‘Blood of Martyrs’ is an incredibly dense, yet truly brilliant sourcebook for the Ecclesiarchy. Whilst I read most sourcebooks for setting information, skim the game mechanics and take away the ‘dot points’ for future investigation, I found myself actually reading ‘Blood of Martyrs’ cover to cover. It really shows what a well-detailed universe 40K is, and how much background research Fantasy Flight has put into developing this book. On the flipside though, there is enough practical and historical information that even the most die-hard enthusiast will find something new.
The first chapter gives an overview of the history of the Ecclesiarchy from the rise of the Emperor to the ‘present day’ of the setting. Whilst the later section is primiarily geared towards the Calixis Sector, it covers general information such as the Horus Heresy, Vandire, the Imperials Creeds, Saints, Pilgrims and the Adeptus Sororitas (more on them later). The writing style is certainly not the dry, historical tones, and the sidebars offer interesting anecdotes or side notes to engage the reader.
Chapter 2 offers some new Homeworlds for character creation, and all align very well with the theme of the book – I felt that all were of equal worth with no wasted effort here. Likewise the new Career Ranks allow characters to put a distinct Ecclesiarchal bent on their Career Paths (such as Confessor, Frateris Militia and Redemptionist).
Chapter 3 was where my attention lingered. As an avid wargamer, I’ve been working on my witch Hunters army for a while now, and the Sisters of Battle have always had a special place in my heart. The entire chapter details the Sororitas, defines the Orders and outlines Career Paths to include this Adeptus in your game as playable characters. I felt that overall the Sisters will be a small step-up from your average character in Dark Heresy, but not so much that it will break your game. In fact, in a game centred on the Ecclesiarchy, I would name them a absolute must. By far, this was the standout chapter for me (but then, I’m somewhat biased in this regard). Game mechanics for using Faith in your game in Chapter 4, give way to the mandatory chapter on weapons and armour. Both chapters were interesting and the new rules do actually add a new dimension to your games. The rules on Faith were very straightforward and linked in to the new Homeworlds found in Chapter 2, which makes them immediately usable.
The book closes with a chapter on Ecclesiarchy Campaigns and as I have come to expect, this was brimming with story ideas and practical advice. There are plenty of methods described to showcase different facets of the Ecclesiarchy so that no two games need to be the same. The sense of scope was conveyed here too, and the reader is left a little in awe of an organisation (albeit fictional) that operates on such a grand scale.
Overall, a must-have for the Dark Heresy game, although I can see several uses for it in my Deathwatch game too – especially given the theological divergences of the Adeptus Astartes and the Ecclesiarchy as a whole. The artwork, as usual, is used with a good eye for enhancing the page, and the Career Path portraits are excellent.
Thought for the day:
++It is better to buy this and be illuminated, than blindly run ‘Dark Heresy’ without it++
[4 of 5 Stars!]