-== What is it? ==-
Dark Heresy is a role-playing game now handled by Fantasy Flight Games set in the Warhammer 40K universe. (The game was first published by Black Industries who sold the game to Fantasy Flight.) PC take on the role of Acolytes in the service of the Emperor. The world of Warhammer 40K is a very dark place filled with cybernetics and magic. I would call the genre dark sci-fi.
The core book includes a complete role-playing system, a sourcebook, and a short introductory adventure.
I have read the entire book from cover to cover and played in a 6 hour demo session at DunDraCon. Other than that I have NO experience with the Warhammer 40K universe at all.
-== What I Like ==-
Boy this book is pretty. The cover is fantastic. Inside the front and back cover are beautiful star charts of the realm. The layout is easy to read but very evocative. Between each section are great pieces that warm the user up for what is coming next. One of the nicest looking RPG books I have seen. Period.
The setting is gritty and righteous. It revolves around serving the Emperor and maintaining his domain but everyone has their own idea of how to accomplish that goal. This means conflicts with everyone from your superiors to the common street thug. The history is rich, the planets are unique, the slang is religion meets marine, etc. The magic system is about the controlling the warp. When the warp opens it is very dangerous. The feel is reminiscent of Call of Cthulhu in that regard. Technology is understood by only a select few who deem it a religion of sorts. Awesome touches that really make is work well as an RPG.
The book is really fun to read. There are a lot of smaller passages of flavor text that really help fill in some gaps. I enjoyed turning the page to see what warped stuff the writer would spring.
-== What I Don’t Like ==-
The system is brutal as written. I mean lethal with a capital ?L?. Characters are not that hard to knock down and when they go to negative points they start getting critical effects that cause permanent stat loses, loss of limb, etc. Brutal. I’m not sure how this brutality would fare for a long extended campaign.
(When I played in Dark Heresy at DunDraCon the GM make a change to the fate system that I felt made a huge difference. He allowed you to modify die rolls by 10% by spending a fate point. This little change really helped as often success rolls are very low. See that lethal comment above. )
Only the Inquisitors are covered in the book. There are not rules for Space Marines or any of the other cool things that folks might know about the Warhammer 40K universe.
The introductory adventure is nothing special. It is very straightforward and linear. That can be good for new players but it just seemed a little too canned to me. Not a big issue at all.
-== Summary ==-
If you want a system that is highly evocative which will put your players through a proverbial meat grinder then this is the system for you. If you want to run Dark Heresy I would highly recommend reading the Eisenhorn books from Dan Abnett. They really help in understanding the role of the Inquisitors and the 40K universe in general. I started reading them after reading the RPG.
Boy?I came very close to giving this product a 10 out of 10?this sucker is that good. The things I do not like are very minor compared to the things I do like. Go out and buy it?worth every penny of the $60 cover price.
I give it 9 out of 10 paws.