Preview the Adventure from the Dark Heresy Second Edition Core Rulebook
In the grim darkness of the 41st millennium, the safety of the Imperium is threatened from every side. The spawn of the Warp seek constantly to bring the Imperium to chaos and ruin, and the hearts of men are a fertile ground for sowing corruption. Outside the bounds of the Imperium, xenos species lurk, waiting for a moment of weakness in which to pounce.
Dark Heresy Second Edition casts you and your friends into the roles of Acolytes, tasked with standing firm against these threats, and the Core Rulebook brings the horrors of serving the Inquisition to life in its adventure, Dark Pursuits. You and your fellow Acolytes must investigate the Faceless Trade, a massive network of criminal cartels and smuggling operations dedicated to transporting and selling heretical objects. Your task is to investigate the origin and the destination of these forbidden artefacts and exterminate the heretics who dare to trifle with these powers.
Today, contributing writer Tim Cox shares his experiences from creating the Dark Pursuits adventure for your exploits in the Askellon sector.
Tim Cox on Developing the Dark Pursuits Adventure
As the introductory adventure included in the Dark Heresy Second Edition Core Rulebook, Dark Pursuits allows your group to start a campaign quickly, while simultaneously introducing Game Masters and players to the central theme of Dark Heresy. In this adventure, an ongoing investigation thrusts the Acolytes into action uncovering the secrets of a multi-headed conspiracy and a singular powerful foe. New players will quickly learn that traitors are everywhere, and that Acolytes can only rely on themselves to overcome the threats at hand. The Acolytes’ actions illuminate the heresies they face and reveal greater threats waiting in the shadows.
In this adventure, the Acolytes’ Inquisitor tasks them with investigating the source of foul xenos artefacts discovered in the Apex of Hive Desoleum, and any possible connection between the artefacts and a series of mysterious deaths. Most importantly, the Acolytes must uncover how these heretical items enter the hive city and stop those responsible. The investigation brings players into conflict with a vast smuggling cartel that deals in the most dangerous proscribed items, as well as a dangerous outcast eager to purchase the most heretical objects. Simply coming into contact with these artefacts could endanger an Acolyte’s soul, and before the adventure ends, the Acolytes must confront an ancient and corrupting evil that could damn all of Desoleum.
The Acolytes must maintain their focus on the most compelling heresies they find, carefully choosing their battles as they witness the crime and depravity that runs rampant amongst the citizens of the decaying hive. Focusing on petty crimes or even lesser heresies costs the Acolytes valuable time that they cannot afford. The mark of a great Acolyte or Inquisitor is the understanding and will to choose his battles. Visiting justice on the sadistic Babyfaces hive gang might seem noble, but by doing so, the Acolytes might allow a deadly arch-heretek to finish his dark dealings.
Enter the Hive
The Dark Pursuits adventure takes place within Hive Desoleum, a decaying hive planet and a home to hundreds of billions. The Acolytes’ investigation takes them from the heights of the Apex to the lawless borderland between Desoleum City and the underhive, before finally arriving at Gyre Voidport, a massive complex adjoining the hive proper. The towering voidport reflects the structure of the hive itself, with millennia of construction layered upon the original foundation, and dark things lurking in ancient loading tunnels and forgotten maintenance shafts. Here, the Acolytes gain additional insights into smuggling activity of the Faceless Trade, and must race to halt the delivery of an impossibly dangerous cargo. Corruption is everywhere in Hive Desoleum, from the manses of Apex nobility to the dangerous border territory of Three Stakes’ Rest.
One of my favourite things about writing for Dark Heresy is exploring the locations and individuals that make up the everyday workings of the Imperium’s worlds. In this case, I was focused on Hive Desoleum and its residents, and throughout the adventure, I tried to capture the sights, sounds, and smells of one of the sector’s major hive worlds. I spent a lot of time poring over classic Warhammer 40,000 artwork, in particular the art of John Blanche, to get the right feel for the city and its inhabitants.
As an example of this, Gyre Voidport plays a large part in the Dark Pursuits adventure, which meant thinking about how a major hive world’s primary voidport might work, and what Acolytes might experience when they visit. In the case of Port Gyre, the port is physically separated from the rest of the hive. This voidport features security checkpoints and the gargantuan bureaucracy of the Officio Auctoriate Porteus to oversee business, but the ancient tunnels honeycombing the structure and corruption amongst the Auctoriate allow a brisk trade in smuggled goods. It is the darkest and most dangerous of this smuggling that brings the Acolytes to the port.
Continue Your Adventures
Dark Pursuits introduces players and GMs to the Askellon sector, the setting for Dark Heresy Second Edition, and some of the new dangers that threaten humanity’s survival. Although Acolytes only confront a small sliver of these dangers during the adventure, the experience alerts them to wider heresies. By the end of the adventure, Acolytes have several potential avenues for follow-up investigations, any of which might form the starting point for their next adventure.
Hive Desoleum also serves as the focus for the NPCs and Adversaries chapter of the Dark Heresy Second Edition Core Rulebook, giving GMs an extensive variety of additional NPCs and groups to insert into the Dark Pursuits adventure if desired. Hive Desoleum also receives a detailed write-up in the chapter focused on the Askellon Sector, as well as some unique vehicles and items described in the Armoury chapter. Altogether, this wealth of information on Desoleum allows GMs to bring the hive city to life, immersing players in the world of Dark Heresy and opening the gates for dozens of continuing adventures following the events of Dark Pursuits.
I hope that both new and experienced Dark Heresy players will enjoy this adventure as a starting point for their adventures in the Askellon Sector. I look forward to hearing how different groups tackle the investigation and the many challenges awaiting their Acolytes!
Untold adventures lie before you in Hive Desoleum. Will you exterminate the Faceless Trade and the ancient evils within Desoleum, or will your Dark Pursuits lead you to your destruction? Preorder your copy of the Dark Heresy Second Edition Core Rulebook today, and watch for more designer diaries in coming weeks!