Review: Fantasy Flight Games – Dark Heresy

Product Name: Dark Heresy
Publisher: Fantasy Flight Games
Author: Owen Barnes, Kate Flack, Mike Mason
System: Dark Heresy
Theme: Warhammer 40K, Sci-Fi
Type: Core

This review was originally posted at The Mystical Throne.

If you’re ready to investigate and face the horrors of the 41st millennium, then why would you look any further than Dark Heresy? The Holy Ordos of the Inquisition are filled with a plethora of possibilities within the Warhammer 40,000 universe, and this game system does NOT let down!

The cover art of the Dark Heresy core rulebook is a fantastic representation of how the Inquisition looks and feels within the Warhammer 40,000 universe. You can see the dark, Gothic, sci-fi feel prevalent through-out the 41st millennium. It has a great eye-appeal and grabs the reader, drawing them in to see more.

The d100 system presented within the Dark Heresy game is a great way of replicating how a servant of the Inquisition would go about doing his/her daily activities while trying to bring down those that fight against the Imperium.

That being said, there is no lack of skills and talents, but possibly too many. The high number of options is a great way to customize your character, but it can also be detrimental. It makes it a little more difficult for your character to specialize in tasks that are similar in nature because you have to take a skill that allows you to perform that type of task. I would like to have seen the number skills reduced and combined so that a player can become better at performing those functions.

The number of careers available make it possible to have a good amount of difference from character to character, however it is still somewhat limited. This can easily be remedied with follow-on supplements or fan-created careers and backgrounds to increase the number of possibilities during character creation. Considering that, the ones available in the core rulebook are a great selection to what you try to achieve as a team working for the Inquisition. There is a nice selection of skills and talents so that a team can truly perform any task thrown at them. There are definite benefits to how you create a character and how you play that character that flesh out during the actual character creation. This book does a good job of allowing anyone to not worry about those benefits by offering a thorough system of “roll the dice and see what you get”.

The actual game-play sections of the book are very concise and leave little to confusion. The rules are presented in detailed manner, but still simple enough to follow. The Game Master’s section contain a wealth of knowledge to get a Game Master started with running their own adventure. You may not be able to create an entire campaign, but you can at least get a good start.

The fluff sections add a good introduction into the Warhammer 40,000 universe without overwhelming you with information. Unfortunately (or fortunately), it can leave you yearning for more and thus desiring subsequent supplements or turning to the large selection of Warhammer 40K novels for even more information.

I like the adversaries section, although I find some of the adversaries to be a little boring and would like to see more xenos and demons and less heretics. However, it’s still a good grouping of adversaries and allows the GM to create a significant amount of NPC’s for any adventure they may create.

In my opinion, the art of Warhammer 40,000 is some of the best art out there! The Dark Heresy core rulebook does not stray from that standard. The art is dark, twisted, sadistic, and often times horrific! But that’s what Warhammer 40k is about. The art does not feel like a cartoon in any way, and the blend of color and black and white is a good mixture. I would like to see more Player Character illustrations to give players a better feel for what their character may look like, but at least what’s there does not disappoint.

The layout of this book has a good flow from beginning to end. You start with the character creation, move to what your character can do, explain how to use those skills and talents, and then tell you how to play the game. This keeps the player from having to jump around the book while they create their character as they can simply follow the flow from beginning to end. And to add to smooth layout, there is a very detailed index and table to contents to guide the way.

Warhammer 40,000 contains a vast amount of fluff surrounding the universe. Finding all of this information can be quite daunting as you would have to read stacks and stacks of books to learn it all. The Dark Heresy core rulebook focuses on a small slice of that universe can attempts to explain it so that players and Game Master’s can get a working understanding of the 41st millennium. They could have included more, but then the book would get overwhelming and would focus too much on the universe and not enough on the game. I find the amount of fluff presented is just the right amount to get a player and a Game Master desiring more.

If you’ve ever wanted to get more involved with the fluff and the universe of Warhammer 40,000, then Dark Heresy is what you’re looking for. Not only does it get the player involved in tracking down and destroying that which plagues the likes of mankind, it also opens the doors into knowledge you may not have been privy to before. For role-player’s and Warhammer 40,000 fans alike, I highly recommend getting your hands on the Dark Heresy core rulebook!

Overall Rating: 9 out of 10

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