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Overwhelmed by the party's psyker


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#1 micahwedemeyer

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Posted 21 October 2010 - 05:52 PM

 I'm terribly overwhelmed by the party's psyker. He's just so powerful. From our last session:

Round 4: Heal 18 wounds on one character and 14 on another (Seal Wounds with 1 overbleed)

Round 5: Do 15 wounds of damage to an enemy with 10 penetration (Psychic Blade)

I've already upgraded to the Errata v3 version of Seal Wounds (ie. threshold of 20), and nerfed it even further by making the overbleed of 10. He still routinely makes the 20, often with an overbleed. Considering that he can do this round after round, I either have to kill a character in a single round, or he can heal them pretty much to full the next time he's up. Plus, when everyone's at full, he pulls out psychic blade and proceeds to do more damage in melee than the Guardsman.

He's a good player, and he works to support the rest of the party, but he's just so powerful. Can anyone suggest ways to deal with this, especially the enormous amount of healing he can do? I don't necessarily want to kill any of the characters, but there's essentially no way to whittle a character down with the situation getting more and more dangerous round by round. Instead, I have to either kill/maim them in a round, or the next round they're full up.

Everyone's been a good sport so far, but I can tell that the other players are getting tired of being outshined over and over. I'd really appreciate any advice people can give.

If I can't think of anything clever, I'm just going to have to make my enemies smarter, such that they realize the overwhelming danger of a psyker, and every fight starts with them focusing everything on killing the psyker. That's more realistic, but I can see that getting not-fun really fast.



#2 Zelsior

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Posted 22 October 2010 - 12:56 AM

Unless they changed things I thought that psychic healing had the risk of hurting and corrupting someone after being healed once.  If that was changed maybe put it back.  Any healing after the first time brings on a corruption point, after all the healing energy is pure warp energy.  For other aspects, well thats psychers, they can be beasts. 



#3 Elgrun

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Posted 22 October 2010 - 01:16 AM

Bring in a Null on your next campaign. Shock him into uselessness. Or bring it in now. For a more permanent fix, I'd have your other PC's apply the "Bolt Rule"  that most do. "If you over-use your powers, I'm going to put a bolt into the back of your skull." Usually it's for fear of Perils of the Warp, but it could apply really well here.



#4 micahwedemeyer

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Posted 22 October 2010 - 02:15 AM

Zelsior said:

Unless they changed things I thought that psychic healing had the risk of hurting and corrupting someone after being healed once.

That's for the minor power, Heal. This is the major power Seal Wounds. 

The bolt-to-the-head rule would be very difficult to get the players to understand. Most of them don't really know the 40k universe all that well, so I have to remind them often of basic things, like fearing psykers, hating aliens, etc. Besides, I'd prefer to avoid creating animosity between the characters (and the players). I'm always worried that it can get out of hand at the table.

Thanks for the ideas, and I'd love to hear more!



#5 Kirov

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Posted 22 October 2010 - 03:03 AM

Some notes to consider:

1. Are you enforcing rolling on the Psychic Phenomena table (and where necessary, Perils of the Warp) for each and every nine that comes up? Yes, this means that if 3 nines come up, you roll three times. I've seen it happen before.

2. Are you allowing players to re-roll an undesirable result on the Psychic Phenomena/ Perils of the Warp table by spending a fate point? If so, don't allow it; a roll on the previously-mentioned tables is technically not a test. What you roll is what you get.

3. Are you role-playing out the results of the psychic phenomena to their fullest? Getting Banshee Howl (60-62 on the Psychic Phenomena table), for example, is likely to cause a mass panic within the local population (Emperor forbid that this happens in a hive!), and may well have lynch mobs going after the offending psyker. More immediately, Daemonic Mask (36-38 on the Psychic Phenomena Table) is likely to cause the entire opposition (and maybe even allies!) to turn their guns on the psyker 'cause damn, something's really whacked with that guy and they don't want to find out whatever else what he can cause.

My own group had two psykers (one of which was a biomancer, no less), and they never became overpowered either individually or combined together, because they used their powers sparingly, all thanks to the risk of Psychic Phenomena and Perils of the Warp (two Blood Rains and an Ethereal Storm will do that to you, as will a Veil of Darkness psychic phenomena result almost causing the aircraft you're on to crash because the pilot couldn't see where they're going).

If you need to drive home the point that you don't use psychic powers more often than you have to, try having the group witness a Commissar executing a Psyker immediately after said Psyker caused some sort of serious Psychic Phenomena/Perils of the Warp to occur. Also consider engineering encounters where there is an increased risk of Psychic Phenomena/Perils of the Warp, like areas that are warp-tainted or where the barriers between the material world and the immaterium are unusually weak.

As for the opposition gunning down the Psyker as soon as it's known that there is one about, I say go for it. Psykers are so feared for all the calamity that they can intentionally and inadvertently cause that "shoot first/ask questions later" is often the policy by at least the Imperium, if not everybody else as well.



#6 Monospot

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Posted 22 October 2010 - 04:20 AM

Perils of the Warp does wonders when applied appropriately.  Our campaign almost faced a total wipe when the psyker, in the middle of a raging firefight with Skitarii, accidently summoned a lesser demon when trying to heal a party member. 

If you are concerned about psyker game imbalance, just start adjusting the local "warp instability".  Those cultists the party is killing?  Well, they have set up a "thin area" of warp connectivity with their depravities, and Peril of the Warp now happens on an 8 or 9.  A 20% chance per die of "something bad" happening can drastically change a psykers (and partys!) willingness to use abilities.



#7 Suijin

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Posted 22 October 2010 - 07:25 AM

Yeah, definitely perils of the warp.

As the GM, the party pretty much ignored any possible help and just barged in on an enemy psyker.  The only reason the party lived was by each one having burned a fate point, plus the enemy psyker rolled perils where she lost her psyker powers for an hour.

The perils won't get them right away, but if they are rolling 25+ on thresholds for powers they must have at least 2 dice they are rolling.  That's a 19% chance of getting at least 1 perils roll.

Enough weapon jams/demons/blood rains later with the corruption rolls they make for those and the psyker will be told to take it easy with all that warp ****.



#8 w176

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Posted 22 October 2010 - 07:50 AM

 If you got the right kind of group for this thing, who can pull it off as a dramatic interesting development rather den the psyker player being picked on, social consequence can be a way to handle it.  Before the next meting i would if it were my group ask the group.

"Our pysker character is a very powerful character, and a very well played one too. I got some balance issues as a GM an I was considering adding a layer of psyker paranoia to the game to balance it. More paranois will peobably lead to less use off powers as logical reaction with people growing more uneasy with the use of powers. I mean this as a fun experience for everyone, putting issues like trust and temptations into focus and so on. Not picking on out beloved psyker players who is doing a very good job. I would mostly run it by passing notes to the other characters, and have NPC you tun into react to the psyker. Would everyone in the group be okay with this thing? Would it be fun, interesting and enjoyable?"

And then run it with simple note passed saying that a character is getting goose bumps around the psyker, that the pskyler is mumbling things in his sleep, and that the heal flesh seems somehow strange. Just small things, not meriting blowing the psykers head off, but enough to get everyone including the psyker get more wary about using psychic powers.



#9 Suijin

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Posted 22 October 2010 - 07:57 AM

Most of us were just wondering how he was using powers that often and not getting a bunch of perils over time.  You can auto-kill your psyker with the perils roll if you roll badly, or totally screw over the party.

He can only activate 1 power per turn.  Enemies would probably focus on killing him first if they saw him healing someone full up, etc.

Have the enemies throw a bunch of firebombs and/or use flamers.  Ongoing damage on a bunch of people is going to be hard to heal, along with the perils rolls.



#10 Rakiel

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Posted 22 October 2010 - 09:40 AM

You cannot manifest psychic blade in the same turn as you attack with it, unless he already has it manifested in which cause he has to take a penalty on his healing rolls. Additionally, if he's close enough to use psychic blade he is close enough to be attacked himself - even if he's in charge range. Just have a NPC charge at him and initiate grapple (you can do so off charge), and suddenly.. He cannot make use of any psychic abilities since only Grapple can be used, not any Focus Power effects.

Follow kirovs advice on that though.



#11 Honn

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Posted 22 October 2010 - 10:58 AM

I'm not a fan of "hit him with nulls" or such sollutions since they are temporary, once the adversary is dealt with the problem just starts again. And you can't constantly bring things like that into the campaign without making the player feel like you are picking on him. Waiting for a bad peril is also not a great idea for the same reason. Finding a more permanent fix is imo worth the effort.

If the player is a good guy (or girl) then just talk it over with him. Perhaps he is fine with nerfing some of his abilities in order to bring back some balance to the game. Maybe he even has some ideas on how to do this without just destroying his character. Personaly I am thinking of changing Seal Wounds to be more like Healer. A value of 15ish and can only be cast on each person once every hour (so much better than Healer, but you can't keep patching people up during a fight). That might be one way to solve part of the problem.



#12 Suijin

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Posted 22 October 2010 - 11:18 AM

Everyone else in the group make gimp character choices or what?

If the psyker has that level of power then the others should be able to do a fair bit of something that the psyker can't do.  It's rank 4 to get the discipline powers, right?



#13 Smaggler

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Posted 22 October 2010 - 11:47 AM

 Assuming this isn't a troll post about Psyker's being overpowered (they aren't) then I'll go ahead and bite.

You have a biomancer in your group or at least a Psyker who's bothered to get Seal wounds.  That's fantastic.  You can dish out more damage to your PCs than most DH GM's would be able to do.

I'm not sure why only one person, is getting damaged per round.  Seems silly.  I've never found this to be an issue, because all of the following are valid options:

AOE Damage

Damage to more than one party member.

Sniper bolt round to the head of the Psyker (maybe a god in melee, woefully underpowered range)

Weakened veil

Perils of the warp

Nulls

Disruption fields

Daemons that like to eat psykers

Leeches from the warp

Enemies that can sense when the Warp is used and thus home in on your group

Have a more powerful enemy psyker temporarily sever his connection to the warp

Wards and immunity to Psyker weapons

Just a few ideas.  There's soooo many ways to cull the use of Warp Powers its not even funny.  Be creative, its the grim dark future, and if there's one thing you'll learn there's always something bigger and more powerful out there!



#14 ItsUncertainWho

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Posted 22 October 2010 - 12:11 PM

Kirov said:

3. Are you role-playing out the results of the psychic phenomena to their fullest? Getting Banshee Howl (60-62 on the Psychic Phenomena table), for example, is likely to cause a mass panic within the local population (Emperor forbid that this happens in a hive!), and may well have lynch mobs going after the offending psyker.

In our last game my psyker did just that( Banshees Howl) in a Hive. This started off the rest of the night of me going 6 for 6 on activating a power and causing phenomena.

The hive we are in has a very active and quick responding cabal of witch hunters. They have responded to both of the previous phenomena rolls I have caused/made in earlier games within 20-30 minutes of game time. So far I have managed to avoid them. I popped 6 phenomena off in under two hours of game time and I am currently unconscious at the bottom of an elevator shaft. I KNOW the witch hunters are coming for me in force, especially after the 1 kilometer banshees howl that was set off in the low hive. They are coming for me, and they may very well ignore the genestealer body that's at the top of the elevator just to get me.

Your psyker seems to have a need to learn to FEAR the witch hunters. Have them show up after he rolls a phenomena and in force if he rolls perils. The sight of heavily armed and armored zealots toting flamers and sporting wards on their person, getting their hate on, and drooling to watch him scream in agony as he burns/is purified, should put the fear of the Emperor in him and might get him to calm down.

Also make sure you understand the errata on Psychic Blade.



#15 micahwedemeyer

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Posted 22 October 2010 - 02:32 PM

Hey everybody. Thanks for the replies. Let me first say that I'm not complaining about psykers being overpowered. While I kind of feel that way, I'm not here to *****, mainly to find a way to rebalance my own campaign so it's more fun for the rest of the players.

I'll hit some of the points:

Nulls

Assuming Null is the same as Untouchable (my 40k knowledge is very limited), I have added one or two, but I'm trying to keep with the one-in-a-million feel of it. There aren't psykers everywhere, nor are there untouchables. Then again, the players know even less 40k than I do, so maybe it would be ok to break that rule.

Perils of the Warp / Psychic Phenomena

I have houseruled this somewhat and instead of rolling N times on the table, he gets a +10 to the roll for each 9. I may bump this up to +20 to make it hurt more. In addition, due to some in-game circumstances, he rolls on the table for both 8's and 9's, meaning he's rolling on the table almost every round. I can see where this will eventually cause him (and the rest of the party) some real difficulty, but at that point I think it will be too late. Killed by an accidental demonhost when he's just trying to light a candle won't exactly be the climactic cool death we're all hoping for. Still, I'll take this under advisement and try to make it clearer that he's playing with time and that I won't nerf the results.

Multiple Opponents / AOE / Multi-Damage

I have trouble managing a lot of NPCs, but I did this effectively in the most recent combat and it worked pretty well. If I can damage 3 or more party members in a round then the Psyker has to triage and choose those most hurt, meaning he can't attack and is constantly busy. This worked very well to make the combat more exciting and more challenging. A single opponent, even a very tough one, goes down very quickly. But, a tough opponent with a host of also tough minions made for a much better fight.

I will work harder in the future to include more AOE stuff like grenades and flamers. I can definitely see the flamers being a major problem for the AOE damage, plus the slow burning thereafter.

Sniper in the distance

Someone also mentioned having a sniper taking shots from long range. This is something I hadn't considered and is a great idea. I try to keep combats close, to enhance the grim and bloody in-your-face nature that I like about 40k. But, I can mix in some "off in the distance" snipers at long range. This will provide for distraction, while also giving our Assassin something to do. He's got a lot of sniper-type skills, and he can use them to pick off enemy snipers, which I think he will really enjoy.

These have all been great suggestions, and I want to thank everyone for taking the time to give your thoughts.

BTW: If you're looking for a place to manage your game online, check out http://obsidianportal.com It's a little website I made to help manage tabletop RPG campaigns.

Thanks again for the suggestions, and keep the ideas coming!

 

 

 



#16 Velvetears

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Posted 22 October 2010 - 08:06 PM

Having Witch Hunters turn up is all well and good if the character is alone, but what if the rest of the party are with him are they just likely to hand him over with a shrug? will they say "through our dead bodies he's a comrade who's a tool of the Emperors will and we're the ones assigned to kil him if all goes Klybo" and then defend him as he would them?

Your punishing the whole group for what is a valid character class given at base rank.

 

It's like QQ'ing that Assassins are to uber after rank 4. They're just very good at what they do.

It all comes down to the player picking the right skills and talents. hand 2 players the option of making a psyker with rank 5xp and you'll get a few different types of character back at the end of the day.

 

The player already has the 9's to worry about, as well as the fact that they know the group will be an execution squad if things get Too Weird.

 

 

Of course, you Could always go the Ravenloft route of things, strange psyker things are happening in he hive and the cha is he only one who's a psyker around. Cue the player going bug nuts about whether he's possessed whilst asleep, and any cams set to watch him fritz out for long enough to cast doubt on the characters protestations of innocence only to be the only one with an insight or way to solve it.

Give the character a chance to shine and prove just how useful he really is. Yes an Adept might get the same skills, often better, and later on the option to purchase some psyker powers, but only he psyker will understand the fear of the blackships, what it's like to be exposed constantly to the corruption ad the sheer strength of will it takes to hold it back.



#17 LuciusT

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Posted 23 October 2010 - 07:00 AM

micahwedemeyer said:

Perils of the Warp / Psychic Phenomena

I have houseruled this somewhat and instead of rolling N times on the table, he gets a +10 to the roll for each 9. I may bump this up to +20 to make it hurt more. In addition, due to some in-game circumstances, he rolls on the table for both 8's and 9's, meaning he's rolling on the table almost every round. I can see where this will eventually cause him (and the rest of the party) some real difficulty, but at that point I think it will be too late. Killed by an accidental demonhost when he's just trying to light a candle won't exactly be the climactic cool death we're all hoping for. Still, I'll take this under advisement and try to make it clearer that he's playing with time and that I won't nerf the results. 

 

People, including the other PCs should be getting seriously freaked out even by the psychic phenomena. In fact, psychic phenomena are listed as an example for Distrubing (Fear 1) events in the sidebar Very Bad Things on page 233. I might suggest that the next time the psyker triggers a phenomena, everyone who percieves it make a Fear test (+0). Giving everyone a -10 penalty to all their checks while healing one of them might make them a little more leary of psychic healing. It may seem a little extreme, but in reality I think it's a solid mechnical way of enforcing the roleplaying of fear and supersition (particularly since you've said you're players tend to overlook that)... and it's less painful than just killing the psyker with Perils.



#18 Xisor

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Posted 23 October 2010 - 07:50 AM

 I have to say I've found the situation to be largely the same. The troubles seem to be arising in a few places for many people around the forum, particularly when it comes to 'steering the plot elsewhere' (a point mentioned regarding Divination in the Deathwatch forums). That is: without a psyker, the game is actually exceptionally straight forward. Techpriests and Clerics aren't terribly difficult to factor in, because it's just some other dice-rolls and some odd stuff.

But psykers? The trouble with 40k is that psykers are basically *channelling fate*. Or destiny. Or magic. Or god. Something like that.

The point remains that they wield power to rival the Games Master when it comes to consistency and advancing the plot. Psykers can instigate teamkill in ways that are near-impossible for other players. That's not breaking the game, that's meaning the game is simpler without them.

To accommodate psykers, personally, I feel the GM has to 'up his game'. Not enhance killiness of foes, or present them with even tougher enemies, but be very prepared to use the inbuilt mechanics properly.

That is, as others have said: Use Psychic Phenomena.

Even the silliest of results (psychic worm) can be good opportunities to roleplaying. If this can be emphasised to your players, do it. Well structured arguments and tiffs within the team are excellent to watch unfold, and great to feature in as a player. A player who leaps onto the 'something trivial forgotten' bandwagon could easily earn a nice (fair, of course) dollop of XP. The side of this is that the wackier results, the ones that can cause genuine panic should (IMO) be able to ruin a game, to make something insolvable etc.

The ability to sidestep such game-ruining things should be transplanted to the players, or restricted by the GM (i.e. you can mandate a skip to a higher phenomena/peril if there's good cause not to have a lesser one), by simply noting that *someone* should burn a fatepoint to reroll a game-ruining psychic phenomena. It's like dying, so burning fate to avoid it is the way to correct the plot.

If a psyker's using (arguably) unholy powers, he pays the price for his talent, and that price is psychic phenomena. No need to go overboard, but it's surely intended as the balancing factor.

(Though it does give me cause for concern at Ascension level wherein avoiding phenomena is starkly less difficult.)

Anyway: emphasise psychic phenomena and be prepared for potential psychic 'ruining'. 



#19 Charmander

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Posted 24 October 2010 - 07:39 PM

I can say in my group we use perils of the warp and psychic phenomenon and it's all that is needed to keep the psyker 'in line.'  When he's not busy summoning demons or flying into the air, he's making the place freeze or blowing his clothing and armor to pieces.  We've also had a friendly 'chat' with the inquisitor due to the fact that when he manifests these powers most people are freaking out.

I know running a ton of NPCs can be a chore, but maybe spend some time plotting devious encounters- use tactics to separate the psyker from the party, or actively engage him in combat so he's too busy to be nothing but a healing potion.  Have someone come up the tunnel behind them and engage in hand to hand.  Don't do something to purposefully kill the poor guy, but make him fully engage.

P.S. If you're really the guy behind obsidian portal, thanks, and nice work!  You've built us quite a nice resource their (even gaining some press from the Penny Arcade guys for their D&D campaign )



#20 Suijin

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Posted 25 October 2010 - 04:16 AM

Yeah, thanks for Obsidian Portal, I've been there looking around before.






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