In Dark Heresy Second Edition, you are an Acolyte in the service of the Inquisition, battling unfathomable evils as you struggle to keep the Imperium from utter corruption. Threats may arise from within, without, or beyond… And sometimes, the greatest threats come from the distant past.
We recently announced the Forgotten Gods book-length adventure, which pits you and your team of Acolytes against the Faceless Trade, smugglers of proscribed artefacts, whose wares may awaken an ancient evil. Your investigations will take you across the Askellon sector, through strange and unknown locales.
Today, Tim Cox, the writer of the Forgotten Gods adventure, shares his thoughts on designing the key locations of the book.
Tim Cox on the Forgotten Gods Adventure
After writing Dark Pursuits, the adventure contained in the Dark Heresy Second Edition Core Rulebook, I was more than a little excited to dive into Forgotten Gods, the first book-length adventure for the new edition! Like Dark Pursuits and Desolation of the Dead, the adventure included in the Dark Heresy Game Master’s Kit, Forgotten Gods explores the central themes of Dark Heresy, as the Acolytes explore hidden threats and expose even greater dangers to the Askellon sector, striving against overwhelming odds to stem the rise of darkness.
This time, the investigation of the xenos artefacts takes the Players Characters from the depths of the hive to the wastelands surrounding it, before leading them off-planet entirely. Players may have learned a great deal about the hive city of Desoleum in prior Dark Heresy adventures, but I’m really excited for them to see more of the strange locations and cultures in the Askellon sector. Over the course of this adventure, they’ll visit two radically different locations – the Rogue Trader vessel, Oath Unspoken, and the shrine world of Thaur, a blessed planet devoted to cemeteries. I had a lot of fun developing both locations and coming up with unique details to set them apart. Each location has a truly distinct atmosphere that brings these places to life.
Into the Void
To get from Desoleum to Thaur, the Acolytes must journey aboard the Oath Unspoken. The journey through the Warp is much more than a path from point A to point B, however. Any passage through the nightmarish unreality of the Immaterium is a great undertaking, and even a relatively short Warp journey is a matter of weeks. One entire chapter of the adventure takes place aboard the Oath Unspoken, as the PCs continue their investigation into the artefact smugglers and the identities of their mysterious customers. Like any voidship, the Oath Unspoken is massive, much more akin to a location than a vehicle, a home to millennia of culture and secrets.
Here, you’ll find a gazetteer with information about the shipboard culture and notable locations aboard the Oath Unspoken, from the Corpse-Holds to the Navigator’s Sanctum, but you’ll also discover more of the Rogue Traders’ role in the Askellon sector. Specifically, readers will learn of the great trade war between the Anzaforr and Surena dynasties, and how the two families have undertaken penance in the decades since. Of course, any benefits to their power bases as a result of services offered to the Ecclesiarchy or the Imperial Navy are surely incidental!
One ship area the PCs will likely visit is the Drunnels, a large open-deck marketplace that takes up an entire cargo hold and a large portion of the surrounding corridors and chambers. The Drunnels showcases the fact that the Oath Unspoken is much more than a mere ship, and its peculiar customs have developed over thousands of years. Aboard a Rogue Trader’s vessel, it is perhaps no surprise that the importance of trade and negotiation has filtered down to even the lowliest crew-serfs. In the Drunnels, haggling is a way of life. An elaborately ritualised form of negotiating is required for any transaction, from acquiring information or lodgings to merely catching a glimpse of a performance by the Cirque Commercia. Unwary Acolytes might even find themselves entering into unintended bargains!
Planet of the Dead
After travelling aboard an ancient voidship, the arrival on Thaur could be a shock for the Acolytes. The PCs were unlikely to see even a single leaf on Desoleum, but now the steel corridors of hive and voidship are now replaced by vast, dense forests and ancient, crumbling mausoleums. This sparsely populated, largely low-tech world offers a distinct contrast to Hive Desoleum and the Oath Unspoken!
Thaur is home to the graves of the sector’s greatest heroes and most revered saints, with monuments and tombs built from the bones of pious citizens. On this planet the dead are more important than the living. Every division of the Eulogus Askelline – the planet’s governing body and Ecclesiarchy diocese – is committed to the task of caring for and honouring the deceased, from the poor who scrimp and save their entire lives to be buried here, to powerful nobility, war heroes, and saints.
I really enjoyed coming up with the details of the Eulogus Askelline’s beliefs and various branches, as it incorporates Thaur’s governance, religion, defence force, and more. In particular, I’m quite fond of the Ossuarian Custodians, the monastic guardians of the Great Ossuria and the ancient and mysterious catacombs that descend far beneath Thaur’s surface. From defending against tomb robbers to repairing crumbling bone-work statues, they see to the preservation of the ossuaries that house Thaur’s most esteemed residents. Unlike the Mournful Guard who watch over the surface, the Custodians carry specialised and deadly weaponry – and they do not look kindly upon intruders.
I hope players enjoy exploring the Askellon sector further in Forgotten Gods as they uncover and defeat an ancient threat to the Imperium. For me, one of the best parts of Warhammer 40,000 is the interesting and bizarre worlds that make up the Imperium. Even within the world classifications – hive world, forge world, shrine world, and so on – there’s no standard, and Dark Heresy offers the opportunity to explore this diversity in depth. I think players and GMs will find the wastelands of Desoleum, the Oath Unspoken, and Thaur to offer many exciting roleplaying opportunities, whether you sit down to a formal dinner with Lord-Captain Aristide Anzaforr or push through the tangled forests of Thaur to search for the grave of a god. But remember – wherever you go, there are always new heresies!
Can you stop the Faceless Trade before their artefacts awaken unspeakable corruption within the Askellon sector? Unless you act, an ancient evil will rise to prominence once more. Gather your fellow Acolytes, and purge this heresy before it can spread!
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Dark Heresy Second Edition is a roleplaying game of danger, mystery, and brutal violence set in the decaying far future of Warhammer 40,000. Players take on the role of defenders of humanity and embark on hazardous adventures into the dark heart of the 41st Millennium. As an Acolyte of an Inquisitor, you’ll serve at the front line of a great and secret war to root out dangers that imperil all of humanity.