Character Creation Guide

Characters in Dark Heresy come from all across the millions if not billions of planets that make up the Imperium of Man. They come from different cultures, linguistic backgrounds, careers, and mindsets, but one thing unites them: The Emperor's Holy Inquisition. 

Creating a character for Dark Heresy can seem daunting if you're doing it for the first time but I'll do my best to summarize and condense it here so it's easy to understand. Essentially, there are five steps to creating your Inquisitorial Acolyte:

1. Choose a Home World

2. Choose a  Background

3. Choose a Role

4. Spend Experience Points and Choose Equipment

5. Add Background and Character Details

I'll be going through each of these and summarizing across all the available rulebooks to make this process as easy as possible. Let's get started with the first step.

1. Choose A Home World

Your home world determines your character's birthplace, grants them bonuses to some of their Characteristics and negatives to others, determines how many wounds you start with, grants its own special bonus depending on type, and will grant you an Aptitude which makes learning certain skills easier in Step 4.

As a substep to Step 1, you will roll up your character's Characteristics. These represent your actual physical attributes like Strength, Toughness, etc. and will form the basis of almost any skill check you'll have to make in Dark Heresy. After selecting a Home World you will roll 2d10 for each Characteristic in turn, add them together, and add 20. This is your score for that attribute. For example, if I am rolling for strength and get a 4 and an 8, then my Strength score will be 32 (4+8+20 = 32). For any attribute your Home World gives you a "+" in, you will roll 3d10 and pick the two highest rolls to keep. For any with a "-" you will roll 3d10 and pick the 2 lowest to keep. After all characteristics have been rolled, you may choose 1 of them to discard and re-roll.

The Characteristics in order are:

Weapon Skill, Ballistic Skill, Strength, Toughness, Agility, Intelligence, Perception, Willpower, Fellowship, and Influence

Here are a list of the possible Home Worlds, basic summaries of the bonuses and penalties afforded by each, and a page reference where you can get more information.

1. Feral Worlds: + Strength, + Toughness, – Influence, Fate Threshold 2 (Emperor's Blessing 3+), Home World Bonus: Low Tech Weapons lose the Primitive quality and gain Proven (3), Home World Aptitude: Toughness, Wounds: 9+1d5 (Core Rulebook p. 32)

2. Forge World: Intelligence, +Toughness, -Fellowship, Fate Threshold 3 (Emperor's Blessing 8). Home World Bonus: Character Starts with either Technical Knock or Weapon-Tech talent, Home World Aptitude: Intelligence, Wounds 8+1d5 (Core Rulebook p. 34)

3. Highborn: Fellowship, +Influence, -Toughness, Fate Threshold 4 (Emperor's Blessing 10), Home World Bonus: Any time you would reduce your Influence, reduce it by 1 less (minimum 1), Home World Aptitude: Fellowship, Wounds 9+1d5 (Core Rulebook p. 36)

4. Hive World: Agility +Perception, -Willpower, Fate Threshold 2 (Emperor's Blessing 6), Home World Bonus: Ignore crowds for purposes of movement, if in an enclosed space gain 20 on Navigate (Surface) tests, Home World Aptitude: Perception, Wounds: 81d5 (Core Rulebook p. 38)

5. Shrine World: Fellowship, +Willpower, -Perception, Fate Threshold 3 (Emperor's Blessing 6), Home World Bonus: Whenever you spend a Fate point roll 1d10, on a 1 do not lost a Fate point, Home World Aptitude: Willpower, Wounds 7+1d5 (Core Rulebook p. 40)

6. Voidborn: Intelligence, +Willpower, -Strength, Fate Threshold 3 (Emperor's Blessing 5), Home World Bonus: Starts with the Strong Minded talent and gains 30 on tests for moving in zero-g, Home World Aptitude: Intelligence, Wounds 71d5 (Core Rulebook p.42)

7. Agri-World: Fellowship, +Strength, -Agility, Fate Threshold 2 (Emperor's Blessing 7), Home World Bonus: Starts with the Brutal Charge (2) trait, Home World Aptitude: Strength, Wounds 8+1d5 (Enemies Within p. 24)

8. Feudal World: Perception, +Weapon Skill, -Intelligence, Fate Threshold 3 (Emperor's Blessing 6), Home World Bonus: Ignore the max Agility value of any armor you are wearning, Home World Aptitude: Weapon Skill, Wounds 9+1d5 (Enemies Within p.26)

9. Frontier World: Ballistic Skill, +Perception, – Fellowship, Fate Threshold 3 (Emperor's Blessing 7), Home World Bonus: 20 on Tech-Use when modifying personal weapons and +10 when repairing damaged items, Home World Aptitude: Ballistic Skill, Wounds 71d5 (Enemies Within p. 28)

10. Death World: Agility, +Perception, – Fellowship, Fate Threshold 2 (Emperor's Blessing 5), Home World Bonus: When you are surprised, enemies don't get 30 on attacks against you, Home World Aptitude: Fieldcraft, Wounds 91d5 (Enemies Without p. 26)

11: Garden World: Fellowship, +Agility, -Toughness, Fate Threshold 2 (Emperor's Blessing 4), Home World Bonus: Mental Traumas and Shock last half as long and Insanity points cost 50xp instead of 100xp to remove per point, Home World Aptitude: Social, Wounds 7+1d5 (Enemies Without p.28)

12. Research Station: Intelligence, +Perception, -Fellowship, Fate Threshold 3 (Emperor's Blessing 8), Home World Bonus: When reaching Rank 2 (Trained) in a Scholastic Lore skill, you also gain Rank 1 (Known) in one related or identical Forbidden Lore skill specialization, Home World Aptitude: Knowledge, Wounds 8+1d5 (Enemies Without p. 30)

13. Daemon World: Willpower, +Perception, -Fellowship, Fate Threshold 3 (Emperor's Blessing 4), Home World Bonus: Starts with 1 rank in Psynicience and 1d10+5 Corruption points, Home World Aptitude: Willpower, Wounds 7+1d5 (Enemies Beyond p. 26)

14. Penal Colony: Toughness, +Perception, -Influence, Fate Threshold 3 (Emperor's Blessing 8), Home World Bonus: Begin with 1 rank in Common Lore (Underworld) and Scrutiny skills, and starts with Peer (Criminal Cartels) talent, Home World Aptitude: Toughness, Wounds: 10+1d5 (Enemies Beyond p. 28)

15. Quarantine World: Ballistic Skill, +Intelligence, -Strength, Fate Threshold 3 (Emperor's Blessing 9), Home World Bonus: Whenever the group's Subtlety rating would decrease it decreases by 2 less (minimum 1), Home World Aptitude: Fieldcraft, Wounds 8+1d5 (Enemies Beyond p.30)

Step 2: Choose a Background

Your Background is essentially what you did before you were recruited by the Inquisition. This choice will determine your starting Skills, Talents, Equipment, a Background Bonus, and a Background Aptitude. Below is a list summarizing all the options with page references for further info. Whenever two words are separated by an italicized or then you may choose between the choices represented by the words on either side of the or but may not choose both.

1. Adeptus Administratum (Scholar/Clerk/Adminstrator): Skills: Commerce or Medicae, Common Lore (Adeptus Administratum), Linguistics (High Gothic), Logic, Scholastic Lore (Pick One); Starting Talents: Weapon Training (Las or Solid Projectile); Starting Equipment: Laspistol or Stub Automatic, Imperial Robes, Autoquill, Chrono, Dataslate, Medi-Kit; Background Bonus: Count the Availability of all items as one level more available; Background Aptitude: Knowledge or Social. (Core Rulebook p. 46)

2. Adeptus Arbites (Law Enforcer): Skills: Awareness, Common Lore (Adeptus Arbites, Underworld), Inquiry or Interrogation, Intimidate, Scrutiny; Starting Talents: Weapon Training (Shock or Sold Projectile); Starting Equipment: Shotgun or Shock Maul, Enforcer Light Carapace Armor or Carapace Chestplate, 3 doses of stimm, manacles, 12 lho sticks; Background Bonus: May reroll any Intimidation or Interrogation checks and may substitute your Willpower bonus for Degrees of Success on these tests; Background Aptitude: Offense or Defense (Core Rulebook p.48)

3. Adeptus Astra Telepathica (Official Psyker Agency of the Imperium): Skills: Awareness, Common Lore (Adeptus Astra Telepathica), Deceive or Interrogation, Forbidden Lore (the Warp), Psyniscience or Scrutiny; Starting Talents: Weapon Training (Las, Low Tech); Starting Equipment: Laspistol, Staff or Whip, Light Flak Cloak or Flak Vest, Micro-Bead or Psy Focus; Background Bonus: When an ally within 10 meters triggers a Psychic Phenomenon, you may increase or decrease the result by an amount equal to your Willpower bonus; Background Aptitude: Defense or Psyker (Core Rulebook p.50)

4. Adeptus Mechanicus (Engineer/Machine Priest) Skills: Awareness or Operate (Pick One), Common Lore (Adeptus Mechanicus), Logic, Security, Tech-Use; Starting Talents: Mechadendrite Use (Utility), Weapon Training (Solid Projectile); Starting Trait: Mechanicus Implants; Starting Equipment: Autogun or Hand Cannon, Monotask Servo Skull (Utility) or Optical Mechadendrite, Imperial Robes, 2 vials of Sacred Unguents; Background Bonus: Counts the Availability of all cybernetics as two levels more avaialable; Background Aptitude: Knowledge or Tech (Core Rulebook p.52)

5. Adeptus Ministorum (Priest/Monk): Skills: Charm, Command, Common Lore (Adeptus Ministorum), Inquiry or Scrutiny, Linguistics (High Gothic); Starting Talents: Weapon Training (Flame) or Weapon Training (Low Tech, Solid Projectile); Starting Equipment: Hand Flamer or Warhammer and Stub Revolver, Imperial Robes or Flak Vest, backpack, glow-globe, monotask servo skull (laud hailer); Background Bonus: When spending a Fate point to gain +10 on any one test, you get +20 instead; Background Aptitude: Leadership or Social (Core Rulebook p.56)

6. Imperial Guard (Army): Skills: Athletics, Command, Common Lore (Imperial Guard), Medicae or Operate (Surface), Navigate (Surface); Starting Talents: Weapon Training (Las, Low-Tech); Starting Equipment: Lasgun (or Laspistol and Sword), Combat Vest, Imperial Guard Flak Armor, Grapnel and Line, 12 lho sticks, magnoculars; Background Bonus: When attacking a target that was attacked by an ally since the end of your last turn you can re-roll and 1s or 2s on damage rolls; Background Aptitude: Fieldcraft or Leadership (Core Rulebook p.58)

7. Outcast: Skills: Acrobatics or Sleight of Hand, Common Lore (Underworld), Deceive, Dodge, Stealth; Starting Talents: Weapon Training (Chain and Las or Solid Projectile); Starting Equipment: Autopistol or laspistol, chainsword, armored bodyglove or flak vest, injector, 2 doses obscura or slaught; Background Bonus: Count your Toughness bonus as 2 higher for the purposes of determining Fatigue; Background Aptitude: Fieldcraft or Social (Core Rulebook p.60)

8. Adepta Sororitas (Warrior Nun): Skills: Athletics, Charm or Intimidate, Common Lore (Adepta Sororitas), Linguistics (High Gothic), Medicae or Parry; Starting Talents: Weapon Training (Flame or Las, Chain); Starting Equipment: Hand Flamer or laspistol, chainblade, armored bodyglove, chrono, dataslate, micro-bead; Background Bonus: Whenever you would suffer corruption points, gain that many Insanity points minus 1 (min 0) instead; Background Aptitude: Offense or Social (Enemies Within p. 30)

9. Mutant (Despised Outcast Freak) : Skills: Acrobatics or Athletics, Awareness, Deceive or Intimidate, Forbidden Lore (Mutants), Survival; Starting Traits: One of the Following: Amphibious, Dark Sight, Natural Weapons, Sonar Sense, Sturdy, Toxic (1), Unnatural Agility (1), Unnatural Strength (1), Unnatural Toughness (1); Starting Corruption and Mutation: Mutants begin play with 10 Corruption. Instead of rolling as normal rol 5d10 on the Mutations table to determine your starting mutation. Starting Talents: Weapon Training (Low-Tech, Solid Projectile) ; Starting Equipment: Shotgun (or stub revolver and great weapon) grapnel and line, heavy leathers, combat vest, 2 doses stimm; Background Bonus: A mutant can always choose to fail any test for resisting malignancy or mutation. Whenever you gain malignancy, roll on the Mutations table to gain a mutation instead.; Background Aptitude: Fieldcraft or Offense (Enemies Within p.32)

10. Heretek (Proponent or User of Outlawed Technology):  Skills: Decieve or Inquiry, Forbidden Lore (pick one), Medicae or Security, Tech-Use, Trade (pick one); Starting Trait: Mechanicus Implants; Starting Talents: Weapon Training (Solid Projectile); Starting Equipment: Stub Revolver with 2 extra clips of Expander bullets or Man Stopper Rounds, 1 web grenade, combi-tool, flak cloak, filtration plugs, 1 dose of de-tox, dataslate, stablight; Background Bonus: ; Background Aptitude: Finesse or Tech (Enemies Without p. 32)

11. Imperial Navy (The Navy): Skills: Athletics, Command or Intimidate, Common Lore (Imperial Navy), Navigate (Stellar), Operate (Auronautica or Voidship); Starting Talents: Weapon Training (Chain or Shock, Solid Projectile); Starting Equipment: Combat Shotgun or Hand Cannon, chainsword or shock whip, flak coat, rebreather, micro-bead; Background Bonus: Gains a free extra Degree of Success on sucessful Ballistic Skill attacks made against targets at Point-Blank or Short Range and with whom he is engaged in Melee ; Background Aptitude: Offense or Tech (Enemies Without p. 32)

12. Rogue Trader Fleet (Fringe Trader/Smuggler): Skills: Charm or Scrutiny, Commerce, Common Lore (Rogue Traders), Linguistics (pick an Alien Language), Operate (Surface or Aeronautica); Starting Talents: Weapon Training (Las or Solid Projectile, Shock); Starting Equipment: Laspistol or Autopistol (fitted with Compact Weapon upgrade), shock maul, mesh cloak or carapace chestplate, auspex, chrono; Background Bonus: Gain a +10 on Fear tests caused by aliens and a +20 on Interaction skill tests with alien characters; Background Aptitude: Finesse or Social (Enemies Without p. 34)

13. Exorcised (Formerly Possessed): Skills: Awareness, Deceive or Inquiry, Dodge, Forbidden Lore (Daemonology), Intimidate or Scrutiny; Starting Talents: Hatred (Daemons), Weapon Training (Solid Projectile, Chain); Starting Equipment: Autopistol or Stub Revolver, Shotgun, Chainblade, Imperial Robes, 3 doses of obscura or tranq, disguise kit or excruciator kit, rebreather, stablight or glow globe; Starting Malignancy: Start with one Malignancy chosen from the Malignancy Table; Background Bonus: Count your Insanity bonus as 2 higher for the purposes of avoiding Fear tests, additionally you may never again be possessed by the same Daemon that once possessed him; Background Aptitude: (Enemies Beyond p.32)

Step 3: Choose a Role

While your Background represents what you used to be, your Role represents who you are now and what you do for your Inquisitor master. You Role will give you some new Aptitudes, A new Talent, and a Role Bonus. Below is a full list of roles and summarizied information with page references for more info: 

1. Assassin: Role Aptitudes: Agility, Ballistic Skill or Weapon Skill, Fieldcraft, Finesse, Perception;Role Talent: Jaded or Leap Up; Role Bonus: May spend a Fate point when successful with an attack to inflict additional damage equal to your Degrees of Success on the attack roll on the first hit inflicted by the attack; (Core Rulebook p. 62)

2. Chirurgeon (Doctor): Role Aptitudes: Fieldcraft, Intelligence, Knowledge, Strength, Toughness;Role Talent: Resistance (Pick One) or Takedown; Role Bonus: May spend a Fate Point to automatically suceed on a First Aid check with Degrees of Success equal to your Intelligence Bonus; (Core Rulebook p. 64)

3. Desperado (Gunslinger): Role Aptitudes: Agility, Ballistic Skill, Defence, Fellowship, Finesse; Role Talent: Catfall or Quick Draw; Role Bonus: Once per round after moving a Desperado may perform a single Standard Attack with a Pistol Weapon he is currently wielding as a Free Action; (Core Rulebook p. 66)

4. Hierophant (Religious Firebrand) Role Aptitudes: Fellowship, Offense, Social, Toughness, Willpower; Role Talent: Double Team or Hatred (Pick One); Role Bonus: May spend a Fate point to automatically succeed at a Charm, Command, or Intimidate check with a number of Degrees of Success equal to your Willpower Bonus; (Core Rulebook p. 68)

5. Mystic (Trained Psyker): Role Aptitudes: Defense, Intelligence, Knowledge, Perception, Willpower; Role Talent: Resitance (Psychic Powers) or Warp Sense ; Role Bonus: Starts the game with the Psyker Elite Advance; (Core Rulebook p. 70)

6. Sage (Scholar): Role Aptitudes: Intelligence, Knowledge, Perception, Tech, Willpower; Role Talent: Amibidextrous or Clues From the Crowds; Role Bonus: May spend a Fate point to automatically pass a Lore or Logic test with a number of Degrees of Success equal to your Intelligence Bonus; (Core Rulebook p. 72)

7. Seeker (Investigator) Role Aptitudes: Fellowship, Intelligence, Perception, Social, Tech; Role Talent: Keen Intuition or Disarm; Role Bonus: May spend a Fate point to automatically succeed at an Awareness or Inquiry skill test with a number of degrees of success equal to your Perception Bonus; (Core Rulebook p. 74)

8. Warrior: Role Aptitudes: Ballistic Skill, Defense, Offense, Strength, Weapon Skill; Role Talent: Iron Jaw or Rapid Reload; Role Bonus: May spend a Fate Point to substitute his Weapon Skill or Ballistic Skill bonus for Degrees of Success on a successful attack; (Core Rulebook p. 76)

9: Fanatic: Role Aptitudes: Leadership, Offense, Toughness, Weapon Skill, Willpower; Role Talent: Deny the Witch or Jaded; Role Bonus: May spend a Fate point to count as having the Hatred talent against your current foe for the duration of the encounter. If you do this and then leave the combat against your hated foe, gain 1 Insanity Point; (Enemies Within p. 34)

10: Penitent (Repentant Heretic): Role Aptitudes: Agility, Fieldcraft, Intelligence, Offense, Toughness; Role Talent: Die Hard, or Flagellent; Role Bonus:When you suffer 1 point of damage after Toughness and Armor reduction, gain a +10 test to the next test you make before the end of your next turn; (Enemies Within p. 36)

11. Ace (Pilot/Driver): Role Aptitudes: Agility, Finesse, Perception, Tech, Willpower ; Role Talent: Hard Target or Hotshot Pilot; Role Bonus: May Spend a Fate point to automatically succeed at an Operate or Survival Skill test involving vehicles or living steeds with a number of Degrees of Success equal to your Agility Bonus; (Enemies Without p. 38)

12: Crusader (Paladinish): Role Aptitudes: Knowledfge, Offense, Strength, Toughness, Willpower; Role Talent: Bodyguard or Deny The Witch; Role Bonus: May spend a Fate point to automatically succeed at a Fear check with a number of Degrees of Success equal to your Willpower bonus. In addition, if you inflict damage with a melee attack against a target with the Fear (x) trait you inflict X additional damage and count your weapon's penetration as being X higher; (Enemies Beyond p. 34)

Step 4: Spend Experience and Get Equipment

At this stage your character skeleton is already done: Now its time to fine tune your character into what you want them to be. All characters get 1,000 xp to spend a character creation.There are three main areas where an Acolyte might spend experience points: Characteristic Advances, Skill Advances, and Talent Advances. Characteristic advances let you spend xp to increase any of your primary 10 Characteristics. Skill Advances allow you to spend xp to increase your level of training in a particular skill to make certain tasks easier to succeed at. Talent Advances give you a new Talent in most cases if you meet the prerequisites. 

There is 1 more kind of advance and that is Elite Advances. These are essentially Prestige Classes none of you will meet the requirements or experience point cost for at creation so I'm not going to cover them too much.

This is where your Aptitudes become important. Each Characteristic, Skill, and Talent will have Aptitudes associated with them. If your Aptitudes match one or more of the Characteristic, Skill, or Talent Aptitudes, it means that to you, learning these things comes easier and it will cost less XP. There's far too many Skills and Talents to list them all here and Characteristics have already been listed, so I'm not going to list them again here. Refer to Page 80 and onward in the Core Rulebook for the tables detailing discounts gained for each type of advance due to Aptitude matching and for lists of all applicable skills and Talents. (If you have a skill already gained through any earlier part of Character Creation, then that skill is Known to you but you can increase your training in that skill with experience.

Once experience is spent, you can now acquire a little bit of extra equipment. You may make a number of additional equipment selections equal to your Influence bonus (bonuses in this system are just the 10s column of the Characteristic in question, so an Influence of 32 means you have an Influence bonus of 3 and get to make 3 additional equipment selections. These selections must all be of Availability Scarce (-10) or more available. Item listings can be found on page 142 of the Core Rulebook.

Step 5: Bring Your Character to Life

You're almost done! Now just to come up with some fluff background and interesting personality details about your character and give them a Name and a Divination. These are done either by coming up with a name yourself or by rolling or selecting names from the charts on page 83 of the Core Rulebook. Pages 84 and 85 have a set of tables for rolling your  Divination, which is essentially a minor bonus and a prophecy a Psyker might have made about your character at one point in the past. With that done, you're all set! You've made a character for Dark Heresy Second Edition!


Character Creation Guide

We Have Not The Luxury To Count The Cost Agentshades