Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Gaius Iago Urbanus

Bolt-on rules for DH2

Recommended Posts



In preparation for mastering my game, I have been doing quite a lot of thinking and research.  I am starting to realize that the game I want to run isn't exactly DH2 - at least not RAW.  Not that RAW couldn't support what I would like to do, but that they aren't well developed.


I first started looking for additional mechanics that I could adapt to DH2 when I realized that there aren't any (detailed) covering the creation and operation of organizations.  After significant reading, I have identified a number of other RPGs that have systems like this that I might be able to adapt (links to DriveThruRPG product pages):

Of all of these, I actually have access to maybe a quarter (and the rest are on my DriveThru wishlist - maybe I'll get one or two).  Clearly, I can't reasonably read through and master all of these different games to find the one sub-system for organization management that I want.  And this list is just for the one mechanic! (Although, several of these likely have more than one useful mechanic).



So, here are my questions to the experienced GMs here:

  1. What mechanics/subsystems from DH2 have you adapted/repurposed/etc. to novel/different/interesting situations?
  2. What types of mechanical subsystems (that aren't in the system) would a game of Dark Heresy benefit from?
  3. What types of mechanical subsystems would most easily and seamlessly 'bolt on' to DH2?
  4. What subsystems have you personally bolted on, and what were your experiences with them?
  5. What subsystems have you created for use with DH2? (e.g., Crystal Geyser's Narrative Tacitcal Conflict system)
  6. What would you recommend that I consider?*




*Post Script: My DH2 Game Concept

My Acolytes will build their own organizations on two levels: the higher level to which they all belong (basically the bottom rung of the Inquisitor's 'gang'), and a lower level organization that each of them create (and rule from the top rung).  They will leverage their organizations while unraveling  down sector-spanning intrigues, hunting heretics, getting the Inquisitor's dry cleaning, etc.  As I see things (and how my Inquisitor is going to run things) every Acolyte is a potential Inquisitor, living an extended and oft-fatal selection and apprenticeship program.  People don't usually go from being an underling ("Theirs not to make reply / Theirs not to reason why / Theirs but to do and die / Into the valley of death / Rode the six hundred") to a boss overnight.  While they learn to fight the enemies three, they will also be learning how to start (identify, approach, and recruit assets) and manage (delegate tasks, share rewards, ensure loyalty, pit underlings against one another) an organization.  As the PCs grow and develop, so will their networks.


Similarly, I intend to have NPC organizations operating in Askellon with their own politics/goals/motivations/etc.  Like true Inquisitorial Acolytes, the PCs will directly use influence and subtlety, operate in the shadows, and shape situations by gently manipulating the puppet-strings (rather than playing at being a goon squad).  This nicely ties into the Reinforcement Character mechanic as pointed out by Magnus Grendel in another thread.


p.p.s. I've tried to improve readibility of this message by playing with font sizes.  Please let me know if this is annoying, and I won't do it anymore.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Of all the games you listed the only one I've heard of is Burning Wheel, which has a good reputation but I've never read it.


One game that comes to mind is FATE. In the FATE game I have (Legends of Anglerre, which is a little older) treats organizations with the exact same rules as players, just on a larger scale. The 'character' sheets are exactly the same. Organizations have damage tracks, same as players. Goals and aspects, same as players. I forget exactly how it works with human-scale characters interacting with organizations, but overall it's an elegant solution.


Another game that takes this idea is Edge of the Empire. Vehicles are treated almost exactly the same as human-scale characters, but at 10x. So if a vehicle's weapon had pen 1 (to use a DH2 term), that's pen 10 on the human scale. Armor goes the same way. Both systems allow you to use a single ruleset for a variety of different kinds of encounters.


All that said, I've never hacked at a system in a way any way near what you're suggesting. Personally, if a game does not address the thing I need it to, I'll find one that does. I question the necessity of adding a complex organization-representation subsystem, especially for someone who's never GMed anything before. Why are you doing this?

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Yeah, I've used FATE pretty extensively in my DH games as a way to add character to what is typically considered a very rote setting (it's amazing how people can make the 40k setting trite through a verbatim repetition of its tropes.) Fate Points become a lot more interesting when they're incentivized in a way that makes them play more like FATE Points. it's also a nice way to abstract a lot of the tiresome circumstantial modifiers that can occur in combat, and can be used to make social combat much more interesting.

As far as "bolt-on" rules are concerned, Diaspora has always been a favorite of mine, as it's system generation can be a great method for giving players agency to flesh out aspects of a very cool setting. For assistance in this, I've also used the lovely Traveller rules for planet generation.

Also, in my EK's Beta modifications, I drew extensively upon much of the work happening over at Grim and Perilous with Zweihander- the +/-d mechanic also streamlines a lot of things and solves the typical DH problem of even experienced characters succeeding at Challenging tests half of the time. You might also want to look at how I handled influence and organizations within those rules, as they were designed to be a hybrid of Green Ronin's ASIOF organization rules and DH1's Ascension. I never felt like I had it exactly where I wanted it, though. I also remember my initial work on the wound system for that edition was inspired by 7th Sea's wound system, but with slightly more prescribed narrative description (Gotta use those charts somewhere!).

Also, ohmygod, I love Houses of the Blooded. I don't think the tone fits DH, but I admire Wick's work on subverting the standard success-failure mechanics in traditional tabletop roleplaying games.

Esoterrorists and the GUMSHOE system may also be something to look into, as I feel that it aces the investigation style game.

Needless to say, my ideal DH system would be a hybrid between DIaspora FATE and GUMSHOE (which I'm actually kind of working on at the moment anyways, once I get a much larger kickstarter project out of the way, haha).

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Chaplain's "hard mode" rules (over in the BC subsection I think) are fairly solid.


As far as NPC organisations go, I often find myself returning to the faction system outlined in the Shadowrun 4 missions campaign. Each faction is given a set series of goals and interest, and if the PCs are identified as crossing or supporting them, they move on a set scale. After X points in the like or dislike direction, an appropriate reaction is given. For example, shooting a member of a larger organisation at the wrong place/wrong time? It happens, can be an accident. Shooting multiple members, however, is likely an attack. Inadvertaint, multiple instances of aid may hint at a common goal, provoking perhaps a positive approach. It's a very simple, rudimentary methode of tracking, but it works.


As for Spies/Minions,  using the contact system from SR and tracking their loyalty and importance and specialties on that scale is a good gauge. If you're not familiar with it, I'm happy to go into detail. It's really fairly simple.

Edited by DeathByGrotz

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites


Thanks for the suggestions.  I hadn't seen FATE recommended for this aspect before; add it to the list!  I also like the scaling concept you describe from EotE.  Reign (which is a One Roll Engine game by Greg Stolze) seems to be widely regarded as having one of the better (and portable!) organization creation and management mechanics.  The one drawback that I see mentioned arises when dealing with such scaling issues (e.g., the Imperium would be a Company [Reign's name for organizations] as would an Acolytes cell of two operatives.  These organizations operate at vastly different scales, but there aren't great mechanics for dealing with this), which could be addressed with a system like you mention. 


Reign's Company rules have a single point of interface (by design) with other mechanics, so is easily imported into other games.  That feature (ease of import) is precisely what I am looking for and referring to by 'bolt-on'.  As in, you can just bolt it on.  No muss, no fuss (well... not too much, anyways!).




Thanks for the great input!  I totally forgot to include Esoterrorists in my list - I actually have a copy of it!  I'm definitely going to check out your Living 2.3 Mod; it sounds fantastic, and like a great starting point for me to work from.




I've never looked at the PnP Shadowrun game.  Sounds like I need to check it out, thanks for the tip.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

If you're interested in the investigation side of things, look up the Gumshoe system, which has rules entirely based around investigating things. It might even have an existing rules rewrite floating out there if you were to, say, Google something like "dark heresy gumshoe..."

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

  • Create New...