The Truth Behind the Lie

Here’s another idea for an RPG campaign that I’ll never get around to running, partially because organising even a single gaming session – let alone a campaign – when you get to my age requires a major effort, and partially because it touches on some tricky issues that I’m nowhere near good enough to handle in a suitably respectable fashion. Oh, and also because I’m explaining it here and my players are a bunch of dirty cheats who’d read this post in its entirety and spoil the whole thing.

So, it starts out as your standard fantasy RPG game, although the players would notice a few non-standard features of the setting. The PCs are all resistance fighters on the run, living rough in the wilderness while fighting back against the evil empire that has conquered the once prosperous realm. Sort of Robin Hood meets John Connor’s guys from The Terminator.

They need to sneak around, gathering resources to survive, making alliances with groups and individuals who may or may not be trustworthy and launching risky strikes against the foe whenever they can manage it. It’s a highly uneven battle – the enemy holds all the cards while the PCs have little but their determination and belief to keep them going.

While the warriors of the enemy are tough, the greatest threat to the PCs are the mind-bending magics of their sorcerers, capable of rewriting memories and personalities and turning trusted friends and allies to the side of evil. Being captured and subjected to mind-magic is the thing of nightmares and to be avoided by the PCs at all costs.

As the campaign progresses it should gradually become clear to the players that things aren’t all that they seem. As evidence mounts up it should slowly dawn on them that the PCs are not fantasy heroes valiantly fighting evil…

…they’re mentally ill homeless people living rough on the streets of a modern day city. The evil forces ranked against them are cops trying to maintain order and the terrifying mind-wiping sorcerers are social workers trying to get them into treatment.

As I said I could never pull this off in a way that firstly works, and secondly doesn’t make a mockery of the very serious issues of homelessness and mental health. But someone else might be able to manage, so have at it!

(Inspirations for this concept include the Tube Station scene in Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere and Dirt Merchant Games’ extremely messed up – and extremely funny – “LARP” Freebase, which is well worth looking up.)

Introducing Corvus Jyones

Introducing Corvus Jyones

I’ve recently – for my sins – become involved with a play-by-post role playing game on one of the forums I frequent. It’s a science fiction game and we had to write a passage to introduce our characters. This is mine, introducing Corvus Jyones, maverick engineer…

(Note: Contains adult language)

Corvus Jyones, recently engaged engineer of the freighter Gaunt’s Promise was finalising the post-touchdown system checks when the Captain entered the engine room.

“Corvus, have you got a minute?”

“Sure thing Cap!” Corvus sharply saluted and put down his clipboard.

The Captain awkwardly returned the salute “Look, there’s no easy way to say this. You’re a great engineer and you’ve kept the ship running like a dream, but the crew have had a meeting, and they’ve decided – well – they’ve decided that they don’t want you on the next trip. Or any trip, actually.”

“You’re firing me?”

“I’m sorry Corvus”

Jyones turned away. He picked up his clipboard, then put it back down. He picked it up again, turned it around a few times, and put it down again. He picked it up and turned back to the Captain.

“Is it the razor thing?”


“I told him, don’t use it for more than two minutes straight or it’ll overheat”

“It exploded!”

“Technically they’re the same same thing…”

“It’s also the food”

“I needed parts to fix the razor”

“And they had to come from the refrigeration system?”

“Hey, who’s the engineer here? I made sure there were plenty of non-perishables…”

“Doctor Goodhealth’s Complete Nutrition Paste?”

“Nothing wrong with nutrition paste! It’s nutritious! And delicious!”

“The crew beg to differ. Look, just leave without a fuss, please?”

“At least let me get my stuff”

“Your boiler suits? They’re out on the tarmac.”

“What? How you can you treat them like that? The boiler suit is pinnacle of human sartorial development!”

“So you keep insisting…”

“So, that’s it? Six months of loyal service and all because of one minor, disfiguring explosion I’m cast adrift into an uncaring galaxy without so much as a penny to my name?”

“You were paid yesterday”

“And how do you know I haven’t spent it all on comic slates and moon pies?”

“You haven’t been off the ship yet!”

“I could have been. You don’t know everything I do!”

The Captain sighed heavily and buried his face in his hands,


“Can I at least say goodbye to the crew?”

“They’ve already said all they want to say”


“All over your boiler suits”


“Just, go. Please.”

Corvus set down the clipboard.

“All right, if that’s the way it’s got to be. But I’m not going to go quietly!” He lunged for the nearby intercom panel, mashing the ‘All Channels’ button with his fist.



I’M A FARMER!! I’M A- GET OFF! GET! Oh fuck it, have it your way…”

Five minutes later Corvus Jyones stood alone on the spaceport tarmac – except for a pile of soiled boiler suits. The lights of the colony beckoned, promising excitement, adventure and (hopefully) dry cleaning.

A Return to Nerdery

Who am I kidding, I love this stuff!

Did I mention that I bought myself a copy of Fantasy Flight’s Warhammer 40k role playing game Dark Heresy for Christmas? Well, I did. So there 😀

I have a habit of collecting RPGs that I have no intention of actually running. I just find it really interesting to compare the mechanics, and also enjoy reading all the background material. And the 40K background material is always worth a gander (for those unfamiliar with 40k, TV Tropes provides an excellent and highly entertaining summary).

Overall Dark Heresy is a class production. I have managed to find a few problems with it however. Firstly the Character Creation section is a little sloppy. I had to poke around a fair bit to discover how skills work (and hence how to select them for your character) and I’m still not 100% on how experience is used to increase rank –  a problem I’m sure will be resolved once I find where they’ve hidden the relevant explanation.

Secondly, the map of the Calixis sector is dodgy. The different planet types are mostly indicated with coloured dots, some of which are so similar that you need to look really closely to tell the difference. Other planets have weird protrusions, the meaning of which seem highly inconsistent (is Scintilla a prison planet? I can’t tell!). The map is so confusing in fact that I had to create my own version.

Finally there are no rules for abhumans. This is a minor quibble really as modern 40k has all but eliminated them (often via oddly convenient tyranid hive fleets) but it’d be nice to have the option. Happily this hole has been plugged by a number of fan created rulesets such as this one from Postmortem Studios, although I note it doesn’t include Beastmen.

So I decided to create rules for Beastmen. Here we go.


Beastmen are the most bestial and inhuman type of abhuman. Their bodies combine the features of both human and animal, usually being horned, hoofed, and very hairy. Beastmen are much more variable in form than other abhuman types. They are considered abhumans rather than ordinary mutants however, as individual Beastmen conform to a general physical and genetic standard and are no more prone to further mutation than normal humans.

Beastmen who have been introduced into the Imperial cult possess a simple but fierce devotion to the Emperor, regarding him as a vengeful god who demands tribute in the form of the blood of his enemies. They are driven by the need to atone for the sin of being mutants by fighting for the Emperor.

Beastmen only come from Feral Worlds and receive the following traits (rather than the standard Feral World traits),

Iron Stomach – as on Page 15 of Rulebook
Primitive – as on Page 15 of Rulebook
Heightened Senses – as per the talent on page 117 of Rulebook
Ill Omened – as on page 22 of Rulebook, with the -5 fellowship penalty applying to non-beastmen

Characteristic Base Feral
Weapon Skill 2d10+ 20
Ballistic Skill 2d10+ 20
Strength 2d10+ 20
Toughness 2d10+ 25
Agility 2d10+ 25
Intelligence 2d10+ 20
Perception 2d10+ 20
Willpower 2d10+ 20
Fellowship 2d10+ 10

Beastmen are limited to the following Dark Heresy career paths: Guardsman, Scum