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New Deathwatch Designer Diary: All for One, One for All


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#1 FFG Ross Watson

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Posted 14 May 2010 - 05:26 AM

Greetings, Deathwatch fans!

This week, I am very pleased to reveal three of the new team-based mechanics for the Deathwatch RPG. Enjoy!

 



#2 Cifer

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Posted 14 May 2010 - 06:19 AM

Most interesting, although I somehow assume there's going to be "Ohmygawd this is just like MMORPG X! Deathwatch is RUINED FOREVER" in at most three hours.

 

It somewhat reminds me of Werewolf: The Apocalypse and its Pack Tactics.



#3 Kage2020

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Posted 14 May 2010 - 06:33 AM

Ah, another interesting post with insight into the mechanics of Deathwatch.  Thanks, Ross.

Ross Watson said >>>

...but I would also take note of how a particular Squad, working together, could vanquish even the greatest of foes; a Tyranid Carnifex, Chaos Daemon Prince, or Eldar Avatar.

Given the recent nerd-rage against Marneus Calgar and, well, practically everyone out thereperhaps including a venerable old grandmotherbeing able to "^&$^& slap" Eldar Avatars?  Quick!  Avoid the nerd-rage!  Edit out the Avatar. 

Ross Watson said >>>

Solo Mode... [snip]

Hmmn... So each Marine has access to a number of "powers" that are derived from the characteristics of the home Chapter.  The "Feat of Strength" is something that, for example, might be more Space Wolf-oriented, while something that is more intelligence-oriented might be, say, more Ultramarine-y.  Makes sense and would give someone a reason for taking one Chapter over another (speaking in terms of "game tactics").  It also makes it feel a bit more like a video game, so I know that there is at least one person that is going to be jumping with joy!

(In my own feeble endeavours, having a certain "video game" feel was almost unavoidable in making a Marine-focused campaign "interesting."  Just saying that so you know it's not a criticism!)

Ross Watson said >>>

Squad Mode... [snip]

Hmmn... Strike one up for more video game feel.  Again, though, not a bad thing.  As long as there aren't combat cards involved (which I could see as a viable option if you wanted to go down that route).

Ross Watson said >>>

Cohesion... [snip]

Interesting mechanic, though we do seem to love the "catch all" statistic, e.g. Influence, Profit Factor, etc.  From what has been mentioned thus farthe different modes, the idea of Cohesionit does seem to be very much of a tactical wargame approach to the game.  It certainly puts the Nature/Demeanour thing into perspective.

Thanks for the insight.

Kage



#4 Terelo

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Posted 14 May 2010 - 07:27 AM

I've been waiting for team abilities in 40k RPGs. But why, why, why, this? At Rank 3 and above Feat of Strength also adds +10 to all Strength Tests and Strength-based Skill Tests for its duration. At Rank 5 and above Feat of Strength last for a number of Rounds equal to twice the character’s Rank. At Rank 7 and above, Feat of Strength increases the character’s Unnatural Strength Trait by two levels.

This "iceberg" of rules really bugs me. Most importantly, I believe they do not add anything to the game more than the basic ability would do.

 



#5 Atheosis

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Posted 14 May 2010 - 07:44 AM

Solo mode?  Squad mode? 

It's all just so bloody artificial.  I really hope there aren't any more "special" mechanics to be revealed.  I've already had quite enough thank you.



#6 Kage2020

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Posted 14 May 2010 - 07:44 AM

Terelo said:

 

This "iceberg" of rules really bugs me. Most importantly, I believe they do not add anything to the game more than the basic ability would do.

 

"Rules iceberg:" That has to be about the single best easy-to-understand explanation of rules concatenation that I've ever come across.  I shall steal this term and use it in the future.  Thanks! 

I could definitely see how this might be a problem, which is one of the reasons that I made a tongue-in-cheek reference to "combat cards."  I was also wondering how, ultimately, this would apply to either future representationsor fan representationsof things like Aspect Warriors at the Deathwatch-level of play.  It might get somewhat... complex.

* * *

Edit: Firstly, once again I would like to kick the forum software in the shins for usability issues. 

Atheosis said >>>

It's all just so bloody artificial.  I really hope there aren't any more "special" mechanics to be revealed. I've already had quite enough thank you.

Well, aren't all rules systems artificial?  Is there something specific that you're not fond of?  Given what the rules are trying to achieve, how would you have gone about creating something more to your liking?  (Please don't take this as argumentative--I'm just intrigued by the possibilities as they help to inform me of my own choices when it comes to creating Deathwatch-style games.)

Kage



#7 Artemesia

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Posted 14 May 2010 - 08:05 AM

Atheosis said:

 

Solo mode?  Squad mode? 

It's all just so bloody artificial.  I really hope there aren't any more "special" mechanics to be revealed.  I've already had quite enough thank you.

 

 

 

Ignoring the idea that roleplaying games are meant to be played for fun and the rules are more like guidelines, you don't HAVE to play.



#8 Atheosis

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Posted 14 May 2010 - 08:24 AM

Kage2020 said:

Well, aren't all rules systems artificial?  Is there something specific that you're not fond of?  Given what the rules are trying to achieve, how would you have gone about creating something more to your liking?  (Please don't take this as argumentativeI'm just intrigued by the possibilities as they help to inform me of my own choices when it comes to creating Deathwatch-style games.)

Kage

All of this just seems like rules bloat.  I don't see any need for set rules regarding teamwork.  People have been working as a team in RPGs for as long as RPGs have been around.  There was never any need for a set of arbitrary rules to support it.  There still isn't.  I can't help but feel it's FFG's half-assed attempt to compensate for the fact that they chose a bunch of Chapters that don't naturally work well with others.  As far as I'm concerned DH has enough rules already.  I see absolutely no reason to tack on a bunch of new stuff just because it's Space Marines.  I don't like dense rule sets and this appears to be moving in that direction in a hurry.



#9 Brother Praetus

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Posted 14 May 2010 - 08:35 AM

Atheosis said:

Kage2020 said:

 

Well, aren't all rules systems artificial?  Is there something specific that you're not fond of?  Given what the rules are trying to achieve, how would you have gone about creating something more to your liking?  (Please don't take this as argumentativeI'm just intrigued by the possibilities as they help to inform me of my own choices when it comes to creating Deathwatch-style games.)

Kage

 

 

All of this just seems like rules bloat.  I don't see any need for set rules regarding teamwork.  People have been working as a team in RPGs for as long as RPGs have been around.  There was never any need for a set of arbitrary rules to support it.  There still isn't.  I can't help but feel it's FFG's half-assed attempt to compensate for the fact that they chose a bunch of Chapters that don't naturally work well with others.  As far as I'm concerned DH has enough rules already.  I see absolutely no reason to tack on a bunch of new stuff just because it's Space Marines.  I don't like dense rule sets and this appears to be moving in that direction in a hurry.

Okay, you've presented your reasoned distaste for what you are perceiving as a continued tendency to over-complicate the rules.  Now, what would you have done differently?  How would you consider changing things?  This is ultimately what Kage seemed most interested in hearing from you.  I as well.  Without knowing more about it, how would you have done things differently?

Don't get me wrong, I don't feel a need for an in game mechanic forcing or encouraging teamwork.  This has been one of my continued beefs with WHFRP3.  I don't need a GM to track stress and the like to tell me when the party is crumbling around me.

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#10 Aajav-Khan

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Posted 14 May 2010 - 08:46 AM

   OK, first impressions. "Solo mode"? "Squad mode"? Scaling powers for both? I need to take my blue pills because I am suddenly having a bad case deja vu ala D&D 4E...

    Still holding final judgement until we hear the rest of the stuff.



#11 Atheosis

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Posted 14 May 2010 - 08:47 AM

Brother Praetus said:

Atheosis said:

 

Kage2020 said:

 

Well, aren't all rules systems artificial?  Is there something specific that you're not fond of?  Given what the rules are trying to achieve, how would you have gone about creating something more to your liking?  (Please don't take this as argumentativeI'm just intrigued by the possibilities as they help to inform me of my own choices when it comes to creating Deathwatch-style games.)

Kage

 

 

All of this just seems like rules bloat.  I don't see any need for set rules regarding teamwork.  People have been working as a team in RPGs for as long as RPGs have been around.  There was never any need for a set of arbitrary rules to support it.  There still isn't.  I can't help but feel it's FFG's half-assed attempt to compensate for the fact that they chose a bunch of Chapters that don't naturally work well with others.  As far as I'm concerned DH has enough rules already.  I see absolutely no reason to tack on a bunch of new stuff just because it's Space Marines.  I don't like dense rule sets and this appears to be moving in that direction in a hurry.

 

 

Okay, you've presented your reasoned distaste for what you are perceiving as a continued tendency to over-complicate the rules.  Now, what would you have done differently?  How would you consider changing things?  This is ultimately what Kage seemed most interested in hearing from you.  I as well.  Without knowing more about it, how would you have done things differently?

Don't get me wrong, I don't feel a need for an in game mechanic forcing or encouraging teamwork.  This has been one of my continued beefs with WHFRP3.  I don't need a GM to track stress and the like to tell me when the party is crumbling around me.

-=Brother Praetus=-

How would I do it differently?  The whole point I was making is I wouldn't do it at all.  It isn't necessary.  In fact, I tend to feel this kind of rules design is detrimental to a game.  So I guess my answer is I would change things by hitting *DELETE*.  



#12 Kage2020

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Posted 14 May 2010 - 09:05 AM

Artemesia said >>>

Ignoring the idea that roleplaying games are meant to be played for fun and the rules are more like guidelines, you don't HAVE to play.

Speaking as someone that uses what is (erroneously) identified as one of the most rules-heavy systems out there, I find the above to be a sage reminder. 

Atheosis said >>>

All of this just seems like rules bloat.

Well, it does seem to add an additional layer onto that iceberg, yes.  I can also see the system patch using rather large quantities of Unnatural Attributes, so there is more than likely going to be the same kind of resistance as we saw with Ascension.  Yes, though, lots of "iceberg"lots of rules concatenation.  Even if FFG don't produce them, I can see many people creating combat cards to make things a bit simpler. 

Atheosis said >>>

I don't see any need for set rules regarding teamwork. People have been working as a team in RPGs for as long as RPGs have been around. There was never any need for a set of arbitrary rules to support it. There still isn't.

To play Devil's Advocate for a short second, are they actually producing rules with regards to teamwork.  It seems to me that they've produced a system of benefits for working together as a team that you don't have to take but can, instead, stick to "Solo Mode."  On the face of it, it's a more transcendent concept.  That there might be a limited number of options if anything simulates the concept of the Marine and their "programming?"

Atheosis said >>>

I don't like dense rule sets and this appears to be moving in that direction in a hurry.

I see less a problem with "density" than with the fact that it sometimes feels like patching.  That is, however, an observation from an "outsider" since I don't use the official 40k RPG materials except as a reference.  Thus, take with a pinch of salt.

Brother Praetus said >>>

Don't get me wrong, I don't feel a need for an in game mechanic forcing or encouraging teamwork. This has been one of my continued beefs with WHFRP3. I don't need a GM to track stress and the like to tell me when the party is crumbling around me.

An inherently reasonable observation.  In this case, though, could you not see at least a reason for it?  In the "band of adventurer" modality you're only really working as a "coherent team" in the metagame sense.  Realistically, or at least plausibly, you're just a group of people that work together.  The concept of a "squad of Battle-brothers" seems to go beyond that.  Maybe?

Aajav-Khan said >>>

Still holding final judgement until we hear the rest of the stuff.

Wise words.  Of course, there's nothing wrong with shameless speculation is there?

Atheosis said >>>

How would I do it differently? The whole point I was making is I wouldn't do it at all. It isn't necessary. In fact, I tend to feel this kind of rules design is detrimental to a game. So I guess my answer is I would change things by hitting *DELETE*.   

Okay, let's turn this about on its head.  Forgetting for the moment the concept of Modes, given what you understand of Space Marines, how would you go about making them interesting to play, fun to playwhatever you feel is the most correct termand how would you ensconce that in rules?  Would you, for example, suggest that giving them all the abilities, tacking on power armour, bolter and chainsword  would be sufficient?  That all these extra gubbins are unnecessary?  Do you think that a different set of abstractions would best work.

As Aajav-Khan says, it's early days yet.  That doesn't stop us speculating.  Egg on face can be fun when it's tasty!

Kage



#13 ItsUncertainWho

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Posted 14 May 2010 - 10:01 AM

Solo mode and Squad mode do seem to be very poor choices for terminology. They smell rather heavily of video/board game mechanics. After you hit [TAB] “Squad Mode” activates and you gain alternate powers . . . hmmm.

 

At this point my impression is that the developers are trying to make the Chapter a major influence mechanically in the game. How the Chapters feel toward one another and interact with one another as a mechanic versus letting the players take care of it makes a certain sense. Chapter traits are ingrained genetically and psychologically into each Astartes and there is only so far most players will go to promote group disharmony. I think they are just trying to force the matter by saying when you enter “Squad Mode”, horrible term, by going out of your way to put aside all your instincts you can accomplish much more. I am not opposed to abilities that promote teamwork as long as it isn't being forced on the players.

I knew going in that Deathwatch was not going to be a traditional RPG. That it was going to be less complex, maybe, story wise and focus more on run and gun action. It is Space Marines killing Xenos the game after all. So I will hold off on the jumping to conclusions bit for a while.

 

As for the Rules Iceberg complaints, if you don't like a trait break it up into four parts, cut the price by ¼, or not, and be done with it.

Example:
Solo Mode Ability: Feat of Strength I
Required Rank: 1
 Effects: Space Marines are genetically gifted with great strength far exceeding. that or normal men. In times of need, a Battle-Brother can push this great brawn to its limits to perform truly impressive feats. Once per day of game time, a Battle-Brother may perform a Feat of Strength. This ability effectively increases his Unnatural Strength Trait by one level, so for instance Unnatural Strength x2 becomes Unnatural Strength x3. This effect lasts for a number of Rounds equal to his Rank.

Solo Mode Ability: Feat of Strength II
Required: Rank: 3, Feat of Strength I
Feat of Strength now adds +10 to all Strength Tests and Strength-based Skill Tests for its duration.

Solo Mode Ability: Feat of Strength III
Required: Rank: 5, Feat of Strength II
 Feat of Strength now lasts for a number of Rounds equal to twice the character's Rank.

Solo Mode Ability: Feat of Strength IV
Required: Rank: 7, Feat of Strength III
 Feat of Strength now increases the character's Unnatural Strength Trait by two levels.

 

I just don't see how putting the ability in the book  this way would be less confusing. All it does is take up space that other information could occupy. Abilities like this are going to be used to promote the superhuman nature of the SM and make the experience more action hero and less I have a +20 to Str when I tap this card, I hope.

 



#14 Kage2020

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Posted 14 May 2010 - 10:53 AM

ItsUncertainWho said >>>

They smell rather heavily of video/board game mechanics.

We do not mention board games in the same context as a roleplaying game.  We do not mention board games in the same context as a roleplaying game. 

ItsUncertainWho said >>>

I think they are just trying to force the matter by saying when you enter “Squad Mode”, horrible term, by going out of your way to put aside all your instincts you can accomplish much more.

Indeed, that would be the transcendent quality that was I referring to.  With that said, the idea as to whether it would equally apply to, say, Aspect Warriors remains.  If so, combat has just been ratcheted up a notch; if not, then there are some implications to the "ranking" system of Marines, i.e. they suddenly become more uber than anything else in the 40k universe.  

ItsUncertainWho said >>>

So I will hold off on the jumping to conclusions bit for a while.

That's one of the reasons that I refer to it as "shameless speculation."  There's no reason for us not to do it, and people always reserve the right to change their mind at a later date based upon new information.  

ItsUncertainWho said >>>

As for the Rules Iceberg complaints, if you don't like a trait break it up into four parts, cut the price by ¼, or not, and be done with it.

That's not quite what I see "Rules Iceberg" as meaning, but there we go.  I would also hesitate calling them complaints at this early stage. 

Kage



#15 Atheosis

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Posted 14 May 2010 - 11:12 AM

Kage2020 said:

Okay, let's turn this about on its head.  Forgetting for the moment the concept of Modes, given what you understand of Space Marines, how would you go about making them interesting to play, fun to playwhatever you feel is the most correct termand how would you ensconce that in rules?  Would you, for example, suggest that giving them all the abilities, tacking on power armour, bolter and chainsword  would be sufficient?  That all these extra gubbins are unnecessary?  Do you think that a different set of abstractions would best work.

As Aajav-Khan says, it's early days yet.  That doesn't stop us speculating.  Egg on face can be fun when it's tasty!

Kage

I would focus on narrative far more than mechanics.  The basic mechanics of 40k Roleplay are fine for DW.  I also would implement a more extensive and optimized list of Chapters.  And then I would honestly own up to the fact that DW is going to be primarily action oriented rather than trying to mask it behind rules.  Is there going to be roleplaying in DW?  Yes.  Is it going to be on par with DH?  Almost certainly not.  Is that necessarily a bad thing?  Not at all.  Because when it comes to combat, DH is never going to match the sheer bad-assness of playing a team of Space Marines.

And in the end, that is what I would focus on: making combat as compelling as possible.  I can see that on some level that's what they're trying to do here, but instead it appears to me that they're creating a lifeless experience involiving "triggering demeanours" and "modes" where everything is determined by mechanics and dice rolling rather than truly dynamic tactics and teamwork.



#16 Brother Praetus

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Posted 14 May 2010 - 11:59 AM

Atheosis said:

 

I would focus on narrative far more than mechanics.  The basic mechanics of 40k Roleplay are fine for DW.  I also would implement a more extensive and optimized list of Chapters.  And then I would honestly own up to the fact that DW is going to be primarily action oriented rather than trying to mask it behind rules.  Is there going to be roleplaying in DW?  Yes.  Is it going to be on par with DH?  Almost certainly not.  Is that necessarily a bad thing?  Not at all.  Because when it comes to combat, DH is never going to match the sheer bad-assness of playing a team of Space Marines.

And in the end, that is what I would focus on: making combat as compelling as possible.  I can see that on some level that's what they're trying to do here, but instead it appears to me that they're creating a lifeless experience involiving "triggering demeanours" and "modes" where everything is determined by mechanics and dice rolling rather than truly dynamic tactics and teamwork.

 

I have to agree with much of what you've said here, Atheosis.  I don't mind mechanical benefits to teamwork and tactics, but it may be too much effort on the part of the Devs.  DW should be rather combat intensive; though this does nothing to prevent interesting story and interaction.  But a focused narrative, with action and excitement, and the death gurgle of an Ork Nob as I pull my chainsword through his gullet; that's what I'm talking about here.

There's still plenty of room for intense role-play between members of the differing chapters, but that's ultimately to the players.  Perhaps the main problem I foresee in this regard is the diverse and varied interpretation I've seen concerning how a 40K should be, how this chapter behaves, etc.  Well, that then falls to the GM and players to address should conflicting views butt heads across the tabletop.

 

Kage2020 said:

Brother Praetus said >>>

Don't get me wrong, I don't feel a need for an in game mechanic forcing or encouraging teamwork. This has been one of my continued beefs with WHFRP3. I don't need a GM to track stress and the like to tell me when the party is crumbling around me.

An inherently reasonable observation. In this case, though, could you not see at least a reason for it? In the "band of adventurer" modality you're only really working as a "coherent team" in the metagame sense. Realistically, or at least plausibly, you're just a group of people that work together. The concept of a "squad of Battle-brothers" seems to go beyond that. Maybe?

Kage


 

I can see a reason behind it.  I can even see how it can be useful and beneficial.  But it ultimately depends on how it is being implemented into the entirety.  I'm hoping for something well thought out and developed, as I have come to expect from Fantasy Flight.  I don't think there is too much to worry about over all from the line of Deathwatch, but I figured I'd sound off on this point.

I have been very much trying to not pass judgement on the game based on the Designer Diaries; which have mostly piqued my interest more than anything.  I want to see Deathwatch experience as much success as Dark Heresy has, and that I expect to see with Rogue Trader as more material begins being published.  I have been an avid fan and follower of the WH40K line since about '93; which, conversely, is about the same year I started going to my FLGS.  I want to see this successful.  I don't want to have to go back and dig out all my damned notes from when I was working on a 40K-type setting with D20 Future.

-=Brother Praetus=-


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#17 H.B.M.C.

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Posted 14 May 2010 - 03:11 PM

Yay! Actual concrete examples of core game mechanics. 'Bout time.

Looking forward to the intro to what "Missions" represent exactly.

And I like the idea of team or solo-based abilities. It took 3 12-hour sessions to get my group to work as a team. Giving them benefits for doing so (and allowing bonuses for those that don't) is an interesting tact and really hammers in the fact that Marines are meant to work as a squad, as if they were in an army, where as Acolytes and Explorers are individuals brought together for their specific talents. I like this system (even if 'Solo-Mode' does sound a little silly).

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#18 Kage2020

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Posted 14 May 2010 - 05:59 PM

Atheosis said >>>

I would focus on narrative far more than mechanics.

Hmmn... The narrative is, for me, always more important than the mechanics.  With that said?  I always find that it is great when the mechanics support the narrative.  I'm not necessarily talking about the whole narrativism gubbins, but rather the idea that mechanics become increasingly transparent and support the type of play desired.  (Oh, god, that does sound like narrativism.  I need to go and purge myself.)

Atheosis said >>>

And then I would honestly own up to the fact that DW is going to be primarily action oriented rather than trying to mask it behind rules.

One of the things that I've tried to do with my own interpretation is made the rules match up with the description of the universe as much as possible.  In the case of Marines, I've looked into making what is otherwise an equipment choice for other characters into the focus of something that much more significant for Marines.  Thus, for me, I tend to borrow from the samurai ideal that the warrior's soul is housed in their sword, or for a Marine their armour.

That kind of bond strikes me as inherently more interesting than merely "power loading."

Brother Praetus said >>>

I have to agree with much of what you've said here, Atheosis. I don't mind mechanical benefits to teamwork and tactics, but it may be too much effort on the part of the Devs. DW should be rather combat intensive; though this does nothing to prevent interesting story and interaction.

Indeed.  On my own behalf, and as above, the idea is that one way of making the "combat experience" that much more palatable is to make the trappings of combatthe weapons, the armour, etc. into a more significant component of the game.

Brother Praetus said >>>

I want to see this successful. I don't want to have to go back and dig out all my damned notes from when I was working on a 40K-type setting with D20 Future.

Same here with regards to the success of the line.  After all, the longer the line sticks around the greater the chance that I'm going to see the kind of products that I would love to see come out of it.  With that said, I never left my homebrew conversions. 

Kage



#19 Morangias

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Posted 15 May 2010 - 06:56 AM

I find myself liking the new mechanic immensely. Anything that hammers down the point of playing as a team is great for a game about a special task force if you ask me.

Also, I don't find the mechanic especially arbitrary or abstract. Not any more than any other rule, at least. From what I know about various special units, either military or law enforcement, they tend to train certain group maneuvers ad nauseam, the point of exercise being exactly what "group mode" seems to be about - being certain that everyone around you does his job properly so you can focus on doing your part without worrying about anyone else screwing up and screwing you in the process. Mutual trust and doing your part in the team work so much better when anyone involved has his part trained to the point of being a "muscle memory".

I also think it makes Space Marines so much cooler that their awesomeness comes not just from twinked out individual stats, but from mutual trust and perfectly executed tactics as well. And having an actual rule that makes it work is so much better IMO than saying "Space Marines team works as one, except that mechanically they are as stand-alone as your lame first rank Guardsmen are". Mechanics representing and reinforcing fluff FTW.


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#20 Kage2020

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Posted 15 May 2010 - 11:05 AM

Again to play Devil's Advocate, this from the other side of the argument, but numerous games that have handled the idea of small unit operations have never previously felt the need to introduce team mechanics.  I was browsing through GURPS 3e Special Ops 2e the other day for inspiration in dealing with my own interpretation of Space Marines and, well, no "team mechanics" sprang out.  (On the other hand, fantastically inspirational on how to deal with protracted military campaigns, but there we go...)

What is it peculiar about Space Marines that needs some form of "team building?"  Does it in some way enhance the team outside of the tactical wargame side of things?

I think that it's clear that it is not necessary and, further, that it creates some oddities with regards to dealing with the other races (e.g. Aspect Warriors and how they work as a 'team'), so what is it that makes this necessary, fun, or just plain awesome?  And if Marines get to be awesome, what about the next codex that makes Orks awesome (or should that be "orrzum?"), or Eldar or Tau... ?

Kage






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