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New GM and Roleplaying in the 41st Millennium - Help Please!


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#1 Kyrok

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Posted 26 November 2013 - 05:15 PM

So I am a fairly inexperienced GM. I have ran a handfull of sessions for DnD 4th ed, Pathfinder, Star Wars Saga Edition, and dabbled in various other systems. All in all, I have much more experience READING about these games than I do actually playing them due to a lack of other players to game with.

At this point I more or less have a group to play with online which has driven me to get back into RPGs and Warhammer 40k just happens to be my favorite fictional universe so I really want to try running a game in this setting. So here is the dilemma, rather than something like DnD or Pathfinder where I can more or less just say go kill goblins and call it a day, 40k is a much more defined universe and I am not very confident in my ability to accurately convey the world and its people to my players whether it be roleplaying an inquisitor, or telling them what a hive city is like.

Another issue, arguably the bigger problem, is I have no idea what system to run (DH, RT, DW, BC, or OW). I think I can safely count out Black Crusade, but all the other systems have things I can see my players enjoying. In my group I have one person who enjoys Roleplay over combat and likes mysteries, another who prefers a balance and is somewhat of a power player (always tries to be as overpowered as possible), and the other 2 I am just unsure what they like, but I have found it is a lot harder to force your group to roleplay and investigate then just have them shoot stuff.

If I had it my way personally, I would probably pick Dark Heresy, as it offers a lot of roleplay potential and freedom to make your character unique. I do know however a lot of my group likes the idea of being in the Imperial Guard so Only War would be good, I just worry that Only War would be combat, combat, and more combat, 9/10 times. Deathwatch is cool soley because its the only system your characters arent liable to die from a stray flashlight shot. and while Rogue Trader sounds cool, I get the feeling a sandbox style game is not a good idea for my group, but maybe I am just overthinking it.

TL;DR - I am a noob at GMing but I really wanna run 40k. I don't know how each system works in gameplay so I am worried I will pick a system not suitable for my group. Specifically, how much oppurtunity to roleplay is there in a game like Deathwatch or Only War. Which systems would you say are easier to run, basically looking for general advice on GMing in general, in the 40k universe, and a run down of what each system offers in terms of gameplay and style. (RP vs Combat)

 

Sorry for the wall of text haha



#2 cps

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Posted 26 November 2013 - 08:05 PM

So in general the rules of the game have been more refined with each game. One problem is that the setting of the game is pretty hard-baked in to the rules, so running an DH-style game using OW rules as written is going to take some shoehorning. If you're feeling adventurous, you can try out the just-published-today second version of the Dark Heresy 2 beta, which has rules in line with OW with the setting of DH. If not, I would suggest picking up the rulebook for whichever flavor game you think your group would enjoy (make sure to download the errata).

 

All of the systems have pre-published adventures written for them, one included in each of the core rulebooks. Start there to get a feel for the system. The DH one took my group 4-5 sessions to get through and they took it WAY off the rails. In general they're good for fleshing out a setting and its characters.

 

DW and OW are games focused on combat and their rules reflect it. You can try to make it work in another setting, but in my experience groups will gravitate more toward the game's stock setting. Don't necessarily count out BC, either. It's not like playing Evil characters in D&D - it (can be) more about fighting for what you believe in even though the Imperium disagrees with you. Freedom fighters or something. It's the system where you start as the underdog and try to come out ahead.

 

DH was the first system I ever GMed anything for. To make it work you definitely need to think on your feet and be good at improv simply because the players are given the most room to act. DH is the oldest system with the least polished mechanics, but your power-gamer player will love the shenanigans he can get away with in it.

 

If you're coming from D&D, RT is basically life in 40k plus adventurer logic. You get to command a ship and fly around and cause mischief.

 

A wall of text right back at ya. My advice to you is to choose the system whose setting you think your group will most enjoy and run that. Run the intro adventure in the rulebook so everyone gets a handle on the system, then do whatever. Play a pre-written one or write your own or just totally wing it.



#3 Lynata

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Posted 26 November 2013 - 08:21 PM

When you've already ran other games from across so many systems, you don't sounds so inexperienced - especially as you seem to have accurately nailed down potential future issues for your game, and are not afraid to seek advice on how to deal with them. ;)
 
To further alleviate your concerns, 40k is not actually as defined as it may seem on first glance. Whilst it is true that there is tons of official material out there, the truth is that it does not actually portray a uniform setting. There are numerous small inconsistencies between the tabletop books, the novels, the video games and these RPGs here, so don't think you're running a terrible risk of ruining this experience for your players when the source material itself is not consistent. Much like with the game system (I'll be getting to that in a moment), this is something where I feel you should consult with your group. Find out how much they already know from 40k, and then build upon that in order to support everyone's immersion. With any luck, the players' individual interpretations of the setting will overlap more than they will contradict. Discard what doesn't seem to fit in, and newly invent what may. Take the many official books more as suggestions rather than gospel, regardless of where they are from or who wrote them. This universe is one that is shaped by the individual gamers and readers, not a singular source of "canon".
 
As for what system you ought to run with, this too is something where it might be prudent to just ask your friends what they're feeling like. Keep in mind, however, that you can tweak each of the available systems towards a particular narrative style. Whilst it is true that they are all catering to a specific theme, the system is easy enough to modify to allow you to play all sorts of stuff. You can have some roleplaying in Deathwatch, just like you can have loads of high-powered combat in Dark Heresy. You can even take Only War and mod its rules in a way that turns your campaign into an underhive-based gang warfare campaign a la Necromunda, if you feel like it. It's not hard to do, and a lot of people on these forums have already written things that may help in this regard.
 
On a hunch, however, I'd agree that Dark Heresy might be a good start simply because it offers something for each of the player types you mentioned even without necessitating any changes. If a lot of your players like the idea of playing Imperial Guard, then simply plan your Dark Heresy campaign around this and have said players start out as Guardsmen who get conscripted into Inquisitorial service! I recommend something fun and easy to get them started - perhaps an infestation of Plague Zombies that would feature a nice mixture of investigation and combat as the group races to discover the nature of this outbreak and disrupt the Nurgle Cult's activities on their world, all the while dodging good old-fashioned zombies and civilian unrest as their section of the hive is put under quarantine...
 
You can also pull off stuff like this in Only War or Deathwatch, but I'd say that both games offer less potential for the investigative angle simply because the range of character types is much more limited/specialised.
 
Good luck, and welcome to Mankind's darkest hour. ;)

  • Fgdsfg and Kshatriya like this
current 40k RPG character: Aura Vashaan, Astromancer Witch-Priestess
previous characters: Captain Elias (Celestial Lions Chapter -- debriefed), Comrade-Trooper Dasha Malenko (1207th Valhallan Ice Warriors -- KIA), Sister Elana (Order of the Sacred Rose -- assassinated), Leftenant Darion Baylesworth (Rogue Trader Artemisia -- retired), Taleera "Raven" Nephran (Hive Ganger & Inquisitorial Assassin -- mindwiped)

#4 Kyrok

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Posted 26 November 2013 - 08:42 PM

Thanks a lot for all the great advice, I will have to consult with my group more it seems before I make any decisions. When I say I am inexperienced, its mostly because ive only ran probably 10 sessions worth of games so far, and I have used premade material almost exclusively, however I have come to realise, regardless of the system, good improv is always better than having everything set in stone, which improv is probably my weakest skill. I understand coming up with a skeleton of a story and having my players go at it, but I feel like I wouldn't be able to keep up with them, or even properly lead them to a suitable end point, especially when it comes to a mystery plot, I feel like any clue I would leave them would wind up being way to obvious or something.



#5 Lynata

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Posted 26 November 2013 - 09:12 PM

Well, you could always get started with something like the adventure already in the Dark Heresy Core Rulebook, or the free Introductory Adventures you can download here and here as a PDF. You can modify them to suit whatever your group comes up with, for example to give it more of an Imperial Guard flair. Or just take some inspiration from them! Eventually you ought to get the hang of it. :)

 

Oh, and if you do end up with Dark Heresy, do yourself a favour and get both the Core Rulebook as well as Inquisitor's Handbook. The latter not only offers a lot of new tools for your players, but also some more advice for you as their GM!


current 40k RPG character: Aura Vashaan, Astromancer Witch-Priestess
previous characters: Captain Elias (Celestial Lions Chapter -- debriefed), Comrade-Trooper Dasha Malenko (1207th Valhallan Ice Warriors -- KIA), Sister Elana (Order of the Sacred Rose -- assassinated), Leftenant Darion Baylesworth (Rogue Trader Artemisia -- retired), Taleera "Raven" Nephran (Hive Ganger & Inquisitorial Assassin -- mindwiped)

#6 Kyrok

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Posted 26 November 2013 - 09:21 PM

Awesome, I'll check all of that out :D



#7 Traejun

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Posted 27 November 2013 - 02:19 AM

The premades are great to cut your teeth on a learn the system.  They are a little too "on rails" for most people's tastes, but they can be modified to solve that problem.  Either way, give one of the above a whirl and then write your own.


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#8 professor_kylan

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Posted 22 December 2013 - 07:16 PM

Let me start with a mandatory link to my combined house rules http://community.fan...pg/#entry915872 because it sounds like it could help with not having to choose a system :P

Moving on though, can I recommend something a little different? Head off the reservation. Rather than a traditional Dark heresy game, why not start with something like an Underhive game, or an Arbites squad. If your strength as a GM is your love for the universe, share that with the group. If you can share your enthusiasm to the group, they'll all want to explore the universe with you and THAT is where you've got a common link with your players.


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#9 Kshatriya

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Posted 23 December 2013 - 11:15 AM

I would suggest against Deathwatch/Only War unless you really, really want to go combat-heavy. I like Deathwatch a lot but much prefer the investigative feel of Dark Heresy or the "super-Firefly" of Rogue Trader. And I feel like DH/RT are much more broadly inclusive of vastly different character types/ideas.



#10 The Inquisition

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Posted 24 December 2013 - 01:58 AM

I would suggest against Deathwatch/Only War unless you really, really want to go combat-heavy. I like Deathwatch a lot but much prefer the investigative feel of Dark Heresy or the "super-Firefly" of Rogue Trader. And I feel like DH/RT are much more broadly inclusive of vastly different character types/ideas.

 

Yes, this is an excellent advantage of DH and RT-- they provide framework for more expressiveness of story and characters.

 

The premade adventure in DH2 Beta is actually quite good as an introduction, since it offers the option of three different organizations being either loyal, criminals, or heretics.

 

Thus the GM can run the campaign quite a few different ways, with much less 'railroad'.






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