Imperium Maledictum Origins
My name is TS Luikart, one the staff designers here at Cubicle 7, and my history with Warhammer 40,000 RPGs stretches all the way back to Dark Heresy. I worked on all sorts of material for Dark Heresy, from helping to create the worlds of the notorious Calixis Sector, to writing Talents, parts of the Armoury, how to run games, having a hand in writing a few iconic xenos, and I was, um… well, mostly responsible for… the rules for psykers. I know what some of you are thinking, but I am not the one that let the psyker in your game, that’s on you. It’s not my fault they rolled high on the Perils of the Warp; we constantly told you how dangerous they were…
November 1st was the street date for Warhammer 40,000: Imperium Maledictum, the game we at C7 refer to as the ‘spiritual’ successor to earlier Warhammer 40,000 Roleplaying games and I thought it was high time we told you why. Dark Heresy was built entirely around the premise that Characters would be working for the Imperium’s infamous and terrifying Inquisition. Directly inspired by Dan Abnett’s fantastic Eisenhorn Trilogy (now a tetralogy!) and two-thirds of the Ravenor Trilogy (the design team all eagerly awaited Ravenor Rogue, which had not been published yet when we started working on the RPG) along with the Warhammer Studio’s rather philosophical tabletop miniature game Inquisitor, it was intended from its inception to be a grim game that put heavy burdens on its Characters. The Inquisition’s job is a terrible one and not for the faint-hearted, or those lacking in ruthless will, and the original RPG reflected that.
In Imperium Maledictum, we invite players to explore more of the Imperium than ever before – not only just through the eyes of the Inquisition, but any of a number of powerful, often competing organisations. An Imperium Maledictum campaign generally begins with the Players and the GM creating a Patron together, before they make their Characters who have been plucked from their old lives at the behest of their new boss. It is at the behest of their Patron, and the Faction the Patron belongs to, that their Characters’ efforts will be directed. While the various organisations of the Imperium are supposed to stand together under the God-Emperor acting in furtherance of Humanity’s interests, the reality is that they are each complex and expansive organisations devoted to their own purposes. While their goals frequently overlap, they can also find themselves in opposition to one another in direct conflicts over power or influence. These groups are what we refer to as ‘Factions’ in Imperium Maledictum, and there are nine presented within the core book.
Like Dark Heresy, characters in Imperium Maledictum will find themselves working for a powerful individual with varied allegiances who may not be what they present themselves as. And very much like the Inquisitors of Dark Heresy, the majority of Patrons frequently make it very clear to their recruits that they are explicitly expendable until they prove otherwise. In fact, one of the nine initial Factions is the Inquisition; however, working for Patrons of the many different Factions can make for very different games of Imperium Maledictum. The things a dodgy Rogue Trader Dynasty Patron will ask for are likely to be very different than what a Magos of the Adeptus Mechanicus may demand - though both may well be interested in securing ancient technology for very different reasons. There’s never any knowing what a criminal Infractionist Patron may want, though doubtless it’s something illegal, like acquiring a dangerous xeno-chem, or blackmail material on an Astra Militarum Colonel, or helping to set up a representative democracy.
A Character can derive from any Faction and end up working for any other, or indeed, never quite know who they are working for, which also may feel a little familiar, but that is the kind of thing you can expect in this spiritual successor.
And just to be clear: psykers are still dangerous.