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New DH player & GM -- Need some advice


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#1 ScottishViking

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Posted 30 January 2014 - 03:48 PM

Hello everyone,

 

I am a new DH player, and for my first campaign, I will be GMing. This will also be my first time using this game system. (I am a long-time pen and paper player, though, and the rules here seem reasonably clear to me.) I'd consider my knowledge of 40K and its lore between "advanced" and "expert", and think the DH is hands-down the best setting to run an open-ended "low-fidelity" 40K campaign. (I dislike powergaming and Rogue Trader looks a bit too geared towards no-ceiling character power, but I might be misguided about that.) I like character-heavy and narrative roleplaying, not so much an emphasis on combat. So it's Dark Heresy for me. I currently own all the main rulebooks, the DH GM's book, and the Inquisitor's Handbook.

 

I need some advice about anticipating character backgrounds and progression. I am still trying to wrap my head around DH's character classes and how they progress through ranks, and how that then applies to the career paths described in the main rulebook and in the subsequent rulebooks. I'm still undecided what "flavor" campaign to run -- Ecclesiarchy, Ordo-focused, Arbite-focused, or what have you -- but am leaning towards a fairly straightforward Ordo Hereticus or Ordo Malleus starting place. Characters will be starting at lowest possible levels, progression-wise and organizationally, with no special advantages or privileges.

 

So here are my questions (bear with me, and I may have follow-ups):

 

1) My main priority is giving my characters options for their creation and progression. I don't want my Cleric players to think they get a shitty deal compared to, say, the Adept or Arbitrator characters. Which books will give me the best options for character creation and then progression through ranks? (I am running a game with 5 players, so I am expecting a full range of classes.)

 

2) Is there an available resource for looking at all character possibilities and progression trees at a glance? (A wiki or otherwise?)

 

3) Half of my players will be familiar with the 40K universe, and I know at least two will want to become Inquisitors themselves. I've tried to couch their expectations by letting them know that in game, this could represent years of gaming before they became independent Inquisitors. Nonetheless, they will build their characters with this progression in mind. What classes are naturally suited to this trajectory? (More for my reference than for giving them advice.)

 

4) How likely is it that I will need to consider Ascension, and high-level career paths, in the first year or so of playing (we play twice a month)?

 

5) I have not looked at 2nd edition DH at all. Should I wait or just plow ahead with 1st? Will 2nd Ed DH "fit" with the expansion books like Inquisitor, etc?

 

I'm sure I'll have more questions for you, but I'll keep it there for now. Excited to start playing and looking forward to feedback!



#2 ColArana

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Posted 30 January 2014 - 03:56 PM

1.) In  my personal opinion most of the careers are largely balanced against each other, though it does depend on what kind of campaign you're running: Guardsmen, for example, will feel a bit useless and out of place in a campaign with almost no combat, while an Adept will feel similarly useless in a campaign that his knowledge is of no value. Psykers tend to pull out ahead of other careers towards the endgame, especially if they go through the (in my opinion, broken) Telepathy or Diviniation disciplines. If you give a balance of all scenarios all careers should be reasonably comfortable. Guardsmen and Assassins can fight, Clerics and Scum can dominate social conversations, Adepts can use their knowledge to pick up evidence, the Psyker.... can do whatever he's setting out to do (Psykers are very much the "mage" class of Dark Heresy and therefore there's lots they can do, and they can very easily fill in any weaknesses in the party, or emphasize their strengths depending on what advances and powers they take).

 

2.) The Core Rulebook has pretty much ALL character progression trees right there, barring the Adepta Sororitas which were added in The Inquisitor's Handbook. 

 

3.) Technically any of the careers could lead up to being Inquisitors, it's all in how the players handle the characters.

 

4.) Probably not very high, though it really depends on how much XP the players earn per session. PERSONALLY, if you've got a Psyker or Assassin in the party, I would try to avoid Ascension-- those two careers can really break the game very quickly in Ascension (there's actually a thread discussing that right now). But assuming you're giving out somewhere between 150-250 XP per session? You'll probably be fine for a year.

 

5.) Can't comment though I understand that DH 2nd Edition's probably a few months away at best, so take that as you will.


Edited by ColArana, 30 January 2014 - 03:58 PM.


#3 ScottishViking

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Posted 30 January 2014 - 04:23 PM

Thanks so much for your comments.

 

 

2.) The Core Rulebook has pretty much ALL character progression trees right there, barring the Adepta Sororitas which were added in The Inquisitor's Handbook. 

 

 

I guess I'm a bit confused about possible career paths. When I was flipping through The Blood of Martyrs and The Book of Judgment books, I saw what I thought was a lot of alternate career options for classes (particularly Arbitrators and Clerics in those two). Are these alternate starting places, or do they describe alternate "peaks" or career tree divisions? (Again, I'm new at this, so don't be afraid to set me straight!)

 

Also, a question about the Adepta Sororitas in DH: maybe I'm spoiled by the tabletop game, but aren't Sisters a bit OP compared to the other classes? Even without carapace-mounted power armor, a bolter is crazy powerful...how reasonable is it to put a Sister next to a Guardsman in a campaign?



#4 Pixels The Red

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Posted 30 January 2014 - 05:45 PM

I guess I'm a bit confused about possible career paths. When I was flipping through The Blood of Martyrs and The Book of Judgment books, I saw what I thought was a lot of alternate career options for classes (particularly Arbitrators and Clerics in those two). Are these alternate starting places, or do they describe alternate "peaks" or career tree divisions? (Again, I'm new at this, so don't be afraid to set me straight!)

 

Also, a question about the Adepta Sororitas in DH: maybe I'm spoiled by the tabletop game, but aren't Sisters a bit OP compared to the other classes? Even without carapace-mounted power armor, a bolter is crazy powerful...how reasonable is it to put a Sister next to a Guardsman in a campaign?

The alternate ranks are alternate ranks. At the rank specified (or later), instead of taking the rank specified on the normal class tree, take that rank. After that, continue on as normal. They're not peaks or divisions, just brief detours, if that makes sense?

 

As for the Sisters, the way they're done in DH is that they're a bit weaker than the normal flavour and yes, the bolter can make them seem a bit OP but they're also quite narrow and slow in progression. Furthermore, you can always subvert starting equipment. I just started a group of PCs who had to pose as pilgrims while doing an investigation on a Shrine World. Obviously, the Guardsman's arsenal of weapons had to go and I gave him a staff and a fairly easily-concealed laspistol. So if your Sister is a bit OP, make her go undercover



#5 Kshatriya

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Posted 30 January 2014 - 06:22 PM

Hello everyone,

 

I am a new DH player, and for my first campaign, I will be GMing. This will also be my first time using this game system. (I am a long-time pen and paper player, though, and the rules here seem reasonably clear to me.) I'd consider my knowledge of 40K and its lore between "advanced" and "expert", and think the DH is hands-down the best setting to run an open-ended "low-fidelity" 40K campaign. (I dislike powergaming and Rogue Trader looks a bit too geared towards no-ceiling character power, but I might be misguided about that.) I like character-heavy and narrative roleplaying, not so much an emphasis on combat. So it's Dark Heresy for me. I currently own all the main rulebooks, the DH GM's book, and the Inquisitor's Handbook.

 

I need some advice about anticipating character backgrounds and progression. I am still trying to wrap my head around DH's character classes and how they progress through ranks, and how that then applies to the career paths described in the main rulebook and in the subsequent rulebooks. I'm still undecided what "flavor" campaign to run -- Ecclesiarchy, Ordo-focused, Arbite-focused, or what have you -- but am leaning towards a fairly straightforward Ordo Hereticus or Ordo Malleus starting place. Characters will be starting at lowest possible levels, progression-wise and organizationally, with no special advantages or privileges.

 

So here are my questions (bear with me, and I may have follow-ups):

 

1) My main priority is giving my characters options for their creation and progression. I don't want my Cleric players to think they get a shitty deal compared to, say, the Adept or Arbitrator characters. Which books will give me the best options for character creation and then progression through ranks? (I am running a game with 5 players, so I am expecting a full range of classes.)

 

2) Is there an available resource for looking at all character possibilities and progression trees at a glance? (A wiki or otherwise?)

 

3) Half of my players will be familiar with the 40K universe, and I know at least two will want to become Inquisitors themselves. I've tried to couch their expectations by letting them know that in game, this could represent years of gaming before they became independent Inquisitors. Nonetheless, they will build their characters with this progression in mind. What classes are naturally suited to this trajectory? (More for my reference than for giving them advice.)

 

4) How likely is it that I will need to consider Ascension, and high-level career paths, in the first year or so of playing (we play twice a month)?

 

5) I have not looked at 2nd edition DH at all. Should I wait or just plow ahead with 1st? Will 2nd Ed DH "fit" with the expansion books like Inquisitor, etc?

 

1) Never taking an alt rank anywhere and using only Core stuff, the careers are balanced against each other well with the exception of Psykers. The way that Minor Psychic Powers are handled is quite overpowered, even with the increased threat of rolling 9s on multiple Psy Rating dice. A Psyker can do a lot of spotlight stealing just with minor powers. Major powers range from very focused but probably OK (Biomancy and to a lesser extent Pyrokinesis) to overpowered (Telekinesis). I haven't found Div and Telepathy to be completely overpowered but they are strong and useful.

 

The Inquisitor's Handbook alt ranks are, for the most part, also very balanced that generally shift some of the focus of a character to a specific way. The main balance exception is the Templar Calix which is basically an in-setting Jedi who gets a free Force Weapon. It makes a combat oriented psyker even more powerful just from all the Talents gained in that rank and the changes to its Characteristics Advances. 

 

Later books made by FFG and not Black Industries balance this better, ironically. A lot of the power creep in FFG's books does more to bring the other careers up to the psyker's level on the power curve with unique tricks or other effects.

 

2) Can't speak to this but I don't think so. Although, it's not out of line for you to restrict players only to the core book for now. That would probably prevent the kind of "being overwhelmed by material" issues that can happen when there are too many options, which became real prevalent in D&D 3/3.5.

 

3) Per the rules, anyone but Adepta Sororitas and Tech-Priests can become Inquisitors. That being said...

 

4) Ascension is an awful product and I suggest not using it at all, ever. The Ascended careers are nowhere near balanced against each other (psykers become even better than they were before), a large chunk of the book is devoted solely to ways to either upgrade a Rank 8 DH character or build an Ascension character from scratch (some of which is redundant and other parts make one think "why did they make an overcomplicated alternate chargen for this"). The Influence system (which I assume was a testbed for other game lines' use of resource systems that don't count coins like DH) is a failure.  

 

5) It's unlikely that DH 2e is going to be compatible with the DH 1e supplements. Such is the nature with RPGs. The 2e rules system is probably not going to be very similar to 1e so all mechanics from 1e will be useless in 2e. That being said there is a lot of setting and fluff in the 1e books that shouldn't change and can be helpful.



#6 Darth Smeg

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Posted 31 January 2014 - 02:04 AM

1) For character generation, you have some options in various books for alternate homeworlds and background packages. I would stay away from the crimson guard (Lathe Worlds) if I were you. It's very powerful compared to pretty much everything else :) Then there it the issue of different Sororitas paths in the Inquisitors Handbook and the Blood of Martyrs. They play a bit different, and the XP costs for advancements are also not the same. Take a closer look if any of your players want to play a sister.

 

2) Not really, but the Excel Character Sheet is useful. It will let you build characters, and presents valid options as you proceed.

 

3 & 4) Per DH rules, Inquisitors are Ascended careers, and start at around 14,000 XP. You start of with 400XP (IIRC), and the guidelines state approx. 200 XP per 4 hours of play. Do the maths :) I've ranted against Ascension in the past, and stay away from it in my own games.

 

In my campaign, we stuck with the basic careers, with some other options (see my House rules in the .sig for info it you're interested), and while the Arbitrator has now become an Inquisitor, he still uses his old advance schemse with some Elite Advance options.

 

5) DH 2.0 has options for playing an Inquisitor, and it looks better planned than Ascension :) But all your books will probably not be compatible, so you might as well start playing with what you have :)

 

Other free bits of advice:

 

  • If you're having a psyker in your group, understand the psyker rules and the balancing factors that come into play. Otherwise you will have a crazy good-at-everything snowflake that runs over everyone :) There are other threads on this, but a few keywords to remember:
    • The Errata limits the valid combinations of Focus Power with other actions. You can't attack and use powers, you can't focus more than one power in a round.
    • Psykers must always roll at least one die, even if their powerbase would allow them to focus a power without the power from the dice. This means that ANY psychic test will have at least 10% chance of phenomena. 
    • Rolls on the Phenomena and Perils tables are NOT tests, and may not be re-rolled by spending Fate Points
    • Any Peril always grants a Corruption Point, and Favoured by the Warp does not allow you to re-roll Perils.
  • Remember your bonuses. This game is about racking up bonuses to things, and players are very good at it. As a GM, it's easy to forget, and you'll have your bad-guys standing around shooting at their base BS unless you recall that they could, and should, use all the same tactics as your players.
     
  • Cover! In combat, remember to use Cover! Always!
     
  • The rules for income makes little sense for a group of people working for the Inquisition. Unless you're group are manning their day jobs, and only rarely doing secret missions for the Inquisition (who decide not to pay them?!?) it really doesn't matter what an Arbitrator would make pr month. Find out how much spending cash you think they should have, and go from there. Note: This kinda screws with the Noble background from IH.

Good luck :)


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#7 ScottishViking

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Posted 31 January 2014 - 09:05 AM

Thanks for the thoughtful reply, guys. I'll look over this in detail and follow up. Bursting with more questions! :)



#8 Adeptus-B

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Posted 31 January 2014 - 02:04 PM

Welcome aboard- ScottishViking!

 

Should you start a DH1 campaign or wait for DH2? Hard to say, since there is no announced release date for DH2. My inclination is to say start a relatively short DH1 campaign with a specific plot objective that can be accomplished within a year of play (tracking down a mysterious heretic with a network of fanatical followers, or locate a long-lost artifact, for examples). When that goal is achieved, everyone should be up to speed on the setting and general game mechanics, and they will have lots of "Oh, I wish I would have done this with my character instead of that"; then start a new DH2 campaign with a longer, more epic overarching story.

 

If you dislike Power Gaming, you are going to want to be very careful with the later supplements (from Blood of Martyrs onward)- lots of broken crap worked its way in as the line went on... At a minimum, be sure to require GM approval if your players want to take any Alternate Ranks/equipment from the later books.



#9 Kshatriya

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Posted 31 January 2014 - 04:45 PM

If you dislike power gaming, disallow psykers.



#10 Adeptus-B

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Posted 31 January 2014 - 04:51 PM

If you dislike power gaming, disallow psykers.

 

Or limit them to players who are more concerned with Roleplaying rather than Min/Maxing...



#11 Kshatriya

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Posted 31 January 2014 - 05:25 PM

That's an inane statement. Minor powers make it trivially easy to steal spotlights from other career specialists even if the psyker isn't min-maxed.

 

Also like, just the whole the notion that somehow people who are good with mechanics are bad and people who have whatever trait makes you a real-true, honest-to-goodness "role-player" are the ubermensch of a gaming group or something.



#12 bogi_khaosa

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Posted 02 February 2014 - 02:49 AM

I would be very clear up front with your players that DH is designed as a horror game, at least at the initial ranks (see my myriad comments on this -- I know you want to, I know you just do) and therefore starting characters are more or less normal people. They are not especially skilled and are poorly equipped (Sisters of Battle excepted, but the SoB you may note is extremely limited in her equipment. Also, the no helmet thing.).

 

If they are expecting to play cinematic badasses from the start, they will be very let down.


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#13 Mikmaxs

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Posted 25 February 2014 - 12:12 AM

Psykers are ridiculously powerful. At level 1, they are already better healers than someone with 50 Intelligence and the Medicae+20 skill at a hospital. (You'ge got about a minimum of 1 Wound back per few hours, an average of 3. Not slowed or hampered by critical damage at all.) You can also criplle just about any enemy who relies on guns, using Weapon Jam.
By the time you've got a couple Discipline powers, you've far outstripped every other class. With 3 Telekinesis powers and Psyker level 4, you've got a couple free armor points at all times, one of the best Close Combat weapons in the game, and a really powerfulranged attack that gets a ton of hits. Completely unarmed and unarmored, you can take on several mid-level enemies singlehandedly. Fully equipped, (And in, say, Guard Flak Armor), you're immenseky hard to kill and super deadly.

#14 Inquisitor Quidam

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Posted 25 February 2014 - 02:44 PM

I'd suggest sticking to the careers/alt ranks in the core book and the inquisitor's handbook, it really should be enough for several campaigns worth of characters before anyone has to repeat similar builds.

 

Psykers are the most powerful of classes, but also the most fun when it all goes wrong. They are also very handy for giving players hints - e.g. asking them to take a psyniscience test every time something wierd is going to happen. I'd suggest banning or modifying some of the more rediculous powers (the worst in our campaigns is the Biomancy regeneration power that almost insta-heals any damage) but otherwise leave them as they are, but make sure to enforce the in character disadvantages of being a psyker - no one trusts you and your allies are required to shoot you if you start acting particularly wierd.



#15 ColArana

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Posted 25 February 2014 - 10:42 PM

By the time you've got a couple Discipline powers, you've far outstripped every other class. With 3 Telekinesis powers and Psyker level 4, you've got a couple free armor points at all times, one of the best Close Combat weapons in the game, and a really powerfulranged attack that gets a ton of hits. Completely unarmed and unarmored, you can take on several mid-level enemies singlehandedly. Fully equipped, (And in, say, Guard Flak Armor), you're immenseky hard to kill and super deadly.

 

If you go the Templar Calix route, I should note, it forces you to go down the Savant route, not the Scholar route, which is probably a bit more powerful, honestly, as you can hit Psy Rating 6 as a Scholar, and get Favoured by the Warp a lot earlier. And until you get Favoured by the Warp, those Psychic Powers, while potent, are hardly foolproof. All it takes is a 9 and then a particularly unlucky roll to make all those successes seem a tad trivial when the Psyker accidentally gets possessed by a daemon. 

 

Not disagreeing with you that Psykers can be incredibly powerful, but especially at low ranks, wild spamming of Psychic powers at every opportunity is going to get the Psyker killed.


Edited by ColArana, 25 February 2014 - 10:43 PM.





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