With the Gorgon Crystals campaign kicking off recently, there are a lot of questions about a 20-year old discontinued game with weird rules and tricky figure scales. Here are some answers.
What is Inquisitor?
Inquisitor is a narrative skirmish wargame, focused primarily around the conflicts of the Holy Inquisition, either amongst its own ranks or against the enemies of mankind. Unlike the core game of the Warhammer 40,000 universe, it is not about the front-line of mud and gas and behemoth engines, but is instead set amongst the internal and domestic complexities of the Imperium – shadow wars where good, evil, right and wrong all merge into indistinct shades of grey.
If you have read the Eisenhorn series, you will already be familiar with the concept of an Inquisitor and his closest allies striving against these more subtle (but no less dangerous) threats to the Imperium, with their reward often to die alone and unremembered by the billions of citizens they may have saved from the encroaching dark.
Inquisitor is your chance to tell the dramatic, daring (and sometimes clumsy) stories of these unsung heroes.
How does it play?
Players have a warband of 2-4 models and play out a narrative scenario arbitrated by a Games Master (GM). The scenarios are typically part of a linked narrative devised by the GM, and the players’ warbands have conflicting goals and ideologies on how best to resolve the scenario, usually resulting in violence and thrilling heroics.
The Inquisitor rules allow the characters in the game to try to do just about anything, and the GM adjudicates how these are resolved. Players roleplay a character from their warband, nominate their actions, and make dice rolls to see how well things happen. The next character in the Initiative order then takes their turn, and so on.
Inquisitor is a game of tension, risk, and close calls, followed by explosions, violence, and pushing people off buildings. While the players do have objectives to achieve and there can be winners and losers, the main aim of the players is to use the rules and miniatures to create a compelling story on the tabletop that is retold countless times for many years after!
While Inquisitor was originally released at 54mm, smaller 28mm Inquisitor (INQ28) has become highly popular in recent years. Both scales are equally valid and should both be encouraged! Inquisitor presents a fantastic gaming and modelling opportunity whatever size your models may be.
The larger size of 54mm models allows more detail, is strongly associated with the game and can be a welcome contrast from the impersonal little grunts that die in droves during games of WH40K. These differences can help set the rather unique tone of Inquisitor.
A more in-depth study of the merits of both scales is here:
A warband is typically 3-5 models, and although an official Inquisitor miniature might set you back £20 on eBay, the huge number of 3rd party miniature companies and the rise of 3D printing means you can put a warband together for very little.
Ebay is a good place to trawl for cheap minis, you can often get more common figures like Slick Devlan, Eisenhorn and Preacher Josef for £10-15.
If conversion is your thing, you can often pick up cheap toy soldiers and add 40k bits to make them fit in – special shout out to the Russian ‘Tehnolog’ range who produce a range of minis of varying quality but the inarguable cost of around £8 (including postage) for 5 minis.
Games Workshop’s scale creep has been a boon to 54mm modelling too – Ork arms have always been a reliable fallback, but the Primaris and Necromunda ranges also have perfectly scaled arms, hands and weapons to use.
I’ve done some scale studies on 3d printed 54mm weapons here:
I’m running an Inquisitor campaign, The Gorgon Crystals, at my FLGS Asgard Wargames. The campaign will run over two weeks and comprising up to six scenarios, with a prologue period of almost a month to introduce people to the game and help build warbands.
We played our first prologue scenario this week – Death of a Vagabond.
“We have received reports of a vagabond-class merchant vessel, the Sojourner, on a collision course with Port Impetus. It is non-responsive to hails, and at least one scavenger crew has boarded the Sojourner and not returned.
The Imperial Navy has been dispatched to intercept and destroy before it reaches Port Impetus, but the question remains: what happened on board the Sojourner?
Assemble an insertion team to investigate before it is destroyed and report your findings. Emperor protects.”
Setting the scene
Our two warbands were meeting in the cargo hold of an ore hauler, the Sojourner. The cargo crews had built a city of sorts among the ore, and it was among these ruins our explorers would come to blows.
Upon arriving, the warbands find the crew butchered by their own hands – some had clawed the skin from their flesh in a horrendous bout of insanity. The cause for this wave of madness wasn’t clear, but drag marks, manic wailing and strange energy readings indicated the source was in the cargo hold.
Emergency lumens still flicker here and there from fading batteries – it would require an Awareness check to successfully see another character.
We had two players for this prologue game and some NPCs – a pair of deranged crewmen who had taken to building a pile of miscellaneous junk in the centre of town. One player used their own warband, the other was from a selection of pre-made warbands I had put together to introduce people to the game.
The Crimson Wake
The Crimson Wake are a group of traitors, scum and heretics that have banded together to pursue whatever power is fueling the unrest in Haimm. They don’t care what it is, they just want to pinch it and use it for their own ends.
The first is Traitor Guardsman Zenkhang, an ex-soldier blessed with a strong constitution and a warp-tainted Plague Knife. The second is Arch-Heretic Lurz Karo, an ex-planetary governor who plunged a city into the abyss to further the whims of his dark patrons. The third is Traitor Guardsman Kraw, a gunslinger with an uncontrollable ability to phase in and out of reality.
This band of mercenaries were once part of a pilgrimage beyond Imperial space, but their vessel was torn apart by the gravity riptide of Haimm and they were stranded. They rebuilt themselves (literally, in some cases) as mercenaries capable of any job, and on the fringes of civilised space, there were plenty of jobs for those who needed to slip between the cracks.
First is Esmeralda, a bionic woman with a powerful terror-sword, a semi-powered two-handed weapon easily capable of cleaving a man in two. The leader of the group is Sophia, packing a sawn-off shotgun pistol, duelling blade and hidden conversion field. Finally there’s Maxwell, the team’s ranged support. His scoped rifle has put many holes in many heads.
The investigation begins
Our warbands begun at opposite corners of the table, with a pair of maddened crewmen in the centre to act as a buffer.
It is eerily quiet, without even the familiar hum of a plasma drive, and both warbands advance cautiously.
Maxwell takes up an observation point in some ruins to the north of the clearing, picking out two figures in the gloom ahead. They seem to be dragging detritus onto a central pile – perhaps some kind of storage? It’s not clear. They also appear to be talking to themselves and covered head to toe in dried blood.
Esmeralda wastes no time closing the gap between her and her prey. Maxwell had tagged two potential hostiles around the storage pile, and Esmeralda was having none of this ‘potential’ nonsense.
Maxwell sees Esmeralda moving up and places a shot straight into the crewman’s gut with his suppressed rifle. He rolls around in agony, wailing to himself. Someone’s sure to have heard that…
Meanwhile, the Crimson Wake have been taking an uncharacteristically cautious approach. Lurz wants whatever has turned these crewmen mad, and isn’t that fussed as to how he gets it.
He gives the nod to Zhenkang who unleashes a hail of lead from his shotgun, striding across the barricades and open ground, firing wildly from the hip. He’s having such a good time.
Gunfire fills the hangar bay. Sophia recognises the familiar sound of a pump-action shotgun – something none of her comrades carry – and identifies a third party threat. She microbeads a warning to her team – expect a fight.
Maxwell spots a strange purple glow emanating from the top of the garbage pile – a collection of crystals that churn the stomach to look upon. The crewmen seem to have been building this totem in reverence of the crystals – nobody has any idea what they could be, but it is undoubtedly the source of the crew’s madness.
With the objective revealed, Sophia breaks cover and sprints for the detritus heap in the centre. Maxwell covers her advance by putting a rifle round through the hip of the second crewman, who had been left bloodied by Zhenkang’s shotgun assault.
Esmeralda charges the crazed downed crewman, bisecting his top half from his bottom half in a single swing of her terror-sword.
Sophia scrambles up the side of the garbage heap to come face to face with a masked man covered in symbols of the Arch-Enemy. His mouth twists into a grin, warmed by the purple glow of the crystal, and bares jagged teeth.
“Oh, how I’d hoped I wouldn’t be the only one!”
Kraw had finally drawn a bead on Esmeralda, loosing off shots with his revolvers but unable to stop the relentless charge of the sword-wielding mercenary. Kraw’s dimensional instability had helped him avoid detection, but it didn’t help him against an overhead blow from Esmeralda’s terror-sword. A huge gash across his chest sends him sprawling to the ground.
Karo and Sophia pause, eyes locked, trying to guess the other’s intention. They both lunge for the crystal, Sophia’s hand grasping it first. Karo lurches awkwardly to one side, his play for the crystal was a fake!
She finds herself staring down the barrel of a mid-magnum stub revolver, just in time to hear the hammer crack against the firing pin.
An incredible burst of light erupts from Sophia’s chest. A concealed conversion field, undetected until now, exploded into life. The stub round’s kinetic energy reborn as a burst of sound and light, protecting Sophia and dazzling everyone unfortunate enough to be looking at her.
Karo raises his arm just in time, but Kraw and Zhenkang receive the full concussive blast, leaving them gasping for air. Maxwell had sighted up Zhenkang ready to land another shot only to have his optics fried by a sudden burst of light. He cursed, knowing full well what had happened, but was powerless to do anything about it.
Sophia raises her sawn-off, aiming for centre mass. Karo’s erratic movements throw off her aim and she tears a hole from the cloth on his arm. His twisted smile writhes into a manic grimace, his crooked teeth like a tray of used needles. He feints again, this time thrusting his sword straight towards Sophia’s face.
Her reflexes fail her, and she feels the cold steel inside her cheek, cutting a jagged tear from mouth to ear. Pain overwhelms her and she drops to a knee, spitting blood and broken teeth.
Her vision sharpens enough to see the red-robed figure of Karo escaping across the hangar floor, purple glowing crystal under his arm, with Zhenkang in tow. She makes a quick headcount, her senses still spinning. All her team were alive, but that flickering guardsman Kraw was nowhere to be seen.
Karo had escaped with the crystal, but Sophia was sure it wouldn’t be the last she saw of him.
“Beware the dead, even as you fear death. For the God-Emperor protects us after death, but that which slumbers eternal may rise again.”
-From the journal of Acolyte Mora ‘Darksight’ Valerius
For the attention of the conclave of Asgard
Dissent stirs on the fringes of civilised space. Mines have gone silent. Warp-infused artefacts have washed up on the shores of Port Impetus amid reports of madness and violence.
With so much conflicting information, the Holy Ordos have dispatched their finest agents to contain and control what they can, and to eliminate what they can not.
The Inquisition is not the only organisation to have interests here – members of the Adeptus Mechanicus, Rogue Traders and agents of the Arch Enemy have all been reported converging on the cursed system of Haimm, eager to find the source of the artefacts for their own purposes.
I have plenty of spare warbands for other players to run around with, so the intention is to get people into the game as quickly as possible without asking them to invest in a bunch of 54mm figures.
The campaign structure
The Gorgon Crystals campaign consists of three parts:
Prologue – Introductory games to set the scene across a 2-4 week period to give players time to build warbands.
The Investigation – Four scenarios played over two weeks (Wednesday and Friday evenings). Complete objectives and gather evidence to uncover the secrets of the Gorgon Crystals.
The Finale – One large game to determine the outcome of the campaign, played with warbands who complete the most objectives
Players don’t need any models or knowledge of the game to play. Pre-made warbands are available for those who want to take part in the campaign without investing in minis, and every game will allow players to drop in or out as they wish.
The narrative nature of Inquisitor requires a certain level of continuity, and although the campaign is designed so you don’t need to attend every scenario, it’s helpful for the GM to know who is likely to be playing in advance. It’s first come first serve, but priority will always be for those who build their own warband or book a slot in the scenario.
Two scenarios are played each week – a Primus and a Secundus. These scenarios are from the same stage of the investigation but from different theatres of conflict.
Each scenario has three objectives – one for each faction: Puritan, Radical and Selfish. Objectives are often conflicting (even with warbands of the same faction), but they can also overlap with other faction objectives, meaning it can be wise to seek impromptu alliances or backstab erstwhile colleagues to complete your goals.
Completing an objective gives you a boon you can utilise in your next game. Completing a Primus objective also earns you a piece of Vital Evidence – those warbands with the most Vital Evidence will play in the finale. Completing a Secundus objective will guarantee you a place in the next Primus scenario.
Would you like to know more?
Keep an eye on the Gorgon Crystals tag – there’ll be battle reports, scenarios and more as the campaign progresses. Hit up Dreadquill on social media and come say hi!