

That is very cool and also somewhat of a relief as I was a bit worried that the three adventures would lack in an overarcing story line culminating in a climax and answers to the Haarlock riddles! Now I am even more eager to get this book, which still has to reach Europe or even Amazon...

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