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Dark Heresy: frustration intensifies

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#1 Xathrodox86



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Posted 20 April 2014 - 05:31 AM

I want to fix the Dark Heresy.
For nearly a year I've run this system and... I hate it. Now, before we go any further I'd like to mention that I consider myself rather expierienced GM, with 5+ years of running a 5-man group. I've started with WFRP 2ed, and I love both Warhammer universes. Currently I run oWoD Hunter game, but my players quite clearly stated that they want to return to DH in some, not too distatnt time.
So here's my problem. While DH does take many ideas and game mechanics from WFRP, it fails to deliver on almost any level. Snipers are less accurate than gun-totting, full-auto going gangsters. This system is not lethal at all. I mean, sure, at the beginnig the characters are pretty squishy. However at some point, and I'm not talking ascension level, they're practically invincible. The combination of high DEX, stats buffs and traits that lower critical hits, disable any wound penalties and so on, are making them gods of the battlefield. That and the fact that the friggin' suppression system is broken beyond belief. Our metallican gunslinger fires two full auto guns at different gripus of 10+ guys and can supress them at will. Of course, since they're testing their WP at -30 it's not that surprising. By the way, most of my PC's have skill or talent, that let's them test their (usually very good) WP at normal level, when being supressed. Then there are one-shot shotguns with flachette ammo, which is OP to the max...
Another thing is cash. Sure, at the beginning my PC's could only afford lasguns. Now they're toting carpace armour, bolt pistols and specialized ammo that practically ignores armour. And they still have cash to spare! No, they've did not robbed a bank. They've simply collected old autoguns and las pistols and sell them. Voila! Full cash. In WFRP it was a miracle when a character could afford a chainmail shirt. Here carpace armour is a normal thing. Oh, and since that carpace armour has micro beads, rebreather and an IR goggles with apparently infinite viewing range, they don't need to buy any of those other things.
Now I know what you're going to say. "Give them stronger enemies". "Make them buy only common items". "Make their Inquisitor a complete hardass". Yes, I could do that, but... It won't solve anything. I don't want to constrict them artificially, and the DH is so bad, that there's really no middle ground when it comes to the enemies. They are either too weak, or too strong, and I don't fancy introducing new party at every game session. Sure, I tought about Chaos Space Marines, but honestly, sometimes I think that even they wouldn't be enough. Damn gunslinger...
I want to find a way to repair this system, to make it really challenging without turining it into grind-fest. I want to reward my players, but at the same time I don't want them to become too powerfull (they've already had). What should I do, or shouldn't do? I've heard that introducing the rules from Only War is a good idea, but that won't fix the money/enemies/gear problem, only the dice rolling and character customization. I need your help on this one people. I WANT to like, nay to love, that system, but right now I can't. Despite all my love for 40K I simply can't. And you know that when a DM runs a game which he hates... Well, it won't end up well, both for my players and for me.
Peace out and The Emperor protects.

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#2 Lynata



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Posted 20 April 2014 - 08:23 AM

If you feel DH isn't lethal enough, you could change the way Toughness works by adopting how it was done in GW's Inquisitor game: don't run it as a second layer of armour, but instead a buffer between Crits. I've explained it in greater detail here.


In regards to the gear, keep in mind that some equipment may not lend itself too well to an undercover investigation where the characters are supposed to keep a low profile. That being said, what level do your players have? At some point having access to power armour etc is working as intended.


I also feel that looting became a real issue in your game. I've always had the feeling of DH relying too much on this sort of income - when working for the Inquisition, players should not have to collect scrap just to pay for their next stay at an inn or a couple bullets. And obviously, looting too much can break the economy entirely.


But you as the GM have the option to influence this perception: Selling loot takes time. Time spent not working on an investigation. Now, I wouldn't recommend just messing with the players to make a point, because just like you I'm opposed to the idea of artificial obstacles, but what you could do is .. say, prepare a sheet of events that take place at a predetermined hour, and have the PCs race against the clock without knowing it. Tell them it took so and so many hours to find a buyer for their loot, and have them miss important dates. Include the possibility of total mission failure if they botch it real bad, and have the Inquisitor chastise them for their chosen priorities.


Also, keep in mind that it'll attract attention if the PCs are bulk-selling a certain type of guns shortly after a local group armed with exactly those guns has been decimated. Especially if the weapons have been marked with gang or cult signs.


If none of the player characters attempted to keep the group focused on the mission, this is certainly a sign that your players may be working against the game, so to say, but with some simple tricks you can steer them right back on track. That, or watch them crash and burn as they have to deal with the consequences of their actions.

Edited by Lynata, 20 April 2014 - 08:24 AM.

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#3 ThenDoctor



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Posted 20 April 2014 - 08:37 AM

I think Dark Heresy is fine for what it is. Certainly not as convoluted as 2nd edition, however I'll play 2nd over 3rd any day.

Anyways Lynata pointed out very good points. I'll only add this.


You're the GM, it is in your right as such to control the game as you see fit. Add damage to the attacks, lower the throne count, don't let them buy anything too powerful without catches to the deal, have the big bad weapon have a deadman explosive on it, and essentially anything. The system itself works for the original goals, for the most part, what you want is modification not fixing.

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#4 doomande



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Posted 20 April 2014 - 09:37 AM

First at all, are the gunslingers you talk about players with the special class from IH? Because if they are have they taken one of the most broken classes, something that most know that they are, and a class that most keep out of their games for that reason.


In response to loot then inform them that this isn´t a D&D game, or a warhammer fantasy game for that matter, this is 40K. And in 40K are looting not something that there are looked at with good eyes in most cases. If they fight against others of the imprerium do they steal its equipment if they take it with them, something that will piss a lot of people of. If they take the loot from fallen cultists is it tainted, and unless you have a radical Inquisitor are what you just have done heresy. The same can be said about xeno weapons.


Something that most forget when they complain about looting is that this is not D&D, this is not most other games. If your player would loot a fallen space marine just to score some thrones are there seriously something wrong with the game! I do not say that you ain´t allowed to loot, but that the players and GM as well have to think about what they are doing. I have personally planed to make all my players cleanse their loot before they are allowed to use it without penalties, both by their cleric who there have to remove the taint, and by the tech priest who will have to soothe the machine spirit.


Beside that are this system not meant to be played "hard", big guns does never give the best results, but to be played smart. If the players use force, then show them the reactions. The more force they add the bigger are the counter reaction, it is the laws of physics after all ;)


Beside that, how often do your players make a petition to their inquisitor? With that can you control their equipment pretty well, and make them do a lot of funny RPing to get their gear. I am personally looking forward to when they have to write a poem before they are allowed to get their next gun given to them XD

Edited by doomande, 20 April 2014 - 09:38 AM.

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#5 darkforce



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Posted 20 April 2014 - 09:45 AM

Indeed good points you make their, I'll also add a few cents (not much since Lynata and ThenDoctor already said a lot)


1. Control the Economy. Always remember, you ARE the economy. Depending on where your players operate, stuff might simply not be available. The Idea of Bolt-Shells being for sale on the open market is ridiculous, it takes time to find the right seller, to set up a deal, etc etc. Seriously, Local circumstances are probably the biggest factor keeping acquisitions in line. 


2. Suppressing-Fire was a WP-20 As far as I remember... I know, details, but that might be one more guy not being suppressed. 


3. To the point of deadliness, I think DH is deadly enough in a sense. In fact, for my new Campaign I'm working on, I'm planning on revising the system a bit so less fate points are burnt and less time is spent in hospital when you get hurt... something which REALLY annoys me is the long time a character spends doing nothing but being worked on. 


4. Well, Gunslinger IS deadly and gets some really nice talents early on, but I don't think the class is that broken... remember, he can't learn ANY other weapon-talent that is not a pistol. Ever tried getting him into melee with two guys ganging up on him? I'll only say *splurb* (assuming the rest of the group is busy with the other people)


5. Can they actually carry all that loot without looking too conscpicious? Ever seen someone carry 2-3 Assault Rifles without looking really weird and murderous? Hell, this is TOTALLY going to tell people "Don't get involved with me... just DON'T", which might very well cause the cult or whatever they're investigating to go either "Alright, let's blow 'em up, full power" or "Well, let's just... hide and wait it out I guess..."


My few cents, but there are certainly more to give by other people :)

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#6 ak-73



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Posted 20 April 2014 - 02:26 PM

The loot problem is the smallest of problems. You're an Inquisitor. You have a bunch of Acolytes. Your Interrogator ensures they already get paid in some form. Your Interrogator tells you that his agents report to him that they are amassing loot and selling, for example, weapons to the black market. Last week one of the weapons was used to kill an Arbites.


What do you do?



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#7 ColArana



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Posted 20 April 2014 - 02:47 PM

Biggest thing I'm noticing is that a lot of your problems are to do with combat.


...Dark Heresy isn't D&D. Combat is certainly a part of an investigation, but it is not the investigation itself. In my opinion, Combat should only occur in DH when you've either done a lot of things right, or a lot of things wrong. In my own group, I think we've gone the last 3-4 sessions without a single fight breaking out (barring one short incapacitation of a nurse so we could impersonate her, and 4 Acolytes jumping one unarmed and unarmored nurse is not much of a fight).


If your Acolytes are clearly too powerful to be throwing conventional enemies at (which unless this is Ascension I find doubtful. Warhammer 40k is THE universe where there's always a bigger fish), then how about different situations, where stealth, guile, or the ability to blend in are important. What if you're trying to track down a black market weapons' dealer, or a guy who's gone into hiding to avoid the Heretical cult that he knows about. Walking down the street in full carapace armor with a rocket launcher on your back is going to attract attention.


And, if while undercover, your Acolytes happen to get attacked while they're not packing their god-gear? Guess they'll have to make do without, won't they?



As for looting, I'm surprised you have a problem, when 40k offers the MOST possibilities for preventing players just grabbing stuff off bad guys and selling it. No honest Imperial citizen is going to accept that flak vest that's covered in cult symbols. The gun that was carried by a faithless traitor is never going to be accepted by any respectable business. Hell, even using the equipment themselves could get the Acolytes in a load of trouble.


Don't be afraid to throw enemies with better gear at them. Afraid they'll loot that cultists plasma pistol afterwards? A plasma pistol isn't exactly a "normal" piece of equipment, and your Inquisitor will probably want a look at it. The Acolytes won't be hanging onto it for long, that's for sure.

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#8 Cogniczar



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Posted 21 April 2014 - 08:05 AM

Not sure if you are doing the Gunmetallican correctly. Some points to remember about shooting two weapons:

  • If you have the Two-Weapon Wielder talent, you may spend a Full Action to attack with both weapons, but each takes a –20 penalty to the Test. If you have the Ambidextrous talent, this penalty drops to –10.
  • When firing a ranged weapon with each hand, you may fire each weapon on a different mode, for example, one on full automatic and one on semi-automatic. When firing a full automatic weapon in each hand, you may only lay down one area of suppressive fire.
  • You may fire your weapons at different targets, though they must be within 10 metres of each other.

Groups of 10+ people wouldn't be a viable target to be pinned from suppressing fire unless you are grouping them all together in a cohesive blob of targets. If they have the sensibility to be...somewhat apart from each other, he wouldn't be able to pin everyone, nor would he be able to cut them down that effectively. The fact that his multiple hitting autogun could only hurt someone within 3m from the initial target as well would keep the enemy casaulties down at the same time as stopping the players from being, "trolololol" in combat.


As far as 'looting' is concerned - are you making the players roll Inquiry checks to even find a viable seller or purchaser of goods? Are you using the modifiers per world to generate viable options for the players? Simply, by using just the default availability and appropriate modifiers on an Inquiry test, you can halve nearly all their transactions by merit of finding no one willing to take the gear off their hands, or if they do, not at full price or the merchent to be could attempt to buy cheap from the party or sell too high. This is what barter skills are for!


Not to mention, those failures could see the party run into authorities cracking down on the illicit trade!


Now mentioning the gear they have - are you tallying their weights? I'd recommend so - Carapace is pretty heavy, and for hte average pc it will eat up 1/3 of their total carrying weight - and their surplus gear will then weigh them further to the point of having to test for fatigue or worse! I find that when you as a gm enforce weight tracking, the parties gear becomes more reasonable; often, a swim test or climb check could fail based on the sheer merit of players being gear hogs, and then they have to burn a fate point to avoid falling into a deep crevice and dying from fall damage (to which that fancy carapce armor holds no protection!)


All in all, I'd recommend re-evaluating the rules and to ensure you are leveraging the entirety of the rule set. By omitting or neglecting aspects of it, you lose out on the inherent balance of the system. With gear there is a lot of leeway given to the GM's discretion in terms of availability, which means you have total control in that aspect. 

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#9 Olifant



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Posted 21 April 2014 - 05:51 PM

Some good ideas have been thrown out there, and I will give my two cents after work: when I have a keyboard to work with. I have similar issues with higher level PCs. Though I focus more on storyline and investigation combat has become almost laid back last two sessions. Mostly because the people my guys picked fights with were non important NPCs. Hell, currently they chewed through five work boyz without taking any serious wounds. But I am not worried, I know how to strike fear into them.

#10 Braddoc



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Posted 23 April 2014 - 09:16 PM



I use Bradon, a grumpy Squat (Ok, they're all grumpy base value) and his crew that runs Munitorium D at the Tricorn where the players can request/borrow/buy  equipment.




Basically, the players at first can only request items up to scarce availability. So forget about getting that carapace armour and that boltgun at Rank 1.  With this that means they don't need to loot everybody they see of raid every armoury they manage to cross.  Also, I get to control, via Bradon, what the acolytes have; sure they can request 100 frag grenades, but that doesn't mean they'll get it.  They'll get a few and that's it.


Then, to keep with the 'living world', they got to fill a form with a literacy test.  Like I said in another post, they can roll how much they want, it's not super critical, but they'll waste in-game time doing that, and time is generally of the essence.


This allowed them to save up their monthly pay to buy some fancy gear (good/best quality stuff or implants, top tier armour and weapons), giving them the idea that they are part of a large organization and also giving them a counter where they can buy their gear without having to run around in the Hive trying to find a store who got it.  Also, as they are in the Tricorn, they can walk around with melee/pistol weapons around, but basic or heavy weapons are frown upon;  This is the Imperium after all, no one walks around unarmed, but can't have some possible unstable person walking with a heavy bolter or flamer  around.


Also, The players have an apartment in the Tricorn, something basic at first (common room/kitchen, simple bathroom, 2 bedrooms with 2 beds each, basic rations) and as they get higher ranks, this also gets better (Added a TV, secured vox line to the outside, small workstation to mod their guns or to fiddle around with tech, prayer closet, better food and accommodations)


I also given them the chance to train during their down time, as not everyone was interested into the alternate ranks, and well, like it or not, they're part of the =I=, so only natural that their Inquisitor made sure he had qualified personnel at his disposal.  Of course they only started with the basic courses, the rest was available at later ranks.





That's how I control my player's gear.  Personally, I don't have hoarder in my group, while the Tech-priest and the guardswoman are well armoured, it fit their character..and even then the guardswoman will switch to mesh reinforced clothing for more overt operations.


Second, as many told you already, carapace and fancy bolt and plasma weapons are all fine and good for combat, but Dark Heresy should be a game about investigation, shadow play, being sneaky and unseen.  Lynata can witness (mostly becasue she's the only player that hang here) the consequences of not being discreet and overtly open; it only bring unwanted attention and that means ambush and attacks at the worse possible time.


As for combat well..I aim for realism; if they go in the underhive they won't magically face off against 5 guys in carapace and plasmaguns..but 20 with autoguns and firebombs, yes (firebombs are Pen 6 btw..).  Face off a crime lord in his base of operations?  said autoguns got manstopper rounds and the boss got a plasma pistol.


Since you and your players might have the WFRP mentality...use traps!  I had my big tough and armoured Arbitrator fall to 0 wounds in one go with the help of a couple of twin-linked autoguns loaded with Pen 4 ammo when they suddenly pop out like that, surprised him and gun him down.  Later the tech-priest almost fell into a bottomless pit and then the same Arbitrator (wasn't his night) fell victim to the old "stairs pops into the floor, and you begin sliding down the tube" trap.


As for sniper rifles not being lethal..did you read the FAQ?  Every 2DoS you get with an accurate weapon (and aiming) grands you an extra d10 of damage, to a maximum of 2d10...so sure you can fire 10 1d10+3 Pen3 shots, which are all sucked in separately by the target's toughness and armour..or I can have a single 3d10+4 pen 1 (or Pen3 is you go hunting rifle whit manstopper instead of the longlas) and pretty much guaranteed to down my target in one shot, 2 of I roll badly.  In the head with a called shot.  From across the street.

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#11 Braddoc



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Posted 23 April 2014 - 09:17 PM

sorry double post for a reason

Edited by Braddoc, 23 April 2014 - 09:18 PM.

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