Many people who start playing Inquisitor often have experience with other wargames, many of which have points-based balancing mechanisms (although they may use a different term like "credits") and strict rules on constructing army lists, restricting players to which weapons and wargear they can bring, and who can carry them.
Inquisitor's blessing and curse is the freedom it gives players to create any characters with no limits. It is both daunting and corrupting to have the entire armoury of the Imperium sprawled out in front of you, and the potential to create power-armoured heroes to crush the enemies of the God-Emperor. If the GM and players aren't careful, this usually leads to an arms race, and doesn't take long before a plot can escalate into a question of who pack the bigger power weapon.
At this point, some are tempted to turn to the Ready Reckoner in the back of the Inquisitor rulebook.
Even if the Ready Reckoner worked as a system (it doesn't, it's far too simplistic), Inquisitor is not meant to be a game where players try to craft the perfect army list; taking off a few shotgun rounds from one character in order to squeeze in True Grit or Heroic on another, and thus maximise your ability to drive your enemies before you - it's the complete antithesis of the game.
Inquisitor is a narrative skirmish wargame, and both the narrative and skirmish aspects must be treated equally for everyone to have fun, as that is what the game is about!
Nonetheless, what is 'balanced' and what is not can make the difference between a fun game and a one-sided slaughter, and nobody wants to keep replaying that kind of match until there is a sense that the game could go either way from the off.
Fortunately though, with Inquisitor now being a mature game, the community has had a lot of time to consider a set of guidelines.
Displayed below is assorted advice for a gaming circle starting off in the shadowy realms of Inquisitor for the first time. These are by no means 'hard and fast' rules, but until you get some games of Inquisitor under your belt to know what works and what doesn't, it helps to stick to these few tips; Dual-boltgun wielding wyrd psykers in power armour are only fun to play against once...
- Limit each warband to one bolt weapon and one power weapon. These can both be on the same character if you choose (often the Inquisitor), but the character should probably not complement them both by having both ranged and melee special abilities. Bear in mind, power weapons are rare and incredibly powerful, only awarded to those in office or who have done great deeds (or nicked one), and bolt pistols are notoriously difficult to keep maintained, and ammo is very scarce for them.
- One True Grit character, and one Heroic Character. If you do use these special abilities, then avoid using them on the same character (else people are tempted to put them both on their Inquisitor). Think about your characters based on their personalities - are they as hard as nails like Rambo, or are they more likely to pull off some badass stunts like Indiana Jones?
- Avoid duplicate abilities. The more characters you give the same ability to, the less unique each one will feel. Of course, sometimes that's the very dynamic you want - but if you're doing it just because those look like the "best" abilities, then that's probably not a good thing.
- (Strength x 2) + 50 = The most your character can carry. This is the closest to a 'points' system in these tips, and is essentially a way of limiting the amount of armour and weapons a character can carry, but in sensible amounts. The Inquisitor weight system is very odd, not conforming to a logical or comparative set of numbers, and some things have no weight at all. Amongst a lot of players now, 'weight' is short-hand for encumbrance - some weapons require methodical cleaning and must be followed round with a set of tools to do so, some items are particularly bulky and awkward to carry but not so heavy, whereas others are very dense but easily slip into a pouch or pocket. Items without a value are marked at Weight 5, whereas melee weapons are marked at their highest damage allowance, so a d10 sword would weigh 10, whereas a 3D10 power sword would weigh 30. This throws up oddities such as a regular halberd being 10 encumbrance and a power halberd is 40, and they'd weigh roughly the same. Yet a power halberd is going to require all manner of tools, fuels and skills to keep it in good working order, and the 'upkeep' of the weapon is 4 times that of the mundane version to compensate.
- Use a different second digit for each stat in the statline. Many people round stats up to multiples of 5 or even 10, possibly through lack of creativity or to avoid tricky maths when working out penalties. Either way, Inquisitor is a D100 game not a D10 game, and multiples of 5 and 10 are boring, and seriously limit your possibilities for future characters. There are 10 stats, so you can use 0-9 for the second digit of each stat, and avoid using the same number twice. It will make your players think that little bit more about making each character unique and fun to play with.
Feel free to use and abuse these as you please, that's what Inquisitor is all about. Hopefully you can take some of these away to your own gaming group to keep the power gaming down as much as possible, at least until everyone gets into the spirit of the game, and realises it's just as fun when your own guys do as badly as the other team!