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A new GM enters the arena !


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#1 Enmi

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Posted 20 February 2014 - 02:03 PM

Hello from France, everybody !

Really soon, I'll be starting a Deathwatch campaign, with some good friends. What's special about it ? Well, in fact, it will be my first ever RPG experience as the GM, and i will not hide it : I'm a little nervous ^^. So first of all, details of our group :

- 3 players, +1GM

- We're all kinda "Hardcore-WH40K-Background" followers (IMO, a good point, with nice RP scenes in sight)

- 1 of the players is kinda new to RPGs

- The others have already played some famous RPGs.

- For the PC we have :

 * 1 Salamander Apothecary,

 * 1 Iron Hand Techmarine,

 * 1 Dark Angel Devastator

 

For my campaign, I will drop the kill-team on a planet where orks start to rally under a powerfull Warboss. I'd like to see how they will dismantle an Ork waaagh! :) I think it gives acces to a large choices of missions : infiltration, assault, defense, sabotage, scout, assassination, escort etc.

But I'm not really "on top" concerning fights especially with this configuration (Apo, Tech, Dev), so can you help me balancing this point ? I'm looking for something challenging, where they would have to think before acting. Well, first fights should be quite "easy", as i'm looking to make them more like tutorials so everybody can learn DW's combat mechanics (especially Squad/solo mode) and then follow to more challenging fights. If you want to know, I plan on running the errated weapons (mainly 'cause i have a devastator in the team  :lol: ) and use BC's Righteous Fury and Unnatural Stat.

I'm also planning to let them make their own missions, like a team droped in the middle of the ennemy with only their weapons and battle-brothers to rely on. In this case, should I introduce a 4th Space Marine (Tactical, Flesh Tearer) to "help" them (kind of "Leeroy Jenkins" guy, but who can give some ideas for upcoming missions) ?

Of course I'll take every other advises you can give, like help for GMing, Renown, Mission Objectives and all other stuff that can help a Newbie-GM !  ;)



#2 Adeptus-B

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Posted 20 February 2014 - 03:47 PM

Welcome aboard, Enmi!

 

-I plan on running the errated weapons (mainly 'cause i have a devastator in the team  :lol: ) and use BC's Righteous Fury and Unnatural Stat.

 

Good call! Beyond that, I recommend running at least one 'test' combat so that everyone can get a feel for what constitutes a legit challenge in DW- which has a very different starting power level than most RPGs. I give this advice so often that I'll just copy/paste it:

 

I started out running a few sessions in the Watch Fortress' training arenas, pitting the Killteam against wave after wave of combat servitors (both individual 'Astartes-grade' ones from the Adversaries section of the DW rulebook, and Hordes of 'commercial-grade' gun servitors from the Adversaries section of the Dark Heresy rulebook).

 

Setting the test in the Watch Fortress arena keeps the action and resultant character interaction a 'true' part of the campaign (unlike a generic one-off test combat on a random battlefield) while providing an excuse for biasing it toward PC survival (i.e. the GM can end it whenever is appropriate).


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#3 Visitor Q

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Posted 21 February 2014 - 04:53 AM

Adeptus-B makes an excellent suggestion and one I have used myself.  Although I was slightly harsher to my players and put them up against actual captured xenos,  Orks as it happened. 

 

The training excercise took place on an enclosed orbital platform specially designed for training missions, monitered by Watch Keepers.

 

The whole training excercise developed into a mini scenario when it transpired that one of the Orks was in fact a Wierd Boy that had developed his powers unbenownst to his Deathwatch captors.  The PCs managed to kill the wierd boy but very nearly destoryed the orbital platform.   

 

Tangental reminiscing aside my advice to GMs of Deathwatch is to acknowledge that the PCs are peers of the Imperium, even at rank 1 average members of the Imperium would look on the PCs with respect and awe.  That said allowing the PCs to boss everyone around can get tiring if over used so throw in other characters of equal standing, Rogue Traders, Imperial Commanders and of course Inquisitors. 

 

I think Deathwatch works well when the PCs do get forced to engage in scenarios that don't play to their strengths, for example politics or investigation simply because the 'fish out of water' theme allows for good Rping. 

 

This is something to discuss with your PCs of course as I have heard that there are gaming groups which want Deathwatch to very much focus on the martial side of the Deathwatch.  And of course there is huge scope for this.

 

Personally I haven't used the kill marker way of resolving scenarios, I like the idea, and I think it could be good for running potracted battles possibly in conjunction with Rogue Trader battle rules but for normal games it is a little too abstract for me. I am struggling to find a way of incorporating skills and talents which give bonus's into the general rules. 

 

Also I personally have tweaked the rules for Righteous Fury allowing everyone including NPCs to use it and RF also auto-confirms.  Talents and traits that allow RF to auto confirm now provide a re-roll to the second dice rolled.  The reason I do it this way is that it makes every enemy potentially dangerous and also combat marginally quicker (though this is very much a secondary benefit).

 

The Deathwatch kill team you have strikes me as one designed to take on quite specialist foes and encounters and possibly operate without the direct supervision of other members of the Imperium such as Inquisitors.  For example there might be a mission to break into a Hive Vault to recover a status pod containing a bizzare xenos creature. 

 

Tech Marine this there to secure and help trasnport the pod without power failing.

At the extraction zone the Apothecary is there to sedate the creature when it removed from the pod

Devestator is there to offer Heavy support if the creature gets loose.

 

Against orks the kill team could be looking to recover ork wargear for study or even an Ork oddboy like a mekanik or Painboy.

 

A few thoughts.  Hope they help.


Edited by Visitor Q, 21 February 2014 - 05:33 AM.


#4 Enmi

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Posted 21 February 2014 - 01:37 PM

First, thank you for your answers !

 

 

I started out running a few sessions in the Watch Fortress' training arenas, pitting the Killteam against wave after wave of combat servitors (both individual 'Astartes-grade' ones from the Adversaries section of the DW rulebook, and Hordes of 'commercial-grade' gun servitors from the Adversaries section of the Dark Heresy rulebook).

 

Setting the test in the Watch Fortress arena keeps the action and resultant character interaction a 'true' part of the campaign (unlike a generic one-off test combat on a random battlefield) while providing an excuse for biasing it toward PC survival (i.e. the GM can end it whenever is appropriate).

Looks good to me, can be fun to destroy some bots ! I'll keep that in mind ;)

 

 

This is something to discuss with your PCs of course as I have heard that there are gaming groups which want Deathwatch to very much focus on the martial side of the Deathwatch.  And of course there is huge scope for this.

Well, i have a huge fan of Cthulhu in the group (the DA), so i think he will love some twisted plot & mystery solving ^^. The only thing that scares me about fights is that they have literraly 0 melee fighter : Techmarine can do some things, but he has a low S stat, Apothecary focus on flamer and combine a low WS and a low S stat. This is also why i wanted to put a Tactical Marine NPC to accompany them, or an assault (but i'm more a "crusader-style" than "Angel-style" when it comes to melee marines)

 

 

Also I personally have tweaked the rules for Righteous Fury allowing everyone including NPCs to use it and RF also auto-confirms.  Talents and traits that allow RF to auto confirm now provide a re-roll to the second dice rolled.  The reason I do it this way is that it makes every enemy potentially dangerous and also combat marginally quicker (though this is very much a secondary benefit).

I was planning to do so because they have an apothecary, so I think they can handle some additionnal damage/crits.

Talking about RF, how do you handle plasma weapons special rule (sorry, i don't have the english name in mind!) : do you allow another re-roll, or do you keep the additional d10 damage ?

 

 

The Deathwatch kill team you have strikes me as one designed to take on quite specialist foes and encounters and possibly operate without the direct supervision of other members of the Imperium such as Inquisitors.  For example there might be a mission to break into a Hive Vault to recover a status pod containing a bizzare xenos creature. 

That's what I thought. A squad like this allows me to use DH xenos (Creatures Anathema), which I found really cool, at their best !


Edited by Enmi, 21 February 2014 - 01:38 PM.


#5 ak-73

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Posted 21 February 2014 - 02:52 PM

Low S is no problem for a melee fighter, really. Gear matters.

 

Let's talk about inner-party balance. You have the most kill-y specialty (Devastator) and the two most unkill-y specialties. Chances are the Devastator will outshine them in combat unless he's tied up in melee (which they must prevent). Maybe assign the kill-team some special (melee-oriented) gear for missions (Watch Captains can do that). I wouldn't assign it personally to any PC, I figure a power sword would naturally end up with the Tech or Apo. Also allow whoever goes for melee from here on an Elite Advance Swift Attack after first mission. Maybe even Side-step too.

 

One warning: horde combat winds down to boring number-crunching unless you present tactical challenges for the PCs. These usually come in the form of: "If we don't do X now, the horde will be able to do Y to us." or "If we do X now, we can do Y to the horde." This could be fighting back to the wall to prevent an additional melee attack by a horde of hormagaunts (deadly on the charge!). Or getting an elevated firing position to suppress the enemy horde's tactical advance through cover. Split and merge hordes. Use fluid battlefield conditions heavily.

 

Also I run cover differently. Cover reduces effective horde size, thus reducing the chance of doing actual and significant damage. That way the BS of a PC becomes more relevant. Same with hordes firing at PCs. With so many shots flying around, the simple fact is that the less exposed you are, the better.

 

Alex


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