I found the following on my hard drive. It’s funny looking back now. I do wish the idea of the inquisitor as presented here had been developed, but it was not approved.
In the 40K universe the part of the setting that works best for the purposes of an RPG is the Inquisition. This organization is divided into several sub-groups, some of which root out heresy while others combat the influence of Daemons and aliens. There is also a puritan/radical divide with the Inquisition as a whole, which means there’s quite a bit of politics and backstabbing. As you can see, the Inquisition is rife with adventure possibilities.
Now each Inquisitor has a support group of specialists. A typical retinue might include a savant (sort of like a living computer), a hotshot pilot, an ex-Imperial Guard veteran, a techno-magos, and a black ops snoop. In short, a classic RPG-style party. The problem with doing a traditional RPG on this model is the Inquisitor himself. He’s in charge, he’s a complete badass, and he probably has powerful psychic abilities as well. It’s basically the “Indiana Jones” RPG problem all over again.
I’ve been thinking about this today and I had an interesting idea. Let’s say that all the PCs make up characters that are members of an Inquisitor’s retinue. Before they make their own characters, they get together and create the Inquisitor they’re going to work for. You can think of this sort of like making a covenant in Ars Magica. It’s a hugely important part of the game, but everyone “owns” the Inquisitor. Once the details on the Inquisitor are ironed out, people make their individual characters, but again work together so they can create their own “A-Team”.
When the game starts, the GM plays the Inquisitor and uses him to send the PCs on missions. The basic conceit is that his time is so important that the retinue is sent off on investigations while he works on a higher level. The goal of the PCs is, essentially, to make the case and rouse him from his other concerns to finish the job. An influence mechanic represents this. Throughout each adventure, there are spots where characters can win influence points by figuring things out, finding important clues, besting opponents, and so on. The players compete for these influence points, while working together towards the resolution of the adventure.
When it’s time for the climax, the players compare their influence totals. Whoever has the highest total gets to play the Inquisitor in the final encounter, unleashing all the cool powers. At the conclusion of the adventure, the GM once again takes control of the Inquisitor.
The advantages to this system are:
1) It fits the existing 40K universe like a glove and is totally in line with the backstory.
2) It gives the GM an easy way to start adventures and the PCs the best of reasons to adventure together.
3) It has a fun built-in meta-game with the influence points.
4) It avoids the Indiana Jones problem by letting play of the super character change from adventure to adventure. Hopefully, everyone would get a turn to play the badass from time to time.
5) It provides a solid default adventure model for the newbie GM, with a beginning, middle, and end.