News for May 2010
Looking Toward the Future 14
A look at Dead Stars, the upcoming adventure for Dark Heresy
Dark Heresy | Published 12 May 2010

by Mack Martin

+++Incoming Astropathic Transmission+++

Salutations Acolytes!

In last week's Designer Diary Ross announced that I’d be taking over development for Dark Heresy and with that I’ve inherited this awesome privilege: Informing you that Dead Stars will be on shelves soon! I am filled with two complimentary emotions. First I am excited that this fantastic trilogy of adventures by the illustrious Alan Bligh and John French is coming to a climax. It’s a story I have been enjoying through the eyes of my Noble born Guardsman Emric. I remember some particularly memorable moments escaping some kidnappers. I’m sure many other groups are looking forward to seeing how things come to a head as much as I am.

That brings me to the second emotion I’m quarreling with at the moment. Anticipation. In my new role at the helm of the good ship Dark Heresy I get a birds eye view. It is a rare privilege to observe others as they discover the surprises and twists that this adventure series offers. Secrets seeded into the conception of Dark Heresy will finally be revealed and I can’t wait to watch the fans to uncover them too.

It’s tough to write about an adventure, as I don’t want to spoil it for the players. This wouldn’t be much of an announcement if I didn’t at least talk about one of my favorite new things. The Maccabian Janissaries are a Calixian Imperial Guard regiment. That really speaks to me as a fan of the Guard and as a player of one in this very campaign.

“These regiments are raised from the arid planet of Maccabeus Quintus, a place of fierce and stoic people and iron-strong puritan faith in the Imperial Creed. The Conclave Calixis has oath bonds with the fifth Maccabian regiment and has called on the honour debts owed to them to procure the services of ten of the most resolute and effective soldiers in the sector, lead by two experienced NCOs. The Janissaries are tough and battle-hardened men and women who are bound by oaths made in seven shrines on Maccabeus Quintus. They see serving the Emperor’s will as a sacred duty and have a grim attitude; they are not given to frivolity or humour. They spend much of their time preparing for their mission, either performing combat drills or weapons maintenance, in prayer or studying information on the environment and situation of the station on Mara.”

Not only am I looking forward to overseeing the release of Dead Stars, I am also keeping an ey on the future of the entire line. I’m certain that many of you are wondering who I am and what I plan to do with the game we love.

I’ve been playing Roleplaying games for just over 20 years now. I cut my teeth on Shadowrun. That quickly changed into a campaign of Gary Gygax’s Cyborg Commando thanks to a copy of the box set we found at a local dollar store. I picked up Warhammer 40k back in the second to third edition transition. I love the IP like no other, in particular the Inquisition and the stories that can be told through the themes that run in its veins.

I’m also a net-geek. I helped found a Warhammer 40k podcast and blog site that let me meet a lot of interesting people and learn quite a bit about the hobby on multiple fronts. It’s fun to look back and see how much my opinions have changed and grown in a short time. I understand the power of the Internet and love that I have the opportunity to supplement the game line with PDF’s. I caught the bug for designing books by building a few supplements for my gaming club to use.

A few years ago I decided I wanted to break into the gaming industry. I set my goal and began documenting the trek online. During this time I interviewed Ross Watson on my podcast and he has been a mentor and advisor to me as I developed the skills I needed to become a serious designer of tabletop RPG’s. It’s been a long road to where I am and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. I now have more road ahead (to extend the metaphor) and planning for this new adventure is exhilarating.

I have given some serious thought to what I love about Dark Heresy and how I can bring that into a full design philosophy. Roleplaying games have the strength of a referee at every table whose entire job is to interpret the rules and come up with new ways to use them on the fly. As a designer it becomes very important to carefully craft these rules so that GM’s can easily integrate them into their games. Mechanics must assist the theme and story, giving players a way to interact with the game world.

One of my favorite themes in all of 40k is that of Heroic Sacrifice. From the lowliest servitor to the Emperor himself men and women give all for the cause of humanity. This isn’t just seen in moments of glory where someone trades their life for success of the group, but also in people who give their sanity or every waking hour. There are dozens of other personal stories to tell. At the end of the day the journey of the players character is personal and resonates with the player. Dark Heresy needs to create moments of choice for characters and give players options to tell those stories.

Memorable villains and locations are important to every story but to Warhammer 40k they are imperative. The Calixis sector is rich and deep with possibilities. Dead Stars sees the closing of the Haarlock’s Legacy series, so gaming groups will want more adventures. Tools to build brilliant stories help everyone. GM’s and players alike can benefit from a variety of background options for adding new themes to their campaign and characters.

The actors and the stage can be extremely interesting and compelling but how they interact crafts the tales we tell for years. Dark Heresy is all about the mysteries and conspiracies that get uncovered. This investigation brings the game to life and gives players a chance to tell their personal story as they are entertained by the GM’s larger plot.

So what does all this mean for the future of Dark Heresy? It means I have a lot of work to do! Going forward we have a lot of ground to cover in some very exciting ways with a focus on the player and GM experience at the table. Keep your third eye on this website in the future; I plan to share every step of my journey with the fans of Dark Heresy!

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.

Write Comments     
More News [+]
Comments (14)

Published: 5/24/2010 2:23:03 AM

No, the term Janissary is not strongly linked to the Vessarenes, due to the simple fact that the Vessarenes are not an important part of the 40k setting. They are almost entirely unknown, a footnote. Not everyone has read the Eisenhorn novels. Even those of us who have don't instantly think 'Vessarene" whenever we see Janissary in a 40k context. I know I certainly didn't.

Published: 5/17/2010 12:46:00 AM

Howdy, Mack!  Nice to meet you, and hear some of your background!  As for the 'over use' of Jannissary as a term I gotta concur with both Adam's idea of how many otehr terms for 'Soldier' there are (Soldati, for one...) and Shattercake (they will, eventually, wind up recycling terms) - But ultimately, who cares?  In the grand endeavor that is the Adeptus Terra, there are boudn to be more unimaginative people than creative thinkers - And given how much of humanity's past is lost in the 40K universe, it's entirely possible that the full breadth of human language has lost a lot of it's flavor.. After all, being as they speak High and Low Gothic (not English, French, Latin, Japanese, Aramaic or Russian) shouldn't we expect all Guardsmen to be called "ga-draúhts"?

As for you grousing about wanting a product release date, I stand with the guys who say "don't expect it" - Simply because we all know what happens when a release date is missed for one reason or another...

Adam France
Published: 5/16/2010 5:00:10 AM

Yes, thanks, I know where the name comes from, and as I said in my post I accept more than one unit in the 40K setting could conceivably use it.

My point was that it is nevertheless now attached very strongly to the Vessarene, and it just might have been better to use another designation to avoid seeming a bit lazy and unimaginative. Hell ... they could have used another Turkish designation even - 'Kapikulu' say, or pseudo-Greek perhaps; 'Cataphracts'. Anything that suggested more thought had been put into it than just reading the Eisenhorn books.

Published: 5/15/2010 10:31:29 PM

 In fairness to the term "Jannisarries" it's not a new word.  It's just a Turkish term for "elite soldier".  With all the guard units running around they were bound to have to re-use terms for "Soldier" once in a while.

I too am hoping to see another Knowledge is Power.  We just had the last one finish up (Ascension is the latest Dark Heresy book in the document).  I'm betting with the change over it's just gonna take Mack a little while to decide what he is gonna make for the next year!  

With any luck we will see another Knowledge is Power soon.  The last one did just run out after all.

Adam France
Published: 5/15/2010 6:15:24 AM

 I too like the look of the Janissaries ... not sure about that regimental name though, it feels like a heavy and unimaginative steal from the Vessarene Janissaries of the Eisenhorn books.

Sure there could be more than one unit using the Janissaries designation, but another name might have been better imo. 

Love the face-mask helmet though.

Adam France
Published: 5/15/2010 6:12:22 AM

Love the way customers who expect product to be released more or less on time are somehow portrayed here as being unreasonable whiners. 

What would be the problem with listing upcoming products without any release dates at all?

At least customers would have an idea of what's in the pipeline.


Published: 5/13/2010 8:09:13 AM

I love the look of the Maccabean Janissaries. They're clearly based on one of my my favourite pieces of Jes Goodwin art, a picture of a trenchcoat wearing Guardsman in a respirator walking through an ash wastleand: I think it features in Lure of the Expanse. The faceplates are a nice new feature though. I wonder if they're meant to be masks of St Drusus?

Published: 5/13/2010 2:44:29 AM

I normally do not care about artwork at all, but this picture looks neat. Especially since we seem to have the first official DH-based picture on one of the Mara-Strain-Warpbeasts. 

@The Janissaries
Sounds semiliar to those from Vesor. By name, only, of course! Anyway, given the IG a new background package does not hurt.

Sister Cat
Published: 5/13/2010 1:18:07 AM

Welcome aboard, Mack!  I look forward to your take on all the awe, mystery, and terror that is the grim dark future.  :)

Published: 5/12/2010 11:49:34 PM

The issue with last year's KNOWLEDGE IS POWER release was that it made statements at to when the books were due that were greatly missed. The simple solution is to not release a preview again, but that stinks of taking your toys home to play alone.

A simple PDF like KIP would be nice, and to avoid the whining all they have to do is state Projected Release Date (Subject to Change) for each item.


Published: 5/12/2010 7:53:31 PM


So, Guardsmen, eh? 


So, Maccebeus Quintus, eh? 

Based on this near non-existent information, I think we're getting homeworld and/or Career books. :)

There won't be a 2010-2011 release schedule, there was so much epic winging about release dates last time that FFG has decided not to do it. Reap what you sow...

Published: 5/12/2010 6:49:03 PM

We were treated to a list of "scheduled" releases for 2009...let's get one for 2010. One snippet of info per week/two weeks for a RPG line does not engender continued interest.

© 2014 Fantasy Flight Publishing, Inc. Fantasy Flight Games and the FFG logo are ® of Fantasy Flight Publishing, Inc.  All rights reserved.
Privacy Policy | Terms of Use | Contact | User Support | Rules Questions | Help | RSS