Sunday, 15 July 2012

Black Crusade Characters #1: Balthus

We managed another session in our Black Crusade campaign this week, although we only managed to fit in a short encounter and some combat before we ran out of time, short and sweet.

I've intended to put up more Black Crusade content on the blog (they seem to get a lot of attention,) but for a few reasons I haven't managed much.  Last week, I started writing up a couple of our earlier sessions, but before I put them up, I thought it would be a good idea to hear a bit about the characters we're running.  So I asked the guys for a bit of background material and some thoughts on how they created their character.  First up is Cal's alterego, Balthus.

Balthus might look like this.  None of us can draw, so
we simply reuse the artwork from the rulebook.


Originally, Balthus was a member of the Maréchals Triomphant space marine chapter. Details are unclear, but somehow the Maréchals were caught up in the Dovinian Schism and brought before an Inquisitorial Conclave for punishment.  The entire chapter was sentenced to undertake a penitant crusade lasting a century, into the Kalmar expanse.  During this time, the chapter were denied 
resupply or the authority to recruit and replace fallen brethren. Finally, despite years of constant struggle against the xenos of the expanse, the Maréchal Triomphant were deemed tainted beyond redemption and ordered to return to their homeworld and prepare to be disbanded.

This caused an split in the chapter.  Some insisted their duty was to accept the judgement as just for their past, others insisted it was anathama for Space Marines to passivly wait for death.  In the end, most of the remaining Maréchals chose to reject Imperial authority and leave the Imperium entierly.  Firstly, the fleet returned to their home world, unleashing a devastating bombardment that destroyed their fortress monastery, before heading away from Imperial space.  Pursuit was never far behind.  For years the remnants of the chapter evaded pursuing Imperial forces, raiding for resupply when the opportunity arose, until they were finally cornered in the Hamiss star system.

Balthus was among the handful of survivors to escape the slaughter.  He moved from system to system, conflict to conflict until, eventually, he found himself in the Screaming Vortex, in the company of other renegades and heretics.

Balthus has a healthy hatred for the Imperium and naturally seeks revenge against the forces who destroyed his chapter.  Yet his hatred is tempered.  He knows that, ultimately, he will not bring the Imperium down.  Instead, he holds his very survival as a victory against the enemy, a sign that for all the might of the Imperium, he continues to triumph over them simply by existing.  So he fights where and when he can, preferably against the Imperium; each day he survives is another wound inflicted.

Creating the Character

Below are Balthus starting stats.  Most of these are self-explanatory if you've ever played an RPG or 40K/Warhammer.  A characters Infamy represents how feared and notorious he is while the Corruption stat represents, well, how corrupt his soul has become through evil deeds, contact with daemons etc.  Black Crusade, like all the 40K RPGs, uses a D100 mechanic, generally the higher the stat the better.  At this stage Balthus is still relatively unknown, but isn't that corrupt either.  When your character reaches 100 Infamy, you have become so powerful you essentially "win" the game, but having 100 Corruption sees your character become so degenerate you "lose."


Balthus follows the Chosen Archetype.  Unlike most other RPGs, Black Crusade doesn't make use of classes or roles.  Instead, players choose an Archetype, a group of Skills and Talents that point their character in a general direction, but from there characters can progress in any way a player chooses.  As a Chosen, Balthus starting skills are mainly concerned with combat and in particular melee combat.  Although all Chaos Space Marines are skilled in combat, Chosen are particularly deadly.  This however comes at the expense of other areas, Balthus is not as skilled in command and tactics as he could be, nor is he particularly skilled out of combat, communicating with aliens or gathering information etc.

Black Crusade uses a mechanic called Passions to give your character some, well, character.  Each character chooses (or randomly rolls for) one Pride, Disgrace and Motivation that not only describe their personality, but change their stats or give other effects.  In this case, Balthus has opted for the Fortitude Pride, increasing his Toughness at the expense of his Agility and Intelligence, the Dread Disgrace, increasing his Perception but lowering his Willpower, and finally the Legacy Motivation, increasing his Infamy but, again, lowering his Intelligence.

As with most RPGs, players get a small amount of experience to spend on their characters before the game starts.  Compared to human characters, Chaos Space Marines get very little experience at this point (due to their higher stats,) so Cal gave Balthar the training to correctly use power weapons and the Furious Assault Talent (who doesn't love Furious Assault?)  Players can also give their characters some extra equipment for starting the game.  We bent the rules here slightly, giving Balthus a good quality Legion Power Sword (hence the earlier training) in addition to his armour, bolter and chainsword.

So that's Balthus, former loyal servant of the Emperor, now rogue, renegade and heretic. He's not exactly blessed in the brains department (but by no means thick,) but is more than able to carve through most opponents he'll face while dodging most incoming attacks. Although Balthus is handy at intimidating and threatening people, he'll need help with most other social and other skill tests.  Fortunately, no one ever travels alone in the Screaming Vortex. . .

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