Jump to content



Photo

Dark Heresy - advice for a new GM?


  • Please log in to reply
10 replies to this topic

#1 ramza82

ramza82

    Member

  • Members
  • 80 posts

Posted 07 March 2014 - 09:00 PM

Hello friends,

 

So as the title would suggest, I will be starting a DH game in the near future. My regular GM is a little GM'd out and would like a break from all the work and just wants to enjoy being a player. As I am the only other player who has expressed any interest in stepping in, I've been asked to run some Dark Heresy.

 

Now first off, I am pretty inexperienced in GM'ing, I've run a handful of EotE, for a different, far less experienced group.  I'll be taking the reins over for my regular group, and much to my chagrin I didn't jump on the 2E Beta opt-in when it was available (I can't understand why FFG made it for a limited time only??).  So I plan on using the OW combat rules with 1E DH in lieu of not having the new beta rules.  I hear grumblings that 2E was just a copy/paste of OW anyway..

 

So I know 1E has it problems, I've heard it echoed a lot on these forums,  We also tried a one-shot of DH a few years ago and there was a ton of whiffing.  So my question is what is good? What is bad? I am not familiar with DH, but I know a lot of people have done conversion work to improve the weaker aspects of the system.  I am hoping to avoid having to learn the old system, just to then learn what doesn't work. How much should I take from OW? Should I just use the core OW rules while only using DH setting material? 

 

I appreciate your advice,

Regards



#2 Simsum

Simsum

    Member

  • Members
  • 458 posts

Posted 08 March 2014 - 12:40 AM

1e has a very messy and power-creepy Career and Rank jungle, and it is probably a good idea to stick with what's in the Core Rules to start with. Mind, this is after something like 20 releases in that one game line, so it's not exactly an unusual problem. I'm unaware of another equally extensive line that doesn't have the same issue.

Whiffing means you're doing it wrong. The system operates with low base chances of success when rolling dice, and with very easy to obtain and very large modifiers. Essentially this means that actors have to look for ways to facilitate what they're trying to do.

Two actors just standing there, trading bullets, will miss a lot. Two actors running around finding height advantages, bracing their weapons, aiming and so on, will hit very often and disable or kill each other very quickly.

This fairly great emphasis on creativity and tactics comes at a price, though. Both players and GMs need to be aware that their chances of achieving things are highly dependent on their ability to create advantages for themselves, and this means both need a fair degree of system mastery. And the GM needs to keep this in mind when designing obstacles and encounters.

Obviously you're not going to have the required system mastery on day 1, and if you come from systems like D&D you're unlikely to be used to design obstacles and encounters in a way that facilitates "modifier hunting". But give it a chance, because you will catch on fairly quickly and it's very possible both you and your players will end up feeling like you have a greater degree of agency than you've had in other systems.

Things to look out for in DH1e - and again, I suggest you stick with the DH1e Core Rules to start with - are Psykers and Full-Auto weapons.

In the setting, using a psychic power is pretty much the extreme last resort of anyone with half a brain, because Psykers are universally feared and hated, and using such powers is likely to turn everyone and everything hostile, permanently.

You need to make sure you communicate this clearly to any Psyker players you have, so they don't feel like they're being persecuted for no reason. As the GM, you also need to be aware just what the Psyker can do, because even Rank 1 Psykers start with a more or less expansive arsenal of powers that can screw with the best laid GM plans.
Finally DH1e Psykers have a low, but quite real, possibility of going nuclear and destroying themselves and the rest of the party. My suggestion, as always, is to house-rule that Psykers can Burn a Fate Point to instead suffer a GM fiat disaster, and that other party members can Burn a Fate Point to knock out the Psyker just in time to avert them going nuclear.

Weapons capable of firing Full-Auto in DH1e are incredibly lethal. You probably shouldn't allow such weapons at all, until you feel your group has a good grasp of the combat mechanics.

The systems combat mechanics are fairly lethal in general, and a good rule of thumb is to avoid combat encounters if the PCs are Fatigued or out of Fate Points. Fatigue can seriously compromise the capabilities of your PCs.
Accidentally killing everyone is pretty easy for a newbie GM, and the only RAW way around such accidents are Fate Points. So... No fatigued PCs, and no PCs without FP if you want to shoot them up without killing them.

There's been a bit of discussion here recently about the value of various Skills, and my advice regarding that is: keep a copy of each character for yourself, and design the challenges you throw at them, around the skill sets that they actually have. This way you can reward their particular character builds, and ensure they all have a chance to be indispensable to the success of whatever mission they're on.

I also strongly encourage you to not gloss over the Q&A part of character creation, and take notes. Because that's the only part of RAW character creation that lets your players express the sorts of ethical dilemmas and challenges they'd like to experience, and personal stories they'd like to explore.
So take notes and try to incorporate as much of it into your mission design as possible. Especially consider how you can use their answers to help you design recurring NPCs - in particular their Inquisitor.

Finally, assuming the default setup your PCs will be working for an Inquisitor. This Inquisitor is very likely going to be vastly superior to the entire Acolyte Cell, in pretty much every conceivable sense. The Inquisitor can kick their combined asses, outsmart them, out-buy them, and just generally out-everything them. This makes it critically important that you always make sure that the Inquisitor is in no position to show off.

You probably do want your Acolytes to feel like underdogs, who're sometimes cogs in a vast and uncaring machine, and sometimes the almost powerless doorstop keeping the cosmic horrors confined for another day.

But you don't want Acolytes who feel like they're useless baggage.

Generally that means the Inquisitor should be somewhat distant, and never ever tag along with the Acolytes.

Have fun & good luck :)
  • Adeptus-B, Alrik Vas, nultaar and 1 other like this

#3 Alrik Vas

Alrik Vas

    Member

  • Members
  • 200 posts

Posted 08 March 2014 - 01:34 PM

*Steps into the thread, looks at Simsum's post, nods and steps back out*



#4 Inquisitor Quidam

Inquisitor Quidam

    Member

  • Members
  • 26 posts

Posted 09 March 2014 - 08:29 AM

I'd avoid trying to mix and match rulesets if you are not familiar with both. Pick which rules you like best then add the flavour you want. No reason why an Inquisitor couldn't recruit a squad of guardsmen. (Or indeed no reason why a group of random imperial citizens wouldn't be conscripted into the Imperial Guard)



#5 KPhan2121

KPhan2121

    Member

  • Members
  • 11 posts

Posted 09 March 2014 - 02:42 PM

https://docs.google....cmZmV21GSkVoVVU

This is the Only War to Dark Heresy Rules Conversion Kit made by someone, its awesome!

I don't use it myself since I like having the book in my hands while I settle rule disputes and such.

If you plan on running the game electronically, I would recommend using this framework with maptools.

http://forums.rptool...ic.php?p=228580

It basically does all the calculations for you and is a god send if aren't familiar with the rules.


Edited by KPhan2121, 09 March 2014 - 02:45 PM.


#6 nultaar

nultaar

    Member

  • Members
  • 33 posts

Posted 09 March 2014 - 04:04 PM

As for the auto fire weapons, I used the only war modifier's as some of my players just ran full auto all the time. It led to some of the characters using single shot weapons' getting little side lined and a few important bit of evidence shot up...

#7 ColArana

ColArana

    Member

  • Members
  • 261 posts

Posted 09 March 2014 - 10:37 PM

As for the auto fire weapons, I used the only war modifier's as some of my players just ran full auto all the time. It led to some of the characters using single shot weapons' getting little side lined and a few important bit of evidence shot up...

 

I've actually done this in one of my campaign, and while it's balanced autofire weapons nicely, it's made shotgun wielding characters just as terrifying.



#8 nultaar

nultaar

    Member

  • Members
  • 33 posts

Posted 10 March 2014 - 03:56 AM

As for the auto fire weapons, I used the only war modifier's as some of my players just ran full auto all the time. It led to some of the characters using single shot weapons' getting little side lined and a few important bit of evidence shot up...

 I've actually done this in one of my campaign, and while it's balanced autofire weapons nicely, it's made shotgun wielding characters just as terrifying.

The group I run the game for always gravitated towards rifles, so i never had that issue. They first encountered shotguns when an NPC assisted them, who them chewed through hostiles like nobodies business. But yes it throws the ball toward shotguns being OTT in DH1, DH2 changes the way scatter works so it isn't that much of an issue.

#9 Magnus Grendel

Magnus Grendel

    The Empire Needs You!

  • Members
  • 1,384 posts

Posted 10 March 2014 - 09:04 AM

A big part of balancing autofire weapons is the setting, though. Ultimately, an autogun is a heavy-weight assault rifle. Even in the Imperium, you can't just walk through the nicer bits of a city with one slung over your shoulder...

 

Sidearms and pistols are often the order of the day, except when you know you're walking in to a gunfight. Just because you come with an assault rifle in your starting kit doesn't mean you need to encourage the players to carry it 24/7



#10 Darth Smeg

Darth Smeg

    Lord Nitpicker

  • Members
  • 1,690 posts

Posted 10 March 2014 - 12:06 PM

 

As for the auto fire weapons, I used the only war modifier's as some of my players just ran full auto all the time. It led to some of the characters using single shot weapons' getting little side lined and a few important bit of evidence shot up...

 

I've actually done this in one of my campaign, and while it's balanced autofire weapons nicely, it's made shotgun wielding characters just as terrifying.

 

You need to change Scatter too.

 

In BC and onwards, Scatter doesn't cause additional hits, it gives a +10 to BS on Point Blank and Short range, and gives a flat +3 DMG on Point Blank.


Tarald - The Dark Lord of Smeg

You're not drunk if you can lie on the floor without holding on

 

My House Rules for using Only War (and more) for Dark Heresy games


#11 Visitor Q

Visitor Q

    Member

  • Members
  • 502 posts

Posted 11 March 2014 - 08:59 AM

So take notes and try to incorporate as much of it into your mission design as possible. Especially consider how you can use their answers to help you design recurring NPCs - in particular their Inquisitor.

Finally, assuming the default setup your PCs will be working for an Inquisitor. This Inquisitor is very likely going to be vastly superior to the entire Acolyte Cell, in pretty much every conceivable sense. The Inquisitor can kick their combined asses, outsmart them, out-buy them, and just generally out-everything them. This makes it critically important that you always make sure that the Inquisitor is in no position to show off.

You probably do want your Acolytes to feel like underdogs, who're sometimes cogs in a vast and uncaring machine, and sometimes the almost powerless doorstop keeping the cosmic horrors confined for another day.

But you don't want Acolytes who feel like they're useless baggage.

Generally that means the Inquisitor should be somewhat distant, and never ever tag along with the Acolytes.

Have fun & good luck :)

 

As a collary to this 'show don't tell' is often a useful story telling device.  Therefore having the Inquisitor show up to actually kick some ass can make the PCs realise that Inquisitors are as scary as their reputations suggest.  If you do want to do this then I would suggest the following method.

 

1) Have the PCs uncover something particularly nasty which the Inquisitor might want to oversee

2) Have an encounter where the PCs fight alongside the Inquisitor.  Here they can witness that 'yes Inquisitors are very well trained peers of the Imperium where authority equals asskicking.

3) Have a second encounter which appears to be going the same way as the first.  PCs may well be getting ready to settle back and allow the Inquisitor to do the lion share of the fighting.  At this point have the Inquisitor get incapacitated or otherwise duffed up.  The PCs now have to deal with the threat themselves and at the same time save the Inquisitor.

 

End result PCs realise that their master is a hero but also realise that he is mortal like everyone else and the galaxy is a big place.  There is always a bigger fish.

 

Example.

I played a campaign where the PCs fought alongside their Inquisitor against a hive gang being run by a xenos infiltrator.  While the xenos beast was dueling with the Inquisitor in an epic roof top battle the PCs were desperatly trying to keep up leaping from roof tops and ledges in a running gun fight with the Hive Gangers in the thrall of the xenos boss.

 

Eventually the Inquisitor kills the xenos creature.  As a one off session PCs were impressed and glad they had the backup of the Inquisitor so the novelty hadn't worn off of having an NPC do the hard work.

 

Next session during debreifing the PCs base is attacked by Chaos cultists.  Inquisitor draws power sword, PC comments 'Narasay [Inquisitor] is nails.  He'll trash these guys'.  Chaos sorcerer promptly pops the Inquisitors eyes who falls to ground screaming.  PCs required to fight cult themselves while defending their injured/blind master.






© 2013 Fantasy Flight Publishing, Inc. Fantasy Flight Games and the FFG logo are ® of Fantasy Flight Publishing, Inc.  All rights reserved.
Privacy Policy | Terms of Use | Contact | User Support | Rules Questions | Help | RSS