Schattelgeist - developing a 40k roleplay setting


Gang Hero
Aug 16, 2017
Evening, fine folks of Yaktribe! I've lately begun GMing a Star Wars: Edge of the Empire roleplaying campaign for my friends, and I've fallen in love with its mechanical aspect. I've always wanted to run a 40k RPG, but the official 40k games have always felt too rules-and-numbers-heavy to me. In EotE, most things are handled with a set of special dice - character skills, difficulty and external factors affecting how many and what sort of dice you roll - that keep the required math minimal.

So, I've got a system that should work with very few changes. Next I needed a little corner of the 40k universe that is both interesting from a GMing perspective and suitable for introducing my friends to 40k. I love Chaos stuff and I didn't want to overwhelm my friends with massive fluff dumps of the wider galaxy, so I decided to go for a daemon world somewhere deep in the Eye of Terror - the players will be natives to the planet, so they only really need to be briefed on the workings of Chaos, the warp, and the local culture. The fact that the world itself will be alive will allow for all sorts of deliciously surreal mind-bending warp horror to unleash on my poor players. Perfect.

I named the world Schattelgeist (My attempt at low gothic - combination of the english word chattel and german geist - so, "slave-ghost"). This thread is intended to be a place where I ponder on the workings of this world, beg for ideas to steal, and maybe occasionally ruminate on the rule changes I'll need to subject the EotE ruleset to. With any luck, I'll have a functional setting by 2028! :rolleyes:


Schattelgast is a fairly small and out-of-the-way world in the Eye of Terror. It's orbited by four moons - Glory, the red moon; Bliss, the black moon; Hope, the blue moon; and finally Love, the white moon. Due to the reality-bending effects of the warp, these moons don't follow any pre-determined course and can appear and disappear at a moment's notice, often acting as portents of the shifting tides of chaos.

Like many other daemon worlds, it is ruled by a daemon prince. This particular prince is a near-mythical figure within the general populace of the planet - only a select few top enforcers and priests have even seen him. He (or she - I haven't decided yet) resides in a great spire at the center of the planet's only hive. The hive acts as a sort of a truce zone between the followers of different gods - each major god, as well as the Dark Mechanicus, has a presence in the hive. Khornate fighting pits, Slaaneshi slave markets and pain-houses, Nurglite corpse-gardens and flame-wreathed Tzeentchian spires. Daemonic manufactorums belching streams of oily black smoke and rivers of boiling human fat. The hive is home to every vice a person could imagine, human life is only marginally more valuable than dirt, and there's always something to do for a ragtag group of violently-ambitious-evil-deity-worshipping-hobos!

The rest of the planet is a collection of deadly wastelands where hardy clans of barbarians wage constant wars to prove themselves to the gods, and maybe buy themselves into the hive - not because it'd be any safer, but because it's difficult to gain the attention of the gods when you're stuck in some tiny tent-village in the middle of absolute nowhere. Fairly standard chaos stuff. Of course, these wastes are also full of old tombs, strange psychic phenomena, ancient relics, bound daemons and whatnot - adventure, adventure.


Anyway, that's the gist of it. I'll be adding to this thread as I'll get ideas. I'd love to have some feedback, thoughts, questions and ideas - anything goes. Give it to me. GIVE ME EVERYTHING.
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So, about the rule changes... I don't think I'll get into the minutiae in this thread, but I'll lay out my general plan so you people can poke holes into it if it looks like I'm forgetting something important.

To do:
1) Come up with stats for 40k-approppriate equiptment - easy to do, hard to balance.
2) Replace the Destiny mechanic with a Godly Favour mechanic; this will be pretty much the most important of the custom rules, as spending Favour Points - gained from doing deeds that please one's patron deity - can be used to manipulate your Gifts from the Gods rolls, get bonuses in combat, and othet things besides.
3) Gifts form the Gods, ie. MUTATIONS! That is, an extensive chart for the myriad rewards the gods like to bestow on their followers. Starting from some very nasty and undesirable ones and ending up with powerful bonuses, with win-some-lose-some things inbetween. Also, smaller charts for god-specific mutations, triggered from a certain result on the main chart (ie. if you roll a, say, 84 on the main Gifts chart, roll again on the chart of your character's patron deity. Undivided characters can choose which god's chart they use, but they have a more difficult time earning favour points). Also need some kinds of rules, or at least guidelines, for triggering Gifts rolls.
4) Rules for psychic powers. This'll likely be similar to rules for force powers in EotE, but much nastier for everybody involved. Another category of things that can be manipulated or souped up with Favour points.

That's all off the top of my head.
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I'll suggest a hive divided into quarters, with the opposed Chaos gods on opposite sides and the central core ( the Prince's seat) an area of chaos undivided. or go on a bigger scale with the planet divided into quarters and the entire hive be for Chaos Undivided.

Your moon mechanic sounds really intriguing. As the one who always had to be the GM, I really like this idea. So many possibilities. Maybe a unique chaos power that manipulates or is affected by those moons? I'd probably save that for NPCs or a major story arc...
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Good idea with the districts! I think the city-wide variant is the way to go. I want characters to see environments influenced by different chaos gods without having to circumnavigate the planet!

Warp-powered shenanigans are the perfect writer's tools! Ain't no physics getting in the way of THIS story! :D

I've toyed with the idea that if the characters grow powerful enough, like end-of-the-endgame level, they could try to assault the daemon prince's fortress and take him down. If they succeed, the big four would send emissaries to them, explaining that one of them will ascend to daemonhood for this. Really stressing the ''one''.

Edit: Taking suggestions for the soundtrack! Preferably instrumental, but vocal tracks are fine as well.
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I've been thinking about how to award favour points to characters according to their patron deity. These are more guidelines than hard rulings.

Khornate characters:
- Vanquishing powerful enemies (or lots of weaker ones), preferably in melee and, if possible, in single combat
- taking on overwhelming odds, as long as the resulting loss isn't too embarrassing
- killing psykers

Slaaneshi characters:
- Excelling at a skill - I'm thinking something like this: skill level 3 -> 4, get one favour. Skill level 4 -> 5, get 2 favour, etc. For reference, 2 is the highest skill level you can have at character creation, so this wont result in immediate gains
- Hedonistic behaviour, with diminishing returns meaning you need to get more and more depraved and self-desctructive to keep milking this
- Manipulating other people into giving in to their desires; bonus points if you manage to make them do something they consider morally reprehensible or unacceptable

Tzeentchian characters:
- Learning of and using powerful ritual magic
- Manipulating other people
- For every third roll on the Gifts form the Gods table

Nurglite characters:
- For every disease they contract (bonuses based on severity), and for spreading these 'gifts' with others (Note to self: come up with some diseases)
- For every X amount of wounds or strain* suffered
- Making and using poisons and biological or chemical weaponry

*basically fatigue damage

I'm not 100% sure on these - the Khornate and Nurglite ones in particular feel a bit forced - so I'd be very glad for any feedback you gan give.
I avoid Nurgle stuff like the plague, but the first and last Khorne ones sound perfect. Slaanesh and Tzneetch sound pretty good. The only one that makes me wonder is the 2nd Slaaneshi one. Levels of depravity are relatively subjective.

For Khorne I'd suggest literal skull taking as another way to get gifts ("skulls for the skull throne" and all that).

I have the old Chaos hardbacks somewhere. they're loaded with fluff.
Hmm. Maybe Khornate characters could have a chance to ritually sacrifice the skulls of their foes to Khorne - of course, rituals take preparation and this can't be done willy-nilly. Also, if Khorne deems the offering unimpressive (ie. weakling skulls) he might get angry and punish the character instead.

You're right about the second Slaaneshi guideline, that'd just be difficult to adjudicate fairly. Maybe instead give Slaaneshi characters favour points for making selfish decisions (naturally, this only applies to major decisions with serious consequences) even when it inconveniences their allies.

Also, I'm pondering if one favour point for every third roll on the gifts table is enough to encourage Tzeentchian characters to go after mutations. Maybe instead one point for every roll on the Gifts table from the third onwards...

I, sadly, am not in possession of the books you speak of (Realm of Chaos and Slaves to Darkness, I presume?), so I'll rely on you and other grognards of this forum to correct any critical fluff mistakes I'll doubtlessly end up making. :p

Anyway, on to other stuff. I made a little art to go with the text, so here's Hope overlooking the hive (which I really need to name, by the way):

My initial thought is that the moons could have a direct influence over the characters, not sure on the ins and outs but at the beginning of each gaming session roll four different colour die to represent each god:
1=no moon
2-3=waning moon
4-5=waxing moon
6=full moon
So the moons affect the chaos energy and grants their followers great power!
The downside is when two or more moons are in full, it means the gods are in contention and followers are duty bound to cause harm to any and all who challenge their gods might!
And if all gods roll a 6, there is actually a great conjunction and the whole planet riots in glorious slaughter until the gods are appeased!
Great ideas! I was already thinking that a full moon of your chosen god could lend some extra power to rituals, but I hadn't considered about multiple moons being full at the same time.
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So like, because there are no proper seasons, the whole world is on edge and constantly ready to kick off! And because there is no pattern to when the moons show up, everyone looks to the sky at night and waits for the portents to be right! Kinda like sitting at traffic lights revving your engine waiting for it to turn green, except in this case it sometimes goes back to red! Truely sadistic, truely chaos!

I could play a chaos god if you ever need it? If a player leaves an offering on an alter, and I’m online in time to read what it is, I will either grant or dispel their wishes! If I’m not on in time then the gods are busy! (It would be cool if there were three other yaks to play gods, I don’t even care which one I am, it’d just be fun to add some extra rivalry!)
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i have what i think is a cool idea for the city, but i’m at work and can’t draw it out... but in essence, it would be a spire/sprawl that creates a chaos star on the face of the planet, visible from space.
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i made a rough sketch but left it at my station... essentially, i have an 8-pointed chaos star with longer cardinal arrows (N, S, E, W) and an outer ring that the longer arrows extend out of, and the shorter arrows end within. the center of the star is the spire of your demon prince. the outer ring contains your canals of molten steel.

Tzneetch has magic, which made me think of the mystical east, so he gets the East arrow. Nurgle is diametrically opposed, so the West arrows is theirs.

slaanesh gets the south arrow (the Bahamas have resorts called Hedonism, so that’s my thinking there). that leaves the north arrow for Khorne (vikings!).

i imagine the realms outside the city are mixtures of powers. some have one, some have two, rare ones could have 3. only the city has all four.

some mixed realm ideas:
Slaanesh and Nurgle: the Venereal Wastes.
Slaanesh and Tzneetch: Psychedelic Wonderland.
Khorne and Tzneetch: a realm of blood magic
Khorne and Nurgle: zombie plagues

then i thought there would be roving bands of minor players (like Necromunda on this world) fighting for domination. “Covens” for Tzneetch, “Orgies” for Slaanesh, “Pustules” for Nurgle, and “Skulls” for Khorne (i had another name for his bands, but i can’t remember what it was..)
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Nice! I'll have to get around to making a map of the main continent sometime. Feels like this project is going to be a fair bit more work than I originally anticipated... oh well, right now my gaming group is too busy to actually play, so it's not like I've got anything better to do with my hobby time. :D

I like the idea of areas combining influences of multiple chaos gods, although instead of permanent regions, I'd rather have them as disputed areas in the constant tribal wars. When one god's followers start to gain the upper hand, the terrain grows more to their patron god's liking.

I've also played around with the idea of areas that constantly change alignment based on what moon is up. Like a forest where all the trees are barely alive and full of all kinds of strange mold when Love is in full, and when Glory is instead lighting the sky, the trees' bark would turn dark red and viciously thorny. This would likely have to be restricted to few special locations so as not to confuse the players too much. :LOL:

I also got another piece of art done. Some bog-standard nurglite forest this time.


EDIT: I've been thinking about the ritual magic portion of the game. These would mostly be something that's done in between adventures or if there's any downtime during one, so no mid-dungeon ritual shenanigans.

Every ritual has a set of requirements that need to be fulfilled to attempt a ritual (Generally, these fall into three categories: Ritual knowledge, psychic power and sacrificial ingredients) and even then, the ritual can fail. Some rituals can be attempted at a higher difficulty and with higher base requirements for increased rewards.


Khorne: Blood, skulls, weapons and armour
Slaanesh: Luxury goods, narcotics and (sentient) slaves
Tzeentch: Knowledge - usually in written form, but skilled ritualists can also offer their own memories. Magical items.
Nurgle: Any living thing to bestow his 'blessings' on will do. Naturally this can include the ritualist themselves.

Undivided characters can attempt any ritual they know of, but will usually face penalties because they aren't associated with any god in particular. Khornate characters have no ritual lore of their own and thus can only perform the common rituals.


Summoning ritual (common)
Summons one lesser daemon. With greater knowledge and more sacrifices, more numerous or powerful daemons can be summoned.

Requirements: Ritual knowledge 1, a small sacrifice. The nature of the sacrifice determines which god's servant is sumoned.

Modifiers: raised difficulty if the ritualist tries to summon a daemon of a god other than theirs (ie, a Tzeentchian sorcerer trying to summon a Khornate daemon); lowered difficulty for every favour point the ritualist expends.

... And so on. I still need to do a lot of thinking about these, but here's some ideas I have:

(Common) Sacrifial rite: essentially the basic "make me stronger" ritual. Only requires a sacrifice, the size and quality of which determines the effects. Can be used to gain Blessings, which are temporary buffs, or to gain a roll on the Gifts from the Gods table.

(Tzeentchian) Ritual of unearthly divination: Requires some ritual knowledge, a little psychic power, and a small sacrifice. If the ritual is succesful, the character can ask the GM one question relating to the current adventure, which the GM must answer honestly.

(Slaaneshi) Ritual of rapturous ecstasy: Requires a little ritual knowledge and a small sacrifice. If succesfull, all characters in the party reduce their current strain to 0 and gain a temporary boost to their strain threshold to represent their senses and minds being dulled to any horror they might encounter.

(Slaaneshi) Ritual of narcissistic perpetuation: Requires some ritual knowledge and at least one assistant. If succesful, the next time the ritualist suffers a critical injury, the injury is resolved against one of the assistants instead. The more assistants used in the ritual, the more difficult it is. Can't be stacked; you only get as many meat-shields as you can fit into a single ritual.

(Nurglite) Ritual of mortification: Requires a little ritual knowledge. If succesful, the ritualist can remove a critical injury and restore wounds in exchange for contracting a random disease.

Obviously there's gonna be more - I want at least 2 - and preferably 3 - god-specific rituals for every god except Khorne.
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I've been thinking that a game set on a daemon world should probably have a madness mechanic of some sort, and I think I've come up with a fairly simple one.

Basically, at character creation every player picks a madness type for their character - this can be anything from specific delusions to more general mental illnesses. These madnesses start out as dormant, but can start acting up if the character accrues enough insanity points. Insanity points are permanent or at the very least very difficult to remove, and therefore act as a sort of a time limit on a campaign - get your shit done before you go mad, basically.

Amount of insanity points: 0-19
No ill effects

Amount of insanity points: 20-39
For every time the character attempts a skill check that directly conflicts with his chosen type of madness (for example, a blood-mad berserker attempting to negotiate with the enemy), he takes 1 strain damage.

Amount of insanity points: 40-59
For every time the character attempts a skill check that directly conflicts with his chosen type of madness, he takes 1 strain damage. He will also add 1 setback die to his dice pool for the check.

Amount of insanity points: 60-79
Before the character can attempt a skill check that directly conflicts with his madness type, he must pass an easy Discipline check. If he succeeds, he can attempt the skill check, though he still suffers 1 strain damage and has to add a setback die to the dice pool for the check.

Amount of insanity points: 80-99
As above, but the discipline check is upgraded to average.

Amount of insanity points: 100-119
As above, the discipline check is upgraded to hard.

Amount of insanity points: 120
The character devolves into a monomaniac wreck, the last vestiges of their sanity utterly destroyed. They may die as an immediate result or be relegated to an NPC, but regardless, the character basically becomes unplayable and the player has to create a new PC for themselves.

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I could play a chaos god if you ever need it? If a player leaves an offering on an alter, and I’m online in time to read what it is, I will either grant or dispel their wishes! If I’m not on in time then the gods are busy! (It would be cool if there were three other yaks to play gods, I don’t even care which one I am, it’d just be fun to add some extra rivalry!)
If you want this, I'm up for being one too.