Opposed tests in Dark Heresy
4th May, 2010

This is a house rule mod for Dark Heresy RPG. I'm thinking of posting up a few of my house rules I've collected up over the years. Most of them are forerunners of my ideas for WarSpike, which is also a percentile system, and many of these were posted on the old Black Industries forum (RIP). They have their roots in Rune Quest, Call of Cthulhu, and other percentile systems. I really like percentile systems as they are fast, but quite often later add-ons dramatically slow them down. These ad-hoc remedies keep the game flowing.

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New Gallery for 1,000 Chapters Project
27th Apr, 2010

The old gallery proved to be too much trouble to keep updated on a regular basis. With new fan made chapters turning up all the time (like Bolter and Chainsword's Iron Gauntlet Challenge) I needed an easier way to keep it maintained. I wanted to separate the marines in the old pages into their individual pics, so I could reorder them, but will 1,000 marines this was going to be a bit of a headache. The only answer was to get a proper gallery system to handle this (and on that could automate alphabetical order would be nice). After having a look about, I plumbed for the excellent nextGEN Gallery plugin for WordPress. It seems pretty robust, but only time will tell if it (or my host) can handle 1,000 images in a single gallery!

After playing about with the gallery a bit, I started converting the old gallery into the new one. This may take a while as I have to cut up all the old '20 marines per picture' pages into the individual marines and then upload 'em to the new gallery. I've managed 10 pages so far (I've no idea how Dazzo kept his sanity as this is incredibly tedious!) but I think it will be worth it in the end.

Update: The conversion of old gallery is complete (757 chapters in total)
Update: Added 70 'blanks' for canon chapters that are known but lack a colour scheme (832 chapters in total)
Update: We are passed the 1,000 mark!

The gallery has some interesting features, and one of these is image 'tags'. Using tags you can create galleries that only show the images with a specific tag. I thought this would be very useful in dividing up the 1,000 chapters so that fans could quickly isolate the chapters they are looking for. Below is a gallery based on the tag "first".

This only shows the 1st founding (loyalist) chapters. These images are within the main gallery, but are plucked out based on this tag. This will save me from making multiple galleries and duplicating images. As a future possibility I may be able to use one page for the gallery and reload the gallery images based on tags! The only problem is that the tag based galleries can not take specific custom templates and seem to be a little isolated form the main gallery system. It's all new to me, but I sure there is a way...

The full (prototype) gallery can be found here: 1,000 Chapters
Which will eventually replace the old gallery [edit: link removed]

26th Mar, 2010

This is an idea for Orgs, the Sciror version of Orcs/ Orks. I like the Warhammer version of Orks with spores, and the breeding cycle of Genestealers and thought about combining the two and messing about with the blended concept to play into stereotypes about teenagers and counter-cultures. I also wanted a bit of the 'The Thing' and 'Invasion of the Body Snatchers' in there too. All to create a potent invasion organism that attacks from the inside on many layers.

Concept: The Org spores infect a person and get into their blood. The spores affect the gamete cells, and hence any subsequent child derived from them is altered. The child would appear to be normal, but the Org characteristics lay dormant within the child. When a child reaches puberty they start to transform (many parents would agree with this!).

It would be like a 12-13 year old pumped full of growth hormones and steroids (far more than usual). At first they may seem athletic, but soon it goes completely haywire. They loose teeth, and a third set (with tusks) breaks through. They shoot up in height, pack on muscle, eat nothing but red meat, and are prone to 'roid rage'.

They form gangs, hang out of street corners,  and attack humans. Their behaviour becomes more extreme over time, until they start killing and eating humans. They become a head-hunter 'serial killer' gang. As they mature they become green, first blotchy, they all over.

The final transformation is when they 'die'. Once the heart stops it triggers a massive change, and the Org 'reanimates' the corpse, and it is driven by an extreme hunger. Now the 'Orc' is out of control and rabid. It becomes a berserker driven by primal instincts (very true if their was massive brain trauma).

This final stage is the end game. The Org is probably part of a gang (which it still recognises) but it has gear and weapons acquired while still in the 'human' stage.

The Org are rebels, insurgents, and revolutionaries, they are anarchists, vandals, destroyers, nutters, psychos.


  • Micro-Spore - can be ingested, or contracted. Grows inside the host to create Bacterium like structures, also produces Bacteriophage (attacks native bacteria in the human host), and Retrovirus (payload) all acting in unison.
  • Child - looks and acts human
  • Teenager - groups of the infected gather together to form gangs as they starts to transform (wears a hoodie to hide this transformation :P). Starts mugging people and beating them up, only a matter of time before they start eating them too! Eating human flesh leads to;
  • Mature - looks a bit like a hobgoblin, very strong, high pain tolerance, and blotchy green skin. Prone to rages, but is still smart and understands technology. Have their own abbreviated language and a psionic link to each other. If they are killed this triggers the next stage;
  • Undead - if the heart stops the Org go into overdrive and seize control. Reanimation. The host is reborn as a rabid 'Orc'. Insane levels of hunger, rapid regeneration, possible psionic-boosters in areas where there is a psionic-manifestation. Very fast, constantly running (charging) and extremely tough. An AK-47 will not kill them. You literally a have to dismember them to slow them down (but they can reattach limbs by holding the soggy end close to the severed point) but they will also regenerate in the case where they can not reach a lost limb.
  • Rebirth once more - Total death (incineration) releases spores that infects the area, and gets into the food chain (dormant). Once eaten it infects the host, including the genitals (inc. eggs and sperm). Can also be passed on as a sexually transmitted disease (having sex with an infected person pass on the spores, as well as leading to teenagers (with Org syndrome).)

Their sole mission is to destroy civilizations from within. The Org gangs can be styled after any gang, warband, or counter-culture from anywhere in the world, or sci-fi inspired gangs from anywhere (or any-time) in the world, or completely made up. This allows Player to style their Orgs as they see fit. They could wear tartan kilt with blue face paint, or Samurai gear, even Ninja Orgs. Anything and everything - a mix of Org and human - hells angels, chavs, Blackwater Mercenaries, you name it.

The role of Mature Humans who are infected: a mature human who is infected will still transform on death. I'm considering this make a smaller 'Goblin' type, that is cunning and avoid direct fighting, and sabotages the food supply, hospitals etc all with intend of creating conditions ideal for spreading the infection.

Until death, a mature human who is infected as an adult, may exhibit secondary, far less pronounced, transformation traits.

  • For example - Infected Mercenaries who are official contractors, with links to the military, would likely to show only secondary traits, as they are too old to be full 'hobgoblin' Orgs as this would be seen by the time the are ready to be selected as from the ranks of the military Mercenaries.

This is an advantage for the Org as such infected contractors would be hard to spot and would be sympathetic to up and coming full Orgs. These infiltrator Orgs may have extra muscle mass and aggression. This allows the Org to infiltrate the military and retain their cover, not alerting the command structure or others, yet at the same time may be 'heroes' (and spreading infection).

The idea behind this would be that the Org want to infect military personnel (though this is more instinct; they want to fight and the want to retain cover and play by the rules) as their children will be infected and transform into 'hobgoblin' Orgs and probably have some training due to their parents. The parents may even protect their transforming offspring.

In a game, this could be used as special rules for turning seemingly uninfected enemy units into 'traitors' and launching a surprise attack from within. The Org tend to see their infection as a 'gift', and want to get rid of other humans (who they see as weak) or convert them. However the society is not stable as the Org will turn on each other when all the regular humans are gone. The Org organise into tribal units and hunt down other tribes. Only the strong survive on an Org world, a world of endless fighting.

8th Mar, 2010

This is a clarification (reimage) of the technologies found in power armour Autosense used by Space Marines in 40K.  The idea is to ramp up he technology yet remove the tech feel and plunge the marine into spiritual relationship with his armour - one that makes sense to our modern mind set - and to show off the ethos and power of archaeotech. At the same time I wanted to build in some wriggle room that accounts for all the descriptions of Autosense found in Black Library novels and codex colour text; from primitive HUD to the guiding hand of the machine spirit.

Autosense is a device that collects information via artificial sensors, processes and filters that information, and then feeds it directly into the mind of the wearer. This completely bypasses the wearer's natural senses. A helmet with Autosense does not have eye slits to look through, holes to let sound into the ear, it is completely (hermetically) sealed as part of life-support. Instead the helmet has artificial sensors mounted outside the armour.

Artificial sensor array: The Autosense make use of several highly advanced artificial sensors.

  • The core visual sensor is wide spectrum, with particular focus on the THz wavelengths know as T-Lux. This band of light is in between infra-red and microwaves and has characteristics of both. In application is has the effect of being full on heat vision, but is also has a penetrating effect, so heat emanating from inner layers are also clearly seen. This gives a passive 'x-ray' effect able to penetrate clothing (but not metal objects), and will expose hidden weapons. It will also expose hidden snipers, and other hot objects much as a thermal camera. Lazgun blasts can be traced back to origin.
  • The audio system is very sensitive, with Doppler effect processing for excellent sound placement in 3D space.  It allows the system to place all noises within the environment accurately, and range them, including sniper locations (of the sniper's weapon emits noise). It is so precise that it can function as a form echolocation.
  • Smell is about as acute as a dog's nose, and combined with molecule recognition the Autosense can detect the presence of many substances and direct the marine to them (note: A Space Wolf's nose is more sensitive)
  • Taste is not catered for.
  • Touch - optional: the suit is covered with micro-hairs (similar in concept to a crab suing hairs to feel through it's carapace) this allows the suit to feeling what is touching the surface of the armour, and internal strain gages allow the feeling over pressure. A marine can even feel the wind on his armour.

Artificial Instincts: The Autosense collects a vast amount of information through the artificial sensors, far too much for a human mind (even a marines!) to process all at once, so the Autosense has to filter and process this information into a feed that a human can absorb. In order to do this, and make the most of the sensory information collected, the Autosense utilizes cortex technology. This cortex technology is a dedicated machine sub-brain that is able to recognise threats by analysing the vast stream of incoming data, and passes these perceptions on to the marine as 'instincts'. It is, in effect, a technologically enabled 'sixth-sense'. These instincts alert the marine to threats they can not usually see, and are prioritised in relation to the marine's own instincts. If the marine takes notice of these artificial instincts and focuses in on a threat, the Autosense will instantly enhance the image to make it clear what the threat is.

This instinct feed is often interpreted as a 'spirit guide' and the Autosense plays into this perception. This guiding 'spirit' is the 'machine spirit' of the armour. It's not the actual technology or AI, it's the marine's perception of their interaction with the Autosense and the feeling of presence.

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Main site update
25th Feb, 2010

Now that the Inquisitor theme I created for the blog is sorted out and applied, and synced with the prototype theme of the main site, I'll be updating main site to match. This will mean that over the next week or two, as I update it in between running around, the main site will be a mix of old and new. This is a bit of a mess, as the menus do not match, but hopefully it will not be like this for too long.

Edit (6 March 2010): All done. The main site is up to date! It was a serious mess under the hood, but is now the code is nice and clean (I may yet move all the pages to WordPress pages for easy management and added comments).

Power Gamers
21st Feb, 2010

I to do not think min/ maxers are a problem per se. There are merely specialising; which is a perfectly natural instinct, and ironically quite 'team player' when you think about it (as a specialist on their own is vulnerable).

Min/ Maxers are merely trying to stack the odds of their survival in their favour. They have an idea that all encounters are going to be direct fights and they need to throw everything at the enemy. It's all about survival (and if they survive it's all glory). It's hard to ask someone to go against base instincts and drives like these. Most young males (and a lot of gamer females) run through hypotheticals (like games) to test themselves. To see if they can win, to beat the system. It's important to them. Older players have less of this type of drive because they have already proven themselves.

This can be neutralised by shifting the goal posts, and GMs have their ways...

Some ground rules as to what is expected can help - merely pointing out that it's a puzzle game not a combat simulator, and that you (the GM) will match the enemies to the power levels of the players; so most straight up fights listed in the scenario will scale to at least be 50-50 (and a real chance of the PC dying without them coming up with some superior tactics!). Those enemies that are weaker than 50-50 are likely to run (why would a little sneaky goblin charge/ stand their ground against an overpowered human?), and 'boss monsters' should usually invincible (to the point they may not even have stats, you fight it: you loose) unless you have a trick up your sleeve. Defeating a boss is a puzzle and will require a bit of lateral thinking. Catching those that run (lower power NPCs) will require ambushes, and shifting the odds of a 50-50 fight will require tactics. You only earn experience on 50-50 fights and the use of tactics.

So no matter how much the min/max; they usually have a 50% chance of loosing in a fight with NPCs who actually want to fight, and the boss monster is 'the boss' and will kick their ass.

'opponent scaling' or 'risk scaling'.

Reminds me of the old Warhammer Fantasy RPG (1E) 'risk rolls', which tended to be 50%...

In conclusion, I think most of the time it's hard to blame a power-gamers for doing what they do - it's a personality trait. If handled with care, and they are made aware of the parameters of the game, it can work to your advantage. However a power gamer will test your resolve. You will probably have to kill them at some point, and do it early before their mindset thinks you were full of BS and they act up. The first 'easy' fight the power-gamer wants (i.e. bullying or picking on mooks) the NPCs should run away, the first 50-50 fight they have they should walk away bloody, die, or surrender. If they walk away bloody and get into another fight - kill them.

I'm sure the non power-games will be ahead of the curve, and start suggesting tactics and perhaps a bit of stealth. However, this is 'adaptive', and what works once should not work again (once word is out that there is a 'gang', that ambushes, operating in the area - NPCs will be weary (and they know the terrain)). It is possible that the PC will intimidate many, but criminal gangs can be powerful and may hunt the PCs down. Usually the PCs are operating in a society, and threats will be taken very seriously. Humans are aggressive. Territory will be protected. (Protected by the NPC version of a min/ maxer!)

When thinking about what an NPC would do, just ask yourself: what would you do in their shoes?

Do not blame the player for power-gaming: blame the system and the lack of in game consequences.

Power-gamers are power-gamers because it often works. Simple but effective. If you want a more sophisticated game, I would suggest the system and game world has to be sophisticated too. You can't rely on 'social norms' and 'unspoken understanding' and what is the 'correct attitude' to make up for an unsophisticated system. A power-gamers will see the weaknesses and exploit them. It's their nature, and that nature is in all of us. In many ways the whole point of RPGs is to have fun and 'cheat the odds', to solve the puzzle, power-gamers are merely starting with the rules (simple tactics lots of maths), those who like the setting exploit the setting (complex tactics little maths): rules hacker - setting hacker.

We are all more similar than different, more often than not...


PS: As for 'centre of attention' you can't beat being a GM

New Theme: Inquisitor
15th Feb, 2010

This is the new theme for this blog and my main website. My aim is to merge the two. This theme is a complete re-write from scratch; I first created the template for the main site and then adapted it to a WordPress theme. I named this theme 'Inquisitor' after the fact looks like a giant 'I' (I was going to call it simply 'I', but thought better of it). Its style draws heavily from the main site, with a few touches from the old 'Philverse' theme, all pulled together and streamlined for a more utilitarian look. The familiar 'drop cap titles' are carried over, mixing old manuscript and modern typography which seems appropriate for 40K, combined with clearer layout. Browsers have come a long way, it was much easier to create the drop caps, so a lot of Div tags and what-nots have be ripped out. A lot lighter and quicker.

The layout is not quite the same as the old blog as I removed the side bar, and all tracking information will be moved to a separate pages. I will add an archives page, and recent comments page later. My goal is to use this blog purely as a 'news page'. I will update the main site later, once all the quirks have been ironed out here, with the updated theme.

As with all new developments on my site, they are designed to make it easier to get around and view, so I am very interested to hear what you think.

Battle Brothers, and Battle Sisters
12th Feb, 2010

The idea of female Space Marines is often debated on 40K forums, with each new generation of gamers end up asking the same questions as my generation did. The topic never dies for long, and reawakens with new gamers wanting answers and having dreams of creating the ultimate Amazons. In a sci-fi setting almost anything is possible in theory, but no female Space Marine has ever been portrayed in the background of 40K. This seems to be an absolute rule. However this is not the whole story, and delving into the deep past of 40K, it seems the Sisters of Battle started out pretty much the same of the Space Marines in many respects...

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Power Conservation in Space Marine Armour
24th Jan, 2010

The Imperium makes heavy use of thermoelectric devices and materials, an advanced form of technology based on the Seebeck effect we know now, to convert heat into electricity. The STC power-packs found lining the interior of the multi-fuel engine fireboxes, and powers the ubiquitous Imperial Guard's Lazgun, are thermoelectric devices. These power-pack are made up of a stack of layer core, much like a heat-sink, coated in a highly efficient thermoelectric material. When heated these layers convert the heat into electricity and store it in a battery.

These materials can also be incorporated into flexible materials and fashioned into a EES (extreme enviroment suits). Many environments where humans have to work in 40K are hostile, with extremes of temperature that would freeze a man solid or set their flesh ablaze in an instant, and to protect the wearer from these extremes the outer layer of the EES is often a super-insulator. While this is great for isolating the wearer from the enviroment, it also means that within the suit there is a build up of heat generated by the body. This is were the thermoelectric layer is vital as takes the build up of body heat converts it into electricity. This cools the body and keeps the internal temperature of the suit constant (as the parameters of the design only has to deal with body heat, and sub-system heat, it is easy to optimise the system), and the generated electricity is then used to power life-support subsystems via a rechargeable battery. Subsystems include the comms, air scrubber pumps, and water auto-sense gear.

Space Marines: These thermoelectric materials and devices are used in construction of the highly advanced Space Marine Power Armour. The armour incorporates a thermoelectric layer under the super-insulator ceramite armour plates. This not only cools the hyper-metabolism body of the marine, reclaiming spent power and feeding it back into the enviroment sub-system, it drastically reduces their IR (infra-red) signature make them virtually invisible to heat sensing equipment. Space Marines always appear at 'ambient temperature' when viewed through any heat sensor, auto-sense, or thermo-goggles.

Horus Heresy - An Alternative History?
13th Jan, 2010

I was discussing the Horus Heresy over on Dark Reign's forum, when a heresy of my own popped into my head. Instead of the Primarchs betraying the Emperor, what if the Emperor betrayed the Primarchs! In this re-image the betrayed Primarchs would have to fight back with everything they have, seeing as the Emperor is so powerful, and this would drive the Primarchs into the arms of chaos. As they draw heavily on warp energies, in their desperation to survive, they become corrupted. This links into early descriptions of the Primarchs are being 'warp enhanced' (in strength, and special powers). So if they push their abilities, the assumed built in safeguards start to breakdown.

Now all I need is a good rationale as to why the Emperor would betray the Primarchs?

The Emperor is a magnitude of power greater than the Primarchs. The Emperor can see much of the future, and makes some very harsh choices based on what he sees coming down the line. Without detailed explanation others can not hope to understand, and even if explained it may not sit right with someone. This re-image could be quite complex, and perhaps draw upon Earth's religious mythologies and fables and revamp them for a modern audience. The Primarchs would be much more the 'angels who can not disobey', until one does...

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